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Malankara Metropolitan was a legal title given to the head of the Malankara Church Puthenkoor Christians(old), 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.The Prime jurisdiction regarding the temporal, ecclesiastical and spiritual administration of the Malankara Church is vested in the Malankara Metropolitan. Malankara Metropolitan is believed to reign it faithful from the Apostolic See of Saint Thomas. Since 1934, Catholicos of East is holding the office of Malankara Metropolitan. Present Malankara Metropolitan, His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II Catholicos is the 21st Malankara Metropolitan.
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 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 Pulikkottil 1st 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 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 Pulikkotil 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 physical properties of Malankara Church. Later the Reformist faction renamed themselves as the independent Malankara 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 was declared as the Malankara Metropolitan and was given charge of Quilon Dioces 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.
Meanwhile, the defeated reformist faction organized themselves under reigning Malankara Metropolitan who was evicted from the position after Royal court verdict .Reformist faction renamed themselves as Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church
However, later after the establishment of Catholicate in Malankara in 1912, again a rift occurred among Malankara Syrian Church over the spiritual authority of Patriarch of Antioch. There were several years of litigation between the two factions, the Metran faction, and the Bava faction.The Supreme court of India declared that the Patriarch has no power in Malankara Church and spiritual power had also come to vanishing point since the establishment of Catholicate.
The Primate of Malankara Church (Orthodox Syrian Church of the East) is Catholicos ( Catholicos of the East). He enjoys spiritual powers as well, as the Malankara Metropolitan. Malankara Metropolitan has the prime jurisdiction regarding temporal, ecclesiastical and spiritual administration of Malankara Church subject to the riders provided in the 1934 Constitution. In the temporal matters, Patriarch has no power and the spiritual power had also come to the 'vanishing point' by his own acts as noticed by the Supreme Court of India in the 1995 and other judgments. The legitimate Malankara church is the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
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.
Marthoma I had survived a number of assassination attempts. He died on 25 April 1670 and was interred in Angamaly St Mary's Syrian Church.
Orthodox Church, Niranam.
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.
Thereafter the Malankara Metropolitans didn't use the name Marthoma with their ecclesiastical title until 1975 (when Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews I became Malankara Metropolitan).
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.)
After the death of Malankara Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Dionysius VI of Vattasseril(1934);The Malankara Assosiation held at M.D Seminary Kottayam elected Catholicos Baselios Geevarghese II as the Malankara Metropolitan and passed a Constitution for Malankara Church popularly known as 1934 CONSTITUTION or Malankara Church Constitution.
Since 1934, Catholicos is holding the Office of Malankara Metropolitan
Malankara Marthoma Church (Mar Thoma Syrian Church) head is known as Marthoma Metropolitan.