HistoryMar Thome, an avid architect, is believed to have at least designed, if not directly built, some of the earliest Churches in Mylapore. According to Church tradition, Gondophorus II gave the Church of Mylapore special privileges outside of normal citizens. However, Mylapore's history was largely unknown until the 11th century. Raja Jatavarman of the Pandyan Dynasty converted to the Nestorian religion in 1021, taking on the Christian name David. His successor, Maravarman John, allocated several hundred miles around the city of Mylapore to the Nestorian Church, under the rule of Presbyter Jacob II.
Over next few decades, the Pandyan Dynasty would grow quickly in prominence for the proselyzation of the new religion, toppling the Calukya Dynasty at the Battle of Bengalore in 1076. Maharaja Thomas I would greatly expand the Pandyan navy, expanding the influence of Nestorianism as far as Arabia and Indonesia. Mylapore benefited greatly under the Pandyan Dynasty, becoming a center of art and literature during the Middle Ages. Architecture also grew during this time, most notably the Basilica of San Thome built during this time. However, there were instances of conflict between the High Presbyter and the Maharaja over domination in temporal and spiritual matters. In 1129, the short-lived seizure of power by Raja Thomas III ended with is ex-communication by Presbyter Judah I.
In 1152, Maharaja John IV sent a military expedition to intervene in the Crusades near Jerusalem, thus making the first contact with the western world. In 1171, Maharaja John V sent a formal letter to the heads of state in Europe, telling them about the Nestorian Empire in India and declaring their allegiance to Christendom. The Pope sent an offer of trade and alliance, but this was lost at sea. In 1216, Maharaja David II launched a massive campaign beyond the Krishna River, in an attempt to unite all of India. However, after David was killed in 1219 at the Siege of Agra, however, the empire was overrun by an invasion of Muslims that sacked Vijayanager.
The Pandyan empire would be re-established by Raja John VI in 1229, but over the next several decades it went into steady decline until the empire's total collapse in 1295. During this time, however, many European explorers seeking China would venture into India and marvel at the spectacular art of Mylapore. After the collapse of the Empire, the Holy See would suffer under many foreign conquests. Stripped of all temporal power, the High Presbyter remained confined to the Basilica of San Thome and Royal Palace. In 1923, however, the modern Republic of Dravada permitted the Nestorians to retain about 200 acres of land within the city of Madras, recognizing its autonomy as an independent nation.
AdministrationAdministered under the same government, the federal authority of Mylapore is divided between two needs: ecclesiastical and judicial. The Council of Presbyters in San Thome are a group of 72 clerics, selected after many decades of experience from the most pious regions of the Christian world. This council is the highest ecclesiastical authority. Their number is always kept at 72, with the High Presbyter appointing replacements as they die. Any candidate appointed by the High Presbyter, however, must be approved by the remainder of the Council first. Committees in charge of enforcing church rulings, such as the Congregation of the Body of Christ, have been in place since antiquity.
Each community of Nestorians abroad is governed by a Dispensation, organized by a local Bishop. All of these bishops report to the Council of Presbyters in San Thome, either in General Synods or by proxy. The city of San Thome is the only city within Mylapore, consisting of the judicial and religious offices in the nation, but not including related suburbs and communities within the jurisdiction of Mylapore.
Matters of state in Mylapore is administered by the Divan of Mylapore, a congress of ministers funded by th Presbyters. The Divan is run by the Prime Minister, who is always a member of the clergy himself. Certain subministries under the Divan include the Ministry of the Venerable Ark, in charge of finances, the Supreme Court for matters of civil crime, and the Ministry of Public Affairs for the sake of publicity.
Mylapore is the seat of the Nestorian Christian Church, one of the largest denominations of Christianity. Embracing over 800 million members, the Nestorian Church has over 1500 dispensations in more than 40 nations across the world, including Kabulistan, the EAF, Mesopotamia, and Aksum. Mar Thoma first brought Christianity to India in 43 AD, and established the Dispensation of Mylapore where he was elected High Presbyter. This was during the reign of Gondaphorus II, whose father was the monarch that sent the wise men to the Nativity. After many years, Thomas was brutally martyred in 73 AD, and buried in the city. The tomb of Mar Thoma is now underneath the Basilica of Saint Thomas, the capital of San Thome City.
The successive Presbyters of Mylapore, being successors of Saint Thomas, are the traditional head of the universal Nestorian Church. The current High Presbyter, Jacob VII, is the 187th successor of Thomas the Apostle. The Nestorian Church broke its relations with the west after the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, when the monk Nestorius affirmed that Jesus and the Son of God were two separate entities united in the flesh. As this was not acceptable by the western churches, the Nestorians broke off communications with Rome.
The liturgy of the Nestorian Church is comparable, but completely unique from that of other denominations. Theologically, they differ from Catholicism by affirming the transcendent nature of the divine Son of God, but do not give the same attributes to Jesus of Nazareth. As such, they forbid any image of Jesus in the churches, as this is considered idolatry.
The Cavalan Guard is the the only standing military force in Mylapore. Consisting of 208 soldiers, it was founded as a group of Tamil mercenaries by Presbyter Judah II in the late 12th century. Every year, new recruits in the guard are sworn in personally by the High Presbyter, for a military service of five years. The San Thome secret service was founded in 1939, and acts as a more personal protection against the Presbyter and his associates. The secret service is a civilian organization funded by the Divan, with their headquarters just outside of San Thome.