Edessa

Edessa (Ancient Greek: Ἔδεσσα; Arabic: الرهاar-Ruhā; Turkish: Şanlıurfa; Kurdish: Riha‎) was a city in Upper Mesopotamia, founded on an earlier site by Seleucus I Nicator ca. 302 BC. It was also known as Antiochia on the Callirhoe from the 2nd century BC. It was the capital of the semi-independent kingdom of Osroene from c. 132 BC and fell under direct Roman rule in ca. 242. It became an important early centre of Syriac Christianity. It fell to the Muslim conquest in 638, was briefly retaken by Byzantium in 1031 and became the center of the Crusader state of the County of Edessa from 1098–1144. It fell to the Turkic Zengid dynasty in 1144 and was eventually absorbed by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. The modern name of the city is Urfa and it is located in Şanlıurfa Province in the Southeast Anatolia Region of Turkey.

Urfa Castle 02
The heritage of Roman Edessa survives today in these columns at the site of Urfa Castle, dominating the skyline of the modern city of Urfa.

Names

The earliest name of the city was Admaʾ (Aramaic: אדמא‎, also written Adme, Admi, Admum) recorded in Assyrian cuneiform in the seventh century BC.[1] A Hellenistic settlement was founded on the location of the Syrian town by Seleucus I Nicator in 304 BC, named Edessa after the ancient capital of Macedonia, perhaps due to its abundant water, just like its Macedonian eponym.

It was renamed Callirrhoe or Antiochia on the Callirhoe (Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Καλλιρρόης) in the 2nd century BC (found on Edessan coins struck by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, r. 175–164 BC).[2] This same name appears also as Armenian: Ուռհա, transliterated Urha or Ourha, in Syriac as Orhay (ܐܘܪܗܝ), and in Arabic as الرُّهَا ar-Ruha, and Riha the Kurdish languages, Latinized as Rohais, and finally adopted in Turkish as Urfa or Şanlıurfa ("Glorious Urfa"), its present name. It was named Justinopolis in the early 6th century.

According to Jewish and Muslim traditions, it is Ur of the Chaldees, the birthplace of Abraham.

History

Early history

In the second half of the second century BC, as the Seleucid Empire disintegrated durings wars with Parthia (145–129BC), Edessa became the capital of the Abgar dynasty, who founded the kingdom of Osroene (also known as Edessa). This kingdom was established by Arabs from the northern Arabian Peninsula and lasted nearly four centuries (c. 132 BC to 214), under twenty-eight rulers, who sometimes called themselves "king" on their coinage. Edessa was at first more or less under the protectorate of the Parthians, then of Tigranes of Armenia, Edessa was Armenian Mesopotamia's capital city, then from the time of Pompey under the Roman Empire. Following its capture and sack by Trajan, the Romans even occupied Edessa from 116 to 118, although its sympathies towards the Parthians led to Lucius Verus pillaging the city later in the 2nd century. From 212 to 214 the kingdom was a Roman province.

Macrinus Edessa
silver tetradrachm struck in Edessa by Macrinus 217-218 AD

The Roman emperor Caracalla was assassinated on the road from Edessa to Carrhae (now Harran) by one of his guards in 217. Edessa became one of the frontier cities of the province of Osroene and lay close to the border of the Sasanian Empire. The Battle of Edessa took place between the Roman armies under the command of Emperor Valerianus and the Sasanian forces under Emperor Shapur I in 260. The Roman army was defeated and captured in its entirety by the Persian forces, including Valerian himself, an event which had never previously happened.

The literary language of the tribes that had founded this kingdom was Aramaic, from which Syriac developed. Traces of Hellenistic culture were soon overwhelmed in Edessa, which employed Syriac legends on coinage, with the exception of the client king Abgar IX (179–214), and there is a corresponding lack of Greek public inscriptions.[3]

Early Christian centre

Abgarwithimageofedessa10thcentury
King Abgar holding the Image of Edessa.
N-Mesopotamia and Syria
Upper Mesopotamia and Syria in the early Christian period, with Edessa in the left upper quadrant

The precise date of the introduction of Christianity into Edessa is not known. However, there is no doubt that even before AD 190 Christianity had spread vigorously within Edessa and its surroundings and that shortly after the royal house joined the church.[4]

According to a legend first reported by Eusebius in the fourth century, King Abgar V was converted by Thaddeus of Edessa,[5] who was one of the seventy-two disciples, sent to him by "Judas, who is also called Thomas".[6] However, various sources confirm that the Abgar who embraced the Christian faith was Abgar IX.[7][8][9] Under him Christianity became the official religion of the kingdom.[10]

He was succeeded by Aggai, then by Saint Mari, who was ordained about 200 by Serapion of Antioch. Thence came to us in the second century the famous Peshitta, or Syriac translation of the Old Testament; also Tatian's Diatessaron, which was compiled about 172 and in common use until Rabbula, Bishop of Edessa (412–435), forbade its use. Among the illustrious disciples of the School of Edessa, Bardaisan (154–222), a schoolfellow of Abgar IX, deserves special mention for his role in creating Christian religious poetry, and whose teaching was continued by his son Harmonius and his disciples.

A Christian council was held at Edessa as early as 197.[11] In 201 the city was devastated by a great flood, and the Christian church was destroyed.[12] In 232 the relics of the apostle Thomas were brought from Mylapore, India, on which occasion his Syriac Acts were written. Under Roman domination many martyrs suffered at Edessa: Sharbel and Barsamya, under Decius; Sts. Gûrja, Shâmôna, Habib, and others under Diocletian. In the meanwhile Christian priests from Edessa had evangelized Eastern Mesopotamia and Persia, and established the first Churches in the Sasanian Empire. Atillâtiâ, Bishop of Edessa, assisted at the First Council of Nicaea (325). The Peregrinatio Silviae (or Etheriae)[13] gives an account of the many sanctuaries at Edessa about 388.

Byzantine period

Under Byzantine rule, as metropolis of Osroene, Edessa had eleven suffragan sees.[14] Michel Le Quien mentions thirty-five bishops of Edessa, but his list is incomplete.[15]

The Eastern Orthodox episcopate seems to have disappeared after the 11th century. Of its Jacobite bishops, twenty-nine are mentioned by Le Quien (II, 1429 sqq.), many others in the Revue de l'Orient chrétien (VI, 195), some in Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft (1899), 261 sqq. Moreover, Nestorian bishops are said to have resided at Edessa as early as the 6th century.

When Nusaybin was ceded to the Persians in 363, Ephrem the Syrian left his native town for Edessa, where he founded the celebrated School of the Persians. This school, largely attended by the Christian youth of Persia, and closely watched by Rabbula, the friend of Cyril of Alexandria, on account of its Nestorian tendencies, reached its highest development under Bishop Ibas, famous through the Three-Chapter Controversy, was temporarily closed in 457, and finally in 489, by command of Emperor Zeno and Bishop Cyrus, when the teachers and students of the School of Edessa repaired to Nisibis and became the founders and chief writers of the Nestorian Church in Persia.[16] Miaphysitism prospered at Edessa, even after the Arab conquest.

Edessa was rebuilt by Justin I (r. 518–527), and called after him Justinopolis.[17]

An unsuccessful Sasanian siege occurred in 544. The city was taken in 609 by the Sasanian Empire, and soon retaken by Heraclius, but lost to the Muslim army under the Rashidun Caliphate during the Muslim conquest of the Levant in 638.

Islamic rule

The Armenian chronicler Sebeos, Bishop of Bagratid Armenia writing in the 660s, gives the earliest narrative accounts of Islam in any language today. Sebeos writes of a Jewish delegation going to an Arab city (possibly Medina) after the Byzantines conquered Edessa:

Twelve peoples [representing] all the tribes of the Jews assembled at the city of Edessa. When they saw that the Iranian troops had departed ... Thus Heraclius, emperor of the Byzantines, gave the order to besiege it. (625) ... So they departed, taking the road through the desert to Tachkastan to the sons of Ishmael. [The Jews] called [the Arabs] to their aid and familiarized them with the relationship they had through the books of the [Old] Testament. Although [the Arabs] were convinced of their close relationship, they were unable to get a consensus from their multitude, for they were divided from each other by religion. In that period a certain one of them, a man of the sons of Ishmael named Mahmet, a merchant, became prominent. A sermon about the Way of Truth, supposedly at God's command, was revealed to them... he ordered them all to assemble together and to unite in faith... He said: "God promised that country to Abraham and to his son after him, for eternity. And what had been promised was fulfilled during that time when [God] loved Israel. Now, however, you are the sons of Abraham, and God shall fulfill the promise made to Abraham and his son on you. Only love the God of Abraham, and go and take the country which God gave to your father, Abraham. No one can successfully resist you in war, since God is with you.

Muslim tradition tells of a similar account, known as the second pledge at al-Aqabah. Sebeos' account suggests that Muhammad was actually leading a joint venture toward Palestine, instead of a Jewish-Arab alliance against the Meccan pagans toward the south.

The Byzantines often tried to retake Edessa, especially under Romanos I Lekapenos, who obtained from the inhabitants the "Image of Edessa", an ancient portrait of Christ, and solemnly transferred it to Constantinople, August 16, 944. This was the final great achievement of Romanus's reign. This venerable and famous image, which was certainly at Edessa in 544, and of which there is an ancient copy in the Vatican Library, was looted and brought to the West by the Republic of Venice in 1207 following the Fourth Crusade. The city was ruled shortly thereafter by Marwanids.

Later medieval history

The seizure of Edessa in Syria by the Byzantine army and the Arabic counterattack from the Chronicle of John Skylitzes
Maniakes defending Edessa.

In 1031 Edessa was given up to the Byzantines under George Maniakes by its Arab governor. It was retaken by the Arabs, and then successively held by the Greeks, the Armenians, the Seljuq dynasty (1087), the Crusaders (1099), who established there the County of Edessa and kept the city until 1144, when it was again captured by Imad ad-Din Zengi, and most of its inhabitants were allegedly slaughtered together with the Latin archbishop (see Siege of Edessa).[18] These events are known to us chiefly through the Armenian historian Matthew, who had been born at Edessa. In 1144 the city had an Armenian population of 47,000.

Since the 12th century, the city has successively been ruled by the Sultans of Aleppo (the Ayyubid dynasty), Sultanate of Rum, the Mongols, the Mamluks, the Aq Qoyunlu, the Safavid dynasty, and from 1517 to 1918 the Ottoman Empire.[19]

In 1890, the population of Edessa consisted of 55,000, of which the Muslim population made up 40,835.[19]

Syriac literature

The oldest known dated Syriac manuscripts (AD 411 and 462), containing Greek patristic texts, come from Edessa.

Following are some of the famous individuals connected with Edessa:

  1. Jacob Baradaeus, an ardent Miaphysite who preserved the (Oriental) Orthodox church after the persecution subsequent to the Chalcedonian controversy Jacobites
  2. Jacob, Bishop of Edessa, a prolific writer (d. 708);
  3. Theophilus, a Maronite an astronomer, who translated into Syriac verse Homer's Iliad and Odyssey;
  4. Stephen Bar Sudaïli, monk and pantheist, to whom was owing, in Palestine, the last crisis of Origenism in the 6th century
  5. The anonymous author of the Chronicon Edessenum (Chronicle of Edessa), compiled in 540
  6. The anonymous writer of the story of "The Man of God", in the 5th century, which gave rise to the legend of St. Alexius, also known as Alexius of Rome (because exiled Eastern monks brought his cult and bones to Rome in the 10th century).

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Harrak 1992, pp. 212
  2. ^ Harrak 1992, pp. 211
  3. ^ Bauer, Walter (1991) [1934]. "1. Edessa". Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity. U Penn.
  4. ^ von Harnack, Adolph (1905). The Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries. Williams & Norgate. p. 293. there is no doubt that even before AD 190 Christianity had spread vigorously within Edessa and its surroundings and that (shortly after 201 or even earlier?) the royal house joined the church
  5. ^ Herbermann, Charles George (1913). The Catholic Encyclopedia. Encyclopedia Press. p. 282.
  6. ^ {Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine, Book 1 Chapter 13 http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.vi.xiii.html}
  7. ^ Cheetham, Samuel (1905). A History of the Christian Church During the First Six Centuries. Macmillan and Company. p. 58.
  8. ^ von Gutschmid, A. (July 1887). "Untersuchungen über die Geschichte des Königliches Osroëne" [Studies on the history of Royal Osroene]. Mémoires de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de Saint-Pétersbourg (in German). Saint Petersburg. 35.
  9. ^ Shahid, Irfan (1984). Rome and the Arabs. Dumbarton Oaks. pp. 109–12.
  10. ^ Lockyer, Herbert (1988). All the Apostles of the Bible. Zondervan. p. 260. ISBN 0-310-28011-7.
  11. ^ Eusebius of Caesarea, Historia ecclesiastica, V, 23.
  12. ^ Chronicon Edessenum, ad. an. 201.
  13. ^ Ed. Gian Francesco Gamurrini, Rome, 1887, 62 sqq.
  14. ^ Échos d'Orient, 1907, 145.
  15. ^ Oriens christianus II, 953 sqq.
  16. ^ Labourt, Le christianisme dans l'empire perse, Paris, 1904, 130–41.
  17. ^ Evagrius, Hist. Eccl., IV, viii
  18. ^ El-Azhari 2016, p. 91.
  19. ^ a b al-Ruha, Suraiya Faroqhi, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. VIII, ed. C.E.Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs, G. Lecomte, (Brill, 1995), 591-593.

References

  • Harrak, A (1992), "The Ancient Name of Edessa" (PDF), Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 51 (3): 209–214, doi:10.1086/373553
  • El-Azhari, Taef (2016). Zengi and the Muslim Response to the Crusades: The Politics of Jihad. Routledge.

Further reading

  • Walter Bauer 1971. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, 1934, (in English 1971): Chapter 1 "Edessa" (On-line text)
  • A. von Gutschmid, Untersuchungen über die Geschichte des Königliches Osroëne, in series Mémoires de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de Saint-Pétersbourg, series 7, vol. 35.1 (St. Petersburg, 1887)
  • J. B. Segal, Edessa: The Blessed City (Oxford and New York: University Press, 1970)
  • Schulz, Mathias, "Wegweiser ins Paradies," Der Spiegel 2372006, Pp. 158–170.
  • This entry uses text from the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909.

External links

Coordinates: 37°09′N 38°48′E / 37.150°N 38.800°E

Abgar V

Abgar V (died c. AD 40), called Ukkāmā "the Black", was the King of Osroene with his capital at Edessa.

Baldwin II of Jerusalem

Baldwin II, also known as Baldwin of Bourcq or Bourg (French: Baudouin; died 21 August 1131), was Count of Edessa from 1100 to 1118, and King of Jerusalem from 1118 until his death. He accompanied his cousins, Godfrey of Bouillon, and Baldwin of Boulogne, to the Holy Land during the First Crusade. He succeeded Baldwin of Boulogne as the second count of Edessa when his cousin left the county for Jerusalem. He was captured at the Battle of Harran in 1104. He was held first by Sökmen of Mardin, then by Jikirmish of Mosul, and finally by Jawali Saqawa. During his captivity, Tancred, the Crusader ruler of the Principality of Antioch, and Tancred's cousin, Richard of Salerno, governed Edessa as Baldwin's regents.

Baldwin was ransomed by his cousin, Joscelin of Courtenay, Lord of Turbessel, in the summer of 1108. Tancred attempted to retain Edessa, but Bernard of Valence, the Latin Patriarch of Antioch, persuaded him to restore the county to Baldwin. Baldwin allied with Jawali, but Tancred and his ally, Radwan of Aleppo, defeated them at Turbessel. Baldwin and Tancred were reconciled at an assembly of the crusader leaders near Tripoli in April 1109. Mawdud, the Atabeg of Mosul, and his successor, Aqsunqur al-Bursuqi, launched a series of campaigns against Edessa in the early 1110s, devastating the eastern regions of the country. Baldwin accused Joscelin of treason for seizing the prosperous town of Turbessel from him in 1113 and captured the neighboring Armenian lordships in 1116 and 1117.

Baldwin of Boulogne, the first king of Jerusalem, died on 2 April 1118. He bequeathed Jerusalem to his brother, Eustace III of Boulogne, stipulating that the throne was to be offered to Baldwin if Eustace failed to come to the Holy Land. Arnulf of Chocques, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Joscelin of Courtenay, who held the largest fief in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, convinced their peers to elect Baldwin king. Baldwin took possession of most towns in the kingdom and gave Edessa to Joscelin. After the army of the Principality of Antioch was almost annihilated on 28 June 1119, Baldwin was elected regent for the absent Bohemond II of Antioch. The frequent Seljuq invasions of Antioch forced him to spend most of his time in the principality, which caused discontent in Jerusalem. After Nur al-Daulak Balak captured him in April 1123, a group of noblemen offered the throne to Charles I, Count of Flanders, but Charles refused. During his absence, the Jerusalemite troops captured Tyre with the assistance of a Venetian fleet. After he was released in August 1124, he tried to capture Aleppo, but al-Bursuqi forced him to abandon the siege in early 1125.

Bohemond II came to Syria in October 1126. Baldwin gave his second daughter, Alice, in marriage to him and also renounced the regency. Baldwin planned to conquer Damascus, but he needed external support to achieve his goal. He married off his eldest daughter, Melisende, to the wealthy Fulk V, Count of Anjou in 1129. The new troops who accompanied Fulk to Jerusalem enabled Baldwin to invade Damascene territory, but he could seize only Banias with the support of the Nizari (or Assassins) in late 1129. After Bohemond II was killed in a battle in early 1130, Baldwin forced Alice to leave Antioch and assumed the regency for her daughter, Constance. He fell seriously ill in Antioch and took monastic vows before he died in the Holy Sepulchre. Baldwin had been respected for his military talent, but he was notorious for his "love for money".

Baldwin I of Jerusalem

Baldwin I, also known as Baldwin of Boulogne (1060s – 2 April 1118), was the first count of Edessa from 1098 to 1100, and the second crusader ruler and first king of Jerusalem from 1100 to his death. Being a younger son, he was destined for a church career, but he abandoned it and married a Norman noblewoman, Godehilde of Tosny. He received the County of Verdun in 1096, but he soon joined the crusader army of his brother Godfrey of Bouillon and became one of the most successful commanders of the First Crusade.

Baldwin and the Norman Tancred launched a separate expedition against Cilicia in the autumn of 1097. Tancred tried to capture Tarsus, but Baldwin forced him to leave it, which gave rise to an enduring conflict between them. Baldwin seized important fortresses in the lands to the west of the Euphrates with the assistance of local Armenians. Thoros of Edessa invited him to come to Edessa to fight against the Seljuqs. Taking advantage of a riot against Thoros, Baldwin seized the town and established the first crusader state on 10 March 1098. To strengthen his rule, the widowed Baldwin married an Armenian ruler's daughter (who is now known as Arda). He supplied the main crusader army with food during the siege of Antioch. He defended Edessa against Kerbogha, the governor of Mosul, for three weeks, preventing him from reaching Antioch before the crusaders captured it.

Godfrey of Bouillon, whom the crusaders had elected their first ruler in Jerusalem, died in 1100. Daimbert, the Latin patriarch, and Tancred offered Jerusalem to Tancred's uncle, Bohemond I of Antioch. Godfrey's retainers took possession of the town and urged Baldwin to claim Godfrey's inheritance. Since a Muslim ruler captured Bohemond, Baldwin marched to Jerusalem meeting little resistance. The Patriarch crowned him king in Bethlehem on 25 December. He captured Arsuf and Caesarea in 1101, Acre in 1104, Beirut in 1110, and Sidon in 1111, with the assistance of Genoese and Venetian fleets and of several smaller crusader groups, but all his attempts to capture Ascalon and Tyre failed. After his victory at the third battle of Ramla in 1105, the Egyptians launched no further major campaigns against the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Baldwin helped Bertrand, Count of Toulouse, to capture Tripoli in 1109. Being the only crowned monarch in the Latin East, Baldwin claimed suzerainty over other crusader rulers. Baldwin II of Edessa and Bertrand swore fealty to him. Tancred, who ruled the Principality of Antioch, also obeyed his summons. He supported Baldwin II and Tancred against Kerbogha's successor, Mawdud, who launched a series of campaigns against Edessa and Antioch in the early 1110s. He erected fortresses in Oultrejordain—the territory to the east of the river Jordan—to control the caravan routes between Syria and Egypt. He died during a campaign against Egypt.

Battle of Edessa

The Battle of Edessa took place between the armies of the Roman Empire under the command of Emperor Valerian and Sassanid forces under Shahanshah (King of the Kings) Shapur I in 260. The Roman army was defeated and captured in its entirety by the Persian forces; for the first time in Rome's military history their emperor was taken prisoner. As such, the battle is generally viewed as one of the worst disasters in Roman military history.

County of Edessa

The County of Edessa (Latin: Comitatus Edessanus) was one of the Crusader states in the 12th century. Its seat was the city of Edessa (present-day Şanlıurfa, Turkey).

In the late Byzantine period, Edessa became the centre of intellectual life within the Syriac Orthodox Church. As such it also became the centre for the translation of Ancient Greek philosophy into Syriac, which provided a stepping stone for the subsequent translations into Arabic. When the Crusades arrived, it was still important enough to tempt a side-expedition after the Siege of Antioch.Baldwin of Boulogne, the first Count of Edessa, became King of Jerusalem, and subsequent counts were his cousins. Unlike the other Crusader states, the County was landlocked. It was remote from the other states and was not on particularly good terms with its closest neighbor, the Principality of Antioch. Half of the county, including its capital, was located east of the Euphrates, far to the east, rendering it particularly vulnerable. The west part of the Euphrates was controlled from the stronghold of Turbessel. The eastern border of Edessa was the Tigris, but the County may not have extended quite that far.The fall of Edessa in 1144 was the first major setback for Outremer and provoked the Second Crusade. All the later Crusades, however, were troubled by strategic uncertainties and disagreements. The Second Crusade did not even try to recover Edessa, calculating it to be strategically better to take Damascus. But the campaign failed and Edessa was lost for the Christians.

Today, the city is called Şanlıurfa and is part of modern-day Turkey; it retains nothing of its former importance. The Oriental Orthodox community largely disappeared after the Armenian Genocide during World War I.

Edessa, Greece

Edessa (Greek: Έδεσσα, Édessa, [ˈeðesa]; until 1923: Vodena (Greek: Βοδενά, Vodená); known as city of waters), is a city in northern Greece and the capital of the Pella regional unit, in the Central Macedonia region of Greece. It was also the capital of the defunct province of the same name.

Edessa holds a special place in the history of the Greek world as, according to some ancient sources, it was here that Caranus established the first capital of ancient Macedon. Later, under the Byzantine Empire, Edessa benefited from its strategic location, controlling the Via Egnatia as it enters the Pindus mountains, and became a center of medieval Greek culture, famed for its strong walls and fortifications. In the modern period, Edessa was one of Greece's industrial centers until the middle of the 20th century, with many textile factories operating in the city and its immediate vicinity. Today however its economy mainly relies on services and tourism. Edessa hosts most of the administrative services of the Pella regional unit, as well as some departments of the Thessaloniki-based University of Macedonia.

Edessa Province

Edessa Province was one of the three provinces of Pella Prefecture of Greece. Its territory corresponded with that of the current municipalities Edessa and Skydra (except the municipal unit Meniida). It was abolished in 2006.

Edessaikos F.C.

Edessaikos Football Club (Greek: Εδεσσαϊκός) is a football club based in Edessa, Greece currently playing in the top league of Pella (fifth tier). Edessaikos was founded in 1959.

Ephrem the Syrian

Ephrem the Syrian (Classical Syriac: ܡܪܝ ܐܦܪܝܡ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ‎ Mār Ap̠rêm Suryāyâ, Classical Syriac pronunciation: [mɒr aɸˈrem surˈjɒˌjɒ]; Koinē Greek: Ἐφραίμ ὁ Σῦρος; Latin: Ephraem Syrus, also known as Saint Ephraem, Ephrem, or Ephraim; c. 306 – 373) was a Syriac Christian deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the fourth century.

Ephrem is especially beloved in the Syriac Orthodox Church, and counted as a Venerable Father (i.e., a sainted Monk) in the Eastern Orthodox Church. His feast day is celebrated on 28 January and on the Saturday of the Venerable Fathers. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in the Catholic Church in 1920.

Ephrem wrote a wide variety of hymns, poems, and sermons in verse, as well as prose exegesis. These were works of practical theology for the edification of the Church in troubled times. So popular were his works, that, for centuries after his death, Christian authors wrote hundreds of pseudepigraphal works in his name. He has been called the most significant of all of the fathers of the Syriac-speaking church tradition.

Image of Edessa

According to Christian tradition, the Image of Edessa was a holy relic consisting of a square or rectangle of cloth upon which a miraculous image of the face of Jesus had been imprinted—the first icon ("image"). In the Orthodox Churches, including English-speaking Orthodoxy, the image is generally known as the Mandylion.

By this account, King Abgar of Edessa wrote to Jesus, asking him to come cure him of an illness. Abgar received a reply letter from Jesus, declining the invitation, but promising a future visit by one of his disciples. Instead, one of the seventy disciples, Thaddeus of Edessa, is said to have come to Edessa, bearing the words of Jesus, by the virtues of which the king was miraculously healed.

This tradition was first recorded in the early 4th century by Eusebius of Caesarea, who said that he had transcribed and translated the actual letter in the Syriac chancery documents of the king of Edessa, but who makes no mention of an image. The report of an image, which accrued to the legendarium of Abgar, first appears in the Syriac work, the Doctrine of Addai: according to it, the messenger, here called Ananias, was also a painter, and he painted the portrait, which was brought back to Edessa and conserved in the royal palace.The first record of the existence of a physical image in the ancient city of Edessa (now Urfa) was by Evagrius Scholasticus, writing about 593, who reports a portrait of Christ of divine origin (θεότευκτος), which effected the miraculous aid in the defence of Edessa against the Persians in 544. The image was moved to Constantinople in the 10th century. The cloth disappeared when Constantinople was sacked in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, and is believed by some to have reappeared as a relic in King Louis IX of France's Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. This relic disappeared in the French Revolution.The provenance of the Edessa letter between the 1st century and its location in his own time are not reported by Eusebius. The materials, according to the scholar Robert Eisenman, "are very widespread in the Syriac sources with so many multiple developments and divergences that it is hard to believe they could all be based on Eusebius' poor efforts" (Eisenman 1997:862).

The Eastern Orthodox Church observes a feast for this icon on August 16 (August 29 in N.S.), which commemorates its translation from Edessa to Constantinople.

Joscelin I, Count of Edessa

Joscelin of Courtenay (or Joscelin I) (died 1131), Prince of Galilee and Lord of Turbessel (1115–1131) and Count of Edessa (1119–1131), ruled over the County of Edessa during its zenith, from 1118 to 1131. He maintained the large and unstable borders through his martial prowess.

He was the son of Joscelin I, Lord of Courtenay, born in 1034, and wife Isabella (or Elizabeth), daughter of Guy I of Montlhéry. He arrived in the Holy Land during the Crusade of 1101 after the First Crusade, and entered first into the service of his cousin Count Baldwin II of Rethel (in the army of Godfrey of Bouillon), who invested him with the lordship of Turbessel, and later in the army of Stephen of Blois. In 1104 he was captured at the Battle of Harran. By 1113, he had carved out a semi-autonomous state around Turbessel to the west of the Euphrates, where the land was prosperous, while Baldwin II controlled the territory east of the Euphrates around Edessa itself, which was depopulated and continually harassed by the Turks. That year, Baldwin dispossessed him of Turbessel, and Joscelin travelled to Jerusalem, where he was given the title of Prince of Galilee.

In 1118, Baldwin II succeeded Baldwin I as king of Jerusalem. Despite their former hostility, Joscelin fully endorsed Baldwin II, over the candidacy of Baldwin I's brother Eustace III of Boulogne. Joscelin was rewarded with the County of Edessa.

As count, he was taken prisoner along with Waleran of Le Puiset, in 1122 near Saruj by Belek Ghazi. Later he was joined in captivity at Kharput, by Baldwin II, king of Jerusalem, who had been captured in April 1123. They were rescued by fifty Armenian soldiers, who disguised themselves as merchants and infiltrated the fortress where the prisoners were kept. They killed the guards and freed the hostages. However, the castle was soon besieged by a large Turkish force and it was decided that Joscelin should seek assistance. Baldwin stayed in the fortress and after some time it was reclaimed by the Turks.After returning to Edessa he was able to enlarge the territory of the county, and in 1125 he participated in the Battle of Azaz, a Crusader victory against the atabeg of Mosul, who were led by Il-Burzuki.

In 1131, during the siege of a small castle north-east of Aleppo, a sapper's mine collapsed and Joscelin was gravely injured. Shortly thereafter, he received word that emir Ghazi II Danishmend was marching against the fortress town of Kaysun. When Joscelin's own son, the future Joscelin II, refused to aid the town, he commanded that his own army should decamp and Joscelin was borne on a litter before the army. When Ghazi heard of Joscelin's approach, perhaps mistakenly believing him already dead, he lifted the siege and retreated, and thus the warrior prince won a final battle before dying shortly thereafter on the roadside.

Joscelin married an Armenian noblewoman named Beatrice, daughter of Constantine I of Armenia. Beatrice was the mother of his son Joscelin II, Count of Edessa.In 1122, after Beatrice died (d. 1119), Joscelin married Maria, daughter of Richard of Salerno and sister of Roger, regent of the Principality of Antioch.

Matthew of Edessa

Matthew of Edessa (Armenian: Մատթեոս Ուռհայեցի, Matteos Uṛhayetsi; born in the second half of the 11th century – 1144) was an Armenian historian in the 12th century from the city of Edessa (Armenian: Ուռհա, Uṛha). Matthew was the superior abbot of Karmir Vank' (Red Convent), near the town of Kessoun, east of Marash (Germanicia), the former seat of Baldwin of Boulogne. He relates much about the Bagratuni Kingdom of Armenia, the early Crusades, and the battles between Byzantines and Arabs for the possession of parts of northern Syria and eastern Asia Minor. Byzantine authors such as Joannes Zonaras and Anna Comnena were well versed in their particular spheres, but uninformed regarding Edessa and neighboring lands which are treated by Matthew.

Osroene

Osroene, also spelled Osroëne and Osrhoene (Arabic: مملكة الرها‎; Classical Syriac: ܡܠܟܘܬܐ ܕܒܝܬ ܐܘܪܗܝ‎ "Kingdom of Urhay"; Ancient Greek: Ὀσροηνή) and sometimes known by the name of its capital city, Edessa (now Şanlıurfa, Turkey), was a historical kingdom in Upper Mesopotamia, which was ruled by the Abgarid dynasty of Arab origin. It enjoyed semi-autonomy to complete independence from the years of 132 BC to AD 216, and a Roman province from 216 to 608, from 318 a part of the Diocese of the East.

By the 5th century, Edessa had become a center of Syriac literature and learning. In 608, the Sasanian emperor, Khosrow II, took Osroëne. In 638, it fell to the Muslims as part of the Muslim conquests.

Pella (regional unit)

Pella (Greek: Περιφερειακή ενότητα Πέλλας) is one of the regional units of Greece, in the geographic region of Macedonia. It is part of the Region of Central Macedonia. It is named after the ancient city of Pella, the capital of ancient Macedonia and the birthplace of Alexander the Great. The capital of Pella is Edessa with a population of 19,036 inhabitants according to the census of 2011, while the largest city and industrial and commercial center is Giannitsa with 29,789 inhabitants. Other centers are the towns Krya Vrisi, Aridaia and Skydra.

Principality of Antioch

The Principality of Antioch was one of the crusader states created during the First Crusade which included parts of modern-day Turkey and Syria. The principality was much smaller than the County of Edessa or the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It extended around the northeastern edge of the Mediterranean, bordering the County of Tripoli to the south, Edessa to the east, and the Byzantine Empire or the Kingdom of Armenia to the northwest, depending on the date.

It had roughly 20,000 inhabitants in the 12th century, most of whom were Armenians and Greek Orthodox Christians, with a few Muslims outside the city itself. Most of the crusaders who settled there were of Norman origin, notably from the Norman Kingdom of southern Italy, as were the first rulers of the principality, who surrounded themselves with their own loyal subjects. Few of the inhabitants apart from the Crusaders were Roman Catholic even though the city was set under the jurisdiction of the Latin Patriarchate of Antioch, established in 1100. This patriarchate would endure as a titular one after the Crusades, until it was dropped in 1964.

Siege of Edessa (1144)

The Siege of Edessa took place from November 28 to December 24, 1144, resulting in the fall of the capital of the crusader County of Edessa to Zengi, the atabeg of Mosul and Aleppo. This event was the catalyst for the Second Crusade.

Thaddeus of Edessa

According to Eastern Christian tradition, Thaddeus of Edessa (Syriac: ܡܪܝ ܐܕܝ, Mar Addai or Mor Aday, sometimes Latinized Addeus) was one of the seventy disciples of Jesus. He is possibly identical with Thaddaeus, one of the Twelve Apostles. From an early date his hagiography is filled with legends and fabrications. The saint himself may be entirely fictitious.

Thomas the Apostle

Thomas the Apostle (Biblical Hebrew: תוּמָא הקדוש‎; Ancient Greek: Θωμᾶς; Coptic: ⲑⲱⲙⲁⲥ; Classical Syriac: ܬܐܘܡܐ ܫܠܝܚܐ‎ Ṯaumā s̲h̲liḥā (Thoma Sheliha); also called Didymus ("twin"), was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament.

Thomas is commonly known as "Doubting Thomas" because he doubted Jesus' resurrection when first told of it (as related in the Gospel of John alone); later, he confessed his faith, "My Lord and my God," on seeing Jesus' crucifixion wounds.

Traditionally, Thomas is believed to have travelled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, travelling as far as Tamilakam which are the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in present-day India. According to tradition, Thomas reached Muziris, (modern-day North Paravur and Kodungalloor in the state of Kerala, India) in AD 52 and converted several people, founding what today are known as Saint Thomas Christians or Mar Thoma Nazranis. After his death, the reputed relics of Saint Thomas the Apostle were enshrined as far as Mesopotamia in the 3rd century, and later moved to various places. In 1258, some of the relics were brought to Ortona, in Abruzzo, Italy, where they have been held in the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle. He is often regarded as the Patron Saint of India, and the name Thoma remains quite popular among Saint Thomas Christians of India.

Urfa

Urfa, officially known as Şanlıurfa (pronounced [ʃanˈlɯuɾfa]; Kurdish: Riha‎; Ուռհա Uṙha in Armenian, ܐܘܪܗܝ Ūrhay in Syriac) and known in ancient times as Edessa, is a city with a population of over 2 million residents in south-eastern Turkey, and the capital of Şanlıurfa Province. Urfa is a multiethnic city with a Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Arab population. Urfa is situated on a plain about eighty kilometres east of the Euphrates River. Its climate features extremely hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters.

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