Jacob of Nisibis

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Saint Jacob of Nisibis
Jacob Tomb, Nisibis.jpg
Jacob's tomb in the crypt of his church in Nisibis.
Born 3rd century
Nisibis (Antiochia Mygdoniae)
Died c. 338
Venerated in

Eastern Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
Coptic Orthodox Church
Armenian Apostolic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches

Roman Catholic Church

Jacob of Nisibis (Syriac: ܝܥܩܘܒ ܢܨܝܒܢܝܐ, Yaʿqôḇ Nṣîḇnāyâ; died c. AD 338), is an Assyrian saint. He was the second bishop of Nisibis,[1] spiritual father of the renowned Assyrian Ephrem the Syrian, and celebrated ascetic.

Jacob was appointed bishop, in 309, of the Christian community of Nisibis in Mesopotamia (modern Nusaybin, located near the Turkey/Syria border).[2] Jacob of Nisibis, also known as James of Nisibis and as Jacob of Nusaybin, is recorded as a signatory at the First Council of Nicaea in 325. He was the first Christian to search for the Ark of Noah, which he claimed to find a piece of on a mountain, Mount Judi (Turkish Cudi Dağı), 70 miles (110 km) from Nisibis.

He founded the basilica and theological School of Nisibis after the model of the school of Diodorus of Tarsus in Antioch. It was not until the 10th century that the "Persian Sage" who had been incorrectly identified with Jacob of Nisibis was finally identified with Aphrahat. Jacob was the teacher and spiritual director of Saint Ephrem the Syrian, a great ascetic, teacher and hymn writer who combatted Arianism.[2]

Much of Jacob's public ministry, like that of other Assyrian ascetics, can be seen as socially cohesive in the context of the Late Roman East. In the face of the withdrawal of wealthy landowners to the large cities, holy men such as Jacob acted as impartial and necessary arbiters in disputes between peasant farmers and within the smaller towns.[3]

Jacob of Nisibis died in 338.[2] His relics are in the church he founded in Nisibis. He is commemorated in the Coptic Synaxarion on the 18th day of Month of Tobi (usually 26 January). In the Roman Catholic Church he is commemorated on 15 July.[4]


  1. ^ Vailhé, Siméon. "Nisibis". Original Catholic Encyclopedia. El Cajon, California: Catholic Answers. Retrieved 2010-12-10. The See of Nisibis was founded in 300 by Babu (died 309). His successor, the celebrated St. James, defended the city by his prayers during the siege of Sapor II. 
  2. ^ a b c "St. Jacob of Nisibis", Antiochian Syriac Orthodox Church
  3. ^ Peter Brown, “The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity” Journal of Roman Studies, 61 (1971) pp 80–101
  4. ^ "St. Jacob of Nisibis". Catholic Online. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 

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