Throne of St. Thomas
Throne of St. Thomas or Malankara throne is the chair seated by the head of the Malankara Church when he is enthroned as the hierarch and given the title of Malankara Metropolitan. Tradition has it that Malankara Church was established by St. Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century in Malankara (Kerala). During the first fifteen centuries, the heads of the church were elders selected or elected from among elders of various parishes. No throne-like chairs or stools/ottomans were known to have been in use for their enthronement. The first person to have been enthroned on this chair was Parampil Thomas Kathanar as Mar Thoma I, in 1653; since then this chair is known as Mar Thoma Throne/St. Thomas Throne. The Dutch model chair was said to be gifted by Raja of Thekkumkoor Dynasty who was against the Portuguese hegemony.
The Malankara simhasanam (Malankara throne or Thomas throne) is now under the custody of Mar Thoma Syrian Church. It is said that the throne was acquired after Thomas Mar Athanasius lost the Seminary Suit against the Jacobites he had come back to the old seminary in Kottayam to vacate his room; some members of the church out of resentment had emptied everything inside the room and put it outside the premise along with the Malankara Throne. By seeing the insignificance of a chair, they put out the chair, saying isn't this is the claim for your independent roots, take this degradable "Throne of Mar Thoma" too, Thomas Mar Athanasius had to then take that chair to Maramon and eventually to Tiruvalla.
Soon after the Coonan Cross Oath (Koonan Kurishu Satyam), in AD 1653, it became necessary to appoint a bishop as the head of the Malankara Church. They elected the then leader Parampil Thomas Kathanar as their first bishop. For this consecration they made a special throne-like chair. On May 22, 1653, Thomas Kathanar was seated on it and twelve kathanars (priests) placed their hands on him and elevated him to the office of bishop. He was given the ecclesiastical title Mar Thoma I. This throne used in 1653 was later used for the consecration of other hierarchs & primates of the Malankara Church and they all carried the title Mar Thoma.
The usage of the title continued till the end of the nineteenth century. In 1876 Malankara sabha culminated into a split. Mar Thoma Church got separated and started functioning as an independent faction. However, the two fully independent factions as of today, Malankara Orthodox Church and Mar Thoma Church continue to use the title 'Mar Thoma' in the names of their supreme heads. As all other factions that got separated from the unified Malankara sabha are under foreign Church heads, the usage of the 'Mar Thoma' title could only be witnessed in the above two Malankara Churches only.
Metropolitans enthroned on this throne
|Mar Thoma I||Parampil Thomas Kathanar||1653–1670|
|Mar Thoma II||--||1670–1686|
|Mar Thoma III||--||1686–1688|
|Mar Thoma IV||--||1688–1728|
|Mar Thoma V||--||1728–1765|
|Mar Thoma VI||Mar Dionysius I||1765–1808|
|Mar Thoma VII||--||1808–1809|
|Mar Thoma VIII||--||1809–1816|
|Mar Thoma IX||--||1816–1817|
|Mar Thoma XI||Punnathra Mar Dionysius / Mar Dionysious III||1817–1825|
|Mar Thoma XII||Cheppad Mar Dionysius / Mar Dionysious IV||1825–1852|
The following Metropolitans of the Malankara Church were not seated on this Throne of St. Thomas at the time of their consecration.
- Mar Thoma X, Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious I (Mar Dionysious II) (1815–1816) was consecrated at Pazhanji, outside Travancore-Cochin
- Mar Thoma XIII, Mathews Mar Athanasius (1843–1877) was consecrated in Antioch.
There after the continuation of succession of all Marthoma Methrapolithas of Malankara was in Malankara Throne of St Thomas.
- Mar Thoma XIV (1877–1893), Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan
- Mar Thoma XV (1893–1910), Titus I Mar Thoma Metropolitan
- Mar Thoma XVI (1910–1944), Titus II Mar Thoma Metropolitan
- Mar Thoma XVII (1944–1947), Abraham Mar Thoma Metropolitan
- Mar Thoma XVIII (1947–1976), Juhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan
- Mar Thoma XIX (1976–1999), Alexander Mar Thoma Metropolitan
- Mar Thoma XX (1999–2007), Philipose Mar Chrysostem Mar Thoma Metropolitan
- Mar Thoma XXI (2007– ), Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan
The present Marthoma is the 21st in the line of succession after the establishment of Marthoma Episcopacy.
- P.V. Mathew. Keralathille Nazrani Kristhianikal (Nazrani Christians of Kerala) Vol. 2. Page 5
For further reading
- (Anglican) Missionary Registers (in English) from 1816.
- Niranam Granthavari (Record of History written during 1770-1830 in Malayalam). Editor Paul Manalil, M.O.C. Publications, Devalokam Aramana, Kottayam. 2002.
- Malankara Church
- Malabar Independent Syrian Church
- Mar Thoma Church
- St. Thomas Evangelical Church
- Oriental Orthodoxy