Thursday, 31 October 2013

"Sea Patrol" and Syriac!

 Sea Patrol is an Australian drama that portrays authorities that protect Australian borders.

A reader in Ausralia has send me a screen-frame from the show:

On the last episode ever of Sea Patrol there is a scene where Dutchy reveals a tattoo on his arm. It is the Syriac symbol Yah. This symbol is simply two Syriac Characters, Yod (ܝ) and Heh(ܗ). This symbol was used by the early Syriac Christians to abbreviate God's name YHWH. It is often also used in combination with the Syriac word for Lord, Mar. To create the compound word MarYah (ܩܪܞ), or Lord God. What is interesting here is that a very similar Syriac word is also used in the Peshita. It sounds almost the same, except the Heh is replaced with an Alaph (ܐ) MarYa(ܡܪܝܐ).  

݂Marya is often translated as Lord, when in fact it should be translated as Lord God. What is interesting though is that MarYa (A term explicitly reserved for God) is used in the Peshitta (Syriac translation of the Bible) New Testament to refer to both God the Father and The Lord Jesus Christ. Suggesting that the authors of the Peshita always believed that Christ was God. Since the earliest coppies of the Peshitta appeared in the late 2nd century, we know that the Early Christians always believed in the Divinity of Christ.


The two characters symbolise the humanity and divinity of Christ. While the Three dots on the top of the "Heh" symbolise the Trinity and the one dot on the bottom symbolise the one true God. The symbol is mostly used in the East Syriac Tradition.

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you all.

Monday, 28 October 2013

"In order to be able to speak about the time of persecution, Christians must really know their own faith" - Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona

The young Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul has written a very refreshing opinion piece in the National Review.

Archbishop Nona outlines his view on what it means to be a Christian in times of persecution. He says that the faithful must have hope, and that hope must be linked with love.

The Archbishop then continuous on to outline what we, here in the West, can do to help persecuted Christians. The Archbishop does not say "give aid" or "give money" (not that this is not a very good thing). But rather he simply states that to help our persecuted brethren is to "make an effort to live out his or her own faith in a more profound manner".

Many people living in freedom from persecution, in countries without problems like ours, ask me what they can do for us, how they can help us in our situation. First of all, anyone who wants to do something for us should make an effort to live out his or her own faith in a more profound manner, embracing the life of faith in daily practice. For us the greatest gift is to know that our situation is helping others to live out their own faith with greater strength, joy, and fidelity.
The Archbishop here is sending a clear signal to all Christians in the West. That we do not have an excuse not to practice our faith in a more zealous and evangelic manner.  He states that living out our faith here in the West and simply making the plight of Christians known through our actions will make a profound difference.

All these things that the Archbishop has stated are perfectly valid and good suggestions. However, he has not directed anything in particular to Chaldeans living in the diaspora (possibly because the letter was directly at Christians of the Western Tradition). I believe it is these people (Chaldeans) in particular who must live out their faith in such a way that will show others the plight of their relatives back in Iraq.

Chaldean Catholics in the diaspora have a greater responsibility to live out their faith and to make aware the plight of persecuted Christians (as the Archbishop stated). This is because they have connections to their homeland through their spirituality, theology and liturgy, which can bring awareness about the Chaldean Church in the West. However, if the Chaldean Church continuous to leave (and sell-out) their unique spirituality, theology and liturgy. How can the true awareness of the Chaldean Church really be demonstrated in the West?

The final point that the Archbishop makes, which is also often ignored in the diaspora. Is that there is a "certain degree of persecution ... in the West.", even if it is far more subtle. Chaldeans in the diaspora are used to red martyrdom however the more subtle white martyrdom in the West can be much more harmful to the soul than the harm red martyrdom can do to the body.

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you all.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Pact of Umar

I thought I would quote the Pact of Umar to demonstrate the type of persecution that Syriac Christians endured at the hands of Muslims.

The pact of Umar was signed by Christians during the Islamic Invasion so that Christians may enjoy certain degrees of religious freedom. It reminds me much of the early Christians.

My comments are in Red and Bold
In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate [A very syriac invocation "Bshem Alloho Rahimo"]. This is a letter to the servant of God Umar [ibn al-Khattab], Commander of the Faithful, from the Christians of such-and-such a city. When you came against us, we asked you for safe-conduct (aman) for ourselves, our descendants, our property, and the people of our community, and we undertook the following obligations toward you:

We shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, Churches, convents, or monks' cells, nor shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims.

We shall keep our gates wide open for passersby and travelers. We shall give board and lodging to all Muslims who pass our way for three days.

We shall not give shelter in our churches or in our dwellings to any spy, nor bide him from the Muslims.

We shall not teach the Qur'an to our children.

We shall not manifest our religion publicly nor convert anyone to it[Interestingly enough, people may still convert on their own basis]. We shall not prevent any of our kin from entering Islam if they wish it.

We shall show respect toward the Muslims, and we shall rise from our seats when they wish to sit.

We shall not seek to resemble the Muslims by imitating any of their garments, the qalansuwa, the turban, footwear, or the parting of the hair. We shall not speak as they do, nor shall we adopt their kunyas[I thought the Muslims resembled us?].

We shall not mount on saddles, nor shall we gird swords nor bear any kind of arms nor carry them on our- persons.

We shall not engrave Arabic inscriptions on our seals[I wish this was still the case, except we ended up learning Arabic and forgetting Syriac].

We shall not sell fermented drinks.

We shall clip the fronts of our heads.

We shall always dress in the same way wherever we may be, and we shall bind the zunar round our waists[the Zunar, is a belt that is still worn by Priests. It resembles chastity, this may have been imposed as a distinction between Christians and Muslims].

We shall not display our crosses or our books in the roads or markets of the Muslims. We shall use only clappers in our churches very softly. We shall not raise our voices when following our dead. We shall not show lights on any of the roads of the Muslims or in their markets. We shall not bury our dead near the Muslims.

We shall not take slaves who have been allotted to Muslims

We shall not build houses overtopping the houses of the Muslims.


Pray for the conversion of Muslims

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The passing of Archbishop Mor Théophile Georges Kassab

It is with great sorrow that we are reporting the passing away of the Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Homs Mor Théophile Georges Kassab on the evening of the 22nd of October 2013.

Mor Kassab passed while being treated at St George hospital in Lebanon.

Mor Théophile Georges Kassab
  • He was born in Zeidal on 17/1/1946.
  • He was ordained a Priest on the 6/10/1974 by the late Bishop Yousif Abyad.
  • He was ordained as a Chorepiscopus in 1995 by the late Patriarch (then Bishop) Moran Mor Moussa Daoud. And was made Vicar General of the Archeparchy of Homs.
  • After Moran Mor Moussa Daoud was elected Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church he had to leave his Archeparchy of Homs, so Mor Georges Kassab was appointed as Archbishop in 1999 and ordained on the 3/3/2000 by the Patriarch Moran Mor Moussa Daoud.
  • He passed away on the evening of the 22nd of October 2013 in Lebanon.


ܥܒܕ ܠܗ ܡܪܢ ܢܝܚܐ ܛܒܐ ܠܥܒܕܟ ܕܫܟܒ ܥܠ ܣܐܒܪܟ 

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you.

Monday, 21 October 2013

The Conversion of Muslims

Possibly the greatest political and religious force after the Resurrection of Our Lord and God Jesus Christ is Islam.

For centuries Catholics have been in a state of confusion on how the conversion of Muslims must take place. Crusades, trade, dialgue and education have not worked. Two points must be addressed for this conversion of hearts to take place. Firstly, an emphasis on Yoldath Aloho (Birth-Giver of God), Maryam; Secondly, a Semitic approach to Christianity that can only be found in the Syriac Churches.

Maryam and Islam
The Quran has many references to Our Lady. It describes her as being:

  • The Ever-Virgin
  • Immaculate
  • The greatest woman (even in heaven)

File:Virgin Mary and Jesus (old Persian miniature).jpgJust like any Christian who is working on their relationship with Jesus, we do this through Our Lady. That is, to Jesus through Mary. Muslims have a great devolution to the Mother of God. In many Middle Eastern countries Christians together with Muslims honour Mary together.

According to Archbishop Fulton Sheen. It is not a coincidence that Our Lady is now titled with of Fatima; it is also not coincidence that there is a town in Portugal with this Arabic name.

The story is: that the Catholic prince of Portugal fell in love with a Muslim Chief's daughter (called Fatima) when Portugal was occupied by Islamic forces. After the expulsion of the Islamic forces from Portugal, young Fatima decided to stay with the Catholic Prince. Who loved Fatima so much that he decided to name the city after her name.

We must show Muslims that the 41st Chapter of the Quran, which says Mary is the greatest woman, is taken directly from the Gospel of Luke. Niether Mohammed's wife nor his mother is greater than Mary (according to the Quran). So how is it that Mary is in-fact not the Mother of the greatest? God himself.

Before Christ is born in the hearts of Muslims we must bring them Mary!

The Role of the Syriac Churches
Unlike Christianity which has been inculturated heavily in all parts of the World (Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria), Islam has not. It has maintained its Semitic culture wherever it spread (possibly because it was spread by the sword). Scull caps, repetative prayers and poetry are all aspects of the Islamic religion which are very Semitic.

Islam uses the scales (musical style and beats) of the Syriac Church (which have their roots in Judaism) for their various chants and especially the Call to Prayer. For example: here is a sheikh chanting the Quran with the Ajam Scale and here is the Rust Scale being Chanted by a Muslim Sheikh.

Syriac churches will be able to highlight the similarities between the two faiths, which will allow Muslims to realise that many of the practices and doctrines that Islam has adopted (like the Immaculate Conception) are in-fact Christian. Muslims must not feel that Christianity is Greek or Latin. They must feel that Christianity is universal and that there is a home for Semites in the Syriac Church.

The Syriac Churches, being based in the Middle East, must always be a witness to the risen Lord. It is only the Syriac Churches which are dispersed and populated enough in the Middle East. There are very few Greek Christians, undispersed Copts and the Latin Christians will simply be seen as colonisers. This is not to say that the previously listed Churches have no role to play, but rather that there is a greater responsibility for the Syriac Churches.

Please pray for the conversions of the Muslims.

note: this blog post is heavily based on the works of the late Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

Through the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God bless you all.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Tešmešto: Abun Samuel Issa and the Choir of Zahle

I recently came accross a beautifull album on the iTunes store called tesmesto. The execute producer is Abun Samuel Issa a Syriac Orthodox Priest-Monk. It also features the Choir of Zahle.

The album was released quite a few years ago (2011). But I just bumped into it now and it is absolutely beautiful. The style is neo-Traditional and features Middle Eastern Instruments such as the 'ud, the doumbek, Qanon and the violin. Every plucked string, every hit drum is perfectly timed.

The Album features the 8 tracks, each track corresponds to one of the scales of the Syriac Church (Ajam, Hijaz, Hozan, Husaini, Kato, Nahwan, Saba, Segah).

Here's a sneak peak:

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you all.

Saturday, 19 October 2013


If anyone has been to a Syriac Liturgy. They would instantly notice the constant use of the word Barekhmor(ܒܰܪܶܟܡܳܪܝ) this word comes from two different Syriac words. The first is Barekh (ܒܰܪܶܟ), which means bless. And the second is Mor (ܡܳܪܝ), which is a Syriac title, best translated as lordship or lord.

Basically Barekhmor means: Bless O lord. Mor is often used as a title for Bishops and Saints. For Example: Mor Charbel.

Barekhmor is used outside the Liturgy as a greeting to Priests. For example, if a believer is to see a Priest, he would say Barekhmor. The Priest would then respond by saying Moran Barekh(Our Lord Bless) or Alloho m'Barekh(God Bless). In the Syriac Catholic Church the greeting may have additional words added if the Priest is a Bishop or the Patriarch. If the Priest is a Bishop, the greeting becomes Barekhmor Abun m'aleo (Bless O lord-high-Father). If the priest is the Patriarch (or Pope), the greeting becomes Barekhmor Abun m'Tabthono (Bless O lord-blessed-father).

Barekhmor is mostly used in the Liturgy by the Deacon to instruct the Celebrant to bless. The Deacon often says it prior to instructing the congregation. For example:
Barekhmor! Stand with fear, stand with modesty, stand with purity, stand with holiness!
In the English-speaking diaspora of the West Syriac Rite (Maronite and Syriac Catholics) the term is sometimes downplayed. It is often translated as
  • "With your blessing"
  • "With your blessing, Father"
  • "Bless me Father"
The issue with the inaccurate translation of Barekhmor is possibly due to the word structure being awkward in English. Nevertheless, whatever the issue may be. I believe a solution is to not translate it at all.

Priests do this in Arabic. For example, when a Bishop is present, Priests would often say Barekhmor then continue to read the prayer in Arabic. I do not see the problem with doing the same in English. In addition to this it is already done in a few parishes here and there. An example in English would be:
A reading from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians. Barekhmor!
Another reason why I advocate the use of the untranslated Barekhmor is because it is a word that is used like Kyrie Eleison or the Trisagion. It is simple, repeated and not difficult to understand. While at the same time maintains our Syriac Identity.

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Name of this Blog

For those of you who were watching Twitter you may have noticed that I had a conversation with a blog named Carpe Veritatem. The request was to explain the meaning behind the name Qadishat for the Latin-rite Catholics.

The Much Loved Prayer
Qadishat is the first word of the much loved prayer of the Trisagion (or Thrice Holy) it simply means Holy art thou. This prayer has proven to be very popular in the diaspora. Where the young love chanting it in Syro-Aramaic. It should be noted that if this prayer is to ever be said in any language other than Syro-Aramaic, there will be a total upheaval. Lead by the youth!

It is chanted as follows (Syriac fonts may be downloaded from here):


ܩܰܕܺܝܫܰܬ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ
ܩܰܕܺܝܫܰܬ ܚܰܝܠܬܳܢܳܐ
ܠܳܐ ܡܳܝܽܘܬܳܐ

ܐܶܬܪܰܚܰܡ ܥܰܠܝܢ
Qadishat Aloho,
Qadishat Hayelthono,
Qadishat Lomoyotho
Itraham 'Alein
Holy art Thou, O God,
Holy art Thou, O strong One! Holy art Thou, O immortal One.
Have mercy on Us.

The Trisagion is also very similar to the Qadish (Or Sanctus) which is chanted before the Institution narrative Isiah 6:3:

קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת; מְלֹא כָל-הָאָרֶץ, כְּבוֹדוֹ.
Qadosh Qadosh Qadosh Adonai Tz'vaot Melo Kol Haaretz Kevodo. Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.

Holy Tradition holds that when Nicodemus took the body of Christ from the Cross. He saw Christ's eyes open and he suddenly proclaimed "Holy art Thou, O God, Holy art Thou, O strong One! Holy art Thou, O immortal One!".

The Word Qadishat comes from the Semitic Root Q-D-Sh (ܩ ܕ ܫ). This root basically means "to be pure, holy". From this root, many similar words can be derived.
For example:
  • Holy
  • Divine
  • Priest
  • Sacred
  • Sanctuary
  • Saint
  • Purity
  • Glorify
  • Consecrate
  • Hallowed
  • Reverent
I hope this post has provided the reader adequate reasons why I have chosen Qadishat as a blog name!

Through the prayer of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Hymn of Severus of Antioch or Justinian?

There is a very beautiful antiphon-prayer that is sung in both the Byzantine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and the Syriac Catholic (and Orthodox) Liturgy of St James the Just. Both versions of the prayer are shown below:

O Only-begotten Son and Word of God, who art immortal, yet didst deign for our salvation to be incarnate of the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary; and without change wast made man; and wast crucified also, O Christ our God, and by thy death didst Death subdue; who art one of the Holy Trinity, glorified together with the Father and the Holy Spirit: save us. (As it appears in the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom
I will exalt You, O my Lord, the King, the Only-begotten Son and the Word of the heavenly Father, Who, by Your nature, are immortal. You accepted, by Your grace, and came down for the life and salvation of mankind, and did become incarnate of the holy, glorious and pure Virgin, Birth-Giver of God, Mary. Who without change did become a man and was crucified for us. O Christ our God, Who by Your death trampled our death and destroyed it. You Who are One of the Holy Trinity, and are worshipped and glorified in unity with Your Father and Your Holy Spirit, have compassion on us all. (As it appears in the Liturgy of St James the Just)

The hymn itself is a song of praise to the Word of God. It demonstrates the salvific theology of the incarnation of the Word of God and shows how Christ is true God and true Man.

The Byzantines attribute this beautiful antiphon to Justinian. While the Syriac Catholic and Orthodox attribute it to Severus of Antioch.

Emperor Justinian

Severus of Antioch

Now, Severus of Antioch is a zealous non-Chalcedonian and Justinian is obviously a Chalcedonian. The council of Chalcedon defined the 'hypostatic union' of Christ. That is: Christ has two natures, human and divine "each retaining its own properties, and together united in one subsistence and in one single person". The Chalcedonians have (until recently) accused the non-Chalcedonians of heresy (and vice versa). The non-Chalcedonian Churches are: The Syriac Orthodox Church, The Coptic Orthodox Church and the Tewahedo Churches.

What the quoted above antiphon shows is two things:
  1. That the truth of the Incarnation was always believed.
  2. A consistent common belief between Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians regarding the Incarnation.
That the truth of the Incarnation was always believed
It is a reasonable assumption to say that the above quoted antiphon was in the Liturgy of St James the Just at the time of Severus of Antioch. St John Chrysostom may have gotten this antiphon from Antioch and following this it was either adapted to the new (Byzantine) liturgy or might have been placed in it by Justinian a few centuries after. The similarities between the two prayers are just so great that it seems illogical to think that they both didn't come from the same source.

A consistent common belief between Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians regarding the Incarnation
For generations, both these groups of Christians would say the exact same prayer and believe it. While at the same Chalcedonians would accuse the non-Chalcedonians of being Monophysites. And non-Chalcedonians accuse Chalcedonians of being Nestorians. What was simply different between Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians is the formula used. Both, believed the same thing.

Please pray for Christian unity.

By the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem, God Bless you all.

Edit: the original blog post said the Byzantines attributed the hymn to St John Chrysostom

In memory of Wadih Al-Safi

The prominent Lebanese singer, Wadih al-Safi, passed away Friday, October 11, 2013, at the age of 92. Nicknamed "the voice of Lebanon” and “the golden throat,” he was considered one of the most influential singers in Lebanon's history, and was renowned throughout the Middle East . 

Born Wadih Francis in the Chouf village of Niha, he burst onto the music scene at the young age of 17 when he won a radio singing competition. Over the years, he recorded more than 1,000 songs and collaborated with some of Middle Eastern music’s greatest talents, including the Rahbani Brothers, Fairuz, Sabah, and Farid al-Atrash, among others.

He was considered a giant of Lebanese classical and folk music and often rhapsodized about his homeland in song. Some of his most famous tunes include “Andak Baharia” (You Have Sailors), which speaks of Lebanon’s proud seafaring history and “Lubnan, Ya Qataat Samaa” (Oh Lebanon, Piece of Heaven).

Over the years, he even produced several recordings in the Syriac language.

The funeral procession began on the morning of Monday, October 14th, starting in Mansourieh and headed towards Beirut, passing through the areas of Mkalles, Dikwaneh, Sin al-Fil, Jisr al-Basha, Hazmieh, and Furn al-Shubbak. The funeral service itself was held Monday afternoon at St. George Maronite Cathedral in central Beirut. Presiding was Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Rai.

So we say goodbye to an iconic figure of the Christian Middle East, and we ask God grant him rest among the Righteous and the Just. Give rest, Oh Lord, to your servant who sleeps in hope of You.

ܥܒܕ ܠܗ ܡܪܢ ܢܝܚܐ ܛܒܐ ܠܥܒܕܟ ܕܫܟܒ ܥܠ ܣܐܒܪܟ

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

"If you come back, we can utilize your skills and knowledge” - Chaldean Patriarch

The Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Mar Raphael-louis Sako, Has encouraged believers in the diaspora to return to their original homeland. (source)

While the statement in the title is true. I must mention that we Eastern Catholics in the diaspora must play a very important part in the evangelisation of the greater world. God has put us here in the West. We have integrated, been educated, learnt the languages and understood the cultures. We now are now 'in the world' of the West.

Eastern Christianity emphasises things that the Western Tradition  does not. For example: the profound mystery of the Trinity, beautiful liturgies and the coming down of the Holy Spirit.

I believe God has put us here in the West so that we can share our traditions, spirituality and theology, so that the Catholic Church may breath in two lungs and re-evangelise the West. The Eastern Churches (especially those belonging to the Syriac traditions) have in and of themselves charisms that the early Church had. This, I believe will be important in the conversion of the Protestants.

While I am in principle against emigration from the Middle East (and that is easy to say considering I live in the diaspora). I am not in support of integrated Eastern Christians physically returning home to their motherland. Rather, what must happen, is that Eastern Christians must spiritually; theologically; and liturgically return to their home and origin. So that they can share this spirituality; theology; and liturgy, which ultimately proclaim Christ, with others.

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem, God Bless you.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Pictoral Explanation: Syro Malabar Vestments

First we start with the Kottina: Kottina is the long tunic type garment reaching from the neck to the ankles, of any color. Kottina is the Syriac term used for the outer garment of lso’-Msiha, which was woven as one whole by Blessed Virgin Mary and is said to have grown big with him.The person who wears Kottina, puts on Iso’-Msiha and performs His priestly ministry in His place.

Next we have the Zunara: Zunara is the Syriac word for the belt-like strip of cloth worn over the Kottina at the waist. It is the symbol of “Chastity”. Holy Qurbana and other rites of divine worship are acts which are to be performed with perfect holiness, keeping oneself away from all kinds of worldly thoughts and emotions.
Next there is the Urara: Urara is the special humeral vestment worn by priests in the neck in such a way that its both ends extend beyond the knees in front. The Subdeacons (Heuppadiakana) wear it around their neck in such a way that its ends fall to the back and front on the left shoulder. The Deacons (Msamsana) wear it on the left shoulder without putting it around the neck. In Latin tradition, they call it the Stole.This sacred vestment is the symbol of ministerial priesthood in all liturgical traditions.
Next there is the Zande: Zande is the Syriac word for gloves or handcuffs. They are worn to keep the handcuffs of the Kottina in order.
And finally we have the Paina: Paina is the outermost liturgical vestment that priests put on. It is similar to the cope in Latin tradition. In Syriac it is known as Gulta. Paina or Gulta is the garment of justice. It proclaims the fact that a priest is the fount or source of all kinds of virtues. Historically, paina appears to be the outer garment of shepherds, thus it proclaims the pastoral duty of a priest as well.
Paina Front View
Paina Back View

Syro Malabar Hierarchical Vestments
Like many of the other Eastern Churches, the hierarchs of the Syro Malabar Church use the same vestments of the priests the only difference being they receive a Miter. The miter of the Syro Malabar Church is worn to show the supremacy and leadership of the bishop. For the longest time, Syro Malabar Bishops wore similar miters as the Latin Bishops but during the twentieth century a miter was created distinctly for the Syro Malabar Church the only difference being the design and the shape of the top being rounded instead of pointed. All archbishops and bishops have white colored miters but in order to distinguish the the Syro Malabar Major Archbishop, His Excellency's miter was made red. Seen below are Archbishops Mar Andrews Thazhath and Mar Mathew Moolakkattu and Major Archbishop Maran Mar George Alencherry.

Mar Mathew Moolakkattu
Mar Andrews Thazhath

Maran Mar George Alencherry

The Calendar in the West Syriac Churches - The Temporal Cycle - Part I

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: The author owes a debt of thanks to his dear nephew, who most graciously offered one of his catechetical lectures to be used as the basis of this essay.

The Syro-Maronite Church shares a common ecclesiastical calendar structure with the West Syriac Churches as a whole. This calendar structure comprises two major parts: the Temporal Cycle and the Sanctoral Cycle. Since the beginning of the Church Year is fast approaching, in this first installment, let us take a brief look at that beginning. 

The first season, Consecration of the Church*, begins on the first Sunday of November and usually comprises two Sundays: the Consecration of the Church and the Dedication/Renewal of the Church. The theme of this season introduces God’s establishment and renewal of the Church out of His love, and His plan for restoring our fallen nature begins with Him announcing it to the world.

Seasons come and seasons go, so of course the end of the first season leads to the beginning of the next, which is the Season of Announcement, where God tells His people that hope shall come to the world and restore them even though they’ve done wrong; it is a promise of forgiveness to those who are repentant. The Season of Announcement is a happy one where God the Father sends the angel Gabriel to bring good news to the world. The season begins with two Sundays of Announcements; in the the first, Gabriel tells Zechariah that he will have a son – John the Baptist – who will prepare the way for the coming of God. In the second, we find Gabriel telling Mary she has been set aside to be the Virgin Mother of God. The third is the Visitation, When Mary visits her kinswoman (cousin) Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, and John the Baptist leaps for joy in his mother’s womb because he knows his master who he will give his life to serve (God) is nearby. The fourth Sunday commemorates John the Baptist’s birth, and loosening of Zachariah's tongue. The Fifth Sunday, the Revelation to Joseph, sometimes called that of Joseph's Dream, is about Gabriel telling Joseph not to fear that Mary will bear a child because it was by the will of God. All of these Sundays are important because they involve God announcing hope to the world and his faithful servants, Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah and Joseph, receiving it, despite not knowing what the future will hold. The last of the Sundays of Announcement is the Sunday of Genealogy, taken from Matthew's Gospel account, which shows that Jesus is a fully human descendent of the Kings of Israel – a renewal of God’s promise to protect His people.

On December 25*, the season morphs into Christmas -- the Birth of Our Lord and Savior. It is a day to reflect on the King of Heaven becoming a lowly servant on Earth, not because He benefits, but because He is a loving Father who wants to teach us, His children, the Way of Truth and Salvation, through His only begotten Son. The Sunday after Christmas, the Finding of Christ in the Temple, is the first hint that Jesus is God. This Sunday remembers when Joseph and Mary lost Jesus in Jerusalem but found the little boy Jesus teaching the teachers of Israel. This is also a very important Sunday because when Jesus’ parents scold Him for running away He promises to obey them despite the fact He is God and His parents are only human – it is a lesson to obey authority, even if we think or know we are correct.

The Season of Epiphany* follows that of the Birth of Jesus. The Epiphany (or "Manifestation") focuses on Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist. The Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, appeared over Him, while the Father's voice from heaven said "Behold my beloved Son." This is the first time it is revealed that Jesus is fully God. But again we see Jesus’ humility since He didn’t need to be baptized but did it to show us how to live a holy life. Jesus was bringing new hope to a frightened people that had lost contact with God because of their disobedience. In fact the name of Epiphany in Syriac means a "dawning" or "sunrise" or "manifestation" - the rising sun is Jesus who was bringing His light and hope to the world, which was manifested at the Jordan River. In fact, the Epiphany is such an important feat that it was traditionally celebrated as a greater feast than Christmas. It's interesting to note here that, to this day, the Armenian Church celebrates the two feasts together as one unit.

The Season of Epiphany lasts for several weeks, depending on the date of Easter in any given year. The next installment will look at the penitential seasons that follow.

* Christmas and Epiphany are part of both the Temporal and Sanctoral Cycles, since each is observed on a fixed date, but each is also part of a season in the Temporal Cycle. It should also be noted that the day of the week on which Christmas falls influences the beginning of the Church Year, and which, on the Maronite calendar, begins on the first Sunday of November, so it can happen that there is only one Sunday in that first season. This is due to a persistent latinization, where the last Sunday of October is designated as "Christ the King" Sunday. The Syriac Orthodox maintain two Sundays, even when the first falls on the 30th or 31st of October.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pressure from Latin Bishops to Not Ordain Married Priests

Australian Latin Bishops (and a certain Eminent Latin Bishop in Sydney) have put pressure on Australian Eastern Catholic Bishops (and more specifically the new Maronite Bishop) to not ordain Married Priests.

There have been Vatican decrees that have said ordaining married men in the diaspora is canonically illegal. For example, the 1921 decree cum data fuerit. This decree was originally directed to the Greek Catholics in the US, but has been applied universally to all Eastern and Oriental Churches sui juris to prevent the ordination of married men to the priesthood in all of the diaspora. Another example is in 2008 when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith reaffirmed the norm of binding celibacy of Eastern Priests outside of 'Patriarchal Territories' (Source - Italian). 

So technically, every Eastern Bishop who ordains a married man to the priesthood in the diaspora (without a dispensation from the Vatican) is being disobedient due to the decrees stated above.

Before I continue though, I would like to add that in one of the Australian Catholic Bishop's Conferences (ACBC) all Bishops voted 'Yes' for Rome to remove the official restriction on Eastern Bishops ordaining married men. The only Bishop to vote 'No' was Bishop Leonard Faulkner.

This makes me wonder why these certain Bishops are willing to favour removing the restrictions on married Priests in the ACBC, but not extend the same feelings in private.

There are some reason I can think of that would make Latin Bishops put pressure on Eastern Bishops regarding married priests. These reasons are:
  • The current political climate with the whole pedophilia scandal.
  • The possible conversion of Latin rite parishoners to become Eastern Priests simply because they can get married.
If any of the above reasons were used, then I believe the Latin Bishops either think we're very stupid or cowards. Both of which are highly offensive and untrue.

Eastern Bishops are aware of the political climate regarding Married Priests. But why should we worry about it anyway? Why should this be a problem? Why is there pressure?

Also, if the Latin Bishops think that our Bishops will just ordain any man who approaches us from the Latin-Rite to become a married Priest then they think we are stupid. I am sure that any Latin-Rite man who approaches one of our Bishops would have to go through a rigorous process of why he is changing rites in the first place. I assume we would also need to get permission of the Local Latin Bishop for him to change rites (only if this permission wasn't given so liberally in the opposite direction).

I believe it is a massive impeachment on our rights as sui iuris Churches that there is pressure on our Bishops to go against their Eastern Traditions. Latin Bishops have no (or should have no) juristiction over Eastern Eparchies. And while we thank the Latin Church for all it has done for us in the past, our tradition of having married priests should not change simply because we are in a Latin-majority country. This, I believe is a type of bullying that as Easterners we should not have to put up with. Infact, we should not have to face in the first place.

I would like to also mention that the Synod of the Middle Eastern Bishops which took place in 2010 asked for further synodal control of areas outside of Patriarchal Territories. This would affect the extension of Synodal authority to all matters of particular law, including that of the ordination of married men to the priesthood and includes Patriarchs being able to appoint Bishops in the Diaspora. These requests were given to Rome without fulfillment.

There is sort of a 'work around' solution that has been used on occasion by several of the Byzantine Churches sui juris: that is, sending married men over to the Patriarchal territories to get ordained. And following this coming back to the diaspora so that the local Eparch can assign him as he sees fit.

Please pray for our Bishops. That they may preserve our traditions, spirituality and theology in the diaspora.

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam, and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Syriac Catholics land rights in Mardin, Turkey

Many of you may or may not be aware that the heartland of Syriac Christianity was in an area in south Turkey called Tur Abdin (The Mountain of the Servants of God). Here, the ancient Syriac city of Nisibin still lives.

The Syriac Catholic population was literally whipped out during the genocide of the early 1910s perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkish Empire. What was once a thriving area with a few Eparchies completely vanished in a period of a few years. I may blog about this in latter posts.

Syriac Catholic Patriarchate in Mardin
The Syriac Catholic Patriarchate was moved to Beirut by the late Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem II Rahmani. And our Patriarchal Properties were simply left to their own accord. They were eventually taken away from the Syriac Catholic community and turned into a museum (like Hagia Sophia)

On October 4 2013, members of the Syriac Catholic community applied to the European Court of Human Rights for their land rights.

Now I myself do not have much hope here. The European Court of Human Rights has a history of being extremely secular (and Anti-Christian). I would however like to note that if the roles were different. And the Syriac Community had taken land from the Turks or heaven-forbid the Kurds and burned their properties, there would be massive international upheaval. But because the victims here are Christian, the Western media feels that it is not worth reporting on.

I ask for your prayers here. That our ancient Churches, Monasteries and Patriarchal complexes may be returned into the hands of the community.


Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam, and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you.

Who are the St. Thomas Christians?

St. Thomas
Ancient Era
Thomas Cross
In the year AD 52, St.Thomas the Apostle of Jesus Christ, in order to fulfill his missionary purpose evangelized many parts of India. His works greatly laid an impact especially on the southwestern state of Kerala. As his legacy a small Christian community had formed and the local peoples begun to call them Nasranis or followers of Jesus of Nazareth. For centuries after the apostles death, the Christian community prospered and made a connection with Church of East (from whom which they received their bishops). The community began following the East Syriac Tradition and the Holy Qurbana of Mar Addai and Mari.

Knai Thoma
 Later in the year AD 345, in order to strengthen the the St.Thomas Christians a group of Early Christians migrated from Asia Minor. This group composed of 72 Early Christian families, a bishop of the Church of the East known as Urha Mar Yoseph, many priests, deacons, and their leader Knai Thoma or Thomas of Cana who was an enterprising merchant who often did trade between Kerala and Asia Minor. On reaching Kerala, Knai Thoma and his people were accepted graciously by the local king and were granted privileges and land to settle. They soon erected three churches, one in the name of our Lady Mariam, one in the name of Mar Thoma Sleeha, and one in the name of Blessed St. Kuriakose. This group of settlers became known as the Knanaya Christians, and according to their tradition of endogamy, they did not enter into Holy Matrimony with the native Christians and maintained their separate identity and culture.

Period of Portuguese Rule
For centuries the St.Thomas Christians and the Knanayas (though there was some strife between the groups) lived in a common peace with each other. The Christian community had prospered and was living in harmony under the Church of the East. After the year 1499 things began to change as the Portuguese took control of Kerala. The Portuguese were at first astounded to have found Christians in India but after taking a further look at these Christians, thought their Church of the East teachings to be heresy. They soon hosted a synod with the Christian community in which they took control of the St.Thomas Christian and Knanaya Churches and transferred them all under the Catholic diocese they erected in India. The Portuguese had known of the St.Thomas Christian connection with the Church of the East and made sure the Eastern bishops could not reach the community.

Leaning Cross Oath
After years of being under the Catholic Church, in 1653 a portion of the St.Thomas Christians had revolted against the Portuguese in an act known as the Leaning Cross Oath and proclaimed they would no longer accept Portuguese Dominance. The Leaning Cross Oath was an act of independence when the revolting St. Thomas Christians joined together at Mattancherry Church and tied a rope to the outdoor cross there. The Christians held the rope while pledging to no longer adhere to the Jesuit Portuguese Bishops. It is said that the pressure of that many individuals pulling on the cross made it lean thus this event is known as the "Leaning Cross Oath". The Christians who revolted were eventually brought under the Syriac Orthodox Church and began to receive bishops. This caused a rift in the community, creating two groups, Syrian Catholics and Syrian Orthodox. After the event, out of the 116 churches owned by the Christian community, the Syrian Catholics claimed 84 and the Syrian Orthodox 32. 

Modern Era
Mar Augustine Kandathil
The two groups continued this way until 1889, when because of the influence of European Anglicanism some Syrian Orthodox broke off from their mother church and claimed independence. This divided group begun to call their independent church the "Mar Thoma Syrian Church" which was a mix between Anglican and West Syriac Tradition. Later there was a division in the Mar Thoma Syrian Church and a new independent church formed known as the St.Thomas Evangelical Church. Today the Mar Thoma Syrian Church is noted as being a member of the Anglican Communion of Churches.

In 1887 the Syrian Catholics for the first time got their own diocese' and from then on were known as Syro Malabar Catholics. The Syro Malabar hierarchy was restored in 1923 when Mar Augustine Kandathil was installed as the first Metropolitan and head of the church. In 1911 a separate diocese known as Kottayam Diocese was erected just for the Knanaya Catholics under the Syro Malabar Church, Mar Mathew Makil was the first Metropolitan and Head of the Knanaya Catholic Church. Today the Syro Malabar Church is recognized as a Major Archieparchial Church of East Syriac Tradition and Origin, it is one of the twenty-two Eastern Catholic Churches.
Mar Mathew Makil

Mar Ivanios
 The Syrian Orthodox were once again divided in the year 1930, when a section of the church under the leadership of Mar Ivanios and Mar Theophilus regained communion with the Catholic Church. This faction eventually became known as today's Syro Malankara Catholic Church. In Kerala they are nick named "reethakar" which is just a disambiguation for Catholics of a different rite aka "reeth". The Syro Malankara Church is recognized as well as a Major Archieparchial Church but of West Syriac Tradition and Origins, also being one of the twenty-two Eastern Catholic Churches. 

The Syrian Orthodox had one more division in the years 1912-1975 over the supremacy of the Patriarch of Antioch. Two factions arose, one known as the Patriarchs Party and the other known as the Bishops Party. One party supported being under the Patriarch of Antioch and the other wanted an independent Indian Orthodox Church. In 1975 the factions officially split and those who remained under the Patriarch remained as Jacobite Syrian Orthodox and those who fought for an independent church became known as Malankara Indian Orthodox. Similar to the Syrian Catholics, in 1910 a separate diocese known as Chingavanam Diocese was erected just for the Knanaya Jacobites under the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, Mor Severios Geevarghese was its first Metropolitan and Head of the Knanaya Jacobite Church. Today the Jacobite Syrian Church and the Malankara Indian Orthodox Church are noted as being churches of Oriental Orthodox (West Syriac) Background and are members of the Oriental Orthodox Communion.

Throughout the centuries the St.Thomas Christians had many splits and many new churches formed but to regain a sense of unity, an ecumenical council was created for all the St.Thomas Churches. I'll share a few pictures at the end of the post of the different churches and their leaders.
A Common St. Thomas Christian Church

All Divisions - Current Hierarchs

1. Syro Malabar Catholic Church - Major Archbishop Mar George Alencherry
-Knanaya Catholic - Metropolitan Archbishop Mar Mathew Moolakattu
2. Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church - Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas
-Knanaya Jacobite - Metropolitan Archbishop Kuriakose Mor Severios
3. Malankara Orthodox Church - Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II
4. Marthoma Syrian Church - Metropolitan Joseph Mar Thoma
5. St.Thomas Evangelical Church - Representative Body
6. Syro Malankara Catholic Church. - Major Archbishop Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis

 Pictorial of the St. Thomas Christians Today
  Ecumenical Council Meeting of the St. Thomas Christian Churches
Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church
Maran Mar George Alencherry

Knanaya Catholic Metropolitan
Mar Mathew Moolakkattu

Catholicos of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church
Mor Baselios Thomas I

Knanaya Jacobite Metropolitan
Kuriakose Mor Severios

 Catholicos of the Malankara Orthodox Church
Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II
 Head of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church
 Metropolitan Bishop Joseph Mar Thoma

Major Archbishop of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church
Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

UPDATE: Chaldean Patriarch and Unity with Assyrian Church of the East

Following on from a previous blog post

Mar Dinkha IV (Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East) has accepted an invitation from Mar Louis Sako (Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church) for ecumenical dialogue between the two Churches. In the hope to achieve full communion.

"We are very happy with your message to us regarding your good will to renew the dialogue with us aiming for unity; we also agree and support you in this good aim to be close to each other as brothers in Christ and the sons and daughters of one nation" - Mar Dinkha IV
"We hope that when we meet together we will discuss the difficulties facing the sons and daughters of our Church and nation in the Middle East and in the whole world, and we will establish a joint committee to have discussions for the purpose of joint action" - Mar Dinkha IV

Please pray that this Ecumenical dialogue will be efficient and fruitful.


Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam, and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you.

Annual Syriac Catholic Bishop's Synod

Moran Mor Ignatius Joseph III Younan has officially opened the Annual Syriac Catholic Synod in Chareh Seminary Lebanon by celebrating the Divine Offering.

Moran Mor Ignatius Joseph III Younan with Syriac Catholic Bishops

Firstly, it is good to see all our Bishops get together (except for the Archbishop of Aleppo who could not come for security reasons, please pray). Wearing proper vestments (I can live with the Lace and the Mitre for now), and nearly all wearing their Eskime (monastic hoods). I will hope and pray that it goes well, and that some (ie Bishop Flavien Joseph Melki ) will advance the cause for a more traditional Syriac Liturgy, Spirituality and Theology to be espoused to the faithful.

It is, however a disappointment to once again see potential interference from Rome in our own business. The Papal Nunico of Lebanon, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, seems to be lurking around. While this may not seem to be a problem, recent history shows that the Papal Nuncio is given more than a ceremonial role. Just like in past synods, such as when our Patriarch was elected and, if I am not mistaken, when the current Maronite Patriarch was elected.

The simple fact is, the Papal Nuncio should be a passive observer at best at any synod held by an Eastern Church. And if a new Patriarch needs to be elected, the Papal Nuncio should not be there at all (as has been in the past). It is important to note here that the recent Chaldean Patriarch was elected in Rome after a retreat led by A LATIN BISHOP!

Ignatius Joseph III Younan with Papal Nuncio of Lebanon Bishop Gabriel Katchia
Now, the question here is. Who's fault is it that there is potential Roman influence in our synod. The official report (Arabic), says that the Papal Nuncio was invited by Ignatius Joseph III Younan. But let us just pray that the Papal Nuncio will not be interfering in our business (as has been in the past).

Other (non-interfering) guests that Mor Ignatius Joseph III Younan has invited include Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zaka Iwas (who was not able to come due to his poor health, please pray for him) and Syriac Orthodox Bishop for Mount Lebanon Mor Theophilos George Saliba. His words expressed a deep desire for unity stating that "we are truly one Church and one people united by tradition , heritage and the Holy Syriac Language, the language of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Mother". I would like to remind the reader here to pray for full communion between the Catholic and Orthodox.

I hope that this synod is a success and I will keep you updated on the comings and goings of it.

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam, and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you all.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Antioch - both Greek and Syriac. But not Byzantine

Before I go on, I would like to make a distinction between the Liturgy and the Anaphora in the Syriac-East.

Think of the Liturgy as the skeleton of the whole Qurobo Alohoye (Divine Offering). But the skeleton includes certain muscles (prayers). These prayers are standard and include prayers at the foot of the altar, prayers of forgiveness and incense prayers. The Anaphora adds missing prayers, such as the words of Institution, Epiclesis, other prayers of forgiveness and prayers for peace. Most of the standard prayers of the Liturgy are said before the Anaphora.

In the West Syriac Churches (Maronite, Syriac Catholic and Syro-Malankara) we use the Liturgy of St James the Just. Which is one of the oldest Liturgies in use today.

The closest thing to an Anaphora in the Novous Ordo West is probably the different Eucharistic Prayers.

I myself on this blog have used the term "Greek-east" where I should have probably used the term "Byzantine-East" (I will do this from now on).  The reason for this, is that the Christians in Antioch were both Semites and Greeks. Meaning the Liturgies would've been said in both Aramaic and Greek. So using the term "Greek-East" can often be mistaken for referring to the Greek-East in Antioch.

The oldest copies of the Liturgy of Saint James the Just are in Greek (this is not to say that the Greek is older, but rather because it was the language of the educated it would've been copied more frequently than the Syriac).

In the current Syriac liturgy. There are certain prayers that could point to a Greek origin or early hellenization. These include the famous Quryalayson (Lord have Mercy) and Stomen Qalos (stand devoutly).

The Byzantine Liturgy (of St John Chrysostom) is heavily based on that of St James the Just and the Alexandrian Liturgy of St Basil. It is a Greek re-write of both. However it is not the same as the Antiochene Liturgy. On the other hand, the West Syrian Liturgy as used today, is the same as the Antiochene Liturgy, with a few organic developments from Edessa. Edessa was a Patriarchal territory of Antioch, so it could not change that much. On the other hand Constantinople was a whole new Patriarchate, meaning that the Liturgy could be changed more liberally.

Unfortunately today there aren't any Churches that use the Greek-Antiochene Liturgy. Even the Melkite Church, use the Byzantine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem, God Bless you all.

Episcopal Headwear

Just as the biretta is worn in the Latin Church and the kamilavkion in the Greek Church, so too, do the Oriental Churches have distinct clerical headwear. Today, we're looking at non-liturgical headwear for bishops.

The reader will notice in the following photos that many of those of Middle Eastern origin are  rather similar, yet remain quite distinct. Both the similarity and distinction come from the dress codes imposed by the Arab and Ottoman overlords. The Arabs and Ottomans maintained a rule that each sect's clerical clothing had to have its own distinguishing characteristics. Hence we have the slight variations among the Maronite tobiyye, Syriac Orthodox koub'ono, Coptic Orthodox 'emmeh, Assyrian Church of the East kosita, and the Chaldean shash. In regard to the shash, it's very much a shame that the current Catholicos-Patriarch, Mar Louis-Raphael, refuses to wear it. 


Both the Syriac Catholic Church and Coptic Catholic Church each have slightly different variations of the Greek kamilavkion, the Syriacs without a veil, and the Copts with a veil. In keeping with the imposed Ottoman rules, neither is identical to the Greek style. The adoption of a variant of the Greek kamilavkion, rather than a variant of either the koub'ono or 'emmeh, appears to have come about along with their union with Rome.  

It's interesting to note that the only ones who seem to have escaped the Ottoman restrictions were the Melkites, and it's likely that the historical circumstances of their own union with Rome explain why. 

The churches in India were, of course, never affected by the Ottomans, but the Syro-Malabar Church was for some 400 years directly affected by Rome. For many years, the Latin biretta was used in the Syro-Malabar Church, but recently, under the guidance of Major-Archbishop Mar George Allencherry, things have changed a bit. While it's still essentially a biretta, at least it's now of a uniquely Syro-Malabar style. The Syro-Malankara hold the distinction of being the only Oriental Church in union with Rome to have maintained the same episcopal headwear as their Orthodox brethren.

 Chaldean Patriarch-emeritus Mar Emmanuel III in black shash

 Chaldean Patriarch-emeritus Mar Emmanuel III in red shash

Maronite Patriarch-Emeritus Mor Nasrallah in black tobiyye

Maronite Patriarch Mor Bichara in red tobiyye

Assyrian Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV in red-topped kosita

Syro-Malabar Major-Archbishop Mar George in red Syro-Malabar biretta

Late Syro-Malabar Major-Archishop Mar Varkey Vithayathil in red Latin biretta

Syro-Malankara Catholicos Mor Basilios Cleemis in black koub'ono

Syro-Malankara Castholicos Mor Basilios Cleemis in red-topped koub'ono

Syriac Catholic Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatios Yowsef III in kamilavkion (without veil)

Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatios Zakka I in black koub'ono

Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawdros II in black 'emmeh

Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak in kamilavkion (with veil)