Icon of St. Isaac of Syria – S128


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Church Feast Day 1



Egg Tempera


St. Isaac of Syria Skete, Boscobel, WI


Krassovsky, Vladimir


20th c. (Late)


St. Isaac of Syria is among the most influential ascetic writers in the history of Christianity, in spite of the fact that we know very little of the details of his life.  He lived in the mid-to-late seventh century.  After he had gained considerable respect as a spiritual teacher in Qatar and Persia, he was made bishop of Nineveh against his will.  Very shortly, however, he realized the incompatibility of his ideals with the laxity and willful worldliness of the people that he was supposed to be guiding, and so he resigned his see within five months to go back to the desert life.

He resumed his life of austerity in the desert monastery of Rabban-Shapur, where he wrote his comprehensive instructions for monks and spiritual athletes, which we know as the “Ascetical Homilies.”  St. Isaac’s exhortations and counsels cover a wide range of Orthodox Christian mystical and ascetical topics, and have served as a beacon and inspiration to all who seek a life of true prayer, and a handbook of hesychast spiritual practice.  His scroll in this icon, which resides at St. Isaac’s Skete, reads, “This life has been given to you for repentance, do not waste it in vain pursuits.”