Mar Awgin

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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.

Mar Awgin (died 363 AD),[note 1] also known as Awgin of Clysma,[1] Augin, Eugenios, or Eugene founded the first cenobitic monastery of Asia and is regarded as the founder of monasticism in Mesopotamia.[1]

He is on the calendar of saints of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syriac Orthodox Church, with a movable feast day.


In Egypt

Originally, Saint Eugenios was a pearl-fisher from the island Clysma or Kolzum near Suez in Egypt. After having worked for 25 years, he joined the monastery of Pachomius the Great in Upper Egypt, where he worked as a baker. He is reported to have possessed spiritual gifts and worked miracles, and drawn some following from among the monks.

In Mesopotamia

About 70 monks accompanied him when he left Egypt for Mesopotamia, where he founded a monastery on Mount Izla above the city of Nisibis. The location was well chosen, for Nisibis lay on the eastern edge of the Roman Empire, which had just embraced Christianity as the official religion. The rest of Mesopotamia was under Sassanid rule, which tried to revive the Zoroastrian religion and occasionally persecuted the Christian population.

After leaving the Thebaid Awgin retired to Syria, and finally settled on Mount Izla, near the city of Nisibis, where Jacob, the founder of the School of Nisibis, was then bishop. This was in A.D. 325. Following Awgin's example, all subsequent monastic establishments in Mesopotamia settled in the rocky hills, just as the Egyptian ones went into the desert. On Izla Awgin gathered three hundred and fifty followers, and this community became the parent and metropolis of a monastic life which spread over Mesopotamia, Armenia and Persia. Jacob of Nisibis greatly encouraged this outburst of monasticism, himself building a church for the use of the dwellers of Mount Izla.[2]

The community on Mt. Izla grew rapidly, and from here other monasteries were founded throughout Mesopotamia, Persia, Armenia, Georgia, and even India and China.

Later Monastic Revival on Mt. Izla

A crisis occurred during the 6th century when, in order to please the Zoroastrian rulers, the Assyrian Church decided that all monks and nuns should marry. Many left the church to join the Monophysite denomination and spiritual life declined.

However the reforms were soon reverted. Abraham the Great of Kashkar founded a new monastery on Mount Izla, and he and his successor Babai the Great revived the strict monastic movement. Married monks were driven out, the teaching of the church was set on a firm Orthodox basis, and Assyrian monasticism flourished for another thousand years.

See also



  1. The Oxford History Of Christian Worship states that Mar Awgin died in A.D. 370.
    However based on the Syriac text, according to the Historia Monastica of Thomas Bishop of Marga (A.D. 840), it states that Mar Awgin died on the 21st of Nisan in A.D. 363, as an old man (while noting that there is some doubt about the accuracy of this date.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Thomas Bishop of Marga A.D. 840. The Book of Governors. Transl. E.A. Wallis Budge. Vol. II. London, 1893. p.694.
  2. De Lacy O'Leary. The Syriac Church and Fathers. Gorgias Reprint Series, Volume 23. Gorgias Press LLC, 2002. p.63.