Athanasius I Gammolo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Athanasius I Gammolo
Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Church Syriac Orthodox Church
See Antioch
Installed 595
Predecessor Julian II
Successor John III
Personal details
Born Samosata, Eastern Roman Empire

Athanasius I Gammolo was the Patriarch of Antioch, and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch from 595 until his death in 631. Athanasius was also the author of The Life of Severus of Antioch, a biography of the first Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch.[1]


Athanasius was born in the 6th century in the city of Samosata where he was brought by his mother, Mania, after the death of his father. He and his brother Severus later entered the Monastery of Qinnasrin where they became monks, and Athanasius became as Gammolo (Syriac for "camel driver"), because he delivered salt to the monastery from Aleppo by camel. Following the death of Patriarch Julian II, bishops gathered at the Monastery of Qinnasrin to elect a new patriarch. According to tradition, the bishops had a vision from God that the new patriarch would be the first monk to knock on the door of the monastery in the following morning. In the following morning, Athanasius arrived with his salt and was chosen to be patriarch.[1]

This election, according to Michael the Great, took place in 595, immediately after Julian's death, however Jacob of Edessa states the date as 603. It is believed that Michael removed the vacancy so as to remove doubt on the legitimate succession of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchs since St. Peter.[2] As the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch was forbidden from entering Antioch, Athanasius resided at the Monastery of Mor Zacchaeus near Raqqa. He later appointed his brother Severus as the bishop of Samosata. In 603, the final and longest war between the Romans and Sassanians began as Khosrau II invaded Mesopotamia and Syria, and by 610 Antioch had been conquered. In 607, upon receiving a letter from the Pope Anastasius of Alexandria, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who hoped to establish closer relations since the split in 580, Athanasius travelled to Alexandria with five bishops, including his brother Severus, to discuss implementing their new-found unity.[3] Athanasius remained at the Monastery of the Ennaton outside Alexandria, where Anastasius resided as he was forbidden from residing in the city, for a month before returning to Syria.[3]

In 628, after Emperor Heraclius' victory over Khosrau, Athanasius sent his secretary and eventual successor, John of the Sedre to meet with the new king, Kavadh II in Ctesiphon, the capital of the Sasanian Empire. He then appointed Marutha of Tagrit as Maphrian of the East, who resided in Tagrit and reorganised the Jacobite Church in the Sassanian Empire. Athanasius also gave special privileges to the Monastery of Mar Mattai. The following year, Athanasius and twelve other bishops met with Heraclius in Mabbogh for twelve days to discuss union with the Imperial Church.[4] Athanasius refused to yield to Heraclius' demands that he accept monothelitism and the emperor ordered the confiscation of many Syriac Orthodox churches and monasteries.[4]


  1. ^ a b Barsoum (2003)
  2. ^ Palmer (1993)
  3. ^ a b Morgan (2016)
  4. ^ a b Tomass (2016), p. 56


Preceded by
Julian II
Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by
John III