Isaac the Syrian

Feast Day: January 28

It was not all that unusual for boys long ago to enter monasteries as young children. It was a way for them to be educated and then often prepared for life as priests or monks. Isaac was one such young man.

He was born in Bet Katraye, which today is Bahrain on the Persian Gulf, sometime in the 7th century. He became famous in his time for his skill in teaching and was ordained Bishop of Nineveh. But after just a few months, Isaac resigned as bishop, because he found that his spiritual calling and strength came through solitude and a life of poverty. He went to Mount Matout, where other men who shared his spiritual outlook lived. They were known as anchorites, people who lived apart from society in order to make prayer the focus of their lives. Isaac remained there until he grew old and blind, when he was taken to the monastery of Shabar. There he died and was buried around 700.

In his lifetime, he wrote about solitude. He also wrote much about the Holy Spirit. When he lost his sight, others wrote down the teaching he dictated. You may also know St. Isaac the Syrian as Isaac of Nineveh. He has the distinction of being a saint in both the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.