1 August 2007

Mor Mysterious

Check if you have heard of any of these characters. Many of these names will normally be
  • post-fixed with the word 'Sahada', which in Malayalam means saint or martyr
  • pre-fixed by the title ‘Mar’ or ‘Mor’ if male and ‘Martha’ or ‘Mortha’ if female

Martha-Shmooni in whose name is there are Jacobite churches, one at Peroor, Kottayam. Dont blame you if you haven’t heard the name; there is only a couple in her name in the whole of India. Funny part is this saint is actually not even Christian (!) and is in fact the mother of zealous Maccabee martyrs.
Her glorification is centered on the fact that Martha-Shmooni, in defiance watched all her 7 sons (including her youngest a baby) and her teacher St. Eleazor be tortured and cast into a fiery pit. There is an ancient church in her name in Iraq near the Kadisha valley.
Name variants in which she is referred are [Shmuni, Shmouny, Salomone, Samone, Solomonis, Solomonia etc.]


Mor Kuriakose and Mortha Yulithi: The names would be reacted with better if pronounced as in the variants below. As others, Yulithi is one in the very big list of first-generation-Christian-martyrs. She was another mother who had to witness her child's death for her christian beliefs. A painting depicting the two can be spotted in the Puthupally Orthodox church.

Name variants [Julietta, Julitta, Quiricus, Kyrikos, Cyriac, Cyricus, Cyriakus etc.]

Mar Abo, an obscure Persian prelate who is also supposedly the mentor of the legendary Kadamattathu Kathanar. There is a lot of confusion on whether this character is the same as the Sapor part of the duo that landed later in Kerala.

This possible Chaldean reached Kerala sometime was back in the 4th century. Was he an occultist? An exorcist? An herbalist? Nestorian? Nobody knows but he is supposedy entombed at the Thevalakara Orthodox church near Karunagapally.



Bahanan sahada can be easily confused with Saint George except that this saint is mostly depicted without a beard and there is no dragon around in the picture. This handsome saint is of Assyrian origin and was Christianized by St. Mattai (Mathai/Mathew) of the 4 th century. Mor Bahanam, his sister Sarah and 40 others were massacred for giving up their old traditions.
[Bahnam, Behnam]
Mar Addai as per some records was a disciple of Saint (doubting) Thomas but Addai is also doubted to be Judas Thaddeus, one of the apostles. It is the liturgy of Addai and Mari that is used in the East Syrian Churches. This early Christian was among the first proselytizers; he converted the King Abgar of Edessa.
[Aggai, Jude, Addeus, Thaddeus, Thaddaeus, Tadeo]

Mor Sabor & Mor Aphroth, the legendary 'Sabor and Prot' mentioned in Kerala history through their mention in the Thareesapally copper plates. The plates state that they arrived in Kollam in 825 AD and established a number of churches in Kerala during that period (one of them the Kaadeesa church in Kayamkulam). The Kollam era 1 is incidentaly Chingam(Leo) 1st of 825 AD. Sabor & Afroth's affiliations are still not yet clear but all sects of Nasrani Keralites own them in their respective histories'. Some say that Mar Abo mentioned above is actually Mar Sabor.
Interestingly there is a clan of Orthodox christians in Chathanoor, Kollam(Quilon)that claims to be direct descendents of Mar Sapor...or it may be from one in his entourage :-) The clan surname is 'Muthalali'.
It is suspected that Mor Sabor and Mor Aphroth were Nestorian bishops sent by the Chaldean Patriarch Timotee I. If that is true the strangely the Nestorian archenemy, the Jacobites, own the famous church in their names at Angamali.
Gerwasius & Protasius, were 2nd century Milanese twins; just another in list of early Christian martyrs. In those days it was a sure shot death warrant if you were a Christian in Italy. Citizens of Rome loved the entertainment from 'infidels' being roasted, flayed, quartered or torn apart by lions. It was a house-full back then  at the local amphitheatre.
A few churches in Kerala are strangely named after these saints; the most ancient of these being the Catholic Church at Kothanalloor & Udayamperoor … highly probable that this church was renamed in order to cover up the so-thought 'darker' Nestorian affiliation with Mor Sabor & Mor Aphroth.

Mor Kaumo, a 5th century Syriac monk of Lebanon who meditated for 45 years in the standing position! 'Kaumo' is supposed to mean 'stand' in Syriac.
I feel this is none other than Saint Simeon the stylite who is mentioned in the thubdens (diptchs) of the Syriac Orthodox Qurbana (mass).
Alvarez Mar Julious: We must have heard of people being catholicized but rarely do we hear of Catholics converting to orthodoxy. And it is even rare that one of the latter remains a vehement adherent to the last breathe. Antonio Francisco Xavier Alvares was a Goan Roman catholic priest of 19th century who not only shifted to orthodoxy himself but also managed to bring a group of Roman Catholics along with him. Would have made some headlines back then in Goa, but his ministry was  efficiently hammered down, by the Catholic church, using inquisition-styled humiliation, imprisonment and ostracism.
Goa has managed to erase most history of this 'shameful' episode but the bishop can be proud of his dent on the Roman catholic stronghold: there still exist a group of orthodox adherents at Brahmavar...they were converted from the Latin rite by this bishop. He is supposed to have collected some orthodox elements together in Sri-Lanka too. The Ribandar orthodox church in Goa is mostly used to by the malayalees there.


Anonymous said...


Interesting article. Could you point me to the source of your info regarding the "clan of Orthodox christians in Chathanoor, Kollam(Quilon) that claims to be direct descendents of Mar Sapor"?

I think this is very interesting, and I'd like to delve further.


FlipFlop said...

Hi John,

The source is Leslie Brown's book ' St Thomas Christians of India'.

Thanks for hopping through our blog,

manjesh alex said...


As u said ..i srongly feel that mar sabor is mar abo..here are my views for proving the same..

Mar sabor came on AD 825..Mar Abo who is taking his eternal rest in Thevelakara marthamariam orthodox church(established on 4th century)its known that mar abo established kadamattom church in somearound AD 850..

mar abo means great father...so it seems mar sabor was called mar abo

there were no other known records of any foreigners to these areas on that period han mar sabor and mar proth..

mar sabor was send to take charge of kollam and mar proth of kodugallor b bishop in middleeast..
but when mar sabor reached kollam there was no kollam church established by st thomaswhich made him moved to thevelakara church which was established since 4th century..

what do u think?

FlipFlop said...

Hmmm ... its easiest to speculate all these. The only info we have is from hearsay and allusions in some books, which were also based on hearsay :-)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm FlipFlop:
This George from Houston:
I belong to Chathanoor Muthalali family...
am pinching myself...am here it is real...
proclamation conferring the title 'Muthalaly' by King of Quilon is on a copper plate..original is with Mar Thoma Church
My Name is
George Kurumthottickal Muthalaly,

Anonymous said...

btw: The title "Muthalaly" was given to Christian Merchant "Maruvan Sabrisho" (Sapir Iso; who is presumably identied with the Church founder Eso da Tapir) c825 AD who was the founder of City of Quilon

source: "Church of the East" by Wilhelm Baum - which has got the photograph's of the copper plates

Anonymous said...

It seems quite a few families in Kollam claim descent from the 10th century (or so) immigration of Mar Sabor and Mar Aphroth.

Muthalaly is one.
Thulassery Manapurathu is another.
There is another family near the Thevalakara Orthodox Church.

I wouldn't be surprised if more exist.

George Muthalaly of Houston: why don't you do a genetics test and find out what your patriarchal haplotype is: this will help us identify who those immigrants were, and where they came from.

Anonymous said...

The Malayalam Era named after Quilon began in 825 AD. Malayalam Era is called 'Kolla Varsham' after Kollam, because of the importance of Kollam in the 9th century A.D. It signified the independence of Malabar from the Cheraman Perumals. (Reference Travancore Manual page 244). King Kulashekra of Kollam, granted the copper plate grants in 825 A.D. to Mar S(abo)r Iso whom he invited to Kollam from Assyria (present persia & syria with Constantinople as the spiritual seat( the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire ), and transferring to the Tarasa Church and Vaishnavite nambuthiri community at Devalokakara(Thevalakara) in Quilon, lands near the city with hereditament of low caste. (Reference Travancore Manual page 244).. scholars believe that this conference was called by King Kulshekara for a clarity for the theology on Divinity of the Trinity and which finally resulted in a Major split and the division of Aryan Nambuthiri community and also the consecration of Thevalakara orthodox church with syrian litergy by Mar Abo following debate among the nambuthiri community on their belief between Nambuthiri's who believed in the st.thomas tradition of vaishnavism (christ as the putra and the only object of sacrifice) but continued in their vedic tradition including Sun Worship and the other section backing the version put forward by Adi Shankara in Advaita Vedanta in early 9th century that christ(isha) and shiva is one and the difference is only caused between Aramic and Pali language. However it should be particularly noted that kolla varsham resulted in the origin of Christianity in kerala as an individual religion outside vedic Vaishnavism as till that time only four vedic Aryan namboothiri families namely Kaliankal at Nillakal with a branch family at Devalokakara(near the ancient Koreni-Kollam port), paklomattam at palyoor, shankarapuri at niranam and kalli at kokkamangalam were allowed priesthood inside Christianity.

Anonymous said...

Dear All,

Please have a look in the websites



Mar Sabor and Mar Afroth ,both are Bishops as per the records available.

Thanks and Regards,

Mathew Vaidyan

Sujith Philipose said...

Hi Mathew,

Websites are not reliable history source. Both of the parties: orthodox nor Jacobites have any clue on these two. See, the website smartly do not mention Sabore and Afroth's 'sabha' affliations ;-)

BTW, I met the priest at Kandeeshangal church at Kothanalloor and guess what, he claims they were of 'Catholic faiths'

Thanks for dropping by

Nice Up said...

Sahada refers to martyr, I thought as opposed to saint. Please correct me if I am wrong. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi,I am a keralaite muslim who lived in kollam for some time.I have seen a house with the name ''Saboreth" inscribed infront of it ,opposite the Rama Varma Club at Olayil,Kollam.perhaps related to Mar Sabor ??
I think the name Muthalali was an honorific title given to wealthy merchants.Many muslims in Trivandrum side are still addressed as Muthalays.

Sahada(syriac)& Shuhada (Arabic)means Martyrs.

Anonymous said...

Hi,I am a keralaite muslim who lived in kollam for some time.I have seen a house with the name ''Saboreth" inscribed infront of it ,opposite the Rama Varma Club at Olayil,Kollam.perhaps related to Mar Sabor ??
I think the name Muthalali was an honorific title given to wealthy merchants.Many muslims in Trivandrum side are still addressed as Muthalays.

Sahada(syriac)& Shuhada (Arabic)means Martyrs.

Sujith Philipose said...

Thanks Sabu for stopping by

BVT said...

Marawan Now Mar Abo

കര്‍ത്താവിന്റെ കാലം 825 കൊല്ലം ഒന്നിനു മാര്‍ ചവോരും മാര്‍ അപോറോത്ത് എന്ന് പേരുള്ള രണ്ടു അപോസ്കൊപ്പമാര്‍ സവരിഷു എന്ന് പേരുള്ള ഒരു കച്ചവടക്കാരന്റെ കൂടെ വന്നു... മാറാവാന്‍ എന്നയാള്‍ തേവലക്കര പള്ളിയില്‍ അടങ്ങി.ഇദ്ധേഹത്തിന്റെ കാര്‍യ്യം പിന്നെ പറയും
-നിരണം ഗ്രന്ഥവാരി(1780-1810), മലയാളത്തില്‍ ഉണ്ടായ കാര്യങ്ങള്‍.

മിശിഹാക്കാലം 905 ഇല്‍ മറാവാന്‍ എന്ന ആള്‍ തേവലക്കര അടങ്ങിയിരിക്കുന്നു എന്നും അയാളുടെ കാര്‍യ്യം പിന്നെ പറയുമെന്നും മുന്‍പ് എഴുതിയിരുന്ന കാര്‍യ്യം പറയുന്നു ഇദ്ദേഹം കടമറ്റത്ത്‌ ആറ്റുപുറത്തു മാപ്പിളയുടെ വീട്ടില്‍ പാര്‍ത്തു.ഈ വീട്ടുകാരത്രേ കടമറ്റത്ത്‌ പള്ളി വയ്പ്പിച്ചത് പിള്ള മാറാവാനില്‍ നിന്നു വേദം(?) പഠിച്ചു അത്തറവാട്ടില്‍ പട്ടക്കാരുണ്ടായി.....ഇങ്ങനെ നടന്നു വരുമ്പോള്‍ മുളന്തുരുത്തി കാലം ചെയ്ത മാറിവാനിയോസിന്റെ കാലത്തു കടമറ്റത്ത്‌ ചെന്ന് അവരുടെ ഷുദ്രങ്ങള്‍ ആയിട്ടുള്ള പൊസ്തകങ്ങളും ഗ്രന്ഥങ്ങളും ചുടുവിച്ചു മേലാല്‍ ഈവക പ്രവര്‍ത്തികള്‍ ചെയ്യരുതെന്നും വിലക്കി

-നിരണം ഗ്രന്ധവാരി ,കടമറ്റത്ത്‌ അച്ചന്മാര്‍

Note : മാര്‍ ചവോരും മാര്‍ അപോറോത്ത് എന്നിവരുടെ കൂടെ വന്ന കച്ചവടക്കാരന്റെ പൂര്‍ണ നാമം മാറാവാന്‍ സബരിഷു എന്നാണ് . മാറാവാന്‍ എന്ന വാക്കിന്റെ അര്‍ത്ഥം ഒന്നെങ്കില്‍ കച്ചവടക്കാരന്‍ അല്ലെങ്കില്‍ പേര്‍ഷ്യയിലെ ഒരു സ്ഥല നാമം ആണ്.പേരുകളിലെ ഈ അസാമാന്യമായ സാമ്യം തേവലക്കര പള്ളിയില്‍ 905 ഇല്‍ അടങ്ങിയ മറാവാന്‍ 825 ഇല്‍ വന്ന മറാവാന്‍ സവരിഷു തന്നെ ആണോ എന്ന സംശയം ജനിപിക്കുന്നു.കൂടാതെ തെവക്കര പള്ളി തന്നെ ആണോ ചെര്‍പ്പാടുകളില്‍ പറയുന്ന തരിസാപ്പള്ളി എന്ന് പരിശോധിക്കെണ്ടിയിരിക്കുന്നു( ഈ പള്ളി പണിയിച്ചത് ഒരു ഇഷോ ദത്തപ്പാരി ആണെന്നു ചെര്‍പ്പടുകളില്‍ നിന്നും വ്യക്തം ആണ്).[Kollam Tharissappally constructed by Eshodathappari (ഈശോ ദത്തപ്പാരി ) . The last of the copper plate (ശാസനം) state that ‘അയ്യനാടികള്‍ തിരുവടികളെക്കൊണ്ടു മറുവാന്‍ ചപരിഷു(Same Marawan of Niranam chronicle) നേര്‍വീഴ്ത്തി its clear from the above description that the pally(Note that most of the Witness in the copperplate are non-Christians) was constructed by Eshodathappari and person who got persuaded the Kind to grant the copper plate was Marawan Chaparisha.] ഈ ചെര്‍പ്പാടുകള്‍ ഈ പള്ളിക്ക് നല്‍കാന്‍ കൊല്ലം രാജാവിനെ പ്രേരിപിച്ചത്‌ ഈ മാറാവാന്‍ സബരിഷു ആണെന്ന് കൊല്ലം ചെര്‍പ്പാടുകള്‍ പറയുന്നു.കൂടാതെ കൊല്ലം തേവലക്കര പള്ളിയിലെ തുലശേര്രി മണപുറത്തു തുടങ്ങിയ തറവാട്ടുകാര്‍ ഇന്നും ഈ മാറാവാന്‍ സബരിഷുവിന്റെ പിന്‍ഗാമികള്‍ എന്ന് അവകാശപെടുന്നു .അവസാനം ആയി മലബാറിലെ സുറിയാനി ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികളില്‍ മാറാവാനെ വിശുദ്ധന്‍ ആയി കാണുന്ന രണ്ടേ രണ്ടു പള്ളികള്‍ മാത്രം ആണ് ഉള്ളത് ഒന്ന് കടമറ്റം പള്ളിയും,രണ്ടാമതെത് കൊല്ലം തേവലക്കര പള്ളിയും ബാക്കി എല്ലാ മാര്‍ത്തോമ ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികളുടെ പള്ളികളും അപോസ്കൊപ്പമാര്‍ ആയിരുന്ന മാര്‍ ചവോരിനെയും മാര്‍ അപോറോത്തിനേയും മാത്രമേ വിശുദ്ധര്‍(കന്തിശങ്ങള്‍) ആയി കണക്കാക്കിയിരുന്നുള്ളൂ.