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Malankara Metropolitan

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Malankara Metropolitan

Malankara Metropolitan was a legal title given to the head of the Malankara Syrian Church, also called Puthencoor (New Loyalists) Syrian Christians by the Government of Travancore and Cochin in South India. This title was awarded by a proclamation from the King of Travancore & the King of Cochin to the legal head of Malankara Syrian Church . The Supreme Court of India had authenticated the usage of this title by Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in its verdict in Malankara Church case.



It was when Col. Munroe the resident of Travancore, Pulikkottil Joseph Ittoop Ramban was ordained as a bishop by Geevarghese Mar Philexenos (Kidangan) (1811–29) of Malabar Independent Syrian Church (Thozhyoor Church) on 22 March 1815. He was given the episcopal title Dionysius (a Greek personal name derived from the name of the Greek god DIONYSOS), the second bishop in the Malankara Church to get this title. After the death of Mar Thoma VIII, he was made the head of the Malankara Church by a Royal proclamation issued by the King of Travancore and later by the King of Cochin. The proclamation insisted every Syrian Christian of Travancore-Cochin to obey the Malankara Metropolitan. From then onwards the head of the Malankara Syrian Church legally came to be known as Malankara Metropolitan. The position of the Malankara Metropolitan in the 19th century is an upgrowth from the position of the previous MarThomas' and Archdeacons'. The power and authority of the Malankara Metropolitan got more recognition than the power and authority of the previous Archdeacons' and Marthomas' because of some political changes in the country through the establishment of British rule.

From 1816, Dionysius II, Dionysius III, Dionysius IV, Mathews Mar Athanasius, Thomas Mar Athanasius and Dionysius V were the Malanakara Metropolitans in the 19th century. Among these Mathews Mar Athanasius of Palakkunnathu exercised enormous spiritual as well as temporal powers inside and outside the community. He was the Malankara Metropolitan at the time of Mulanthuruthy Padiyola in (1876).However inspired by the western missionaries cooperated in the old seminary at Kottayam, he wanted to inculcate reformist ideas in the traditional Syrian church. A parallel group under Dionysious V was working against the ruling Malankara Metropolitan's reformist ideas. During the later half of the 19th century there occurred two factions in the community; the minority faction that favored reformation and supported the Malankara metropolitan (Metran Kakshi- Reformists)and the majority faction who were against the introduction of new changes which was against the Syrian tradition of the church got stood with the Patriarch of Antioch (Bava kakshi-Syrian traditionalists). This invited a closer interference of the Patriarch of Antioch. Mar Dionysius V stood with the Patriarch of Antioch against the ruling metropolitan, Mathews Mar Athanasius of Palakkunnathu. A series of court cases followed there after. The Travancore Royal court on 14 July 1889 declared that Palakkunnathu Thomas Mar Athanasius and the Reformist faction has no rights in the Malankara Syrian Church as they were not willing to accept the supremacy of the Patriarch of Antioch. Later the Reformist faction organised themselves as independent Marthoma Syrian Church .

The practice of issuing Royal proclamation ceased after the time of Palakkunnathu Mathews Mar Athanasius. Dionysious V of the Bava Kakshi (Syrian traditionalists) invited and brought Patriarch Peter III of Antioch to Malankara in 1875 .The Patriarch divided the Malankara church into seven diocese; Dionysious V who was holding the Diocese of Quilon was declared as the Malankara Metropolitan in the synod of Mulanthuruthy(27 to 30 June 1876) . Neither the reigning Malankara Metropolitan, Palakkunathu Mathews Mar Athanasious nor the Churches favouring him participated in the synod . Naturally the Patriarch formally took the control of the Syrian church as per the wishes of the traditionalists(Bava Kakshi). This resulted in a series of court cases and stronger rift in the church. Dionysious V of Bava Kakshi approached the Royal Court of Travancore aganist Palakkunnathu Thomas Mar Athanasious reigning as Malankara Metropolitan and against occupying assets of church and seminary. Appellant Dinoysious V and Bava Kakshi won the case in 1889 and Palakkunnathu Thomas Mar Athanasius was deprived of the title of Malankara Metropolitan and evicted from Syrian Seminary as he was not willing to attend the synod and accept the supremacy of the Patriarch .

Later the reformist faction argued over years that the case took a turn in favor of Bava Kakshi on production of an evidence exhibit which later became infamous as KAPPI CANON ( A Syriac Church law book which was tampered with addition of extra articles narrating historic subordination of Malankara church to Holy See of Antioch and giving temporal powers to See of Antioch) dipped in coffee concentrate to show its antiquity.Mean while the defeated metran(reformist) faction organised themselves under the evicted Malankara Metropolitan Thomas Mar Athanasious with independent Indigenous Christian heritage as Marthoma Syrian Church.

However, later after the establishment of Catholicate in Malankara in 1912, again a rift occurred among Jacobites over the temporal authority of Patriarch of Antioch .There were several years of litigation between the two factions, the Metran (orthodox) faction and the Bava (jacobite) faction. Now the Jacobites and the Orthodox are separate sister churches as Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Under Catholicate See of Saint Thomas) and Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church aka (under The Holy Antiochian See of Saint Peter).


Historically the primate or the leader of St Thomas Christians were known as Jathikku Karthavyan (leader of Community), Malankara moopen (Elder of the Community), Archdeacon or Arkadyokon (High Priest).In 16th century to resist the latinization attempts of the Jesuits it became necessary to elevate the Archdeacon to a position of 'Metropolitan Bishop' named as Mar Thoma. In 1653 the Archdeacon position was elevated to Bishopric by laying hands of twelve priests in the absence of a valid Bishop. This was an emergency step. Then onwards the Metropolitan Bishop assumed the honorific ecclesiastical title Marthoma. This title was used from 1653 to 1815. Later a regular 'Bishopric' was established in Malankara with the help of Gregorios Abdal Jaleel. Until a few hundred years back, the leadership of St Thomas Christian Community was dynastically held by members of the Pakalomattom family.

Mar Thoma I – In 1653, Thomas of Pakalomattam Thravadu was consecrated with the title Marthoma I by Mar Gregorios Abdal Jaleel. Marthoma I survived a number of assassination attempts. He died on 25 April 1670 and was interred in Angamaly St Mary's Jacobite Syrian Church.

Mar Thoma II – (1670–1686) Consecrated by Marthoma I and Mar Gregorios Abdal Jaleel. Died on 14 April 1686 and was interred at St. Mary's Syriac Orthodox Church, Niranam.

Mar Thoma III – (1686–1688) Consecrated by Mar Ivanios Hirudyathulla (from Antioch), died on 21 April 1688. Laid to rest at St.Thomas Syriac Orthodox Church, Kadampanad.

Mar Thoma IV – (1688–1728). Consecrated by Mar Ivanios Hirudyathulla. Died on 24 March 1728 and was interred at Kandanad Martha Mariam Syriac Orthodox Church.

Mar Thoma V – (1728–1765) – Consecrated by Marthoma IV. Died on 8 May 1765 and laid to rest at St. Mary's Syriac Orthodox Church, Niranam.

Mar Thoma VI – (1765–1808) Consecrated by Marthoma V. Died on 8 April 1808 and laid to rest at St. Mary's Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, Puthenkavu. Important events:

  • In June 1770, he accepted re-consecration from Antiochian bishops in order to avoid a split in the Church and the title Dionysius was accepted.
  • Marthoma VI did not approve the appointment of Kattumangattu Abraham Mar Coorilos as a metropolitan by a bishop from Antioch. This was the beginning of Malabar Independent Syrian Church.
  • He was forced to conduct a service according to Chaldean Catholic rites, but escaped during a rebellion in Travancore under Velu Thampi.
  • Rev.Dr. Claudius Buchanan visited and made arrangement for the translation of the Bible into Malayalam. Marthoma presented him the peshitto Bible written in the old Syriac. This manuscript is kept in the public library of the University of Cambridge.
  • Mar Thoma VII – (1808–1809) Consecrated by Marthoma VI in 1796. During his time on 1 December 1808, a sum of 3000 Star Pagoda (in 2002 one Star Pagoda coin had a market value of £475) was given as loan in perpetuity to the British resident Colonel Maccaulay. This is known as Vattipanam. Marthoma died on 4 July 1809 and was interred at St. Peter's & St. Paul's Syriac Orthodox Church, Kolencherry.

    Mar Thoma VIII – (1809–1816) Consecrated on 2 July 1809 by Marthoma VII. During his time Kottayam Suryani Seminary was opened and modern education began in Kerala. Marthoma died on 26 January 1816 and was interred at St. Mary's Cathedral, Puthencavu, Chengannur.

    Mar Thoma IX – (1816–1817). Consecrated by Marthoma VIII without the consent of the people. So he retired to St.George Orthodox Church, Kadamattom, and spent the rest of his days in prayer and fasting.

    There after the Malankara Metropolitans didn't use the name Marthoma with their ecclesiastical title until 1975.

    Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius (Malankara Metropolitan) – (1816) was consecrated by Mar Philoxenos II, of the Malabar Independent Syrian Church (Thozhiyoor Sabha). Died on 25 November 1816 and laid to rest at Orthodox Old Seminary, Kottayam. (He didn't use the official title Marthoma even though people affectionately called him Marthoma X.)

    Punnathra Geevargis Mar Dionysius.(1817–1825)

    Cheppattu Philipose Mar Dionysius.(1825–1852)

    Mathews Mar Athanasius Metropolitan.(1852–1877)

    Mar Dionysius V(1865-1909)

    Geevarghese Dionysius of Vattasseril(1909-1934)

    List of Malankara Metropolitans

    Archdeacon position was uplifted to Metropolitan position. Metropolitans of the Malankara Church were called with ecclesistical title Mar Thoma. (They all took the title name Marthoma except Mar Thoma VI)

  • Mar Thoma I (1653–1670)
  • Mar Thoma II (1670–1686)
  • Mar Thoma III (1686–1688)
  • Mar Thoma IV (1688–1728)
  • Mar Thoma V (1728–1765)
  • Mar Dionysius I(1765–1808)(affectionately called Mar Thoma VI)
  • Mar Thoma VII (1808–1809)
  • Mar Thoma VIII (1809–1816)
  • Mar Thoma IX (1816–1817)
  • There after Mar Thoma title was used from 1893 onwards in Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church and from 1975 onwards in Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.


    Malankara Metropolitan Wikipedia

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