Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mor Michael Rabo, The 79th Patriarch of Antioch & all the East

By John Philip Kottapparambil

ST. MICHAEL THE GREAT - Dhukrono- 7th November (1126-1199)

On 7th November falls the Dhukrono of the famous Church Historian and scholar, MOR MICHAEL RABO who is one of the Great Patriarchs of Antioch.

He was born in Melitine {Malatya in Mesapotamia} in the year 1126. His father is Rev. Fr. Elia Al Qandasi. Mor Athanasius Zakka, the Metropolitan of Ayn Zarba (d.1166) was his uncle. He became monk at Mor Barsawmo Monastery that is located near Melitine {Malatya}

He mastered Church Literature, Linguistics, Declension, History, Theology and all sorts of Literature at a very young age. Known of his great and unique virtues, he was appointed as the head of Mor Barsawmo Monastery.

Mor Michael Rabo was installed Patriarch of Antioch and all the East on 18th October 1166 and fulfilled his office competently for 33 years. He was the 79th canonical Patriarch in the Apostolic See of Antioch. He departed from this earthy life on 7th November 1199.

He was known to be very handsome and good-looking person who was very energetic with a unique chanting voice and had a beautiful handwriting.

The late Patriarch left behind several of his books, the most famous of those is "THE RELIGIOUS AND GENERAL CIVIL HISTORY FROM THE CREATION UP TO THE YEAR 1193". This was wrote in Syriac and comes in several volumes. He spent his day in looking after Church matters and in transcribing significant manuscripts; he devoted the night to the writings of letters. He transcribed Gospel on vellum in the Estrangelo script, gilded its pages and bound it with a silver cover. (It was the Syriac bible written during the time of Mor Michael Rabo and which was kept in Malankara, that was presented to Dr. Buchanan during his visit to the Church in Malabar in 1807. This one is now preserved in the British library).

Patriarch Mor Michael Rabo has compiled all the hymns of St. Ephraim and Jacob of Sarug in several copies, which he transcribed personally. Also he marked the service books of ordinations, principal festivals and prayers with diacritical points with great care and preserved them in one huge volume. Several other books are there written by this great Patriarch.

(Source: "The history of the Syriac Literature and Sciences", "The Indian Church of St. Thomas" & "Calendar of the Syrian Orthodox Church")


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