The head of the Malankara Church, Catholicos Basil Mar Thoma Mathews III, has visited St. Petersburg and made a stop at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. The rector of the Academy, Bishop Siluan of Peterhof, presented the distinguished guest with an icon of the Deposition of the Lord Jesus Christ in the tomb, which was painted by students of the icon-painting department.
Archimandrite Stefan (Sado), the head of the academy's library, conducted a tour of the library's collections. He showcased publications in the Malayalam language (spoken in southwestern India) and Syriac language. Additionally, the delegation visited the Church-Archaeological Museum of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, where His Holiness Basil Mar Thoma Mathews III left his mark in the honorary guestbook.
A meeting with professors and students took place in the assembly hall, during which Catholicos Basil Mar Thoma Mathews III was awarded an honorary doctorate (doctor honoris causa) from the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. This recognition was conferred based on a resolution of the Academic Council of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy dated August 31, 2023, and with the blessing of His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
Welcoming the guest, the rector of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy recalled the longstanding relationship between this spiritual institution and Christians in India. He noted that as far back as 1725, a student from India studied at the Slavic School, the predecessor of the northern capital's theological schools. Although little is known about this early Indian student, it is recorded that in 1970, a deacon of the Malankara Church defended his candidate's dissertation here, dedicated to the mission of the Apostle Thomas. This dissertation is available in the academy's library. In 1976, during the solemn celebration of the 30th anniversary of the academy's revival, one of the predecessors of the current Primate of the Malankara Church, His Holiness Basil Mar Thoma Mathews I, was received as an honorary member of the Leningrad Theological Academy. Furthermore, it was mentioned that students from the Malankara Church continue to study at the academy. Today, it is a special joy for us to see the Primate of this ancient Church," emphasized Bishop Siluan, noting that His Holiness Basil Mar Thoma Mathews III studied at the theological school from 1977 to 1979.
In response, His Holiness Basil Mar Thoma Mathews III shared his memories of his years of study at the academy: "During my time here, I had the opportunity to explore various branches of theology... I remember very well that at that time, the rector was Archbishop Kirill, now Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. Although he didn't teach me directly, we had many discussions on comparative theology. I also had the opportunity to discuss theological matters related to the Eastern Churches with Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov). Through these few conversations, I was able to understand the scale of Metropolitan Nikodim's personality and his theological views."
He also expressed his gratitude for the fact that students from the Malankara Church in India are currently studying at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. "We hope that in the future, we will continue to send people to study in your theological schools, and you will send your students to us," His Holiness added.