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Remembrance of King Abgar of Edessa

March 13, 2012

Today the Church remembers King Abgar of Edessa.

Icon of Abgar holding the mandylion, the image of Christ (encaustic, 10th century, Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai)

Edessa (Presently called Urfa/Urahay) is a city in the border of Turkey and Iraq. During the time of Jesus, an Assyrian King named Abgar V ruled Edessa. He was suffering from an incurable disease. Abgar wrote a letter to Jesus, saying that he believed in Jesus as the Son of God, and also he believed in his amazing miracles about which he had only heard about. King Abgar in his letter is asking Jesus to come heal him. Towards the end of his letter, Abgar is says that he has heard that the Jews are persecuting Him, thus, he is suggested Jesus to come and stay in his City.

Jesus replied to his letter as follows: “Happy art thou who hast believed in me, not having seen me, for it is written of me that those who shall see me shall not believe in me, and that those who shall not see me shall believe in me. As to that which thou hast written, that I should come to thee, all that for which I was sent here below is finished, and I ascend again to my Father who sent me, and when I shall have ascended to Him I will send thee one of my disciples, who shall heal all thy sufferings, and shall give health again, and shall convert all who are with thee unto life eternal. And thy city shall be blessed forever, and the enemy shall never overcome it.”

King Abgar illustration in 1898 book «Illustrated Armenia and Armenians>>

After the Ascension of Christ, Addai (also referred to as Thaddai) who was one among the seventy (Luke 10:1) left for Edessa, along with his close friend Mari. Both of them are considered to be disciples of St Thomas. Addai and Mari are considered as the second and third “Catholicose of the East”, respectively following St Thomas, who was the first.  In Edessa they visited King Abgar. Mar Addai placed his hands on Abgar and said. “I place my hand upon thee in the name of Eshoo Msheekha [meaning in Aramaic,Jesus Christ ], and in His name you are healed.” Healing took place immediately. Abgar along with his family and countrymen converted to Christianity and Edessa became the first Christian City.

Church historian Eusebios (4th century) has written about King Abgar. Eusebios say that he has found the letters written by Abgar to Jesus and Jesus’s reply, from the public records of Edessa and translated it from Syriac. The healing of Abgar is also recorded in the Doctrine of Addai.

The service book used by Yeldo Mar Baselius (Kothamangalam Bava) had King Abgar’s name written on it.

In Christ

Kiran

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  1. Mobin
    March 14, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Gud article kiran. Well studied. Ur initiation to explore the unknown infrmation r to be aprecitd.

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