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A titular see of Lycaonia. Xenophon (Anab., I, ii, 19) says that it is the easternmost town of Phrygia; other writers e.g., Cicero (Ad. famil., III, 6; XV, 3), Ammianus Marcellinus (XIV, 2), place it in Lycaonia, and others in Galatia. It is known that the boundaries of these provinces were often changed. It was the possession of M. Antoninius Polemon, dynast of Olbe, to whom Anthony gave it, and who reigned from 39 to 26 B.C. (Pliny, "Hist. Natur.," V, 37; Strabo XII, vi, 1). Iconium later formed part of the Roman Province of Galatia, when the latter was constituted 25 B.C. Under Claudius the town became a Roman colony, mentioned on many coins and inscriptions. St. Paul preached here during his first mission and converted a goodly number of Jews and pagans; shortly afterwards he returned to organize the church he had founded (Acts, xiv, 20; xvi, 2); he speaks elsewhere of the persecutions he endured there (II Tim., iii, 11). Saint Thecla was one of his converts there. Christianized rather early, the town was the scene in 235 of a council which decreed that the baptism of heretics was invalid. Le Quien (Oriens Christ., I, 1067-74) mentions thirty-six bishops down to the year 1721; the best-known is St. Amphilochus, the friend of St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nazianzus. The list might well be completed and brought down to the present time, for Iconium is yet the centre of a schismatical Greek diocese.
What constitutes the reputation of the town is that from 1063 to 1309 it was the capital of the sultans of the Seljuk Turks, who on the extinction of their dynasty adopted as their heir Osman, the founder of the present dynasty. A great number of monuments or works of art of the period have been preserved, such as the ruins of the mosque of the Sultan Ala-ed-Din, the blue medresseh (school), a vast hall of the palace with a magnificently decorated roof, the golden mosque, the mosque of Selim II, the tomb of Djelal-Eddin, a mystical poet and founder of the whirling dervishes. The superior-general of these Turkish religious, surnamed Tchelebi, always resides at Koniah and has the privilege of girding each new sultan with the sabre of Osman, which for Turkish sovereigns corresponds to the ceremony of coronation. Koniah, the capital of a vilayet which numbers more than a million inhabitants, itself possesses nearly 50,000 inhabitants, three-fourths of whom are Mussulmans. There are about 300 Catholics. In 1892 the Augustinians of the Assumption established a mission here with a school which is very prosperous to-day. The Oblate Sisters of the Assumption conduct a dispensary and a school. The Greek and above all the Armenian schismatics are very numerous. The town is connected with Constantinople by a railroad, and important works of irrigation have been set on foot in order to cultivate the plain which has hitherto been very arid. Koniah is one of the holy cities of Islam. It contains more than 10,000 dervishes (Turkish monks) and theological students.
HAMILTON, Researches in Asia Minor, II, 205; RAMSAY, Historical Geography of Asia Minor (London, 1890), 332, 377-78, 393-95; SMITH, Dict. Greek and Roman Geog., II, 12; SARRE, Reise in Kleinasien (Berlin, 1896), 28-106; TEXIER, Asie Mineure (Paris, 1862), 661-663; CUINET, La Turquie d'Asie, I (Paria, 1892), 801-872; HUART, Konia, la ville des derviches tourneurs (Paris, 1897).