Let us all remember gratefully Late H. E. Mor Athanasius Yeshue Samuel.
Mani Rajan Corepiscopo
Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel
(A.D. 1907- 1995)
Yeshu was born on 25 December 1907 at the Mesopotomian village called Hilwa, South of Nisbin. His father Soumay was from Midyath and mother Khatoum from Basabrin, Thurabdin. He had a younger brother by name Malki.
Soumay died when Yeshu was only seven years of age. Thereafter, Khatoum and the two children moved from Hilwa with the help of Joseph, her husband’s brother. They were forced to leave Hilwa because of the Kurd invasion. On the way Malki, the younger brother, was killed by the Kurds. Yeshu was in the company of Joseph but was missing when they reached Thurabdin. After a few days Khatoum found Yeshu who had been taken into the care of Fr. Demitrius and his wife Mary.
At the age of thirteen, Yeshu joined the school at Adena. Father Hannah Dolabani influenced the young Yeshu. Later he continued his education at Homs, Beirut and Damascus. At the age of fifteen Yeshu visited Jerusalem to fulfill a vow of his mother.
In 1926, the Patriarch St. Elias III ordained him Ramban at St. Mark, Jerusalem. He joined the Coptic Seminary at Cairo and was a student there for about two years. He returned to Jerusalem and in 1931 was directed to reach Mosul to accompany St. Elias III to India. Ramban Yeshu was at Manjinikkara, India when St. Elias breathed his last. Ramban Yeshu stayed at Majinikkara for about a year. On 4 April 1932, Ramban Yeshu was ordained Priest by the delegate, Mor Julius Elias.
After his return to Jerusalem, Fr. Yeshu Samuel worked as the editor of the Patriarchal magazine. He was also the Patriarchal delegate at Jerusalem since Mor Philexinose Jacob was physically weak. In December 1946, H. H. Aphrem I at Homs, Syria ordained Father Yeshu Samuel the Metropolitan for Palestine and Jordan. In 1947, Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel purchased the Dead Sea Scrolls (Qumaran Scrolls) discovered by Bedouin (a tent-dwelling nomad) from the caves of Ain Feshka, near Jericho.
On 19 October 1948 H. H. Aphrem I appointed Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel as the apostolic delegate to America and Canada. The main purpose of the trip was to collect funds for the Syrian Christians who were refugees in and around Jerusalem. This was an occasion to exhibit the Dead Sea scrolls in the United States and to find a potential buyer.
In 1949 two churches were consecrated, one at New Jersey in the name of St. Ephrem and another at Detroit in the name of St. Ivanius, the Gold-mouthed. The Dead Sea Scrolls were displayed at the Library of Congress, Walters Arts Gallery at Baltimore, Durham Duke University at North Carolina and at Chicago University. Dr. Willard F. Libby of the University Institute for Nuclear studies submitted the scrolls to Carbon dating on 9 January 1951. The studies revealed that the scrolls date back to A. D. 33. The scrolls include the Prophecy of Isaiah, the quotations from the book of Habakkuk, its commentary and the scroll of Lamech dealing with the worship, faith and laws of a Jewish group.
On 13 May 1952, H. H. the Patriarch appointed him as the Patriarchal Vicar of United States and Canada. In August 1952 another church was consecrated in the name of St. Ephrem at Quebec, Canada. In 1953, a Bishop’s house was established at Hackensack, New Jersey. Meanwhile 15,000 U. S. Dollars were sent to Syrian Christians living as refugees in Jerusalem, Lebanon, and Jordan.
On 1 June 1954 an advertisement was placed in the Wallstreet Journal for the sale of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls were sold to Mr. Sidney Esteridge for $ 250,000/-. The amount was invested as the capital for the “ArchBishop Samuel Trust” (Athanatius Yeshu Samuel, 1966).
Mor Athanasius Samuel organised several parishes in the United States. During 1957-93, His Grace sponsored several Priests from Malankara for congregations in the United States. His Grace wanted to be entombed at Manjinikkara but the idea was later abandoned. The County authorities of Burbank, California did not grant permission for his entombment there for the burial in a church is against the rules and practices of that country. Under these circumstances His Grace selected St. Ephrem Monastery, Holland as his resting place as early as 1993.
H. G. Mor Athanasius Yeshu Samuel has visited India several times. His Grace has published several liturgical books in English. The texts of the Holy Qurbono and the sacraments are a few among the publications.
His Grace departed for his heavenly abode at 8.00 p. m. on 16 April 1995 at New Jersey. His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I, the Patriarch came down to New Jersey on May 2 and celebrated the Holy Qurbono and the body was taken to Holland by air. On May 5 the body was entombed at St. Ephrem Monastery, Holland. The anniversary of Mor Athanasius Samuel is observed on April 16.