Punnathra Mar Dionysius

Mar Dionysius III, also known as Punnathra Mar Dionysius and born Kurien (1785 – 19 May 1825) was Malankara Metropolitan from 1817 until his death. Dionysius had a long career in the Malankara Church prior to his consecration as Metropolitan. It was his suggestion during the time of Mar Thoma IX to establish the Syrian seminary at Kottayam, Kerala's first educational institution. He also welcomed some of the first missionary teachers who arrived from England to teach in the seminary. In 1816, following the demise of Mar Dionysius II, who had not appointed a successor, Kurien was elected to succeed him as the Malankara Metropolitan by the general assembly of the Church (Malankara palli-yogam) and was ordained as Bishop by Mar Philexenos of the Malabar Independent Syrian Church.

Early Days

Kurien, who later became Mar Dionysious, was born in 1785 in the well known Punnathra 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.


Following the sudden demise of Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysious I, on 24 November 1816, 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) (1811–29) of the Malabar Independent Syrian Church, who consecrated Pulikottil Joseph Mar Dionysius in 1816, to be the Acting Malankara Metropolitan. This was accepted and Maharajahas of both Travancore and Cochin issued royal proclamations to confirm this. Geevarghese Mar Philexenos did not want to take over the Malankara church. He convened a general assembly of the representatives of the parishes and they selected Punnathara Kurien Kathanar as the next Metropolitan. Kurien Kathanar handed over the responsibilities of Kallumkathra parish to Kaithayil Geevarghese Malpan. Punnathra Kurien Ramban was ordained by Geevarghese Mar Philexenos (Kidangan) of the Malabar Independent Syrian Church on 19 October 1817.

Relation with Travancore

During the time of Punnathara Mar Dionysious the relation with Travancore and Cochin was very cordial. The Ruler of Travancore Maharani Gowri Parvati Bayi, gave a number of privileges to the 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 17 May 1825 and was interred at Kottayam Cheriapally(St. Mary's Orthodox Church,Kottayam).The memorial feast of Mar Dionysius III is observed on 19 May.

Preceded by Mar Dionysius II

Malankara Metropolitan 1817–1825

Succeeded by Mar Dionysius IV

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