Ignatius Zakka I Iwas

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His Holiness Patriarch
Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
Patriarch of Antioch
Ignatus Zakka I Iwas.jpg
Native name ܐܝܓܢܐܛܝܘܣ ܙܟܝ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܥܝܘܐܨ
Church Syriac Orthodox Church
See See of Antioch
Appointed 14 September 1980
Term ended 21 March 2014
Predecessor Ignatius Ya`qub III
Successor Ignatius Aphrem II
Ordination 17 November 1957
Personal details
Birth name Sanharib Iwas
Born (1933-04-21)21 April 1933
Mosul, Iraq
Died 21 March 2014(2014-03-21) (aged 80)
Kiel, Germany
Buried Marrat Saidnayya, Damascus, Syria
Nationality Iraqi/Syrian/Lebanese[1]
Denomination Syriac Orthodox
Previous post Archbishop of Baghdad and Basra
Metropolitan Bishop of Mosul
Alma mater City University of New York
General Theological Seminary

Ignatius Zakka I Iwas (Syriac: ܐܝܓܢܐܛܝܘܣ ܙܟܝ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܥܝܘܐܨ‎, Arabic: إغناطيوس زكا الأول عيواص‎, Zakkà ‘Īwāṣ, born Sanharib Iwas, 21 April 1933 – 21 March 2014) was the 122nd reigning Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and, as such, Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church. Also known by his traditional episcopal name, Severios, he was enthroned as patriarch on 14 September 1980 in St. George's Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus. He succeeded Ignatius Ya`qub III. As is traditional for the head of the church, Severios adopted the name Ignatius.

Iwas was known for his involvement in ecumenical dialogue. He was a president of the World Council of Churches[2] and also a prolific author. He was an observer at Second Vatican Council before becoming metropolitan bishop of Mosul. At the time of his election as patriarch, Iwas had been archbishop of Baghdad and Basra. As patriarch, he established a monastic seminary, met with Pope John Paul II during the Roman Pope's trip to Syria in 2001, and installed numerous metropolitans, including Baselios Thomas I as Catholicos of India. He celebrated his Silver Jubilee in 2005.

Iwas was admitted to a hospital in Germany for angioplasty on 20 February 2014 and died on 21 March 2014.

Early life and studies[edit]

Iwas was born on 21 April 1933 in Mosul, Iraq.[3] His parents named him Sanharib Iwas at birth after Sennacherib, the legendary king of Assyria and father of Mar Behnam.[4] He completed his elementary studies at the school of Our Lady's Parish and was transferred to St. Thomas Syriac Orthodox Church School, both in Mosul. In 1946, he began his theological studies in the city's Mor Ephrem seminary. At the seminary, his birth name was replaced by the name Zakka. There, in 1948, he was ordained as a deacon with the rank of Reader. In the year 1953, he was promoted to the rank of subdeacon. The following year saw Iwas take monastic vows. He left Mosul at that time to become secretary to the patriarchs, Afram Barsoum and then Ya`qub III. In 1955 he was promoted to the rank of full deacon.[3]

On 17 November 1957, Patriarch Ya`qub III ordained Iwas a priest and, two years later, gave him the pectoral cross as rabban. In 1960, Iwas pursued further study in New York. There, he studied oriental languages and completed a master's degree in English at City University and a further master's in pastoral theology at the General Theological Seminary.[3]

Metropolitan bishop[edit]

In 1962 and 1963, Iwas was delegated by the patriarch as observer at Second Vatican Council. On 17 November 1963, he was ordained by Patriarch Ya`qub III as metropolitan bishop of Mosul. As is the tradition in the church, he took an episcopal name, Severios. The next year, during renovation work on the sanctuary wall of the metropolitan church in Mosul, what were reputed to be the remains of the Apostle Thomas were found. In 1969, Iwas was transferred to be archbishop of Baghdad and Basra. Nine years later, he was given additional responsibility for the new diocese of Australia.[3]

Patriarch of Syriac Orthodox Church[edit]

Public consecration of Baselios Thomas I, Catholicos of India (seated) by Ignatius Zakka I Iwas (left of Baselious Thomas I). 31 July 2002.

Following the death of Patriarch Ya`qub III on 25 June 1980, Iwas was elected by the synod of the church to be the 122nd Syriac Patriarch of Antioch. He was enthroned as patriarch on 14 September, the feast of the Cross, by Baselios Paulose II, Catholicos of the East, in St. George's Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus.[3] As is traditional for the head of the church, he adopted the name Ignatius at this time. Being the first patriarch to be named Zakka, his name is often written as Ignatius Zakka I Iwas. His full titulary is:

Syriac: ܩܕܝܫܘܬܗ ܡܪܢ ܡܪܝ ܐܝܓܢܐܛܝܘܣ ܙܟܝ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܥܝܘܐܨ܃ ܦܛܪܝܪܟܐ ܕܐܢܛܝܘܟܝܐ
transliteration: Qaddîšûṯeh Îgnaṭyûs Zakkay Qaḏmoyo ʿÎwaṣ, Paṭryarḵo d-Anṭyuḵya
English: His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch

As Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I, he was involved in ecumenical dialogue and was a president of the World Council of Churches. The Chalcedonian schism is not seen to have great relevance any more and, from dialogue with the Roman pope, a reconciling declaration emerged that stated, in part:

Iwas was a member of different Eastern and Western Academies and authored a number of books on Christian education, theology, history, and culture in Syriac and the Arabic and English languages.[3] He established a monastic seminary, the Monastery of St. Ephrem The Syrian, at Marret Saidnaya. Inaugurated on 14 September 1996, this Monastery forms part of a larger project which will include different centers and facilities.[3] During the visit of Pope John Paul II to Syria in 2001, the Pope paid an historic visit to Iwas in Damascus. The meeting took place on 6 May in Saint George's Patriarchal Cathedral at Bab Touma. The following year, Iwas installed Dionysius Thomas, the president of the Episcopal Synod of Indian Church, as the Catholicos of India with the title Baselios Thomas I. Celebrations were held for Iwas's Silver Jubilee on 14 September 2005.

Pastoral visits[edit]

Patriarch Iwas made a number of pastoral visits outside Syria, mainly to India where the bulk of Syriac Orthodox Christians reside and Europe, home of the growing Syriac Orthodox diaspora. His first pastoral visit was to India was to Kerala from 3 February to 27 March 1982, during which he met with Indian officials and heads of various Indian churches.[6] A second visit to India was in April 2000 to attend the Golden Jubilee of the Chief Metropolitan of the East Clemis Abraham, it lasted three days. The third visit to India came for the occasion of the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Patriarchal enthronement in September 2004, the 3rd visit lasted two weeks.[6] The fourth and last visit was in 2008 for the 80th Birthday celebration of Baselios Thomas I which also lasted 2 weeks.


Iwas was admitted to hospital in Kiel, Germany on 20 February 2014; he died after a long illness on 21 March 2014.[7]

Religious titles
Preceded by
Ignatius Ya`qub III
Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by
Ignatius Aphrem II

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "وفاة البطريرك عيواص". Annahar. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Tveit, Olav Fykse (21 March 2014). "Condolences on death of Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas". World Council of Churches. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g The Light, Volume 1.45, 15 September 1996.
  4. ^ "The Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I". Retrieved 24 February 2008. Ignatius Zakka Iwas was...named Sanharib after the father of Behnam. 
  5. ^ From the common declaration of Pope John Paul II and HH Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, June 23, 1984
  6. ^ a b "Apostolic Voyage to India -1982". Malankara Syriac Christian Resources. 22 October 2002. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  7. ^ "Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Zakka Iwas dead at 80". Washington Post. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 

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