Members of the San Luigi Orders: Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious II, Malankara Metropolitan

Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious II (1833-1909) was the Malankara Metropolitan of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church. He was a Patron of the Order of the Crown of Thorns. He was the principal consecrator of Mar Julius I Alvarez.

He was born into the family of Pulikkottil (Kunnamkulam), which is an important family in the history of the Malankara church. Considered a courageous and popular spiritual leader, utterly and selflessly dedicated to the church, he guided his followers through one of the most difficult times in the history of the Malankara Church.

He was ordained deacon by Cheppad Mar Dionysius on 6 October 1846 and priest on 18 August 1853 by Metropolitan Yuyakim Mar Kurilos at Challiserry church. On 29 April 1865 at Ameed, Patriarch Yakoob III elevated him to the rank of Ramban. On 30 April he was consecrated as Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysios.

Because Patriarch Yakoob III was not a bishop of the Malankara church, Pulikkottil Joseph Ramban was given the episcopal title Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious. Moreover he was not seated on the Malankara throne (on which Mar Thoma I to Mar Thoma IX were seated at the time of their consecration) and so he did not receive the title Mar Thoma. He was the fifth bishop in the Malankara Church to receive the title Dionysius.

During the eventful forty-four years between 1865 and 1909 he occupied the Malankara Metropolitan’s position with extraordinary skill. It was during that period that the Mulanthuruthy Synod, the division of dioceses and the ‘Holy Mooran Koodasha’ took place. Through his unstinting efforts, spiritual organizations like the Sunday School and the Students’ movement, and Church institutions like the Parumala Seminary, the Kunnamkulam Sehiyon Bungalow, the Kottapuram Seminary and the M.D. Seminary developed.

The history of Catholicate and M.D. Schools states “In 1870, he started a Syriac printing press, Saint Thomas, at Cochin, for publishing Syriac prayer books. At around the same time he started a Church magazine ‘Kerala Pathaka’ in Malayalam, which was later merged with another news magazine, ‘Paschimathara’. Unfortunately this Church magazine was discontinued due to financial problems. But again in January 1892, another monthly, ‘Edavaka Patrika’ started publication from Kottayam Marthoma Press.During his tenure as Malankara Metropolitan, a large gathering of Roman Catholics from Goa, joined the Suryani Church. Fr. Alvarez, a member of this group, was later consecrated as Metropolitan Mor Yulius [Mar Julius I Alvares] by Mor Dionysius in 1889. Due to the influence of Metropolitan Mor Yulius, another group of Roman Catholics from Ceylon and America too joined the Suryani Church. Their leader Fr. Rene Vilatte [Prince-Abbot Joseph III] was ordained as Metropolitan Mor Timotheos in 1892.”

After the death of Mathews Mar Athanasius Metropolitan, Thomas Mar Athanasius took charge as Metropolitan. Then Joseph Mar Dionysious II made a claim that he and the fellow trustees were the lawful owners of the Church and demanded the possession of the Seminary and control of the assets of the Church. Mar Dionysius filed a case at Alappuzha civil court on March 4, 1879 (O.S.No.439 of 1054). In the final verdict announced on July 12, 1889, Thomas Mar Athanasius Metropolitan lost all claims to the church properties. It mentioned that the consecration, the authority of Thomas Mar Athanasius as Metropolitan and the properties of the individual parishes were not under the jurisdiction of the court. So litigations for individual churches began.

Kunnamkulam Pulikkottil Joseph Dionysious II died on 11 July 1909. His mortal remains were interred in the northern side of the chapel in Pazhaya Seminary. His Death Anniversary is on 12 July.

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