Thomas Mar Athanasius
Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan (Mar Thoma XIV)
|Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church|
|Predecessor||Mathews Mar Athanasius Metropolitan|
|Successor||Titus I Mar Thoma|
|Born||7 October 1836
|Died||10 August 1893
Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan (Mar Thoma XIV) Palakunnathu, is the 14th Mar Thoma of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Thomas Mar Athanasius, the first son of Abraham Malpan was born into the Palakunnathu family of Maramon. He was the Metropolitan of The Mar Thoma Syrian Church from 1877-1893.
Thomas Mar Athanasius, the first son of Abraham Malpan and Aleyamma was born into the Palakunnathu family of Maramon and was the to Brother of Titus I Mar Thoma Metropolitan (Mar Thoma XV). Mathews Mar Athanasius consecrated Thomas Mar Athanasius of Palakkunnathu Family, as his successor in 1869.
Syrian Orthodox Reformation
During the times of Mathews Mar Athanasius, a strong uprising was there in the church with resonance of reformation, and equally an opposition to change by a faction led by Mar Dionysius, Thomas Mar Athanasius, continued the footsteps of his predecessor's reformation policy. Bishop and his followers inspired by the reformist movement blithely went on stridently on-course with reformation within church programme. In 1876, there was held a Synod at Mulamthuruthi presided over by the Patriarch of Antioch, Moran Mar Pathros who was on a visit to Malabar. This helped to tighten Mar Dionysius hold over the traditional Syrian Church in temporal as well as in spiritual affairs. Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan as the leader of the reformed faction of the Church continued with reformation activities in midst of hostility and eventually it led him into litigation.
The Litigation "Seminary Suit"
The majority Orthodox Church represented by Mar Dionysius accused that the consecration of Thomas Mar Athanasius was invalid as it had been done without the permission of the Jacobite patriarch, held to be the supreme head of the Syrian Church in Malabar. To establish the foothold by the two factions a litigation, that lasted for 10 years took place, regarding the title to the possession of the ‘Syrian Seminary’ and allied properties of the Church.
The plea of Thomas Mar Athanasius was that the Syrian Church in Malabar was an independent Church though having friendly relations with the Jacobite Patriarch and that therefore, there was nothing wrong in his having been consecrated by his predecessor without any reference to the Patriarch. In 1889 Royal appeal court,Travancore the final judgement of two native judges decided, the findings in favour of Joseph Mar Dionyasius as representing the Patriarch and the reformation supportive English judge, Mr Justice Ormsby noted his dissent regarding the judgement. This led to the formal division of the church into two sections: one, the Orthodox Church and the other the Mar Thoma Church.
Birth of Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church
The schism and birth of Marthomite church, made earnestness and spiritual fervor in the leaders, lay and clerical alike. The Mar Thomites lost their claim to properties and had to start from scratch, building churches and organizing themselves as an independent body. The evangelistic zeal found expression at this time in the formation of the Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association in 1888 and the beginning of the Mar Thoma Church magazine Malankara Sabha Tharaka in 1893.
Though, the litigation and division sustained a blow for the Syrian Church at the moment. It led to much spiritual attuning in both churches, from bottom to up this age was an enlightenment era, which led the ecclesiastics, to be in prayer, lead a humble life and study of bible in depth. Even though the event was a temporal setback, history shows it stood them in good stead.
Trials and passing
After the litigations, Thomas Mar Athanasius was forced out from Kottayam Seminary with Throne of St. Thomas. During the process his Mitre, Cope and Crozier went missing. He led a more prayerful life on then in midst of struggles and was taken to heavenly abode soon after the case.
Though the episcopate of Thomas Mar Athanasius was a period of trial and suffering for the Church, it was also one of great spiritual promise for the future. The Mar Thoma Church considers itself as one carrying on the original traditions of the Malabar Church, reformed in accordance with the teaching of the New Testament.
Mathews Mar Athanasius
|Metropolitan of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church
Titus I Mar Thoma (Mar Thoma XV)