Churches in the Orient

A profusion of Churches exit in the East, many are united to the Roman Catholic Church.

Oriental Christianity

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Oriental Christianity refers to all the Churches that developed in the Oriental provinces of the Roman Empire, and farther in the Middle-East, in Armenia and Asia. It is characterised by a non-centralised organisation, producing different rites and traditions.

The main branches of Christianity saw a number of smaller branches creating as many different denominations. The result was a profusion of Churches in the Orient.

They belong to three different groups:

  • the Orthodox communion Churches;
  • the independent Churches;
  • the Churches united to Rome.
Filiations of Christian faiths

A: Christians of Nestorian origin                                     A’: Catholics of Nestorian origin
B: Christians of Monophysite origin                               B’:Catholics of Monophysite origin
C: Catholics of Orthodox origin                                         D: Catholics before the schism in the Orient
E: Christians of Malabar Catholic origin                       F: Catholics of Malankare origin
G: Catholics of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem


Many Oriental Christians migrated in the past, as well as recently, to escape persecutions or conflicts, thus creating large diasporas.

Table of the Churches in the Orient

Christians in groups A, B and E belong to independent Churches in the Orient.

Christians in groups A’, B’, C, D and F belong to Churches united to Rome.

If group D was united to Rome before the schism in the Orient, groups A’, B’, C and F drew nearer to Rome during their history; several of them are lead by a patriarch.

Christians in group G belong to a Catholic Church patriarchate.

 Churches in the Orient                                                 Dates

A: Christians of Nestorian origin:
Christians of the Church in the Orient (1)®Assyrians      431 / 1553

A’:Catholics of Nestorian origin:
Chaldeans                                                                     1553

B:  Christians of Monophysite origin
1- Coptic Catholics ® Coptic Orthodox                          451 / 1824
2- Ethiopians ® Orthodox Ethiopians                            451 / 1839
3- Syriac Catholics ® Syriac Jacobites                           512 / 1783
4- Gregorians ® Apostolic Armenians                           555 / 1441

B’: Catholics of Monophysite origin:
1- Coptic Catholics                                                        1824
2- Ethiopian Catholics                                                   1839
3- Syriac Catholics                                                        1783
4- Armenian Catholics                                                   1742

C: Catholics of Orthodox origin:
1- Greco-Catholics of Ukraine                                        1596
2- Greco-Catholics of Romania                                      1688
3- Catholic Melkite Greeks                                            1742

D: Catholics before the schism in the Orient:
1- Malabars (2) or Syrio-Malabars, Chaldean rite            431
2- Maronites                                                                  5th century

E: Christians of Alabama Catholic origin (D1)
Malarial Jacobites                                                          1653

F: Catholics of Jacobite Malankare origin (E)
Malankar Jacobites                                                        1930

G: Catholics after the first Crusade:
Latins (Latin patriarchate of Jerusalem)                          1099

(1)Very ancient Church that evangelised India and China; broke away from the Nestorian Church in 431.
(2) Linked to the Church in the Orient in 431; to be found today in the Kerala (Southern India)


  • Books
    • LE COZ Raymond, Histoire de l’Église d’Orient, Cerf, 1995
    • LORIEUX Claude, Chrétiens d’Orient en terre d’Islam, Perrin, 2001

Associated notes

Associated tours

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