In response to the call by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, the Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, and despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 and its variants, the Syriac Orthodox Community worldwide answered the call, and have been learning more about this great saint and poet through holding online sessions, translating his poems into different languages, airing television programs, publishing books, brochures and booklets, and producing YouTube videos on the life of this saint.
For example, in Perth, Australia, and in addition to featuring St. Jacob of Serugh image on the 2021 calendar, the publication of a brochure and a booklet in which the analysis conducted by V. Rev. Fr. Boutros Touma Issa of one of the St. Jacob of Serugh’s poems describing the status of one of the Syriac Orthodox Deacons and Martyrs by the name of Habib, a frame with one of the saint’s images with explanatory notes on this image’s history was distributed to the faithful at the church in Perth on 28 November as a blessing for their homes. Recently, a personalized stamp was issued with the saint’s image.
The celebrations that took place during 27-28 November around the feast of St Jacob of Serugh (29 November), have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and should be considered amongst the great historical events in the life of the Syriac Orthodox Church but especially in the diaspora.
These celebrations reached their culmination with the consecration of the altar of Mor Jacob of Serugh at the Monastery in Warburg, Germany on 27 November, when His Holiness, assisted by several bishops, archpriests, priests, monks, and deacons witnessed by a limited number of faithful from Germany and other parts of the world, consecrated the altar of Mor Jacob of Serugh at Mor Jacob of Serugh Monastery.
After this consecration, His Holiness blessed the faithful with the relics of Mor Jacob of Serugh which were brought from St Mary Church in (Amad) Diyarbakir of the land of Mesopotamia, for this special day, and which now has a special place next to the consecrated altar in Germany.
On 28 November, His Holiness, assisted by several bishops, archpriests, priests, monks, and deacons from Germany and around the world, with the attendance of members of the sister churches in Germany, consecrated the Holy Myron according to the Rite of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. This is one of the major rites in the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch which goes back in history to the events that took place during the apostles’ era (Acts 8: 17 and 19: 6).
Indeed, history was in the making on 27-28 November, as this is the first time such an important Syriac Orthodox rite was carried out in Europe.
Reflecting on this important event in the history of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, I would say that the events themselves were very organized, extremely delightful and satisfying to watch and follow using technology. Organizing such a huge event and outside the Syriacs’ homeland was not easy, but through the great efforts exerted by H.E. Mor Philoxinous Mattias Nayesh, the Patriarchal Vicar of Germany, the Syriac clergy, the deacons, and the Syriac Benevolent associations of the vicarate in Germany, coupled with the presence of some 22 archbishops from around the world made it possible.
Having said that yet, this was a bitter-sweet moment, whereas while watching these great events and listening to H.H. homilies, we felt very sad to witness the hurt in H.H. voice who assured the faithful that the church continues to exert every effort to keep up with the movement of the faithful who departed their homeland due to the uncertain circumstances in the Middle Eastern region, including but not limited to the ongoing discrimination and persecution, thus, huge number of the Syriacs had already left their homeland seeking safer lives either in Europe, the Americas or Australia.
Certainly, this is very sad, but the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch under the leadership of H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, the Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, supported by the members of the Syriac Orthodox Holy Synod, other Syriac clergy and benevolent associations have been and will continue to face these challenges to ensure that those leaving their homeland are and will continue to be served in the same manner, keeping them in the folds of the Holy Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.
May the prayers and supplications of St. Jacob of Serugh (521+) be with all. Amen.
For further information and images please refer to:
- St. Jacob of Serugh Monastery
- H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II
- Department of Syriac Studies
- Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, Perth, Western Australia