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Malankara Metropolitan was a legal title given to the head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Malankara Sabha), 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 Orthodox Syrian Church.
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, 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 obey the Malankara Metropolitan. From then onwards the head of the Malankara Orthodox 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 Mar Thomas 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 Malankara 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 Dionysius V was working against the ruling Malankara Metropolitan's reformist ideas. During the latter half of the 19th century there occurred two factions in the community; the minority faction that favored reformation and supported the Malankara metropolitan(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 Pulikootil Joseph Mar Dionysius 2 (Syrian traditionalists). This also invited a closer interference of the Patriarch of Antioch in Malankara Church. Mar Dionysius V stood with the Patriarch of Antioch against the ruling metropolitan, Mathews Mar Athanasius of Palakkunnathu. A series of court cases followed thereafter. The Travancore Royal court on 14 July 1889 declared that Palakkunnathu Thomas Mar Athanasius and the Reformist faction has no rights in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Later the Reformist faction organized themselves as the independent Marthoma Syrian Church.
The practice of issuing Royal proclamation ceased after the time of Palakkunnathu Mathews Mar Athanasius. Dionysius V of the (Syrian traditionalists) invited and brought Patriarch Peter III of Antioch to Malankara in 1875.The Patriarch divided the Malankara church into seven dioceses; Dionysius 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 Athanasius nor the Churches favoring him participated in the synod.
Later on, a series of court cases and stronger rift occurred in the church. The head of Malankara Church, Malankara Metropolitan Dionysius V approached the Royal Court of Travancore against Palakkunnathu Thomas Mar Athanasius reigning as Malankara Metropolitan and against occupying assets of church and seminary. Appellant Dionysius V won the case in 1889 and Palakkunnathu Thomas Mar Athanasius was deprived of the title of Malankara Metropolitan and evicted from Syrian Seminary.
Later the reformist faction argued over years that the case took a turn in favor of Dionysius 5,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 reformist faction organized themselves under the evicted Malankara Metropolitan Thomas Mar Athanasius 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 Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church over the temporal authority of Patriarch of Antioch. There were several years of litigation between the two factions, the Metran faction, and the Bava faction.
From the Royal Court verdict from 1889 repeated and Supreme Court verdict in 1958 and 1995, it was proclaimed by the Court that Patriarch exercised only spiritual authority and no temporal authority in the Malankara Church. In 2002 majority of Bava kakshi(Patriarch Faction)went out of the jurisdiction of Malankara Metropolitan and formed a new church called the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church a.k.a. (under The Holy Antiochian See of Saint Peter)which later became void legally in Supreme Court verdict 2017. While the Malankara Metropolitan plus Catholicose of East still remains as the Head of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Under the Holy See of St Thomas).
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 the 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 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.
- 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 Macaulay. 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.
Thereafter 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)
List of Malankara Metropolitans
Archdeacon position was uplifted to Metropolitan position. Metropolitans of the Malankara Church were called with ecclesiastical 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)
The usage of the title Catholicos of the East started in Malankara Syrian Church from 1912.
|Name||Episcopal Name& Details||Years served as Malankara Metropolitan|
|Pulikkottil Joseph Ittoop||Mar Dionysius II – The first Malankara Metropolitan proclaimed by the King of Travancore and King of Cochin. Consecrated by Kidangan on 22 March 1815||March 22, 1815, to November 24, 1816|
|Geevarghese Mar Philexenos II (Kidangan Mar Philexenos of Thozhiyor)||The then head of Malabar Independent Syrian Church served as ad hoc Malankara Metropolitan under the proclamation of the Kings of Travancore & Cochin||1816–1817|
|Punnathara Mar Dionysius||Mar Dionysius III. Consecrated by Kidangan on 19 October 1817||19 October 1817 – 17 May 1825|
|Cheppad Philipose Ramban||Mar Dionysius IV. Consecrated by Kidangan on 27 August 1825.||27 August 1825 to 1852|
|Deacon Mathen of Palakkunnathu||Mathews Mar Athanasius. Consecrated by the Patriarch of Antioch in 1841||1852 - 1865|
|Mar Dionysius V. On 29 April 1865 at Ameed (modern-day Diyarbakır), Patriarch Yakoob II elevated him to the rank of Ramban.On 30 April he was consecrated as Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysios.||1865-1909|
|Rev Fr. V. J. Geevarghese Ramban||Geevarghese Dionysius of Vattasseril(Dionysius VI) Malankara Metropolitan.On 26 November 1908, the Malankara Association convened at the Old Seminary and elected Geevarghese Mar Dionysius as the successor to Malankara Metropolitan Mar Dionysius V||1909-1934|
|Kallasseril Punnoose Ramban||H H Baselios Geevarghese II Catholicos of the East & Malankara Metropolitan. On 15 February 1929, the Episcopal Synod of Malankara headed by Malankara Metropolitan Vattaserril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius installed him as the Catholicos of the East||1934-1964|
|Fr. Augen Ramban||H H Baselios Augen I Catholicos of the East & Malankara Metropolitan. Malankara Association met at Niranam on 17 May 1962, Augen Mor Thimotheos was elected as the successor-designate to the Catholicos of the East Baselios Geevarghese II||1964-1975|
|Fr. Mathews||H H Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews I Catholicos of the East & Malankara Metropolitan. On 24 September 1975, Mar Athanasius assumed the charge of Malankara Metropolitan with the approval of the Synod, when Baselios Augen I voluntarily relinquished charge of that office||1975-1991|
|Mathews Mar Coorilose||H H Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews II Catholicos of the East & Malankara Metropolitan. In 1980 he was unanimously elected by the Malankara Syrian Christian Association (the general assembly of representatives of the Church's parishes) as the successor-designate to the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan||1991-2005|
|Rev. Fr. C. T. Thomas||H H Baselios Marthoma Didymus I Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan. On 10 September 1992, the Malankara Association was convened at Parumala Seminary and elected him as successor-designate to the Malankara Metropolitan and Catholicos of the East. Mar Thimotheos assumed the office of Malankara Metropolitan and was installed as the Catholicos of the East Baselios Marthoma Didymos I on 31 October 2005 by his predecessor Mathews II||2005-2010|
|Paulose Mar Milithios||H H Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II Catholicos of the East & Malankara Metropolitan.The Holy Episcopal Synod and the Managing committee nominated him as the successor to the Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan on 27 Sep 2006. Paulose Mar Milithios was enthroned as the new Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan at a solemn ceremony at the St. Paul's and St. Peter's church at Parumala on Monday, 1 November 2010||2010-|
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
- "Niranam St. Mary's Orthodox Syrian Church – Niranam Valiyapally". Niranamchurch.com. Retrieved 2015-02-27.
-  Archived 30 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- "St.George Orthodox Syrian church,Kadamattom,Kerala,India,Kadamatttathu Kathanar,Kadamattom pally,churches in Kerala,orthodox church". Kadamattomchurch.org. Archived from the original on 2014-12-27. Retrieved 2015-02-27.
- Frykenberg, Robert Eric (2008). Christianity in India: From Beginnings to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press.