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February 03 - Dukhrono of Mor Barsoumo (c.457), The Chief among Mourners

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  • Cyril Thomas
    Reverend Fathers & Beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ, Can someone please explain or provide information on the life of St. Mor Barsoumo (c.457, The Chief among
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 28, 2011
      Reverend Fathers & Beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ,

      Can someone please explain or provide information on the life of St. Mor Barsoumo (c.457, The Chief among Mourners). I have searched the web and many different accounts of his life appear. Does our Church have any articles/books on this Saint? Below is a short biography which I've found online. Thanking you all in advance.

      Mor Barsaumo

      The Syrian Orthodox Church is celebrating the Memory of "Mor Barsoumo" the Head of Mourners on February 3rd.

      Mor Barsaumo (Barsaumo is a Syriac compound word from Bar – Son, Saumo – Fast, meaning `the son of fast'). He was born in the village of Otan in the district of Samosata (1) in the second half of the Fourth century from righteous his parents Hnukh and Sakia. In his childhood he was tutored by Mor Abraham the Great, the high mountain ascetic close to Samosata where he acquired piety and the fear of God that led his way towards asceticism. After his teacher's death he decided to pay a walking visit to the holy land. He wore a sackcloth dress and walked towards Palestine empty handed. After a tough journey he arrived to the holy land and received blessings. When he returned he went into seclusion while feeding himself with the plants and fruits of the wilderness.

      The villagers built him a monastery and was joined first by one then by three people and as time passed the number increased. In a quiet summer evening he stood outside his cell, lifted his eyes and saw the shining stars in the sky as pearls over a black velvet. He was in awe and he murmured, saying, "the servant doesn't dare to sit in the presence of his master, so how could I dare to sit in the presence of the Creator of heaven and earth . . ! From that time on he crucified himself in front of God. This is what his biographer and student Samuel wrote in praising him: (Barsaumo, who stood trials and tribulations on the cross in front of his Lord for Fifty years. He looked like an iron pole never sleepy day and night; his body was bent from dawn to dusk. His days are finished and his supplications were sealed, and when he finished his prayers he departed to his Lord).

      One of the brothers saw him one day praying afar. Then suddenly a swift lightning appeared in the sky and descended on the saint as a fiery tongue. The monk was very scared and went to tell his other brothers of what he saw. He said: "Brother Barsaumo has been given the gift of the apostles saints, and I believe that his wisdom will surpass many other church teachers and writers."

      In 449AD he was recalled by Emperor Flavius Theodosius II (10 April 401 – 28 July 450), to attend the second Ephesus Synod representing the heads of the holy monasteries. But he was a zealous Orthodoxy defender and urging the faithful to hold tight to their Orthodox doctrine, the faith of the three holy Ecumenical Synods, refusing the Chalcedon Synod and its followers until he was arrested and brought to the capital city for trial. The judge screamed in his face, saying, "Don't you know that I can send you in exile to the land where there is no water?" The saint replied, saying "The Lord of fountains will send me rain from heaven or spring forth from the earth, so can you send me where there is no God?" The judge answered with pride, saying, "Yes I can." The saint said, "There is no place where God doesn't exist except on the throne that you are sitting on, and the throne which your king Marcian sits on. If you send me into exile to these two places, God will come there for my sake." The judge was so angry that he swore to cut him into pieces. Mor Barsaumo said to him, "O, you, your father and master Theodosius and out of respect he used to stand in my presence, and yet you are trying and threatening me? Let me tell you that you shall not judge another case." The judge left his seat trembling and he soon died.

      This incident terrified Flavius Valerius Marcianus,(2) himself. He thought of releasing the saint from prison and sending him back to his monastery. He offered him money that would cover his expenses and the expenses of his monks, but Mor Barsaumo left the capital city and took nothing. Queen Pulcheria(3) wrote him, saying, "We wanted you as a father and instructor for us but you refused. So we commanded you to return in peace to your monastery, so we do not come to you and you won't come to us." He replied that he will do so but that he was sure that she will leave her kingdom before his arrival to his monastery. His prophecy was fulfilled and Pulcheria died before he reached his monastery.

      The Chalcedon bishops wrote to many churches excommunicating him but their letters were rejected. People were enraged denouncing this excommunication and declaring their support to Mor Barsaumo and his Orthodox doctrine. Seeing that their scheme failed, the Chalcedon bishops pressed king Marcianus to send a military force to arrest him. When the saint heard the news, he said: "I have great hope in Christ that Marcianus' authority will not run over me because my death will take him out of the land of the living." And indeed, as soon as the soul of the Orthodox great ascetic departed to heavenly abodes on February 3, 457 AD, Marcianus perished.

      This is some of the text that was written in his praise: "From your bones we get help, O you, who is well known among the perfect, Barsaumo, the true mediator, ask the Lord of all on our behalf to grant healing for the sick, to save us from all kinds of hardships and difficulties, we who do not stop praising you.
      1. Samosata (Ancient Greek, Samósata) was an ancient city on the right (west) bank of the Euphrates whose ruins existed at the modern city of Samsat, yaman Province, Turkeyuntil the site was flooded by the newly-constructed Atatürk Dam.

      2. Known in English as Marcian, (396 – January 457) was the emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire from 450 until his death. Marcian's rule marked a recovery of the Eastern Empire, which the emperor protected from external menaces and reformed economically and financially. On the other side, the isolationistic policies of Marcian left the Western Roman Empire without help against barbarian attacks, which materialized in the Italian campaigns of Attila and in the Vandal sack of Rome (455).

      3. Aelia Pulcheria a sister of emperor Theodosius II which had taken a religious vow of chastity, but after death of her brother Theodosius II, became a second wife of mentioned emperor Marcian, and this second marriage of his with Pulcheria was a mere political alliance, establishing Marcian as a member of the Theodosian dynasty by marriage.

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      Cyril Thomas
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