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Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius (Mar Thoma XII)

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Most Rev. Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius (Mar Thoma XII)
Malankara Church.
Enthroned August 27, 1825.
Reign ended 1852
Predecessor Punnathara Mar Dionysious (Mar Thoma XI)

Mathews Mar Athanasius Metropolitan

(Mar Thoma XIII)
Consecration August 27, 1825.
Personal details
Birth name Philipose
Born 1781
Died October 9, 1855.
Buried Cheppad St. George Church.(now Orthodox church)

Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius (Mar Thoma XII) was the a Malankara Metropolitan from 1825 to 1855 of the Malankara Church. His tenure was a period of turmoil. The Malankara church severed its relations with the Anglican missionaries; some of its members joined the C.M.S. Church; remaining members were divided into two factions known as Bava Kakshi (also known as Jacobites Church) and Metran Kakshi (later became the Mar Thoma Church).

Philipose (Piyliypaos) = Aramaic and Malayalam. Philip. = English

Early life

Philipose Mar Dionysius was born in 1781 at the Aanjilimootil family in Pallippad, a place near Cheppad.Cheppad is a scenic village located at Karthikapally Taluk of Alapuzha district in Kerala State, India. It is halfway between Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram on the National Highway 47.


After the great swearing in 1653 it became necessary to appoint a bishop. For this purpose a special chair was made and the first bishop of Malankara church, Mar Thoma I was enthroned. It is in the possession of the Mar Thoma Church and is kept at Tiruvalla. It has been used in the installation of every Mar Thoma Metropolitan, so that the continuity of the throne of Mar Thoma is ensured. This was the throne used for the consecration of Mar Thoma XII, Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius.


Punnathara Mar Dionysius Metropolitan (Mar Thoma XI) died on May 17, 1825. To select a successor representatives of the parishes met together at Pallikara palli under the leadership of Mar Philixinos II of Thozhyoor Church who was the Malankara metropolitan at that time. The names of Cheppad Anjilimootil Philipose Kathanar, Kalloopara Adangapurathu Ouseph Kathanar and Kottayam Eruthickal Markose Kathanar were proposed. After prayer they cast lots (cleromancy), and the lot fell to Philipose Kathanar.

Philipose Ramban was consecrated by Geevarghese Mar Philexenos (Kidangan) of the Malabar Independent Syrian Church on August 27, 1825 at Kottayam Cheria palli.[1] Because Mar Philexenos was not a bishop of Malankara church, Cheppad Anjilimootil Philipose Ramban was given the episcopal title Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysious. He was the fourth bishop in the Malankara Church to get this title Dionysius

Malankara Metropolitan

After the demise of Mar Philoxenos II on February 4, 1829, Cheppad Mar Dionysius Metropolitan (Mar Thoma XII) was approved by the governments of Travancore and Cochin, as Malankara Metropolitan on March 20, 1829. (for the purpose of giving interest of the Vattipanam)[2]


Problems with church of Antioch

On November 1825 a bishop named Mar Athanasius arrived from Antioch and claimed that the Malankara church was under the patriarch. Soon there were troubles in parishes, The Diwan (prime minister) and the government made an enquiry. It was realized that Malankara Church was not under any foreign church and they banished him from India, for creating the trouble.[3][4]

Problems with C.M.S. Missionaries

The relation between the missionaries who came from England was cordial during the first few years. But soon they began to interfere in the internal affairs of the church. They tried to change the liturgy and practices of the Malankara church to their system. Without permission they began worshiping using Anglican liturgy in Old Seminary chapel. A letter from the bishop of Calcutta in 1835 suggested

  1. to ordain only those who completed their studies from the Seminary and received the certificate from the Principal,
  2. to raise a fund to increase the salary of the priests,
  3. to submit the accounts of the Church every year to the British Resident for annual auditing and
  4. to conduct the church services in vernacular, Malayalam.

The Metropolitan rejected all these suggestions outright.[5] Soon Mar Dionysius convened a meeting of the representatives of the parishes at Mavelikara (January 16, 1836) and proclaimed allegiance to the Patriarch of Antioch.[6]

Soon the C.M.S. missionaries formed the C.M.S. Church. By a government award known as Cochin Award, they were given a few properties of the Malankara Church. It was at this time Malankara Church got its name Jacobite Church.

Problems with Abraham Malpan

Abraham Malpan, Mamalaserry Konattu Malpan and Idavazhikkal Philipose Kathanar were fined by the government for receiving ordination a second time from Mar Athanasius, the bishop from Antioch who was later banished.

Mar Dionysius did not support reformation movement initiated by Abraham Malpan and his supporters. Abraham Malpan did not attend the Mavelikara meeting. When Abraham Malpan used the revised liturgy and brought about changes in practices, that offended Marthoma XII and so he refused priesthood to the deacons trained under him.[7]


In 1829, Mar Dionysius consecrated Geevarghese Mar Koorilose (Kuthoorey) (1829-1856), as the Metropolitan of Thozhyoor church.

Palakunnathu Deacon Mathews, a deacon trained under Abraham Malpan and was his nephew went to Anitoch. He was consecrated with the episcopal title Mathews Mar Athanasius by Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius Elias II (1838—1847), in 1843.

In 1846, the Patriarch sent a Metropolitan Euyakim Mar Kurilos to Malankara. In 1852 Mar Dionysius abdicated due to poor health.[8] At this time it was necessary for the government to find the successor of Mar Donysius for the purpose of paying the interest to a fixed deposit (Vattipanam) with the government. Mathews Mar Athanasius and Mar Kurilos made claims. The Maharajah of Travancore appointed a committee of four senior government officers (known as Kollam Panchayat), They decided that a foreign bishop had no authority over the Malankara church. So the Maharajah issued a proclamation in favour of Mathews Mar Athanasius on August 30, 1852. After getting the proclamation, Mathews Mar Athanasius first visited Mar Dionysius at Cheppad who gave him a very warm welcome.

Mar Kurilos then made claim to the Thozhyoor church (in 1857). The Madras High court issued the final judgment that the Thozhyoor church was an Independent Malankara church and the Patriarch had no claim over it.

Last days

File:Cheppad Church.jpg

After deposed in 1852, life of Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius became miserable. Mar Athanasius heard about it and rushed to Cheppad made all arrangements for the comfort of Mar Dionysius. During the time while Valia Methrachen (Mar Dionysius) was bedridden Mar Athanasius made visits only to the nearby parishes. Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius died on October 9, 1855, and was laid to rest at Cheppad Valiya palli.

12 October marks the annual observance of his death.

Ten years after

In 1865, ten years after the demise of Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius, those who opposed Mathews Mar Athanasius sent Pulikottil Ouseph Kathanar to Antioch who was consecrated with the episcopal title Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious II. by the Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Jacob II (1847-1871).


|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
{{{before}}} | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |{{{title}}}
1825 – 1852 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:

See also


  1. Alex Mathew. Kalloopara parish history. Page 112.
  2. N.M.Mathew. Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitram, Vol.I. Page 253-254.
  3. T.C.Chacko. Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitra Samgraham. Page 65, 66.
  4. Letter from 22 clergies to the Maharaja of Travancore dated September 13, 1875, para 8
  5. Ittoop writer. (1869) History of Syrian Christians of Malabar. Page 228.
  6. Mavelikara Padiola (Decisions of Mavelikara meeting) First sentence of the original Malayalam version.
  7. George Kassessa, Rev.M.C. (1919). Palakunnathu Abraham Malpan. (Biography in Malaylam) Page 42.
  8. Royal proclamation of August 30, 1852, in favour of Mathews Mar Athanasius

Further reading

    1. Juhanon Marthoma Metropolitan, The Most Rev. Dr. (1952). Christianity in India and a Brief History of the Marthoma Syrian Church.. Pub: K.M. Cherian.
    2. Zac Varghese Dr. & Mathew A. Kallumpram. (2003). ‘’Glimpses of Mar Thoma Church History’’. London, England. ISBN 81/900854/4/1
    3. Chacko, T.C. (1936) Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charithra Samgraham’’. (Concise History of Marthoma Church), Pub: E.J. Institute, Kompady, Tiruvalla.
    4. Eapen, Prof. Dr. K.V. (2001). ‘’Malankara Marthoma Suryani Sabha Charitram’’. (History of Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church). Pub: Kallettu, Muttambalam, Kottayam.
    5. Ittoop Writer, (1869). ‘’Malayalathulla Suryani Chistianikauleday Charitram’’. (History of Syrain Christians in the land of Malayalam).
    6. Mathew, N.M. ‘’Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitram’’, (History of the Marthoma Church), Volume I.(2006), Volume II (2007). Volume III (2008) Pub. E.J.Institute, Thiruvalla
    7. Rev.Dr.Joseph Cheeran, Adv. PC.Mathew Pulikottil, K.V.Mammen Kottackal. (2002). Orthodox Sabha Charitravum samskaravum. (History and Culture of the Orthodox Church).

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