Saint Thomas the Apostle

One of the twelve disciples of Christ, called the Twin. He is the apostle to the Church of the East and its patron saint. Church traditions consider him to be the first missionary in
Mesopotamia, from there he set out to preach in India where he was also martyred.

Mar Adday

One of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus Christ. He preached the Gospel in Edessa and according to church tradition the baptism of Abjar the King is attributed to him. From Edessa he set
out to Adiabene, modern day Erbil, to preach in Mesopotamia: reaching Bet Hozaye, modern day Ahvas, with the help of Mar Mary and Mar Aji. Until this very day, the mass of the Church of
the East is known by their namesake i.e. the Mass of St. Adday and St. Mary

Spread of Christianity

Christianity entered Mesopotamia very early and in parallel with Christ’s Disciples embarking to preach to the gentiles, circa the last quarter of the first century AD. The people of Mesopotamia’s role was not restricted to proclaiming the gospel
solely within Mesopotamia, they also set out to preach in East Asia all the way to China. Furthermore, they played a pivotal role in the developing Christian theology and prominent theologians and great fathers emerged from the church.


The Apostolic Church of the East

Established towards the late first century AD with its seat in Selecia and Ctesiphon, a seat that is believed to
have been established St. Thomas and his disciples. The church spread across Mesopotamia, the Gulf, Persia,
Afghanistan, India and China. Its liturgical language is in East Syriac. Its oldest churches, whose ruins are still
standing (The church of Kukhe in south of Baghdad), date back to the first century AD

Antioch Apostolic Church

According to the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 11:26), it was in Antioch that the believers were first proclaimed
Christians. It was evangelised by St. Paul and St. Barnabas who were then followed by Peter the Apostle. It was
in it that the first church was established after that of Jerusalem; and it ranked third in importance after the
churches of Rome and Alexandria. It is renowned as the birthplace of Christianity and the great city of God and
it had a famous theological school. It is of special importance to eastern Christians of the East and according to
the Antiochene traditions: St. Peter and St. Paul are the founders of the Antiochian seat.

Christianity in Mesopotam

The tradition of the Church of the East state: Christianity spread in the kingdom of Urhay (Edessa modern day Urfa), which is located in south-east of modern state of Turkey, in the historical region of Mesopotamia. According to tradition, St. Thomas the Apostle , one of the twelve disciples of Christ, then St. Adday and his two disciples – St. Aji and St. Mari, were the ones who carried the good news to the kingdom of Urhai during the reign of king Abjar the fifth; and Urhay they set out to peach the Word in Adiabene.


The first Syriac Christian theological school was established in urhay as early as the second century AD and St. Ephrem the Syriac is considered its most prominent teacher.

The Kingdom of Adiabene

An ancient semi-independent kingdom whose capital was the historic city of Erbil (Arba Ello). Adiabene was introduced to Christian as early as the first century AD, receiving the Word from St. Thomas the Apostle and his disciples who
set out from Urhay and preached the gospel in lower Mesopotamia.


Located in the far north-east of Mesopotamia. Christianity entered Nusaybin through the apostles of the East i.e. St. Thomas and his disciples. It is renowned by its theological school where many prominent church fathers and teachers
graduated from and taught at


It is of paramount importance to the Eastern Christians, as it is one of the Holy Sees that were founded by the very Disciples of Christ

Abgar the fifth Okma/Komo (“The Black”)

The Abgarids, who were Syriac Aramaean kings, established a Syriac kingdom in Edessa, which ruled for nearly four centuries.

Abgar the fifth ruled between (4 BC-50 AD). He was afflicted with leprosy, and when he heard about the miracles of the Lord Christ, he sent a delegation to him carrying a message in Syriac, declaring his faith in him and asking him to come and heal him.
Jesus sent him an answering letter and a handkerchief, which his image was imprinted on, in a miraculous way, through which he obtained healing. Eusebius of Caesarea (263-339 AD) cites extensive excerpts from these correspondences in his Ecclesiastical History. The ecclesiastical tradition also mentions that saint Adday preached Edessa and baptized King Abgar.


The persecution of forty

One of the fiercest persecutions, which lasted for about forty years (339-379 AD), during the days of the Sassanian king Shapur the second , during which hundreds of thousands of Christians were martyred, who steadfastly adhered to their faith and refrained from prostrating themselves to the fire and to the king.

Mar Sham’on Barsaba’ai (329-341)

The Catholicos of the Church of the East and his see in Salik and Ctesiphon. He arranged the ritual prayer in Juqin (Codin), and he is the author of the famous ritual hymn (Lakho Mara – You, Lord, we praise), which is a Christian liturgical faith law. He was martyred, beheaded, at the beginning of the “persecution of forty” (339-379) with a group of bishops, priests and believers, After his refusal to implement the order of King Shapur the second to collect a double tax from Christians, the king became angry and ordered to demolish the churches, to burn their books, and to arrest of Mar Sham’on and his clergy


Jacob of Serugh

Best known for his theological poetry. He also compiled a liturgy (rite) for the Mass and another for baptism, as well as many other books

St. Ephrem the Syriac

Called the Malphan (meaning the teacher): he is by far the most prominent father of the church whose prolific theological poetry and hymns, which include outlining the Christian religious beliefs; he is best known by his honorific title i.e. ‘the harp of the Holy Spirit’.

Saint Narsay

According to Mari the son of Sulaiman’s book (Al-Majdal): “Narsay is the tongue of the East, the poet of Christianity, the entrance gate to the Christian religion, the harp of the Holy Spirit and the Master of the masters.” He headed the Urhay’s theological school and then that of Nusaybin.


In 160 AD, Tatian collected and harmonised the four gospels in his magnum opus, entitled the ‘Diatessaron’.