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Jacob of Nisibis

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Our Righteous Father '''Jacob of Nisibis''', also ''' ''James of Nisibis'' ''', ''' ''Jacob the Great'' ''', ''' ''Jacob of Mygdonia'' ''',<ref group="note">'''[[w:Nusaybin|Antiochia Mygdonia]]''' was a Seleucid colony in ancient Mesopotamia; in the classical Roman period it was known as '''Nisibis'''; today it is the Turkish town of '''Nusaybin'''.</ref> or ''' ''Mor Ya`qub'' ''', called the "[[Moses]] of Mesopotamia"<ref name="SOCA">Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch: Archdiocese of the Western U.S. ''[http://www.soc-wus.org/ourchurch/St.%20James%20of%20nisibis.htm St. James (Jacob) bishop of Nisibis, July 15].''</ref><ref name="SMITH">Sir William Smith. ''"[http://books.google.ca/books?id=7eItAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false JACOBUS (4) or JAMES bishop of Nisibis in Mesopotamia]".'' In: '''Volume 3 of A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines: Being a Continuation of 'The Dictionary of the Bible'.''' J. Murray, 1882. p.326.</ref> for his wisdom and wonderworking abilities, was the second bishop of Nisibis,<ref group="note">"The See of Nisibis was founded in 300 by Babu (d. 309). His successor, the celebrated St. James, defended the city by his prayers during the siege of Sapor II." (Siméon Vailhé. ''"[http://oce.catholic.com/index.php?title=Nisibis Nisibis: Titular Archdiocese of Mesopotamia]".'' '''Original Catholic Encyclopedia'''. 1913. El Cajon, California: Catholic Answers. Retrieved 2011-01-22.)</ref> [[Geronta|spiritual father]] of the renowned Syriac writer and theologian [[Ephrem the Syrian]], celebrated [[Asceticism|ascetic]] and one of the 318 fathers of the [[First Ecumenical Council]] at Nicaea.
His [[feast day]]s in the [[Orthodox Church]] are [[January 13]] /26 and [[October 31]]/November 13.<ref group="note">In the [[Roman Catholic Church]] his feast day is [[July 15]]; in the [[Church of Alexandria (Coptic)|Coptic]] Synaxarion it is held on the 18th day of the [[w:Month of Tobi|Month of Tobi]] (usually [[January 26]]); the [[Church of Armenia|Armenians]] observe his feast on [[December 15]]; and the [[Church of Antioch (Syriac)|Syrians]] on [[May 12]] and [[July 15]].</ref>
==Life==
'''Ascetic'''<br>
Jacob was born at Nisibis (''Antiochia Mygdoniae'') towards the end of the third century, the son of Prince Gefal (Armenia).<ref name="S.V.BULGAKOV">[[Sergius V. Bulgakov|S. V. Bulgakov]]. ''[http://www.transfigcathedral.org/faith/Bulgakov/index.shtml Handbook for Church Servers].'' 2nd Ed. Kharkov, 1900. 1274pp. (Translated by Archpriest [http://www.transfigcathedral.org/about/clergy/FrEugene.shtml Eugene D. Tarris], December 13, 2006).</ref> By some accounts he is said the have been nearly related to his contemporary [[Gregory the Enlightener|Gregory the Illuminator]], the Apostle of Armenia.<ref group="note">However according to Jacob's biographical entry at CCEL: "The Armenians mistakenly call him the friend of Gregory the Illuminator. " (Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL). ''[http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc06/htm/iii.lv.xvi.htm JACOB (JAMES) OF NISIBIS].'')</ref> According to St. [[w:Mar Awgin|Eugene (Augin)]],<ref group="note">"...tradition ascribes Persian monasticism to a certain [[w:Mar Awgin|Eugene (Augin)]], who brought it from the Egyptian desert, and founded the famous monastery of [[w:Mount Izla|Mount Izla]] near Nisibis in the early 4th century." (Fr. Dr. [[w:Adrian Fortescue (priest)|Adrian Fortescue]]. ''[http://www.archive.org/details/lessereasternchu00fortuoft Lesser Eastern Churches].'' London: Catholic Truth Society, 1913. p.43.)</ref> the holy [[Venerable]] St. Jacob came from the tribe and the family of [[Apostle James the Just|St. James the brother of the Lord]].<ref name="ASOC">[[Church of Antioch (Syriac)|Antiochian Syriac Orthodox Church]]. ''[http://syrorthodoxchurch.com/english-Dateien/Page2149.htm St. Jacob of Nisibis].''</ref> By some accounts he is said the have been nearly related to [[Gregory the Enlightener|Gregory the Illuminator]], the Apostle of Armenia.<ref group="note">However according to Jacob's biographical entry at CCEL: "The Armenians mistakenly call him the friend of Gregory the Illuminator." (Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL). ''[http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc06/htm/iii.lv.xvi.htm JACOB (JAMES) OF NISIBIS].'')</ref>
At an early age he devoted himself to the [[Monasticism|life of a solitary]], practicing the severest [[Asceticism|self-discipline]].<ref group="note">The celebrity that Jacob acquired by the strictness of his [[asceticism]] and his spiritual gifts, caused [[Theodoret of Cyrrhus|Theodoret]] to assign him the first place in his ''Religiosa Historia'' or ''Vitae Patrum'' - where he is entitled '''"Ο μέγας"''' ('''"the great"''') - in which his self-imposed austerities, and the miracles of which he was the reputed worker, are fully detailed.</ref> He liked the solitude and the peace of the [[Desert Fathers|desert]], and he lived in the mountains, around the city of Nisibis, on the border of the Persian and Roman empires. In the summer he lived in crevices of the mountains, and in the winter he lived for a short time in a cave. His food was not what he had sown, but what grew there on its own, such as fruits from wild trees and green plants that grew in the desert. His clothing was made of hard goat's hair.
He always fed on spiritual food which came through [[prayer]] which also kept his thoughts pure. Through his asceticism, he gained a deeper connection with God. He had the gift of foresight, and by the grace of the [[Holy Spirit|Spirit]], he received the gift of miracles.
His contemporary St. [[w:Mar Awgin|Eugene (Augin)]] was a native of Egypt, who later retreated to [[w:Mount Izla|Mount Izla]] near Nisibis, in order to do his missionary work there. At that time, there were many heathens and [[Marcionism|Marcionists]] and the fear of God was lost by many. Together, these two great saints worked many miracles and healings, and they [[Baptism|baptized]] many who professed the true faith.
'''Confessor'''<br>
During this period of his life he went on a journey to Persia for the purpose of confirming the faith of the Christians there, who were enduring persecutions under [[w:Shapur II|Shapur II]]. [[Theodoret of Cyrrhus|Theodoret]] records several miracles as taking place at this time.<ref>Theod. ''Vit. Patr.'' pp.1110 sq.)</ref> In addition, [[w:Gennadius of Massilia|Gennadius]] reports that Jacob was also a courageous [[Saint titles|confessor]] during the [[w:Maximinus II (Daia)|Maximinian]] persecution as well.<ref>''de Script. Eccl.'' c.1.</ref>
[[Image:Mar Jacob Church--Nisibis.jpg|right|thumb|The newly excavated Church of Saint Jacob in Nisibis.]]
'''Monastic Bishop'''<br>After leading a severe life in the mountains of Kurdistan with St. [[w:Mar Awgin|Eugene (Augin)]], the founder of Persian monasticism, he became the second bishop of Nisibis in 309. Upon the vacancy of that see, which was his native city, Jacob was compelled by the demand of the people to become their bishop. He was then forced to exchange his desert life with life in the city. Although he moved to the city, he changed neither his food, nor his asceticism, nor his simple clothing. In his new position, he worked especially to help the oppressed, those in need, orphans, widows and the poor, for he greatly feared was moved by awe and holy fear of [[Jesus]], the our Lord of Hostsand Saviour.
His episcopate, according to Theodoret, was signalized by fresh miracles. A similar tale is told of him as with [[Gregory the Wonderworker|Gregory Thaumaturgus]]<ref>Greg. Nyss. ''Vit. Greg. Thaumat.''</ref> and [[w:Epiphanius Scholasticus|Epiphanius]],<ref>Soz. vii. 27; Theod. ''u. s.'' p. 1112.</ref> that is, his meeting with two beggars, one of whom while feigning death to impose on him, actually died by divine judgment.<ref group="note">One day as he was travelling, he was accosted by a gang of beggars who had concerted a plot whereby to impose upon the servant of God, with the view of extorting money from him on pretence to bury their companion, who lay stretched on the ground as if he had been dead. The holy man gave them what they asked, and ''“[[Memorial Services|offering up supplications to God as for a soul departed]], he prayed that his divine majesty would pardon him the sins he had committed whilst he lived, and that he would admit him into the company of the saints,”'' says Theodoret. As soon as the saint was gone by, his companions calling upon him to rise and take his share of the booty, were strangely surprised to find him really dead. They rushed to St. Jacob, begged him, kissed his hands and feet, confessed their evil deeds and intentions, and begged his forgiveness. As he accepted their apology and petition, he prayed for the deceased, who then rose again.</ref>
'''Death of Arius'''<br>
The sudden death of the heresiarch [[Arius]] at Constantinople, on the eve of his anticipated triumph, A.D. 336, is attributed especially to the [[Prayer|prayers]] of Jacob of Nisibis.<ref>cf. the ''Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae'' [''=Propylaeum ad ASB, Novembris''], ed. H. Delehaye, Brussels, 1902, [[January 13|Jan. 13]].</ref> This theme is repeated in the Syriac and Roman Martyrology, which state that the prayers of Jacob and [[Alexander of Constantinople]] were responsible for the death of Arius and his "bowels gushing out". This tradition has been criticized questioned however.<ref group="note">According to one source:<br>
:"...That on this emergency he had exhorted the faithful to devote a whole week to uninterrupted [[fasting]] and public supplication in the churches, rests only on the authority of one passage, in the ''Religiosa Historia'' of [[Theodoret of Cyrrhus|Theodoret]], the spuriousness of which is acknowledged by all sound critics. The gross blunders of making the death of the heresiarch contemporaneous with the Council of Nicaea, and of confounding [[Alexander of Alexandria]] with [[Alexander of Constantinople]], prove it to be an ignorant forgery. In the account of the death of [[Arius]] given by Theodoret, in his ''Ecclesiastical History'', from Athanasius (Theod. ''H. E.'' i. 14; Soz. ''H. E.'' ii. 20.) no mention is made of Jacob in connection with the death of Arius; and he is equally absent from that given by [[Athanasius of Alexandria|Athanasius]] in his letter to the bishops." (Sir William Smith. ''"[http://books.google.ca/books?id=7eItAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false JACOBUS (4) or JAMES bishop of Nisibis in Mesopotamia]".'' In: '''Volume 3 of A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines: Being a Continuation of 'The Dictionary of the Bible'.''' J. Murray, 1882. p.326.)</ref>
'''WriterWritings'''<br>No writings of Jacob of Nisibis are known, although he had has been confused in the pastwith the fourth century Persian writer [[w:Aphrahat|Aphrahat]] (ca.270-ca.345), who was the head of the monastery of [[w:Mar Mattai Monastery|Mar Mattai]], near modern Mosul, with the rank of [[bishop]] and, apparently, the episcopal name Jacob, who composed a series of twenty-three expositions or homilies on points of Christian doctrine and practice.<ref group="note">According to Professor T.D. Barnes (University of Toronto):<br>:The twenty-three Demonstrations of [[w:Aphrahat|Aphrahat]] are not likely to be familiar to most students of Roman history or of Constantine. Aphrahat was head of the monastery of [[w:Mar Mattai Monastery|Mar Mattai]], near modern Mosul, with the rank of [[bishop]] and, apparently, the episcopal name Jacob: as a consequence, he was soon confused with the better known Jacob of Nisibis, and independent knowledge of his life and career virtually disappeared. Fortunately, however, twenty-three treatises survived, whose attribution to 'Aphrahat the Persian sage' seems beyond doubt. Aphrahat wrote in Syriac and composed works of edification and polemic for a Mesopotamian audience outside the Roman Empire. (T. D. Barnes. ''"Constantine and the Christians of Persia."'' '''The Journal of Roman Studies.''' Vol. 75 (1985), pp. 126-136. Page 126.)</ref> The author of the homilies, who was earliest known as "the Persian sage", was a Persian subject, and tells us that he took the Christian name ''Jacob'' at his baptism. Hence he was already confused with Jacob of Nisibis by the time of [[w:Gennadius of Massilia|Gennadius]] (before 496),<ref group="note">[[w:Gennadius of Massilia|Gennadius]] speaks of Jacob as a copious writer, and gives the titles of twenty-six different treatises of which he was the author.<br>:"These, or some of them, eighteen in number, were found by [[w:Giuseppe Simone Assemani|Assemani]] in the [[w:Mechitarists|Armenian convent of St. Anthony at Venice]]...The titles of these treatises - ''De Fide, De Dilectione, De Jejunio, De Oratione, De Bello, De Devotis, De Poenitentia, De Resurrectione,'' etc. - correspond generally with those given by [[w:Gennadius of Massilia|Gennadius]], but the order is different. In the same collection he found the letter of Jacob to the bishops of Seleucia and Ctesiphon, on the Assyrian schism. It is a lengthy document, in thirty-one sections, lamenting the divisions of the church and the pride and arrogance which were their cause, and exhorting them to study peace and concord. These were all published with a Latin translation and a learned preface establishing their authenticity and notes by [[w:Nicolò Maria Antonelli|Nicholas Maria Antonelli]] in 1756. They were also printed in the collection of the [[w:Mechitarists|Armenian fathers]], published at Venice in 1765, and again at Constantinople in 1824. The Latin translation is found in the ''Patres Apostolici'' of [[w:Armand-Benjamin Caillau|Caillau]], tom. 25, pp.254-543." (Sir William Smith. ''"[http://books.google.ca/books?id=7eItAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false JACOBUS (4) or JAMES bishop of Nisibis in Mesopotamia]".'' In: '''Volume 3 of A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines: Being a Continuation of 'The Dictionary of the Bible'.''' J. Murray, 1882. p.326.)</ref> with and the ancient Armenian version of nineteen of the homilies was published under this latter name.  [[Theodoret of Cyrrhus|Theodoret]], from whom we obtain the fourth century Persian writer amplest detail of his life, does not speak of his writings. And [[Jerome]], who mentions him in his ''Chronicon,'' does not notice him in his book ''[[w:AphrahatDe Viris Illustribus (Jerome)|AphrahatDe Viris Illustribus]], who composed a series .''<ref>Sir William Smith. ''A Dictionary of twentyGreek and Roman Biography and Mythology: Earinus-three expositions or homilies on points of Christian doctrine and practiceNyx.'' Vol. 2. London: John Murray, 1880. p.547. </ref>
'''Liturgy'''<br>
The [[West Syrian Rite|Liturgy]] which bears the name of Jacob of Nisibis (Syriac Liturgy of St James), said to have been formerly in use among the Syrians,<ref>[[w:Abraham Ecchellensis|Abr. Ecchell.]] ''Not. in Catall. Ebed-Jesu,'' p.134; [[w:Giovanni Bona|Bona]], ''Liturg.'' i.9;</ref> is certainly not his, but is rather to be , rightly, ascribed to [[Jacob of Serugh|James of Sarug]].<ref>[[w:Eusèbe Renaudot|Renaudot]], ''Lit. Or.'' tom. ii. p.4.</ref><ref group="note">The Syro-Antiochene ("Jacobite") Rite was gradually enriched with elements of Aramaic origin, especially the poetic compositions attributed to St. [[Ephrem the Syrian]] or to [[Jacob of Serugh|James of Sarug]]. (Aimé Georges Martimort, Pierre-Marie Gy, Pierre Jounel. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=MEY6gL8qu4QC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false The Church at Prayer: Principles of the Liturgy].'' Liturgical Press, 1987. p.32.)</ref>
'''Protection of Nisibis'''<br>
The most famous miracle of St. Jacob was that by which he protected the city of Nisibis from the Persians, as is related by [[Theodoret of Cyrrhus|Theodoret]] both in his religious and ecclesiastical history, by [[Theophanes the Confessor|Theophanes]], and even by [[w:Philostorgius|Philostorgius]] himself, who was a rank Arian, and cannot be suspected of being too favourable to St. Jacob.
After [[Constantine the Great]] died in the year 337 and his sons had taken over the kingdom, the Persian king [[w:Shapur II|Shapur II]] (309-379) besieged Nisibis three times over, during his war against the Romans.<ref group="note">From 337-350, the Persian King [[w:Shapur II|Shapur II]] attacked Nisibis on three occasions, as it was the great city of Northern Mesopotamia and the bulwark of the eastern provinces. The first Siege of Nisibis took place in A.D. 338; the second in A.D. 346; and the third in A.D. 350, lasting three months.</ref> St. Jacob and St. [[Ephrem the Syrian|Ephraim]] prayed with the people in the church each time, asking God to help them. The bishops' intercession during the final siege in 350 saved the city:<ref group="note">The tale of the final siege of 350, which lasted three months, and of the bishop's successful efforts to save his city, can be read in the passages of [[w:Edward Gibbon|Gibbon]] (ch. xviii. vol. ii. pp.385ff.), or [[w:Auguste-Théodore-Paul de Broglie|de Broglie]] (''L'Eglise et L'Empire'', tom. iii. pp.180-195.).</ref> Theodoret offers a particularly vivid picture of his contribution to the defence of the fortress. At the urging of Ephraim and the rest of the inhabitants he ascended the walls of Nisibis to pray for them and curse the Persians.<ref>C. S. Lightfoot. ''Facts and Fiction: The Third Siege of Nisibis (A.D. 350).'' '''Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte'''. Vol. 37, No. 1 (1st Qtr., 1988), pp.105-125. Page 123.</ref> 
:The bishop would not pray for the destruction of any one; but he implored the divine mercy that the city might be delivered from the calamities of so long a siege. Afterwards, going to the top of a high tower, and turning his face towards the enemy, and seeing the prodigious multitude of men and beasts which covered the whole country, he said: “Lord, thou art able by the weakest means to humble the pride of thy enemies; defeat these multitudes by an army of gnats.” God heard the humble prayer of his servant, as he had done that of [[Moses]] against the Egyptians, and as he had by the like means vanquished the enemies of his people when he conducted them out of Egypt. For scarcely had the saint spoken those words, when whole clouds of gnats and flies came pouring down upon the Persians, got into the elephants’ trunks, and the horses’ ears and nostrils, which made them chafe and foam, throw their riders, and put the whole army into confusion and disorder. A famine and pestilence which followed, carried off a great part of the army; and Sapor, after lying above three months before the place, set fire to all his own engines of war, and was forced to abandon the siege and return home with the loss of twenty thousand men.<ref name="BARTLEBY">[http://www.aol.bartleby.com/210/7/111.html St. James, Bishop of Nisibis, Confessor] at Bartleby.com.</ref>
[[Image:Jacob Tomb--Nisibis.jpg|right|thumb|The tomb of Saint Jacob in the crypt of his church in Nisibis.]]
'''School of Nisibis'''<br>
Around A.D. 350 St. Jacob founded the [[w:School of Nisibis|School of Nisibis]], after the model of the school of [[w:Diodorus of Tarsus|Diodorus of Tarsus]] in Antioch, in which he himself was an instructor. Through the [[Holy Spirit]] he had a strong and holy influence on the hearts of his students.<ref name="S.V.BULGAKOV"/> When the Persians conquered Nisibis in 363, the School was moved to Edessaand re-establised there by St. [[Ephrem the Syrian]], where it operated from 363–489.
'''Death'''<br>
The holy [[Venerable]] Bishop Jacob died peacefully in Nisibis, according to some in A.D. 338,<ref>Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL). ''[http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc06/htm/iii.lv.xvi.htm JACOB (JAMES) OF NISIBIS].''<name="SOCA"/ref><ref name="ASOC"/><ref name="SOCACCEL"/> and according to others in A.D. 350.<ref name="BARTLEBYSMITH"/><ref name="S.V.BULGAKOV"/><ref name="SMITHBARTLEBY"/><ref>W. H. C. Frend. ''The Monks and the Survival of the East Roman Empire in the Fifth Century.'' '''Past & Present.''' No. 54 (Feb., 1972), pp. 3-24. Page 8.</ref>
He was honourably interred within the city, in pursuance, it is said, of an express charge of [[Constantine the Great]] to his son Constantius, indicative of the reverance he held for him, that after death his [[Relics|hallowed remains]] might continue to defend Nisibis against its enemies.
title=Bishop of Nisibis|
years=309 - 350|
after=??Vologesis<br>346-361|}}
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* [[First Ecumenical Council]]
* [[Ephrem the Syrian]]
* [[Theodoret of Cyrrhus]]
* [[Jacob of Serugh]]
==Notes==
* [http://www.aol.bartleby.com/210/7/111.html St. James, Bishop of Nisibis, Confessor] at Bartleby.com.
* [[w:Jacob of Nisibis|Jacob of Nisibis]] at Wikipedia.
* [[Sergius V. Bulgakov|S. V. Bulgakov]]. ''[http://ocafswww.ocatransfigcathedral.org/FeastSaintsLifefaith/Bulgakov/index.asp?FSID=100169 St James the Bishop of Nisibisshtml Handbook for Church Servers] at OCA.'' 2nd Ed. Kharkov, 1900. 1274pp. (Translated by Archpriest [http: Feasts and Saints//www.transfigcathedral.org/about/clergy/FrEugene.shtml Eugene D. Tarris], December 13, 2006).
* Sir William Smith. ''"[http://books.google.ca/books?id=7eItAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false JACOBUS (4) or JAMES bishop of Nisibis in Mesopotamia]".'' In: '''Volume 3 of A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines: Being a Continuation of 'The Dictionary of the Bible'.''' J. Murray, 1882.
* Sir William Smith. ''[http://books.google.ca/books?id=VzMGAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology: Earinus-Nyx].'' Vol. 2. London: John Murray, 1880.
* C. S. Lightfoot. ''Facts and Fiction: The Third Siege of Nisibis (A.D. 350).'' '''Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte'''. Vol. 37, No. 1 (1st Qtr., 1988), pp.105-125.
* Prof. T. D. Barnes. ''Constantine and the Christians of Persia.'' '''The Journal of Roman Studies.''' Vol. 75 (1985), pp. 126-136.
* W. H. C. Frend. ''The Monks and the Survival of the East Roman Empire in the Fifth Century.'' '''Past & Present.''' No. 54 (Feb., 1972), pp. 3-24.
'''Greek Wikipedia'''
* [http://el.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%99%CE%AC%CE%BA%CF%89%CE%B2%CE%BF%CF%82_%CE%BF_%CE%9D%CE%B9%CF%83%CE%B9%CE%B2%CE%B7%CE%BD%CF%8C%CF%82 Ιάκωβος ο Νισιβηνός]
==External links==
* [[w:Nisibis (East Syrian Ecclesiastical Province)|Nisibis (East Syrian Ecclesiastical Province)]] at Wikipedia.
[[Category:Church Fathers]]
[[Category:Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers]]
[[Category:Monastics]]
[[Category:Bishops]]
[[Category:4th-century bishops]]
[[Category:Bishops of Nisibis|Jacob of Nisibis]]
[[Category:Saints]]
[[Category:Byzantine Saints]]
[[Category:Syrian Saints]]
[[Category:BishopsWonderworkers]][[Category:Bishops of Nisibis|Jacob of Nisibis4th-century saints]] [[el:Ιάκωβος ο Νισιβηνός]][[ro:Iacov de Nisibe]]
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