Babylon of the Chaldeans, Patriarchate of

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Patriarchate of the Chaldean Catholic Church, located in Baghdad, Iraq. The name Chaldean, of Western origin in the 15th century when the Syriac language was called Chaldean, has been used to describe those Christians of the assyrian church of the east who entered into communion with Rome.

The apostolate of St. thomas the apostle in the area was mentioned by origen (185253), and a tradition attributes the evangelization to St. addai and his disciples. The gospel is said to have come by way of edessa before the Sassanid dynasty (226), and the region thus had ties, however weak, with the Patriarchate of anti och. Bishop Mar Papa of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the Sassanid capital, organized the relatively independent bishops of the region under Seleucia (c. 300). Persecution by the Sassanids (340 c. 380), who had made Zoroastrianism the state religion and were constantly at war first with Rome and then with Byzantium, claimed martyrs, including St. simeon barsabae (d. 344) and other bishops. The school of theology at nisibis, where the Persian clergy studied, moved to Edessa when Nisibis came under Persian rule (363). With Yazdegerd I (399420) persecution ceased and a council in Seleucia under maruthas of martyropolis, a Byzantine archbishop and ambassador, accepted the canons of the Council of nicaea i and organized the Sassanid episcopacy under the catholicos of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (410). Persecution returned at the end of Yazdegerd's reign to last until peace with Byzantium (422). In 424 the Synod of Markabta decreed that the catholicos thenceforth was subject to judgment by Christ alone, and the Persian Church became independent of the "Western Fathers." Nestorian influence entered the Persian Church from Nisibis, to which the school of theology returned in 457, and at the Council of Seleucia (486) the Persian Church became officially Nestorian. Councils in 497 and 544 strengthened Nestorianism further.

Christians in Persia, closer to the Arabs in race and language than to the Iranians, were relieved of religious persecution by the arrival of the Arabs (637). The seat of the catholicate moved to Baghdad (c. 777), which had become the seat of the Abbasid caliphate (c. 750). Nestorian clergy, notably Catholicos timotheus i (780823), served the Caliphs; and Nestorian Christianity spread to India, central Asia, and China. After the embassy of the Dominican William of Montferrat to the Nestorian catholicos in 1235, john of monte corvino, in 1289, brought from Pope Nicholas IV a letter for Catholicos Yaballaha III (12811317), a Mongolian, resident in Maragheh, who was favorable to Catholics. When the Mongol rulers of Persia became Muslim, however, Nestorian Christians there suffered severe persecution, and little is heard of them from the early 14th to the 16th century.

In 1553, when the Nestorian patriarchate was located in Mosul, John Sulaqa was proclaimed in Rome as patriarch of the Chaldeans. However, his successors subsequently moved the patriarchate to Kotchanes. A Chaldean patriarchate of Christians remained in communion with Rome and was confirmed by the Holy See (1681). These patriarchs, who took the name Joseph, resided in Diarbekr. From 1780 they were administrators rather than patriarchs, inasmuch as Rome still was seeking the conversion of the two Nestorian patriarchates (Kotchanes and Rabban-Hormizd). Metropolitan John IX Hormizd (d. 1838) of Mosul, who had become Catholic in 1778, was confirmed by Rome in 1830 as patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, the only patriarchate of Chaldeans recognized by Rome; his seat was in Mosul. Patriarch Joseph V Audo (184778) gained many conversions and disputed with Rome about his jurisdiction in the syromalabar church. In 1950, the patriarchal seat was moved from Mosul to Baghad.

Bibliography: r. roberson, The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey, 6th ed (Rome 1999).

[j. a. devenny/eds.]