Life of Mar Aba – chapter 24

Here is another chapter of the hagiographical life of the East Syriac patriarch, Mar Aba I, who ruled in the Persian empire in the late 6th century.  For those who have not seen the earlier chapters, Aba is a Zoroastrian official who has converted, and become patriarch.  He is on good terms with the King of Kings, but currently under house arrest for political reasons in a remote area of Azerbaijan dominated by Zoroastrianism.

24.  He turned the house that he lived in into a church.  He set up there an altar of Christ,  and every day gave himself with his disciples to fasting and prayer.  What in the beginning was the dwelling of Satan became then a house of prayer to the true God.  From the provinces Metropolitans, bishops, priests, deacons and believing men and women came together there, in fact, to pray and to receive his blessing.  Some were standing at his door in sackcloth and ashes, for their sins, and received remission.  Some received the blessing of the spiritual dignity of the episcopate.  Some received the dignity of the priesthood, diaconate or other ecclesiastical ranks (τάξις).  All the houses of the persecutors and blasphemers became offices of the saints and houses of prayer and praise to God.  Crowds of bishops met and the sound was heard of their songs of the Holy Spirit.  A stream of priests came to the offices of their comrades and told each other of the great and wonderfuls that they had seen and heard.  The mountains and heights of Azerbaijan became like cities, wherever the feet of the Saint went.  Old men who came to see the Saint forgot their age and sprang up like deer, and those struck down by disease recovered when they were carried to him to seek his blessing.

None of this material seems very interesting, and it may simply be the imagination of the hagiographer.  It would be nice to return to something like the historical elements in the earlier chapters!  Fortunately in chapter 25 the historical narrative returns.


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