Abraham the Great of Kashkar

Abraham the Great of Kashkar was the father of the Assyrian monastic revival in the 6th century. He is hailed as a doctor and saint of the Assyrian Church of the East.

Saint Abraham the Great
Founder of Abraham's Monastery on Mt. Izla
Bornc. 492
Kashkar, Persia
Venerated inAssyrian Church of the East
Feast6th Friday after Epiphany

He was born in Kashkar in Persia around 492. He left there to preach the Gospel at Al-Hirah, leaving there to study monastic life at Scetes.

Monasticism was very popular in early Syrian and Mesopotamian Christianity. Some held the view that only a life of celibacy could lead to salvation. Initially, all monks and nuns were hermits, but in about 350 Mar Awgin founded the first cenobitic monastery of Mesopotamia on Mount Izla above the city Nisibis, patterned upon the Egyptian model. Soon there were many monasteries.[1]

But at the synod of Beth Lapat the Assyrian Church of the East decided that all monks and nuns should marry. Obviously, this was in order to please the Zoroastrian rulers, who held family life sacred. The decision severely weakened the church. The decision was reverted in 553.

In 571 Abraham founded and governed a new monastery on Mt. Izla. This became the famous monastery called the "Great Convent". The rules he established in 571 were published with those of Dadisho, his successor (588-604).[2]

Abraham died in 586.

The third abbot of this monastery was his student Babai the Great (551–628), who succeeded Mar Dadisho.[3] Born to a family of humble means,[4]

Abraham's feast day is celebrated on the 6th Friday after Epiphany.


  1. ^ Wigram, W. A. (2004). An introduction to the history of the Assyrian Church, or, The Church of the Sassanid Persian Empire, 100–640 A.D. Gorgias Press. ISBN 1-59333-103-7.
  2. ^ Chabot, Jean-Baptiste. "Syriac Language and Literature." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 2 Aug. 2014
  3. ^ Kitchen, Robert A., "Babai the Great", The Orthodox Christian World, (Augustine Casiday, ed.), Chap. 21, Routledge, 2012 ISBN 9780415455169
  4. ^ Bundy, David and Norris, Frederick w. Norris. "Babai the Great", Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, Volume 1, (Everett Ferguson, Michael P. McHugh, Frederick W. Norris, ed.), Taylor & Francis, 1998 ISBN 9780815333197


  • Holweck, F. G., A Biographical Dictionary of the Saints. St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co. 1924.