John III of the Sedre

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John III of the Sedre
Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Church Syriac Orthodox Church
See Antioch
Installed 631
Term ended 648
Predecessor Athanasius I Gammolo
Successor Theodore
Personal details
Died 14 December 648
Feast day 14 December
Venerated in Syriac Orthodox Church

John III of the Sedre (Syriac:Mor Yuhannon d'Sedraw),also known as John I, as the first Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of that name, was the Patriarch of Antioch, and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 631 until his death in 648.


John was a monk at Monastery of Ousebuna, between Antioch and Beroea, before becoming the secretary of Patriarch Athanasius I Gammolo of Antioch. In 628 John was dispatched to the court of the newly enthroned Kavadh II in Ctesiphon and was consecrated as patriarch three years later.

John's reign as patriarch marked the transition from the Christian Byzantine Empire to the Muslim Rashidun Caliphate who would grant greater freedom to the Syriac Orthodox Church and even allow Jacobites to attain administrative roles.

However, the Syriac Christian community soon came under scrutiny and John and five other bishops were summoned by the Emir Umayr ibn Sad al-Ansari of Emesa to engage in open debate regarding Christian faith and practice and represent the entire Christian community. The meeting is dated to Sunday 9 May 638/644 and was recorded by Severus, one of the bishops who accompanied him, to allay fears of the patriarch's safety soon after the meeting.

The Emir however, unconvinced by the patriarch 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


Preceded by
Athanasius I Gammolo
Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by