Eli of Qarṭmin (ca. 13th cent.) [Syr. Orth.]

Monastic author of a verse biography of Philoxenos of Mabbug (445–523), who had become the patron saint of the monastery of Qarṭmin (20 km. southeast of Midyat). Nothing is known of the author, except that he is a member of the monastic community at Qarṭmin. References in the text imply that he was a priest and probably wrote the mimro during the 13th cent.

The mimro survives in a single ms., Paris, Bibl. Nat. Syr. 377, ff. 219r–241v. The ms. was copied in 1855, belonging to Addai Scher, before being acquired by the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

The mimro is a panegyric composed in honor of Philoxenos and read on the occasion of one of the three annual commemorations at the Miaphysite monastery of Qarṭmin (lines 343–8): 1. Ordination to the episcopacy, 18 August; 2. Death, 10 December; 3. Translation, 18 February.

The modern editor, André de Halleux, divides the mimro into two parts: 1. (vv. 1–24) Introduction; (vv.  25–290) Life of Philoxenos; (vv. 291–332) Passion and martyrdom of Philoxenos — suffocation in bathhouse at Gangra; (vv. 333–68) Translation of Philoxenos’s remains to Qarṭmin and Midyat; 2. (vv. 369–410) Narrative of a posthumous miracle, dated 1144/5, when raiders attacked and pillaged Ṭur ʿAbdin, emptying the bones and head of Philoxenos on the road. A column of light appeared from the remains; (vv. 411–504) Elegy paralleling the life and achievements of Philoxenos with various Biblical characters; (vv. 505–550) Invocation to Philoxenos for patronage over Ṭur ʿAbdin; (vv. 551–4) Closing doxology.

De Halleux concludes that Eli’s biographical details are only as good as his sources from such a distance in time, and while there are numerous errors, Eli’s focus on Philoxenos’s relationship with Ṭur ʿAbdin deserves attention.

Philoxenos’s connection with Ṭur ʿAbdin is tied to three locations: 1. the monastery at Qarṭmin at Dayr al-ʿUmr where his body is interred; 2. the monastery of Mar Abraham, near Midyat, where his head was reputedly transferred in 1144/5; 3. Beth Severianos (Bāsebrīna), in the vicinity of which Philoxenos is said to have constructed a stone cell for himself (vv. 505–6).

The mimro relates two significant events in the life of Philoxenos that connect him to Qarṭmin: the miraculous encounter with the stylite Abel when Abel’s column bent down to meet Philoxenos (vv. 99–118); and his correspondence with Bp. Yuḥanon of Amid (vv.  231–54), both of whom were said to be fellow novices with Philoxenos at Qarṭmin. Both, according to de Halleux, while being problematic historically, give evidence of genuine encounters.

De Halleux appended a short qolo on the martyrdom of Philoxenos, entitled ‘For the definition of the faith’ (ms. Paris, Bibl. Nat. Syr. 165, f. 237v.), eight verses in Ephrem’s meter (two hemistichs of heptasyllabic verse). He also pointed out the possible connection of the mimro with a biographical notice on Philoxenos preserved in ms. Vat. Syr. 155 (CSCO 234, I n. 2).


  • A.  de  Halleux, Ēlī de Qartamīn. Mēmrā sur S. Mār Philoxène de Mabbog (CSCO 233–4; 1963).
  • Palmer, Monk and mason.
  • J. W.  Watt, ‘Syriac panegyric in theory and practice. Antony of Tagrit and Eli of Qartamin’, LM 102 (1989), 271–98.
  • J. W.  Watt, ‘The rhetorical structure of the Memra of Eli of Qartamin on Philoxenus of Mabbug’, in SymSyr V 299–306.

| Eli of Qarṭmin |


Front Matter A (73) B (53) C (26) D (36) E (27) F (5) G (30) H (22) I (31) J (15) K (11) L (12) M (56) N (19) O (3) P (28) Q (11) R (8) S (71) T (39) U (1) V (5) W (3) X (1) Y (41) Z (4) Back Matter
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