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Punnathara Mar Dionysious (Mar Thoma XI)

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Most Rev. Punnathara Mar Dionysious (Mar Thoma XI)
Malankara Church.
Enthroned October 19, 1817
Reign ended May 17, 1825
Predecessor Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious I (Mar Thoma X)
Successor Cheppad Philipose Mar Dionysius (Mar Thoma XII)
Consecration October 19, 1817.
Personal details
Birth name Kurien
Died May 17, 1825
Buried Kottayam Cheria palli.

Punnathara Mar Dionysious (Mar Thoma XI) was the Malankara Metropolitan from 1817 to 1825. It was his suggestion during the time of Mar Thoma IX, to have the first education institution in Kerala, the Syrian seminary to be established at Kottayam. He also welcomed the first missionary teachers who arrived from England to teach in the Seminary. Reformation in the Malankara church became active during his period.

Early days

Kurien who later became Mar Dionysious was born in 1785, in the well known Punnathara family, Kottayam. Soon after his ordination he was appointed as a priest in his home parish Kallumkathra. As a representative of his parish he attended a number of meetings connected with the establishment of the Syrian Seminary.[1]

Geevarghese Mar Philexenos.

Due to the sudden demise of Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious I (Mar Thoma X), on November 24, 1816. It was at this time the government wanted to give the interest of the Vattipanam to the church. So the British resident called a meeting of the Diwan (prime minister) of Travancore and elders of the church at Ernakulam. This meeting decided to appoint Geevarghese Mar Philexenos (Kidangan) (1811-1829) of the Malabar Independent Syrian Church, who consecrated Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius in 1816, to be the Malankara Metropolitan. This was accepted and Maharajahas of both Travancore and Cochin issued royal proclamation to confirm this. [2]. Mar Philexenos collected the interest of the Vattipanam (Fixed Deposit) from 1816 to 1829 (till his death) and paid it to the Malankara church and Kottayam Syrian seminary.


But Geevarghese Mar Philexenos did not want to take over the Malankara church. So he convened a meeting of the representatives of the parish and they selected Punnathara Kurien Kathanar as the next Metropolitan. Kurien Kathanar handed over the responsibilities of Kallumkathra parish to Kaithayil Geevarghese Malpan.


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 was enthroned. This throne, used for the consecration of Mar Thoma I, 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, to this day, so that the continuity of the throne of Mar Thoma is ensured. This was the throne used for the consecration of Kurien Kathanar.

Punnathara Kurien Ramban was consecrated by Geevarghese Mar Philexenos (Kidangan) of the Malabar Independent Syrian Church on October 19, 1817. Because Mar Philexenos was not a bishop of Malankara church, Punnathara Kurien Ramban was given the episcopal title Punnathara Mar Dionysious.

Mavelikkara assembly

Punnathra Mar Dionysious wished to purify the church clearing the various teachings entered into Malankara church. For this purpose a meeting was held on December 3, 1818 at Mavelikkara. To suggest improvements to be made in the church, a six-member committee was appointed. Palakunnathu Abraham Malpan, Konattu Varghese Malpan, Kaithayil Geevarghese Malpan were among them. Thus purification of the church (Reformation) began to take shape in the Malankara church.

English missionaries

Punnathara Mar Dionysious encouraged Anglican Missionaries. By 1816 missionaries who were members of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) began to arrive in Kerala. Rev.Thomas Norton arrived in Kochi on May 8, 1816, and began to open schools in and around Alappuzha. Rev. Benjamin Baily arrived in October 1816 and established a printing press at Kottayam. He also began to translate the Bible into Malayalam. During the time of Punnathara Mar Dionysious Rev. Joseph Fenn arrived in 1818 October and was made the principal. Rev.Henry Baker arrived in 1819 April went round the parishes establishing schools near the churches.[3]

Relation with Travancore

During the time of Punnathara Mar Dionysious the relation with Travancore and Cochin were very cordial. Ruler of Travancore Rani Gouri Parvathi Bhai, gave a number of privileges to Kottayam Seminary. For the first time in Travancore in 1818, Maha Rani appointed a number Christians as Judges.

Last days

By 1825 there was an outbreak of Cholera in Kerala. A number of people lost their lives. Due to this disease, Punnathara Mar Dionysious died on May 17, 1825 and was interred at Kottayam Cheria palli.(church)

|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
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1817 – 1825 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:

See also


  1. Mathew, N.M. ‘’Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitram’’, (History of the Marthoma Church), Volume 1.Page Page 246.
  2. Varghese Kassessa, K.C. Malabar Swantentra Suryanui Sabha Charitram. Page 62.
  3. Juhanon Mar Thoma Metropolitan, The Most Rev. Dr. (1952). Christianity in India and a Brief History of the Marthoma Syrian Church. Page 36.

For 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, (1906). ‘’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 1.(2006), Volume II (2007). Volume III (2008) Pub. E.J.Institute, Thiruvalla

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