"...for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it."

-Pope Pius XI, Encyclical "Mortalium Animos"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mar Ivanios (1882-1953), Archbishop of Trivandrum: The Story of a Great Conversion by Margaret Gibbons

This book opens a window on a the too-little known East and its teeming millions. Mar Ivanios, the subject of this discriminating study, was a member of the Church of Malabar which is the indigenous Church of India originating with St. Thomas the Apostle. Mar Ivanios re-united with the Catholic Church in 1930 and was the means of bringing countless thousands back to the fold. A man of sanctity and learning and an historian with a deeply-rooted veneration for lawfully constituted authority, he adopted Belloc's view that official history taught in English schools and universities gave a thoroughly wrong perspective to every essential matter in the English reformation. He, with thousands of other Jacobites, became convinced of the unique claims of the Catholic Church and the futility of seeking sanction and spiritual solace elsewhere and believed in the re-union of Christendom on the basis of historical Christianity. This Sacerdos Magnus, an exotic figure from the East, was the cynosure of all eyes at the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin and on his visits to Australia, Canada, and Rome. Yet his sanctity, asceticism, and simplicity puts western Christianity to shame. An opportune, penetrating, and informative study of an unusual man whose zealous administration was rewarded with much fruit, it is of inestimable value now. There is a world elsewhere and it is our privilege to learn of it from this absorbing account of an archbishop beloved by all who knew him. A remarkable portrait of a remarkable man.