Seminary of St. John Séminaire Syro-Chaldéen St. Jean, Maʿhad Mār Yūḥannā al-Ḥabīb

A prestigious Roman Catholic theological seminary in Mosul, Iraq, called Séminaire Syro-Chaldéen St. Jean in French. It was founded by the French Dominican Fathers in 1878, and though it was closed between the beginning of the First World War and 1923, it continued to serve the Chald. and Syr. Catholic churches until 1973, when it was shut down by the Iraqi authorities. It was divided into two main parts: Le Petit Séminaire, a junior and senior high school which consisted of six years of studies after elementary school, where the study of French, Syriac, and Arabic language and literature was essential, and Le Grand Séminaire, which consisted of two years of Philosophy and four years of Theology, including Biblical Studies. Throughout its history, the instruction in both parts of the Seminary was entirely in French, and its strength remained in the study of language and literature. Eminent scholars graduated from this institution, including 1. Awgen Manna (1866–1928) who published Dalīl al-rāghibīn fī lughat al-ārāmiyyīn [Guide for the Students of the Aramaic Language] (Mosul, 1900), an excellent Syriac-Arabic dictionary; 2. the well-known Alphonse Mingana (1878–1937) who published among other things the Chronicle of Arbela (Mosul, 1907) and Clef de la langue araméenne (Mosul, 1905), a valuable Syriac grammar; and 3. Addai Scher (martyred in Turkey in 1915), a prolific writer who published the Histoire nestorienne inédite (Chronique de Séert). Most of the professors were French Dominicans, including the great Syriacist Fr. Jean-Maurice Fiey (1914–95), who was the Director of the Seminary for a short period before he was forced to leave Iraq in 1973. A few Seminary graduates became professors there, as in the case of Mingana in the 1900s, and in the 1950s and 1960s Fr. Albert Abūnā, professor of Syriac, who published among other things the French translation of the second part of the Chronicle of 1234 (1974). Hundreds of Iraqi priests graduated from this Seminary, many becoming bishops and at least one, the Syr. Catholic Gabriel Tappuni (1879–1968), becoming patr. The Seminary published several internal journals, but the now rare Bulletin du Séminaire Syro-Chaldéen (1940s and 1950s) included scholarly papers on Syriac. In the more recent history of the Seminary, Fr. Joseph Omez (1902–74) was its director, and it was thanks to him that this institution was modernized and some 84 highly educated and multi-lingual priests graduated, some still serving the church of Iraq and elsewhere.

See Fig. 51 and 109.

How to Cite This Entry

Amir Harrak , “Seminary of St. John,” in Seminary of St. John, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay,

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Amir Harrak , “Seminary of St. John,” in Seminary of St. John, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018),

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Harrak, Amir. “Seminary of St. John.” In Seminary of St. John. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018.

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