Barṣawmo (d. ca. 458) [Syr. Orth.]

Monk and abbot. Barṣawmo was a supporter of Dioscorus of Alexandria. In 449, invited by Emperor Theodosius II, he attended the Council of Ephesus, which accepted a profession of faith by Eutyches. Two years later, Barṣawmo also was present at the Council of Chalcedon, which rejected Eutyches’s views and deposed Dioscorus. Barṣawmo expressed his strong opposition to the decisions of this council and remained opposed to the council for the rest of his life. It is explicitly stated that Barṣawmo spoke Syriac in both councils and that his words were translated into Greek.

Aside from his brief appearance at these two councils, recorded in the Greek Acts of the Council of Chalcedon and in the Syriac Acts of the Council of Ephesus, no further contemporary evidence on Barṣawmo exists. Around the middle of the 6th cent., however, a Syriac Life was composed, which situates Barṣawmo’s birth in the region of Samosata and details his many travels to Jerusalem, Petra, the Sinai, and Cyprus. Barṣawmo is portrayed as an energetic monk, converting non-Christians and fighting against Jews and pagans. The historical value of this Life, preserved in three incomplete mss. (the earliest from the 11th cent.), is doubtful. In his Chronicle, Michael Rabo, who was abbot in the monastery named after Barṣawmo (see Dayro d-Mor Barṣawmo), fails to record many of the data provided in the Life.

Despite his acceptance of Eutyches, whose legacy was later rejected by the Syr. Orth. Church, Barṣawmo became a popular saint. He gave his name to the famous Monastery of Barṣawmo, near Melitene. Barṣawmo’s fame also spread to the Coptic and Ethiopian churches.

Barṣawmo is depicted in an illuminated ms. of the Ḥarqlean Gospels (dated 1054) that once belonged to the Monastery of Barṣawmo and later was in the possession of the Syr. Orth. patriarchal library at Ḥimṣ. He is also portrayed in Coptic wall paintings in the Monastery of Baramus and in the Monastery of St. Antony. In the latter he holds an open scroll, which is inscribed partly in Syriac and partly in Coptic.

See Fig. 19.


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  • B. A.  Pearson, ‘The Coptic inscriptions in the Church of St. Antony’, in Monastic Visions. Wall paintings in the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea, ed. E. S. Bolman (2002), 222–223.

How to Cite This Entry

Lucas Van Rompay , “Barṣawmo,” in Barṣawmo, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay,

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Lucas Van Rompay , “Barṣawmo,” in Barṣawmo, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018),

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Van Rompay, Lucas. “Barṣawmo.” In Barṣawmo. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018.

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