Our site was developed to provide authentic information on the Succession of Patriarchs of the d’Mar Shimun family and other notable family members. Since the genesis of this idea, our site has evolved into a larger endeavor creating a greater depth of content. While it is impossible to provide detailed subject matter for all twenty-six Mar Shimun patriarchs spanning 658 years from 1318 to 1975, we are pleased to share a variety of documents, most reproduced from their original format that chronicles history as well as never before seen family items into a collection of visual library from the last few generations of Patriarchs and other distinguished family members.
It is appropriate to provide a brief overview for our audience who may not be familiar with the Assyrians, the Middle East, or the Eastern Orthodox religion. For clarity, please note that our site does not represent the Church of the East.
The official name of the Church of the East is the Holy Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East. The Apostles, St. Peter, St. Thomas, St. Thaddeus, St. Bartholomew, and St. Mari of the Seventy founded it. King Abgar, sovereign of the little state of Oshroene, with its capital known as Orhai or Edesssa, in the northwest of Mesopotamia, believed in Christ and His mission. As one of the earliest converts, the Assyrian people embraced Christianity in 33 A.D. For these reasons, Assyrians today claim the privilege of joining the Galileans as followers of our Lord in their conversion to the Haymanutha Mshihayta (the faith of the Anointed One). As speakers of the Aramaic language, which was also spoken by Jesus and His apostles, our Liturgy is still said today in that tongue. Likewise, the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament were written in the Aramaic language.
Continuing the tradition of the apostolic succession, the Church of the East supreme head is the Patriarch. Accordingly, great deference is afforded for the Imprimatur, by virtue of his Holy Order and Consecration. For Assyrians, a nation without a country, the Patriarch was the recognized leader, both in the secular and religious affairs.
The history of the succession of Patriarchs of the d’Mar Shimun family began in 1318, commencing from the Patriarch Mar Timatheus II in the city of Arbil, northern Iraq. Two reasons prevailed for the establishment of the succession within one family.
In the Middle East, Christians represent a tiny minority amidst their Islamic neighbors. It was not uncommon for the Moslem government officials of the day to interfere with the activities of the Church, and in some cases, attempt to designate an individual of their selection as Patriarch. The selection process was a biased one with the individual typically being a government sympathizer or employee. Naturally, the person ordained was neither qualified for such a position owing to the absence of an ecclesiastical education nor possessing sincere religious beliefs. Additionally, that individual selected by the government was neither elected nor approved by the elders and members of the church.
In certain instances throughout history, and because of such circumstances, the church was left without a Patriarch. Rather than risk exposure of governmental interference, while maintaining the standards of the Church’s administration, the decision was made to keep the Patriarchal succession in one family. By doing so, the government’s interference was eliminated and resulted in ceasing their intrusion in the Church’s affairs. This salient practice led to some families of Metropolitans, and even bishops, adopting this system as well.
Therefore, it was the period from 1318 to 1975 that the Patriarchal succession resided within the d’Mar Shimun family, typically passing from uncle to nephew. The succession from uncle to nephew was not an institutionalized rule or a part of the Church canons, but rather a practice that became tradition. In 1918, when His Holiness Mar Benyamin was assassinated by the Kurdish bandit, Simco, his brother Mar Poulus succeeded him.
In 1975 prior to his assassination Mar Eshai Shimun had already begun working towards reforms for the Church of the East to eliminate this practice and establish an electoral process outside of the d’Mar Shimun family.
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