A Short History of Cranganore (Muziris)

From the very ancient days Cranganore (Kodungallur) was a famous and prosperous seaport of the East. Known as Muziris to the Greek and the West, Cranganore is described as the “Thriving Town of Muchiri, where the beautiful large ships of Yavanas,bringing gold come, splashing the white foam on the waters of Periar in the Chera Kingdom and return laden with pepper.” Thisbecame also the earliest Christian centre of Malabar, since, according to the common tradition, it was here that St. Thomas the Apostle landed first and preached the Gospel of Christ in the early years of the first century of the Christian era. It was to this capital of Chera Kingdom that Thomas of Cana came from Syria with his followers and settled down. We can still see here the monument built in memory of Thomas of Cana. The existence of a thriving Christian Community here attracted the attention of others and the Bishops who came from Persia chose this place for their residence. Having continued to be a prosperous and very important centre of trade and Christian life till the middle of the 14th century, it has gradually fallen into complete ruin and decay. The very foundation of Cranganore became insecure, the entrance of her harbor became choked up and the remorseless monsoon washed away her bulwarks.

      As all the natural calamities tolled the death knell of the commercial prosperity of Cranganore so also the glory of the Malabar Church was lost either because of the little contact with the Roman Church or because of the lack of good and dedicated leaders. The Christian spirit lay dormant for a long time and had to pass through a long night of spiritual interregnum. From this slumber of ages the Malabar Church was suddenly awakened by the arrival of the Portuguese and especially by St. Francis Xavier, the Second Apostle of India on the Malabar Coast. Whereever in Malabar the Portuguese established themselves, communities of St. Thomas Christians who embraced the Latin Rite, arose and flourished. So at present the Catholic population of the Diocese of Kottapuram consists mostly of the descendants of those ancient St. Thomas Christians of Malabar who embraced the Latin Rite during the Portuguese regime in the 16th and 17th centuries, augmented by conversions chiefly from the ranks of Hinduism, as in the case of almost all the dioceses of Kerala.