ܕܡܪܥܝܬܐ ܕܐܘܚܕ̈ܢܐ ܡܥܪ̈ܒܝܐ ܕܐܡܝܪܟܐ
|Mor John of Ephesus,|
Mor John of Ephesus (d. 587)
One of the famous dignitaries of his time and the author of interesting historical writings, he was an indefatigable and industrious man, and above all, a propagandist and active missionary of Christianity.
john was most likely born at Agel in the province of Amid around the year 507. He came close to death when he was two years old, but was healed by the prayer of Mar Marun, the stylite ascetic in the Monastery of Ara Rabtha ܐܪܥܐ ܪܒܬܐ (The Great Land) at Agel. When he was four years old, his family sent him to Marun's monastery in compliance with the ascetic's order. He remained at the monastery until he became fifteen years old. At this time, the ascetic (Marun) died, and John joined the monks at the Monastery of John the Iberian north of Amid, which was founded at the end of the fourth century. This monastery gained popularity and was comprised of many monks. At this monastery, john studied the Holy Scriptures, practiced the spiritual life and learned the two languages popular at that time.
In 529, he was ordained a deacon by John, metropolitan of Talla, and then became a monk. When the monks were persecuted and dispersed, he departed with them, but in 530 they were allowed to return to their monastery. John, however, went about visiting the monasteries and the monks' cells, conversing with the most virtuous ascetics, learning from them and recording their chronicles.
In 532, he journeyed to Antioch, then in 534, to Egypt and to Constantinople in 535. In the following years he shared the fate of monks who were severely persecuted and tortured by Ephraim of Amid and the tyrant Abraham Bar Kili. In 540 and 541, he traveled to Constantinople and Mesopotamia and then returned to the capital. In 542, he was chosen by Justinian, who had great confidence in him because of his zeal and ambition, to preach to the heathens in Asia Minor, Caria, Phrygia and Lydia and call them to Christianity.
Around the year 558, he was ordained by St. Jacob Baradaeus as a metropolitan of the Orthodox community in Ephesus, from which he took his generic name. He took another generic name from Asia Minor. For nearly twenty-nine years he carried out his mission and achieved great success by converting eighty thousand heathens to Christianity and founded, according to one narrative, ninety-two churches and ten monasteries, and according to another one, ninety-nine churches and twelve monasteries. In these efforts, he was assisted by Deutrius, whom he ordained a bishop of Caria.
After the death of Theodosius in 566, John became the head of the Orthodox community at Constantinople and the rest of the Byzantine country. However, in 571, Justin II as well as the Malkite bishops of the capital severely tortured the Orthodox citizenry, among whom was John. He was detained in an exhausting prison and then banished to an island for forty months and nine days. He was also placed under surveillance for more than three years. He was arrested for a second time, released and then arrested for a third time under Tiberius. He was banished from the capital with his companions on Christmas Day of 578. He died around 586/7, and was styled as 'The Converter of Heathens," the "Idol Breaker" and the "Ecclesiastical Historian." (History of Syriac Literature and Sciences, Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem I Barsoum, Presseggiata Press, p 105).