Zacharias Mar Athanasios
Family history and Lineage
Cherian Polachirackal was born to an aristocratic Saint Thomas Christian family Polachirackal within the erst-while Indian princely state of Travancore currently in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. He is a son of the aristocratic Saint Thomas Christian family with their tharavad in Mavelikkara. The Polachirackal House held the highest-ranking hereditary title for a Christian family in Travancore being of nobility titled as Tharakan and were of the highest ranking Christian peer to the Maharaja of Travancore. The Polachirackal House through the Saint Thomas Christian Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is acknowledged by Pope Pius XI and continues to do so by the Holy See of the Vatican City as one of the oldest Saint Thomas Christian families with their tradition of origin being that their ancestors who were of a royal lineage from the Chera Dynasty were converted by Saint Thomas in 53 AD and preceding Western Christianity and Christian monarchies in Europe. Starting with the first Portuguese discoveries including that of navigator Vasco da Gama, the House had evolved from accumulating one of the largest wealth through merchant trading from their oligopoly in black pepper commodity trading as part of the spice trade controlled by the Dutch East India during the age of discovery between the 16th and 18th centuries. The House's excessive wealth allowed them to become the court financiers to Marthanda Varma and financed the Kingdom of Venad during the Travancore–Dutch War in the 18th century against the Dutch East India Company. This culminated in funding the Battle of Colachel in 1741 leading to Marthanda Varma defeating of the Dutch East India Company which was the first loss of its kind by a European naval super-power in the Indian sub-continent. The House were signatories to the Treaty of Mavelikkara in 1753 contributing to the establishment of the Kingdom of Travancore, diminishing the role of the Dutch East India Company in the Indian subcontinent and leading to the rise of the Maharaja of Travancore Marthanda Varma and the Travancore Royal Family.
Athanasios was born into a Jacobite Orthodox family on 19 February 1909 in Tiruvalla. He later converted to Catholicism. Athanasios was ordained a priest on 24 August 1946. On 31 December 1953 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop. His consecration took place on 22 April 1954. On 27 January 1955, after the death of his predecessor, Joseph Mar Severios, he was appointed Bishop. He died on 29 September 1977.
- "Bathery Diocese". Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC).
- "Short History". Metropolitan Eparchy of Tiruvalla.
- "The Syro-Malankara Catholic Chruch: Historical Overview". St. Peter's Malankara Catholic Church.
- David M. Cheney. "Bishop Athanasios Cheriyan Polachirakal [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Catholic-hierarchy.org. Retrieved 2013-10-29.