Our History

Knanaya History

Knanaya Catholics are a community of Catholics from the Indian state of Kerala, who are the descendants of Jewish-Christian immigrants who arrived in Kerala in the 4th century AD from the Middle East. They are also known as Knanaya or Southists. They migrated from Southern Mesopotamia to the Malabar ( present Kerala ) Coast of Cranganore ( Kodungalloor ) in AD 345 under the leadership of an enterprising merchant Thomas of Cana ( Knai Thomman ). This migration is considered as a turning point in the history of St Thomas Christians of Malabar. The original community consisted of about 400 persons belonging to 72 families of seven clans. A bishop by name Uraha Mar Yousef, four priests and several deacons were among them. They formed themselves into an endogamous community by keeping their tradition and culture but co-existed peacefully among the St. Thomas Christians in India.These colonists were welcomed by Cheraman Perumal, then king, and were given permission to settle down in Kodungalloor. Later, Cheraman Perumal bestowed them with 72 royal privileges, and it was recorded on copper plates ( Knai Thomman Cheppedu ). According to the Copper plates, these privileges were given to Thomas and his colleagues and all of his descendents as long as the sun and moon exist. These privileges are very important since all these privileges had influenced the community’s social life as well as the social status in the past years.

Knanaya Catholics have their own unique customs, traditions, and liturgical practices, which distinguish them from other Syro-Malabar Catholics. They have a strong sense of community and social identity, and traditionally marry within their own community.Knanaya Catholics have a rich history and culture, and have contributed significantly to the development of the Catholic Church in India. Today, they are found not only in Kerala but also in other parts of India and across other countries.

A short documentary on Knanaya Community

KCYL Germany (Knanaya Catholic Youth League of Germany) is a Catholic lay Organisation for the Knanaya Catholic Youth residing in Federal Republic of Germany.

Follow Us