Order of St. Thomas is the highest honorary award of the Indian Orthodox Church, bestowed on notable personalities by the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan, who is the primate of the Church.
There are six recipients of this award to date:
- His Excellency Gyani Zail Singh, President of India
- His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
- His Holiness Karekin II Nersessian, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians
- His Holiness Abune Paulos, Patriarch of Ethiopia
- His Holiness Aram I Keshishian, Armenian Catholicos of Cilicia
- His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of Ethiopia
Below are newspaper reports, pictures and references about some of these events.
His Excellency Gyani Zail Singh, President of India (12 September 1982)
Dignitaries from several Churches around the world were present at the meeting including Catholicos of All Armenians Vazgen I and Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II. Dr. P. C. Alexander, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India and Union Minister C. M. Stephen were among the guests at this immense meeting. HG Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios, Catholicos Designate Mathews Mar Coorilos, Governor of Andhra Pradesh K. C. Abraham, HG Michael Bosco Duraisamy of Salem representing the Pope of Rome, Metropolitan HG Emilianos representing the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Metropolitan HG Nathaniel of Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan HG Vladimir of Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan HG Sairadhariar of Armenian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan HG Nestor of Romanian Orthodox Church, Bishop HG Josif Velichki of Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Bishop Ambrosius of Finland, Kerala state minister R. Balakrishna Pillai and Chief Editor of Malayala Manorama Mr. K. M. Mathew were also present on the occasion.
His Holiness Karekin II Nersessian, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians (6 November, 2008)
The caption (in Malayalam) above is roughly translated as: The Supreme Catholicos of Armenia HH Karekin II being honored with the highest honorary award ‘Order of St. Thomas’ of the Malankara Orthodox Church by Catholicos HH Baselius MarThoma Didymos I at Kottayam. From left, Priest Trustee Fr. Dr. Johns Abraham Konat, Archbishop Mar Mathew Moolakkatt, Catholicos Designate HB Paulos Mar Milithios, Thomas Mar Athanaius, Armenian Ambassador to India HE Dr. Ashot Kocharian, Dr. Zacharias Mar Theophilus and Bishop Dr. Thomas Samuel.
Report from Malayala Manorama on 7 November, 2008:
The news report is roughly translated as:
Ecumenical relationship of Churches for harmony of nations: Armenian Supreme Catholicos
Kottayam: The Armenian Supreme Catholicos HH Karekin II said that the camaraderie and cooperation between Armenian Church and Malankara Orthodox Church would help overcome economic, social and political challenges faced by both nations and progress in unity.
His Holiness was speaking in response to the felicitation meeting organised by Malankara Orthodox Church. HH said that the relationship between the two Churches is a good example for other Churches. ‘The contributions of Malankara Orthodox Church in the fields of education and healthcare are exemplary. The current visit to Kerala would pave way to strengthen this relationship’, HH added.
Catholicos HH Baselius MarThoma Didymos I who presided over the meeting said that the visit of Armenian Catholicos and delegates was the continuation of several years of friendship and social cooperation between the two Churches. HH also said that this was a great example of strong bonds between Christian Churches. HH added that the chief issues faced by humankind, namely poverty and global environmental issues should be confronted with unity.
His Holiness the Catholicos decorated HH Karekin II with ‘Order of St. Thomas’, the highest honorary award given by the Malankara Orthodox Church. The Endowment scholarship to commemorate the 70th Birthday of senior Metropolitan Thomas Mar Athanasius was inaugurated by HH Karekin II by distributing the scholarship to students. HH Karekin II also handed over birthday presents to HG Mar Athanasius.
Catholicos Designate HB Paulos Mar Milithios, Dr. Zacharias Mar Theophilos Suffragan Metropolitan, Archbishop Mar Mathew Moolakkatt, Bishop Dr. Thomas Samuel, Thomas Mar Athanasius, K. C. Joseph MLA, Joseph M. Puthushery MLA, V. N. Vasavan MLA, Association Secretary Dr. George Joseph, Lay Trustee M. G. George Muthoot, Priest Trustee Fr. Dr. Johns Abraham Konat, Fr. M. P. George, and Yuhanon Ramban spoke on the occasion.
Armenian Ambassador to India HE Dr. Ashot Kocharian, other bishops and delegates were present with HH Krekin II. Students from schools in Gujarat managed by Society of St. Basil under the patronage of Thomas Mar Athanasius presented various performances for the audience.
His Holiness Abune Paulos, Patriarch of Ethiopia (30 December, 2008)
His Holiness Aram I Keshishian, Armenian Catholicos of Cilicia ( 27 February, 2010)
Report from Malayala Manorama on 28 February 2010:
The news report is roughly translated as:
The Testimony of St. Thomas must be preserved: Aram I
Kolencherry: The testimony of faith of Apostle St. Thomas must be preserved in the society, said Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian orthodox Church. HH reminded about the responsibilty to follow the tradition of St. Thomas. Without tradition, core personality will be lost.
HH was receiving ‘Order of St. Thomas’, the highest honorary award of Malankara Orthodox Church. HH said that faith in tradition is the basis of unity and indivisibility of Churches.
‘This award is considered as the greatest gift of love from Malankara Orthodox Church to the Armenian Orthodox Church. This will help continue as two loving members of the Oriental Church family. When the two primates, Catholicoi, sit together, it is in fact God Almighty who becomes happy. The greatness of God is being revealed here’, said HH Aram I looking at Catholicos of the East HH Baselios MarThoma Didymos I.
‘Before visiting India, I have studied about St. Thomas quite a few times. But St. Thomas can be seen directly and known correctly on the soil of Kerala. For the past four days, I have been seeing St. Thomas here. Be it through schools, colleges or hospitals named after the Apostle, the presence of St. Thomas fills Kerala. This land makes it clear that St. Thomas is not just a name or a representative of the past’, said the Armenian Catholicos.
While presenting the Order of St. Thomas award, HH Baselios MarThoma Didymos II said that it is in fact the Malankara Church that is being honored when Armenian Catholicos HH Aram I receives the award. ‘The Armenian Church has made great contributions to the tradition and eminence of Orthodox Churches. HH Aram I particularly has striven to cultivate tolerance and friendship between Islam and the Christian Church. HH also intervenes in international issues in an exemplary way’, said HH Didymos I.
Central cabinet minister of India K. V. Thomas expressed his hope that the visit of HH Aram I would help preserve the unity of Christian Churches in India. Catholicos designate HB Paulos Mar Milithios presided over the meeting. Dr. Philipos Mar Chrysostom Marthoma Metropolitan, Bishop Yohannan Yosef of Chaldean Church, HG Dr. Yakub Mar Irenios, HG Dr. Thomas Mar Athanasius, HG Dr. Mathews Mar Severios and M. M. Monai MLA also spoke on the occasion. Members of the Armenian delegation including Archbishop HE Sebo Sarkesian, Bishop Nareg Alemisian and Fr. Mezros Sarkesian were also present. HG Yuhanon Mar Polycarpos, Priest Trustee Rev. Dr. Johns Abraham Konat, Association Secretary Dr. George Joseph, Viju Jacob and Joy P. Jacob presented gifts.
Previously, the Armenian Catholicos and delegation were received from Kolenchery town to the auditorium of St. Peter’s College as a procession accompanied by elephants and bands of native percussion instruments.
His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of Ethiopia (24 November, 2016)
Report from Malayala Manorama on 25 November 2016:
The news report is roughly translated as:
Mar Dionysius initiated reformation: Ethiopian Patriarch
Order of St. Thomas award presented.
Kottayam: Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysius I initiated the reformation of Church and society, said the primate of Ethiopian Orthodox Church Patriarch HH Abune Mathias.
HH reminded that Pulikkottil I worked alongside the English missionaries without compromising the fundamental faith of the Church. HH was speaking in a meeting where HH received the ‘Order of St. Thomas’, the highest honorary award of Malankara Orthodox Church. HH also said that the contributions of former Principal of the Old Seminary and Metropolitan of Delhi HG Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios in modernizing the Old Seminary cannot be forgotten. The bicentennial memorial feast of Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysius I who established the Old Seminary and the twentieth memorial feast of HG Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios were being concurrently celebrated. Catholicos HH Baselios MarThoma Paulos II and Patriarch HH Abune Mathias officiated the ceremonies. Seminary Principal Fr. Dr. O. Thomas and Manager K. Zachariah Ramban also spoke on the occasion.
Kottayam: The primate of Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Abune Mathias who visited Kerala as the state’s guest has returned. Catholicos HH Baselios MarThoma Paulos II and Metropolitans bade HH farewell. The Patriarch had arrived in Kerala on the 19th [November, 2016].
More photos of the event can be found at the official website of Malankara Orthodox Church.