ܐܦܛܪܘܦܘܬܐ ܦܛܪܝܪܟܝܬܐ  ܕܡܪܥܝܬܐ ܕܐܘܚܕ̈ܢܐ ܡܥܪ̈ܒܝܐ ܕܐܡܝܪܟܐ ܐܦܛܪܘܦܘܬܐ ܦܛܪܝܪܟܝܬܐ  ܕܡܪܥܝܬܐ ܕܐܘܚܕ̈ܢܐ ܡܥܪ̈ܒܝܐ ܕܐܡܝܪܟܐ

ܐܦܛܪܘܦܘܬܐ ܦܛܪܝܪܟܝܬܐ
 ܕܡܪܥܝܬܐ ܕܐܘܚܕ̈ܢܐ ܡܥܪ̈ܒܝܐ ܕܐܡܝܪܟܐ

Archdiocese of the Western USA

St. James (Jacob) bishop of Nisibis, July 15

St. Jacob (James) Syrian bishop of Nisibin (d. 338)


Also listed as James of Nisibis (Nusaybin), and Known as "Moses of Mesopotamia". He was born in the city of Nisibis, and was brought up there. From the time of his youth he loved solitude, and chose the monastic life, James became a monk and for a long time he lived in the mountains around about the city of Nisibis (on the border of the Persian and Roman empires), where he carried out strict ascetic exploits: he lived under the open sky, fed himself with tree fruits and greens, and dressed himself in goat-skins (sackcloth) to protect himself from the heat of summer and the cold of winter. For this reason, he was very thin, but his soul was illumined and full of grace. He was worthy to receive the gift of prophecy and the performing of miracles. He also was able to foretell the future and he advised the people of what would happen to them in advance. The monk passed all this time in prayerful conversations with God.


His miracles are numerous. One day he saw some promiscuous women jesting without shame by a spring of water, and they had let their hair down to take a bath. He prayed to God, and the water of the spring dried up, and the women's hair became white. When the women apologized to him and repented for what they had done, he prayed to God, and the water came back to the spring, but their hair remained white.


Another miracle occurred when he was passing by certain people who stretched a man on the ground and covered him as though he was dead. They asked the saint for some money for his burial. When they returned to the man, they found him dead. They came back to the saint and repented for what they had done. St. James prayed to God, and the man came back to life.


During a persecution by the emperor Maximian (305-311) he was glorified by a courageous confession of faith.


When his virtues became widely known, and because of his strict and pious life the inhabitants of Nisibis chose him as their bishop (from 308/9 A.D. till his death in 338 A.D.). Mor Jacob has always been a prominent figure in the Syriac-speaking Church tradition. He acquired a reputation for great learning, ability and holiness. A wise and educated metropolitan, constructed at Nisibis a public school, in which he himself was an instructor.  He made a strong impression on the hearts of his listeners by the high morality of his life. Sainted Gregory, bishop of great Armenia, turned to him with a request to write about the faith, and the Nizibite pastor sent to him by way of reply a detailed Discourse (18 Chapters): about the faith, about love, fasting, prayer, spiritual warfare, the resurrection of the dead, the duties of pastors, about circumcision against the Jews, about the choice of foods, about Christ as the Son of God, and so on. His composition distinguishes itself by its persuasive clear exposition and warmth. He was a teacher of Saint Ephrem but his memory is highly honored in the East, especially in Syrian churches, and legends coalesced around his name.


He took a leading role in opposing the Arian heresy at the Council of Nicaea (325) and he was one of the prominent defenders of the Orthodox faith. A fierce opponent of Arianism at the Council (according to the legend repeated in the Syriac and Roman Martyrology, the prayers of James and Alexander of Constantinople were responsible for the death of Arius and his "bowels gushing out"), he was renowned for his exceptional holiness, learning, and miracles. He is honored as a malphono (i.e., theological doctor) by both the Syrian and Armenian Churches. He shepherded the flock of Christ very well, and protected his people from the Arian wolves. 


Mor Jacob of Nisibis undertook the construction of a basilica building in Nisibis between 313 and 320, and founding the theological school of Nisibis, which became famous. It was under the bishopric of St. Jacob that St. Ephrem the Syrian flourished. St. Jacob died peacefully in Nisibis in 338. The Syriac Orthodox Church commemorate his day on May 12 and July 15. The Coptic Church on January 26, and the roman Catholic Church in July 15. His relics were saved from the a Persian invasion and were send to Constantinople for safety around the year 970.


To him St. Ephrem directed the poet which in it speaks of his bishop Jacob, By his simple words he gave milk to his infants.

The Nisibis Church was childlike with him.
As with a child, he loved her and threatened her.
The womb of him who gave birth to the flock bore her infancy.
The first priest gave milk to her infancy.
The wealthy father, laid up treasures for her childhood.

(Hymns on Nisibin 14.16-22)


His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.