George I of Antioch

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This article is about the 8th-century Oriental Orthodox Patriarch. For the 7th-century Chalcedonian Patriarch, see List of Greek Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch.
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.
George I of Antioch
Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Church Syriac Orthodox Church
See Antioch
Installed 758
Term ended 790
Predecessor Athanasius Sandalaya
Successor Joseph
Personal details
Died 1 December 790
Monastery of Mar Bar Sawma
Feast day 7 December
Venerated in Orthodox Christianity

George I of Antioch (Syriac: Mor 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 the Monastery of Qinnasrin, as well as philology, theology and jurisprudence. Here he 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 Bar Sawma, near Melitene, where he is buried and commemorated on the seventh of December.


Preceded by
Athanasius Sandalaya
Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by