Besides hunting down heretics, Jews, new Christians, and all who were accused of Judaizing (that is, conforming to the ceremonies of the Mosaic law, such as not eating pork, attending the solemnization of the Sabbath, partaking of the paschal lamb, and so forth), the Goanese Inquisitors also replenished their dungeons with persons accused of magic and sorcery.See footnote 1
WHILE the Church of the East was expanding in India and the Orient, events in the West were hastening to the crisis which lifted the gloom of the Dark Ages. The conflict between established systems and the word ofGod had been precipitated. In 1517 Luther had taken his stand for the Holy Scriptures, and they were being reinstated in their proper place. TheDark Ages were passing. At this time a new Catholic order of monasticism was formed, called theSociety of Jesus, generally known as the Jesuits. It was distinctly brought into existence for the purpose of recovering, if possible, what was lost, to repair what was injured, to fortify and guard what remained, and to advance the revival of the Papacy.2 Before Spain and Portugal had been reached by the reforming power of a newly born Protestantism, the order of the Jesuits had made a secure alliance with the monarchies of those countries. It was a dark night for the St. Thomas Christians when the Jesuits, supported by the guns of Portugal, arrived in India. It was the lot of Portugal to erect an astonishing empire in the East. It is amazing how little the public remembers of those seven areas seized by the Portuguese men-of-war and completely claimed by the crown as imperial domain, an act to which the pope gave his sanction.3 Omitting the settlements on the west coast of Africa, this vast colonial dominion
- (1) the east coast of Africa with adjacent islands,
- (2) the south coasts of Arabia and Persia,
- (3) the coasts of Baluchistan and northwest India,
- (4) the west coast of India, in which was located, as the Portuguese called it, the “most noble city of Goa,”
- (5) the east coast of India,
- (6) the west coast of what is today Burma and the Malay states,
- (7) the coast from Singapore around to Siam, Indo-China, and China, as far north as the island of Macao.
While one is astonished at the thrilling exploits of the Portuguese cavaliers who subdued these overseas kingdoms, he is obliged to deplore their fanaticism and cruelty. As J. D. D’Orsey says:
“Religion, or rather religious fanaticism, was the inspiring principle, the very mainspring of every movement of every heroic exploit. Their wars were rather crusades than patriotic struggles.”See footnote 4
One incident illustrating the cruelty which ultimately caused the downfall of the invaders may be recited. On the third expedition from Portugal (A.D.1502), commanded by Vasco da Gama, a fleet of twenty vessels sailed forCalicut. On the previous
One expedition followed
simultaneously providing for salvation from the last terrors of that disaster; thus they would be credited with salvation from the extremity of the calamity, while others were blamed for its cause.
THE JESUITS CAPTURE THE COUNCIL OF TRENT
This Society of Jesus proposed to subordinate the Holy Scriptures and in their place substitute the interpretations of the Bible by the ecclesiastical writers of the first centuries whom they called the “fathers.” All the errors and vagaries of the allegorizers who confused and darkened the first three centuries were selected. The first great papal council which assembled after the Reformation, the Council of Trent (A.D. 1545-1563), was dominated by the Jesuits. This assembly laid down the law, and no papal authority has dared since to dispute it. In assembling this church council, Emperor Charles V gave the order that only the abuses in the church, not doctrine, should be considered. He was distracted to behold his realm divided between two contending churches, and it mattered little to him which creed prevailed. He only wished some general assembly to remedy conditions. The emperor desired Lutherans and Catholics to sit together in a general council, and he fondly believed Europe again would be united. The influence of the Jesuits was immediately seen when the pope ignored the imperial command to notify the Reformers. Weeks passed, and finally the council organized itself and accepted the following as its first four decrees:
- (1) The Vulgate was the true Bible and not the Received Text which the Reformers followed and which had been the Bible of the Greek Church, the Church of the east, and the true churches of the West through the centuries;
- (2) Tradition was of equal authority with the Sacred Scriptures;
- (3) the five disputed books found in the Catholic Bible, but rejected byProtestant scholars, were declared canonical;
- (4) the priests only, and not the laity, were capable of rightly interpreting the Scriptures.7
When the emperor learned that the Protestants had not been called to the council, he was enraged. Uttering severe threats, he demanded that his original plan be executed.
Though the pope reluctantly and with long delay obeyed, the decrees already passed irrevocably compromised the situation. The Lutherans refused to accept the insulting notifications. In the
throughout the earth, was, “The Council of Trent, the Council of Trent, the Council of Trent.” How poor India was made to tremble and bend beneath this cry! With the
“A still more decided form of compulsion was the Inquisition established at Goa, in the year1560, which soon made itself felt by its terrible and mysterious punishments.”See footnote 10
This was a European, not an Asiatic, engine of torment imposed upon the St. Thomas Christians of India. In it could be found torture by tire, by water, by the rack, and by burning at the stake. The supreme punishment, of course, was burning at the stake. If the unhappy believer in New Testament Christianity failed to renounce his simple faith and accept all the innovations, rites, and mysteries of theRoman Catholic Church, the day would come when, with a black gown and a cowl over his head, he would be led to the public square to make the supreme sacrifice. Arriving at their Golgotha, those condemned to the flames would be chained to a high stake many feet above the piles of fagots. Then two Jesuits would wail out an exhortation to repent. When finally the nod of the inquisitor was given, blazing torches on long poles were dashed into the faces of the agonizing martyrs; and this continued until their faces were burned to
square, where he remained nearly two years without seeing any person but the one who brought him his meals and those who brought him to trial. When arraigned before the court, he was obliged to walk barefoot with other prisoners over the sharp stones of the streets; this wounded his feet and caused the blood to flow. He says that his joy was inexpressible when he heard that he was not to be burned, but was to be sentenced to work as a galley slave for five years
But perhaps the blackest acts of this unholy assembly have yet tobe recorded. The cases of such as were doomed to be burnt had yet to be disposed of, and they were accordingly ordered to be brought forward separately. They were a man and a woman, and the images of four men deceased, with the chests in which their bones were depositedSee footnote 14
….Two of the four statues also represented persons convicted of magic, who were said to have Judaized One of these had died in the prison of the Holy Office; the other expired in his own house, and his body had been long since interred in his own family burying ground, but, having been accused of Judaism after his decease, as he had left considerable wealth, his tomb was opened, and his remains disinterred to be burnt at the auto-da-fe….We may well throw a veil over the smoky spectacle on the banks of the river which seems to have attracted the viceroy of Goa and his heartless retinue.
How much the wrath of the Jesuits was directed against the St. Thomas Christians because they observed Saturday, the seventh day of the week, as the Sabbath may be seen in this further quotation from Rae: “In the remote parts of the diocese, as well towards the south as towards the north, the Christians that dwell in the heaths are guilty of working and
- (1) the founding of a Jesuit college in which the youth won over from the Assyrian communities, or the St. Thomas Christians, were trained as papal clergymen in the Syrian tongue;
- (2) the power of the selecting of the Assyrian leaders;
- (3) the calling of a synod which they were assured beforehand they could dominate.
The Jesuit college founded at Vaipicotta near Cochin introduced the Syrian language. It allowed the youth of the St. Thomas Christians to use Syrian dress. These youth were indoctrinated in the traditional beliefs and practices of the Papacy. But when the teachers had finished the training of a number of Syrian Christian young people, these youth found that, as they went among their people, the Assyrian Church would not recognize them as clergymen. This church also refused to allow the Portuguese priests to enter into their places of worship. Failing in this school venture, the Jesuits moved upon the heads of the church. One after another they singled out the leaders, Mar Joseph, Mar Abraham, and Mar Simeon. Not having bishops in the accepted usage of the term, the Church of the East called their provincial directors by the title, “mar,” meaning “spiritual lord;” while the title “
Popular excitement was now at its height. The poor mountaineers, who had at first welcomed their Roman fellow Christians so warmly, were thoroughly excited against their oppressors. They looked upon the Portuguese as the relentless enemies of their ancient faith, and as the barbarous persecutors of their beloved bishops and priests. TheySee footnote 16
thereforerose in arms, expelled the Jesuits from their country, and in two instances, were barely restrained from putting them to death.
But the worst was yet to come. When the archbishop arrived at Cochin,
“The grandest preparation had been made for his reception, richly carpeted stairs had been expressly constructed; the governor and a brilliant staff were at the landing place, and the prince of the church disembarked amid the waving of flags, the clang of martial music, the shouts of the people, and the thunder of artillery.”See footnote 17
Having soon disposed of military and political matters, the RomanCatholic primate turned his attention to the main project of his life. He summoned before him the perplexed and terrified archdeacon George. The latter decided to play a double game. He reasoned that if he could only temporize until Archbishop Menezes returned to Goa, time might work in his favor. He and his armed escort went to Cochin to welcome the powerful ecclesiastic. They kissed his
THE DISASTROUS SYNOD OF DIAMPER
The morning of June 20, 1599, was the day when a great church gave up its independence. Eleven days previous, Archbishop Menezes had arrived with his supporters and certain subservient Assyrian Church leaders in order to give final touches to the decrees which he proposed the synod should pass. He planned that this assembly should preserve
pastor, and choir. Along with them came the town council accompanied by merchants and captains of ships. In fact, all within traveling distance forsook their ordinary avocations in order to be present on
The most reverend metropolitan after having made this protestation and confession of faith, rose up, and seating himself in his chair, with his miter on his head, and the holy Gospels, with across upon them in his hands; the Reverend George, archdeacon of the said bishopric of the Serra, kneeling down before him, made the same profession of faith, with a loud and intelligible voice, in the Malabar tongue, taking an oath in the hands of the lord metropolitan, and after him all the priests, deacons, subdeacons, and other ecclesiastics that were present, being upon their knees, Jacob curate ofSee footnote 20
Pallany, and interpreter to the synod, read the said profession in Malabar, all of them saying it along with him; which being ended, they all took the oath in the hands of the lord metropolitan, who asked them one by one inparticular, whether they did firmly believe all that was contained in the profession.
Three of the demands passed by this crushing assembly stand out above all others for their cruelty. First, there was the decree demanding the celibacy of the clergy. If the synod had passed this regulation as of force from then on, it would have been a great enough revolution; but the decree was made retroactive. All the Syrian priests were immediately to put away their wives. Since it had been the practice of the St. Thomas Christians to permit the wife of the priest to draw some little financial pay from there venues of the church, this also was cut off, leaving the poor woman and her children without support. Another of the cruel regulations was to single out for burning at the stake those Christians whom the Roman Catholic Church chose to designate as
“The synod doth command all the members thereof upon pain of mortal sin, not to eat flesh upon Saturdays.”(22)
Decree 16, which will not be rendered verbatim, demands that all feast and fast days shall commence and cease at
“Let the parasceve become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews.”(25)
Neander also wrote:
“While in the Western, and especially in the Roman Church, where the opposition against Judaism predominated, the custom, on the other hand, grew out of this opposition, of observing the Sabbath also as a
Archbishop Menezes, therefore, in harmony with the usual practice of imperial Christianity forced the decree which turned Saturday into a fast day through the Synod of Diamper. This put those St. Thomas Christians who in the future would observe the Sabbath as a festival, into the category of apostate Christians, and destined them for the stake at Goa. Thomas Yeates, who traveled largely in the Orient, writing of the St.Thomas Christians and other Christians of the East, said that Saturday
“amongst them is a festival day agreeable to the ancient practice of the Church.”(27)
Samuel Pure has, in enumerating the doctrines of the Syrian Church, said that they believed
“that the Holy Ghost proceedeth only from the Father; that they celebrate Divine Service as solemnly on the Sabbath, as on the Lord’s Day; that they keep that day festival, eating therein flesh, and fast no Saturday in the year but Easter Eve,…that they acknowledge not purgatory.”(28)
In an earlier
“The Armenians in Hindustan…have preserved the Bible in its purity, and their doctrines are, as far as the author knows, the doctrines of the Bible. Besides they maintain the solemn observance of Christian worship, throughout our empire, on the seventh day.”See footnote 30
Another act of the Synod of Diamper which historians consider
JESUIT SEA POWER DESTROYED BY THE ENGLISH
While the Jesuits were destroying the Church of the East in India, events were moving toward a world revolution in Europe. In 1582 the Jesuits had launched their new translation of the Latin Vulgate in English in order to counteract the powerful effects of Tyndale’s epoch-making Bible translated into English in 1525 from the Received Text in Greek. The 1582 Jesuit New Testament in English declares in its preface its opposition to the Waldensian New Testament.
Spain marshaled all the power and wealth which she had gained from her possessions in the New World to send forth the greatest navy man had yet seen. She had just conquered Portugal, possessing through this conquest the navies of two countries. A fleet of about 130 Spanish ships, great and small, some armed with fifty cannon, sailed up the English Channel to accomplish by force the ruin of English Protestantism.John Richard Green gives this information about the Spanish Armada:
Within the Armada itself, however, all hope was gone. Huddled together by the wind and the deadly English fire, their sails torn, their masts shot away, the crowded galleons had become mere slaughterhouses. Four thousand men had fallen, and bravely as theseSee footnote 31
amenfought, they were cowerby the terrible butchery. Medina himself was in despair. ‘We are lost, Senior Oquenda,’ he cried to his bravest captain: ‘what are we to do?’ ‘Let others talk of being lost,’ replied Oquenda, ‘Your Excellency has only to order up fresh cartridge.’ But Oquendastood alone, and a council of war resolved on retreatto Spain.
GLORIOUS REVOLT OF THE ST. THOMAS CHRISTIANS
The victory of the English over Spain paved the way for the Jesuit defeat on the Malabar Coast. It was several years before the full meaning of the conquest over the Spanish Armada worked its way to the Orient. A ray of light was seen by the suffering St. Thomas Christians. They groaned beneath what they called their Babylonian captivity. They loathed the worship of the images, the adoration of relics, processions, incense, confessional, and all the ceremonies their fathers knew not. They longed for the crystal streams of the Scriptures. They yearned for the literature which the church had fostered since the days of the apostles. As they meditated on the “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God,” their spirit burned within them.
Then an event occurred which caused a revolution among the people. The successive victories of the Dutch and English over the papal armies in India had opened the way for the patriarch at Babylon to ordain and send a new head to the church in India, Ahatalla. He was seized when he landed atMailapore near Madras, shipped to Goa, and burned at the stake. Immediately a cry of horror ran through the Malabar churches. At the summons of protest, they came from town and village. Before a huge cross at a place near
When the papal leaders beheld nearly 400,000 Christians lost to their church, they immediately dispatched monks to go in among them and, if possible, to remedy the disaster. “The result,” says Adeney, “was a split of the Syrian Church, one party adhering to the papal church as Romo-Syrians, while the more daring spirits reverted to the Syrian usages. It is estimated that the former, known as Puthencoor, or the new community, now number about 110,000 while the latter, the
FOOTNOTES / SOURCES
1 Rae, The Syrian Church in India, p. 200.
2. Mosheim, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, b. 4, cent. 16, sec. 3, pt. 1,ch. 1, pars 10-12.
3. Hunter, A Brief History of the Indian People, p. 151.
4. D’Orsey, Portuguese Discoveries, Dependencies, and Missions in Asia and Africa, p. 5.
5. Ibid., pp. 30, 31.
6. Kaye, Christianity in India, reviewed in Dublin University Magazine, vol.54, p. 340.
7. Froude, The Council of Trent, pp. 174, 175; Muir, The Arrested Reformation, pp. 152, 153; also M’Clintock and Strong, Cyclopedia, art. “The Council of Trent.”
8. Holtzmann, Kanon
9. Pallavicini, Histoire du Concile de Trente, vol. 2, pp. 1031, 1032.
10. D’Orsey, Portuguese Discoveries, Dependencies, and Missions in Asia and Africa, p. 163.
11. Dellon, Account of the Inquisition at Goa, p. 8; p 23, 1815 ed.
12. Buchanan, Christian Researches in Asia, pp. 169-172.
13. Dellon, Account of the Inquisition at Goa, pp. 41, 42.
14. Rae, The Syrian Church in India, pp. 217, 218.
15. Ibid., p. 238.
16. D’Orsey, Portuguese Discoveries, Dependencies, and Missions in Asia and Africa, p. 190.
17. D’Orsey, Portuguese Discoveries, Dependencies, and Missions in Asia and Africa, p. 193.
18. D’Orsey, Portuguese Discoveries, Dependencies, and Missions in Asia and Africa, pp. 215, 216.
19. D’Orsey, Portuguese Discoveries, Dependencies, and Missions in Asia and Africa, p. 228.
20. Geddes, The Church History of Malabar, pp. 116, 117.
21. Rae, The Syrian Church in India, p. 201.
22. Geddes, The Church History of Malabar, p. 357.
23. Geddes, The Church History of Malabar, pp. 357, 358.
24. Neander, General History of the Christian Religion and Church, vol. 1,p. 295.
25. Victorinus, On the Creation of the World, found in Ante-Nicene Fathers
26. Neander, General History of the Christian Religion and Church, vol. 1,p. 296.
27. Yeates, East Indian Church History, p. 72.
28. Purchas, His Pilgrimes, vol. 1, pp. 351-353.
29. Epistles of Gregory I, coil. 13, ep. 1, found in Nicene and Post-NiceneFathers, 2d Series, vol. 13.
30. Buchanan, Christian Researches in Asia, p. 266
31. Green, A Short History of the English People, b. 6, pt. 2, ch. 6, par. 26.
32. Adeney, The Greek and Eastern Churches, p. 530.