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Mor Yacqub Burd`ono (Jacob Baradeus)
Day of Remembrance : November 28th
Today,We do celebrate the remembrance of the Holy Father, Mor Yacqub Burd`ono, celebrity of Edessa , one among the real chief of the Syrian Church (known after him as Jacobites).
Syriac Christianity was not centered just in Antioch, the Roman capital of Syria. In fact, Syriac Christianity can be traced further East in Mesopotamia.Edessa was a titular archiepiscopal see in that part of Mesopotamia , Urfa, its present name. Seleucus Nicator, when he rebuilt the town, 303 B. C., called it Edessa, in memory of the ancient capital of Macedonia of similar name (now Vodena). Under Antiochus IV (175-164 B. C.) the town was called Antiochia by colonists from Antioch who had settled there.
On the foundation of the Kingdom of Osrhoene, Edessa became the capital under the Abgar dynasty. This kingdom was established by Nabatæan or Arabic tribes form North Arabia, and lasted nearly four centuries (132 B. C. to A. D. 244), under thirty-four kings. The literary language of the tribes which had founded this kingdom, was Aramaic, whence came the Syriac. As local tradition tells us, Christianity was received in Edessa during the time of the Apostles. This is reported in a number of documents including Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History. He gives us the text of a correspondence between the city's king, Abgar Ukomo, and none other than Jesus Himself:
Abgar Ukomo, the toparch, to Jesus the good Savior who has appeared in the district of Jerusalem, greetings.
" I have heard concerning you and your cures, how they are accomplished by you without drugs and herbs ... And when I heard of all these things concerning you I decided that it is one of two things, either that you are God and came down from Heaven to do these things, or are the Son of God for doing these things. For this reason I write to beg you to hasten to me and to heal the suffering which I have ..."
The reply from Jesus to King Abgar, according to the same tradition, was carried by a certain Ananias and read:
"Blessed are you who believed in me, not having seen me ... Now concerning what you wrote to me, to come to you, I must first complete here all for which I was sent, and after thus completing it be taken up to Him who sent me; and when I have been taken up, I will send to you one of my disciples to heal your suffering and give life to you and those with you. "
The story continues to describe how one of the Seventy Disciples, named Adai, was sent to King Abgar to heal his disease. .) The exact date of the introduction of Christianity into Edessa is not known. It is certain, however, that the Christian community was at first made up from the Jewish population of the city. In fact, however, the first King of Edessa to embrace the Christian Faith was Abgar IX . Under him Christianity became the official religion of the kingdom.Historical literary sources tell us that by the second half of the second century there was an established church in Edessa, though probably most of the inhabitants remained pagan. The Church of Antioch was thriving under the Byzantine Empire until the fifth century when Christological controversies split the Church. After the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451, two camps of the one Church emerged: The Greek Church of Byzantium and the Latin Church of Rome accepted Chalcedon, but the Syriac and Coptic (later Armenian as well) Churches rejected the council. The former group professed that Christ is in two natures, human and divine, whilst the latter adopted the doctrine that Christ has one incarnate nature from two natures. It is worth noting that the drafts of the Council were according to the position of the Syriac and Coptic Churches. The final resolution, however, was according to the doctrine of the Western Churches and was rejected by the Syriac Church. This schism had sad consequences on the Syriac Church during the next few centuries.
As the Emperor supported the Chalcedonian camp, the Syriac Church came under much persecution. Many bishops were sent to exile, most notably Patriarch Mor Severius, who was later given the epithet togho d-suryoye, `Crown of the Syriacs'. Mor Severius died in exile in 538.
By the year 544, the Syriac Church was in an abysmal situation with only three bishops remaining. It was at this time that Mor Yacqub Burd`ono (Jacob Baradeus) emerged to rejuvenate the Church. Mor Yacqub traveled to Constantinople for an audience with Empress Theodora, the daughter of a Syriac Orthodox priest from Mabbug according to Syriac Orthodox sources, and wife of Emperor Justinian. Theodora used her influence to get Jacob ordained as bishop in 544. Later, Mor Yacqub would travel across the entire land reviving the Church. He managed to consecrate 27 bishops and hundreds of priests and deacons. For this, the Syriac Orthodox Church honors this saint on July 30 of every year, the day of his death in 578. A few centuries later, adversaries labeled the Syriac Orthodox Church `Jacobite' after St. Jacob. Earlier,The Universal Syriac Orthodox Church rejected this belittling label which wrongly suggested that the Church was founded by Mor Yacqub.We, The Malankara Church is proud to have this name till date as we do know what it means and do understand how much our church-leaders have suffered in the past.
According to our Malankara Church Calendar for 2002, we do celebrate the feast day of the Holy Father on November 28th.
Let us pray:
O holy Father Mor Yacqub Burd`ono, intercede with our merciful God to help our church walk through the odds and grant peace to its faithfulls
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