Ancient Church of the East

The Ancient Church of the East (Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܥܬܝܩܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐʿĒdtā ʿAttiqtā ḏMaḏnḥā, Arabic: كنيسة المشرق القديمة‎, Kanīsat al-Mašriq al-Qadīma), officially the Ancient Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of the East, is an Eastern Christian denomination founded by Thoma Darmo in 1968.

The Ancient Church of the East distinguished itself from the Assyrian Church of the East in 1964. It is one of the Assyrian churches that claim continuity with the historical Patriarchate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon – the Church of the East, one of the oldest Christian churches in Mesopotamia.[2] The church is headquartered in Baghdad, Iraq. In 1970, Catholicos-Patriarch Addai II Giwargis succeeded Thoma Darmo (1968–1969).

Briefkopf Emblem

Ancient Church of the East
Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܥܬܝܩܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ
ClassificationEastern Christianity
OrientationSyriac Christianity
PrimateCatholicos-Patriarch Addai II Giwargis
RegionIraq, Syria, with communities in Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, Denmark
LiturgyEast Syriac Rite
HeadquartersBaghdad, Iraq
FounderThoma Darmo
Separated fromAssyrian Church of the East
Members70,000 in 1968[1]
Official website


The Ancient Church of the East emerged as the result of a schism within the Assyrian Church of the East, in opposition to reforms introduced by Patriarch Shimun XXI Eshai of the Assyrian Church of the East, including the substitution of the modern Gregorian Calendar in place of the traditional Julian Calendar (which differs from the Gregorian by a widening number of days, currently thirteen). The Ancient Church of the East seated itself in Baghdad, Iraq, headed by a separate Catholicos-Patriarch.

Following the schism, the position of Catholicos-Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East remained vacant from 1964 until 1968, when Mar Thoma Darmo was named the church's Patriarch. Mar Thoma was elected as a rival Catholicos-Patriarch to Mar Eshai Shimun, who continued to serve as the official head of the Assyrian Church of the East headquartered in the United States. The elected Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Thoma was a native of Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), and a former Metropolitan of the Assyrian Church of the East based in Thrissur, India. Mar Thoma served as Metropolitan from 1952 until his resignation in 1964. Upon becoming the head of the newly formed Ancient Church of the East, he immediately relocated to Baghdad.

Under the tenure of Mar Thoma Darmo

In September 1968, Mar Addai Giwargis was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan of Iraq. Similarly, Mar Aprem Mooken was consecrated Metropolitan of India, and Mar Poulose Poulose was consecrated Bishop of India. These prelates in turn consecrated Mar Thoma Darmo Catholicos-Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East during the first week of October 1968. Mar Thoma then became the first Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East. Mar Thoma served as Patriarch for just under a year before his death in September 1969.

Under the tenure of Mar Addai II

Following Patriarch Mar Thoma Darmo's death in 1969, Mar Addai II assumed the position of Acting Patriarch, and was later elected to lead the Ancient Church of the East in February 1970. In the meantime, he consecrated two Metropolitans, both in December 1969: Mar Narsai Toma was consecrated as Metropolitan of Kirkuk, and Mar Toma Eramia was consecrated Metropolitan of Nineveh (Mosul) and Northern Iraq. Mar Addai's official jurisdiction at the time was Baghdad.

Together, on February 20, 1972, Mar Narsai and Mar Toma consecrated Mar Addai Giwargis as Catholicos-Patriarch.

Expansion of the Holy Synod

In 1985, Mar Daniel Yakob, Bishop of Kirkuk of the Assyrian Church of the East was accepted into the Holy Synod of the Ancient Church of the East. He was to head the parishes in California, but ultimately served as an Auxiliary Bishop. In July 1992, Mar Yacoub Daniel was consecrated Bishop of Syria. The following year, in June 1993, Mar Emmanuel Elia was ordained Bishop of the Patriarchate of Baghdad. In 1994, however, Mar Emmanuel shifted his residence and became Bishop of North America and Canada.

In November and December 1995, the Ancient Church experienced several major changes. Mar Aprem Mooken and Mar Poulose Poulose, along with the Church of India, reunited with the Assyrian Church of the East for external reasons. During that same period, Timothaus Mar Shallita (Mar Shallita) was accepted into the Holy Synod and appointed Metropolitan of Europe, and Mar Yacoub Daniel was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan.

In July 2005, Mar Yacoub was transferred from Syria to Australia and New Zealand.

In April 2009, Mar Addai II consecrated Mar Zaia Khoshaba as Bishop of Baghdad. In the same month, he ordained Mar Aprem Daweed as Bishop of Duhok. In 2011, Mar Aprem resigned after serving just two years. 2011 also saw the resignation of Mar Emmanuel. In August 2011, Mar Yacoub Daniel and Mar Zaia Khoshaba consecrated Mar Mari Emmanuel as Bishop for Australia and New Zealand, assisting the Metropolitan.

Later Mar Addai II consecrated Mar Gewargis Younan as Bishop of Chicago, the youngest-serving prelate of the Ancient Church of the East.

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 his own Chaldean Catholic Church with both the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East to (re-)create one united "Church of the East" with a single patriarch in full communion with the Pope.[3] The proposal did not go forward, and the Assyrian Church of the East elected a new patriarch of its own.


The Ancient Church of the East recognizes the following nine positions in its hierarchy:

  1. Patriarch
  2. Metropolitan (Archbishop)
  3. Bishop
  4. Archdeacon
  5. Chorbishop
  6. Priest
  7. Deacon
  8. Subdeacon
  9. Reader

The Patriarch is the supreme head of the church, and oversees all dioceses of the church. The church has an episcopal polity, meaning it is organized into dioceses, each headed by a bishop. Dioceses are organized into Ecclesiastical provinces under the authority of a Metropolitan. Each diocese is made up of several parish communities. The individual parishes are staffed by at least one priest. Priests are assisted by Deacons, Subdeacons, and Readers. All members of the clergy may preach, baptize, witness marriages, and conduct funeral liturgies, though Deacons, Subdeacons, and Readers assume an assistant's role. Only those ranking above a deacon can celebrate the sacraments of the Eucharist, though others may be ministers of Holy Communion. Administering the sacrament of Holy Orders (ordaining someone into the clergy) is limited to Bishops, Metropolitans, and the Patriarch.

Holy Synod

  • Mar Addai II, Catholicos-Patriarch of the East (seat in Baghdad)
  • Mar Yacoub Daniel, Metropolitan of Australia and New Zealand (seat in Sydney, Australia)
  • Mar Zaia Khoshaba, Metropolitan of North America and Europe (seat in Hamilton, Canada)
  • Mar Gewargis Younan, Bishop of Chicago (seat in Chicago, USA)

Since January 2011 the synod of the Ancient Church of the East has split between those accepting the Patriarchate of Mar Addai II and those Old Calendarists rejecting it. The anti-patriarchal party is headed by Timothaus Mar Shallita. Individual parishes in Sweden, Denmark, United States and Australia adhere to these prelates:

  • Mar Timothaus Shallita, Metropolitan (Mainz, Germany)
  • Mar Toma Erimia Giwargis, Metropolitan (Hamilton, Canada)
  • Mar Daniel Yakob, Bishop (Modesto, USA)
  • Mar Mari Emmanuel, Bishop (Sydney, Australia)

International dioceses

  • Patriarchal Archdiocese of Baghdad and Basra
  • Archdiocese of Kirkuk
  • Archdiocese of Nineveh (Mosul) and Northern Iraq
  • Archdiocese of Syria
  • Diocese of Europe
  • Diocese of Australia and New Zealand
  • Archdiocese of North America
  • Diocese of California
  • Diocese of Chicago

List of Catholicos-Patriarchs of the Ancient Church of the East

Prior to 1964

In 1964, during the reign of Shemʿon XXI Eshai (also known as Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII), a schism occurred in the Church of the East causing the establishment of a separate Ancient Church of the East with its center in Baghdad. The Ancient Church of the East acknowledges the traditional lineage of the Patriarchs of the Church of the East in Babylon from Mar Shimun Keepa [4] until the schism of 1964. The Ancient Church considers itself a true continuation of this lineage, and recognizes the Assyrian Church of the East as the same. This schism occurred because of the changing of the church calendar from the traditional Julian calendar to the Gregorian one, along with hereditary succession and tribal rivalry. Directly following the split from the Assyrian Church of the East, the seat of the Patriarch remained vacant for three years before a Patriarch was elected. In 1968 communities in Iraq, Syria and India elected a rival Patriarch centered in Baghdad, the then suspended Metropolitan of India Mar Thoma Darmo. He consecrated prelates who in turn consecrated him Patriarch. Currently the Patriarchate is located in Baghdad, Iraq.

Since 1964

  1. Vacant (1964 to 1967) – first period of the schism
  2. Mar Thoma Darmo (1968 to 1969)
  3. VacantLocum Tenens: Mar Addai II as Acting Patriarch (1969 to 1972)
  4. Mar Addai II (1972 to present day)

Various communities of Church of the East Old Calendarists seceded from the Ancient Church of the East in 2011 by continuing to observe the 25th of December on January 6th and 25th of March on April 6th, the Church of the East Calendar being 12 days behind the Gregorian calendar.

Relationship with the Assyrian Church of the East

The Ancient Church of the East was distinguished by its intent to maintain the traditions passed on by the Church of the East. The schism that divided the Church of the East into two parts resulted mainly from controversial changes introduced by Mar Shimun XXI Eshai. The most obvious of these was the decision to replace the traditional Julian Calendar with the Gregorian Calendar. Additionally, there were concerns raised in regard to the succession of the Patriarchate. The Patriarchate had been hereditary in the Mar Shimun family for six centuries, often resulting in the consecration of minors as head of the church. For example, the late Shimun XXI Eshai himself was ordained Patriarch at just twelve years old.[5]

Under the tenure of Mar Addai II, the Ancient Church of the East has made several gestures towards reunification with the Assyrian Church of the East. The most prominent of these is undoubtedly the declaration made in June 2010 stating that the Ancient Church of the East would now celebrate Christmas on December 25, in accordance with the Gregorian Calendar. Previously, the church recognized The Julian date (currently corresponding to January 7 on the Gregorian Calendar) each year as Christmas Day, as the Church of the East had for thousands of years. The decision was to be implemented later that year, on December 25, 2010.[6] This was the first time since the schism that the two churches celebrated the Christmas holiday on the same day. Despite this decision, many Church of the East Old Calendarists rejected the move so in an attempt to avert further dissent, the Holy Synod maintained that Easter would continue to be celebrated according to the Julian Calendar.

The declaration related to the celebration of Christmas was perceived as an attempt of reconciliation, and encouraged efforts for talks of reunification. A joint Holy Synod between the two churches was postponed, though is expected in the near future.

The international Assyrian community has long-since advocated for reunification, particularly in response to the 2014 and 2015 attacks launched against Assyrians in Iraq and Syria, respectively. Since that time, relations between the churches have improved on every level, particularly in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Europe.

Dialogue for reunification

In early May 2015, following the death of Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, dialogue of unification resumed between the churches. Reunification of the two branches of the Church of the East was encouraged by the Patriarch. Following an informal meeting between Mar Gewargis Younan and Mar Paulus Benjamin, an official meeting request was delivered to Mar Aprem Mooken, acting Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East.

On May 22, 2015, a meeting involving prelates of both Holy Councils took place in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, in the library of St. Andrew's Assyrian Church of the East. Present were Mar Yacoub Daniel, Mar Zaia Khoshaba, and Mar Gewargis Younan representing the Ancient Church of the East, and Mar Gewargis Sliwa, Mar Awa Royel, and Mar Iskhaq Yousif representing the Assyrian Church of the East. Archdeacon William Toma served as the meeting's common secretary. Mar Yacoub Daniel flew in from Australia for the meeting, and Mar Zaia traveled from Canada.

During the meeting, recommendations for unity between the Ancient Church of the East and Assyrian Church of the East were delivered through the selected representatives of each branch. The primary issues discussed were church leadership and the Holy Calendar. It was decided in this meeting that the individual Synods would meet separately to further discuss the terms. Another meeting between the two churches would then be scheduled to continue negotiations. It was requested by the Ancient Church of the East prelates that the election of the new Catholicos-Patriarch be delayed until negotiations had been concluded, in the hopes that a unified Synod would elect a successor together. In the event that the churches agree to reunify, Mar Addai II would be expected to resign. The Patriarch has already given his blessings, provided that the celebration of Easter Sunday in accordance with the traditional Julian Calendar is maintained.

On June 1, 2015, the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East met in Erbil, Iraq, to discuss the future of the church. The date had previously been arranged for the election of the new Catholicos-Patriarch. Mar Awa Royel issued a statement on the same day, notifying the public that a response to the Ancient Church of the East's recommendations for reunification had been delivered to their prelates. The letter requested a prompt response to the terms, and the election of the new Patriarch was suspended until the following week, on June 8, 2015. On June 2, 2015, Mar Gewargis Younan issued a statement on behalf of the Ancient Church of the East stating that a provisional decision had been reached to reunify the two branches. The statement dated June 2, 2015, also indicated that the Holy Synod of the Ancient Church planned to convene in the near future to issue a formal response.

On June 5, 2015, Mar Aprem Mooken issued a formal statement announcing that the election of the next Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East was suspended until September 27, 2015, pending the unification of the churches.

See also


  1. ^ Baumer, Christoph (2006). The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity (1st ed.). London, England, United Kingdom: I.B. Tauris. p. 272. ISBN 1-84511-115-X.
  2. ^ "CNEWA: Ronald G. Roberson, C.S.P. - The Assyrian Church of the East". Archived from the original on 2012-10-29. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
  3. ^ "Chaldean Patriarch gambles on re-establishing 'Church of the East'” La Stampa 25 June 2015. Accessed 11 May 2017.
  4. ^ 1 Peter 5:13
  5. ^ Biography of His Holiness, The Assyrian Martyr, The Late Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII
  6. ^ The Assyrian: Ancient Church of the East moves to change calendar Archived 2015-05-07 at the Wayback Machine


  • Mar Aprem Mooken, The Assyrian Church of the East in the Twentieth Century. Mōrān ’Eth’ō, 18. (Kottayam: St. Ephrem Ecumenical Research Institute, 2003).
  • Bishop James Hess, Nestorian Apostolic Bishop, "Bishops at Large", by Bishop Alan Bain published in the UK. 1985
  • Most Rev James H Hess, "A Directory of Autocephalous Bishops" by Bishop Karl Pruter, St Willibrord Press, USA, 1985
  • Rev George Badger (Anglican priest and protégé of the Archbishop of Canterbury), "Nestorians and Their Rituals", published by Oxford University c. 1860.
  • The Thirty Nine Articles of the Church of England, as published in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, Cambridge University Press, 1968
  • "The Pearl (Marganitha), On The Truth of Christianity" Written in 1298 AD by Mar Odisho, Metropolitan of Suwa and Armenia. Translated and published in English by the late Patriarch, Shimun (Simon) XXIII, in 1964.

External links

Addai II Giwargis

Mar Addai II, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East (Syriac: ܡܪܝ ܐܕܝ), born Shlemun Giwargis, (born in Iraq on 1 August 1946, although some sources cite 1948) is the incumbent Catholicos-Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East and resides in the Apostolic See of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in Baghdad, Iraq.

Assyrian Australians

Assyrian Australians are Australians of Assyrian descent or Assyrians who have Australian citizenship. According to the 2016 census, 46,217 persons identified themselves as having Assyrian or Chaldean ancestry. Historically, Assyrian people were indigenous to their ancient ancestral Assyrian homeland that corresponds to modern-day northern Iraq, southeast Turkey northwestern fringes of Iran and, much recently, northeast Syria. The majority of Assyrian Australians have immigrated mainly from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan and the Caucasus.

Of the 46,200 Assyrians in Australia, 28,517 are members of the Assyrian Church of the East or Ancient Church of the East and 17,172 are members of the Chaldean Catholic Church. The City of Fairfield, in Sydney, has the most Assyrians in Australia, with 75% of Assyrians living in that area. 95% of Fairfield's Iraqi-born population are of Assyrian ancestry. Fairfield LGA also has one of the most predominant Assyrian communities in the diaspora, where one in every ten person would be Assyrian. Moreover, in contrast to other migrants, Assyrians have the highest rate of acquiring the Australian citizenship.During the 1980s war between Iraq and Iran, large numbers of Assyrians fled Iraq and applied for refugee status. In the early 2000s, 5% of Australia's humanitarian immigrants identified as being adherents of Syriac churches. In May 2013, the Assyrian genocide was recognised by the New South Wales state parliament. Assyrian-Australians have established various clubs, social organisation, churches and language schools. Representing only 0.13% of Australia's overall population, Assyrians are considered to be a successful minority group.

Assyrian nationalism

Assyrian nationalism or Assyrianism increased in popularity in the late 19th century in a climate of increasing ethnic and religious persecution of the indigenous Assyrians of what is today northern Iraq, south-east Turkey and north-west Iran (Upper Mesopotamia).

Assyrian nationalism – the ideology of a united Assyrian people – is to a great degree based on a common and specific historic, ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural and geographic background and heritage. It is espoused by almost all Mesopotamian East Aramaic-speaking Assyrians. They are exclusively Christians, with most Assyrians following the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Syriac Catholic Church, Ancient Church of the East and Protestant groups like the Assyrian Pentecostal Church and Assyrian Evangelical Church, as well as those that are irreligious.

Geographically they are the native and indigenous people of Mesopotamia, in effect a region corresponding with what was ancient Assyria (Upper Mesopotamia) from perhaps as early as the 25th century BC until its dissolution in the 7th century AD. Assyrian nationalism is also common in the diaspora communities that left these areas for Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Lebanon, Jordan and Azerbaijan and migrant Assyrians from all these lands now residing in the European Union, United States, Canada and Australia.

The United Nations Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) recognises the modern Assyrians as an indigenous people of south-east Turkey, north-east Syria and the fringes of north-west Iran, as does the Political Dictionary of the Modern Middle East.

British Assyrians

British Assyrians are British people of Assyrian descent or Assyrians who have British citizenship. They are the indigenous pre-Arab, pre-Kurdish and pre-Turkic people of Upper Mesopotamia (modern-day Northern Iraq, southeast Turkey and northwestern Iran, an area encompassing the Assyrian homeland) who speak dialects of Eastern Aramaic and are Christians, with most following the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Ancient Church of the East, Assyrian Pentecostal Church, Assyrian Evangelical Church, Syriac Catholic Church, although some are irreligious.

Concentrations of Assyrians are found in Greenford and in Hanwell, both towns within the London Borough of Ealing. Assyrians in the UK and other western countries mostly migrated from Iraq, Jordan, Iran and Syria. Migration was largely triggered by long standing ethnic and religious persecution in their homelands.

Catholic Church (disambiguation)

The Catholic Church is one of the largest Christian Churches.

Catholic Church may also refer to:

One of the 24 particular churches sui iuris that form the larger Catholic Church:

The Latin Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church or Western Catholic Church

The Eastern Catholic Churches, several Eastern Churches in full communion with Catholic Church

Independent Catholicism, Churches that historically and culturally stem from Catholicism but broke away from the Catholic Church

The Old Catholic Church, part of Independent Catholicism

Other churches expressing apostolic origins and traditions of catholicity, such as:

The Eastern Orthodox Church

Oriental Orthodoxy

The Assyrian Church of the East

The Ancient Church of the East

Churches within Lutheranism

Churches within Anglicanism


Catholicos, plural Catholicoi, is a title used for the head of certain churches in some Eastern Christian traditions. The title implies autocephaly and in some cases it is the title of the head of an autonomous church. The word comes from ancient Greek καθολικός, pl. καθολικοί, derived from καθ' ὅλου (kath'olou, "generally") from κατά (kata, "down") and ὅλος (holos, "whole"), meaning "concerning the whole, universal, general"; it originally designated a financial or civil office in the Roman Empire. The name of the Catholic Church comes from the same word.

The Church of the East, some Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox churches, and some Eastern Catholic Churches historically use this title; for example the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Georgian Orthodox Church. In the Church of the East, the title was given to the church's head, the Patriarch of the Church of the East. It is still used in two successor churches, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East, the heads of which are known as Catholicos-Patriarchs. In the Armenian Church there are two catholicoi: the supreme catholicos of Ejmiadzin and the catholicos of Cilicia. The title Catholicos-Patriarch is also used by the primate of the Armenian Catholic Church. In India, head of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox Church; and regional head of Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, an autonomous Church within Syriac Orthodox Church, use this title. The first is known as Catholicos of the East and the latter as Catholicos of India.


In Christian theology, dyophysitism (Greek: δυοφυσιτισμός, from δυο (dyo), meaning "two" and φύσις (physis), meaning "nature") is the Christological position that two natures, divine and human, exist in the person of Jesus Christ. It contrasts with monophysitism and miaphysitism.Development of dyophysite Christology was gradual, promoted by St Cyril of Alexandria (Church Father and Doctor of the Church) and its complex terminology was finally formulated as a result of long christological debates that were constant during the 4th and 5th centuries. The importance of dyophysitism was often emphasized by prominent representatives of the Antiochene School. After many debates and several councils, dyophysitism gained its official ecclesiastical form at the Fourth Ecumenical Council, held in Chalcedon in 451. The Chalcedonian Definition became the basis for the christological doctrine of the two natures of Jesus Christ, that is held up to the present day by a majority of Christian churches, including: the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, the Anglican Church, the Old Catholic Church, and various other Christian denominations. Both the monophysitism were sentenced as false and condemned as heretic by the Council of Chalcedony in 451, and therefore declared not compatible with the Christian faith.

Dyophysite Christians believe that there is complete and perfect unity of the two natures in one hypostasis and one person of Jesus Christ. For the Chalcedonians the hypostatic union was the center of Jesus' unity (his divinity and humanity being described as natures) whereas those who rejected the Chalcedonian definition saw his nature as the point of unity. Since the term dyophysitism is used for describing the Chalcedonian positions, it has distinctive opposite meaning to the terms monophysite (notion that Christ has only one, divine nature) and miaphysite (notion that Christ is both divine and human, but in one nature).Dyophysitism has also been used to describe some aspects of Nestorianism, the doctrines ascribed to the Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople. His detractors also asserted (unprecisely, and sometimes falsely) that he believed that Christ existed not only in two natures, but also in two (hypostases) and two persons (prosopon): the human Jesus and the divine Logos. Apart from that, the ancient Church of the East has preserved dyophysite Christology and other traditions of the Antiochene School.The belief in Jesus Christ being true Man and true God was imbedded in the Chalcedonian Creed, and later it was integrated in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, basic article of the Christian faith.

Eastern Christianity

Eastern Christianity comprises church families that developed outside the Occident, with major bodies including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches (that are in communion with Rome but still maintain Eastern liturgies), and the denominations descended from the Church of the East. The Ukrainian Lutheran Church is also an Eastern Christian church that uses the Byzantine Rite. The term is used in contrast with Western Christianity (namely the Latin Church and most of Protestantism), although its scope has been one of continual discussion. Eastern Christianity consists of the Christian traditions and churches that developed distinctively over several centuries in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Malabar coast of South India, and parts of the Far East. The term does not describe a single communion or religious denomination. Some Eastern churches have more in common historically and theologically with Western Christianity than with one another. The various Eastern churches do not normally refer to themselves as "Eastern", with the exception of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East.

The terms "Eastern" and "Western" in this regard originated with geographical divisions in Christianity mirroring the cultural divide between the Hellenistic east and Latin West, and the political divide between the Western and Eastern Roman empires. Because the largest church in the East is the body currently known as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the term "Orthodox" is often used in a similar fashion to "Eastern", to refer to specific historical Christian communions. However, strictly speaking, most Christian denominations, whether Eastern or Western, consider themselves to be "orthodox" (following correct beliefs) as well as "catholic" (or "universal"), as two of the Four Marks of the Church listed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed: "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic" (Greek: μία, ἁγία, καθολικὴ καὶ ἀποστολικὴ ἐκκλησία).There are several liturgical rites in use among the Eastern churches (excepting the non-liturgical dissenting bodies). These are the Alexandrian Rite, the Antiochene Rite, the Armenian Rite, the Byzantine Rite, the East Syriac Rite and the West Syriac Rite.

Kha b-Nisan

Kha b' Nisan or Ha b' Nisin, also Ha b' Nison; ܚܕ ܒܢܝܣܢ "First of April", Resha d'Sheta; ܪܫܐ ܕܫܢܬܐ "Head of the year" in Assyrian, also known as Akitu, or Assyrian New Year is the spring festival among the indigenous Assyrians of northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and northwestern Iran, celebrated on 1 April.

The festival has its roots in the ancient Mesopotamian religion practiced by Assyrians until its gradual demise in the face of Syriac Christianity between the 1st and 4th centuries AD. Today Assyrians are Christians, with most being adherents of the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Ancient Church of the East, Assyrian Pentecostal Church and Assyrian Evangelical Church.

Celebrations involve parades and parties. Some Assyrians wear traditional costume and dance in parks for hours. In Europe, Australia, the United States, Canada and the Caucasus among Assyrian Diaspora communities, there are often parties with food, music and dance.

List of Catholicoi of the East

The Catholicos of the East was the title originally used by the Bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, head of the Church of the East. The title is currently held by the head of the Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East, and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The following is a list of primates who have held that office.

List of Patriarchs of the Church of the East

The Patriarch of the Church of the East (Patriarch of Babylon or Patriarch of the East) is the patriarch, or leader and head bishop (sometimes referred to as Catholicos or universal leader) of the Assyrian Church of the East. The position dates to the early centuries of Christianity within the Sassanid Empire, and the church has been known by a variety of names, including the Church of the East, Nestorian Church, the Persian Church, the Sassanid Church, or East Syrian. In the 16th and 17th century the Church, by now restricted to its original Assyrian homeland in Upper Mesopotamia, experienced a series of splits, resulting in a series of competing patriarchs and lineages. Today, the three principal churches that emerged from these splits, the Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church, each have their own patriarch, the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East and the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, respectively.

List of current popes and patriarchs

This is a list of current Christian Popes and Patriarchs, including also others whose titles (as Major Archbishop or Catholicos, for example) are equivalent to the Patriarchal dignity.

Narsai Toma

Mar Narsai Toma was the late Metropolitan of the Ancient Church of the East of the diocese of Kirkuk, Iraq. Mar Narsai served as Metropolitan for forty-six years before his death in 2014.

Neo-Aramaic languages

The Neo-Aramaic or Modern Aramaic languages are varieties of Aramaic, that are spoken vernaculars from the medieval to modern era that evolved out of Imperial Aramaic via Middle Aramaic dialects, around AD 1200 (conventional date).The term strictly excludes those Aramaic languages that are used only as literary, sacred or classical languages today (for example, Targumic Aramaic, Classical Syriac and Classical Mandaic). However, the classical languages continue to have influence over the colloquial Neo-Aramaic languages.Northeastern Neo-Aramaic and Central Neo-Aramaic dialects are spoken primarily (though not wholly exclusively) by ethnic Assyrians, who are members of the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church (Eastern Rite Catholics), Syriac Orthodox Church, Ancient Church of the East, Assyrian Pentecostal Church and Assyrian Evangelical Church. The Assyrians are an indigenous people of Iraq, northeast Syria, southeast Turkey and northwest Iran, descendants of the ancient Mesopotamians.Today the number of fluent Neo-Aramaic speakers is significantly smaller, and newer generations of Assyrians generally are not acquiring the full language, especially as many have emigrated and acculturated into their new resident countries.

Old Calendarists

An Old Calendarist is any Eastern Orthodox Christian who uses the historic Julian calendar (called the "Old Style Calendar", "Church Calendar" or "Old Calendar"), proposed by the Roman statesman Julius Caesar, and whose church body is not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox churches that use the New Calendar.

The "Old Calendarists" are to be distinguished from Eastern Orthodox Christians or Eastern Orthodox Church bodies which are on the Old Calendar. The latter use the historic Julian calendar cited above, but are in communion with the Eastern Orthodox Churches that use the New Calendar (the Revised Julian calendar). Thus, to be "Old Calendarist" or "Old Calendar" is not the same thing as being "on the Old Calendar". The Russian Orthodox Church, for instance, is not Old Calendarist (or Old Calendar), but it is on the Old Calendar. There are a great many Eastern Orthodox Christians who are (or who belong to Churches that are) on the Old Calendar, but far fewer in number are the Eastern Orthodox Christians who are Old Calendar or Old Calendarist. It also should not be confused with the Oriental Orthodox churches, all of which are either on the Old Calendar or use their own calendar, but who are not in communion with either the Old Calendarists or mainstream Eastern Orthodoxy, although they are currently engaged in ecumenical dialogue with the latter. Nevertheless, inside the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem uses the Old Calendar in contrast to rest of the Armenian Church, which adopted the Gregorian Calendar while no member of the Armenian churches are using today the Armenian calendar. The Indian Orthodox Church uses the Gregorian calendar along with their autonomous Syriac Orthodox counterparts in India, the Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church, in contrast to the rest of the Syriac Church which uses its own calendar. The Ancient Church of the East (Julian Calendar) emerged as the result of a schism when Patriarch Shimun XXI Eshai introduced the Gregorian Calendar into the Assyrian Church of the East.

The Julian calendar, proposed by the pagan Roman general Julius Caesar, is commonly opposed to the Gregorian calendar introduced to Christianity by Pope Gregory XIII during the 16th century. An improved form of the Gregorian calendar, originally developed in 1785 and modified in 1923 by the Serbian astronomer Milutin Milanković, was first introduced by Greece for civil purposes only and later adopted by some Orthodox churches. In its present form it is known as the Revised Julian calendar and it will not diverge from the Gregorian until AD 2800 (see Greek Old Calendarists#History). A minority of Eastern Orthodox Christians regarded this as a surrender of the Eastern Orthodox Church to the Pope and continued following the old calendar. Some of these also broke communion with those who had adopted the new calendar, thus creating their own church, or denomination, which means in Latin "to take a new name".

This schism is the beginning of the Old Calendar Churches which suspended full communion or concelebration with other Eastern Orthodox churches ("New Calendarists") over the adoption by the latter of the Revised Julian calendar (called "New Calendar," although some churches did not specify the details of which New calendar they were adopting). This is the most common use of the term.

Those Orthodox Churches which remain in full communion with the New Calendarists and yet continue to use the Julian calendar include the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Georgian Orthodox Church. (The Julian calendar is also used by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia which has reunited with the Russian Orthodox Church.) Mount Athos, subordinate to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, also follows the Julian calendar.

In recent years both Old Calendar congregations and monasteries, as well New Calendar congregations and monasteries inside the Churches on the Old Calendar have been accepted into the official churches maintaining their own Calendar. Even some Russian Old Believers groups have been accepted into the official Russian Church while keeping their own traditions.

Syriac Christianity

Syriac Christianity (Syriac: ܡܫܝܚܝܘܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ‎ / Mšiḥāyuṯā Suryāyṯā) is the form of Eastern Christianity whose formative theological writings and traditional liturgy are expressed in the Syriac language.The Syriac language is a variety of Middle Aramaic that in an early form emerged in Edessa, Upper Mesopotamia in the first century AD. It is closely related to the Jewish Palestinian Aramaic spoken by Jesus. This relationship added to its prestige for Christians. The form of the language in use in Edessa predominated Christian writings and was accepted as the standard form, "a convenient vehicle for the spread of Christianity wherever there was a substrate of spoken Aramaic". The area where Syriac or Aramaic was spoken, an area of contact and conflict between the Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire, extended from around Antioch in the west to Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the Sasanian capital, in the east and comprised the whole or parts of present-day Lebanon, Palestine/Israel, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.

Thoma Darmo

Mar Thoma Darmo, (b. 21 September 1904 in Mesopotamia, [present-day Iraq] – d. in Baghdad on 7 September 1969), was the first Catholicos-Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East from 1968 to 1969.

Thoma Darmo was born as Mansour Darmo, son of Elishai and Shirine. He spent his childhood in Turkey and from 1919 in Iraq, becoming an ordained clergyman in 1921. He continued to serve in Iraq for 15 years. Then he moved to Syria where he served from 1936 to 1952.

In 1952, he was assigned as Metropolitan of the Assyrian Church of the East, based at Trichur, Kerala, India until 1968. He built a number of churches and established a number of new dioceses in India, encouraged the preparation of new clergy and established the Mar Narsai Press.

In a schism against the Catholicos-Patriarch Shimun XXI Eshai because of reform issues introduced by the Assyrian Church of the East as well as the hereditary system of the Patriarchate, he voiced his opposition. This resulted in a split from the Church (then headquartered in San Francisco, now headquartered in Erbil) and Darmo became one of the founders of the Ancient Church of the East.

Subsequently, after three years of the seat of the Ancient Church of the East remaining vacant (1964–1967), Mar Thoma Darmo was elected as head of the new church as its first Catholicos-Patriarch in October 1968.

He relocated the Ancient Church of the East to Baghdad where the church is headquartered. He died the following year on 7 September 1969. He was succeeded in 1970 by Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Addai II

Timothaus Mar Shallita

Timothaus Mar Shallita Youwala (born 1936) is Archbishop of the Ancient Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of the East for Germany and all Europe. He currently resides in Mainz-Kastel, Germany.


Ṭyārē or Tyari (Syriac: ܛܝܪܐ‎) is an Assyrian tribe of ancient origins and a historical district within Hakkari, Turkey. The area was traditionally divided into Upper and Lower Tyare--each consisting of several Assyrian villages. Today, the district mostly sits in around the town of Çukurca. Historically, the largest village of the region was known as Ashitha.

Before 1915, Tyare was home to Assyrians from the Tyare tribe as well as a minority of Kurds. Following the Assyrian genocide, Ṭyārāyē, along with other Assyrians residing in the Hakkari highlands, were forced to leave their villages in southeast Anatolia and fled to join their fellow Assyrian brethren in modern-day northern Iraq (Sarsink, Sharafiya, Barwari, Araden), northeastern Syria (Tel Tamer and Al Hasakah), Armenia, Georgia and, from the late 20th century, to western countries.

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