Gazarta (Chaldean Diocese)

The Chaldean diocese of Gazarta, named for the town of Jezira (modern Cizre), known in Syriac as Gazarta d'Beth Zabdai, was established on a stable basis in the early nineteenth century. Many of the Assyrians of the Gazarta region, including the bishop of Gazarta Pilipus Yaqub Orahim, were killed during the Assyrian Genocide during 1914-1918, and the diocese lapsed after the First World War.

Chaldean bishops of Gazarta

The first nineteenth-century bishop of Gazarta was Giwargis Peter di Natale, who was consecrated for Gazarta in 1833 by the patriarch Yohannan VIII Hormizd and transferred to the diocese of ʿAmadiya in 1842.

The patriarch Nicholas I Zayʿa appointed Basil Asmar, previously administrator of the diocese of Amid, to the diocese of Gazarta in 1842. Basil was metropolitan of Gazarta for nine years, and Badger noted in 1850 that 'he seldom resides at Jezeerah'.[1] He retired due to old age and ill health in 1851.

The patriarch Joseph VI Audo sent the priest ʿAbdishoʿ Dosho (later metropolitan of ʿAmadiya) to Gazarta in his place for a year, and appointed Jerome Paul Hindi metropolitan of Gazarta in 1852. Hindi was metropolitan of Gazarta until 1873, and was succeeded by Eliya Peter ʿAbulyonan (1874–8), who became patriarch in 1879 after Audo's death.

In 1875 the monk Philip Abraham of the monastery of Notre Dame des Semences, who was born in Telkepe in 1848 and became a priest in 1873, was consecrated metropolitan for India by Joseph VI Audo, who was then challenging the authority of the Padroado jurisdiction in India. He was recalled from India in 1881 by Eliya XII ʿAbulyonan on instructions from the Vatican, and was transferred to the diocese of Gazarta in 1882, taking the name Mar Yaʿqob. He was among the many Chaldean clergy murdered in the Armenian massacres of 1915. He was the last metropolitan of Gazarta. The Assyrian population of the Gazarta district was greatly reduced in the First World War in the Assyrian Genocide, and the diocese of Gazarta was not revived afterwards.

Population statistics

In 1867 the diocese of Gazarta contained 20 villages and had a population of 7,000 Assyrians, served by 10 qashe (priests). In 1896 the diocese had a population of 5,500 Assyrians, and contained 16 parishes or stations, 20 churches, and 14 qashe (priests), assisted by a Dominican mission and a mission of the Sisters of Preservation at Gazarta (Chabot). The largest villages in the diocese were Gazarta, Hoz and Mer, Harbol, Peshabur, Taqian, Girik Bedro, Wasta and Tel Qabin.

In 1913 the diocese included 17 villages, and had 17 qashe (priests) and 6,400 civilians (Tfinkdji).

The diocese was ruined in the First World War during the Assyrian Genocide, and in 1928 there were only 1,600 Assyrians remaining in its former territory, without a qasha (priest) (Tisserant). In 1937 there were 2,250 Assyrians, with a qasha (priest) and a church (Kajo).


  1. Badger, Nestorians, i. 69


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