XVADĀHOY, East Syrian monk (7th century CE).

According to Dādišoʿ Qaṭrāya, Rabban Xvadāhoy was an “illustrious chief” for monasticism (Draguet, 1972, p. 299 ; tr. p. 231). Three main sources make his life known: the Liber castitatis of Išoʿdenaḥ, bishop of Baṣra (Chabot, 1896, p. 45, no. 78), the Book of Governors of Thomas, bishop of Marga (Budge, 1893, I, p. 86; II, p. 188), and the Chronicle of Seert (Scher, 1919, II/2, pp. 590 [270]-595 [275]). In his Catalogue, ʿAwdišoʿ of Nisibis mentions a cycle of narratives on this monk: a history, a mimra (sayings), and some hymns, written by Rabban Yoḥannān the Elder, a contemporary of Xvadāhoy (Assemanus, 1725, p. 204; Wright, 1894, pp. 176-77), which Thomas of Marga quotes. The sources do not agree concerning the country of his family: from Beth Aramāye or Beth Maišān. Xvadāhoy studied in local schools and would have learnt medicine under the direction of an uncle.

Xvadāhoy gained experience in two monastic movements: the strictly anachoretic, and the semi-cenobitic in the manner of Abraham of Kaškar’s reform. He was first a disciple of Rabban Šāpur, who introduced Abraham’s rules in Beth Huzāye, in his monastery situated near Šuštar (Chabot, 1896, p. 45; Scher, 1919, II/2, p. 590 [270]); in the Liber castitatis, it is said that Xvadāhoy received his monastic garb from Šāpur. After his master’s death, he went to the desert of Mʿarre, near Ḥira, where he lived in a cave, close to Mār ʿAbda and Bābay the Scribe. There, he built a monastic center and became the rišdayra, chief of the whole community of hermits, giving them some rules. At the end of his life, he founded the monastery of Beth Ḥāle (Scher, 1919, II/2, p. 592 [272]), which must not be confused with a homonymous one on the banks of the Tigris near Ḥaditha, in the surroundings of Mosul, now Dayr aṭ-Ṭin (Fiey, 1965, I, p. 102; 1968, p. 233, n. 1). Manymonasteries were already established in the area of Ḥira in this period (Fiey, 1968, p. 211). The construction of Beth Ḥāle began under Sabrišoʿ’s episcopacy (647-650), and the institution grew in importance subsequently through the disciples’ foundations. Monastic sources reveal Xvadāhoy to be the heir of the Egyptian Fathers, Antony and Macarius, in particular (Budge, 1893, I, p. 86; II, p. 188; Scher, 1919, II/2, p. 593 [273]).

Some indications can be found in the Chronicle of Seert about Xvadāhoy’s nature and character (Scher, 1919, II/2, pp. 591 [271]-592 [272]; p. 594 [274]): humbleness, disregard for material goods, a model of asceticism—a traditional hagiographical portrait. His body was like burnt wood as the result of exposure to the weather. Xvadāhoy’s death, at the age of 92, occured in the days of Muʿāwiya of Ḥira (662-680); ʿAmr Ibn Mattaï specifies that it was at the time of the patriarch Guiwarguis I (661-680/1; Gismondi, 1897, p. 57).



J. S. Assemanus, Bibliotheca Orientalis clementino-vaticana III/1, Rome, 1725.

E. A. W. Budge, The Book of Governors. The Historia monastica of Thomas bishop of Marga A.D. 840 I-II, London, 1893.

J.-B. Chabot, Le livre de la chasteté composé par Jésusdenah, évêque de Baçrah, Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire 16, Rome, 1896.

R. Draguet, Commentaire du Livre d'Abba Isaïe (logoi I-XV) par Dadišo Qaṭraya (VIIe s.), CSCO 326-327, script. syr. 144-145, Louvain, 1972.

J. M. Fiey, Assyrie chrétienne I-II, Beirut, 1965; III, Beirut, 1968.

H. Gismondi, Maris, Amri et Slibae De patriarchis nestorianorum commentaria, Pars Prior, Rome, 1899; Pars altera, Rome, 1897.

F. Jullien, “Xvadāhoy de Bēth-Ḥālé. Un développement du monachisme réformé à Ḥīra?”  Aram 21, 2009, pp. 515-35.

A. Scher, Histoire nestorienne inédite (Chronique de Séert) II/2, Patrologia Orientalis 13, Paris, 1919.

W. Wright, A Short History of Syriac Literature, London, 1894.

(Florence Jullien)

Originally Published: November 11, 2015

Last Updated: November 11, 2015

Cite this entry:

Florence Jullien, “XVADĀHOY,” Encyclopædia Iranicaonline edition, 2015, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/xvadahoy-east-syrian-monk (accessed on 11 November 2015).