Saint Jacob of Sarug (Serugh), also known as Mar Jacob, was a Syriac Christian poet, theologian, and bishop who lived in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. He was born in the village of Kurtam in the Roman province of Osrhoene, located in present-day southeastern Turkey, around the year 451.
Jacob received his education in Edessa, one of the most prominent intellectual and cultural centres of the Syriac-speaking world. He later joined the Monastery of Mar Awgin near Nisibis, where he was ordained a deacon and then a priest.
In 519, Jacob was consecrated as the bishop of Sarug, a small town in the province of Cyrrhestica, located in present-day Syria. He served in this role for almost thirty years until his death in 521.
Jacob was a prolific writer and is regarded as one of the most important Syriac writers of all time. He wrote over seven hundred poems, homilies, and hymns on a wide range of theological and spiritual topics, many of which have survived to this day.
Jacob’s poetry was noted for its beauty, elegance, and deep spiritual insight. His works cover a wide range of topics, including biblical commentary, liturgy, theology, and ethics. He is also known for his contribution to the development of Syriac literature, which he helped to elevate to a high level of sophistication and artistic expression.
Jacob was highly respected in his lifetime and is still revered by many Syriac-speaking Christians today. He is commemorated as a saint in the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, and the Eastern Orthodox Church, among others.
St. Jacob of Serugh – A Light in the East
St. Jacob of Serugh, a light in the East,
A beacon of faith, his life a feast.
A poet and theologian, his words sublime,
A lover of Christ, throughout all time.
Born in the fourth century, in Edessa’s land,
A life devoted to God, he did command.
His writings and sermons, a gift to all,
A testament to his faith, strong and tall.
His poems, like gems, shine bright and true,
A glimpse into God’s love, ever new.
His hymns, a melody that echoes still,
A song of praise, forever to thrill.
St. Jacob’s words, like a river flow,
Guiding us to Christ, where we can grow.
His wisdom, a treasure trove of grace,
A path to follow, to run the race.
May we learn from St. Jacob’s life,
A shining example, free from strife.
May his faith inspire us anew,
To walk with Christ, and see it through.
(Sr. Maria Miller)