Jacob Baradaeus

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Note: This article or section represents an Oriental Orthodox (Non-Chalcedonian) perspective, which may differ from an Eastern Orthodox (Chalcedonian) understanding.

Metropolitan Jacob Baradaeus of Edessa is a father and saint of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. He is widely recognized for his labors to save the movement in Syria and Mesopotamia opposed to the Council of Chalcedon from dying out under the persecution of the East Roman emperors.

Life

St. Jacob was born in 505 at Tal Mawzalt (modern day Verensehir, Turkey) to the Priest Theophilus bar Manu. At the age of 2 he was given to the Phaselita Monastery near Nisibis, where he mastered the Syriac and Greek languages and was given a comprehensive theological education and spiritual formation in the monastic life. Thanks to his spiritual formation in the monastic life St. Jacob became a theologian as well as a popular preacher and great scholar. Because of his rough, ragged garments he became known as Burd'ono or Baradaeus.

There came a time during the persecutions that followed Chalcedon in the mid-500s that the Syriac Orthodox Church only had three metropolitans left throughout its territory, the rest having been driven into exile or martyred by the East Romans. Seeing this St. Jacob traveled to Constantinople in 528, being received there by St. Theodora, wife of the Emperor Justinian and daughter of a Syriac Orthodox priest from Mabug. After sojourning for a number of years at a monastery in Constantinople, St. Jacob was consecrated Metropolitan of Edessa in 543 by the deposed Patriarch Anthimus of Constantinople, the exiled Pope Theodosius of Alexandria, the exiled Metropolitan Constantius of Laodicea, and two other bishops imprisoned with Pope Theodosius in the imperial capital.

Following his consecration St. Jacob left Constantinople and began his wide-ranging travels in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and Syria. Everywhere he went St. Jacob celebrated the divine services and taught and encouraged the Orthodox faithful who opposed Chalcedon. With the blessing of Pope Theodosius he also helped the remaining free bishops to consecrate new bishops to replace those executed or driven into exile, eventually consecrating some 27 bishops for the Orthodox of the Churches of Alexandria and Antioch. Among these were Patriarch Paul of Antioch, consecrated with Metropolitan Eugene of Seleucia in 550.

St. Jacob continued his missionary labors in the East for 35 years until his death in 578 and is remembered to this day for his godliness, asceticism, and piety as well as for the many miracles he worked during his lifetime. His anaphora together with several of his letters and epistles survive to this day, as does his name, which is often used by Syriac Orthodox Christians to distinguish themselves from other Christian churches, particularly in India.

St. Jacob's relics remained at the monastery of his repose until 622, after which they were translated to the Phaselita Monastery by Metropolitan Mor Zacchaeus of Tella.

Commemoration

Our Holy Father Jacob Baradaeus is commemorated on 29 July and 28 November by the Holy Church.

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