Aba I the Great

d.552. Patriarch of the East from 540. Persian-born sometime before 500, he was converted about 520 through the courtesy and testimony of a catechist Yusuf and took the name Aba. He studied at Nisibis, went to the Byzantine Empire possibly for safety, and visited Constantinople. Around 533 he returned, a distinguished scholar, and taught at Nisibis, revising the Syrian Bible. Appointed patriarch, he toured the church with two metropolitans and seven bishops, taking vigorous and practical steps to end schism and restore Christian morals and church discipline. Accused in 543 of enforcing Christian standards in church courts and of converting Zoroastrians, he was arrested, tried, and finally exiled to Azarbaijan. Under house arrest he continued to administer the church, and he held a synod in 544. After attempted assassination by an apostate Christian in 549, he fled to Ctesiphon and threw himself on the shah's mercy. Arrested and heavily chained by Magians in 550, he was formally pardoned and released by the shah in 551. Worn out by long suffering, he died the following year.