Syriac Christians continue to live in their ancient Mesopotamian heartland despite many challenges. The twentieth century saw savage persecutions of Syriac Christians in Turkey and Iraq during the Seyfo (“sword”), a genocide that lasted from 1914-1925. Among the many victims was the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Addai Scher, a notable scholar whose impressive library at Siirt in eastern Turkey was destroyed at the time of his murder.
As ancient communities struggle to survive the conflicts of today’s Middle East, and with much of the ancient Syriac homeland overrun by ISIS, emigrant communities in Europe, the Americas, and Australia are doing their best to maintain ancient traditions. With the dwindling of Syriac communities in the Middle East, the Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala in India have become the largest Syriac-tradition Christian community in the world.
Digitizing Syriac manuscripts
The Syriac Language
Discovering Syriac in Europe
Giuseppe Simone Assemani
The Spread of Syriac
Syriac Church Literature
Priest’s stole from Kerala, India, 21st century. Gold braid, thread, and sequins on velvet. On loan from a private collection. This stole from Kerala is worn by priests when celebrating the Eucharist and the Hours of the Divine Office. The colorful design and appliqués are typical of the modern Syriac Orthodox tradition of both Mesopotamia and the daughter church in India. The Kerala branch of the Syriac Orthodox Church was established by those who rejected the Portuguese imposition of Catholicism and sought communion with the Patriarchate of Antioch. Also pictured is a thurible and tongs from Kerala and an icon of Theotokos.