Mor Jacob Buradana
- Mor Jacob Buradana,
the upholder of the Orthodox Faith and our venerable and holy Father.
Due to the support of the emperor of Rome, Markidon, Pope of Rome Leon and the Dyophysites (two nature theory holders) gained victory in the Chalcedon Synod in the year AD 451 This Synod was convened by the emperor, a supporter of Nastore, under the instructions of the Pope, whose Tome was accepted
unanimously. Chalcedon Synod ascertained the heresy of Nastore that there are two natures in Jesus, but rejected the argument of Nastore that there were two
personalities in Christ. It also rejected the traditional belief, which had been fostered by the holy fathers like Mor Athanesius, Mor Milithose, Mor Koorilose and Mor Deeyaskorose and the holy Synods at Nicea, Constantinople and Ephesus.
The heresy of dual character in Christ began to grow at greater pace. The Churches at Antioch and Alexandria did not accept the synod at Chalcedon.
These Churches upheld the traditional belief of unique and Mor Athanesius and Mor Koorilose taught unified character in Christ as. The Church in Constantinople (The Greek Orthodox Church) and the Roman Church accepted the Chalcedon synod. Thus the long bond of love and understanding between the then four Churches of Christendom came to a sad end. This was the first separation that took place in the Christian Church. The importance of Rome that it was the headquarters of the empire and the privileges given to the Bishop of Rome by the emperor helped the Church of Rome to dictate terms on others.
Without ascertaining the details of the faith of the churches of Antioch and Alexandria they were declared as heretics. The definition of their faith about the true nature of Jesus was not considered at all. Chalcedon synod was only one among the several attempts made by the Pope to get him declared as the
supreme head of the universal Christian church. The churches at Antioch, Alexandria and Armenia did not accept the decision taken by the Chalcedon Synod and they firmly stood by their old faith. Those holding true faith some times occupied the Throne of Constantinople. The Syrian church under the Holy See of Antioch and the Coptic Church under the Holy See of Alexandria were subjected to severe persecutions under the leadership of the Pope as he was getting support from most of the emperors.
After the passing away of Patriarch St. Maximos, some of the dyophysites could ascend the throne of Antioch with the backing of the emperor. Such illegal
occupiers were called Malkoye meaning the kings partisans. In AD 470 a pious holy father named Mar Peter Kasore was elected as the true Patriarch of
Antioch. Next year the emperor banished this Holy Father and appointed a Malkoye as Patriarch in his place. In AD 475, emperor Basilicas brought back St. Peter Kasore. The holy remains of Mar Dioscorus were also brought to Alexandria by the emperor and interred with devotion. The next emperor exiled St. Peter Kasore and appointed a Malkoye instead. Later, true believers - Palladios and Flabianos were enthroned as Patriarchs of Antioch. Subsequently, when Flabianos started to show some inclination to the dyophysites, he was ismissed and Mar Severeos was ordained in his place in the year AD 512. At this time all the three Patriarchates, except Rome were adorned by true believers.
In AD 515 emperor Justinian, a pro-chalcedonian began to persecute true believers. He tried to entice Mar Severeos to his side. When he failed in his attempt, Mar Severeos was exiled in AD 518. The saint left Antioch only after installing Mar Yuhanon of Thella as the guardian of the Holy See. The Holy Father used to send several letters from his exile to provide courage and leadership to true believers. Mar Severeos was in exile for 20 years. The emperor invited him to Constantinople and tried for a compromise. But he was
not prepared to abandon true faith. Therefore he was banished again. We remember him in the 5th Toobden as Mar Severeos our Patriarch, the crown of Syrians, the eloquent mouth, the pillar and the doctor of the universal Holy Church of God, the meadow abounding in blossom, who preached all the time that St. Mary was undoubtedly the God-bearer. Mar Yuhanon of Thella had to withstand persecution for the sake of protecting true faith by hiding in caves and secret places and thus fulfilled the responsibility entrusted to him by Mar Severeos. At last, he also was imprisoned. There were sever persecution let loose among true believers by the Chalcedonians with the backing of the emperor.
Several Churches and monasteries were destroyed and monks were murdered. The emperor issued orders prohibiting ordination of bishops and priests. The bishops who were not imprisoned had to seek hiding places. The true believers apprehended a break in the continuity of true priesthood. Preaching, copying of the holy books and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist were prohibited. In this circumstance true believers were in utter confusion and they began to be scattered. Chalcedonians were about to be triumphant, when God Almighty rose Mar Jacob Baradaeus (Yacoob Bourdana).
Jacob was the son of priest Theophilus of Thella, born after prayers for a long time. His parents took a vow to dedicate the child to Feciltho monastery for the service of God. The boy Jacob was brought up in the fear of God and in piety. He learned Syriac and Greek and achieved thorough knowledge in the faith and history of the church.
In obedience to the vow, Jacob was entrusted to St. Osthatheos, head of the monastery. Jacob grew up in penance, prayer, meditation and study of scriptures and remained in the monastery. Once his mother approached him and expressed her desire to take him to the hometown. He replied, Please forgive me, mother. I cant fulfill your desire as I am already wedded to the Heavenly Father. I am completely for Him, rather than you, dear mother. Since he was aware that he belonged to Christ, he did not return home thereafter. After the death of his parents, he distributed the entire wealth among the poor and destitute. This wealth belongs to the world. Let it remain with the world. I dont require this worldly wealth. He lived with only one garment, which was torn and sewn repeatedly, giving it the appearance of old-leather. Hence, he was called Baradaeus (Bourdana) meaning wearer of old-leather.
Due to the ascetic life, he was known as a saint and led a solitary life. Those who were suffering from illnesses and mental agony came to him seeking relief even from distant places. Theodora, empress of Constantinople heard about him and desired to meet him. He was reluctant, but the believers urged him to go to Constantinople to plead for the church. It was in AD 541. Mar Severeos and Mar Yuhanon who left the world three years ago appeared to him in a vision. He was convinced that he had been assigned the work of protecting true faith. He went to Constantinople along with Sergis who later became the Patriarch of Antioch.
When Mar Jacob reached Constantinople, true believers welcomed him with great enthusiasm. Empress Theodora received him with great honor. This empress who was a pious lady had already provided several facilities to the imprisoned church leaders - Bishop Mar Constantine of Lavodokia, Mar Yuhanon of Egypt, Mar Anthimos and the Patriarch of Alexandria Mar Theodosius. It was possible in AD 542 for Theodosius Patriarch of Alexandria assisted by St. Anthimos and others to ordain Mar Jacob as bishop for Uraha (Edessa) and monk Theodor as bishop for Arabia in the prison. They were given all necessary powers in order to protect true faith. We remember this St. Anthimos in the 5th Toobden during the Holy Qurbana.
The services rendered by Mar Jacob Baradaeus after his ordination for the church far excelled the services by any one else. He traveled to several countries day and night, without rest and without food. Enemies were hunting after him. Avoiding them, he ceaselessly worked without food or sleep for defending true faith. In the Asian and African countries of Syria, Armenia, Asia Minor (present Turkey), Cyprus, Egypt, Libya and Abyssinia (Ethiopia), etc. he ordained priests and deacons. Eating only dry bread, he traveled bare foot covering nearly forty miles a day even in deserts and forests, preaching and praying for 35 years.
Continuous fasting for three weeks was his usual habit. Without food, money or rest, traveling through the jungles and mountains, hiding and in disguise, wearing only a torn garment, considering the sky as roof and the earth as bed and wrist as pillow, trying to be away from the eyes of the enemies, but appearing in front of the friends, Mar Jacob Bourdana suffered a lot to safeguard the true faith. His efforts and sufferings are super and extreme, which cannot be explained by mere words only. He was a super-man conferred with divine powers. Due to his relentless efforts, the tree of church, which was leafless and about to be dried up, got rejuvenated and began to bloom.
According to the law of the church, at least three bishops were necessary for ordaining another bishop. Therefore he went with two monks named Gee Varghese
and Gregori to Constantinople. Patriarch Mar Theodosius ordained both of them as bishops. Jacob Baradaeus along with this two newly ordained bishops, visited several countries, emboldened and confirmed true believers. Under the leadership of Mar Jacob, one lakh twenty thousand priests, eighty-nine bishops
and the Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria were ordained. In Persia, Ahudheme was ordained as the Bishop of the East. The church was miraculously saved by the Lord through Mar Jacob Baradaeus. The influence of Dyophysites diminished in the east and several thousands of believers were restored back to
the original true faith.
Disgusted and angry dyophysites began to call true believers as Jacobites, meaning followers of Jacob. The name Christians originated in Antioch, as a term of insult, attained glory in the course of time. So also the name Jacobites was accepted by the faithful with great honor. It has to be remembered that two Patriarchs of the faithful and several bishops were
imprisoned in Constantinople at that time. Three bishops, at least were living in hideouts. Mar Jacob Baradaeus was chosen by God and authorized by these holy fathers to revive the church from its inertia. He moved like lightning and discharged his duties most creditably, escaping from his enemies. He did not found a new church. What he had done was to revive
the church and make it grow when it was in a state of utter decline and shepherd-less.
While he was still very active Mar Jacob Baradaeus passed away on 30th July 578 AD. By this time the church of our Lord had sprouted profusely. The
Antiochian church concentrating on missionary work and protection of true faith thrived for centuries together in the Middle East. Coptic church under the Patriarch of Alexandria and Armenian Church having inter communion with the Antiochian church.
The cruel intrusion of Islam, the persecution of the Turks and the attacks made by the Roman Catholic Church during and after the crusades weakened those
three oriental churches. Repeated efforts had been made to belittle the church of Antioch. But it still remains as the oldest church and the earliest
apostolic Holy See. The Holy See and the church had to endure several persecutions. Still the church of Antioch kept up its vigor and spirit up to this day and the throne of Antioch is kept up divinely protected.
Thou art Peter. On this rock I shall build my Church. The forces of evil could not win her (St. Mathew16:18)
The promoters of the dual nature doctrine persecuted the Syrian Orthodox Church with royal support. However, they stood by their true faith and offered
resistance. Following this, many Bishops of the true faith were put to death in large number and the remaining ones were imprisoned. A critical stage
approached when the source of ordaining priests and Bishops of the true faith came to be in jeopardy. It was then that Jacob Burdanas undaunted activities and sufferings saved the Church and the continuous succession of priesthood was maintained without any break.
The intolerant enemies insultingly called the members of the faithful Antiochian Church by the name Jacobites meaning those who followed Jacob. But the true believers, who witnessed the great services of Jacob Bourdana, accepted this insulting title as an honor. Thus it was from the 6th century that the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch came to be known as the Jacobite Church also. Hiding this historic fact, some Catholic writers have tried to twist history by stating that the Jacobite Church is a new Church that originated in the 6th century. It was many years after establishing the Throne of Antioch in AD 37 that St. Peter went to Rome. This is a historical fact that no one denies. Therefore it is indisputable that the Throne of Antioch is more ancient than that of Rome.
Jacob Bourdana helped the Holy Church to uphold thetrue apostolic faith and defeated the detractors of the church. We are very proud and happy to be called as Jacobites as he was responsible to keep the Church in complete bond with its Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Even today the Syrian Christians in India are called Jacobites. We take proud when we say that we are Jacobites Christians. The Indian Orthodox people also write their denomination as Jacobites in their certificates / applications, etc. Let us pray for a united Jacobite Syrian Christian Church in India under a Jacobite Patriarch and a Jacobite Catholicos and a Jacobite Syrian Christian Association as our forefathers firmly stood and shed their blood for the sake of upholding the true, orthodox faith.
Jacob V Joshua
St. Peter's JSO Cathedral, New Delhi
St. Ignatius JS Church, Vazhamuttom East, PTA, Kerala
Member ID # 0911
The above article is indebted to SURIYANI SABHA Charithravum Viswasa Sathyangalum by Malankara Malpan Coruso Dasroro Very Rev. Dr. Kurien Corepiscopa, Kaniamparambil and MJSSA Text Books.