Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Holy See of Antioch
Ignatius Aphrem II
HeadquartersDamascus, Syria
First holderPeter the Apostle
DenominationOriental Orthodox Church
RiteWest Syriac Rite
EstablishedAD 32 at Antioch
CathedralPatriarchal Cathedral of Saint George
PatriarchIgnatius Aphrem II (since 2014)

The Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch ܦܛܪܝܪܟܐ ܕܐܢܛܝܘܟܝܐ is the Bishop of Antioch, and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church (Syriac: ܥܺܕܬܳܐ ܣܽܘ̣ܪܝܳܝܬܳܐ ܬܪܺܝܨܰܬ ܫܽܘ̣ܒ̣ܚܳܐ). He is the Head of the Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church, the highest authority of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

The position of the Patriarch of Antioch was established and first held by Peter the Apostle (Syriac: ܫܹܡܥܘܿܢ ܟܹ݁ܐܦ݂ܵܐ Šemʿōn Kēp̄ā).[1][2] He officially oversees the Holy Apostolic See at Antioch (modern-day Antakya, in Turkey), though the Patriarch currently resides in Damascus; the Patriarch fled to Syria during the 1915 Assyrian genocide.

The Patriarchate of Antioch is one of three Patriarchates of the Christian Church as affirmed by the Council of Nicaea, alongside the Patriarch of Alexandria and the Patriarch of Rome. He is the Bishop of Antioch, and considered as Primus Inter Pares or First Among the Equals/Bishops of the Diocese of the East.

History of the Patriarchate


The Church of Antioch was established by Peter in AD 32.[3] During the Synod of Nicaea, the Bishop of Antioch became one of the Patriarchates (along with fellow Patriarchate of Alexandria). After the Council at Chalcedon, Christianity split into the Catholic-Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox, thus splitting the church. The Patriarch of Antioch (Severus) and Pope of Alexandria (Dioscorus) led the Oriental Orthodox Church, which followed a miaphysite view of Christology and the Pope of Rome led the Catholic Church along with the Patriarch of Constantinople, which followed a dyophysite view on Christology.

Severus, the Patriarch of Antioch, was exiled to Egypt in 518 by the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire for following the Oriental Orthodox Church. The Catholic group of the Church of Antioch (later Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch), accepted the new Patriarch Paul, appointed by the Pope of Rome, as their new Patriarch, after the exile of Severus. The Syriac Orthodox Church, or the Oriental Orthodox group of the Church of Antioch, continued to accept Severus as Patriarch until his death in AD 538.[4][5]


By AD 544, the Syriac Orthodox Church had only three bishops remaining and no Syriac successor to Severus had been elected. During this time, a priest named Jacob traveled to Constantinople to ask Empress Theodora's (who was a Miaphysite herself), the daughter of a Syriac Orthodox priest,[dubiousdiscuss] consent to be ordained as a bishop. He was ordained as Mor Jacob Baradeus (Mor Ya'qub Burdono ܝܥܩܘܒ ܒܘܪܕܥܝܐ), by Pope Theodosius I, Pope of Alexandria and he traveled to many places to revive the Syriac Orthodox Church. He managed to consecrate 27 bishops, and hundreds of priests and deacons for the church.[5] He led the consecration of Mor Sergius of Tella as the Patriarch of Antioch (first Patriarch of the independent Syriac Orthodox Church) in 544. It is after this bishop that the Syriac Orthodox Church in India gets the name "Jacobite" (Jacobite Syrian Christian Church)[5] He revived the Miaphysite belief in the Church of Antioch throughout persecution.

The Mor Bar Sauma Monastery became the seat of the patriarch between the 11th and 13th century until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1285. The patriarchate was then moved to Sis before it finally settled in Dayro d-Mor Hananyo (Kurkmo Dayro, or Deir az-Za'faran), in Mardin, Turkey where it remained until 1933.[6][7]

Split of the Syriac Catholic Church

In 1662, the vacant patriarchate was filled by individuals who aligned themselves with the Catholic Church. Andrew Akijan was elected in that year, and was succeeded by another Catholic in Gregory Peter VI Shahbaddin. The non-Catholic Syriac party elected the rival Abdulmasih I, Shahbaddin's uncle, as a competing patriarch. Upon Shahbaddin's death in 1702, the Catholic line died out for several decades until the Holy Synod in 1782 elected Michael III Jarweh, who again aligned the Syriacs with the pope. Following a period of violence and intrigue, the non-Catholic party was again recognized with their own patriarch and the Catholic line continued independently as the Syriac Catholic Church.

Persecution and Modern period

The Syriac Orthodox Church continued to be persecuted under the Arabs, Mongols, Crusaders, Mamluks, and Ottomans. During 1915 Assyrian Genocide(known as the Sayfo/ܣܝܦ or "the year of the sword" in Syriac), more than 250,000 Syriac Orthodox Christians in the Middle East were wiped out by the Ottoman Empire. Many Syriac Orthodox Villages were emptied, and historical monasteries and churches were destroyed. During the Assyrian genocide and concomitant World War I, the Patriarchate was forced to flee by the Ottoman Empire, and the patriarch fled to Homs, Syria in 1953, and later to Damascus, in 1957.

The Syriac Orthodox Church continues to grow to this day under the Patriarchate. The Syriac Orthodox Church, along with the rest of the Oriental Orthodox Church, is now in sacramental cooperation with the Catholic Church, and is in dialogues with the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.

Authority of the Patriarch

Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, 123rd and Current Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

The Patriarch is considered the legitimate successor of Peter the Apostle, on the Holy Throne of Antioch.[2]

The Patriarch, as first among the bishops, convenes the Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church and presides over the meeting.

The Patriarch, has the authority to consecrate the Maphrian (also known as the Catholicos of India) and bishops who are elected by the Holy Synod, but he has to be assisted by two other bishops (by his invitation). He is the only one authorized to conduct the consecration of a bishop. The Maphrian and other bishops can do it with the consent of the Patriarch. He is also the only one that can consecrate the chrism.

The Patriarch signs all documents with other denominations and he alone is in charge of external relations with other churches. The Patriarch dispatches clergy on ecclesiastical and cultural works.

When the Patriarch visits a diocese, he sits on the Cathedral seat of the church. The bishops are not allowed to carry their pastoral staff and wear their red vestment in front of the Patriarch (bishops usually wear a red vestment while travelling in their diocese) in respect to the Apostolic See.

The Patriarch has the right to change, introduce, or abolish church rites. All Syriac Orthodox monasteries are in the hands of the Patriarch and he alone has the authority to appoint its caretakers.

Requirements and Restrictions for the Patriarch



Titles of the Patriarch

The following are a list of titles of the Patriarch of Antioch

The official title of the Patriarch of Antioch is:

His Holiness/Thrice Blessed Moran Mor Ignatius (Monastic Name) (Roman Numeral to distinguish from other Patriarchs of the same name) Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church.

ܩܕܝܫܘܬܗ/ ܬܠܝܬܝ̈ ܛܘܒܐ̈ ܕܡܪܢ ܡܪܝ ܐܝܓܢܛܝܘܣ ... ܦܛܪܝܪܟܐ ܕܐܢܛܝܘܟܝܐ ܘܕܟܠܗ̇ ܡܕܢܚܐ ܘܪܝܫܐ ܓܘܢܝܐ ܕܥܕܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ ܬܪܝܨܬ ܫܘܒܚܐ ܒܟܠܗ̇ ܬܐܒܠ

Qaddišuṯeh/Tlithoy Tube ḏ-Moran Mor Iḡnaṭius ... Paṭriarḵo ḏ-Anṭiuḵia waḏ-Kuloh Maḏĕnḥo w-Rišo Gawonoyo ḏ-ʿItto Suryoyto Triṣaṯ Šuḇḥo ḇ-Kuloh Tiḇel

Other titles for the patriarch include:


  1. ^ Gregorios 1999, p. 35.
  2. ^ a b "Benton, William (1 April 1900 – 17 March 1973), Chairman and Publisher, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., since 1943", Who Was Who, Oxford University Press, 2007-12-01, doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u152251
  3. ^ Gregorios 1999.
  4. ^ "Patriarch, Patriarchate". Encyclopaedia of Christianity (online ed.). Brill. doi:10.1163/2211-2685_eco_p.46.
  5. ^ a b c Hilliard, Alison; Bailey, Betty Jane (1999). Living stones pilgrimage : with the Christians of the Holy Land : a guide. London: Cassell. ISBN 978-0-8264-2249-1. OCLC 317999284.
  6. ^ Kaufhold 2000, p. 227.
  7. ^ Markessini, Joan (June 2012). Around the World of Orthodox Christianity - Five Hundred Million Strong: The Unifying Aesthetic Beauty. Dorrance. ISBN 978-1-4349-1486-6.
  8. ^ Syrian Orthodox Constitution, via Internet archive.
  9. ^ a b c "The Departure of the His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Thrice Blessed Memory – Press Releases". Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  10. ^ a b "Patriarch Zakka I: The SOC At a Glance". Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  11. ^ Sebastian P. Brock (2006). An Introduction to Syriac Studies. Gorgias Press. ISBN 978-1-59333-349-2.