Churches and Monasteries in northern Iraq
Most were transfered to the Chaldean Church when it was established in the plain of Nineveh in the 19th century
by William Warda
in the early centuries among the Assyrians.
The ancient Assyrians continued to reside in their historic
homeland before and after Christianity.
According to Syriac documents: "people of the East,
in the guise of merchants, passed over into the territory of
the Romans, that they might see the signs which Addaeus did.
And such as became disciples received from him ordination to
the priesthood, and in their own country of the Assyrians they
instructed the people of their nation, and erected houses of
prayer there in secret, by reason of the danger from those who
worshiped fire and paid reverence to water." ("The
Teaching of the Apostles" Ante-Nicene Fathers "The
Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325)
The plain of Nineveh inhabited by the descendants of the ancient
Assyrians was predominantly a Christian center up to few centuries
after the 7th century Arab conquest. From then on people of other
nationalities such as Arabs, Turks, and more recently the Kurds
migrated to the region.
A page of a medieval Syriac scripture
decorated with an icon
Nineveh continued to remain a
sacred city for the Christian Assyrians and a special fast know
as Baoota d' Ninvayee has been observed by the members of the
Church of the East, The Syrian Orthodox Church and the later
Chaldean Church since early centuries of Christianity.
Some of the Assyrian towns and cities
in the region such as Arbil, Kirkuk, Tikrit, Karmales and Algush
still retain a modified form of their ancient Assyrian names.
Since the 7th century AD the Arab culture has been superimposed
over the Christian Assyrian civilization which dominated the
region before then. By the 18th century all traces of early Christian
and ancient Assyrian history in Mesopotamia were obliterated.
However there are still several towns north of Mosul predominantly
inhabited by them and some of the early Assyrian monasteries
have survived to this date.
Christian Assyrian Manuscript in the Armenian Museum
Before the down of Islam thousands of Churches
and moasterites dotted the plain of southern, central and northern
Mesopotamia. The Iraqi daily Al-Mada carried a report about the
ruins of what is believed to be the oldest Eastern Christian
church, discovered in 1976 by an archeological team in the desert
west of the holy Shi'ite city of Karbala. The church, known
as Al-Qusair, was built in the 5th century, 120 years before
the appearance of Islam and almost two centuries before the spread
of Islam in what is known today as Iraq. Following are some ancient
monasteries which have survived in the plain of Nineveh.
At a happier time Assyrians visiting an ancient
monastery built in the mountain
Note the vertical Syriac writing
on the left edge.
The cross resembles
the ancient Tree of life. According to the fourth century Mar
Aprim "while the Tree of Knowledge brought death to Adam
and Eve the Tree of Life, i.e. Cross, restores life to humanity."
The other picture is of a monk, perhaps, mar Behnam.
the similarity between the Syrian Orthodox Church Cross and the
ancient Assyrian sculpture
The Assyrian tree
Fourth Century Saint Behnam
Located six miles to the northeast of
Nimrud or the ancient Assyrian city of Kalkh, according to one
ancinet tradition it was built in the last quarter of the 4th
ccnentury AD by Sanherib II the Governor of the Assyrians in
remeberance of his son Behnam and daughter Sarra who died after
they converted to Christianity by Mar Mattay who lived
on the mountain of Alpuni near Nineveh.
The stone engravings are reminiscent
of the ancient Assyrian reliefs.
About the Convent Bager wrote:
A sarcophagus of balck marble inside the building points out
the burial-place of Mar Behnam, but the epitaph behind it on
the wall was no longer there.
A syriac inscripton next to it reads
"Like the censer in
So is Mar Behnam in his convent;
And what rain and dew are to the earth,
So are his prayers to our soul."
The Chapel is also dedicated to the
"Forty Martyars" who suffered with Mar Behnam.
Additional pictures of Mar Behnam
Note the ancient Assyrian rosette
design is incorporated in this engraving. Syriac writing on the
Rossete a common element in Assyrian design
engraved on the surface.
The ancient Assyrian
rosette design can be seen above on the right hand side of the
Located 20 miles north-east of Nineveh
Mar Mattay monastery is on top of the Maqlub Mountain known to
Assyrians as Tura D'alpayeh.
Mor Mattai Dayro is the oldest Syrian Orthodox monastery in north east Mesopotamia. In 629 the monastery received the primacy over the monasteries of Persia. It is said that Saint Mattai was born near Amid (Diyarbaker) around the beginning of the 4th century. After the persecution of Julian the Apostate (c.361) he settled on a mountain near Nineveh, (near modern Mosul). He healed the sick. According to tradition, he converted the son of the king of Assyria, Behnam, and his daughter Sarah, to Christianity; consequently Sarah’s leprosy disappeared.
In the present buildings of Mor Mattai monastery some of the lower church walls apparently date back to the 12th/13th century. The main church is dedicated to Mor Mattai and another one is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is recorded that Claudius James Rich, the British consul in Baghdad had visited Mor Mattai in 1820. In 1843 Rev G P Badger found Mor Mattai monastery damaged. In 1892, O H Parry found that the repair works noted by Budge some years were still going on.
It is considered to be the most important
Assyrian monastery in Iraq due to its religious, historical,
and geographical significance. Located at the top of the
famous 'Maqloub' Mountain, the monastery overlooks the magnificent
fields of the Nineveh plains. To the left of the monastery
is a large cave with natural mountain spring water dripping from
the ceiling of the cave. The monastery has over 50 rooms,
3 halls for gathering, a church, A saints' room (Baith Qadisheh)
believed to hold the remains of Mar Mattai, M
The monastery has been renovated many
times but the inner building of the church dates to the mid 4th
History: born in Amid, Diar Bakir (present day South Eastern Turkey).
Mar Mattai who was one of many monks fled to the 'Maqloub' mountain
from the persecution of Julianis in 361 AD. The number of monks
soon increased to over 7000 which brought about the new name
of the mountain, Tura D'alpayeh, or the thousands mountain.
in 484 AD, the mountain monks followed the Monophisite theology,
and since then, its bishop was given the title 'Bishop of Athur
[Assyria] and the Nineveh Plains'.***
In the beginning of the 6th century, the theological direction
of the monastery returned to follow the two natures theory which
continues to the present. The monastery became a well known
learning center from the 7th century to the 12th century when
many of its monks had to flee during the Salah Al-deen Al-ayoobi
battles. The monastery returned to its past splendor in
the thirteenth century until its partial destruction by Taimorlang,
The monastery remained abandoned till 1795 AD when Basil Gargis
II Al-Mosuli renovated it and built the fence walls around it.
In 1845, additional wings were added. The monastery is
still considered to be one of the most sacred places of Christian
worship in the middle east. Christians belonging to the
Assyrian; church of the East, the Chaldean Church, the Syriac
orthodox church, as well as other Assyrian churches frequently
visit Dair Mar Mattai for spiritual healing and meditation.
* Gorgis Awad, 'Tahqeeqat Baldaniya' (National research), p.
**Senharib Sitwak, Dair Mar Mattai' (The monastery of Mar Mattai)',
*** Gorgis Awad, 'Tahqeeqat Baldaniya' (National research), p.
Komane located near Mosul is an Assyrian town founded 3,000 years
ago. Its inhabitants converted to Christianity in the 2nd century
A.D. It has two monasteries, one dedicated to Saint Ciriaco and
the other to the Virgin Mary, both built during the 4th century.
In Komane Christians solemnly celebrate
two Feast Days, Saint Ciriaco on July 15, and Mary, Mother of
Jesus, on August 15, the day of her Dormition. About 3000 Iraqi
Christians, some from as far away as the US and Syria make their
way to the town on August 15 on the solemnity of Mary's
Dormition, which is how the Eastern Christians call the Assumption.
Among the pilgrims are also Muslims who honor Mariam (Mary) the
mother of the prophet Issa (Jesus) on that day. In preparation
for the journey people give up meat and eggs for 5 days, eating
only fruit and vegetables so as to be spiritually ready for the
The pilgrimage features the agape, the communal feast to which
all are invited, performed in dining rooms near the shrine. Komane
families prepare special dishes for the occasion such as kebbe,
a dish of ground meat and rice, which they share with Christian
and Muslim pilgrims.
Mosul has the highest proportion of
Christians of all the Iraqi cities, and contains several interesting
old churches, some of which date back to the early centuries
of Christianity. The entrance to its ancient churches is often
hidden behined a thick wall, perhaps for secutiry reasons, threfore
are hard to find.
By the end of the 18th century when
the church of the East in the plain of Nineveh joined the Roman
Catholic Church it was redefined as Chaldean and most of the
churches and monasteries in the region are presently controled
by the Chaldean Church.
Dair Mar Elia or St. Elijah s Monestary
Location: 4 miles south-west of Mosul.
Cared for by: The Chaldean Church (previously, The Church of
The monastery was established in the 6th century about 571 AD.
by Mar Elia who previously lived a monastic life at a great monastery
at the Ezla Mountain (Tur-Abedeen) now part of Turkey.
At its hay day thousands of
faithfuls from the city of Mosul and the various Nineveh Villages
visited the monastery during Mar Elia Holiday which falls at
the end of November on a Wednesday. American soldiers inspecting the front hall of the
damaged monastery of Mar Eilia
During the 17th century it was renovated
by Hurmizd Alqushnaya. It remained a successful center of Christianity
until 1743 when the Persian king Nadir Shah attacked the region,
partially destroyed the monastery and murdered its inhabitants.
The entrance is made up of large stone arch which remains from
the original church. It was renovated during world war, few of
its halls and rooms were re-built . It has a large water reservoir
that collects water during the winter season in addition to a
natural mineral water spring and another water spring fit for
The beginning of the twentieth century brought renovation and
interest in the monastery but now it is in a state of disrepair.
A military compound ( Mu'askar Al-Al-ghazlani) later built around
the monastery by the Iraqi government forced its abandonment
and since it has been further damaged.
Joseph Odisho Bishabue
photos by Bob Meeker
In January and February of 1995 I was
stationed at Diamond back/Marez Camp south of Mosul, Iraq, supporting
Multi National Forces MNF. While I was there, I was told by an
Assyrian fellow, initials E.Y., "there is a Monastery called
"monastery of Mar Elia within the camp". With some
searching on the internet I was able to find out a little more
about the monastery and I became fascinated by its religious
and historical value. The monastery was obscured from the population,
especially the Christians of the area who constitute a large
percentage of the population in the Nineveh province. It became
my favorite place to visit, I was there, almost every Sunday.
St. Elia monastery is situated in northern Iraq, four miles south
west of the city of Nineveh/Mosul/Al Ghazlani Camp. Later the
Camp was renamed in memory of Marez by the MNF forces in Iraq.
The monastery was built by Mar
Elia who lived in Nisibis/Nisibin/Kamishli, prior to moving to
Nineveh at the end of the sixth century. It is possible that
Mar Elia's move to the Nineveh plane was prompted by two factors,
continuous struggle between Rome and Persia, on one hand, and
the increase in the number of Christians in the plane of Nineveh
and the surrounding area, perceived as a safe haven, on the other.
The Roman/Persian frontiers in Western
Mesopotamia did not have fixed physical boundaries due to continuous
military campaigns against each other, but most of the country
was occupied or fell under the Persian dominance. It was a common
occurrence that cities along the frontiers would change hands,
from one side to another; whether by treaties or wars, depending
on the relation between the two powers at the time. The shifting
of territories would be followed by massive movement of peoples,
as it happened when Nisibis was turned to Persia.
The case is analogues to St. Ephrim
the Syrian, "Doctor of the Universal Church", who he
left his famous school in Nisibis and moved to Edissa/Urhai.
The movement of people from one side
to anther was directly influenced by the state intolerance of
a certain creed on its newly acquired territory. If the population
of an acquired area is perceived as a threat or having closer
ties or affinity to the other side, in this case the enemy, the
people would be either pacified or deported across the border.
The practice was implemented by both powers as a continuation
of policy to reduce rebellion and implementation of ethnic cleansing.
Mar Elia's Monastery has survived over
1500 years and it has changed ownership among the Churches of
the Syriac speaking population. In the last century, the Monastery
was managed and cared for by the Assyrian/Chaldean Catholic Church.
The surrounding landscape of the
Monastery is abundant with rolling hills where bedrock is available
and suitable for building material. A creek, Al Sahl, passes
through which makes the location an ideal place for raising crops
and sheep and a source of fresh water. The monastery has its
own mineral spring that is good for drinking. In Spring time
the area is lush green and it is suitable for growing different
In the late 1940's Iraq established
a military camp at Al Ghazlani, Mu'skar Al Ghazlani, and the
Monastery fell within the parameters of the camp. Within the
Iraqi army in sight the worshipers who flocked the Monastery
from all over the surrounding Christian villages ceased to come
and visit the monastery, consequently it was abandoned and fell
Assyrian script can be seen on the walls of the St.
(There are indications that the Iraqi
Army expelled the residents of the monastery for security reasons,
without compensating the Church of its actions).
The monastery was destroyed in 1743
by Tahmaz Nadir Shah, and murdered all its occupants. In the
1700s Hormiz Alqoshnaya, an Assyrian from Alqosh village, rebuilt
the Monastery with the same original stones .
The present structure consists of a
church and a large rectangle courtyard 70x70 yards containing
several single rooms.
Two sections of the structure, above
and adjacent to the church, are double stories. A cave in the
middle of yard leads to spring water, the only source of fresh
water when the Monastery is under siege. The structure is surrounded
by high walls and is accessible by a small (steel) door. On the
south western side of the monastery there is a big cave that
was probably used for a storage or second access to the spring
There is no cemetery visible in the
area that might have some head stones with Syriac inscriptions
to shed some lights on the occupants or residents of the monastery.
There are hundreds of sites in Iraq
that are or have been abandoned and are left to decay. History
will be forgotten if abundant and rich historical sites are not
preserved for the future generations..
Cared for by the Chaldean Church previously belonged to the Church
ot the East. Near Mosul, named after Shamoun Al-Safa or St. Peter.
It was known as the two Apostles, Peter and Paul. Fouded in the
9th century, and it is considered a very important church due
to its archeological value. It lies 5 meters below street level.
The church includes an epitaph of Shammas Raphael Mazagi who
established a Chaldean printing press and a Patriarchal seminary
next door of this church; and after the latter has been transferred
to Baghdad in 1960, the building was inhabited by the nuns of
the Sacred Hearts.
Church of St. Thomas
One of the oldest historical churches, named after St. Thomas
the Apostle who preached the Gospel in the East, including India.
The exact time of its foundation is unknown, but it can be assumed
that it dates prior to 770 AD, since reference tell that Al-Mahdi,
the Abbasid Caliph, listened to a grievance concerning this church
on his trip to Mosul.
Mar Petion Church
The curch of Mar Petyoon dates back prior to the 10th century,
and lies 3 meters below the street level. It was destroyed and
reconstructed several times times. A hall was added to it in
1942. Its most artistic features are obscured. Its ancient feature
have some similarities to the Mar Behnam's Church
Mar Hudeni Church
It was named after Mar Ahudemmeh (Hudeni) Maphrian of Tikrit
who martyred in 575 AD. Mar Hudeni is an old church of the Tikritans
in Mosul. It dates back to the 10th century, and lies 7 m below
street level. First reconstructed in 1970. People can get mineral
water from the well in its yard. The chain, fixed in the wall,
is thought to cure epileptics.
St. George's Monastery (Mar
One of the oldest churches in Mosul, named after St. George,
located to the north of Mosul. Pilgrims from different parts
of the North visit it annually in the spring. Many also visit
it on the holiday of its patron saint. A modern church was built
over the old remains in 1931. Much of its ancient archeological
design were destroyed. The only parts of its older remains are
a marble door-frame decorated with carved Estrangelo (Syriac)
inscription, and two niches, which date back to the 13th or 14th
St. George's Monastery (Mar Gurguis)
Monastery of Mart Mariam: Virgin Mary
The "virgin Mary" or 'Mart
Maryam' monastery, formerly of the church of the East, is in
the mountian near the Assyrian village of al-Qosh inhabitated
by Christians in northern Iraq about 30 miles north of Nineveh.
It was built in 651 AD. About a1,000 years ago 400 monks lived
in the caves near it, some are just minutes away at the same
level from the monastery itself which is Presently inhabited
by three monks who belong to the Antonio-order of the chaldean
Curch who take care of twenty some orphans at that site.
Chaldean Church, a faction of the Assyrians Church of the East joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1553 and was given the name Chaldean by the pope Julius III. Through the efforts of Latin missionaries and the French government Assyrians of the plain of Nineveh were converted to Catholicism starting in mid 18th century and were termed Chaldean because of their Church affiliation.In early 19th century all the assests of the Church of the Easts in the Plain of Nineveh were transfered to the Chaldean Church.
of Rabban Hurmiz
Dair Rabban Hurmiz is the
most famous and most visited monastery in Iraq. It is located
about 30 miles north of Nineveh. It was the holy seat of the
Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East for several generations.
Situated directly above a large cave in the Alqush mountain.
The monastery overlooks a famous valley called 'Gali Al-dair'
meaning 'valley of the monastery'. 'Shara D'Rabban Hurmiz' meaning
'the holiday of the monk Hurmiz' occurs every third Monday following
Easter Sunday. Until a few years ago, the monastery was unreachable
by automobile nor did it have electricity or running water. The
monks relied on mountain springs and oil lamps for everyday life.
The monastery contains several wings including a church with
several alters, a burial site for saints and patriarchs( Baith
Sahdeh) , a library currently containing manuscripts as old as
1497, 'Baith Sahdeh' or 'house of martyrs', 'Baith U'matha' or
'house of baptism', and over 40 small caves used by monks scattered
all over the Alqush m ountain. Some of the caves contain
numerous carved writings pertaining to the date of establishment
as well as other historical details.
Built during the patriarchship
of Isho-yab II (628-644 AD) it became a famous center of learning
and religion, especially during the 10-12 century which brought
up such Assyrian fathers as Mar Yohanna of Halabta, Isho
Barnon, Mar Ipni Maron, and others. The monastary was then attacked
by the Mongols under the leadership of Taimorlang. The monastic
life returned to Dair Rabban Hurmiz a few years after, but on
a smaller scale.
The 16th century witnessed
the division of the Church of the East when Yohanna Sulaqa sided
with Rome and established the Chaldean Church. In 1653, Kurds
attacked the Monastery forcing the Patriarch, Mar Shimun IX,
to move to Telkepeh (Telkaif) for a short period. Mar Elia XI
returned to the monastery in 1714 and became the center of the
Chaldean patriarch for four generations.
In 1722, over 60 monks fled
the monastery after the attack by Nader-Shah, and took refuge
in the nearby Mar Mikha church in Alqush. Monastic life returned
once again in 1808 under the care of F. Gabiral Danbu. The monastery
continued successfully until the Kurdish uprising in North Iraq
between 1963-1974 which caused the monks and priest to vacate
the mountain. The Chaldean Church was able to return to the monastery
in 1975 and has continued to care for it till today.
*F. Paulis Shaikho,
'Al-diura' (The monastaries), No.89 , p.59.
** F. Petrus Haddad, 'Diarat Al-mashariqa' (monasteries of the
East), No. 13, P. 184. Courtacy
The Church of Mar Yonnan, later the Mosque of Nebi
Previously st. jonah's church
An interesting edifice in
the city of Mosul is the Mosque of Nebi Yunus, said to be the
burial place of the Biblical Jonah. It is built on the mound
beneath which is part of the ruins of the ancient Assyrian city
When in the 14th century the
Barber geographer Ibn-Battuta, visited northern Mesopotamia he
acknowledged the existence of Nineveh. and the Nebi Yunus mosque
and admitted that it was previously a Christian church. He wrote:
"There too is the hill of Nabi Yunus, (prophet Jonah), (upon
whom be peace) and about a mile from it, the spring called by
his name. It is said that he commanded his followers to purify
themselves in it. .... In it's vicinity is a large village, near
which is a ruined site said to be the site of the city known
as Nineveh, the city of 'yunus' . The remains of the encircling
walls are still visible, and the position of the gates that were
in it are clearly seen.". (Faga
M. Brian, "Return to Babylon", Little Brown & Co.,
Canada 1979 p.17.)
He noted that the Nabi Yunus
mosque of Nineveh was once a Christian church before being confiscated
by the Arabs. Wigram wrote; "This edifice still stands today,
it was once the cathedral of the independent patriarch of Nineveh
[See of Nineveh]".(W. A. Wigram, "The Cradle of
Mankind", London 1922, p.85.)
After its 612 B.C. destruction
Nineveh was resettled and during the Christian era became an
important relgious center of the christian Assyrians. The Assyrian
Churches; i.e; Church of the East, Syrian Orthodox Church, and
the Chaldean Church have historically observed a Special Fast
known as the 'Rogation of the Ninevites' based on the Book of
Jonah of the Old Testament which attests to the survival of the
According to the 19th century
Badger, the Assyrian writer Bar Saliba shortly before Ibn-Battuta's
visit had identified the person buried in the edifice as patriarch
Hannan Yeshua of the church of the East who was elected to that
office during the caliphate of Abd 'ool-Melek ibn Merwan, cir.
He wrote: "Hannan-Yeshua
resided in the convent of the prophet Jonah, which is situated
on the western side of the wall of Nineveh facing the eastern
gates of Mosul, and the river Tigris separates the cities. When
he died, he was buried here, in a coffin made of ebony, Six hundred
and fifty years afterwards, the tomb containing the coffin was
opened, and the body was discovered whole, and looked as if sleeping.
Most of the inhabitants of Mosul went to see this sight, and
we also went to see it with our eyes. And, even now, whoever
desires to behold it, and to receive blessing therefrom, is at
liberty to do so; and if any disbelieve, let them go, and see
(George Percy Badger, "Nestorians and their Rituals,
A Mission to Mesopotamia and Coordistan in 1842-1844", Volume
II. London , notes to page 87, DD)
The Nebi Yunus is the not
the only Assyrian church which exists as mosque.
Orthodox (Jacobite) Monastery of Takrit
Photo by: Owen Smith
The picture is of
a 13th century mosque built over the Syrian Orthodox Chruch &
monastery in Tikrit.The outside shell was reconstructed by Saddam
Hossain to show its original archetectural. Some of the ancient
walls can be seen behnid the renovated facade.
The town of Tikrit or the Assyrian Tikriti
located 140 km northwest of Baghdad on the Tigris is best known
for being the birthplace of Saddam Hussein and is presently inhabited
predominantly by the Suni Arabs but it was not always the case.
It was an ancient Assyrian town, one of the first Assyrian cities
to be captured by the Babylonian King Nabopolassar. According
to the Babylonian Chronicle it was used as a base from where
he attacked the city of Assur in 615 BCE. Tikrit continued to
be inhabited by the descendants of the Assyrians before and during
Christianity until it was taken over by the Moslems and its remaining
Christian population was driven away or forced into Islam. It
was renowned as a centre for the production of woolen textiles,
had a fortress and a large Christian monastery.
During the Christian theological conflicts
of the fifth century the Assyrians of central and southern Mesopotamia
who were subjects of the Persian empire opted to side with Nestorius
and his duality of Christ's nature but those of northern region
ruled by the Byzantine embraced the Monophysite doctrine later
nicknamed Jacobite. The Assyrians of Tikrit joined the Jacobite
During the 1990's Iraqi archaeologist excavated, an impressive
Christian buildings including Chruch and monastery outside Tikrit
in an area known as Chenisa or [Arabic for Church] and a church
near the citadel. The structures in Chenisa included a church
with features, such as the bema and the "beth-qadishe"
(graves of holy men). A large inscriptions found in the reception
hall of the building suggests that the site was part of a monastery.
The church and monastery seem to have been built about the 7th
The inscription mentioned "the
Abbot Mar George", and `Abd al-Nur the "Monk",
"Bar-[Sawmo] the Monk" and Athanasius who served as
the Metropolitan of Tikrit until his death in 887. A box found
in the hall which contained coins of Caliph al-Nasir li-Din-Allah
(1180-1225) indicate that the monastery was still functioning
at least about the13th century.
To the north of the church a mosque,was
discovered which was built after the church had been abandoned
by the Christian population. Excavations below the mosque indicates
it was built on the church property. Outside the mosque, a grave
was uncovered which in addition to a skeleton it contained a
beautiful cross of silver with " a finely written inscription
in Estrangelo, which reads : "Athanasius the Metropo(litan),
Metropolitan of Tagrith". Beneath the mosque was found the
Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus church which was built about 675,
by the Metropolitan Bar-Isho who was the administrator of the
city from 669 to 683.1
Mar Marotha of Tikrit (d. 649) was the first to be called Maphryono.
From him the Maphrianate took its line of succession. It is worth
mentioning that the bishoprics of the East increased in number
and prestige to the extent that they outnumbered the diocese
of the See of Antioch during the time of Mor Gregorios Bar `Ebroyo
[Hebrius] who himself was a Maphryono of the East (1264-1281).
Bar `Ebroyo is considered to be one of the most famous and scholarly
Maphryonos of the East. A wellknown Syriac writers of Tikrit
was Monk Anton (840-850) who contributed to the advancement of
the Syriac literature and poetry. He was also known as an Orator
and wrote on rhetoric. He is credited with having introduced
the use of rhyme in Syriac verse . His writings also influenced
the Arab poetry. Yahya ibn-Adi born in Tikrit (d. 973) was one
of the several Jacobite Assyrians who translated philosophical
works from Syriac into the Arabic language.
The headquarters of the Maphrianate
was first in Tikrit and remained there until 1089 AD. Subsequently,
it was transferred to Mosul, and then back to Tikrit where it
remained until 1152 when it was transferred to St. Mattay Monastery,
near Mosul. For sometime the Maphrianate of Ashur [Assyria] was
at Bar-tellah near Nineveh and then was brought back to Mosul.
Today the inhabitants of Bar-Tellah predominantly belong the
Syrian Orthodox Church otherwise known as Jacobite.
Badger reported that in the 18th century
at Mosul a coffin was discovered within the precincts of a mosque
which previously had belonged to a church called "Beit oot-Tekreeti".
The coffin contained several Syriac books dating back to mid
13th century. One of the books dedicated to Mar Ignatius, Patriarch
of Antioch and lord Mar Yohannan the Catholicos and Maphriano
of 'Tikrit and Nineveh' indicated that originally the edifice
was known as "the Church of Cross" belonged to a large
community of the Assyrian Jacobites centered
In January 2009 while digging in Tilrit workers accidently found a collection of thirty pieces of antiquities, including rings, necklaces, bronze ornaments, a cross, a small glass, and utensils used for making perfumes, placed in a tomb of the era before Islam. uzmatik/tikritc"http://iraqalaan.com/bm/Culture-Society/-30--10.shtml, Jan. 11, 2009
1- Amir Harrak, "Recent Archaeological Excavations
in Takrit and the Discovery of Syriac Inscriptions", email@example.com http://syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye/Vol4No1/HV4N1Harrak.html
2- Fred Aprim, "Bartella (Baritle) & its Neighboring
Villages", Zinda Magazine
3- (Percy Badger, "Nestorians and their Rituals"
Volume II Geregg International Publisher reprint 1969 pp.401-2)
soldiers inspecting a section of the edifice Recent photo of the Assyrians in Bar-Tellah
Following pictures of the unearthed ruins of Assyrian monastery in Tikrit were taken on March 2005 by Art Farash, (CW3 Ret, 42nd Inf Div, Camp Danger, Iraq) when he was stationed at the US base located only 500 feet away from the site. Some photos show US military personnel attending an Easter service at the monastery. He writes: he is an Eastern Orthodox and frequently prayed at the site.
Corss depicted as part
of the ancient Assyrian tree of life