I have come once again to share with you another milestone in the life of my beloved Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East.
This year, 2023, marks the 1500 Jubilee Year of Mor Philoxenus of Maboug (St Philoxenus of Maboug) who was born in the year 451 in what is currently referred to as Iraq and departed this earthly life in the year 523 in what is today referred to as Turkey.
On 10 December 2022, H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, the Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, issued an encyclical on this occasion.
H.H. commenced the encyclical by providing a historical snapshot describing the events that were taking place at the time of Mor Philoxenus of Maboug.
H.H. stated, the Holy Church in the fifth century was fighting heresies and false teachings which tried to divide the church and weaken the faith of her children. During that time, different heresies came to light and influenced the spiritual leaders, increasing divisions. However, divine providence always leads the Church through pious men who strengthen the faith of her children and confirm them in the Orthodox teachings of the apostolic faith that was handed down to them. During such harsh circumstances, a bright lantern shone: Mor Philoxenus of Maboug, a great scholar of our Syriac Church.
On the 1500 years of his martyrdom, H.H. declared 2023 the year of the fifteenth centennial jubilee of Mor Philoxenus of Maboug. H.H. encouraged the faithful, clergy and lay, to dedicate this year to commemorate this important saint and contemplate his life and his great heroism in remaining steadfast in his faith. He was a shining star in the heaven of our Syriac Orthodox Church. The Dayro d'Mor Jakob (St Jacob of Serugh Monastery) in Germany immediately introduced a new logo with Mor Philoxenos of Maboug’s image, as they commenced the activities in the parishes in Germany under the leadership of H.E. Mor Philoxinous Mattias Nayesh, including but not limited to ongoing lectures on the life and works of this great saint in the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch.
Whilst the Patriarchate is currently in the process of publishing and republishing books and organize special programs through different media outlets about this great saint, H.H. Aphrem II encouraged all the Archdioceses throughout the world to organize academic conferences and cultural events around this saint’s life to highlight his great contribution to the enrichment of the Syriac spiritual patrimony. H.H. also urged the faithful to follow this Saint’s lead and hold steadfast to the apostolic faith to deserve the crown of glory which is mentioned by St Paul the Apostle:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearance” (2Timothy 4:7-8).
In the usual manner, I can report on the activities undertaken by my small community here in Perth, Western Australia in response to H.H.’s December 2022 encyclical. Whilst the main celebration will be held during December 2023, yet, complying with the encyclical V. Rev. Fr. Boutros Touma Issa of St Ephraim Syrian Church in Perth, Western Australia, Australia, and to ensure that the community learns about this great saint and such a milestone, our church came up with some initiatives:
—Made the theme of the calendar on Mor Philoxenos of Maboug and in that calendar he included one of the sayings of Mor Philoxinous – this saying is included underneath in English and Syriac:
From the sayings of Mor Philoxenos of Maboug on glutton or insatiability:
“Glutton (insatiability) is the enemy of everything, it is an enemy that comes to heroic struggles, distorting good name and reputation, obstructive to all victories. Not only the spiritual victories but the physical victories too.“
—Commenced the process of the teaching of the community members on the life, works, and sacrifices of this saint. So far, two sessions were held virtually in June 2023, and August 2023 with the participation of the community, the deacons, and the clergy.
—In the process of publishing a brochure that will become available online on the life of this great saint. From this draft brochure I quote some lines to introduce this saint to our readers:
Born in the city of Tahel – Bethgarmay area in Bethnahrin (Mesopotamia) and was named Akhsnoyo in Syriac (Means stranger).
Migrated to TurAbdin, (present Turkey) studied at Qartmeen Monastery (Mor Gabriel Monastery) then at Edessa School then went to study at Talaada Monastery.
Ordained Archbishop for the archdiocese of Maboug and named Philoxinous (Means hospitable, or loving strangers).
Authored several books on different topics.
Joined the martyrs on 10 December 523 suffocating from smoke.
May his prayers be with us.
The main commemoration will be held in December 2023, God willing.
In the same manner as H.H. Aphrem II concluded his encyclical, I conclude this article:
May the Lord make this commemoration of this Jubilee a blessing for all who celebrate it through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Mor Philoxenus of Maboug and all the martyrs’ saints.
May God bless.
Stay safe and take care.
We continue to pray