The Nestorians and their Rituals/Volume 1/Chapter 11
I shall now enter upon the principal design of this work, premising, however, that as my chief object is to lay before the Church the present condition of the Nestorians, no more will be said of their past history than may appear necessary to illustrate and explain the references which shall be made thereto in the following narrative.
According to ecclesiastical tradition, Mar Addai and Mar Mari, of the Seventy, were the founders of the Christian Church in Chaldea and Mesopotamia. The latter is regarded by the Nestorians as their first Patriarch; from him they derive the validity of their present sacerdotal orders in an unbroken line of spiritual descent, and to him and Mar Addai, his companion in the work of evangelization, they ascribe the authorship of one of their three Liturgies or Communion Offices. The following is a summary of the labours of Mar Mari, taken from the history of Sleewa ibn Yohanna, a Nestorian author, who lived in the early part of the 14th century. After founding the Eastern See at Ctesiphon, then the seat of the Persian monarchy, and inhabited chiefly by Magians, Mar Mari discipled Doorkan and Cashgar, and travelled on the same mission through the two Irâks, El-Ahrâz, Yemen, and the islands of the Arabian and Indian seas, converting many heathen to Christianity, by his preaching, and by the signs and miracles which he wrought, and forming them into churches. On his return to Ctesiphon, he ordained that that city should be raised into a Patriarchal See, and before his death, which took place a.d. 82, he intimated that his successor was at Jerusalem, and should be sought for there.
Accordingly, after the decease of Mar Mari, the company of the faithful sent to the Holy City, to Simeon, who succeeded James, the brother of the Lord, as head over the Church there, requesting him to send them a Patriarch. The person elected was Abrees, who was consecrated at Jerusalem, and sent to Ctesiphon, a.d. 90. Abrees died during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, having filled the Eastern See for the space of seventeen years.
After the lapse of twenty-two years, Abrahâm, a kinsman of James, the brother of our Lord, was appointed to succeed Abrees, and ruled over the Church in the East from a.d. 130 to a.d. 152. During his supremacy, the Christians were sorely persecuted by the Persian king, who was instigated thereto by the Magians. His successor was Yaakoob [James], who also was of the kindred of Mary, the Blessed Virgin. Previous to his death, he gave direction that two of his disciples, Kam-Yeshua and Aha d'Abhooi, should go to Antioch, in order that one of them might be consecrated Patriarch there. They accordingly went, but were seized as spies of the King of Persia, who condemned them, together with Saleeba, the Patriarch of Antioch, to be crucified before the church in that city. Aha d'Abhooi, however, escaped to Jerusalem, and was consecrated there by Mattiâs, the occupant of that See, in the church of the Resurrection. He reached Ctesiphon a.d. 205, and presided over the Christians of the east for fifteen years.
After another Patriarch had been set over Antioch, it was agreed upon by the Patriarchs of the four great Sees, that the Eastern Patriarch elect should not again come to Antioch to be consecrated, but that the Metropolitans, Bishops, elders, and faithful, should choose him who was to fill the See, and ordain him thereunto in the church at Ctesiphon.11 The subjoined is a translation of the Epistle which was written on this subject by the four Western Patriarchs, who occupied the four great Sees, to the Eastern Church:—
"To the brotherhood in Christ our Lord, Who is the Saviour of men, the Restorer of the primeval fall, and the Receiver of repentant sinners:—to the members of Christianity dwelling in the East:—From your brethren in the faith, and ribs with them in the degree [of the Priesthood], and their associates in prayer—the company of the afflicted shepherds to whom is committed the feeding of the sheep of Jesus Christ, the drivers away therefrom of the ravening human wolves, and their preservers from the crafty wiliness of the spiritual ones who are moved thereto by the deceit which is from without, who are not living in the love of God,—the Peace of our Saviour from the curse of sin, and the Visitor of our race through the Communion of the Trinity, be with us and with you throughout all ages. Amen.
"We who, being unworthy, have been appointed shepherds in the Church of Christ, and are styled Heads therein, and have been constituted Fathers of the flock, and brethren of the Heads, in an excellent manner, do ordain for you a profitable ordinance, the end and design of which is praiseworthy and excellent, since you are our brethren, the children of the baptism of our Lord Christ, especially in this age in which we have filled up the troubles which you have endured. For in truth your trials have been multiplied, and the fountains of adversity have been opened, and many have been moved, and some have been overcome thereby. Wherefore we, the company of afflicted Shepherds, being grieved on your behalf, have compassionated you the congregation of believing brethren and children, and have been reminded of the declaration made in that Book which speaks to us and guides us, which also tells us, that the despised is rejected of men; especially is this true of Christianity, since all the nations contemn it, and strive to destroy it. Moreover, when we beheld the slaughter of the two holy Fathers and excellent Shepherds, how they were ignominiously treated, having been crucified by the door of the church at Antioch, though they had done nothing to deserve such punishment, and were guiltless of any treachery, all hearts bewailed them and , all eyes wept for them and were hot with weeping, all spirits trembled and were confounded, and the earth was moved and was shaken, and the two Churches of the East and West bewailed and lamented with bitter lamentations, for the fate of these renowned Fathers; one a Shepherd of the Eastern Church, and the other a companion and Shepherd of the Western Church, whose murder was notorious, and their ignominy seen of all, whereat the corners of Christianity were shaken, and sorrow overwhelmed it.
"Wherefore we the Fathers, in the unity of the Spirit, have met together, and have agreed together in one opinion, and have permitted that, on the decease of the Head of the Metropohtans and Bishops, who is set over the Eastern flock of the churches of Ctesiphon, the protected city, in which is the magnificent cathedral church, his successor in the supremacy shall not go up to Antioch. This decree we have made with one accord, in behalf of Christianity, to prevent the Heads thereof from being despised, as a protection to them, and for fear of the opposition of kings, and that the faith may not be endangered, that he who is to be made Patriarch shall be elected by his Metropolitans, Bishops, and flock. This is our opinion, and ordinance, and will, respecting the flock of the Head whose See shall be Seleucia and Ctesiphon, which is the borders of Karak in the plain of Seleucia, in the great church: that he be the Head, the Patriarch, over all the Bishops of the East, and its dependencies; and that his See be as one of the Four Sees, and the last of them, of which one is the See of Matthew the Evangelist; the other that of Mark, who also wrote as he did; and the third the See of Luke, the learned and acute, who completed the exposition of our Lord's Gospel and birth; and the fourth the See of John, the bold, who revealed the mystery of the Eternal Filiation, and was filled with the graces of the Spirit. To him shall appertain the consecration of Metropolitans, the benediction of Bishops, the administration of the affairs of the flock, the ordination of the Heads in the Eastern borders, in Athoor, and Media, and Persia; all these Sees shall be subject to him, shall submit to his authority, listen to his orders, and do his bidding. And when this Head, who is made Patriarch by his Metropolitans and Bishops, shall depart out of this world to the kingdom above, the Bishops shall not proceed to elect any one to the Patriarchate, unless there be one or two Metropolitans present, since it is not for the children to beget their fathers, neither is the perfect blessed by the lesser, even as Abraham, though he was great in the sight of God, did not refuse to be blessed by Melchisedec (upon whom be peace!); but Abraham (upon whom be peace!) humbled himself to him, bowed his head, and received a blessing from Melchisedec, to whom also he gave tithes of his sheep, because he was a king, and his name was 'King of purity and peace.' Moreover he was the first to whom bread and wine were offered,—a type of what our Saviour commanded His disciples to do,—which elements were to be in the place of His sacred Body, and pure Blood shed for the redemption of the world. And, when all the Metropolitans and Bishops shall have agreed together, let them assemble those whom time will permit to be convened, and let them commence with prayer, and we will be with you in prayer, and in Christian sincerity, concord, and unity, and let them elect one who is known to be praiseworthy, pious, pure, undefiled, righteous, chaste; one who fears God and keeps His commandments in love, and willingly, who is obedient to Him, learned in His laws, and observant of His precepts. Over him let the Metropolitans first, and then the Bishops, read the appointed and accustomed prayers, and thus shall he become the Father of the Fathers, the Shepherd of the Shepherds, the Patriarch, the ruler of the people in the East and the confines thereof.
"And now we, the unworthy, the rulers of the House of God (may His Majesty be exalted), and the Shepherds of the rational sheep have permitted,—by the permission of God, and the will of His Son and Christ, Who, by His Divinity created all creatures, and the love of His Spirit the giver of all good gifts, and the guider into all truth,—and, being met together in one bond of agreement, and in unity of opinion, have committed the Headship and Patriarchate over the Metropolitans and Bishops, to him who shall occupy the glorious See, in the great church of Kokhé in the borders of Seleucia in the east, and over the Church there which is founded on the true and excellent faith, and the orthodox and right belief. And this our commission, will, permission, ordinance, and sanction, shall be applicable to every one who shall become Patriarch in that honourable See until the appearing of our Lord Christ in His great glory. None may alter, change, abolish, or remove it; none shall shake its foundations, or falsify its ordinances, or oppose it, neither shall it be subjected to any superior order. Willingly we have confirmed and sealed it by the authority of heaven and earth committed unto us, and the exalted glory which has been poured out upon us. It shall not be lawful for any one, by the Word of God the Creator, which is sharper than a two-edged sword, and which reaches to the inmost heart, piercing to the dividing asunder of the members, to oppose it, abridge it, or counterfeit it. And, whosoever shall thus offend, shall be excluded from all Christian laws, and from a participation in all Christian privileges.
"Furthermore, the elect head who shall be found fit for this noble dignity, and shall fill this glorious See, shall consecrate Metropolitans, and perfect the ordination of Bishops. These he shall choose from such as keep the ordinances and customs, and who are not opposed to the statutes drawn up by the Holy Fathers and elect Shepherds who confirmed the truth with their blood, and who were under the guidance of the Spirit. Nevertheless he shall not ordain a Metropolitan or Bishop unless there be two Bishops with him. And when a Bishop is ordained by a Metropolitan, he shall not take his place with the heads until he shall have presented himself before the Father of fathers, the chief of the flock, the reverend Patriarch, who shall bless him, and confirm to him the episcopal authority, even as the companions of Aaron were presented to Moses the prophet. And when he is to be ordained, let there be read over him the chapter of the head of the twelve, the Cephas of the Church, and the foundation of the law, wherein our Lord delivered to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and His authority to bind and to loose, to set up and to bring down, in things above and things below, in heaven and in earth. Let this be a covenant and testimony to him of his having been gathered, and of his authority to do what he has heard of Him. Over the Supreme Head, the Chief of the chiefs, the appointed prayers shall be read, after which let his calling be relied on, for he is the diadem of the Church, and the crown of the priests, and the excellency of the flock. Then they shall invest him with the garment of perfection, and deliver unto him the staff, and bid him to put his trust in God, to obey His Christ, to observe what He has commanded, to be zealous in the discharge of the oflice confided unto him, to walk in the way of the righteous, and to turn away from the path of the ungodly.
"But should the Patriarch transgress in his office, and turn aside from God in his rule, and be found deceitful in his belief, then, if there be a king at the head of Christianity at the time, let the matter be referred to him, that he may order him to appear before him, and confront him with the assembled Metropolitans and Bishops, (although it be a disgrace that one to whom the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the forgiveness of sins, have been committed, should be thus judged.) But if the Christians have no king, then let his condemnation be deferred till the coming of our Lord Christ, who is the Judge of kings, and the Lord of all nations.
"This covenant we have drawn up, sanctioned, confirmed, and unalterably approved, to be an unchangeable tradition. Therefore let that which we have said be before your eyes, and what we have ordained be established in your hearts, and what we have approved of have free course among you; and the Lord Christ spread abroad in His Church peace, security, and mercy, and encompass you with His right hand for ever and ever. Amen. And may the prayers of the two fathers,—the shepherds who shed their blood which mingled with the blood of our Lord Christ, and thereby became partakers of His sufferings, and His rejoicing in the high and blissful kingdom,—keep all the sons of the Church, which is sorrowful because she has lost them. And we, also, the unworthy, beseech our Lord and Saviour to preserve His Church, to protect His priests, and to save His flock from the enemies who are banded together against them, and from the snares of the spiritual ones, and the oppression of the bodily ones; and that He may pour out upon you the strength of His grace, and His great blessing, that in Him ye may resist every adversary, and convince every gainsayer. Yea, Lord, fit the Patriarchs, the Metropolitans and Bishops, the Presbyters and Deacons, and all the faithful, for the reception of Thy grace, and pour out upon them Thy gifts, and Thy visible benefits: cleanse their bodies and purify their souls, give wisdom to their ignorance, multiply their fewness, heal their breaches, restore all their concerns, bring back their wanderers, and perfect Thy promises to them as Thou didst to Thy holy ones Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Amen. Amen. Amen."
Agreeably with the provisions contained in the above epistle, the Patriarchs of the east ceased to receive their investiture from Antioch, and the successors to the patriarchal office and dignity were elected by the Metropolitans and Bishops of the eastern dioceses. The ninth Patriarch after Mar Papa, (who were all consecrated at Ctesiphon,) was Mar Dad-Yeshua, in whose time the dispute arose between Cyril and Nestorius. Babai, who died a martyr at Heerta, (the Hîra of the Arabs) succeeded Dad-Yeshua, who in his turn gave place to Mar Acac and Mar Babai. During the patriarchate of the latter the Easterns were called upon to receive the twelve anathemas of Cyril, but, refusing to obey, and choosing rather to espouse the cause of Nestorius, they were cut off from the communion of the Catholic Church, by the decree of the general council of Ephesus, a.d. 431, and thenceforward acquired the epithet of "Nestorians." The charge of heresy preferred against them, their defence of their doctrines, and the manner in which the Easterns conducted themselves on that occasion, will be fully discussed in the succeeding volume.
Up to this period the pure faith of the Church was widely scattered throughout the Persian empire by the zeal of the eastern missionaries, and Christianity triumphed over all the obstacles which the jealousy of sovereigns and the malice of heathen priests opposed to its onward progress. Persian historians go so far as to affirm, that Artaxerxes Babegan, the founder of the Sassanian dynasty, was in heart a Christian, and during his reign the Church enjoyed a season of comparative rest and freedom. Towards the middle of the third century, however, the flames of persecution were again kindled by Shapoor, who after having ravaged Syria, Cilicia, Cappadocia, and Mesopotamia, attacked the unresisting Christians with the barbarity of a Nero.
Such were the fortunes of the infant Church in these parts during the reigns of the successive Sassanian rulers; sometimes tolerated, but more frequently doomed to suffer the most unheard of cruelties, the Christians nevertheless survived the fury of their oppressors and flourished and multiplied in spite of every attempt made to exterminate them.
Instead of going into any details of the after history of the Nestorians, I shall lay before my readers the summary of their missions and successes in the far east as drawn up by Gibbon, whose testimony is the more valuable as coming from a professed infidel. The following extract, though tainted with a sneer, is remarkable for the authenticity of the facts therein recorded: "The desire of gaining souls for God, and subjects for the Church, excited in every age the diligence of the Christian priests. From the conquest of Persia they carried their spiritual arms to the north, the east, and the south: and the simplicity of the gospel was fashioned and painted with the colours of the Syriac theology. In the sixth century, according to the report of a Nestorian traveller, Christianity was successfully preached to the Bactrians, the Huns, the Persians, the Indians, the Persarmenians, the Medes, and the Elamites: the barbaric churches, from the gulf of Persia to the Caspian sea, were almost infinite; and their recent faith was conspicuous in the number and sanctity of their monks and martyrs. The pepper coast of Malabar, and the isles of the ocean, Socotra and Ceylon, were peopled with an increasing number of Christians, and the bishops and clergy of those sequestered regions derived their ordination from the Catholic of Babylon. In a subsequent age, the zeal of the Nestorians over-leaped the limits which had confined the ambition and curiosity both of the Greeks and Persians. The missionaries of Balch and Samarcand pursued without fear the footsteps of the roving Tartar, and insinuated themselves into the camps of the valleys of Imaus and the banks of the Selinga. They exposed a metaphysical creed to those illiterate shepherds; to those sanguinary warriors they recommended humanity and repose … In their progress by sea and land, the Nestorians entered China by the port of Canton and the northern residence of Sigan. Unlike the senators of Rome, who assumed with a smile the characters of priests and augurs, the mandarins who affect in public the reason of philosophers, are devoted in private to every mode of popular superstition. They cherished and they confounded the gods of Palestine and of India; but the propagation of Christianity awakened the jealousy of the state, and after a short vicissitude of favour and persecution, the foreign sect expired in ignorance and oblivion. Under the reign of the Caliphs, the Nestorian Church was diffused from China to Jerusalem and Cyprus; and their numbers, with those of the Jacobites, were computed to surpass the Greek and Latin communions. Twenty-five metropolitans or archbishops composed their hierarchy; but several of these were dispensed, by the distance and danger of the way, from the duty of personal attendance, on the easy condition that every six years they should testify their faith and obedience to the Catholic or patriarch of Babylon, a vague appellation, which has been applied to the royal seats of Seleucia, Ctesiphon, and Baghdad. These remote branches are long since withered, and the old patriarchal trunk is now divided by the Elîas of Mosul, the representatives, almost in lineal descent, of the genuine and primitive succession, the Yoosefs of Amida, who are reconciled to the Church of Rome, and the Shimoons of Van or Ooroomiah, whose revolt at the head of forty thousand families was promoted in the 16th century by the Sophis of Persia."
The latter part of the above extract is confirmed and illustrated by the following quotations from Mosheim:12 "The ambitious views of the Roman pontiffs sowed the pestilential seeds of animosity and discord among all the eastern Churches; and the Nestorian Christians felt early the effects of their imperious councils. In the year 1551, a warm dispute arose among that people about the creation of a new patriarch, Simeon Barmamas being proposed by one party, and Sulâka earnestly desired by the other. The latter to support his pretensions the more efiectually, repaired to Rome, and was consecrated patriarch, in the year 1553, by Pope Julius III. whose jurisdiction he had acknowledged, and to whose commands he had promised unlimited submission and obedience. Julius gave the name John to the new Chaldean patriarch, and upon his return to his own country, sent with him several persons, skilled in the Syriac language, to assist him in establishing and extending the papal empire among the Nestorians. From this time that unhappy people were divided into two factions, and were often involved in the greatest dangers and difficulties by the jarring sentiments and perpetual quarrels of their patriarchs.
"These divisions still subsisted during the 17th century, and some of the Nestorian patriarchs discovered a propensity to accommodate matters with the Church of Rome. Elîa II. patriarch of Mosul, sent two private embassies to the Pope, in the years 1607 and 1610, to solicit his friendship; and, in the letter he addressed upon that occasion to Paul IV. declared his desire to bring about a reconciliation between the Nestorians and the Latin Church. Elîa III., though at first extremely averse to the doctrine and institutions of that Church, changed his sentiments in this respect; and in the year 1657, addressed a letter to the congregation De propaganda Fide in which he intimated his readiness to join with the Church of Rome, on condition that the Pope would allow the Nestorians a place of public worship in that city, and would abstain from all attempts to alter the doctrine or discipline of that sect. The Romish doctors could not but perceive that a reconciliation, founded on such conditions as these, would be attended with no advantage to their Church,13 and promised nothing that could flatter the ambition of their pontiff. And accordingly we do not find that the proposal above mentioned was accepted. It does not appear that the Nestorians were received, at this time, into the communion of the Romish Church, or that the Bishops of Mosul were, after this period, at all solicitous about the friendship or goodwill of the Roman pontiff. The Nestorian patriarchs of Ooroomiah, who successively assume the name of Shimoon, proposed also, more than once, plans of reconciliation with the Church of Rome; and with that view, sent the Roman pontiff a confession of their faith, that gave a clear idea of their religious tenets and institutions. But these proposals were little attended to by the court of Rome, which was either owing to its dislike of the doctrine of these Nestorians, or to that contempt which their poverty and want of influence excited in the pontiffs, whose ambition and avidity aimed at acquisitions of more consequence; for it is well known, that, since the year 1617, the patriarchs of Ooroomiah have been in a low and declining state, both in point of opulence and credit, and are no longer in a condition to excite the envy of their brethren at Mosul. The Romish missionaries gained over, nevertheless, to their communion, a handful of Nestorians, whom they formed into a congregation or Church, about the middle of this century. The patriarchs of this little flock reside in the city of Amida or Diarbekir, and all assume the denomination of Yoosef."
I shall now add a few remarks explanatory of some of the facts recorded in the above quotation. It has already been stated that after the east had been formed into a See independent of Antioch, the patriarchs were chosen to their office by the common consent of the Church, through the Metropolitans and Bishops of the principal dioceses. This order appears to have prevailed up to the middle of the 15th century, when the gradual decay of ecclesiastical tradition and discipline led to an entire change in the mode of appointment,—a change not only opposed to the spirit of the gospel, and the universal practice of the Church, but contrary to the opinions of the best Nestorian divines most clearly and repeatedly expressed. About this time, the accession to the highest office in the hierarchy was assimilated to those hereditary temporal dignities which are transmitted by right of blood, and in 1450, the patriarch Mar Shimoon enacted a law, that his successors should be chosen from his nearest relatives. This ordinance, which still exists in full force among the Nestorians, and which is likewise acted upon in most appointments to the episcopate, soon became a fruitful source of dissension among them.14 Marriage, which in former ages had been permitted to all Bishops and even to the patriarch of the community, had long ceased to be regarded as suitable or even lawful to those dignitaries, and the consequent celibacy of the patriarch rendered the execution of the new law more difficult. A number of claimants frequently disputed the possession of the highest dignity in the church, and the whole body was vexed and agitated by the intrigues and disorders which this rivalry engendered. A century had scarcely elapsed when these quarrels resulted in an open schism, and the Nestorians were divided into three separate parties, each headed by a patriarch who laid claim to all the prerogatives of that dignity over the entire community. The mountain Nestorians of the present day maintain that Shimoon, (the nephew of the deceased patriarchy whose claims were set aside by the assembly of Bishops at Mosul, when they elected Sulâka in his room, a.d. 1552, as recorded by Mosheim,) was the rightful successor. According to their account, this Shimoon was recognized by them, and from him the patriarchate has descended to the present occupant Mar Shimoon, the eleventh of that name. About the same time a more distant relation was raised to the primacy by the Bishops of Ooroomiah; but on his death the Nestorians of Persia and those of Coordistan settled their differences, and agreed to unite under one spiritual head, and this patriarchate has been kept up ever since in a direct succession, of which the present Mar Shimoon is the rightful representative.
The Romanist accounts of these occurrences are somewhat different, and as contradictory as they are improbable.15 They tell us, on the one hand, that Shimoon, the rejected nephew, incited the Turks to the murder of Sulâka, thinking by this means to establish his authority over the Nestorians of the plains as well as those in the mountains; and, on the other, that a Nestorian layman was the author of the schism. I shall give their narrative of this latter event in the words of the Jesuit Boré, without retorting the malignant and false reproach which he casts upon our Church: "The Pasha of Van had a Chaldean treasurer, who not having had any children by his first wife took unto himself another. He vainly entreated the catholic patriarch to legalize this new alliance: neither presents nor threats could induce the pastor to infringe a formal law of the Church. In his vexation, the gallant treasurer of the pasha, unwittingly perpetrated the crime of Henry VIII. and created a schism in the community. Thus the new Chaldean [Nestorian] like the Anglican Church was regenerated by an adulterer! He soon found among the descendants of the first Shimoon a grand-nephew disposed to usurp the spiritual authority whom be first established at Somai and afterwards at Kochânes." The mischievous Frenchman adduces no authority in support of this tale, and it is greatly to be doubted whether, like many similar fictions contained in his "Correspondance d'Orient," it has any better foundation than the wantonness of his own fertile imagination.
It is difficult at this distance of time, and amidst so many jarring testimonies, to decide which of the two claimants above referred to was the rightful successor to the supreme spiritual authority over the whole Nestorian community. I mean, of course, according to the law of succession which had obtained among them for a century, and which was acted upon afterwards by both parties, until it was abrogated in 1842 by the appointment of a stranger to the Chaldean patriarchate in succession to Mar Elîa the last of that name. Ecclesiastically speaking, such appointments were only valid on either side in so far as they were recognized by the concurrence of the bishops and clergy; and in this respect both were placed on an equal footing, although the advantage of numbers was and is still on the side of the mountain patriarchs and their successor Mar Shimoon. The Nestorian patriarchs of the plains, however, enjoyed great political superiority over their rivals, inasmuch as they were recognized by the Sublime Porte, and each successive occupant of the see received an imperial firman, (the substance of which is said to have been originally conceded by Mohammed to Yeshua-yau, the then Patriarch of the East residing at Baghdad,) acknowledging him in his dignity and confirming his spiritual authority over the Nestorians of the empire. The predecessors of Mar Shimoon, who had taken up their abode among the wild and really independent tribes of Coordistan, were not thus recognized by the Turkish government, and exercised their jurisdiction with the concurrence of their own people, being tolerated and protected therein by the Coordish Emeers.
The frequent attempts made by Romish missionaries to induce these two Nestorian patriarchs, one of whom held his seat at Mosul or Alkôsh, and the other at Kochânes in central Coordistan, to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope, are fully recorded in the above quotations. The partial success of these machinations was ever and anon thwarted and destroyed by the attachment of the Nestorians to their own rituals and discipline. Again and again did they throw off the foreign yoke which their patriarchs had heen mainly instrumental in fixing upon their necks, until at length their obstinacy so wearied out the efforts of the court of Rome, that Pope Innocent XI. proceeded to effect a new schism: which he did by appointing Yoosef, the first of that name, as Patriarch of the Chaldeans at Diarbekir, a.d. 1681.
The new patriarchate thus formed, and which could lay claim to no other authority, than that of being founded by the Papal see, since it was neither recognized by the Nestorian bishops, nor by the Sublime Porte, did not at first extend beyond the city of Diarbekir, where most of the Nestorians had become proselytes to Rome, and were thenceforth styled "Chaldeans," The Latin missionaries, however, did not suspend their exertions, but continued to disseminate the peculiar doctrines of the Papacy among the Nestorians around Mosul. The decay of learning among these latter, their spiritual and temporal destitution, as well as the internal dissensions which racked and rent this ancient community, favoured the arts and stratagems of the missionaries, and after five successive Yoosefs had occupied the See of Diarbekir it was declared abolished by the submission of Mar Elîa the Nestorian Patriarch of Mosul to the Roman Pontiff, in which he was followed by most of the villages in the plains of the Tigris.
Yoosef V., however, continued to exercise jurisdiction over Diarbekir, till the time of his death, which occurred about the year 1828, notwithstanding that the secession of the last Nestorian patriarch to Rome took place as early as 1778. A detailed account of that event, and of the troubles and divisions which it occasioned, are fully recorded in the following autobiography translated from a Syriac MS. now in my possession, and written by the author's own hand.
"I Hormuzd, son of deacon Hanna, the brother of Mar Elîa the Patriarch of the East, was born a.d. 1760, and received the order of deacon from my above-named uncle, in the year 1773, and in 1776, on the 22nd of May, on the day of Pentecost, I was made Metropolitan. Now the reason of my being made Metropolitan at so early an age was this: My uncle had a Metropolitan under him named Yeshua-yau, who was also his nephew, but who did not obey or serve him as he ought, and who the more he was advised the more he rebelled. Moreover, he was ever and anon changing his profession of faith, sometimes he was a Meshihaya and sometimes a Nestorian; six times he joined himself to the holy Church [of Rome], and six times he recanted, and the oftener he left the orthodox faith the more he used to blaspheme, and that from covetousness, and a love of money which were inherent in him. My uncle finding that all his labour was lost upon such an individual made me Metropolitan, and put me in his place to serve him. I accordingly served him to the best of my ability for about two years, when in 1778 a plague broke out in the village of Alkôsh, and many persons died, among whom was my uncle, who departed this life on the 29th of April.
"After this I Hanna the undeserving thought within myself that I would not walk in the way of my fathers, but would take refuge under the wings of the holy Catholic Church, and embrace the faith of the church of Rome, and live therein; for I know that out of her there is no salvation from the awful judgment, since she is the holy Church, and a compassionate mother, and the Lord has established her and made her to prosper. So on the 30th of April I embraced all that the holy Church believes, and rejected all that she rejects, and received absolution from our priests [the Latin missionaries,] and I and Yeshua-yau were reconciled, for he also at this time had embraced the faith of the holy Church, but hypocritically. It was moreover agreed that he should be Patriarch in the room of my uncle; but a few months had hardly elapsed when he again became a heretic, whereupon he turned to be my enemy and the enemy of all the people. This event took place in May, 1779. I then left Alkôsh and went to the village of Ainkâwa, where I remained several days. Thither I brought the people of Armoota and Shaklâwa, and instructed them in the faith of the holy Church, which they embraced, and were absolved by my unworthy self, after I had laboured much to convince them, S. Mary having at length enlightened their eyes. But when the above-named heretic heard of these proceedings he sent letters directing the people not to receive me, which letters fell into my hands. He became the more enraged when he heard that all the inhabitants of these villages had become Meshihayé, and had he been able he would have destroyed every one of them. He did all in his power to trouble the Meshihayé, and these not wishing to endure his vexations, laid a complaint against him before Suleiman Pasha of Mosul, of the house of Abd-ool-Jeleel, to whom they gave money in order to secure his support. I also, from fear of this heretic, went to Mosul in the year 1780, and appealed to the governor of that place, who obtained for me from the Sultan of the Ishmaelites at Constantinople a firman granting me authority over the Meshihayé and heretics. Moreover I wrote my confession of faith and sent it to the Sacred Society at Rome, which was received there with great joy, and our lord Pope Pius granted me licence to minister and perfect the office of patriarch, but I was not allowed to use the patriarchal seal. This concession made to us by Pope Pius VI. came to hand on the 11th of December, 2094 of the Grecian era, a.d. 1782. I now exercised great zeal, the Divine grace helping me, in preaching among the heretics, and in endeavouring to give them a right knowledge of the faith of the holy Church. This conduct incensed all the heretics against me, and they did all in their power to destroy me. Moreover Yeshua-yau became my greatest enemy, and wrote against me to Ismael Pasha of Amedia; but our Lord Jesus Christ supported me, and made me triumphant.
"In the year 1783, on the 7th of April, Yeshua-yau again embraced the faith of the Church of Rome, but deceitfully; and I enjoined him to do penance according to the custom of the holy Church. He remained stedfast until the month of September, 1784, when he relapsed into heresy, and ordained his nephew metropolitan, in order that the seed of his heresy might not perish from the earth; and these two persons sowed their vile ignorance and their enmity in the world with all diligence. In the year 1788 I left home to visit the Meshihayé and to inquire into their state, and reached Babel [Baghdad] where I remained several months and then returned to Mosul. Here I heard that the above-named metropolitans had complained against me to Ismael Pasha of Amedia, who in consequence had conceived great hatred of me, and some of my Mohammedan friends advised me not to go to Alkôsh because he was there at the time. I abode at Telkèf for about two months until the departure of Ismael Pasha, when I returned to my village of Alkôsh. A few days afterwards I sent a present to one of the heads of the village called Bir Sivi [two hours above Zakho] by the hand of my nephew Hanna, the son of Kasha Gheorghees my brother, which when the two heretics heard they apprised Ismael Pasha thereof, who like a ravening wolf sent messengers to Zakho to seize him. Accordingly, on the 17th of May, as my nephew was leaving the church, they laid hold of him, bound him with chains, and carried him to Amedia where they imprisoned him. On hearing this I went to Mosul and applied to the governor, who sent messengers to the Pasha of Amedia to demand the release of my nephew; but the request was not granted. Whereupon the governor of Mosul gave me letters and directed me to go to Baghdad and to explain the circumstance to the Pasha of that place. I lost no time in following this advice and reached Baghdad in three days from Mosul. Now at Baghdad there were two individuals, one named Khawaja Sâr of Constantinople and the other Agha Markâr of Julfa, who had great influence with the Pasha. These took me to the Pasha's Kiahya [lieutenant] to whom I explained my grievance, and he in his turn informed his master Suleiman Pasha of the whole affair. They were all very much incensed against Ismael Pasha of Amedia, and forthwith wrote angry letters to him which they sent by their own messengers who accompanied me on my return. On our arrival at Mosul we heard that Ismael Pasha had released my nephew, and had sent him to Mohammed Pasha of Mosul as soon as the news reached him of my departure for Baghdad. The messengers, however, who had come with me proceeded to Amedia and delivered the letters to Ismael Pasha, who on receiving them wrote and begged the Pasha of Mosul to induce me to pay him a visit. This I at first refused to do, and the Meshihayé of Mosul were also against my accepting the invitation. But Mohammed Pasha was so importunate on the matter that I at length acceded to his wishes, and started from Mosul on the 15th of January, the eve of Mar Kuriakòs. As I left the town many Meshihayé and Mohammedans had sad forebodings of what would become of me; but I placed ray confidence in S. Mary and went my way. When Yeshua-yau heard of this he sent his brother and his nephew the metropolitan to bribe the Coordish governor to destroy me; so that on our arrival at Amedia both small and great clamoured against me, and spent large sums of money to purchase my destruction; but our Lord Jesus Christ and S. Mary the Holy Virgin, (glory be to their grace) helped my weakness, and enabled me to triumph over them. Ismael Pasha, moreover, made peace with me, invested me with a robe, and did me much honour; he also drove away the heretical metropolitan and his father, so that they were confounded like Caiaphas and his companions. On the 18th of July I returned to Alkôsh, where my safety created great joy among all the Meshihayé.
"A month afterwards a great quarrel broke out between the Pasha of Amedia and his nephews, which induced the former to come to Beth Adhra, whither Yeshua-yau immediately went to complain against me; but his suit was rejected. When I understood this I offered to do all in my power for the abovenamed governor in the hope of attaching him sincerely to me, and that through him I might be enabled to preach to the heretical Nestorians, induce them to abjure their heresy, and restore them from their error to the bosom of the compassionate mother, the holy Church. All his affairs of importance were now committed to my care, and S. Mary assisted me to transact them. One day in the month of January, 1789, while I was at Mosul on business for this Coord, Padre Maurizio Cherzoni inquired after my nephew, and suggested that I ought to ordain him Metropolitan, saying: 'You are always engaged in many matters, and your enemies are numerous: should any misfortune befal you we shall be left without a Metropolitan, and we do not wish to have recourse either to Mar Yoosef of Diarbekir or to Yeshua-yau the heretic.'16 This subject he frequently broached to me, and on New Sunday it was discussed before me while I was in the house of Khawaja Elias of Aleppo. Accordingly the day following we ordained him Deacon Gospeller in the church of Meskinta, and the Padre made a feast for us on the occasion. After this I went to Alkôsh, where I conferred the different orders upon my nephew one after the other, until the 5th of May 1790, when he received the degree of Metropolitan from my weak hands. The August following I sent him among the heretics to teach them the faith of the holy Church: but when the heretical Metropolitan saw this he also sent emissaries among them to induce them to continue in darkness like himself, and to disobey the words of God. Our Lord the Messiah, however, enlightened the minds of the villagers of Arena and Barzani, and these embraced the faith of the holy Church, and were absolved from their heresy by my nephew Mutran Shimoon, who brought their priests to me, and to them I gave vestments, chalices, and patens, and all that was necessary for their churches according to the customs of the Meshihayé, and they returned to their homes.
"In the year 1791 I sent him out a second time, and he went to Menghesh and preached to the villagers there, and these also received absolution at his hands. A few months after the heretics lodged a complaint against them before the Pasha of Amedia, who forthwith imprisoned the rector and the principal men in the village. Whereupon several came to us, and by a gift of money to the governor we obtained their release. Nevertheless I and my nephew were very anxious to make the heretics Meshihayé, and to bring them into the bosom of the compassionate mother, which is the holy Church, but the heretical metropolitan did all in his power to thwart us.
"In the month of February letters came to us from the Sacred Society of Rome, granting me jurisdiction as far as Amida (Diarbekir) and Mardeen. This news gave me great joy, and I wrote to the people of those places informing them that they had been placed under my pastoral care. A month afterwards I went to Amedia on business, but on finding that the governor was not treating me fairly I opposed him, whereupon he was highly incensed, and despatched a messenger to the Pasha of Baghdad with a large sum of money, and another to the heretical metropolitan, inviting him to Amedia. Yeshua-yau accordingly came and offered 2,000 piastres (£20.) to obtain my imprisonment. The offer was accepted, and on the 1st of June I and my two brothers were cast into prison. When the governor of Mosul heard of this proceeding he also sent a messenger to the Pasha of Baghdad in my behalf, and it so happened that S. Mary (her prayers be with us and with all believers,) put love into the Pasha's heart, so that after he had taken the money which had been sent to him by the Coord he despatched a messenger to the governor of Amedia, ordering my immediate release. Nevertheless this infidel Hanafite refused to set me free, and dismissed Mohammed Said, the messenger, with a promise that I should be liberated in a few days; but in this he lied, for after the departure of the messenger he had us dragged out of prison to the market-place, where we were publicly beaten before all the people and before the above-named metropolitan and his heretical community, who looked on, saying: Ah, ah! we have seen it with our eyes. A month afterwards the messenger returned from Baghdad, declaring that he had orders not to leave Amedia without taking me with him, but Ismael Pasha refused to let us go. Then the Hanafite said to the messenger: Remain you here, and I will send a messenger in your stead. The infidel did so, and wrote to say that he would release me on condition that I should pay to his Effendi the sum of 5,000 piastres. This message so incensed the Pasha of Baghdad that he took an oath, and directed the messenger to say to Ismael Pasha that he would pull down his castle over his head unless he immediately sent the prisoner to him. I was accordingly released on the 13th of September, after having been imprisoned for three months and a half among scorpions, of which I killed no less than seven near my head; but the Lord saved me from prison and from these reptiles, and from all evil, through the acceptable prayers of S. Mary, and He will deliver me from the fire of hell. Amen.
"On my release the Pasha of Amedia would not suffer me to visit my family, but sent me to Baghdad under care of the messenger by a circuitous route. I entered that city on the 26th of September, and offered up myriads of thanks and praises to God for having delivered me out of the hand of the infidel. And when I again found myself in a church among the Meshihayé I confessed my sins, and partook of the sin-forgiving body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the grace which He had manifested towards my weakness, and because my only hope was in Him arid in S. Mary the blessed Virgin, for I believe that she it was who saved me out of the power of that infidel Hanafite. Some days after this Ahmed Kiahya, the Pasha's lieutenant, generally known as Kiahya Pasha, sent for me and showed me great kindness; he moreover advised me to remain at Baghdad, promising to settle all my affairs. I resided at the house of the Padri for four months, but finding that they grew tired of me I left them and took up my abode at our church. Shortly after this another messenger arrived from Ismael Pasha of Amedia, bringing with him a present of 75,000 piastres to Kiahya Pasha, and an offer of 10,000 piastres additional if he would consent to send me to him. Kiahya Pasha informed me of this proposition, whereupon I said: You are my governor, and wherever you please to send me I will go, but I will not go to that infidel governor. I recognise you only as my master. This saying so pleased him that he respected me the more, and I was allowed to remain at Baghdad. In the beginning of May another messenger came for me, but I still refused to go.
"About this time a dispute arose between me and the Padri Carmelitani about one of our females, whom they had united in marriage without my knowledge. All the Meshihayé told the Padri that they had not acted rightly in the affair, and hence they were greatly incensed against me.
"In the month of May, 1792, my brother, Deacon Gawrièl, departed out of this transitory world, (the Lord grant him rest in the mansions of His kingdom) the news of which reached Baghdad, but was not communicated to me. I perceived, however, that the letters which came to me from my nephew, Mutran Shimoon, were not written in their usual style: still I could not divine the reason. One day while on my way to visit a merchant of Constantinople called Filippos Mordiân, who had burnt his hands and face with gunpowder, a woman stopped me to kiss my hand and said: May your head be safe. She, perceiving my ignorance of the matter, did not reply to my questions why she so addressed me. Much troubled in spirit I bent my steps towards the house of Deacon Gheorghees, the head of our community, and finding him absent I inquired of his son whether any thing had befallen my relations. He simply told me that certain letters had been withheld from me, whereupon I sought after them, and from them learned the death of my brother. I wept, but could do no more than offer up prayers and masses that God would deliver him from the fire of purgatory. After this, in the month of November, 1793, I rented a house called Jebaci Bashi, whither all the Meshihayé and Mohammedans came to condole with me, but the Padri did not come.
"On the eve of the feast of the Circumcision my nephews, Mutran Shimoon and Deacon Isa, came to Baghdad, about which time the Padri were reconciled to us, but hatred still lodged in their hearts. Two months afterwards I permitted Mutran Shimoon to return to Alkôsh to superintend my affairs, and retained Deacon Isa with me. The Coordish governor still continued to send after me, but the Pasha's lieutenant would not suffer me to depart, for he knew that the heretical metropolitan hated me, and he was afraid that if I went to Mosul or Amedia I should be murdered. The Kiahya, moreover, treated me with the greatest consideration, and sought my advice whenever any dispute arose among the Meshihayé.
"All this time I had received no letters from Diarbekir or Mardeeu, for it appears that they would not receive the orders of our lord the Pope; on the contrary, Kasha Agostîn went to Sert, where there was a presbyter named Michael. Him he took to one of the Tcawâlakha Metropolitans and got him consecrated Metropolitan, and set him over Mardeen without the consent of our lord the Pope. When the Sacred Society heard that the people of Diarbekir and Mardeen had not obeyed the order of the Pope nor his supremacy, they sent letters to me and to Padre Fulgenzio, who was then at Baghdad, directing him to go to Diarbekir, and to inquire why the people had not submitted to my authority. Now this Padre was my enemy on account of the affair of the marriage, and this I learned further from the letters which reached me on the 14th of February, 1794, and I answered the Society accordingly. Padre Fulgenzio, however, departed and went to Selook, which is Kerkook, and created divisions among the Meshihayé there, and he did the same at Ainkâwa. Moreover he wrote letters to other villages which began in this style: I, Padre Fulgenzio, superior of the Patriarchs of the East, &c.; many of which letters fell into my hands. He then went to Mosul and sowed tares there also, and in the villages of that district, on account of which, a fierce dispute arose between him and Padre Mansoor, [prob. Vittorio] in which the whole congregation took part, because he wished to absolve Mutrau Yeshua-yau and his nephew, whose deceit rendered them undeserving of absolution. In consequence of this quarrel, Padre Fulgenzio went to Zakho, whither Mutran Hnan-Yeshua followed him, and was absolved by him, though in reality he did not know how to convey absolution, [on account of his ignorance of the Syriac.] This affair gave rise to many dissensions among the Meshihayé, all which I learned through letters which were addressed to me by Padre Mansoor and the congregation at Mosul. Many of these I got translated into Latin, and wrote others in Syriac to the Sacred Society, informing them of all that had occurred. When our lord the Pope heard of these things, he was very angry with Padre Fulgenzio and the people of Diarbekir and Mardeen, and with the consecrating and consecrated Metropolitans, and suspended the latter and the priests of Diarbekir from their ministerial functions. He moreover desired Padre Fulgenzio not to interfere with my affairs, or with the affairs of the Chaldeans, and the Sacred Society wrote him a very sharp letter full of rebuke, and sent another to me full of respect. A serious disturbance now broke out betwixt Padre Mansoor and the congregation at Mosul, in which the latter were in the right: nevertheless, I wrote and entreated both parties to be reconciled. Padre Fulgenzio left Diarbekir for Mosul, and took part with Padre Mansoor, who afterwards came to Baghdad. On the 14th of April, 1795, I again received letters from the Sacred Society, the contents of which I made known to all my people. Padre Mansoor now called upon us to prove his false reports, which we declined to do, and merely put it to him whether Padre Fulgenzio had acted rightly in absolving the heretical Metropolitan. He replied in the negative; whereupon I asked him why he had wrought such confusion among the Meshihayé." Here the original fragment ends.
Trivial as many of these details are, they serve to convey a sad but apparently true picture of the state of religion among the Nestorians of the plains towards the end of the last century. From the above record we may learn, that the hereditary succession to the patriarchate which had already split this people into two rival communities under separate primates, and widely corrupted the primitive discipline as sanctioned by their own recognised canons, had well-nigh led to the extinction of the episcopate among those who inhabited the level country east of the Tigris. It appears, that on the death of Mar Elîa in 1778, there were only two Nestorian Bishops in this extensive district which formerly had been divided into so many dioceses, and that had it not been for the unruly temper of one of them, Yeshua-yau, who was at first destined to succeed his uncle, the other nephew, Mutran Hanna, would not have been raised to the episcopal office and dignity. There can be no doubt but that ambition and covetousness, as well as the growing wants of the collateral branches of the Beit-ool-Ab, or patriarchal family, (now amounting to several hundred souls through the nepotism which had been introduced in the order of succession,) instigated the late incumbents of the primacy over the Nestorians to centre in themselves the functions of their suffragans, in order thereby to lay claim to their influence and temporalities. The synodal decrees requiring that the Patriarch's consent should be obtained in the case of every new appointment to the episcopal office, and the gradual decay of consecration thereto by two or more bishops, which at length led to the persuasion, that he was the only valid consecrator, favoured this assumption and abuse of power on the part of the later Patriarchs, and finally resulted in a spiritual despotism, as baneful in its effects upon the entire body of the Nestorians, as it was contrary to their own ancient canons, and opposed to the traditions handed down to us from the Apostles.
It is moreover clear from the above autobiography, that the Nestorians of the plains had become so weak and degraded, that on the death of the last Mar Elîa, neither of the two Metropolitans his nephews had sufficient power to lay claim to the succession, otherwise it is natural to suppose that the one or the other would have assumed the patriarchal dignity. To streugthen his pretensions, which were likely to be disputed by the elder nephew, Mutran Yeshua-yau, Mutran Hanna goes over to Rome the day after his uncle's death, and appears to have received obsequiously the very uncertain and undefined authority with which the Roman Pontiff chose to invest him. This defection, which increased the weakness of the Nestorian community, placed additional obstacles in the way of Mutran Yeshua-yau, whose frequent change of creed lays him open to the charge of having followed for the time that party which he thought more able or better disposed to confirm him in the patriarchal dignity. How much the Latin missionaries had to do in fomenting these divisions we are not left to conjecture: the testimony of Mutran Hanna, whose attachment to the Roman Church, if his own writing is to be believed, cannot be doubted, goes to prove that their object throughout was to oppose the two bishops the one to the other, in order more effectually to establish the supremacy of the popedom;—that they ruled over the one with despotic sway, and made him yield to all their demands by holding up the other to him as an instrument ready to co-operate with them in their purposes;—and that the pretended concessions of patriarchal power made to Mutran Hanna on his submission to the Pope were mere stratagems designed to delude him and those Nestorians who followed his example into the belief that no infringement had been practised upon their ancient rights and privileges. In the following continuation of the narrative of this schism, these machinations will be brought out into bolder relief: and should the details be judged as too minute and sometimes puerile, the best apology which I can offer for laying them before the reader is the deplorable fact, that in the late ecclesiastical history of the Chaldean community, nothing has transpired more worthy of being recorded.
A few years after the events narrated by Mutran Hanna, one Gawrièl, a native of Mardeen, who had acquired some wealth in mercantile speculations, retired from business at Baghdad, and undertook to instruct several Chaldean youths gratuitously in the Arabic language, in grammar, logic, and rhetoric, of which he was considered perfect master. His talents and zeal were so much appreciated, that on his arrival at Mosul, the Chaldeans offered him the convent of Rabban Hormuzd, then deserted and partly in ruins, as a seminary, and invited him to take up his abode there. He acceded to the proposal, and in a short time collected a number of pupils, most of whom soon after took the vows of poverty and celibacy. These monks, headed by their lay superior, and abetted by the Latin missionaries, and by one Kas Hanna of Tell Iskof, and Kas Hanna of Alkôsh, set at nought the authority of Mutran Hanna, and did all in their power to acquire a rival influence over the community at large. They moreover laid claim to a large proportion of the property then in the hands of the patriarchal family, as belonging by right to the conventual establishment. Mutual jealousies and recriminations followed, until the Monks and Latin missionaries sent a joint letter to the Propaganda, complaining that Mutran Hanna was opposed to their order,—that he instigated the Coords of Ismael Pasha against them,—that he was endeavouring to lead the Chaldean proselytes back to Nestorianism,—and that as his fidelity to Rome was very doubtful, he was utterly unworthy of the office which he filled. In consequence of these charges, Mutran Hanna was suspended from his functions, and one Kas Gheorghees, a presbyter, appointed delegate in his stead. About this time, Gawrièl was sent to Diarbekir by the Romish missionaries, where he was ordained priest by the Chaldean Patriarch Mar Yoosef V., and returned to Rabban Hormuzd as abbot of the convent.
Mutran Hanna continued suspended for about five years, at the end of which a vicar apostolic was sent to Baghdad to investigate into the charges laid against him. The result led to his restoration; nevertheless, the monks continued to resist his authority, and shortly after, with no other sanction than that of their abbot, they sent five of their number to Diarbekir to be the episcopal office, and these were actually consecrated Metropolitans by Mar Yoosef V., whilst Rome professed to recognize Mutran Hanna as Patriarch of all the Chaldeans in the neighbourhood of Mosul. These newly-made Metropolitans had no fixed dioceses, but Mar Yoosef took upon himself to send Mutran Michael to Sert, and Mutran Ignatius to Mardeen, though this latter town had been placed under the jurisdiction of Mutran Hanna by the Pope himself. The remaining three came and dwelt in their native villages which they thenceforth raised into dioceses; Mutran Basileos remained at Telkèf, Mutran Laurentius at Tell Iskof, and Mutran Yoosef, who had been coffee-maker to Mutran Hanna, at Alkôsh; and each ordained priests and deacons at his pleasure, in spite of the authority of Mutran Hanna, whose sole ecclesiastical right over the district was indisputable.
So much confusion arose from these proceedings that the Chaldeans finally induced Kas Gawrièl the Abbot and the Latin missionaries to separate the Bishops. Mutran Basileos was accordingly ordered to go to Amedia, Mutran Laurentius to Baghdad, and Mutran Yoosef to Mosul, where the latter soon created a schism in the community, those siding with him taking the name of Yoosefites, and those who still continued faithful to the Patriarch, Hannanites. Mutran Basileos, however, refused to go to Amedia, fearing the anger of Ismael Pasha, who had become the friend of Mutran Hanna; so he remained at Telkèf until a circumstance occurred which obliged him to depart elsewhere. The Kiahya of Telkèf at this time was one Marroghi Kessi, a tyrannical bad man, who so vexed the villagers that a deputation headed by Mutran Basileos and the priests, laid their grievances before Yahya Pasha of Mosul and demanded redress. The Kiahya having bribed the Pasha to support him, all the complainants, the priests included, were ordered to be publicly whipped, and the bishop received notice to quit the district within twenty-four hours. Mutran Basileos accordingly left for Diarbekir, where he was well received by the patriarch Mar Yoosef V., and by the Chaldeans of that town. Shortly after this Mar Yoosef died, and the people having applied to Rome to sanction the appointment Mutran Basileos was confirmed metropolitan of Diarbekir, and invested with archiepiscopal powers. Amedia was now without a bishop, and Mosul would not receive Mutran Yoosef, so it was agreed upon by the Abbot and the Latin missionaries that he should be sent to the former town. Not however being sure how he might be treated by Ismael Pasha, he went to reside at Alkôsh, where he continued to intrigue among the Chaldeans and with the local authorities of Mosul against Mutran Hanna, who was at length cast into prison. He was kept in close confinement for four months, and several eye-witnesses have assured me that on his liberation his body was literally covered with filth and vermin.
Monsignor Paul and forthwith sent notice of the same to the different Churches within his jurisdiction. The monks of Rabban Hormuzd hesitated to acknowledge his supremacy, in which they were abetted by Mutran Yoosef, (who had laid claim to episcopal authority over the convent since the death of Kas Gawrièl the Abbot,) on the ground that it was situated within the diocese of Amedia to which he had been appointed. On hearing this, the patriarch suspended the recusants, the bishop included; whereupon they held a conference whether they should not disobey the mandate. The news of another Vicar Apostolic having been sent from Rome to these parts induced them to submit for a time; but after vainly waiting two months for his arrival, they all, with one exception, broke through the imposed restriction, and resumed their ministerial functions. Kas Stephân, a presbyter monk, sent in his submission to the patriarch, and was appointed to a cure of souls in the village of Telkèf.was the then Roman vicar apostolic to these parts, and M. Trioche acted as his deacon, whom he ordained priest at Baghdad about this time. came to Mosul, and after examining into the charges laid against Mutran Hanna absolved him, and restored to him the exercise of his jurisdiction. The opposing party, however, professed to doubt the authority of the vicar apostolic, and declared that his absolution was invalid since it had not been sanctioned by the Pope. Whereupon he joined with a number of the influential Chaldeans, and petitioned the Roman See to reinstate Mutran Hanna in the patriarchal dignity. In the mean time Monsignor died at Baghdad, and letters arrived from Rome directing Mutran Hanna and Mutran Laurentius to consecrate Padre Trioche bishop, which they accordingly did, and he was forthwith invested with all the powers of vicar apostolic. Monsignor Trioche took part with Mutran Hanna, who was soon after recognized by the Pope as supreme head over all the Chaldeans. He was now, moreover, permitted to use a seal of office, and to exercise all the functions of patriarch, provided he abstained from admitting any of his relations to the episcopal order. Mar Elîa, as he now signed himself, though he continued to be styled Mutran or Mar Hanna, received this intelligence at Baghdad,
Just before this occurrence Mar Hanna, as directed by orders from Rome, had consecrated two Metropolitans, Mutran Nicolaos, commonly called Mutran Zeyya, a Persian Chaldean of Khosrâwa, and an élève of the Propaganda, and Mutran Botros whom he made his deputy. The latter was sent to Mosul by the Patriarch, and one Kas Andrea on the part of Monsignor Trioche, to inquire into the conduct of the rebellious priests of Rabban Hormuzd. On hearing this Mutran Yoosef fled to Diarbekir, where he was welcomed by Mutran Basileos: and the delegates after condemning the obstinacy of the monks returned to Baghdad. The latter, however, still held out, and having assembled a conventual synod they decided that Kas Hanna, their Abbot, should be sent to Rome to complain against the joint proceedings of the Patriarch and Monsignor Trioche. On arriving at Diarbekir, the Abbot was advised by the two Bishops to take with him Michael and Botros, two lay monks of Rabban Hormuzd, whom they ordained priests to that end. The progress and result of this deputation are thus related by Kas Michael: "On our arrival at Rome, we found that complaints had already been received from Mutran Hanna and Monsignor Trioche against the conduct of the monks. The Propaganda accordingly confirmed the censure pronounced by the Patriarch, and ordered that we should be prohibited from celebrating mass. Kas Botros and I expostulated, and on exhibiting our letters of orders to prove that we were not priests when Mutran Hanna suspended the monks, we were in a measure exculpated; nevertheless, we were obliged to share in the punishment of our Abbot. We continued three months at Rome vainly hoping to speak to the Pope; at length we devised a scheme to obtain an audience. We had brought with us several cartes-blanches bearing the signatures and seals of many of the disaffected Chaldeans, one of which documents we filled with charges against Mutran Hanna and the Vicar Apostolic. After smoking it to give it the appearance of having passed through quarantine, we went to the palace and begged to be admitted to his Holiness.17 After several fruitless attempts we at length succeeded, and were ushered into the presence of the Pope, to whom we endeavoured to make known our grievances, and gave him the letter which we had drawn up. About a week elapsed when we were sent for by the superior of the Propaganda, who ordered us to spend ten days in retirement at the Franciscan convent of Aracelli, where we were told that we should meet Padre Francesco Bilardi, now Vicar Apostolic in Syria, who would supply us with Arabic books. At the end of this period the censure was removed from us after we had given a written promise to this effect: first, that we would henceforth obey Mutran Hanna; and, secondly, that we consented to leave Rome within fifteen days and returned to our convent, whither a special deputy was to be sent to investigate into the grievances of the Chaldeans. We accordingly departed from Italy and reached Diarbekir in safety, and were soon followed by the newly-appointed Vicar Apostolic who died in that city a few days after his arrival. Some further correspondence ensued which resulted in the confirmation of Mutran Hanna in the patriarchal dignity, and a pallium was sent to him from Rome with which he was invested at Baghdad a little more than a year before his death, which took place in that city, a.d. 1841."
I must now recall to the reader's mind the condition exacted from Mutran Hanna on his first recognition by Rome, namely, that he should not consecrate any of his relations to the Episcopal office. This was effectually to abrogate the order of succession to the Patriarchate which had so long obtained among the Nestorians. There can however be no doubt that very many of the Chaldean proselytes were still attached to the old régime, and considered the destruction of the Beit-ool-Ab, or Patriarchal family, as an invasion of their ancient rights and privileges. There is every reason to believe that Mutran Hanna sympathized with them in this respect, not only from a feeling of family pride, but because at heart he was opposed to many of the encroachments of Rome, as the frequent complaints made against him by the Latin missionaries, and those of his own people over whom they had acquired supreme influence, fully testify. But he was under restraint, and the non-fulfilment of the required condition would inevitably have led to his immediate deposition, and to the more perfect subjection of the entire body of the Chaldeans to the See of Rome. Hence he dared not openly provide a successor from his own family; however, he went so far as to ordain one of his nephews priest, and in 1834 this individual was taken by his father and another uncle to Mar Shimoon, Patriarch of the mountain Nestorians, who consecrated him Metropolitan at Ooroomiah, with the title of Mar or Mutran Elîa, and appointed him Bishop over the Nestorians in the neighbourhood of Amedia. The prevailing opinion is, that this was done by the advice of Mutran Hanna, who, being himself prohibited from consecrating his nephew, conceived this scheme, in the hope that after his death the succession might be continued in the old line. Mutran Elîa, who was doubtless a consenting party to the plot, abjured Nestorianism a few months afterwards, was absolved, and received into the bosom of the Chaldean Church. Before his death Mutran Hanna consecrated another Metropolitan, named Mutran Auraham, and appointed him over the district of Akra. After changing sides more than once, he returned to Nestorianism in 1847, was absolved by Mar Shimoon, and is now recognized by him as Bishop of the Nestorians in the Zebâr and Mezuriyeh provinces.
But to return to our narrative. Immediately after the death of Mutran Hanna, Mutran Laurentius started for Diarbekir to communicate the intelligence to the two Bishops who resided there, namely, Mutran Basileos, the Archbishop, and Mutran Yoosef, the runaway Bishop of Amedia. An epistle was then written by these three to Mutran Michael, of Sert, and Mutran Zeyya, of Khosrâwa, requesting them to join in electing a successor to the Patriarchate. Zeyya promised to be with them in spring, as soon as the snows had melted from off the mountains; however, he did not abide by his word, and the remaining four proceeded to the election. As each laid claim to the dignity, nothing was decided between them, and the council was broken up, professedly on the ground of Mutran Zeyya's absence. Zeyya on hearing this went to Baghdad, and took counsel with Monsignor Trioche and Mutran Botros, who wrote a joint letter to the Propaganda, informing them of the proceedings of the four monkish Bishops, and strongly recommending Zeyya as the person most fit in every respect to fill the vacant chair. An epistle was accordingly sent from Rome, blaming the course taken by the Bishops, and stating, that as they had not agreed upon a successor, the Holy Father was obliged to take upon himself the duty of filling up the appointment, directing them at the same time to acknowledge Zeyya as their Patriarch. On his accession to office, Mar Zeyya ordered Mutran Yoosef to proceed to Amedia, but afterwards allowed him to reside at Alkôsh; and finding that great dissensions existed among the monks of Rabban Hormuzd, he allowed as many as chose to retire from the establishment. Forty-five of their number, among whom was Kas Michael, took advantage of this licence and left the convent. The general opinion is, that the new Patriarch, well acquainted as he was with the turbulent spirit of the monks, and the opposition which they had raised to Mutran Hanna, fearing lest his authority might be thwarted in the same way, would most gladly have abolished the conventual brotherhood.
I shall now endeavour to elicit some of the secret motives which led the See of Rome to appoint Mutran Zeyya to the vacant Patriarchate.18 In the first place, by so doing they got rid of the hereditary succession, and thus deprived the Beit-ool-Ab of that traditional importance which gave them a degree of influence among the people not likely to be exerted in favour of Papal encroachment. Secondly, Mar Zeyya was an élève of the Propaganda, and therefore a promising instrument for carrying out their designs. Thirdly, he was a Persian by birth, and consequently could lay claim to the protection of any of the foreign consuls in Turkey. The importance of this last consideration I must explain more in detail. Hitherto the community styling themselves "Chaldeans," had not been recognized by the Ottoman Porte. Mutran Hanna, like most of his predecessors, had received an imperial firman acknowledging him to be Patriarch of the Nestorians, which document the Romanists carefully secured on his death, and this was the only political sanction which Mar Zeyya possessed for exercising patriarchal jurisdiction over the Chaldeans. But this warrant was found to be of little value in the frequent appeals which the affairs of the community obliged him to make before the Turkish authorities; for, in the first place, it was not in his own name; and, secondly, it granted certain rights and privileges, not to a Chaldean, but to a Nestorian Patriarch, which he was not. To supply this deficiency, as also to carry out the designs of Rome towards the Chaldean community, which was now completely under her control, since the abrogation of the law of succession in the Beit-ool-Ab, the French government was solicited to appoint a consul to Mosul, for the express purpose of extending the benefit of her assumed protectorate over the further proceedings of the Latin missionaries. I say that this was the only conceivable ground of the appointment being made, since France has not the shadow of commercial interest in these parts whereupon to establish the necessity of such a measure. Through the intervention of the society of Lyons, the petition was granted, and Mar Zeyya, being a Persian, now enjoyed all the privileges of a European in Turkey, with the additional support of a French consular agent to back him in the exercise of his ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
Early in 1843 Mar Zeyya proposed to change the time of celebrating Easter among the Chaldeans, and to assimilate it to the usage of the West, which created such a ferment among the people of Mosul, who were growing jealous of any further alterations in their ancient customs, that he was obliged to abandon the attempt. About this time we arrived at Mosul, and many Chaldeans manifested a strong desire to reform the errors which had lately been introduced into their rituals, a detailed account of which will be given in a succeeding chapter. They moreover wished, if possible, to restore the patriarchal succession in the person of Mutran Elîa, the nephew of the late Mutran Hanna; but finding him too pusillanimous to attempt anything on his own behalf, and wanting in energy to effect anything for the general good of the community, they next turned to Mar Shimoon the Nestorian Patriarch, who had been driven to Mosul about the middle of the year after the massacre of his mountain flock, and proposed that he should take the initiative and lay claim to the patriarchate, promising to support him by every means in their power. All kinds of intrigue were now set on foot, aided and abetted by French influence, which was the only stronghold of the papal party, to counteract the efforts of the reformers. Complaints were made against them to the local authorities as disturbers of the peace; the Turks refused to interfere to put down the movement, because Mar Zeyya could not prove that he was recognized by the Porte, and therefore had no right to exercise jurisdiction in the Sultan's dominions. Mar Zeyya himself wrote a lying epistle to the British Ambassador at Constantinople complaining of the proceedings of our mission; Mar Shimoon was offered large sums of money by the Romanists, together with the patriarchate over the Chaldeans, if he would submit to the Pope; in fact every possible artifice was employed to support the tottering power of Rome among the Chaldeans of Mosul. Fearing the defection of some of the Bishops the Society of Lyons now consented to allow them a yearly salary to the following amount:
|The Patriarch,||20,000||piastres, or £200.|
|Bishop of Diarbekir,||8,000|
|Bishop„ Mutran Elîa,||2,000|
But the fears which were excited by these manifestations of opposition to Romish usurpation and error, induced the papal party to send Mar Zeyya to Constantinople, where through the influence of the French Embassy he obtained a firman acknowledging him as Patriarch of the Chaldeans. This was the first recognition by the Ottoman Porte of the new community.
The withdrawal of our mission from Mosul damped the energies of the reformers, who had hoped that the Church of England would have assisted them in restoring their Church to its primitive independence and orthodoxy. Moreover on the return of Mar Zeyya from Constantinople in 1845, fresh attempts were made to destroy the remaining influence of the Beit-ool-Ab. Mutran Elîa was not allowed to exercise his episcopal functions, and claims were set up by the monks of Rabban Hormuzd upon the property, consisting chiefly of houses, land, and several water-mills, which still continued in the possession of the patriarchal family. The French consul co-operated with the monks, and two hundred and fifty persons were deprived of their patrimony and reduced to beggary through this joint agency. I am happy to say, however, that energetic remonstrances from a different quarter have succeeded in reclaiming part of the wrested property, and in restoring it to the rightful owners, most of whom reside at Alkôsh and the neighbouring villages.
Mutran Zeyya did not long fill an ofiice, the functions of which were virtually exercised by the Propaganda, and he soon grew tired of the interference and espionage of the Latin missionaries, who criticised all his acts, and reduced him to a mere tool in their hands. His resistance alarmed the Romanists, and a charge was brought against him of having embezzled certain moneys which had been placed under his care, and which he had expended in restoring the convent of Mar Gheorghees, opposite the town of Mosul, where he had intended to form a seminary for the education of Chaldean youth. Charges of a different nature were also laid against him, which are generally believed to be without foundation, and he was ordered to proceed to Rome to answer for himself. Knowing full well that his opposition to the Latin missionaries would result in his downfall and perhaps imprisonment in the Holy Office, he refused to obey the summons, and left Mosul for Khosrâwa, his native place, from whence he tendered his resignation of the patriarchate. This took place early in 1846; whereupon Monsignor Trioche sent letters from Baghdad to Mosul, ordering that they should be read publicly in the churches, in which he assumed patriarchal authority, and styled himself "Ruler and Director of the Chaldeans." Several of the priests refused to read the obnoxious epistles, and the whole community was in a ferment, some inveighing against the encroachments of Rome, others clamouring for the return of Mar Zeyya, whilst a few held with the Vicar Apostolic. This state of things continued for several months, until at length the supporters of the ex-patriarch, on being assured by him that he would not resume that office, gave way, and Mutran Yoosef was appointed to succeed him, not however without some manifestations of opposition which continue to this day. Mar Yoosef was raised to the patriarchate in 1846.
The present Chaldean hierarchy is as follows:
Mar Yoosef, Patriarch, resides at Alkôsh and Mosul.
Mutran Botros of Diarbekir.
Mutran„ Michael of Sert.
Mutran„ Ignatius of Mardeen.
Mutran„ Basileos of Jezeerah.
Mutran„ Laurentius of Kerkook.
Mutran„ Zeyya, ex-Patriarch, resides at Khosrâwa.
Mutran„ (name unknown), consecrated Metropolitan of Khosrâwa by Mar Yoosef in 1848.
Mutran„ Elîa, officiates as presbyter at Baghdad.
It does not appear that any limit of separate territorial jurisdiction was fixed at the time of the great schism in the sixteenth century, when the primacy over the Nestorians was first divided between two Patriarchs. The rival claims of each to be considered supreme spiritual head over the entire community necessarily prevented any such amicable settlement. The political recognition of the Elîas by the Porte gave them ecclesiastical authority over the plains, and over such parts of the mountains as acknowledged the Ottoman sway; and from this circumstance their jurisdiction came to be considered as being bounded on the north by the Tyari, (which until the last few years was almost independent of the Turkish government) although there are many Nestorians dwelling in the mountain-districts between Mosul and that province, who, from not having gone over to the communion of Rome, still regard Mar Shimoon as their Patriarch. The fact is that the greatest confusion exists with respect to the extent of the two patriarchates, and the only rule now obtaining is this: such villages as still adhere to Nestorianism look up to Mar Shimoon as their head; and, on the other hand, those who join the seceders place themselves under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Chaldean Patriarch. We have already seen how five new Chaldean Bishops were created without any appropriate dioceses: these have since been scattered over this region wherever the number of the seceders called for episcopal superintendence; or, for lack of so good a reason, where such an appointment was likely to contribute to further proselytism from the ranks of the Nestorians. During his occupancy as Bishop of the See of Amedia, Mutran Yoosef succeeded in reducing many villages of the Supna to the obedience of Rome; but the long residence of Mar Shimoon at Mosul affording the Nestorians in the mountain-districts south of the Tyari frequent opportunities of consulting him on their ecclesiastical affairs, which they were debarred in a great measure from doing whilst he continued secluded in Central Coordistan, has put a check upon further proselytism, and not a few of the later seceders have returned to their ancient faith and discipline.
I shall now proceed to give a statistical account of the existing Chaldean dioceses.
Mar Yoosef, besides exercising the functions of Patriarch, has the episcopal superintendence of Mosul and the neighbouring villages, Baghdad, and the See of Amedia.
The following is the number of churches, clergy, and population comprehended within the diocese of Mosul.
Diocese of Baghdad.
Baghdad, (Mutran Elîa resides here as presbyter)
Diocese of Amedia.
|Dehòk||On the borders of the mountains west of Rabban Hormuzd.||1||1||50|
or Ka Sepher
|Dizzi||In the Mezuriyeh district behind Sheikh Adi.||0||0||20|
|Amedia||In the Supna, comprehended within the province of Bahdinân.||0||0||3|
Diocese of Diarbekir.
Diocese of Mardeen.
Diocese of Sert.
|I have not been able to learn with exactness the details of the Chaldeans in this district. The annexed summary is, I believe, a tolerably correct estimate of the churches, clergy, and population of the eleven villages included within the diocese||12||9||300|
Diocese of Jezeerah.
|Zakho||In the valley of the Kahboor west of Zakho.||0||0||8|
|It is said that besides the above there are a few Chaldean villages in the mountains of Buhtân comprehended within this diocese.|
Diocese of Kerkook.
|Kerkook||Between Baghdad and the Great Zab river.||1||2||40|
|There are also three villages in the district of Sina, on the borders of Persia, said to contain||4||3||68|
Diocese of Khosrâwa.
|The Chaldeans of Mosul tell me that there are several other villages in the valley of Salamast, north of Ooroomiah, which acknowledge canonical obedience to the Bishop of Khosrâwa. Not having visited the district myself I cannot vouch for the truth of this statement.|
If the above estimate is correct, and I can vouch for the tolerable exactness of the greater portion of it, the present Chaldean community in the East does not exceed 20,000 souls, scattered over a large surface of country extending from Diarbekir to the frontiers of Persia, and from the borders of Tyari to Baghdad,—a district which in former ages contained a vast Nestorian population.
If we compare the present Chaldean community with the condition of their Nestorian forefathers, as deducible from the account given of them by Mutran Hanna in his autobiography, justice demands that we should acknowledge the superiority of the former in civilization, general intelligence, and ecclesiastical order. Whilst, on the other hand, if we draw a parallel betwixt them and the Nestorians even as late as the thirteenth century, the latter may justly claim the palm of pre-eminence in all these respects, in proof of which we may bring forward the writings of those famous authors who flourished among them at that period. Like the Papal Syrians, the Chaldeans have profited by their communion and intercourse with Rome, from whence they have learned something of European advancement, and their youth who have been educated at the Propaganda are undoubtedly more generally intelligent than those brought up in this country. They have, moreover, established a few schools in several of their dioceses; and although the instruction conveyed is restricted to the elements of science, and is made conformable to the errors of the Papacy, still we must regard the attempt to raise the minds of their people as a decided improvement upon the ignorance and want of all scholastic teaching, which existed among the Nestorians of the plains before their secession to Rome. I speak now more especially of the towns and adjacent villages, for in the more secluded districts the Chaldeans generally are as ignorant as their Nestorian neighbours, and the only benefit which they have derived from a change of name and communion, apart from their rejection of the doctrine of the Two Persons in our blessed Lord, is the promise of political protection from France, and an occasional present of ecclesiastical vestments, church ornaments, pictures of saints, rosaries, &c., which latter gifts, I am happy to say, the later proselytes to Rome know not how to use, and show no disposition to learn. The suspension of the annual remittances to the Bishops from the Society of Lyons, together with the revolutions which have taken place in Italy and in France, and the effect which these political changes have had upon the diplomatic agents of the latter kingdom in Turkey, rendering them in many instances less zealous in forwarding the views of the Latin missionaries, have combined to weaken the attachment of the Papal Eastern communities to Rome. These influences, joined with a love of independence, and a strong traditional attachment to their ancient rights and rituals, which have been encroached upon and altered since their submission to a foreign supremacy, have tended to make the Chaldeans more and more restless under the Papal yoke; and I am persuaded that an offer of friendly assistance from our Church to enable them to carry out their desires for a radical reform would be hailed with gratitude by two or more of their Bishops, and by many of the most influential members of their community. It would not be prudent to mention names; but thus much may be said, that several of the clergy at Mosul and a number of the villages have expressed to me their readiness to enter upon the task whenever the Church of England, as a Church, shall offer to co-operate with them in restoring the Chaldeans to the pure Catholic faith, and in otherwise endeavouring to raise the standard of true and vital religion and intellectual science among them.
I shall now make a few remarks upon the two names, Nestorians and Chaldeans, which I have used throughout this work to designate the followers of the doctrine of the Two Persons in our blessed Lord after the teaching of Nestorius in the fifth century and the modern seceders therefrom to the Church of Home. Ainsworth in his "Travels and Researches in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, &c.," styles the Nestorians "Chaldeans;"19 and Mr. Layard in his "Nineveh and its Remains" adopts the same nomenclature, which he attempts to defend. Let us now see how the statements of these authors are borne out by facts. In the first place, then, I beg to observe that the term "Chaldean" is not once used in any one of the ancient Nestorian rituals to designate a Christian community. The Gezza contains the services proper for two festivals commemorative of the Greek and Syrian Doctors, in the latter of which Nestorius, Theodorus, and the later Nestorian Fathers, are introduced by name. This agrees with the appellative used to designate his co-religionists by Mar Abd Yeshua, Metropolitan of Nisibis in the thirteenth century, who in his catalogue of "Syrian Fathers" enumerates the most eminent Nestorian divines who had preceded him. It also agrees with the common usage of the Nestorians at the present day, who call themselves Soorâyé (Syrians), and their language Soorith (Syriac).
Mr. Layard says: "It is difficult to ascertain when it [the name 'Nestorian' applied to the Chaldeans] was first used, probably not before the Roman Catholic missionaries, who were brought into contact with them, found it necessary and politic to treat them as schismatics, and to bestow upon them a title which conveyed the stigma of a heresy." If this remark is intended to apply generally, it is incorrect, since ecclesiastical history mentions the Nestorian sect in these parts since the time of its founder; and, on the other hand, if it is meant thereby that it is difficult to decide when the Nestorians first applied the title to themselves this would contradict the author's own statement, who says of it: "But by the Chaldeans themselves [meaning the Nestorians], the name has ever been disavowed." Here again he is in error, since Mar Abd Yeshua, whose authority has just been quoted, drew up a symbol of faith which he entitles, "The orthodox creed of the Nestorians," a translation of which is given in Vol. II., Chap. VI., § 7, and he concludes the work wherein the creed is found with the following sentence: "This useful book was written in the month of September, in the year of Alexander, 1609, in the blessed city of Khlât, in the church of the blessed Nestorians." Neither are the Nestorians of the present day so averse to the appellation, as is shown in Chap. XIV. of this volume, and again in Vol. II., Chap. VI., but they resent it if applied by way of stigma, and when intended to convey the reproach that they have abandoned the Saviour to follow a creature. Whenever the term "Chaldeans" occurs in the Nestorian rituals, which it does only in two instances, it is not used to designate a Christian community, but the ancient sect, who have been called also "Sabeans," or worshippers of the heavenly host, from the Semitic root צבא. Mar Abd Yeshua uses it in the same sense; thus he writes: "Gawrièl, Bishop of Hormuzdshir, wrote a work against Manes, and another against the Chaldeans;" and again: "Daniel, of Reish Aina, wrote poems against the Marcionites, Manichees, heretics, and Chaldeans."
But if it be maintained, that the modern Nestorians are descendants of the ancient Chaldeans, and may therefore justly lay claim to the title, no valid objection can be urged against the assumption; but in this national acceptation of the term, the Nestorian proselytes to Rome, the Jacobites, Sabeans, Yezeedees, and many of the Coords of this district, may with equal right take to themselves the appellative, there being as much proof to establish their descent from the Chaldeans of old, or rather the Assyrians, as there is in the case of the Nestorians. It is evidently in this sense that Assemanni uses the term in the following extract, which Mr. Layard adduces in support of his theory, but which in reality militates against it: "Chaldeans or Assyrians; whom, from that part of the globe which they inhabit, we term Orientals; and from the heresy which they profess, Nestorians." There can be no doubt but that the Chaldeans were of the same family with the Assyrians, who were also called Syrians, by which name, as we have seen, the mountain Nestorians, and the Papal Chaldeans of the plains, who speak the vulgar Syriac, still designate themselves. This, however, is not the subject of dispute; but whether the term "Chaldeans" was or is used of the Nestorians by themselves or others. I have proved that it is not. They call themselves Soorâyé, Nestorâyé, and sometimes Christiané and Meshihayé, but never Chaldâyé or Chaldâni. Dr. Grant's testimony goes to establish the above statements; his words are these: "Chaldean is a name commonly used to designate the papal, but it is seldom applied to the orthodox [!] Nestorians; and, when so applied, it is used to express their relation to Abraham, who was from 'Ur of the Chaldees.'"
The origin of the term "Chaldean" as applied to a Christian sect, is correctly given in the following extract from Smith and Dwight's "Researches in Armenia:"—"The present Chaldean Christians are of recent origin. It was in a. d. 1681, that the Nestorian Metropolitan of Diarbekir, having quarrelled with his patriarch, was first consecrated by the Pope patriarch of the Chaldeans. The sect was as new as the office, and created for it. Converts to papacy from the Nestorian and Jacobite churches were united in one body, and dignified by the name of the Chaldean Church. It means no more than Papal Syrians, as we have in other parts Papal Armenians and Papal Greeks." After giving this quotation, Dr. Grant remarks: "There appears to be no propriety in applying this name to the Nestorians as a Christian sect; and its casual employment among them is a circumstance of little importance, except as it may lead to wrong conclusions respecting their origin. If its occasional use proves any thing regarding their origin, it indicates their relation to the Father of the Faithful, agreeably to their own explanations." When the Latin missionaries had succeeded in forming a schism among the Nestorians of Diarbekir, they wanted a name whereby to designate the proselytes. In other instances the national title of the parent body supplied a ready and unobjectionable appellative. Thus, by prefixing the term "Catholic," they adequately, and according to their views appropriately distinguished the seceders from the Greek, Armenian, and Syrian communities. A difficulty now arose; the new converts styled themselves "Soorâyé" and "Nestorâyé." The Romanists could not call them "Catholic Syrians," or "Syrian Catholics," for this appellation they had already given to their proselytes from the Jacobites, who also called themselves "Syrians." They could not term them "Catholic Nestorians," as Mr. Justin Perkins, the Independent American missionary does for this would involve a contradiction. What more natural, then, than that they should have applied to them the title of "Chaldeans," to which they had some claims nationally in virtue of their Assyrian descent?
This, then, was the first use of the term as applied to a Christian community, and I can confidently vouch for the fact, that it was never before used by the Nestorians in any such acceptation. It is true, indeed, that the present Mar Shimoon styles himself in his official documents "Patriarch of the East," and "Patriarch of the Chaldeans;" but this latter title he or his immediate predecessors most probably assumed to put themselves on an equality with the Patriarchs of the plains, after they had joined the Church of Rome and taken that appellation, and as a stratagem to repel the name of "Nestorian," which then more especially began to be regarded as a reproachful epithet through the aspersions cast upon it by the Latin missionaries. The Nestorians, generally, as we have seen, disavowed the title, nor is there the shadow of a proof that the Eastern Patriarchs ever used it. I have before me the impression of a seal belonging to one of the late Elîas of Alkôsh, which bears the following motto: "The undeserving Elîa; by grace Patriarch and Occupant of the throne of Addai and Mari." This was the title by which the Nestorian Primates designated themselves before their submission to Rome, and the same is inscribed on all the tombs of the deceased Patriarchs whose remains were buried in the convent of Rabban Hormuzd; so that when Mr. Layard writes: "In the chapel [of Rabban Hormuzd] are the tombs of several Patriarchs of the Chaldean Church,20 buried here long before its divisions, and whose titles, carved upon the monuments, are always 'Patriarch of the Chaldeans of the East,'" he makes a serious mistake. I have examined with care all the epitaphs, and could not discover therein any such phraseology.
The language of the Nestorians I have called Syriac, since it is precisely the same as that used by the Jacobite Syrians, the only difference being in the form of the character and the vowel-points, which were altered by Gregory Bar Hebræus, the Monophysite doctor, in the 13th century. For distinction's sake, however, it is sometimes styled "Syro-Chaldaic," a term not indeed strictly correct, but for want of a better by no means inapplicable.
- I am indebted to the same source for the notices which follow respecting the immediate successors of Mar Mari in the Eastern Patriarchate. A copy of this rare and valuable MS., containing a catena of the Eastern Patriarchs up to the time of the author, with biographical and historical sketches attached to each, fell under my observation after these pages were prepared for the press. Should a second edition of this work be called for, an opportunity will be afforded for embodying therein from the above-named MS. some interesting and important annals of the early Christian Church in Chaldea, Mesopotamia, and Arabia, hitherto but little known to western historians and theologians.
- Of this Epistle Mar Abd-Yeshua writes: "In the days of Papa a letter was written by the Westerns raising this Eastern See into a Patriarchate. The letter was sent with all honour by the hands of Agepta of Elam." See Vol. II. App. A. Part 4. There is a discrepancy in the date of the document as given by Sleewa ibn Yohanna and the author just quoted, the former referring it to the time when Aha d'Abhooi was Patriarch, about a.d. 205, and the latter to the Patriarchate of Papa, about forty years later.
- The catalogue of Nestorian writers as given in Vol. II. Appendix A. conveys a general idea, not only of the learning, but also of the number of the Nestorian hierarchy, and the extent of country over which they spread.
- I have substituted the word "Patriarch" for that of "Bishop," which the author laxly uses in the above extract to designate the highest ecclesiastical dignity.
- In Vol. ii. chap. xxxix. I have given the election of a patriarch in full, copied from one of the Nestorian synodal collections, as late as a.d. 1317.
- I have seen two of these firmans, dated about a century and a half ago, which invest the patriarch with authority over the Nestorians in and about Mosul, also in Jerusalem, Tyre, and Cyprus. It is clear from the tenour of these documents that they were copied from an ancient exemplar, as at that time there were no Nestorians beyond the limits of Mesopotamia.
- Mar or Mutran Hanna or Yohannân, (John,) is the name by which the last of the Nestorian patriarchs is generally known. The succeeding narrative will show why Rome objected to his assuming the official title of his predecessors, which he himself hardly ever used except upon his seal, and that only a year or two before his death.
- Meshihaya literally means a Christian, but it is used here to denote the seceders from Nestorianism to Rome.
- His Christian name as we have seen was Hormuzd, but according to a practice common in the East as well as the West it was changed to Hanna, or Yohannan, at his ordination.
- Now Ba-Idhri, one of the principal villages of the Yezeedees. There are several other villages in the vicinity of Mosul the names of which begin with the prefix "Ba." All these are written "Beth" in the old Syriac MSS., which argues for them a very ancient, perhaps Assyrian, origin.
- The usual salutation of condolence to one who has lately been bereaved of a relative or friend.
- Tcawâlakha is the vulgar name given to the people of Jelu, a district in central Coordistan.
- I fancy that, in professing to place Diarbekir and Mardeen under his jurisdiction, the Pope or the Propaganda duped Mutran Hanna, since Yoosef V. was still living at the former town, and was still recognized as Patriarch of the Chaldeans by the see of Rome.
- This priest has since been expelled the Chaldean Church on account of his bold denunciations against the assumptions of the See of Rome, and the erroneous teaching which has been introduced into the ancient Syriac rituals. He is a somewhat eccentric but really good man, and has since been married by Mar Shimoon to a Nestorian girl with whom he lives at Telkèf, where he has braved much opposition, and maintains himself and wife by making sieves and packsaddles. I occasionally employed him during my residence at Mosul to collect MSS. and to visit the Nestorians in the villages near Akra. Though quite unsupported he occasionally forces his way into the presence of the patriarch, and reproves him for his worldliness and slavish subjection to Rome.
- This is the Chaldean who was afterwards expelled the community for his reformed opinions, and who was associated with me in my mission, as will appear in the sequel.
- It is rumoured that the Patriarch intends shortly to consecrate one of his nephews to this latter See.
- I visited this district during a trip which I made from Baghdad to Mosul in 1843; but the route is generally so devoid of interest that I have intentionally omitted any account of it in my narrative.
- See Vol. II., Appendix A. Part IV.
- Nineveh and its Remains, Vol. I. p. 259.
- See Vol. II. Appendix A. Part IV.
- The Nestorians; or, the Lost Tribes, p. 170.
- This is a mistake; no proselytes from the Jacobites were received into the Chaldean Community.
- The Nestorians, &c., ut supra.
- Residence in Persia among the Nestorians, p. 171.
- Nineveh and its Remains, vol. i. p. 236.