Abraham the Great of Kashkar
|Saint Abraham the Great|
|Founder of Abraham's Monastery on Mt. Izla|
|Honored in||Assyrian Church of the East|
|Feast||6th Friday after Epiphany|
Monasticism was very popular in early Syrian and Mesopotamian Christianity. Some held the view that only a life of celibacy could lead to salvation. Initially, all monks and nuns were hermits, but in about 350 Mar Awgin founded the first cenobitic monastery of Mesopotamia on Mount Izla above the city Nisibis, patterned upon the Egyptian model. Soon there were many monasteries.
But at the synod of Beth Lapat the Assyrian Church of the East decided that all monks and nuns should marry. Obviously, this was in order to please the Zoroastrian rulers, who held family life sacred. The decision severely weakened the church. Spiritual life declined and some opponents left altogether and joined Miaphysite Churches.
The decision was reverted in 553, and in 571 Abraham founded a new monastery on Mt. Izla with strict rules. Abraham died in 586.
The third abbot of this monastery was his student Babai the Great (551–628). Babai finally drove out the married monks from Mt. Izla, and as 'visitor of the monasteries of the north' ensured that the monastic ideal was taken seriously throughout northern Mesopotamia.
- Holweck, F. G., A Biographical Dictionary of the Saints. St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co. 1924.