SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Ms Sarah Knight

MA(Kerala, India) MLitt (Hyderabad, India)


Sarah Knight
Ms Sarah Knight
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Thesis title:
“Oath of the Leaning Cross” and the Rejection of Rome’s Authority: a Re-evaluation of the History of the Syrian Christians of Kerala in the year 1653
Year of Study:
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PhD Research

This research is a historical analysis of the events surrounding the 'Oath', and a study of the historiography of the Syrian Christians in Kerala, with particular reference to the contrast between indigenous and colonial narratives. 

When the Portuguese arrived in Kerala in 1498, they found an established Church which was not Roman Catholic. Attempts to bring this Church into the Catholic fold culminated in the Synod of Diamper in 1599 where this was finally brought about.  The Oath of the Leaning Cross refers to the event where the Syrian Christians rejected Catholic doctrine and ecclesiastical authority.  Diverging narratives emerged in the centuries that followed as new church identities took shape, and this research examines the historiography of this process.