Monasteries – Mor Ignatius Aphram Barsoum – Mor Ignatius Aphram Barsoum – Translated : By Dr. Matti Moosa

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Monasteries

The Monastery of St. Abai دير مار آباي , the Persian martyr, is north of Qellith. It was a large monastery, established in the sixth century. In 1250 it had about sixty monks. Later, it became an episcopal see, and from it came one Patriarch and eleven bishops. It was abandoned in 1700 and its ruins can still be seen.

St. Abhai Monastery, or the Monastery of the Ladders دير مار أبحاي أو دير السلالم , is on the right bank of the Euphrates, a half-hour’s journey from the village of Urbish, near Karkar. It was established sometime after the fifth century, and was first mentioned by historians in the beginning of the ninth century. It produced one Patriarch and fourteen bishops. It was inhabited until the beginning of the eighteenth century. Some of its ruins are still standing.

The Monastery of St. Ibrahim and St. Abel دير مار ابراهيم وهابيل : an old monastery near Midyat, built about 763 A.D. It produced three bishops.

The Monastery of ibn Jaji دير ابن جاجي : on the Dry River, in the province of Melitene. It was established in 960 A.D. by the monk Iliyya ibn Jaji, in commemoration of the Forty Martyrs. There the monk Yuhanna (John), the pupil of Marun, taught linguistics and philosophy (ca. 980-999 A.D.). Sixteen eminent men of the church graduated from it until 1105. In 1085, however, it was destroyed in an attack by three thousand Turkish soldiers against Malatya (Melitene).

The Monastery of Abu Ghalib دير أبو غالب أو دير الملك في كركر , or the King’s Table Monastery, in Karkar, was built in 1138 and remained in existence until 1600. In 1170, Patriarch Michael the Great rebuilt its church. It produced five bishops.

Esupholis Monastery دير أسفولس , also called Fghimta: near Ras Ayn in the Jazira. It was built in the fifth century, but was reduced to ruins shortly before 1203. It produced two patriarchs and eleven bishops.

St. Awgen (Eugene) Monastery دير مار أوجين : at the foot of the Izla mountain, which overlooks Nisibin. Built at the end of the fourth or the start of the fifth century, it suffered many vicissitudes. The Nestorians held it for a long time, but we regained it at the end of the eighteenth century. It produced two bishops. At present it is inhabited by only one monk.

St. Eusib Monastery دير مار اوسيب : in Kafr al-Bira, in the province of Apamea. It was built in the fifth century, but received no mention by historians before 535.

St. Eusibuna (Eusebius) Monastery دير مار اوسيبونا :2 near the village of Talada, in the vicinity of Antioch. It was built by the noble monk Eusebius the Great and Amian, who established a school for the teaching of philosophy about 340. St. Simon the Stylite entered this monastery at the beginning of his monastic vocation. In 409 A.D. it had 120 monks. It produced Patriarch John III and two bishops in the ninth century.

Al-Barid Monastery دير البارد  was built in the province of Melitene in 969 by the Patriarch Yuhanna (John) VII, who lived and died there. A magnificent monastery, it produced one Patriarch, one maphrian, and eighteen bishops and metropolitans. We find no mention of it after 1213.

St. Basus Monastery دير مار باسوس , near Harim, between Euphemia and Hims, is a famous and great monastery which was built in 480 through the private donation of the eminent Syrian Butrus ibn Yusuf (Peter son of Joseph) of Hims, who bequeathed a great deal of property for the sustenance of its monks. In the third decade of the fifth century, its monks numbered 6,300. It remained populated until 830, and produced three bishops.

Bauth (or Banu Bauth) Monastery دير باعوث أو بني باعوث  near Kharput, first was mentioned in history in 1057. It produced four bishops. In 1290 it was ransacked by a group of Muslims, and Muslims finally occupied it in 1311.

Baqismat (or Phaqismat) Monastery باقسماط أو فقسيماط  is situated in Sis, Cilicia. Patriarch John XII resided there in 1108. Between 1266 and 1279, it was burned three times by Egyptian troops, who also killed twenty-five monks. (See Bar Hebraeus, Chronography, pp. 523, 531, 542). Gregorius, metropolitan of Sis, may have belonged to this monastery around 1290.

St. Barbara Monastery دير القديسة باربارة : in the Mountain of Edessa. There is another monastery by the same name. This one was established in the beginning of the fifth century, but was not mentioned by historians until 1191. From it graduated Basilius Faris, metropolitan of Edessa (d. 1204).

St. Barsoum Monastery دير مار برصوم : built on top of a mountain near Melitene, it looks like a citadel, a fact which has led some writers to call it the Monastery of the Cave. It was first mentioned in church history in 790. It was the patriarchal see from the eleventh century until the thirteenth century. A great monastery, it produced five patriarchs and forty-three metropolitans. It remained populated until the middle of the seventeenth century, when it was abandoned.

St. Behnam Monastery دير مار بهنام , also called the Pit Monastery, is situated about six hours’ journey southeast of Mosul. It was built in the beginning of the fifth century. From it graduated one maphrian and seven bishops. In 1839, it was usurped by a group which seceded and joined the Catholic church. It was deserted for some sixty years, but is now populated.

Beth Batin Monastery دير بيث باتين : in Harran. A synod met there in 793. It produced one Patriarch and three bishops and remained active until 975.

Taril Monastery دير ترعيل : very near Aleppo, towards the gate known as Bab Allah (“The Gate of God”), from which its Syriac name is derived. It was built in the sixth century, and among its inhabitants was Tuma al-Harqali (Thomas of Heraclea), the famous translator of the Bible. It produced two Patriarchs and fifteen bishops. Nothing is known about it after 975.

Talada Monastery دير تلعدا , also known as the Great Monastery, is situated south of Siman mountain, a twenty-minute walk north of the village of Talada, in the province of Antioch. It was built before 340 by Amian the ascetic, and in it resided Eusebius the ascetic (both men are mentioned above). This monastery is mentioned by chroniclers Theodoret of Cyrus and John of Ephesus. In 942, Patriarch John built a tower there. It produced nine bishops. Its remains can still be seen today.

The Gubba Baraya (“The Outer Pit”) Monastery دير الجب الخارجي البراني , located in the Euphrates desert between Aleppo and Manbij, was built at the end of the fifth and the start of the sixth century. Nothing is known about it after the middle of the ninth century. It produced four patriarchs and three bishops.

Harbaz Monastery دير حرباز , also called Gurgis (George) Monastery: in the province of Samosata. Its name first appears in history at the end of the seventh century, but nothing is known about it after the ninth century. From it graduated one patriarch and five bishops.

St. Hananya (Hanina) Monastery دير حنينيا أو حنانيا: perhaps named for Hanina the ascetic (d. 500). In it Peter III was consecrated as the Patriarch in 581.

Khnushya Monastery دير خنوشيا , in the mountain of Sinjar, is first mentioned in history in the sixth century. From it graduated Maphrian Bulus (Paul) in 722, and the monk David bar Paul in the beginning of the ninth century.

The Monastery of Daniel the Jalshian ascetic (d. 439) دير مار دانيال الجلشي الناسك : in the mountain of Matiniyya, northwest of the village of Dairkah, a day’s journey north of Mardin. It was rebuilt by Yuhanna (John), metropolitan of Mardin, and was inhabited until 1230. Its magnificent remains can be seen to this day.

Al-Dawair (“Circles”) Monastery دير الدوائر , in the province of Antioch, is first mentioned in history in 1112. From it came one patriarch and four bishops.

St. Demete Monastery دير مار ديميط : in Claudia, first mentioned in history in 1000. Dionysius V was consecrated there in 1034.

The Zafaran Monastery دير الزعفران , or St. Hananya Monastery, was built by Hananya, metropolitan of Mardin, between 793 and 800 on the site of an old monastery north of Mardin. This great and populous monastery in 1293 became the patriarchal see for some six hundred years. It claims twenty-one patriarchs, nine maphrians, and 110 bishops. In 1917 we published its detailed history, entitled Nuzhat al-Adhhan (“The Excursion of Minds”). In its immediate neighborhood there are three small monasteries close together: St. Azazel Monastery, which was inhabited by monks between 1500 and 1600; the Monastery of St. Jacob, the Doctor of the Church, first mentioned in history in 1165 and still active; and the Cell of St. Behnam, which was inhabited by a group of ascetics until the middle of the seventeenth century. From each of these three monasteries came a number of bishops.

St. Zakka (Zacchaeus) Monastery دير مار زكّى: in al-Raqqa, surrounded by the Balikh River. It was once a great and famous monastery; John of Talla became a monk there in 508. From this monastery graduated Patriarch John IV and twenty bishops, but it declined after 954. The Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid visited it one day, liked it, and bestowed favors on its monks.

St. Zakka (Zacchaeus) Monastery دير مار زكّى : in Karkar, also called the Monastery of the Virgin, was rebuilt in 1588 and produced two bishops.

Zuqnin Monastery دير زوقنين , outside Diyarbakr, is a famous, great monastery. Iyawannis I (d. 775) and fourteen bishops graduated from it.

The Monastery of Serjisiyya , of the Monastery of the Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus دير سرجيسية بإسم الشهيدين سرجيس وباخوس : its construction was begun by the monk Kiso Ashnawi of Azerbayjan near Jubas in 958, but was not finished until 1001. One of the professors at its school was Yuhanna, the pupil of Marun. From its founding until 1170, one maphrian and ten bishops graduated from it till 1170..

The Monastery of the Syrians دير السريان : this monastery was built in the name of the Virgin in the Scete desert in Egypt, perhaps in the fifth century. In the middle of the sixth century the Syrian merchant Marutha of Takrit bought it and dedicated it to the Syrian monks, whose number reached seventy in 1084. Inhabited by Syrian monks until the seventeenth century, it is presently inhabited by Coptic monks.

St. Sulayman (Solomon) Monastery دير مار سليمان , in al-Thaghr, near Duluk, overlooking Marj al-Ayn, was inhabited between 875 and 1000. Thirteen bishops graduated from it.

Sinun (Sinin) Monastery دير سنون وقيل أيضاً سنين , near Edessa, was mentioned in history in 512 and 565. It was destroyed in 751 by the tyrant Abd Allah al-Bukhturi.

St. Sharbil Monastery دير مار شربل , in Kafr Shami in Tur Abdin, was first mentioned in history in 1210, and must have remained in existence until the end of the sixteenth century. It produced one maphrian.

Shiro Monastery دير شيرو  was built in the name of St. Shabtai, a fifth-century ascetic, opposite the Monastery of St. Abhai, near the Monastery of Fusqin in Karkar. It was restored by Athanasius Denha, metropolitan of Edessa (1171-1191). While a monk, Patriarch Yuhanna XII resided in this monastery, and in it he was consecrated patriarch, It remained populated until the beginning of the seventeenth century.

St. Shila Monastery دير مار شيلا : built in Saruj, and named after St. Shila (d. 506). Two synods were convened in this monastery, in 706 and 846, and between 698 and 930 it produced nine bishops.

St. Shina Monastery دير مار شينا : in Marash. Seven bishops graduated from it between 805 and 1110.
The Monastery of the Cross دير الصليب , between Zaz and Hisn Kifa in Tur Abdin, was first mentioned in history in 775. It was the see of the bishops of Hah from 1089 to 1873. One patriarch of Tur Abdin, a maphrian, and six bishops graduated from it. In the middle of the last century it became the site of a small village, but its church still exists.

The Monastery of the Crosss دير الصليب : a small monastery near the village of Dafna on the way to Hisn Kifa, now called Makhray al-Wadi in Kurdish. Its church, built in 770, was destroyed in World War I, and the last of its monks was killed. Three bishops graduated from it.

The Mount Sinai Monastery دير طور شينا , built on top of Mount Sinai by Justinian, now belongs to the Greeks. Fifteen monks presently live in it. It has a magnificent library, containing about 280 old Syriac manuscripts, most of which are written in the Estrangelo and Malkite scripts. It is also a bishopric seat whose metropolitan resides in Cairo.

The Arabs’ Monastery دير العرب : between Tall Mawzalt and Tallbsam, nearer to Tall Mawzalt. It was built in the fifth century and is described in history as having been inhabited from 521 to 854. Four bishops graduated from it.

Arnish Monastery دير عرنيش , in the vicinity of Kaysum and Raban, was usurped by the wicked Kurtij the Armenian, who persecuted and expelled its monks, converting it into a citadel in 1114, but the monks were able to regain it. Between 1095 and 1132, six bishops graduated from it.

The Pillar Monastery دير العمود : in al-Raqqa, on the west bank of the Euphrates. The Empress Theodora (d. 548) gave money for its construction, and in 635 it was enlarged by the monks. By 956, one patriarch and ten bishops had graduated from it.

Fusqin Monastery دير فُسقين , also called the “Barefooted” Monastery: on the left bank of the Euphrates, near St. Abhai Monastery in Karkar. Master David and a group of monks renovated it at the beginning of the eleventh century. To this monastery are attributed five bishops in the tenth century. Its nave was built by the monk Habakkuk (fl. ca. 1160). The monastery was still populated in 1565, but was abandoned a few years later.

Fsilta Monastery دير فسيلتا , or the Quarry Monastery, outside Tall Mawzalt, was built in the fifth century, and it produced five metropolitans. Nothing is known about it after 880.

Fsilta Monastery دير فسيلتا , near Antioch, was first mentioned in history in the sixth century.

Fanur Monastery: the location of this monastery is unknown; however, it was inhabited between 510 and 575.

The Qidr (or Qidar) Monastery دير قدر أو قيدار , near Ras Ayn, was first mentioned by historians in the sixth century. One of its graduates is the chronicler-priest Tuma (Thomas), in 636. Its monks later moved to the Pillar Monastery.

Qartamin Monastery دير قرتمين , four hours’ journey east of Midyat, is the most famous monastery in Tur Abdin. It was built in 397 by the two ascetics, St. Samuel and St. Simon. It is commonly called the Monastery of St. Gabriel, after its abbot and bishop Gabriel (d. 667). This monastery was the metropolitan see of Tur Abdin from 615 to 1049. Afterwards, its metropolitan was the ecclesiastical leader of a large part of Tur Abdin; still later, however, his jurisdiction was restricted to a private diocese until 1915. This monastery claims four patriarchs, a maphrian, and seventy bishops. It is still inhabited.

The Qarqafta (“Skull”) Monastery دير قرقفتا , between Ras Ayn and Majdal in upper Jazira, was built by St. Simon, and became famous at the beginning of the eighth century. By the middle of the tenth century, six bishops had graduated from it. It fell to ruin a long time ago.

St. Cyriacus Monastery دير مار قرياقس , near the village of Zarjal in al-Bushayriyya, in the province of Diyarbakr, lies about two days’ journey northeast of Diyarbakr. From the beginning of the fifteenth century to the beginning of the present century it was a bishopric see. It is still standing, although no one has lived in it for two years.

The Qatra, or Natif, Monastery القطرة أو الناطف  دير was built in the name of the Virgin and St. Theodorus. It is a small monastery hewn in the rocks in a mountain overlooking the Zafaran Monastery, and housed a group of monks. We have a great deal of information about it since the fourteenth century. At times it was administered by a bishop. It became empty, however, about 1927.

Qinnesrin Monastery دير قنسرين : built in the name of the Apostle Thomas on the bank of the Euphrates, opposite Jarabulus, about 530. It was a famous monastery until the ninth century and at its high point housed about 370 monks. It was burned by some dissenters, but was restored by Patriarch Dionysius I in 822. By 930, seven patriarchs and fifteen bishops had graduated from it. About 1025 it was attached to the diocese of Samosata. It is probable that it remained active until the thirteenth century, after which it was abandoned. See our article in the Patriarchal Magazine, IV, 265-278.

Qanqart Monastery دير قَنقرت, built in the name of the prophet Iliyya (Elijah) near Qanqart, a journey of an hour and a half from Diyarbakr, was first mentioned in history in 1050. It was twice renovated, once by Patriarch Michael the Great in 1173, and again in 1730 by Patriarch Ignatius Shukr Allah. It was abandoned at the start of the nineteenth century, and on its site today stands a village called Qara Kelisa (“The Bla謹Church,” because of the black stones of the area). Its remains are still visible. See the Patriarchal Magazine, VI, 144-153.

The Quba Monastery دير قوبا , also called the Monastery of the Domes: in the Mountain of Edessa, south of St. Cosmas Church. Built at the beginning of the fifth century, it was destroyed by Ibn al-Bukhturi in 751, but was later restored. By 873 it had produced three bishops.

Kasliyud Monastery دير كاسليود : in the province of Marash. Between 1100 and 1200 four bishops graduated from it.

Kafrtina Monastery دير كفرتبنا , outside Harran, south of Edessa, was mentioned by historians for the first time in 710.

St. Gurgis (George) Monastery دير مار كوركيس ( جرجس ) , south of Mardin, was renovated by Abu Ali, the chief physician in the twelfth century. It is no longer in existence.

St. Gurgis (George) Monastery دير مار كوركيس , located in a valley south of Mardin, was renovated by John, metropolitan of Mardin, in the middle of the twelfth century and remained active until 1332. It produced one bishop.

Gugel Monastery دير كوكل , believed to be in Tur Abdin, was also called Beth Gugi Monastery. It remained active until the beginning of the sixth century, but then was deserted. On its ruins the Nestorian monastery of Ibrahim of Kashkar was built, but it was regained by the Syrians at the beginning of the nineteenth century. They also regained possession of the Monastery of St. Yuhanna al-Tai, near the Monastery of St. Awgen (Eugene), and renovated both of these monasteries.

Kuwaykhat Monastery دير كويخات , near al-Massisa in Cilicia, was first mentioned in history in 1208. Two patriarchs, Ignatius IV (d. 1282) and Michael II (d. 1312), came from it. It was in this monastery also that Phelixene II was consecrated as patriarch in 1389.

Madhiq Monastery دير ماذيق , built in the name of the Virgin and the Forty Martyrs in Claudia, near the village of Sinjis, was first mentioned in history in 986. Ten metropolitans graduated from it. In 1257 the henchmen of Ahmad ibn Ballas burned this monastery.

Mar Matta (St. Matthew) Monastery دير مار متى : a large monastery, built at the end of the fourth century, it became a metropolitan see and still holds that honor today. At the beginning it housed a great number of monks. It suffered many changes and calamities until it was renovated in 1845. It produced two patriarchs, six maphrians, and thirty bishops.

The Monastery of the Magdalene دير المجدلية , in the Bab al-Amud district of Jerusalem, is an old monastery, first mentioned in history in 1000. It was the see of the metropolitan of Jerusalem. In 1235 it housed seventy monks. Four metropolitans graduated from it. In the fourteenth century it was usurped by a group of Muslims, with the help of the Mamluks; they then converted it into a school called al-Maymuna. Parts of its ruins were still to be seen until the last century, but they no longer exist.

St. Mark the Evangelist Monastery and the Virgin Monastery دير مار مرقس الانجيلي والسيد العذراء باورشليم : in Jerusalem. St. Mark is also known as the Monastery of the Syrians. It is an old monastery, built in the fifth or sixth century, according to an Estrangelo Syriac inscription on a stone discovered in 1940. Today it is the see of our metropolitan, and it has been the home of our monks since 1472. The monastery has a magnificent library and a press. It has produced seven bishops.

Murayba Monastery دير ماريبا : Murayba is a big village in the province of Harran. Two bishops graduated from its monastery in the first half of the ninth century.

The Monastery of the Eastern Syrians دير المشارقة  , one of the biggest and most important monasteries in the Mountain of Edessa, was built in the fourth century. In 600 Domitian, the Greek of Melitene, persecuted and killed about four hundred of its monks for holding a belief contrary to his. It remained in existence until the middle of the thirteenth century, and produced eleven bishops.

Al-Muallaq , or St. Sergius, Monastery دير المعلق أو دير مار سرجيس  is thought to have been built in the fifth century in the name of the ascetics Sergius, Zura, and Bauth, on the crest of the Barren Mountain above Balad, three leagues from Sinjar, west of Mosul. It produced one maphrian and some bishops, and was a bishopric see from 1167 to 1345, after which it became deserted. [See “Rihla ila Athar Dayr al-Muallaq” (“A Trip to the Ruins of al-Muallaq Monastery”), Al-Mashriq 3 : 7 (1951), 214-220. Although this article is unsigned, it was written by the late Bishop Gregorius Bulus Behnam (d. 1969), while he was still a monk in Mosul. This editor was among the group which visited the monastery with Rev. Behnam].

St. Malke Monastery دير مار ملكي : in Tur Abdin, near the villages of Arkah and Badabbah. This monastery was built about the sixth century and became a bishopric see in the fourteenth century, but was finally destroyed in 1926. It produced ten bishops.

Beth Malke Monastery دير بيث ملكي : in the province of Antioch. It was in this monastery that Dionysius II resided in the middle of the seventh century and translated books of philosophy into our Syriac language.

St. Musa al-Habashi (Moses the Abyssinian) Monastery دير مار موسى الحتشي : in the Mudakhkhin Mountain, an hour and a half from the town of al-Nabk in Syria. This monastery was built in the sixth century and renovated in 1556. It became a metropolitan see at the end of the fourteenth century. It was inhabited until 1832, when it was usurped from us (by the seceding faction which joined the Church of Rome) through political influence, and later was deserted. Two patriarchs and twenty bishops graduated from it.

St. Aaron Monastery دير مار هارون : in the Blessed Mountain near Melitene, was built by St. Aaron of Saruj, the ascetic, in 389. It produced six bishops between 1088 and 1289.

St. Aaron Monastery دير مار هارون في الشغر : in Shaghr, in the province of Qallisura. Two patriarchs and five bishops graduated from it between 986 and 1170.

The Monastery of the Mother of God, or the Monastery of the Solitary Strangers دير والدة الله أو دير المتوحدين الغرباء : in the Mount of Edessa, south of the city of Edessa and the Nawawis Monastery. The chronicler monk of Zuqnin mentioned it in his history (ca. 751). One patriarch and some bishops graduated from it. It remained active until the thirteenth century.

St. Jacob Monastery دير مار يعقوب , near Kaysum, was first mentioned in history at the end of the seventh century. Ten bishops graduated from it between 810 and 925.

The Monastery of St. Jacob the Solitary دير مار يعقوب الحبيس , near the village of Salh in Tur Abdin, is a big monastery built by St. Jacob the ascetic shortly before 419. Its nave, however, was not built until 770. This monastery became the see of the patriarchs of Tur Abdin in 1365. Two patriarchs, a maphrian, and seven bishops graduated from it. It is still inhabited.

The Monastery of St. Jacob, the Doctor of the Church, also called the Nawawis Monastery دير مار يعقوب الملفان , in the Mount of Edessa, an hour and a half south of the city. It was built in the fifth century and was mentioned by John of Ephesus in his history in 519.3 It was renovated by its abbot, John of Saruj, who was elevated to the office of Maphrian of the East in 1164. It remained inhabited until 1223. Its ruins are still visible.

The Monastery of St. John Orti دير مار يوحنا الارطلي : John the ascetic built this monastery in 390 near Diyarbakr. It produced three bishops, the most famous of whom is John of Ephesus, the historian (d. 587). We know nothing about it after 600.

The Monastery of St. John Nayrab (Narab) دير مار يوجنا نيرب أو نارب , the location of this monastery is unknown to us. We know, however, that Anba George was its abbot from 563 to 569.

Monasteries

– Mor Ignatius Aphram Barsoum