Zakka Iwas is the current Syriac Patriarch of Antioch and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The patriarchate is based in Damascus. As is traditional for the head of the church, he has adopted the name Ignatius. Being the first patriarch to be named Zakka, his name is often written as Ignatius Zakka I Iwas. His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church Sanharib (after the Assyrian king, Sennacherib) Iwas was born on 21 April 1932 in Mosul, Iraq. He attended St Thomas Syriac Orthodox School in the city, and, at the age of fourteen, began his theological studies in the city’s Mor Ephrem seminary. At the seminary, his birth name, Sanharib, was replaced by the name Zakka. Whilst there, in 1947, he took monastic vows and was ordained deacon. Zakka Iwas left Mosul in 1954 to become secretary to the patriarchs Afrem Barsoum and then Ya`qub III.
On 17 November 1957, the latter ordained him priest, and, two years later, gave him the pectoral cross as rabban. In 1960, Zakka Iwas pursued further study in New York. There he completed a master’s degree in English at City University, and a further master’s in pastoral theology at the General Theological Seminary. In 1962 and 1963, he was delegated by the patriarch as observer at Second Vatican Council. On 17 November 1963, Zakka Iwas was ordained, by Patriarch Ya`qub, as Metropolitan of Mosul. As is the tradition in the church, he took an episcopal name, Mor Severius. The next year, during renovation work on the sancturary wall of the metropolitan church in Mosul, what were reputed to be the remains of the Apostle Thomas were found. In 1969, Mor Severius Zakka was transferred to be Archbishop of Baghdad and Basra. Following the death of Patriarch Ya`qub III in 1980, Zakka Iwas was elected by the synod of the church to be the 122nd Syriac Patriarch of Antioch. He was enthroned as patriarch on 14 September, the feast of the Cross, by Basileus Paulose II, Catholicos of the East, in the patriarchal cathedral in Damascus. As Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I, he has been involved in ecumenical dialogue, and is a president of the World Council of Churches. He has also established a new monastic seminary, Dayro d-Mor Afrem, at Saidnaya, near Damascus. On 14 September 2005, celebrations were held for his silver jubilee.
His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas I
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church
P.O. Box 22260
Tel (+963) 11/543-5918
Fax (+963) 11/543-2400