21/04/1866 – Leaving Tabriz, but first a benediction

After spending thirteen days in Tabriz, Tinco Lycklama has seen enough of the city and is eager to continue his travel and reach Tehran. Over the next days, traveling through changing countrysides, villages and towns, he observes the ruins and other remnants of a rich historical past. He reflects on what travelers before him, like Jean Chardin and Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, must have seen – two centuries earlier, in even less comfortable conditions. In next posts, we’ll say a few words about places like Turkmenchay, Mianeh, Zanjan, Soltanieh…

Tinco left this afternoon, but not without the benefit first of a mass and benediction by father Téral.

We know that Tinco was brought up in a the reformed church – and we also know that later on, in 1868 (in Jerusalem), he actually converted to catholicism. Tinco actually tells us that his views on religion had changed before his trip, and his encounter with father Téral, a Lazarist priest, is a first indication of that.

Téral actually lived at the convent at Chosrowa. The place was hard to locate, even though Tinco situates it on “lac Oumriah”. After some research, we found that he refers to a place that is called Khosroabad today, three kilometers east of Salmas (which was then also a tiny village – on lake Urmia).

The documented christian heritage of these places goes back over seven centuries, and even at the time of Tinco, the christian religious activity in that region was high. Khosrova was, in fact, the only place in Persia where the Lazarists were allowed to establish a permanent mission – and from there they built a catholic school in Tabriz, as early as 1839. The thriving christian community around Salmas would suffer significantly later on – specifically in World War I (see the Assyrian Genocide…). (Today, we may (or not) remember Salmas as the hometown of the father of André Agassi (the tennis player)).

In order to get money for their missionary activities, the Lazarists at Salmas and Khosroabad would usually come down from the mountains and travel the forty miles to Tabriz. There, they would solicit money from merchants and other benefactors. The fact that a rich Dutch traveler was in town was an opportunity not to be missed!

Tinco didn’t tell father Téral that he was actually protestant. He donated some money, and got a catholic mass in return. In his diaries, he reflects on his changing attitude towards religion and future conversion. For now, the catholic Téral’s prayers for a safe voyage were all he needed and, after the mass, Tinco and his caravan left Tabriz.

Before the night falls, he reaches a totally miserable chapar khaneh (courrier house) in a little town so hideous that he even forgot its name.

Lake Urmia - with Salmas and Tabriz
Lake Urmia – with Salmas and Tabriz

Note: An interesting background read on christianity in Persian history can be found on the site of Iran Gazette…

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