John III of the Sedre

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Saint John III of the Sedre
Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
ChurchSyriac Orthodox Church
Term ended648
PredecessorAthanasius I Gammolo
Personal details
Died14 December 648
Feast day14 December
Venerated inSyriac Orthodox Church

Saint John III of the Sedre (Syriac:Mor Yuhannon d'Sedraw) was the Patriarch of Antioch, and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 631 until his death in 648. He is venerated as a saint in the Syriac Orthodox Church and his feast day is 14 December.


John entered the Monastery of Ousebuna, between Antioch and Beroea, where he became a monk and studied Greek, Syriac, and theology.[1] He was also at the Monastery of Gubbo Baroyo for a time.[2] John was later appointed secretary to Athanasius I Gammolo, Patriarch of Antioch.[1] Following the conclusion of the Roman-Sasanian War of 602-628, Athanasius dispatched John to the court of the newly enthroned Sasanian emperor Kavadh II at the imperial capital of Ctesiphon. During his return journey, John travelled to the Monastery of St. Matthew in Mesopotamia and invited five bishops and three monks, including Marutha of Tikrit, to accompany him.

John was elected and consecrated Patriarch of Antioch after the death of Athanasius in July 631.[1] His consecration as patriarch was soon followed by the fall of Roman Syria and the Muslim conquest of the Levant. On 9 May 644, John and several bishops were summoned before Emir Umayr ibn Sad al-Ansari of Hims to engage in open debate regarding Christianity and represent the entire Christian community, including non-Syriac Orthodox communities, such as Greek Orthodox Syrians, who are known to have prayed for their safety.[3] The debate was recorded by a certain Severus in the form of a letter and sent to Syriac Orthodox communities to ease discomfort amongst the adherents of the church.[3]

The Emir, however, was unconvinced by the patriarch and demanded translations of the Gospels into Arabic to confirm John's beliefs, which according to the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian was the first translation of the Gospels into Arabic. John administered the Syriac Orthodox Church until his death in 648 and was buried in the city of Amida.


John is well known for his composition of versified prayers, known as sedres or husoyos, that were integrated into the liturgy and for this reason he is known as "of the Sedre". Nine sedres associated with John correspond to the liturgical calendar whereas three prayers of absolution are to be recited during the consecration of the Eucharist.

As well as this he is known to have written a doctrinal treatise in which he condemns the phantasiast Julianists and also includes the history of the heresy and its leaders. The titles of his works are:

  • Letter of the Patriarch Mor Yuhannon concerning His Conversation with the Amir of the Muslims
  • Plerophoria, and On Myron
  • A Discourse on the Myron
  • An Anaphora


  • John III is also counted as John I as the first patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church by that name, however, the Syriac Orthodox Church, which claims descent from the Church of Antioch, considers John of Antioch (r. 428–442) to be the first by that name.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Barsoum (2003)
  2. ^ a b Palmer (1990), p. 175
  3. ^ a b Ginkel et al. (2005), p. 98


  • Barsoum, Ignatius Aphrem (2003). The Scattered Pearls: A History of Syriac Literature and Sciences, trans. Matti Moosa, 2nd rev. ed. Gorgias Press.
  • Ginkel, Jan J.; Murre-van den Berg, Hendrika Lena; van Lint, Theo Maarten (2005). Redefining Christian Identity: Cultural Interaction in the Middle East Since the Rise of Islam. Peeters Publishers.
  • Palmer, Andrew (1990). Monk and Mason on the Tigris Frontier: The Early History of Tur `Abdin. Cambridge University Press.
Preceded by
Athanasius I Gammolo
Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by