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Patriarch Mor Ignatios Ya`qub III (1912-1980)

Source: Syrian Orthodox Church: Antioch Liturgy, International Music Council, UNESCO 1992.

Mor Ignatios Ya`qub III was born on October 12, 1912 in the Touma Mari family of Bartalla village in Iraq. He was ordained deacon by Patriarch Elias III and priest by Patriarch Mor Aphrem I. He came to Manjinikkara, India, in 1933 as Rabban `Abdel Ahad where he served as a malphono (teacher) at the Mor Ignatios Dayro. In 1946, he returned to the Middle East to teach at the Mor Ephrem Seminary in Mosul and was ordained Metropolitan of Beirut and Damascus in 1950. In 1957, he was consecrated Patriarch after the Patriarch Aphrem I passed away. His Holiness worked actively for cooperation among the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the reconciliation of the Church in India. In 1964 His Holiness visited Malankara and consecrated Augen Timotheous as Catholicos to establish peace in the church. However, this peace, unfortunately, lasted only for a few years.

Patriarch Ya`qub wrote more than 30 thirty books about the history of the Church, spirituality and liturgy including a History of the Church until the 6th century, a History of the Syrian Church in India, a comparative study of Syriac and Arabic languages, and Personageaphies of Mor Ephrem, Mor Philoxenus of Mabbug, and Mor Ya`qub of Serugh. His lecture on the Syrian Orthodox Church at the University of Goettingen in 1971 is considered an authoritative source by students of the church.

Patriarch Ya`qub is considered to be one of the masters, if not the master of Syriac music in this century. He was endowed with a sharp memory that enabled him to memorize over 700 hundred melodies of the Beth Gazo including variants (Shuhlophe). He had a voice of a "nightingale" as Patriarch Zakka I tells us. He learned the Beth Gazo from another master of Syriac music, Mor Yulios Elias Qoro, then Patriarchal Delegate in India. He was familiar with his native school of music in Iraq (the School of Takrit) as well as the more popular School of Mardin. During a five-month visit to the United States (from March 11 - August 15, 1960), Patriarch Ya`qub, at the request of Metropolitan Mor Athanasius Yeshu` Samuel, the late archbishop of the United States and Canada, recorded the Beth Gazo according to the School of Mardin. Thus recording serves as the authoritative reference to the musical tradition of the School of Mardin.

Patriarch Ya`qub is fondly remembered for his spiritually uplifting celebration of the liturgy. He encouraged many to accept the monastic way of life. After he consecrated holy myron in the Mor Gabriel monastery in 1964, myron flowed from the glass container the following day and people were healed by it. His Holiness entered into heavenly abode on June 26, 1980.


  • Souvenir of St. George's Church, Karingachira, 1980.
  • Christine Chaillot, The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East, (Geneva: Inter-Orthodox Dialogue, 1998), 146-147.

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Last Update: March 1, 2000