Aramaic Project - Part III Video Index


Coat of arms Holy See

Jerusalem Holy-Sepulchre Jesus

Christ Pantocrator mosaic from Hagia Sophia

Moqimu mosaic Edessa

Bible and Pulpit Mor Hananyo


Rabban Hurmizd

Distressed poet - Oil painting

Chaldeans of the province of Mardin

The Chaldean Catholic Church (Classical Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܟܠܕܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝܬܐ‎, ʿīdtha kaldetha qāthuliqetha; Arabic: الكنيسة الكلدانية al-Kanīsa al-kaldāniyya; Latin: Ecclesia Chaldaeorum Catholica, lit. ' Catholic Church of the Chaldeans') is an Eastern Catholic particular church (sui juris) in full communion with the Holy See and the rest of the Catholic Church, with the Chaldean Patriarchate having been originally formed out of the Church of the East in 1552. Employing the East Syriac Rite in Syriac language in its liturgy, it is part of Syriac Christianity by heritage. Headquartered in the Cathedral of Mary Mother of Sorrows, Baghdad, Iraq, since 1950, it is headed by the Catholicos-Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako. It comprises 640,828 members, mostly Chaldean Christians living in northern Iraq, with smaller numbers in adjacent areas in northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and northwestern Iran, a region roughly corresponding to ancient Assyria. There are also many Chaldeans in diaspora in the Western world. The background of the Chaldean Catholic Church is the Chaldean Patriarchate of the Church of Assyria and Mosul, formed out of the Church of the East in 1552 by Patriarch Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa, recognised as "of the Chaldeans" by the Holy See in 1553. However, his successors in the 17th and 18th centuries provoked a time of turbulence, with splits of varying connections to the Papacy. More than one claimants to the Catholic patriarchal seat left the Catholic Church unable to recognise either. In one patriarchal line, hereditary status of the office was reintroduced and relations with Rome formally broken, with this line eventually forming the Assyrian Church of the East in 1692. Subsequently, however, the two then-remaining Catholic successors of the original patriarchal line unified in 1830 in Mosul, remaining in uninterrupted full communion with Rome until this day. Despite being known as "Chaldeans", their followers are generally accepted to be indigenous Eastern Aramaic-speaking Assyrian people, although a minority of Chaldeans (particularly in the United States) have in recent times began to espouse an identity from the land of Chaldea, extant in southeast Mesopotamia between the 9th and 6th centuries BC, despite there being no accredited academic study or historical record which supports this.56 In 2015, while the patriarchate of the Assyrian Church of the East was vacant following the death of Dinkha IV, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako proposed a "merger", or reunion, of the Chaldean Catholic Church with the other denominations that trace their origins to the Church of the East: the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East, in order to recreate one united "Church of the East" with a single patriarch in full communion with the Pope. These efforts were stranded, however, when the Assyrian Church of the East decided to elect a new patriarch.

History - Background of the Church of the East

Church of the East The Chaldean Catholic Church traces its beginnings to the Church of the East, which it considers to have been founded between the 1st and 3rd centuries in Asōristān, a province of the Sasanian Empire. In the 5th century BC, this region was the birthplace of the Syriac language and Syriac script, both of which remain important within all strands of Syriac Christianity as a liturgical language, similar to how Latin or Koine Greek may be used in the Latin Church or Greek Orthodoxy. The Church of the East was considered an Apostolic church established by Thomas the Apostle, Thaddeus of Edessa, and Bartholomew the Apostle. Saint Peter, chief of the apostles, added his blessing to the Church of the East at the time of his visit to the See at Babylon in the earliest days of the church when stating, "The elect church which is in Babylon, salutes you; and Mark, my son." (1 Peter 5:13).8 Although considered founded in the 1st century by the adherents of its legacy, the Church first achieved official state recognition from Sasanian Iran in the fourth century with the accession of Yazdegerd I (reigned 399–420) to the throne of the Sasanian Empire. In 410 the Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, held at the Sasanian capital, allowed the Church's leading bishops to elect a formal Catholicos (leader). Catholicos Isaac was required both to lead the Assyrian Christian community, and to answer on its behalf to the Sasanian emperor. Under pressure from the Sasanian Emperor, the Church of the East sought to increasingly distance itself from the Greek Orthodox Church (at the time being known as the church of the Eastern Roman Empire). Therefore, in 424, the bishops of the Sasanian Empire met in council under the leadership of Catholicos Dadishoʿ (421–456) and determined that they would not, henceforth, refer disciplinary or theological problems to any external power, and especially not to any bishop or Church Council in the Roman Empire.11 Thus, the Mesopotamian churches did not send representatives to the various Church Councils attended by representatives of the "Western Church". Accordingly, the leaders of the Church of the East did not feel bound by any decisions of what came to be regarded as Roman Imperial Councils. Despite this, the Creed and Canons of the First Council of Nicaea of 325, affirming the full divinity of Christ, were formally accepted at the Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon.12 The Church's understanding of the term hypostasis differs from the definition of the term offered at the Council of Chalcedon of 451. For this reason, the Assyrian Church has never approved the Chalcedonian definition.12 The theological controversy that followed the Council of Ephesus in 431 proved a turning point in the Church's history. The Council condemned as heretical the Christology of Nestorius, whose reluctance to accord the Virgin Mary the title Theotokos "God-bearer, Mother of God" was taken as evidence that he believed two separate persons (as opposed to two united natures) to be present within Christ. (For the theological issues at stake, see Assyrian Church of the East and Nestorianism.) The Sasanian Emperor, hostile to the Byzantines, saw the opportunity to ensure the loyalty of his Christian subjects and lent support to the Nestorian Schism. The Emperor took steps to cement the primacy of the Nestorian party within the Church of the East, granting its members his protection,13 and executed the pro-Roman Catholicos Babowai in 484 and replaced him with the Nestorian Bishop of Nisibis, Barsauma. The Catholicos- Patriarch Babai (497–503) later confirmed the church's support for Nestorianism. After this split with the Western World and adoption of Nestorianism, The Church of the East expanded rapidly due to missionary works during the Medieval period. During the period between 500–1400 the geographical horizons of the Church of the East extended well beyond its heartland in present-day northern Iraq, north eastern Syria and south eastern Turkey. The Church went through a golden age, and held significant power and worldwide influence during this period. Assyrian communities sprang up throughout Central Asia, and missionaries from Assyria and Mesopotamia took the Christian faith as far as China, with a primary indicator of their missionary work being the Nestorian Stele, a Tang dynasty tablet written in Chinese script found in China dating to 781 AD that documented 150 years of Christian history in China.14 Their most important conversion, however, was of the Saint Thomas Christians of the Malabar Coast in India, as they are now the largest group of non-ethnically Assyrian Christians on earth, with around 10 million followers when all denominations are added together and their own diaspora is included.15 The St Thomas Christians were believed by tradition to have been converted by St Thomas, and were in communion with the Church of the East until the end of the medieval period .

Decline of the Church of the East

Around 1400, the Turco-Mongol nomadic conqueror Timur arose out of the Eurasian Steppe to lead military campaigns across Western, Southern and Central Asia, ultimately seizing much of the Muslim world after defeating the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria, the emerging Ottoman Empire, and the declining Delhi Sultanate. Timur's conquests devastated most Assyrian bishoprics and destroyed the 4000-year-old city of Assur, which was the cultural and religious capital of the Church of the East and its followers. After the destruction brought on by Timur, the massive and organized Nestorian Church structure, which at its peak extended as far as China, Central Asia, Mongolia and India, was largely reduced to its region of origin (with the exception of the Saint Thomas Christians in India), and stayed as such until the Assyrian genocide, when a large portion of this region was entirely, ethnically and culturally cleansed of its endemic population, and in effect also ended the Shimun Branch, which had to reestablish itself in America up until 2015 when they established their new see in Erbil. Along with the destruction of the Hakkari cultural region, the Assyrians of Tur Abdin, Amid, Urfa and other regions of the southeast suffered genocide as well, but due to an agreement with the Turks, the Syriac Orthodox Church was able to exist in the region after the end of the genocide, and a Syriac community still exists in Turkey until this day, and is the most geographically spread out Church still functioning in Turkey, with active churches in Adiyaman, Siirt, Istanbul, and its primary area of operation and seat at Mor Gabriel Monastery in Tur Abdin. This blow by Timur to the structure of the Church of the East may have been one of the reasons for its decline, and the subsequent rise of the Chaldean Catholic Church in 1552, which would itself later suffer schism.

1552: founding of the Church of Assyria and Mosul by Patriarch Yohannan Sulaqa

Main articles: Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa and Schism of 1552 Dissent over the hereditary succession grew until 1552, when a group of Assyrian bishops, from the northern regions of Amid and Salmas, elected a priest, Mar Yohannan Sulaqa, as a rival patriarch. To look for a bishop of metropolitan rank to consecrate him patriarch, Sulaqa traveled to the pope in Rome and entered into communion with the Catholic Church, after first being refused by the Syriac Orthodox Church. In 1553 he was consecrated bishop and elevated to the rank of patriarch taking the name of Mar Shimun VIII. He was granted the title of " Patriarch of the East Assyrians", and his church was named the Church of Assyria ("Athura") and Mosul. Mar Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa returned to northern Mesopotamia in the same year and fixed his seat in Amid. Before being put to death by the partisans of the Assyrian Church of the East patriarch of Alqosh, he ordained five metropolitan bishops thus beginning a new ecclesiastical hierarchy: the patriarchal line known as the Shimun line. The area of influence of this patriarchate soon moved from Amid east, fixing the See, after many places, in the isolated Assyrian village of Qochanis. The connections with Rome loosened up under Sulaqa's successors: The last patriarch to be formally recognized by the Pope died in 1600, the hereditary status of the office was reintroduced and, in 1692, the communion with Rome was formally broken, with this part of the church once more rejoining the Assyrian Church of the East. 17th and 18th century turbulenceedit The background of the Chaldean Catholic Church is the Church of Assyria and Mosul, formed out of the Church of the East in 1552 by Patriarch Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa, recognised as "of the Chaldeans" by the Holy See. However, the connections with the Papacy loosened up under his successors, split in different lines: the last patriarch in this unbroken line to be formally recognised by the Pope died in 1600. Although communions were reinitiated in 1672 and 1681, in one line, hereditary status of the office was reintroduced and full communion with Rome formally broken in 1692, with this patriarchal line eventually forming the Assyrian Church of the East. Following this turbulence, from 1771 to 1830, two claimants to the Catholic patriarchal seat left the Catholic Church unable to recognise either until a unification of the two in Mosul in 1830. The ensuing reunification with Rome has lasted unbroken until this day.

1672: The Josephite line of Amid

After the Shimun line cut off ties with Rome and re-established itself in Qodchanis, A second so-called 'Chaldean' Patriarchate began a few decades later in 1672 when Mar Joseph I, Archbishop of Amid, entered in communion with Rome, separating from the Assyrian Church Patriarchal see of Alqosh (of which his territory was formerly a part). In 1681 the Holy See granted him the title of " Patriarch of the Chaldeans deprived of its patriarch." All Joseph I's successors took the name of Joseph. However, the life of this patriarchate was difficult. At the beginning there were problems due to the vexations from the traditionalists, under which they were subject from a legal point of view, and later it struggled with financial difficulties due to the Jizya imposed by the Ottoman authorities upon Christian subjects. Nevertheless, its influence expanded from its original strongholds in Amid (modern Diyarbakir) and Mardin towards the area of Mosul and the Nineveh plains. The Josephite line merged in 1830 with the Nestorian Alqosh patriarchate. In order to do this, the Alqosh patriarchate entered into full communion with Rome, and the two Chaldean patriarchates combined, and the capital was designated as Alqosh. It was from this point that the modern Chaldean Catholic Church came into being.who? 1830: Reunited Alqosh Patriarchate in full communion with the Holy Seeedit Main article: Yohannan VIII Hormizd The largest and oldest patriarchal see of the Assyrian Church of the East was based at the Rabban Hormizd monastery of Alqosh. It spread from Aqrah up to Seert and Nisibis, covering in the south the rich plain of Mosul. In the short period between 1610 and 1617 it entered in communion with Rome, and in 1771 the patriarch Eliya Denkha signed a Catholic confession of faith, but no formal union resulted. When Eliya Denkha died, his succession was disputed by two cousins: Eliyya Isho-Yab, who was recognized by Rome but renounced his Catholic faith, and Yohannan VIII Hormizd, who, although unrecognized by Rome, considered himself a Catholic. In 1804, after Eliyya Isho-Yab's death, Yohannan Hormizd was made by default the patriarch of Alqosh. There were thus two patriarchates in communion with Rome now, the larger one in Alqosh, and the original one in Amid that was ruled by Joseph V Augustine Hindi. However, Rome did not want to choose between the two candidates: and granted neither the title of Patriarch, even though from 1811 it was Augustine Hindi who ruled the Church de facto. After Hindi's death, on July 5, 1830, Yohannan Hormizd of the Alqosh line was by default formally confirmed Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic church by Pope Pius VIII with the title of " Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans".19 In this act, The merging of the patriarchates of Alqosh and Amid was completed, forming a single Chaldean Catholic Church. On the other hand, the Shimun line of patriarchs, based in Qochanis, remained in the traditional Assyrian Church, independent of the new Chaldean Church. When the large Alqosh branch took a Catholic profession of faith, the Shimun line remained the sole remaining Nestorian patriarchate left. The Patriarchate of the present-day Assyrian Church of the East, with its See in Erbil, forms the continuation of that line.20 19th and 20th century: expansion and disasteredit


The Chaldean Catholic Church has the following dioceses: Patriarchate of Babylon Metropolitan Archdioceses of Baghdad, Kirkuk, Tehran, Urmya Archdioceses of Ahwaz, Basra, Diyarbakir, Erbil, Mosul Eparchies of Aleppe, Alquoch, Amadia, Akra, Beirut, Cairo, St Peter the Apostle of San Diego, St Thomas the Apostle of Detroit, Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto, St Thomas the Apostle of Sydney, Salmas, Sulaimaniya, Zaku Territories dependent on the Patriarch: Jerusalem, Jordan The Latin name of the church is Ecclesia Chaldaeorum Catholica.


The current Patriarch is Louis Sako, elected in January 2013. In October 2007, his predecessor, Emmanuel III Delly became the first Chaldean Catholic patriarch to be elevated to the rank of Cardinal within the Catholic Church.

Baghdad Church 2016 Shorja Iraq

King Faisal I with Chaldean bishops (1852-1947)

Saint Peter

Chaldean Catholic COA

St. Thomas


St. Michael the Archangel Findlay OH - Bread and Wine

Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon - 1876
Interviews and Performances
Aramaic Project III Videos
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