Culture

Iraq: What is the History of the Church of the Virgin Mary?

Iraq

The Church of the Virgin Mary is the oldest in the city of Sulaymaniyah, which lies in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI)

In the district of Sabunkran in Sulaymaniyah, a major city that is located in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), lies the Church of the Virgin Mary, which was built in 1862 by the deacon Yalda.

Over the past 157 years, many of the original decorations and features have worn off or disappeared. However, this has not stopped local Christians from singing hymns and going to prayers.

“The Church of the Virgin Mary is the oldest church in Sulaymaniyah and was built in 1862 by donations from the city’s merchants,” said Father Jens. “From the beginning, the church has an important role in Sulaimaniyah and there are people like Karim Alaq who performed their prayers here. The church is located in the Christian neighbourhood, which was inhabited by Muslims and Jews.

The Church of the Virgin Mary is attended by many local Chaldean Catholics.

Chaldeans are one of the many diverse Christian groups in Iraq, which can be distinguished by ethno-lingustic group, such as Assyrians, Armenians or Chaldeans, and also by denomintion, such as Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox.

Most Chaldeans tend to be Catholic. The Patriarch Immanuel III Dalli was ordained as a member of the Vatican Consistory in 2007.

For many in the local area, the instability in recent history has meant that the church has at times been a place of refugee or prayers, and at others, a guesthouse for refugees or a cultural and educational centre.