The Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, an Orthodox Church in Malankara (Kerala, India) is an integral part of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church with the Patriarch of Antioch, His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II as its supreme head. The local head of the Church in Malankara is the Catholicose of the east, His Beatitude Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, ordained by and accountable to the Patriarch of Antioch.
The Syriac Orthodox Church dates back to the very dawn of Christianity. In Syriac, the proper name of the Church is 'idto suryoyto treeysath shubho. In the past, the name of the Church had been translated to English as “Syrian Orthodox Church”. The Holy Synod of the Church approved the translation “Syriac Orthodox Church” for use in English speaking countries in its session of March 28-April 3, 2000. The Church justifiably prides itself as being one of the earliest established Apostolic Churches. It was in Antioch, that the followers of Jesus were called Christians (Acts 11:26).
Jacobite Syrian Church (Syrian Orthodox Church) of India, Iraq, and Syria, recognizing the Syrian Orthodox patriarch of Antioch as its spiritual head. The foundation of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch goes back to early Apostolic days. This event in the history of Christianity is recorded in the Book of Acts 11:26. Apostle Peter Himself established his See 37 AD. He is, therefore, rightly considered the founder and first Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
The Syrian Orthodox Church in India functions as an integral part of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church. So, it is necessary to deal briefly about this universal church at first. When we study the preeminence of Antioch, which has been righly acknowledged as the capital of Syrian Church, we will know the crucial position accorded to the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church in the history of Christianity. Though the Christian Church was first established in Jerusalem, due to servere persecutions, those who gave leadership to the church ere forced to leave the they adopted as a place of refuge, but it turned out to be a fertile ground for the propagation of Gospel. Soon Antioch become the capital of the whole Christendom. The name Christian for believers was first pronounced at Antioch and that is an ample reason to establish the importance of Antioch (Act.11:26). St. Paul the greatest proponent of Gospel had adopted Antioch as the centre of his missionary activities. St. Paul along with Barnabas used Antioch as a center to spread the Gospel and established Churches at various places.
St. Peter who gave leadership to the primitive church was not able to continue his work in Jerusalem because of persecution, Therefore he also chose Antioch as the center of his activities, Antioch was in Short a place of refuge, chosen even by God to safeguard the infant church from perils of oppression. So it could be established that the Church, that was natured from Antioch as it' centre, has all the attributes of a full fledged Church and could be rightly called One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Just as St. Peter was its supreme head so also, even now, for the Syrian Orthodox Church, Antioch is the capital and Patriarch, as the successor of St. Peter, the supreme head of the Church. The Syrian Orthodox Church is in this way a remnant of the most ancient church that was born in Jerusalem and brought up in Antioch.
The book of Acts in its exposition with regard to the rank accorded to St. Peter. St. Peter took up the leadership of the Church of Jerusalem after Christ's Crucifixion and resurrection. Even when he was with Jesus as one the twelve disciples, St. Peter acted as the Chief, emissary and spokesperson of the lot.