Saints-Vattasseril Thirumeni - Smiocbristol
Late Lamented His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Mar Thoma Didymus I Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan once said the following about St Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysios;
“Saint Vattasseril Mar Dionysius of a blessed memory was a great warrior of faith, who stood up like a great pillar of truth, in the history of the church and fought relentlessly for it”. His Holiness also said that this Saint;
“Liberated the Malankara Church from a state of slavery to a foreign church”.
St. Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius did many works for the church, fighting for it and upholding the true faith, he left a legacy behind that many people remember to date. He is known as the ‘Malankara Sabha Bhasuran’ – which means Illuminator of the Church and a man of prayer, determination and dynamism. He was known for dedicating his entire life to secure the freedom and welfare of the Holy Church. He faced many troubles and obstacles and received constant, physical and verbal abuse, via threats and physical attacks, as he courageously led the Church to her independence.
St Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius was born on 31st of October 1858 of the Vattasseril family of Ouseph and Aleyamma in Kerala, India. After his early education studies, he joined the Vettikkal Dayara. St. Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius became a Deacon in 1879 and he was ordained a Priest on January 18th, 1880 by Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Gregorios of Parumala. He received the order of a Monk (Ramban) on 2nd November 1903 from Metropolitan Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysius.
The Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church Association met and elected Vattasseril Geevarghese and Kochuparampil Paulose Ramban to be Metropolitans. Both of them went abroad to Jerusalem and were elevated as Metropolitan on 3rd of May 1908. On his return to Kerala, he was the Assistant to Metropolitan Pulikkottil Joseph Mar Dionysius. Shortly after the death of Metropolitan Pulikkottil, Vattasseril Mar Dionysius started church administration as Malankara Metropolitan in 1908.
On 26th of November 1908, the Malankara Association convened at the Kottayam Theological Seminary and elected St. Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius as the successor of Malankara Metropolitan from Metropolitan Mar Dionysius V. The next year he was in full charge as Malankara Metropolitan following the demise of Metropolitan Mar Dionysius V. He served and led the church for 25 years in this capacity until he died in 1934. During this period he and the church triumphed in establishing the official constitution of the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church. St. Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysios faced many attempts by Patriarch Peter of Antioch to bring down the Malankara Church but failed. The successor Patriarch Abdulla also began his attempt to take over Malankara.
The year 1910 was a challenging year in the history of the Malankara Church. St Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysios was isolated by other Metropolitans who were willing to abandon their faith for the sake of power. In 1911 the Patriarch of Antioch tried to silence St Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysios by suspending him but the church did not accept the suspension as it was not canonical. In 1912 Abdul Mesiha came from Antioch and removed the suspension that was placed. The Church recognizes St Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius as a living saint of his time on earth. He and his fellow clergies played a key role in elevating the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church to the title ‘Catholicos of the East’.
He also prepared the first draft of the Church Constitution with the aid of Patriarch Ignatius Abdul Mesiha II of Antioch. This draft was used to prepare the Church Constitution of 1934. Being a great guide and example of Christian monasticism, the legacy of St Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius survived through his successors as well as students. It is said that he was inspired by the process of reforming the church that had happened at that time.He was also known as the architect of the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church because he established the Catholicate of Malankara in 1912 at Kottayam. He was a great leader who helped shape the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church.
St. Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius experienced physical suffering on February 13th 1934 and suffered from paralysis on February 16th. On 21st of February His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Mar Thoma Geevarghese II Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan administered the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick. His health deteriorated and on the 23rd of February 1934, he left his mortal remains for his heavenly abode and was entombed the next day in the Orthodox Theological Seminary Chapel, Kottayam, Kerala beside the tomb of his predecessor.
St Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius was exalted as a Saint on the 69th feast day of his memorial on 24th of February 2003. He was canonized by the Episcopal Synod of Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church headed by His Holiness Moran Mar Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews II, Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan. St. Geevarghese Mar Dionysius of Vattasseril is the third Saint to be canonized by the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church.