Life of Mar Aba – chapter 10 and 11

10.  Such things and more did he work in the west, so that even the emperor of the west desired to see him because of the reputation of his teaching and piety.[1]  When the blessed one heard this, he went away to Antioch.  And when he came to Nisibis, and saw the schism in the hierarchy, he desired to hurry away into the desert.  But when the bishop of the province (ὑπαρχία) heard this, he forbade him to leave under threat of ecclesiastical penalties.  He now remained for a long time as a teacher and delighted in intellectual pursuits more than in all the blessings of this world. 

Of his works then I will tell you of just one. 

There was a brother studying there who was tormented by an evil devil.  The blessed one fasted and prayed with the brothers, in which he said, “I trust in God, that the evil spirit will depart rapidly from him.”  As he spoke, it did.  After three days that spirit went out of the brother and came to him no more.  All who heard and saw this knew it and praised God.

11.  Afterwards without his knowledge he was elected by the metropolitans and bishops and all the clergy and believers of the (two) cities to the high office of the Catholicate.[2]  The  king sent horsemen after him, although he did not suspect this, and he was elevated to the patriarchate without having thought about it.  He inherited the throne of the catholicos Mar Simon (bar Sabbâ’ê), of splendid witness, and of his blessed companions, and he inherited also their beloved struggle  (ἀγών).

He brought peace to the churches, extirpated the hostility that the devil had introduced at the time of the schism, sowed peace in the remote, inaccessible provinces and cities, in which he bore much heat (and cold), renewed the old man, lightened the darkness, and established the canons of the apostles in the east. 

After he had held a consultation in the provinces of Hûzâjê, Pârsâjê and Maischânâjê, which reconciled the divided churches and brought peace, and had dismissed the accompanying metropolitans and bishops to their homes, he went to meet the King of Kings, stood before him and was received by him. 

Afterwards he returned to his cathedral and his cities of residence.  At night he worked on the letter which he sent regarding church government in the provinces; by day (he worked) until the fourth hour on the explanation of the scriptures and from then until evening on legal matters and resolving disputes between believers, as well as between them and the pagans.  The servants of Christ were pleased with him, and the churches of all the provinces of his patriarchate rejoiced. 

  1. [1]Justinian may have desired to see him for various reasons; but Mar Aba’s refusal and quick exit across the frontier suggests that the invitation was of a threatening kind, where he might be asked to anathematise Nestorius.
  2. [2]I.e. as Nestorian patriarch.

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