[St. Pachomius Library]

Edessa in Osroene

Arabic AL-ROHA; Syriac URHAI; Turkish URFA

Edessa or Urhai was the capital city of Osroene, long a buffer-state between the Roman and Persian Empires. Tradition asserts that King Abgar V the Black corresponded with the Saviour and was entrusted with the Holy Mandelion, after which Osroene was evangelised by St. Jude the Apostle, St. Jude of the Seventy, or both. This story is usually rejected by modern historians; some have thought it to result from a conflation of Abgar V with Abgar IX two centuries later, although it is hard to see how late III Century writers could have been thus confused about a king reigning only a few generations earlier. The conversion of either Abgar would make Osroene one of the first officially Christian states.

In 216 Edessa was annexed by Rome, and it produced several notable martyrs during the persecutions. It later became one of the main centres of Christian theological study in the Near East, remaining so centuries after the Arab conquest. Although it is perhaps best known as the home-in-exile of the Nestorian University of Nisibis in the IV and V Centuries, it has been almost equally important at various times to the Eastern Orthodox, the Jacobites, and the Armenians, and was the nucleus of one of the Roman Catholic Crusader States.

---Norman Hugh Redington

Under construction --- far from complete! Read with caution.


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