An Ancient Church, and a New Venture of Faith in It

An Ancient Church, and a New Venture of Faith in It: "The heathen rulers of the land in early times granted various privileges to their Christian subjects, giving them the place they still hold among the aristocracy as next after Brahmins; but at other times they oppressed them, and made very stringent laws which are still in force to prevent Brahmins from becoming Christians; a Brahmin who does so loses not only all his property, but the guardianship of his own children. Yet still this little Christian community, far from Christian neighbours and support, continued to exist in India for more than a thousand years." Then in the sixteenth century, during the time of the Portuguese domination on the west coast, all the Syrian Christians, except a few who fled to the mountains, were compelled by the Portuguese to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope, and conform in their worship to the ritual prescribed by Rome; their own original Syriac liturgies and books being taken from them, and as far as possible destroyed. But after 80 years of Portuguese dominion the Dutch gained possession of the trading-ports of Malabar, and the Portuguese were driven back northwards to their possessions at Goa; and that district has ever since been the great Indian stronghold of Roman Catholicism, and was the last place in the world where Christians were burned for heresy, the Inquisition only coming to an end there in 1818.


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