++القديس مار زيا++شمال العراق

The Biography of St Zaia

In the year “620 Greek Calendar”, “309 A.D.” there was this very rich Palestinian man named “Shimon the merchant” his wife Helene and their two sons who worked as knights for the king. Shimon and his wife were firm believers, following Gods’ laws and commandments. One night, while Shimon was deeply asleep, an angel descended from heaven and said to him: (Shimon, your prayers and Alms-giving have been answered before God. Your wife will bear a child and you shall name him Zaia.)
Shimon asked: (How can that be?…. I am an old man. My wife is old too!) then the angel replied: (I am Gabriel, the Angel of God. I have been sent before you to tell you that this child shall be Nazaroid. He will neither drink wine nor alcohol and the Holy Spirit shall be within him before he is born). Then Shimon said: (So be it… My Lord!) He woke up with a startle and told his wife about his dream and the Angel. What Helene heard startled her, but ended up saying: (Gods’ will is great! so be it)

Helene bore a child and God gave her a son. She was ninety-three years old. Her husband was on hundred and twenty years old. The child was named Zaia, because all foul spirits, cursed evils, blasphemers and cruel patrons were terrified of this name.
The heavens exulted his birth and the earth cherished his baptism. Helene was embraced by the Holy Spirit, the same way John the Baptist’s mother was. She used to fast all day, and eat very little food. She was a very Charitable and generous woman, helping the poor and the needy, giving shelter to widows, strangers and aiding the orphans.

On the day the child Zaia was born, the earth trembled and rocks cracked wide open before the glorious brightness of his face, sent by the Almighty. This very Holy might gave the blessed child as to be the perfect example of the pure vein and the blessed fruit and its widespread on the face of the earth.

On this same day, while Shimon was working in the field, a young man ran to him to announce the birth of his son. Shimon happily replied: (I will give a gold piece for bringing me the good news), then he hurried home. He invited his neighbors, relatives and the whole country to a huge banquet, where ten oxen and forty rams were slaughtered.
And the celebrations went on for seven days and seven nights. On the seventh day, Shimon asked for the child to be baptized. The ceremony commenced by the chimes of the bell which gathered some twelve thousand people, including the town inhabitants, its surroundings and one thousand priests and deacons who hallowed the Baptismal Font. The child was ready to be baptized when the priest asked Helene the name of the child. She said: (as you know father, the earth trembled the day he was born). So, without any hesitation, the priest named him Zaia “the one who terrifies cursed evils and cruel patrons.”
Then the priest rubbed the child with Holy oil and baptized him in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, placing a gold crown on his head.
On this baptism day, his father Shimon arranged another huge banquet where eighty sheeps and twelve oxen were slaughtered. He also gave on thousand Dinars to the people who were invited to that gathering.

The child grew taller and wiser before God. At the age of three, his father placed him under the care of a tutor called “Youkhanan” in order to teach and instill into him the Holy Book. He stated school with fifty other classmates and continued until he was able to learn the Holy Book by heart.

The Holy Spirit was within him. He improved daily and his spirit was illuminated by the Holy teachings. Even his friends were astonished by his intelligence. It was the heavenly grave, which was within him that made him smarter and stronger. He was determined on fasting and praying. So, his body and his soul were sanctified and his heart purified. Although he limited himself to one meal a day at Sunset, and would stay all night long praying; yet, in the morning, his face would shine like an angel. Not even his parents were aware of his hearty desire.

Mar Zaia had realized that this world is moving and turning with its vain pleasures and that nothing lasts forever, except Justice and Truth. He would spend all weeks of the year fasting and would eat nothing but a piece of bread and drink warm water in the evening.

After two years of school attendance, he learned a lot. He said to his tutor: (I have learned a lot from you, teacher! But, with your permission, I would like to leave). His tutor replied: (Leave in peace my son, and may God be with you) so, he returned to his parents’ home and continued reading the Holy Bible.

One day, he came upon this phrase where the Lord says: (He who does not part with his parents, his brothers and sisters, does not deserve to be my disciple!). He was so touched by this heavenly theory that he decided to go to Jerusalem in order to receive blessings from the Holy Grace and the Sacred places on the Mount of Olives.
The occasion presented itself when a monk named “Shamli” who was leaving for Jerusalem, visited them. Mar Zaia asked him whether he would take him along to Jerusalem as his pupil. Monk Shamli answered: (You are more than welcome! But what would you do if your parents disapproved?).

Then mar Zaia stood up and said to his parents: (I must go to Jerusalem! You will have to answer before the Christ if you refuse!) They both fell crying before his feet, then bitterly replied and said to him: (May this be Gods’ will! you bear hatred for us and love for God! Leave in peace and may God be with you. Only he can fulfill your heart’s desires.)
As Mar Zaia was getting ready to leave with monk Shamli, his father gave him two hundred gold pieces and fifty sets of clothes. Then he bid them farewell. They wished to accompany him for a mile or so, but Mar Zaia: (You are not setting one step out of this house!) So, they embraced and kissed him and sorrowfully they said: (Farewell son, may the Christ, who parted us, be with you!). He departed with monk Shamli with a happy feeling, yet with a sad one for leaving his parents behind. He was only six years old when he left for Jerusalem.
Once in Jerusalem, priests and deacons were amazed by his knowledge. Heavenly Grace emanated from his face and shined like a celestial beauty.
At the age of twenty-seven, he was ordained priest, by the bishop, in the church of Jerusalem. A rank he accepted with great honor. Three days later, an angel descended from heaven and took him away into the desert. The angel found a mountain goat. He grabbed it then brought it to Mar Zaia, who live on this goat’s milk for twelve years.

One day, a man called “Tower”, son of king “Parras”, was on that mountain on a hunting trip. Suddenly, “Tower” saw the mountain goat and said to his friends: (There a goat! a gift from heaven). As he was arming his cross- bow to kill the goat, Mar Zaia grabbed his arm and said: (You have no right to do this). Tower got scared of this graceful man and the cross- bow fell out of his hands. He knew, however, that he was in the presence of a religious man. Tower said to Mar Zaia: (In the name of God, who are you?) Mar Zaia replied: (I am Jesus Christ’s humble servant!). Tower asked him again: (who is Jesus Christ?). Mar Zaia replied: (Jesus Christ, the Son of God who created the heavens and earth, mountains and hills, oceans and rivers, the birds and animals and reptiles on earth. There is no other God but him). Tower then said: (I worship a gold plated wooden statue of a bull named the god “Arthemis”.
Mar Zaia said to him: (I will come with you to see this god that you are talking about). When they arrived in town, Mar Zaia noticed a sculptor making wooden gods. He asked the sculptor what they were, and the man said: (These are king Parras’ gods!).

So, Mar Zaia stood and made the sign of the Cross on the statues. Suddenly, the statues fell on the ground and turned into dust. When the sculptor saw that, he literally tore his clothes off and hurried to deliver the news to his king; that a man has come and killed all their gods. The king ordered by saying: (Go and tell this man to come to me).

The sculptor returned and told Mar Zaia that king Parras wanted to see him. So, Mar Zaia went with the sculptor and presented himself before the king hailing him as well as his ministers. King Parras looked at mar Zaia and was overwhelmed by the bright light emanating from his face. Then said: (Where are you from? Where are you going to? And whom do you work for?). Mar Zaia answered: (I come from the Promised Land. I am going to the country of “High Dassan” to settle. Then the king asked: (Whom do you worship?). The saint replied: (I worship the Christ who was crucified by the Jews in Jerusalem! And in whose name the dead are raised!)
It just happened that one of the king’s sons was dead. So, they brought him to Mar Zaia and king Parras said: (If you can bring him back to life, then we shall worship your God!). The Saint Knelt down, raised his eyes towards the sky and started praying: (My Lord Jesus Christ, give life to this servant of yours. Let the eyes of these sinners see your miraculous work and they shall believe in you, son of the living God!) During that hour, the king’s son stood up on his feet. Seeing the miracle, the people cried together: (Praise the Christ, Zaia’s God, in whose name the dead are raised!). In this same town, there were brought before Mar Zaia. Raising his arms towards the sky, the Saint prayed: (My Lord Jesus Christ! You, who exorcised the dead, cure the souls of these servants of yours and rid their bodies of the demons haunting them. Show the sinners your doing and they shall believe in you!),
Instantly, the twenty- three individuals were cured of their illnesses. The people saw Mar Zaia’s miracle and the whole town believed in Mar Zaia’s God. However, king Parras would not. So, the Saint Mar Zaia ordered a stone- made baptismal font to be fetched. He carried out a general baptism and Holy Communion in the name of the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. After which, Mar Zaia
Returned to his humble dwelling.
That same night descended the Angel of God and said to Tower: (Go to Mar Zaia and become his disciple!).
The next morning, Tower left his crown, his kingdom, his wife and family and became Mar Zaia’s disciple!). The Saint started teaching him the Holy readings until he was embraced by the Holy Spirit. He would stay a wake at night praying to God and spent two years at school learning the Holy Books.
Being the king’s son, Tower had many enemies. Among those were the giants. When they learned that Tower was away, they attacked his homeland, robbed everything his people had and abducted his wife and children. Tower’s wife was wearing a very expensive red dress. On the way to the giants’ land, she cleverly cut small pieces of her red dress and threw them onto the path behind them. The angel came and said to Tower: (Your homeland has been attacked by the giants. Hurry! And catch up with them). Tower was full of grief. Mar Zaia comforted him by saying: (Have no fear Tower! Hurry up and follow them! I shall join you there!). So, Tower grabbed his baton with enthusiasm and followed them. On the way, he saw all the small pieces of red dress thrown by his wife, which led him to his enemy.
He turned around and saw Mar Zaia standing beside him. Then the angel of God took them and landed them amid the giants. The letters were overwhelmed by the Saint’s glorious halo. His presence paralyzed them to death. The angel then struck them with a spear of flames and killed some five thousand warriors.
Tower delivered his wife, his children and their belongings and returned to their homeland.
Later, Mar Zaia and Tower returned to their place in the mountain and spent twenty days there praying. The angel of God came to Mar Zaia and said: (Go to the town of Mosul with your disciple Tower and preach the word of God among the people!). So, to the town of Mosul they headed.
Once there, they came across a young girl who was demented. This girl would throw stones at any person who dared walking down her alley. And as the two Saints, Mar Zaia and Mar Tower arrived, she started lapidating them. But the stones she threw would not get anywhere near them. The Almighty was their protector.
Shortly after, the Saints walked among the people of Mosul. The latters gathered around them and asked: (Why did you approach this demented girl?). Mar Zaia called the girl and inquired: (what is your name, girl?)…(Martha!) She replied. Then Mar Zaia said to the demon possessing her: (In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I order you to leave Martha’s body!). The demon feared Mar Zaia’s glorious face. He withdrew from the girl’s body crying: (Have mercy on us, Son of Mary, and your disciples who, in your name, chase us away!). Then Mar Zaia said: (I forbid you from approaching the people of this town!).
In Mosul reigned a king named “Hormizod”. He was an evil person who worshiped statues, a cruel and impious king. When he heard of the two churchmen, he ordered his slaves: (Go and fetch the two men! Let us see who they are!). The king’s slaves, including one named “Yehouda”, brought the two men before their king. The latter asked: (Where are you from?). (We work for the Christ who was crucified by the Jews and in whose name the dead are brought to life! The deaf recover their audition and the sick are cured!).
The king inquired: (And who might this person be?). (He is the one who sent us to you! He is the son of living God!) They answered. The king was overpowered by the Saint’s glorious and radiant face.
There were Jews in Mosul who were descendants of those who crucified the Christ. They told the king: (These two men are telling lies. The Christ has not come yet!). They actually influenced the king and alienated him from the right and just way.

to be continued

King Hormizod was furious the next morning. He ordered the two Saints to be called and said: (If you do not work a miracle in the name of the Christ, then I shall have to kill you and throw your bodies to the dogs!). He ordered his slaves to prepare swords, sharp knives and iron rails to cut their bodies to pieces.
So, Mar Zaia stood in front of the king and said: (If we work miracle in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, will you believe in him?). King Hormizod added: (If you show me one sign of a miracle, then I and the whole town shall believe in the Christ!). Mar Zaia and Mar Tower knelt down, raised their arms towards the sky and prayed.

On the ground, where they prayed, there was once a graveyard. The saints started their prayers: (Our Lord Jesus Christ, son of living God who was crucified by the Jews in Jerusalem, raise the dead in this graveyard as you raised your beloved Lazar! Show these sinners your miraculous work and they shall believe in you!). At the same moment, the whole graveyard shook. Graves started opening and two hundred bodies rose before the king and his people. They all believed and cried: Praise the Lord Jesus Christ!).

King Hormizod had only one twenty- year old son who was born blind. He was brought to the Saint Mar Zaia who terrified evil spirits, cruel patrons and demons. The saint ordered a bowl of water. He made the sign of the Cross on it and then he sprinkled the boy’s face with that water. The blind boy’s eyes suddenly opened. He recovered his sight fully. The people praised the Lord for giving this Saint the power of working miracles.
However, the Jews feared him. The king ordered his executioners to kill all the Jews in town. All were killed except for one who managed to hide himself.
Mar Zaia baptized king Hormizod and his people. He warned him and implored him to keep his faith in God; for there is no other God but the almighty and righteous God. Before Mar Zaia left the town, the king offered him twenty-three dinars and together with his people embraced the two Saints and said: (Leave in peace you blessed believers. May God bless your souls and may prevent the sinners and your enemies from standing in your way!).
Mar Zaia and Mar Tower blessed them too and bid them farewell.
They went to a village called “Shosh” which was situated not far from the river “Zawa”. In this village, lived a man named “Marcos”. He had two sons who were stricken by leprosy since twenty- two years, neither treated nor cured. In this same village, there used to live a giant dragon, which ate a villager a day. It was feared and worshipped by the villagers three times a day.
The two saints went to Marcos and inquired: (Who are you, and your people worshipping?)…… (We worship the giant dragon! the righteous God). Mar Zaia said to him: (Do not speak blasphemously of the living God, the creator of heavens and earth, oceans and rivers, and all things among them). Marcos asked: (who are you? And whom do you worship?). (I am Jesus Christ’s humble servant!) The saint replied. Then Marcos pleaded: if you can rid my sons of their leprosy, then the whole village and I shall believe in the Christ)
The Saint ordered the two boys to be brought before him. Their appearance amazed him. Their bodies were as white as snow. The Saint Zaia ordered a bowl of water on which he made the sign of the Cross and prayed: (My Lord Jesus Christ, rid these two servants of your of their leprosy the way you cured and purified “those ten”. Show these blasphemers your doing and they shall believe in your Holy and Mighty name). Then sprinkled them with the Holy water. They were immediately cured and their bodies rid of the leprosy. The boys, then, bowed before Mar Zaia and praised the Lord. Their father Marcos cried loudly: (Praise and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ in whose name leprosy is rid and cured). The whole village heard Marcos’ voice and joined him a praising the Lord.
The Saint asked: (Where is your god? I want to see him) they replied: (You cannot go to him. He eats one of us everyday) and on that particular day, it was the turn of a widow’s only son, but Mar Zaia and Mar Tower were determined to see the dragon. They reached its hiding place and the Saint ordered: (Come out dragon and show us your face). The giant dragon stepped out but trembled before the Saint’s glorious and radiant face. Saint Zaia grabbed the baton out of Mar Tower hands and went striking the dragon with it on its lip, splitting the dragon in two. The villagers were overwhelmed by his power and believed in the Christ. Later, the Saint ordered a baptismal font and baptized them in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.

Once again, the angel of God descended and said to Mar Zaia: (Now go to Mount Gorzan).
The Saints obeyed and went to that mountain where they spent forty years of their lives consecrated to God. Their main source of nourishment was bread and wild honey. On that mountain, Mar Zaia cured five hundred persons, and among them were the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the sick and the handicapped.
After all those years, the angel of God told the Saints to go down to the state of “Supna” in order to heal its population. They went down until they reached a village called “Moridnay” (Now known as Bamerneh) where he cured thirteen blind and dumb individuals in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In that village lived a bishop named “Mar Shamli”, the monk with whom Mar Zaia went to Jerusalem for the first time. When Mar Shamli knew of Mar Zaia’s arrival in his village, he hurried to them to receive their blessings. They embraced each other and spiritually celebrated the occasion. Mar Shamli was amazed as to the heavenly grace radiating from saint Zaia’s face inspite of his weak physical state due to fasting, staying up and dedication to prayers. So, Mar Shamli sadly asked: (Why are you doing this to yourselves?). You must eat in order to stay a live. The saint replied: (Why should we worry about fattening our bodies with food. They will eventually rot away. Only ants and worms shall thrive on them).
After receiving blessings and benediction from Mar Sahmli, the two saints bid him farewell and left to the village of “Iqdish” where lived this poor woman and her unique daughter. The girl was demented for the last five years. So, her mother brought her to mar Zaia hoping for a cure. The saint Zaia made the sign of the Cross on the girl and ordered the demon possessing her: (Come out you evil one). The demon appeared in the shape of a black bull before the eyes of the observers. The girl cured and she went home praising and thanking the Lord. His miraculous work amazed all the villagers. So, they brought him their sick that he cured with God’s help and might.

After that, Mar Zaia and Mar Tower went to the village of “komaneh”. Its inhabitants were impious and did not believe in God. The village was stricken by pest (black death). Fifty people were dying everyday and no one to bury them. So, the saint Zaia said to them: (If you believe in the Living God and in His Son Jesus Christ and if you renounce your wrong and sinful doings, then I shall keep the black death away). They replied: (We do believe in your God and we renounce all our sinful doings). After that, the saint knelt down and started praying: (My Lord Jesus Christ, the forsake of goodness to mankind, keep the black death away from the people of this village for them witness your miraculous doing and they shall believe in you).
At the same moment, Mar Zaia’s prayers reached the heavens and no one died in that day. The villagers honored the saint Zaia and his disciple Mar Tower and believed in God.
There lived a widow named “Rapqa”. She had a son born blind and dumb. She brought her son to mar Zaia to be healed. The saint made the sign of the cross on the boy and instantly his eyes opened, and recovered his speech. He jumped to his feet joyfully while the villagers astonished knelt before saint Zaia and prayed: (Praise the Lord Jesus Christ in whose name miracles and wonders are worked). Then, the saint baptized them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Mush later, the angel of God descended and said to Mar Zaia: (Get up and to the village of “Arbosh”. A lot of people are dying there. So, he went with his disciple Tower to that village. They noticed that four people were dying everyday while the others wailed and mourned. That is when they both started praying: (Almighty God, have mercy on this village. Ease upon its people your blight of anger. Show them your doings and they shall believe in you).
Immediately, the Black Death withdrew its clutches from the villagers. Lateron, Mar Zaia and Mar Tower left to “Baz” to settle. However, they did not find a proper place because the people of Baz were unkind and hard- hearted. So, they decided to go to the state of “Geelou”, where they found an appropriate place to live. It was situated near the mount of “Dorakh”. King Balaq owned this state, son of king Zouraq.

As soon as they arrived, Mar Zaia said to Towre: (Let us go and see the king Balaq and ask him to help us build our church. Take this goat- skin and fill it with water for the king). Mar Tower obeyed and carried it on his back and together they went to the king.

They greeted him and were duly received by him. King Balaq was overwhelmed by Mar Zaia’s glorious and radiant face, … Mar Zaia made the sign of the Cross on the water- skin and turned the water into Holy Wine. The king tasted the wine and said: (This wine is Holy. It is not the produce of a vine tree). Then the king turned towards Mar Zaia and added: (Ask me whatever you want and I shall make it yours). The saint replied: (May the king live forever, I would like you to build a house for me). King Balaq gladly answered: (I and my entire state are at your service, and whatever you ask for shall be granted. Then the saint bowed before the king and said: (May God bless you forever, king). He thanked the king, and then they left together.

The king gathered all his forces and those of “High Dassan”. A great number of people turned up to build a church for the saint. The place, where Mar Zaia was staying, was arid and water hard to find. So, the saint struck the ground with his wooden baton and instantly water bursted out from the northern of that place.
The same day, a man named “Malkesdiq”, whose son had passed away that same day, came to Mar Zaia asking for help. Another blind man from “Baz” was brought before the saint. That’s when Mar Zaia, raising his arms towards the sky, prayed: (My Lord Jesus Christ, as you raised the widow’s son from the dead in the town of “Na’een”, I ask of you to bring this boy to life too!). The boy instantly stood on his feet and bowed before the Saint. Then Mar Zaia turned and made the sign of the Cross on the blind man’s eyes and he gained his sight.
The king and all his people cried loudly: (Praise the Lord who created the heavens and earth, and praised be the Christ in whose name the dead are brought to life and the blind recover their sight.)
The people from “Dassan” gathered around the saint and said: (Mar Zaia, look at our state, The Black Death affects it). Mar Zaia ordered a three day fasting and praying period to be respected (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday). The Black Death suddenly disappeared. That angel of death came to the saint’s dream and Mar Zaia said to him: (Why are you spoiling the Christ’s herd?)…God heard the saint’s prayers, fasting and pleas. The angel of death then withdrew his clutches from this state. Since that day, the state of “Dassan” has been spared the attacks of the Black Death. Thus, the king and the state of “High Dassan” believed in the Almighty God, and ordered the Church to be built for the saint Mar Zaia.
Workers were gathered from all over the state and the building went underway. One thousand people worked daily and maneuvered some twenty- four huge rocks. The king would order the slaughter of thirty oxen and fifty sheep a day for food. There were around four thousand individuals on the site including women and children.
The church was built and decorated with spiritual beauties. Holy might and the help of the Christ accomplished it. It took them six months and three days to finish. (May, June, July, August, October, and three days of November) That was done with benediction, prosperity and healing for those who seeked its shelter.

Outside the church, there was a huge black rock beneath which water flew. King Balaq stopped this water from flowing along the northern side of the building, by Mar Zaia’s prayers. The next morning, king Balaq asked Mar Zaia’s benediction before returning to his state. The Saint placed his hand on the king’s head and said: (May God bless you all and the Holy benediction descend upon you. Blessed be your coming to us. And may all your enemies find hardship standing against you). All the present people replied: Amen. Mar Zaia and Tower embraced king Balaq and the saint: (Leave in peace, and may the God of all beings be with you all your life amen)
The king and his people returned to their state, leaving behind them Mar Zaia and Tower healing, in the name of God, the sick, the handicapped, the dumb and the blind. During two years and nine months, the saint healed two thousand sick people and brought to life two hundred and three others.
One day, his disciple Mar Tower fell ill. Three days later, the first of September, he passed away at the age of ninety- three years and three months.
Mar Zaia informed all the people of “Geelou” of the sad event. All the blessed believers in the of “Geelou” arrived, wrapped Mar tower’s body with beautiful cloths and placed him outside the church and mourned him for three days.
During the next three months, Mar Zaia, at the age of one hundred and twenty two years, never stopped crying and lamenting the loss of his disciple Mar Tower.
He realized that his time had come to leave this world too. So, he called all the believers in “Geelou” in order to bid them farewell. One they arrived before him, he said to them: (Gather around blessed believers. My time has come to leave this world). They started bitterly crying, then asked him to bless their state and its inhabitants.

So, Mar Zaia stood up, shedding tears, and pleadingly asked the Lord: (My Lord, Teller of all hearts, before you and I humbly bow and ask you to have mercy on this state and its inhabitants, and on all those who mention you Holy name and the name of your humble servant Zaia. Spate them the cold, the famine and the Black Death). Then, a voice from heaven was heard, saying: (I have spared and I shall spare them the blight anger).
The heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon saint Zaia whose raised his eyes towards the sky and saw the Christ sitting on God’s right hand side and said to him: (Our Lord Jesus Christ, all those who stand remembering your servant and mentioning your holy name and the name of your humble servant Zaia, I ask you to spare them, and my homeland your blight of anger, and keep away from them all spiritual and bodily harm).
One day, saint Zaia fell ill. He raised his arms towards the sky and said: (To you my Lord I commit my soul) and gave up the last ghost! Then the angel descended and carried his soul, with hallelujah, into the kingdom of heavens. All the believers from Geelou gathered, carried Mar Zaia’s body and wrapped it with aromatic incense. They prayed on him for three days and three nights.
Mar Zaia was buried inside the Church. By his prayers, tranquility and peace shall reign in all four corners of the world, especially in the country where he rests in peace…now forever and ever…Amen.

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