Syrian bishop of Nisibin (d. 338)
listed as James of Nisibis (Nusaybin), and
Known as "Moses of Mesopotamia".
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.
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.
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.
persecution by the emperor Maximian (305-311) he was glorified
by a courageous confession of faith.
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
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
Ephrem but his memory is highly honored in the East,
especially in Syrian churches, and legends coalesced around his
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.
shepherded the flock of Christ very well, and protected his
people from the Arian wolves.
Mor Jacob of Nisibis undertook the construction of a
building in Nisibis between 313 and 320, and founding the
theological school of Nisibis,
which became famous.
It was under the bishopric of St.
the Syrian flourished.
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)
prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.