Mor Gabriel Monastery
|Other names||Dayro d-Mor Gabriel
|Order||Syriac Orthodox Church|
|Dedicated to||Mor Gabriel|
|Diocese||Diocese of Tur Abdin|
|Controlled churches||Saint Gabriel Church, Church of the Virgin Mary|
|Founder(s)||Mor Samuel and Mor Simon|
Dayro d-Mor Gabriel (also known as Deyrulumur) (Classical Syriac: ܕܝܪܐ ܕܡܪܝ ܓܒܪܐܝܠ; The Monastery of St. Gabriel) is the oldest surviving Syriac Orthodox monastery in the world. It is located on the Tur Abdin plateau near Midyat in the Mardin Province in Southeastern Turkey. It has been involved in a dispute with the Turkish government that threatened its existence.
Founded in 397, Dayro d-Mor Gabriel is the most vital Syriac Orthodox monastery in Turkey, with around fifteen nuns and two monks occupying separate wings, as well as a fluctuating number of local lay workers and guests from overseas. It is also the seat of the metropolitan bishop of Tur Abdin.
Dayro d-Mor Gabriel is a working community set amongst gardens and orchards, and somewhat disfigured by 1960s residential accommodation. The monastery's primary purpose is to keep Syriac Orthodox Christianity alive in the land of its birth by providing schooling, ordination of native-born monks. On occasions it has provided physical protection to the Christian population.
Dayro d-Mor Gabriel is open to visitors, and it is possible to stay with permission, but is closed after dark.
Dispute with the Turkish government
In the last decade the monastery has been involved in a land dispute with the Turkish government and Kurdish village leaders, particularly those linked to the Çelebi tribe, backed by local representatives of the ruling Justice and Development Party. Turkish government assistance to the Kurds is seen as retaliation against the Syriac diaspora for lobbying for international recognition of the killings of tens of thousands of Syriacs during World War I as genocide. Their attempts to confiscate land owned by the monastery has garnered attention from many European governments, has gathered opposition to Turkey's EU bid, and could be the basis of a case by the monastery at the European Court of Human Rights. Otmar Oehring from Missio, a German Catholic charity, has said that the cases mean that “the state's actions suggest it wishes that the monastery no longer existed.”
There have also been claims that the monastery was built on the grounds of a previous mosque, regardless of the fact that the monastery was founded over 170 years prior to the birth of Mohammed.
On 26 January 2011, the Turkish supreme court granted substantial parts of the Monastery to the Turkish Treasury. The ruling was that land inside and adjacent to the monastery, which the monastery has owned for decades and has paid taxes for, belongs to the State. On June 13, 2012 the Turkish supreme court of appeals upheld this decision.
The Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan announced on 30 September 2013 that the land will be returned to the Syriac community in Turkey. This decision was approved a week later (7 October) by the Prime Ministry Directorate General of Foundations. A land registration process of two months will begin and is subject to approval.
- The History of Mor Gabriel
- Turkey and religious freedom: Wooing Christians, The Economist
- Turkey: Oldest Christian monastery at risk
- Turkish Supreme Court Rules Against Assyrian Monastery, AINA.org
- Turkey’s Arameans press for rights to Mor Gabriel despite setbacks, YONCA POYRAZ DOĞAN, Today's Zaman, 10 July 2012
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mor Gabriel Monastery.|
- Official site
- A Cold Wind Sweeping the Tur Abdin
- Turkey's Aramaean Minority: More Than Just Mor Gabriel