Chaldean Christians

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Total population
c. 1 million
Regions with significant populations
Iraq Iraq 250,000[1]
Syria Syria 10,000
Lebanon Lebanon 15,000[2]
Iran Iran 8,000[3]
Turkey Turkey 15,000[4]
Jordan jordan 10,000
Egypt Egypt 2,000[5][6]
United States United States 150,000[7]
Sweden Sweden 40,000
Canada Canada 20,000[8]
Australia Australia 35,000[9]
Germany Germany 20,000[10]
France France 18,000[11]
New Zealand New Zealand 4,000[12]
United Kingdom United Kingdom 5,000[13]
Denmark Denmark 5,000
Greece Greece 4,000
Netherlands Netherlands 5,000
Belgium Belgium 3,000
Georgia (country) Georgia 1,000
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 1,000
Syriac language (Chaldean Neo-Aramaic language) [14]
Christianity (Chaldean Catholic Church)
Related ethnic groups
Assyrian people, Jews, Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Arameans

Chaldeans (ܟܠܕܝ̈ܐ) (Syriac: Kaldaya), also known as Kaldanaye, are an ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia. They speak, read, and write distinct dialects of Eastern Aramaic Syriac language exclusive to Mesopotamia and its immediate surroundings. they become one of recognized ethnics according to article 125 in Iraqi constitution.[15]

Today that ancient territory is part of several nations: the north of Iraq, part of southeast Turkey and northeast Syria. They are indigenous to, and have traditionally lived all over what is now Iraq, northeast Syria, northwest Iran, and southeastern Turkey.[16] Most Chaldeans speak an Eastern Syriac Aramaic language whose subdivisions include Chaldean Neo-Aramaic.

The Chaldeans are a Christian people, most of them following Chaldean Catholic Church, their origin nation in Iraq and Mesopotamia ,but now most of the migrated to Western countries like Usa, Canada, Australia, Sweden , Germany and another countries. Also there many of them live in Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Iran, Turkey and Georgia, The reasons for migration due to poor economic conditions during the Sanctions against Iraq, and then Poor security conditions after 2003 invasion of Iraq, Because of the displacement and threats forced them to leave, in cities such as Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk.


Historically, the Chaldeans emerged as group of Aramaic tribes in southern Mesopotamia in the beginnings of first millennium BCE and fought at the time of the Assyrian state,[17] and took the city of Babylon as their capital, Chaldeans able then to overthrow the Assyrian Empire after their alliance with the Medes in 612 BC.[18]

Bible also spoke about Chaldeans, and said they were able to overthrow the kingdom of Judah in 587 BC at reign of king Nebuchadnezzar II,[19] Chaldeans have been able to create a large empire stretching from the borders of Egypt from the west to Persia from the east, and from Anatolia in north and to the south in Arabian Peninsula, And they have made the city of Babylon, one of the most beautiful cities in that time,[20] Chaldeans famous in history also with advancing science, especially in astronomy, appeared several scholars from them, including such Berossus and Kidinnu and Naburimannu.[21] after the death of Nebuchadnezzar II, Babylon weakened and fell in the year 539 BC under the control of the Persians.[22]

After the fall of their state, their aramaic language became one of the official languages in the Persian empire,[23] While the chaldeans uprising many times against the Persians, but they were unable to get rid of the Achaemenid Persian rule.[24][25]

Chaldeans were one of first people who converted to Christianity in Mesopotamia, and many reported that they were persecuted because of that.[26][27] Chaldeans, who converted to Christianity have become part of the Church of the East which separated from Syriac antioch orthodox Church, which was based in the city of Ctesiphon,[28] And they are described themselves as Syriacs Easterners.[29] Chaldeans who have converted to Christianity, embraced the Nestorian doctrine, which was the doctrine of Church of the East, after the introduction of Islam to the Middle East, Many of them were forced to convert to Islam, especially those who were remaining on Paganism, Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism.[30] At the beginning of the second millennium AD, Europeans Catholic begun sent missionary missions for them to convert to Catholicism, many of this Catholic missionaries and monks talking about Chaldeans and their homeland and their religious belief like Riccoldo da Monte di Croce and John of Montecorvino.[31]

At the time of Tamerlane, the Chaldean Christians subjected to the greatest persecutions which led to the disintegration of the plains of Mesopotamia to the mountains,[32] and because of that have maintained their native language from extinction, a group of them fled to Cyprus and were there under the leadership of Bishop named Timathus, There united with the Catholic Church in the 1445 under the name of the Chaldeans, to become the Chaldean name first official identification of the Christians easterners in the time,[33] After more than 1 century on this Union a dispute between the priests of the Nestorian Church of the East about choosing a successor to them, and because of that a group of them was able to communicate with the Roman Catholics, officially to be the founding of the Chaldean Catholic Church, which Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa was first Patriarch of this church. After that the Chaldean identity is becoming distinctive identity for them.[34] Chaldean identity has also become a distinctive of those who stayed on the Nestorianism and spoke by many historians and also spoke many of Nestorian pastors.[35][36]

Assyrian identity has become a distinctive of those who stayed on the Nestorian which most of them settled in the mountains of Hakkari,[37] where resides the chair of their patriarch Ishai Shimon, British and Russians supporting the Assyrians In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, Because of this Assyrians in Urmia and Hakkari established several cultural centers to them which advocated of Assyrian nationalism,[38] these activities it led to the anger of the Ottoman empire and also neighboring tribes from Kurds and Azeris, and after the withdrawal of Russian Empire from First World War were exposed to large massacres by the Ottoman Empire and the Kurdish tribes,[39] has also affected the massacres on Chaldean Catholics, Syriacs and Armenians, which led to the exodus to the rest of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon for escape.[40]

Most Chaldeans became part of the Iraqi state, which was founded in 1921, it has also a large part of the Assyrian become part of Iraq while the rest of them become part of Iran and Syria, unlike the Assyrians, The Chaldeans didnt have any distinctive political activity until the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, In 1933, many Assyrians were killed with a group of Chaldeans, to a large massacre in Siemel after accusations to them that want to establish an independent state in northern Iraq, it committed by the Prime Minister of Iraq at that time Bakr Sidqi with a group from Kurdish tribes.[41]

Because of the large number of job opportunities in major Iraqi cities such as Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk and Basra most of the Chaldeans and Assyrians moved from the countryside to the cities, Chaldeans and Assyrians didnt of the any official recognition of their identity in former iraqi governments where they described as Christian Arabs, most of the Chaldeans preferred support Iraqi Communist Party, the rest of them joined Arab and Kurdish nationalist parties, one of them was a former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.[42]

After entering Iraq in the wars against Iran in First Gulf War and against Kuwait in Second Gulf War, large numbers of Chaldeans immigrated from Iraq began has increased dramatically after the economic blockade in 1991, after 2003 many chaldeans with the rest of Iraq's Christians exposed to strong persecution campaign by Islamic militants, from doctors and scientists, including targeting, which It led to their migration as long campaign against sellers of alcoholic beverages. With the increase in bombings after the US invasion, long the bombings of several churches in Baghdad and Mosul and Kirkuk, and in other areas of women forced to wear the hijab, the Kurdistan region a safe haven for Iraqi Christians and Chaldeans, while migrated the majority of them to the different states from the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia.

Chaldean nationalism[edit]

Chaldean flag

Unlike other nationalities in Iraq, Chaldeans doesnt have national activity after the founding of the Iraqi state, There was some Chaldeans, who was have a nationalist ideas like Bishop Addai Scher, author of Caldo Athor book, who spoke about the Chaldean nationalism.[43]

first Chaldean political movement founded in 1972 and was named the Chaldean Patriot Movement, was founded after Baathist regime in Iraq, the killing many of Chaldeans in the Soria village of in the Dohuk province, but then this movement resolved after the Baath regime chasing their members.[44]

Baathist regime in Iraq, did not recognize Chaldean or Assyrian or Syriac nationalism and was well thought in official statistics in Iraq as Christian Arabs, in 1972 Christians of Iraq have recognition of the Iraqi government of the cultural rights of the speakers of Syriac language, but the Baathist regime refused to recognize Chaldeans and Assyrians as ethnic group in Iraq.[45]

After the fall of the Baath regime in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991, Chaldeans began to establish a nationalist parties, in 1999 founded the Chaldean Democratic Party and in 2002 was established Chaldean National Congress Party,[46][47] after the fall of the Baathist regime in Iraq, the new Iraqi constitution of 2005 chaldeans identity and their be recognized as nation. in the cultural level chaldeans established the THE INTERNATIONAL UNION OF CHALDEAN WRITERS (IUCW) and held several conferences on Renaissance of Chaldean nationalism.[48][49] In the year 2015 has been established Chaldean leugue, has been open several headquarters in Iraq and in the Diaspora countries have been recognized by the United Nations and the European Union as a representative of the Chaldeans. also In southern Iraq, emerged a group from Shiite Muslims in Nasiriyah, they announced that their ethnic is Chaldean.

Now there are many Christian movements in Iraq to adopt a common designation for speakers of Syriac in Iraq, such as Chaldo Assyrian and Chaldean Syriac Assyrians that were adopted in constitution of the Kurdistan region in 2009, and other labels, such as Soraya and Beth Nehrnaya, however, that the unit did not get until now.

At the level for national feeling was to conduct a census among a group of Chaldeans in 2016 in Jordan for about 300 Chaldean there, 91% of them say Chaldean is ethnic, 7% from them said is doctrine, about name 66% from them preferred Chaldean name, 32% from them preferred Caldoashor name, and 1% from them preferred Assyrian name.[50][51]


Most of the Chaldean speak Syriac language (Chaldean Neo-Aramaic language) as first language to them, and speaking Arabic and Kurdish language as second language.

Chaldeans in the Nineveh Plain and surrounding area have special accent is different from other Aramaic dialects. In the Chaldean Church their language called Chaldean.[52]


Historic Censuses[edit]

Due to the fact that Chaldeans are a Religious group, church censuses can be utilized to determine how many Chaldeans there are.

Table 3: Population of the Chaldean Church, 1850
Diocese No. of Villages No. of Churches No. of Priests No. of Families Diocese No. of Villages No. of Churches No. of Priests No. of Families
Mosul 9 15 20 1,160 Seert 11 12 9 300
Baghdad 1 1 2 60 Gazarta 7 6 5 179
ʿAmadiya 16 14 8 466 Kirkuk 7 8 9 218
Amid 2 2 4 150 Salmas 1 2 3 150
Mardin 1 1 4 60 Total 55 61 64 2,743

Paulin Martin's statistical survey in 1867, after the creation of the dioceses of ʿAqra, Zakho, Basra and Sehna by Joseph Audo, recorded a total church membership of 70,268, more than three times higher than Badger's estimate. Most of the population figures in these statistics have been rounded up to the nearest thousand, and they may also have been exaggerated slightly, but the membership of the Chaldean church at this period was certainly closer to 70,000 than to Badger's 20,000.[53]

Table 4: Population of the Chaldean Church, 1867
Diocese No. of Villages No. of Priests No. of Believers Diocese No. of Villages No. of Churches No. of Believers
Mosul 9 40 23,030 Mardin 2 2 1,000
ʿAqra 19 17 2,718 Seert 35 20 11,000
ʿAmadiya 26 10 6,020 Salmas 20 10 8,000
Basra 1,500 Sehna 22 1 1,000
Amid 2 6 2,000 Zakho 15 3,000
Gazarta 20 15 7,000 Kirkuk 10 10 4,000
Total 160 131 70,268

A statistical survey of the Chaldean church made in 1896 by J. B. Chabot included, for the first time, details of several patriarchal vicariates established in the second half of the 19th century for the small Chaldean communities in Adana, Aleppo, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Edessa, Kermanshah and Teheran; for the mission stations established in the 1890s in several towns and villages in the Qudshanis patriarchate; and for the newly created Chaldean diocese of Urmi. According to Chabot, there were mission stations in the town of Serai d’Mahmideh in Taimar and in the Hakkari villages of Mar Behıshoʿ, Sat, Zarne and 'Salamakka' (Ragula d'Salabakkan).[54]

Table 5: Population of the Chaldean Church, 1896
Diocese No. of Villages No. of Priests No. of Believers Diocese No. of Villages No. of Churches No. of Believers
Baghdad 1 3 3,000 ʿAmadiya 16 13 3,000
Mosul 31 71 23,700 ʿAqra 12 8 1,000
Basra 2 3 3,000 Salmas 12 10 10,000
Amid 4 7 3,000 Urmi 18 40 6,000
Kirkuk 16 22 7,000 Sehna 2 2 700
Mardin 1 3 850 Vicariates 3 6 2,060
Gazarta 17 14 5,200 Missions 1 14 1,780
Seert 21 17 5,000 Zakho 20 15 3,500
Total 177 248 78,790

The last pre-war survey of the Chaldean church was made in 1913 by the Chaldean priest Joseph Tfinkdji, after a period of steady growth since 1896. The Chaldean church on the eve of the First World War consisted of the patriarchal archdiocese of Mosul and Baghdad, four other archdioceses (Amid, Kirkuk, Seert and Urmi), and eight dioceses (ʿAqra, ʿAmadiya, Gazarta, Mardin, Salmas, Sehna, Zakho and the newly created diocese of Van). Five more patriarchal vicariates had been established since 1896 (Ahwaz, Constantinople, Basra, Ashshar and Deir al-Zor), giving a total of twelve vicariates.[55]

Tfinkdji's grand total of 101,610 Catholics in 199 villages is slightly exaggerated, as his figures included 2,310 nominal Catholics in twenty-one 'newly converted' or 'semi-Nestorian' villages in the dioceses of Amid, Seert and ʿAqra, but it is clear that the Chaldean church had grown significantly since 1896. With around 100,000 believers in 1913, the membership of the Chaldean church was only slightly smaller than that of the Qudshanis patriarchate (probably 120,000 East Syrians at most, including the population of the nominally Russian Orthodox villages in the Urmi district). Its congregations were concentrated in far fewer villages than those of the Qudshanis patriarchate, and with 296 priests, a ratio of roughly three priests for every thousand believers, it was rather more effectively served by its clergy. Only about a dozen Chaldean villages, mainly in the Seert and ʿAqra districts, did not have their own priests in 1913.

Table 6: Population of the Chaldean Church, 1913
Diocese No. of Villages No. of Churches No. of Priests No. of Believers Diocese No. of Villages No. of Churches No. of Priests No. of Believers
Mosul 13 22 56 39,460 ʿAmadiya 17 10 19 4,970
Baghdad 3 1 11 7,260 Gazarta 17 11 17 6,400
Vicariates 13 4 15 3,430 Mardin 6 1 6 1,670
Amid 9 5 12 4,180 Salmas 12 12 24 10,460
Kirkuk 9 9 19 5,840 Sehna 1 2 3 900
Seert 37 31 21 5,380 Van 10 6 32 3,850
Urmi 21 13 43 7,800 Zakho 15 17 13 4,880
ʿAqra 19 10 16 2,390 Total 199 153 296 101,610

Tfinkdji's statistics also highlight the effect on the Chaldean church of the educational reforms of the patriarch Joseph VI Audo. The Chaldean church on the eve of the First World War was becoming less dependent on the monastery of Rabban Hormizd and the College of the Propaganda for the education of its bishops. Seventeen Chaldean bishops were consecrated between 1879 and 1913, of whom only one (Stephen Yohannan Qaynaya) was entirely educated in the monastery of Rabban Hormizd. Six bishops were educated at the College of the Propaganda (Joseph Gabriel Adamo, Thomas Audo, Jeremy Timothy Maqdasi, Isaac Khudabakhash, Theodore Msayeh and Peter ʿAziz), and the future patriarch Joseph Emmanuel Thomas was trained in the seminary of Ghazir near Beirut. Of the other nine bishops, two (Addaï Scher and Francis David) were trained in the Syro-Chaldean seminary in Mosul, and seven (Philip Yaʿqob Abraham, Yaʿqob Yohannan Sahhar, Eliya Joseph Khayyat, Shlemun Sabbagh, Yaʿqob Awgin Manna, Hormizd Stephen Jibri and Israel Audo) in the patriarchal seminary in Mosul.[56]

Table 1: Population of the Chaldean Church, 1928
Diocese No. of Villages No. of Priests No. of Believers
Mosul and Baghdad 10 50 18,350
ʿAmadiya 18 22 3,765
Amid 1 3 500
Kirkuk 7 18 4,800
Seert - - 1,600
Urmi 10 10 2,500
ʿAqra - - 1,000
Diocese No. of Villages No. of Churches No. of Believers
Gazarta - - 1,600
Mardin 1 2 400
Salmas 1 1 400
Sehna 3 5 894
Van - - -
Zakho 16 18 8,000
Total 137 129 43,809
Table 2: Population of the Chaldean Church, 1937
Diocese No. of Churches No. of Priests No. of Believers
Baghdad and Basra 6 13 29,578
Mosul 24 40 44,314
Kirkuk 8 18 7,620
Zakho 16 18 10,852
ʿAmadiya 16 17 5,457
ʿAqra 13 5 2,779
Urmi - - 6,000
Salmas - 4 3,350
Diocese No. of Churches No. of Churches No. of Believers
Amid 1 1 315
Mardin 1 1 400
Seert 0 0 3,500
Gazarta 1 1 2,250
Syria and Lebanon 2 11 3,107
Vicariates 8 14 9,177
Emigration 0 4 9,889
Sehna 2 5 1,932
Total 98 163 140,720

Predominantly Chaldean Catholic towns in northern Iraq[edit]


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 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. 

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