The Monk Isaac the Syrian, Bishop of Ninevah

Commemorated on January 28

      The Monk Isaac the Syrian, Bishop of Ninevah, lived during the VII Century. Together with his brother he entered the monastery of Mar Matthew. His learning and lofty ascetic manner of life gained the notice of the brethren, and they proposed that he head the monastery. The Monk Issac, not wanting this and instead yearning for silence, withdrew from the monastery to an hermitage. His brother more than once urged him to return to the monastery, but the monk would not agree. However, when the fame of the holy life of the Monk Isaac had spread all around, he was elevated to the cathedra-chair of bishop of Ninevah. Seeing the crude manners of the inhabitants of the city, the monk sensed that it was beyond his ability to guide them, and moreover, he languished for the quest of the hermit's life. All this was a burden for the holy man, and in resigning as bishop, he withdrew into a skete wilderness monastery. Here he lived until his death, attaining to high spiritual perfection.
      After the death of the Monk Isaac of Syria, from the early VIII Century through the beginning XVIII Century, nothing was known about him in Europe except for his name and works. Only in the year 1719 at Rome was there published a biography of the monk, compiled by an anonymous Arab author. In 1896 the account about the Monk Isaac was enlarged upon. The learned French soteriologist Abbot Charbot published the works of the Syrian history of the VIII Century by Iezudena, bishop of Barsa, wherein was located the account about the Monk Isaac the Syrian.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.