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Parumala Seminary and Parumala Thirumeni

Parumala Old Church reconstructed at the time of the manager Fr. K.B. Mathews, Karkikoottu
Parumala Seminary 1877-95

Pulikkottil Mar Dionysius observed two conflicting situations facing him which weakened the Church as well as affected its future. One was that Mathews Mar Athanasius had strong support in the parishes south of Kottayam and that he encouraged the reform movement there. Secondly, the Old Seminary was under the control of Mar Athanasius and there was no other establishment available to serve as Seminary for the training of clergy in the existing tradition of the Church. These distressing factors weighed on Mar Dionysius’s mind and prompted him to seek a base in South Travancore which will serve both as a Seminary and a centre for dispensation of Orthodox faith.

At this juncture, Mar Dionysius discussed the situation with the lay leaders of Parumala at Paliakara Church, Tiruvalla, namely Arikupurath Mathan, Athimoottil Peedikayil Mathan and Kalathra Oommen. Arikupurath Mathan, in fact, had broken off from the nearby Niranam parish, came to Parumala where he possessed 64 acres of land and had set up a church in his plot. In the Mulanthuruthy Synod of 1876, he had participated as representative of Parumala.

Parumala is an island placed between two rivers Achankovil and Pampa. It is about two kilo metres long and one and a half kilometer wide with a population of 2000 approximately. The Island lies equidistant from the towns of Chengannur. Tiruvalla and Mavelikara.

Following the discussions, with Mar Dionysius, Mathan gifted to the Metropolitan a plot of land in Parumala, where a Lower Primary School is located at present, on Chingam 16, 1048 (August 1872). A house which came to be called Azhippura for the clergy trainees and another for the Metropolitan were set up in the plot. From here. they used to go to the Parumala Church, raised by Mathan. Later, Athimoottil Mathan Occanda also handed over the land adjoining Azhipura. Finally the Parumala church and its compound (25 Cents) were also made over to Mar Dionysius as gift by the four sons of Mathan in 1060, following his death.

In 1053 (1877) Metropolitan Chathuruthy Mar Gregorios came over to Parumala and started training the clergy trainees. Besides developing the Seminary, the Metropolitan was anxious to have a church attached to the Seminary for the benefit of the trainees. Eighteen years after his coming to Parumala, the Metropolitan raised a beautiful church dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul with additional alters in the names of St. Thomas and St. Mary. The consecration of the church was performed by Malankara Metropolitan Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius on Sunday, January 27, 1895. According to the late Rao Sahib O.M. Cherian, the Metropolitan had incurred an expenditure of Rs. 20,000/- for the construction of both the Seminary and the church.(Rao Sahib O.M. Cherian : Parumala Kochuthirumeni (1115{1939) (Malayalam) pp 33.)

Chathuruthy Geevarghese Mar Gregorios – Parumala Saint

Mar Dionysius and the whole Church were put to great grief on November 2, 1902 when the holy father, Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumula fame succumbed to death.

In his life-time, Mar Gregorios was known for strict observance of ascetic rigours in the footsteps of St. Antony and had gained divine powers. Stories of healing the sick, casting off devils, reconciling bitter feuds, etc, are known to many even to-day. Countless people get solace and rewards on his intercession. Mar Gregorios had endeared himself to the members of the Church so that Metropolitans even senior to him in age and standing and also young and old members of the Church called him’ Parumala Kochu Thirumeni’. In time of trials and tribulations, the ruling heads of Church, use to visit the tom b of this holy man seeking his guidance and comfort.

Born in the priestly family of Chathuruthy, Mar Gregorios had his early education in Syriac and theology under his uncle, Malpan Chathuruthy Geevarghese. Later, Mathews Mar Athanasius (Palakunnath) initiated the young boy to priestly order by ordaining him as deacon Geevarghese. Deacon Geevarghese continued his theological training under his uncle Malpan at Mulanthuruthy and thereafter under Konat Malpan at Pampakuda. Some times later, the deacon joined Yoyakim Mar Ivanios, the Metropolitan from Syria who was sojourning in Malankara, as private secretary as well as for learning Syriac from him. Not long after, Mar Ivanios ordained the deacon as a priest. Fr. Geevarghese ministered in the Mulanthuruthy church for a time residing at Vettikal Dayara. Vettikal Dayara was a little known institution; but Fr. Geevarghese during his short stay there, developed it. It was here that the future Metropolitan trained his body and mind by ascetic virtues in gaining communion with God. To-day it serves as head quarters of Kandanad Diocese.

Meanwhile, Pulikottil Mar Dionysius had other plans. The Metropolitan had established the frame of a future Seminary at Parumala in the South. Chathuruthy Fr. Geevarghese had attracted his attention in respect of his learning in theology, Syriac and ascetic life. Mar Dionysius soon put Fr. Geevarghese in charge of training deacons in theology, as well as teaching them Syriac. Mar Dionysius later raised Fr. Geevarghese into the monastic order of Ramban. While a Ramban, Patriarch Peter III consecrated him as Metropolitan Mar Gregorios for the diocese of Thumpamon, on December 10,1876 at Paravur.

For years, the Metropolitan served the diocese and was a strong defense against the reform movement. At last the holy prelate went to his heavenly abode in 1902.
In 1947, the Holy Synod canonized Mar Gregorios as a Saint. Mar Gregorios shines as the lone Saint of the Church. The Saint’s tomb at Parumala today is a pilgrimage centre.

From the Book -THE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF INDIA- PP 183-185 BY David Daniel

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Judgment Of The Royal Court Of Final Appeal 1889 And Marthoma Church

Thomas Mar Athanasius appealed to His Highness the Maha Rajah against the decree of the High Court on 1.3.1886. The Maha Rajah appointed a Royal Court (of Final Appeal) consisting of Cbief Justice K. Krishnaswamy Row, Justice A. Sita Rama lyer and Justice W.E.Ormsby to hear the Appeal Suit No:3 of 1061 (1886). On July 12,1889 (30 Mithunam 1064) the Court announced its judgment-a Majority Judgment by Chief Justice Rowand Justice lyer and a Minority Judgment by Justice Ormsby.

The Memorandum of Appeal had raised 143 objections; but the main points taken up for argument included (Ref. Para 17 of the Majority Judgment) 28.

I. The Patriarch of Antioch had no power to vest the Trust in Mar Dionysius.

ii. The consecration by him of a Metran did not give the latter any right or title to the property of the Syrian Church in Travancore.

iii. The power that the Patriarch had exercised was purely spiritual rather than temporal.

iv. The appointment of Mar Dionysius was void because there was no vacancy then, Kurilos and Mar Athanasius having been in the country. Patriarch had no power to depose Metrans without the consent of the people.

v. Mar Dionysius was not properly elected by the community or constituted the President of the Syrian Association.

VI. No disqualification, misfeasance, malfeasance or incapacity was shown as against Mar Athanasius to disentitle him to hold the position and dignity of Metropolitan; nor any departure from received doctrines and beliefs of the Syrian Church shown against him to justify him as a heretic;

VII. There was no case alleged and proved to remove Punnathra Chandapilla Kathanar from the office of the Trustee.

The Majority Judgment of Chief Justice K. Krishnaswamy Rowand Justice A.Sita Rama Iyer is quoted below:

“347(29 ) The conclusions we have arrived at on the whole

-that the Respondents (Mar Dionysius) claim is not barred by limitation;

-that the Ecclesiastical supremacy of the See of Antioch over the Syrian Church in Travancore has been all along, recognized and acknowledged by the Jacobite Syrian Community and their Metropolitans;

-that the exercise of that supreme power consisted in ordaining, either directly or by duly authorized Delegates, Metropolitans from time to time to manage the spiritual matters of the local church, in sending Moorone (Holy Oil) to be used in the churches in this country for Baptismal and other purposes and in general supervision over the Spiritual government of the Church;

-that the authority of the Patriarch has never extended to the government of So he temporalities of the Church which in this respect, has been an independent Church;

-that the Metropolitan of the Syrian Jacobite Church in Travancore should be a native of Malabar consecrated by the Patriarch of Antioch or by his duly authorized delegates and accepted by the people as their Metropolitan to entitle him to the spiritual and temporal government of the local Church;

-that the Respondent had been so consecrated and accepted by the majority of the people and consequently had a perfect right to succeed to the Metropolitanship on the death of Mar Athanasius;

-that the Appellant (Mar Thomas Athanasius) had neither been properly consecrated nor accepted by the majority thereof and therefore, had no title to the Dignity and office of Metropolitan;

-that the Appellants’ possession of the properties of the Church and its appurtenances and the assumption of the office of the Metropolitan have been wrongful since the death of Mar Athanasius, the admitted last Metropolitan and Trustee;

-that the Appellant should, therefore, surrender the insignia and office of Metropolitan of the Malankara Syrian Jacobite Church and give up possession of all the properties and moneys appertaining thereto which he now holds to the Respondent (Mar Dionysius) who would assume and take possession of the properties etc to be administered with two other Trustees as required by the Endowment Deed;…… ”

In contrast, Justice Ormsby in his Minority Judgment said, (to quote), “My conclusion, on the whole, is that it is not made out that imposition of hands by Antioch is essential to the consecration of a Metran of Malankara which is itself an independent and co-eval Church.”30

“There is no proof that the majority of the churches in Malankara have accepted the Plaintiff (Mar Dionysius) as their Metropolitan.

On both the above issues (a) the necessity of consecration by Antioch (b) his acceptance by the people which must at least mean a majority of people … He has failed to prove either … “31

In fact, the Royal Court judged that Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius V was the dUly recognized Metropolitan of the Syrian Church with right of possession and power over church properties. The Judgment was followed by a series of suits regarding nearly every one of the individual churches in the possession of the Re- form Party. These suits also were mostly decided in favor of Mar Dionysius32.

Old Seminary Regained

Following the Royal Court Judgment, Mar Dionysius moved the civil authorities for handing over the possession of Old Seminary. Mar Dionysius regained the possession of Old Seminary from Thomas Mar Athanasius.

Formation of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church

The formation of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church in the last quarter of 19th Century was the culmination of the process of reformation within the Orthodox Church started by Abraham Malpan. The formation itself was hastened by the cumulative effect of the sweeping verdict of the Royal Court of Final Appeal of 1889 and the loss of property and individual churches. To quote The Most Rev. Dr. Juhanon Mar Thoma, Metropolitan of Mar Thoma Syrian Church, “At a period when the time and energy of the church were spent in defending themselves in the court, a band of twelve priests moved by a higher spiritual vision started the Association for Gospel preaching in the church and outside …. ”

“Now that the case was lost and their property taken away, it was necessary for this small group to think in terms of a separate church. They were called in contempt ‘the Reformers’ but they called themselves the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.”33

Mean while, the reformers organized the Malabar Mar Thoma Syrian Christian Evangelistic Association with its Registered Office at Thiruvalla which was established on Wednesday, September 5, 1888 and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church formally came into being subsequently. Thomas Mar Athanasius (1868-1893) was the first bishop of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church. He was the son of Abraham Malpan and consecrated by Mathews Mar Athanasius in 1868.

27. ibid. para 14 pp (1-7.
28. ibid P:7-8
29. ibid p:115
30. ibid P. 88
31. ibid P. 89

This article is a part of the book by David Daniel –The Orthodox Church of India– and reproduced from pages 190 to 193


The Koonen Cross Oath

Mar Abatalla 1652 A.D

The acts of Archbishop Menezes were undoubtedly high-handed, arbitrary and arrogant. The independence of the ancient Church of Malankara was crudely crushed. But in the long history of the Church, the Papal yoke was only momentary; for, the feelings of resentment and the desire to regain independence among the St. Thomas Christians which were very real, could not be contained for long. The pent-up sentiments were given vent in 1653. They had all along continued their efforts to get a Metropolitan from the Eastern Church for their rescue. The Portuguese who were masters of the sea in those days, many a time intercepted their letters of appeal for Syrian prelates and there were occasions when attempts of Middle Eastern clergy to come to Malankara were physically thwarted. This fact is explicit in Cardinal Tisserant’s own words. The local defectors in the Roman Catholic Seminaries were advised to be “on their guard against the arrival of a bishop sent by the Catholicos of Seleucia. For in spite of the watch set up by the Portuguese at Ormuz and Goa, such an event always remained a possibility”. l However, Metropolitan Mar Ahatalla from Syria is said to have landed at Surat in 1652 and thence came to Mylapore, where he was arrested by the Jesuits on August 3, 1652. While at Mylapore, Mar Ahatalla met two Syrian Christian deacons, viz: Chengannur ltty and Kuravilangad Kizhakkedath Kurien from Malankara who were on a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thomas and sent a letter through them to the Church of Malankara saying:

“At Calamini, I have been taken prisoner by those whose profession is persecution. Soon they will make me leave for Cochin and then for Goa. Arm up some of your people to save me”.2

In the same letter, Mar Ahatalla is also said to have appointed Archdeacon Thomas as the head of the Malankara Church. As feared, the Metropolitan was taken on board a Portuguese ship at Madras bound for Goa. En route, it touched Cochin. The Syrian Christians heard of the arrival of the ship at Cochin. They marched 25,000 strong to the harbor demanding the immediate release of their Metropolitan. The Portuguese, however, rushed the Prelate to Goa, under cover of darkness, without acceding to their demand. “In order to prevent any attack on the town, they spread the less palatable story that the unfortunate prelate had been accidentally drowned… In the meantime, Ahatalla was condemned as a heretic by the Inquisition of Goa and died at the stake in 1654”.3 Dr. Cyril Malancharuvil gives a different version. To quote: “In a letter written on 3rd January, 1659 to the Pope by Bishop Garzia. He declared that the Syrian bishop died on his way to Rome”.4

It may be interesting to note that the Orthodox Church parish of Mavelikara observe the death anniversary of Mar Ahatalla on January 15 (Makaram 3) every year.

The summary disposal of Mar Ahatalla, however, shocked the Christian community and their wounded feelings effervesced into a mass upsurge which heralded the breaking off from the Papal yoke.

The Sathyam (Oath) 1653

The incident of Mar Ahatalla presented an occasion for the St. Thomas Christians to retaliate. When they came to know that Mar Ahatalla was drowned carried off, they could not tolerate the imperious Portuguese and their arbitrary actions; they assembled in thousands around a big granite cross, the Coonen Kurish (Leaning Cross) in the Mattanchery parish church grounds near Cochin on January 16, 1653 and took an oath to submit no longer to the ecclesiastical authority of Rome and to obey none save their Archdeacon Thomas until they get a bishop from the Eastern Church. The number of people who took part in the Sathyam (Oath) being large, all could not touch the granite Cross at the same time. Therefore, they held on to ropes tied to the Cross in all directions. According to tradition,


88th Successor on the Throne of Mar Thoma : Catholicose Baselios Marthoma Mathews I


“We will preserve the freedom of the Malankara Orthodox Church as the pupil of our eyes” he declared this in his first speech after the consecration as the Catholicose and did it till his end. Historians see his period as the ‘Golden age’ of Malankara Orthodox Church. On His Holiness’ 13th death anniversary (Nov.8) Indian Orthodox Herald family bow our heads before this great father of the Church.

Early Period

The Catholicos was born on March 27, 1907 to parents Fr. Kurien of Vattakunnel, Kottayam and Mariamma of Pulikkapparampil, Olassa. Fr. Kurien was Vicar of St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church at Manarcad. In his early days, the Catholicos was called V.K. Mathew and endearingly as Kuttachen. Mathew had his school education at M.D. Seminary High School, and Collegiate education in C.M.S. College, Kottayam and Maharaja’s College Ernakulam. After obtaining B.A. Degree in Chemistry, Mathews opted for the ministry of God and joined the Bishop’s College, Calcutta for B.D. course. In 1936, Mathew took B.D. and later in 1942 joined the teaching staff of the Theological Seminary, Kottayam.

Called to Priesthood

On October 27, 1946, V.K. Mathew at the age of 40, received ordination of priesthood from Catholicos Mar Geevarghese II, at Old Seminary. The Theological Seminary was his main field of activity, and was appointed as its Acting Principal in 1948 and as its Principal in 1951, which position he retained till 1966.

Metropolitan 1953-75

The Malankara Syrian Christian Association held in 1951 elected Fr. Mathews as Metropolitan-candidate and accordingly o~ May 15, 1953, the Catholicos Mar Geevarghese along with other Metropolitans of the Synod, consecrated him as Metropolitan Mar Athanasius at Mar Elia Chapel, Kottayam. In addition to the post of Principal of the Theological Seminary, the charge of the diocese of Outside Kerala was entrusted to him from 1960 onwards.

From 1960 to 1976 Mar Athanasius shepherded the Outside Kerala Diocese. During this period the Diocese witnessed significant growth in the number of parishes formed inside and outside India, Churches that were built, and in the number of parish priests and educational institutions. The Metropolitan was thus able to give a thrust to Widening the horizon of the diocese. In discharge of his responsibilities, the Metropolitan had undertaken tours to different parts of the diocese several times.

On December 31, 1970 Mar Athanasius was elected as Successor to Mar Ougen as Catholicos and Malankara Metropolitan by the Malankara Association. Consequently, the Metropolitan was called upon to assist the Catholicos in the administration of the Church from 1972 onwards.

Malankara Metropolitan and Catholicose – 1975

On September 24, 1975, Mar Athanasius assumed the charge of Malankara Metropolitan with the approval of the Synod, when Mar Ougen voluntarily relinquished charge of that office.

Mar Athanasius was installed by the Holy Synod as Catholicos Mar Thoma Mathews I on the apostolic throne of St. Thomas 0f the East in a ceremonial function held on Monday, October 27, 1975 at the Old Seminary. He was 68. The Installation service was conducted by the Episcopal Synod. Daniel Mar Philoxinos, the Secretary to the Synod, was the chief celebrant of the service.

Thus Mathews Mar Athanasius, Metropolitan of Outside Kerala Diocese was installed as Catholicos of the East on the Apostolic throne of St. Thomas on October 27, 1975 succeeding Baselios Mar Ougen. The Catholicos is 88th in succession and the fifth after the re-establishment of the Catholicate in India.

Title Mar Thoma

The title affixed to the Catholicos is Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews I. While ‘Baselios’ has been the traditional formal title of all Catholicoses, taken after the great scholar and theologian Mar Baselios of Cappadocia, ‘Mar Thoma’ has been suffixed for the first time when Mar Mathews became the Catholicos. The term ‘Mar Thoma’ has a historical significance. Following the Coonen Kurish oath of 1653, the Malankara Metropolitans took the title ‘Mar Thoma’ signifying and following the St. Thomas tradition of the Church. Nine Malankara Metropolitans, who ruled the Church from 1653 to 1816, bore the title Mar Thoma. This title, however, came to be dropped following the intervention of the Church of Syria from the times of Mar Thoma VI (I 765). Mar Thoma VI accepted the title Mar Dionysius (I) in certain exigent situation of dependence on them. Mar Thoma VII, VIII and IX, however, had not used the title. But later on, traditional Greek names like Dionysius, Athanasius, which were commonly used in the Eastern Church including the Church in Syria came into regular use in the Malankara Church since the time of Metropolitan Pulikottil Mar Joseph Dionysius II (1816). Nevertheless, the Church recaptured the spirit of national independence and affixed the ‘Mar Thoma’ title to the Catholicos for the first time when Mar Mathews was installed as the Primate of the Church

End -1996

On April 27, 1991 he relinquished the Titles of The Catholicose and Malankara Metropolitan as he was not well. He expired on November 8, 1996 at 7.40 A.M. His Holiness was entombed at Devalokam Chapel.

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History Of Catholicate Re-establishment In Malankara

Patriarch Abdul Messiah in Malankara 1912-13

News of the activities of Patriarch Mar Abdullah in Malankara had reached the deposed Patriarch Mar Abdul Messiah in Syria. Fr.P.T. Geevarghese, a close associate of Mar Dionysius, had communicated with the Patriarch in all the developments and also had requested the Patriarch to come to Malankara. The cable mentioned earlier was in response to this communication. The Patriarch had accepted the request and agreed to come. In pursuance, the Patriarch was sent a sum required for the travel expenses to Malankara. It was in these circumstances, that the Patriarch undertook a journey to Malankara.

It may be recalled that Mar Abdul Messiah had succeeded Mar Peter III in 1895 but was deposed in 1906 consequent on the withdrawal of the royal Firman by the ruling Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey. Nevertheless, he was recognized by the Church as Patriarch and was never deprived of the spiritual prerogatives.

On Edavom 23, 1087 (June 5, 1912) Patriarch Moran Mar Abdul Messiah II arrived at Bombay, accompanied by three Rambanss Fr. P. T. Geevargbese and N.I. Pothen received them. All of them proceeded to Malankara. The Patriarch halted at Kunnamkulam, Fort Cochin, Manthuruthel, South Paravur, Kanjiramattom and later at Parumala in July where he camped for deliberations.

Claim for Catholicate Acceded

The Patriarch was fully aware of the need and claim of the freedom-loving Malankara Church claim for a Catholicos. It dated back to the time of Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius. The earliest reference may be found in a letter dated January 2,1891 (Dhanu 19,1067) from Patriarch Mar Peter III to Malpan Konat Mathan Kathanar. It says, ‘You have required us to send an able Catholicos or Maphrian who is a Malpan also. We shall consider the request. God willing, we shall send a suitable person.’12. The request was repeated in 1906. Mar Dionysius, Vattasseril Geevarghese Ramban and Malpan Konat Mathan Kathanar had specifically bid Deacon Sleeba (Mar Osthathios) and Deacon Mathai (late Catholicos Ougen) to raise the issue with Patriarch Mar Abdul Messiah, when they were proceeding to Syria. The Patriarch had heard and assented to their proposal. Later in his detailed and lengthy letter dated Dhanu 30, 1083 (14 January 1908), Konat Mathan Malpan had invited Mar Abdul Messiah to revive and re-establish the Catholicate of Tigris in Malankara and install “one amongst us” as Catholicos. Relevant excerpts from the letter13 is reproduced below … ” Again I beseech that your Holiness should come down to listen and set right all our matters … ln case His Holiness is either unwilling or unable due to old age to come to listen, one amongst listen whom we shall name later, should be raised as Maphrian for us. Without a Maphrian, how shall we consecrate Metropolitans and Episcopa? People of Malayalam are scared to go to distant places. If none is willing to come forward to become Metropolitan, our Church will be widowed. As Your Holiness is aware, the Maphrian of the East at Tigris who was subject to Patriarch of Antioch was ruling Malankara in the East. Although, there is no Maphrian at Tigris now, we commemorate “our father Baselios” in the first Diptychus. If there is no Maphrian, why should we commemorate his name? If we commemorate his name, it is necessary that Maphrian should be there really. How come, the shifting of the Maphrianate from Tigris to India is wrong if the Patriarchate could be shifted from Antioch to Mardin? We, therefore, request that the Maph rianate of Tigris should be shifted to and reestablished in Malankara and one amongst us should be consecrated as Maphrian who should be titled as “Mar Baselios Maphrian of the East.”14

Mar Abdul Messiah, however, could not do anything in the matter at that time since he had been de-recognized by the ruling Sultan and was deprived of administrative authority. After having come to know of the tragic predicaments of the Church at the hands of Mar Abdullah, Mar Abdul Messiah was convinced of the appropriateness and inevitability of an independent Catholicate and a Catholicos for Malankara Church. So, even before he landed in Malankara, the Patriarch had decided to take steps in that direction.

Catholicate Re-established 1912

Soon after the Patriarch reached Parumala, Mar Dionysius convened the Managing Committee on Chingam 14, 1088 (August 29, 1912). The Committee decided to request formally the Patriarch to raise Murimattathil Paulose Mar Ivanios, Metropolitan of Kandanad diocese, as Catholicos. The Patriarch conceded.

The Patriarch also announced his plan of action in a circular issued on Chingam 17, 1088 (September I, 1912) which envisaged consecration of a Catholicos (Maphrian) and four or five Metropolitans. Accordingly, the Patriarch, in the first instance, consecrated Kurichi Kallacheril Pun noose Ramban as Metropolitan with the title Mar Gregorios at Parumala on September 10, 1912 with the assistance of Mar Dionysius and Mar Ivanios. Seven days thereafter, on Kanni 2, 1088 (September 17, 1912), Patriarch Mar Abdul Messiah, in all solemnity revived and re-established the centuries old majesty of an autonomous Catholicate of the East, which once adorned the enchanting shores of Tigris of Persia, in Malankara at St. Mary’s Church, Niranam, which was made sacred by the foot steps of the Apostle St. Thomas nineteen centuries ago and installed Murimattathil Paulose Mar Ivanios with the title of Moran Mar Geevarghese Baselios, Catholicos of the East, that is of India of the throne of St. Thomas, the Apostle, with the installed and assistance of Malankara Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Dionysius and Metropolitans Mar Gregorios and Mar Ivanios. The large enthusiastic crowd of devotees greeted their first ever Catholicos with shouts of joy, “Oxios,Oxios, Oxios. Moran Mar Baselios Catholicos is worthy”.

The re-establishment of the Catholicate was an epoch making event in the nineteen centuries old history of Malankara Church. It was the fulfillment of a desire, cherished for long. It meant the realization of and the end of an unabated struggle for independence and autonomy which the Malankara Church enjoyed in the early centuries. Obviously, the stature of the Catholicate provided a much needed self-assurance and hope for the future.

Immediately after the investiture ceremony on September 17,1912 and prior to his departure, on February 8, 1913 the Patriarch issued two Bulls relating to the status and powers associated with the Catholicate. * In the second Bull dated 8.2.19 J 3, the Patriarch stated: (to quote) , according to your request, by the grace of God we have consecrated the Maphrian, that is Catholicos, in the name of Baselios Paulose and three new prelates, Geevarghese Gregorios, Yoyakim Ivanios and Geevarghese Philoxinos.

Since we understood that if we do not consecrate the Catholicos, our Church of Malabar will not continue in purity and holiness for many reasons. Now then we know that by the power of the Lord, she will be sustained for ever in purity and holiness and that more than before she shall be established in the communion of the bond of love towards the Throne of Antioch and this is the joy of my heart. I have hope that your shepherds that is the Catholicos and the Metropolitans shall fulfill your every need. The Catholicos along with the Metropolitans shall consecrate for you chief priests and hallow for you the Holy Mooron in accordance with the canons of the Holy Fathers. And when a Catholicos shall die, there is permission and authority to your prelates to consecrate in his place one as Catholicos and there is no power to any body to restrain you from it. Everything shall be done in order according to custom in consultation with the members of the Committee of which the President is the Metropolitan Dionysius of Malabar”, 15

The establishment of the Catholicate was the beginning of an evolution in the Church’s hierarchy and coming to uphold an independent stature under a Catholicos with dignity and honor. The Church is greatly indebted to Patriarch Mar Abdul Messiah for this significant contribution. With a view to strengthen the Church heirarcby, the Patriarch consecrated two more Metropolitans on February 10, 1913 (Makaram 29, 1088) viz. Kandanad Karot Yoyachim Ramban and Vaakatha na 111 Kaa ruchi ra Geevarghese Ramban with the titles Mar Ivanios and Mar Philoxinos. Mar Dionysius and Mar Gregorios had associated with the Patriarch in this consecration.

Departure 1913

The revered Holy Father was indeed happy over his flock s happiness and having fulfilled his mission returned on March.3, 1913 to Jerusalem. There, the faithful escorted him to Mardin, the headquarters of Patriarchate, and installed hi m once again as the rightful Patriarch. Two years later, on August 30, 1915, the Patriarch departed from this world to his heavenly abode.

12.    Paulose, Rev. Fr. K.B.: Abdul Messihayum Catholica Sthapanavum. p. 12

13.    Paret Z.M.: Vattasseril Mar Dionysius (1969) pp. 109-110

14.    Pau!ose, Fr. K.P. : ibid p. 10

15.     Appendix VJI B.

*     Appendices VII A and Vll B.

This article is reproduced from the Book “The Orthodox Church of India” by David Daniel (p221-225)

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Kundara Seminary Synod And Origin Of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church


Vattasseril Mar Dionysius discussed the Bethany Metropolitan’s flirting with the roman catholic Church in a meeting of the Episcopal Synod held at the seminary at Kundara in either late 1929 or early 1930.The invitees were Catholicos Baselius Mar Geevarghese II, Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Of Pampady, Mar Ivanios and Mar Theopilos, Fr. Abraham Poothakuzhiyil, E. J. John and E. J. Philipose. Mar Ivanios did not attend the Synod meeting since he had objection to the presence of non-Synod members, although they were special invitees at the instance of Malankara Metropolitan. Mar Theopilos followed his Masters voice.

The major decisions of the Synod were

  • The permission given to Bethany to start parish churches under it’s control was withdrawn.
  • Mar Ivanios was forbidden to start new parish churches under the control of Bethany.
  • In case Mar Ivanios acted in contravention of these decisions, the assistance given by individuals and parishes will ordered to be with held.

Mar Dionysius communicated these decisions to Mar Ivanios.

Management of M. D. Schools- M. D. School Case

Mar Ivanios was earlier entrusted with the management od 60 odd Mar Dionysius Schools run under the auspices of the Church. Immediately before Mar Dionysius had proceeded to Mardin in 1923. Following the decisions of the Synod afore mentioned, Mar Dionysius asked the Bethany Metropolitan to hand over the management, which he refused. In this situation Mar Dionysius filed a a suit in the Munsiff’s court at Thiruvalla against Mar Ivanios for release of management of the schools to his care. Mar Ivanios, shrewd as he was, had informed the Trusts in the names of his brother and relatives and transferred the Bethany institutions to the charge of these Trusts. The church had to proceed with the legal suit.

In 1926, mar Ivanios had sent a memorandum to Rome which proposed a union of the Malankara Church with the catholic Church.

1. Preserving the ancient rites and rituals.
2. Retaining for the Holy Synod and for the individual Bishops their jurisdiction over all the Jacobite Syrians that come into re union and
3. Accepting the supremacy of the Holy See, the Pope being the successor of St.Peter, the chief of Apostles of Our Lord.