Olba (ancient city)

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Temple of Zeus at Olba
Olba (ancient city) is located in Turkey
Olba (ancient city)
Shown within Turkey
Location Mersin Province, Turkey
Region Cilicia
Coordinates 36°35′N 33°56′E / 36.583°N 33.933°E / 36.583; 33.933Coordinates: 36°35′N 33°56′E / 36.583°N 33.933°E / 36.583; 33.933
Type Settlement
Site notes
Condition In ruins

Olba or Olbe (Ancient Greek: Ὄλβη; Turkish: Oura) was an ancient city and bishopric in the Roman province of Isauria, in present-day southern Turkey. It is included in the Catholic Church's list of Latin titular sees.[1]


Olba Aqueduct

Olba was a city of Cetis in Cilicia Aspera, later forming part of Isauria. It was situated at the foot of the Taurus Mountains, on a tributary of the Calycadnus.[2]

According to Greek mythology, Olbe had been built by Ajax, the son of Teucer; it contained a temple of Zeus, whose priest once ruled over all Cilicia Aspera.[3] Strabo described it:

"Above this [Kyinda] and Soloi [in Kilikia] is a mountainous country, in which is a city Olbe, with a temple of Zeus, founded by Aias the son of Teukros. The priest of this temple became dynast of Kilikia Trakheia; and then the country was beset by numerous tyrants, and the gangs of pirates were organized. And after the overthrow of these they called this country the domain of Teukros, and called the same also the priesthood of Teukros; and most of the priests were named Teukros or Aias."[4]

The temple would have been closed when Christianity was introduced during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire.

In later times it was regarded as belonging to Isauria, and was the seat of a bishop.[5] Later, it became a Roman colony. Strabo calls it Olbe (Ὄλβη).[3] Ptolemy calls it Olbasa (Ὄλβασα).[2] Stephanus of Byzantium calls it Olbia (Ὀλβία).[6]

A coin of Diocæsarea, Olbos; Hierocles (Synecdemus, 709), Olbe; Basil of Seleucia (Mirac. S.Theclæ, 2, 8) and the Greek Notitiæ episcopatuum, Olba. The primitive name must have been Ourba or Orba, found in Theophanes the Chronographer, hence Ourbanopolis in "Acta S. Bartholomei".

Its ruins, north of Silifke in the Turkish province of Mersin, are called Oura in Turkish.

Ecclesiastical history

Olba was a suffragan of the Metropolitan of Isauria's provincial capital Seleucia, but faded like most sees in Asia Minor. Olba maintained a sizable Christian population in the 4th and 5th centuries, when the Temple of Zeus was converted into a church.[7]

Le Quien (Oriens christianus, II, 1031) gives four bishops between the fourth and seventh centuries; but the Notitiæ episcopatuum mentions the see until the thirteenth century.

Titular see

The diocese was nominally restored as titular bishopric of the episcopal (lowest) rank under the name Olba (Latin and Curiate Italian); Latin adjective Olbiensis.

In 1927 it was suppressed, having had the following incumbents, all of the fitting Episcopal (lowest) rank:

In 1933 it was again restored as titular bishopric of Olba. It is vacant since decades, having had the following incumbents, so far of the fitting episcopal rank :

  • Louis-Justin Gumy, Capuchin Friars Minor (O.F.M. Cap.) (1934.01.09 – 1941.04.27) as emeritate, previously Bishop of Port Victoria (Seychelles) (1921.03.10 – 1934.01.09)
  • Tihamér Tóth (1938.05.30 – 1939.03.03) as Coadjutor Bishop of Veszprém (Hungary) (1938.05.30 – 1939.03.03), succeeded as Bishop of Veszprém (1939.03.03 – death 1939.05.06)
  • Augustine Danglmayr (1942.04.24 – death 1992.09.18) as Auxiliary Bishop of Diocese of Dallas (Texas, USA) (1942.04.24 – retired 1969.08.22) and on emeritate

See also


  1. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013, ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1)
  2. ^ a b Ptolemy. The Geography. 5.8.6.
  3. ^ a b Strabo. Geographica. 14.5.10. Page numbers refer to those of Isaac Casaubon's edition.
  4. ^ Strabo, Geography 14. 5. 10 (trans. Jones)
  5. ^ Hierocles. Synecdemus. p. 709.
  6. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium. Ethnica. s.v. Ὀλβία.
  7. ^ Edwards, Robert W., "Diocaesarea and Olba" (2016). The Eerdmans Encyclopedia of Early Christian Art and Archaeology, ed., Paul Corby Finney. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 421–422. ISBN 978-0-8028-9016-0.

PD-icon.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Olba". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Olbasa". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.

Sources and external links

  • Livius.org: Olba (Diocaesarea)
  • GCatholic - (titular) bishopric
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