George I of Antioch

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This article is about a Patriarch of Antioch in the 8th century.
For the Admiral under Roger II of Sicily, and founder of the Greek Orthodox Martorana Church on Sicily in the 12th century, see George of Antioch.
Saint George of Antioch
Born Baltan, Syria
Died 1 December 790
Monastery of Mar Baisawm, Turkey
Honored in Orthodox Christianity
Feast 7 December

George I of Antioch (Syriac: Mar Gewargis) was the Patriarch of Antioch, and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 758 until his death in 790.


George was born in Baltan, near Emesa, into a family of Melkites. He became a Jacobite and studied Syriac and Greek at Qinnasrin, as well as philology, theology and jurisprudence. Here he was was later ordained as a deacon to Theodore, bishop of Samosata.

In December 758, a synod was held in Mabbogh to elect the patriarch but disagreements over the choice of candidate meant that John, bishop of Raqqa and David, bishop of Dara did not recognise the election and voted John as anti-patriarch with the support of the caliph, until John's death in 763. Because George's election was not ratified by the caliph he could not stay in Antioch and from 765 to 766 he resided at the Monastery of Zuqnîn near Amid.

In 765 a synod was held at Serug to attempt to bridge the division between the supporters of George and those who did not recognise his election, however, the negotiations failed because George refused to recognise the bishops consecrated by John of Raqqa. A meeting was held in 766 between the two camps in the palace of the Caliph al-Mansur and David of Dara was elected as anti-patriarch and George was imprisoned in Baghdad by the caliph.

During his imprisonment, George was joined by the Nestorian Catholicos Jacob II as well as Sliba-zkha, bishop of Tirhan. In 767 George convinced the maphrian Paul to allow Sliba-skha to build a church in Tagrit. Paul agreed on the condition that the Nestorians restore the church of Mar Domitius in Nisibis, which they did and a small Nestorian church was allowed to be built outside the walls of Tagrit. Also, whilst George was imprisoned, the anti-patriarch David of Dara expelled supporters of George and imposed his authority on the church with the help of the Muslim authorities.

Upon the accession of the Caliph al-Mahdi, George was released, however he was forbidden from using his title and performing his duties as patriarch. In subsequent years; recognised as the legitimate patriarch by the church, he restored the unity of the church and restored his supporters as bishops. George died on the first of December 790 at the Monastery of Mar Baisawm, near Melitene, where he is buried and commemorated on the seventh of December.


Preceded by
Athanasius al-Sandali
Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by