University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E06935: The Homily (memrā) on *Ioulianos/Julianus Saba (monk of Mesopotamia, S00344) is written in Syriac during the late 5th/early 6th c. by Jacob of Serugh (c. 451-521). It extols the saint's ascetic virtues and recounts his miracles and accomplishments.

online resource
posted on 2018-10-18, 00:00 authored by sminov
Jacob of Serugh, Homily on Ioulianos/Julianus Saba


The Homily can be divided into two main parts. In the first part (pp. 61-64), Jacob extols the exemplary way of life of the saint, who died for the world in order to be with God. Ascetic accomplishments of Julian include fasting, prayer, voluntary poverty, and avoidance of the company of humans. In accordance with his usual custom, Jacob compares the holy man to various biblical figures, such as Daniel, Elisha and Moses.

The second part (pp. 64-70), consists of an account of the miracles and other achievements of Julian, closely following the narrative of Theodoret of Cyrrhus. It includes the miraculous killing of a serpent that happened to cross the holy man's way (p. 64); the miracle of procuring water in the desert, performed on behalf of an exhausted disciple (p. 65); the saint's pilgrimage to Mount Sinai (p. 66); the divine punishment of the emperor Julian, performed as an answer to the holy man's prayer (pp. 66-67); Julian's struggle against Arianism in Antioch (pp. 67-68); the rescue of a child, who fell into a well (pp. 68-69).


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Ioulianos/Julianus Saba, monk in Mesopotamia, ob. 367 : S00344

Saint Name in Source

ܝܘܠܝܢܐ ܣܒܐ

Type of Evidence

Liturgical texts - Hymns Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • Syriac

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region


Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Serugh Edessa Edessa Ἔδεσσα Edessa

Major author/Major anonymous work

Jacob of Serugh

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Chant and religious singing

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle with animals and plants Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money) Miraculous protection - of people and their property

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


The Homily on Ioulianos/Julianus Saba is a poetic celebration of the life and achievements of Julian Saba, the famous 4th c. ascetic who was active in Mesopotamia. The Homily belongs to the literary genre of memrā, a narrative poem that employs couplets all in the same syllabic meter. Such poems, which appear to have been recited rather than sung, were presumably used in the liturgy, though there is no evidence from Late Antiquity of exactly how it happened. The second part of the Homily is simply a paraphrase of the chapter on Julian Saba from the Religious History of Theodoret of Cyrrhus (E00420). It recounts almost all miracles and accomplishments of the holy man described there and in the same order. Most likely, Jacob was acquainted with the Syriac version of Julian's life from the Religious History (E06065). There is a critical edition of the Homily, prepared by Roger-Youssef Akhrass and Imad Syryany on the basis of five out of ten existing manuscripts. Syriac text: Akhrass & Syryany 2017, vol. 1, 61-71. For general information on Jacob and his oeuvre, see Brock 2011; Lange 2004; Alwan 1986.


The Homily bears witness to the enduring popularity of the ascetic figure of Julian Saba among Syriac-speaking Christians of Mesopotamia during the late 5th and early 6th centuries. It also constitutes one of the earliest specimens of the reception of Theodoret's Religious History in the Syriac-speaking milieu.


Main editions and translations: Akhrass, R.-Y., and Syryany, I., 160 Unpublished Homilies of Jacob of Serugh. 2 vols (Damascus: Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate, 2017). Further reading: Alwan, K., “Bibliographie générale raisonnée de Jacques de Saroug († 521),” Parole de l’Orient 13 (1986), 313-384. Brock, S.P., “Ya‘qub of Serugh,” in: S.P. Brock, A.M. Butts, G.A. Kiraz and L. van Rompay (eds.), Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2011), 433-435. Lange, C., “Jakob von Sarug, † 521,” in: W. Klein (ed.), Syrische Kirchenväter (Urban-Taschenbücher 587; Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 2004), 217-227.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity