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A residential see in Chaldea, in the Province of Adherbaidjan, Persia. The primitive name of this city seems to have been Urmui, or rather Urmedji (Barbier de Meynard, "Dictionnaire de la Perse", 27). It is said, but with little truth, that it is the native place of Zoroaster, and that he lived in a grotto near by. Nothing is known of its primitive history. Some wrongly locate at Urmiah Bishop John of Persa, or Perha, present at the Council of Nicae in 325 (Gelzer, "Patrum Nicænorum nomina", xxxix and lxvii). The "Synodicon" of the Chaldean Church during several centuries has no mention of Urmiah. On the other hand there existed from A.D. 420 to the thirteenth century, a See of Adherbaidjan, a suffragan of Arbela (Le Quien, "Oriens Christianus", II, 1283). But there is no proof that its bishop resided at Urmiah rather than in any other city of this province. In the sixteenth century the Nestorian Metropolitan of Ielu, Seert, and Salamas embraced Catholicism; he was recognized by rome in 1582 as the Chaldean patriarch, under the name of Simeon, and fixed his residence at Urmiah. His successors took the name of Mar Seman, and remained Catholics until 1670; then they returned to Nestorianism, and established themselves at Kotchannes in Kurdistan, where they may be found today (Assemani, "Bibliotheca orientalis", I, 621; II, 457; III, 621; Le Quien, op. cit., II, 1327). The present Chaldean Diocese of Urmiah was established by Rome in 1890; it has 5000 Catholics, 42 priests, 44 churches and chapels, 70 secondary stations, several schools for boys and girls under the direction of the Lazarists and the Sisters of Charity. The Lazarists established themselves at Urmiah in 1838; the Sisters of Charity in 1856. The first possess a seminary and a Syrian printing press, where P. Bedjan has published many editions of the ancient texts. The city contains 40,000 inhabitants, and is the centre of the American Protestant missions. It is situated on the Tchahar-Tchai, near Lake Urmiah.
MORGAN, Mission scientifique en Perse, I (Paris, 1891), 289-355; Revue de l'Orient chretien (Paris, 1896), 451; PIGLET, Les missions catholiques francaises au XIX siecle, I (Paris), 202-209; Missiones catholicae (Rome, 1907), 813.