Marutha of Tikrit

Marutha of Tagrit (Classical Syriac: ܡܪܘܬܐ ܕܬܓܪܝܬ‎) was a theologian, and the Maphrian of the East of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 628 until his death in 649.[2]

Marutha of Tagrit
Maphrian of the Syriac Orthodox Church
ChurchSyriac Orthodox Church
ArchdioceseMaphrianate of the East
In office628–649
PredecessorOffice created
SuccessorDenha I
by Athanasius I Gammolo
Personal details
Shawarzaq, Sassanid Empire
Died2 May 649
Tagrit, Rashidun Caliphate
Feast day2 May
Venerated inSyriac Orthodox Church[1]


Marutha was born in 565 in the village of Shawarzaq,[2] near Beth Nuhadra in the Sassanian province of Arbayistan in northern Mesopotamia, and was educated at the local Monastery of Mor Samuel. From here he moved to the Monastery of Nardas near Balad where he became the assistant of Mor Zacchaeus, Bishop of Beth Arbaye. At the Monastery of Mor Zacchaeus, near Callinicum, Marutha studied theological sciences, Syriac and Greek for ten years.[2] He later completed his studies in calligraphy at the Mountain of Edessa, under the monk Thomas.[2]

In 605, after finishing his studies, Marutha began teaching theology at the Monastery of Mor Mattai, where he taught Denha, who would later go on to succeed him as maphrian.[2] Not long after, he was called to the court of the Sassanian Shah Khosrau II to serve as chaplain of the convent near the palace, founded by his favourite wife, Shirin. Upon Khosrau II's downfall in 628, persecutions against Orthodox Christians began and Marutha was forced to the Convent of Beth Rabban Shabor, before returning to the Monastery of Mor Mattai.

At the end of the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628, John of the Sedre, Athanasius I Gammolo's secretary, was sent to the court of Khosrau's successor, Kavadh II.[2] Whilst returning from Ctesiphon, the capital of the Sasanian Empire, John invited several bishops and monks, including Marutha, to join him on his return to the patriarch. Upon his arrival, John held a synod to organise the Syriac Orthodox Church within the Sassanian Empire under the authority of a single metropolitan. Marutha was chosen by the synod to become the new Metropolitan of the East or Maphrian and was consecrated by Athanasius I Gammolo in late 628.[2]

Afterwards, Marutha held a synod at the Monastery of Mor Mattai where he issued twenty-four canons and began organising thirteen existing dioceses into the Maphrianate,[2] based at the city of Tagrit, as he was forbidden from Ctesiphon because it was the seat of the Patriarch of the Church of the East.[3] He also later created four more dioceses after the fall of the Sassanian Empire, as the new Rashidun Caliphate allowed the Syriac Orthodox faith greater freedom in Persia.[2]

As maphrian, Marutha founded the Monastery of St. Sergius near Tagrit,[4] the Convent of Beth Ébhré, and a new cathedral in Tagrit. He is known to have imposed the Fast of Nineveh, and served as maphrian until his death on 2 May 649.[2]


Marutha is known to have written extensively, and his works include an extensive commentary on the Gospels, several supplicatory prose hymns and festal homilies and a polemical treatise against the Church of the East. Marutha also wrote a liturgy.[2]


  1. ^ Wainwright (2006), p.157
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Barsoum (2003)
  3. ^ Rassam (2005), p.67
  4. ^ Papaconstantinou & Schwartz (2016), p. 190


  • Barsoum, Ignatius Aphrem I (2003). Matti Moosa, ed. The Scattered Pearls: The History of Syriac Literature and Sciences
  • Papaconstantinou, Arietta; Schwartz, Daniel L. (2016). Conversion in Late Antiquity: Christianity, Islam, and Beyond. Routledge. ISBN 9781317159728.
  • Rassam, Suha (2005). Christianity in Iraq: Its Origins and Development to the Present Day. Gracewing Publishing. ISBN 9780852446331.
  • Wainwright, Geoffrey (2006). The Oxford History of Christian Worship. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195138863.
Preceded by
Office created
Syriac Orthodox Maphrian of the East
Succeeded by
Denha I