His Holiness the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II [Middle] and Catholica Bava BASELIOS THOMAS I [Left] With Pope Francis.
Few Christian denominations can claim the antiquity of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, whose foundations can be traced back to the very dawn of Christianity. The Church justifiably prides itself as being one of the earliest established apostolic churches. It was in Antioch, after all, that the followers of Jesus were called Christians as we are told in the New Testament, “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26).
According to ecclesiastical tradition, the Church of Antioch is the second established church in Christendom after Jerusalem, and the prominence of its Apostolic See is well documented. In his Chronicon (I, 2), the church historian Eusebius of Caesarea tells us that Apostle St. Peter established a bishopric in Antioch and became its first bishop. He also tells us that St. Peter was succeeded by Evodius. In another historical work, Historia Ecclesiastica, Eusebius tells us that Ignatius the Illuminator, “a name of note to most men, [was] the second after Peter to the bishopric of Antioch” (III, 36).
In the mid of the 5th century, the Bishop of Antioch, and his counterparts in Alexandria, Byzantium and Rome, would be called patriarchs. The Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch used to be known by his own name; however, since 1293 the patriarchs of Antioch adopted the name Ignatius, after the Illuminator. The Universal Syrian Orthodox Church is part of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. This Church traces its origin to the Patriarchate established in Antioch by St. Peter the Apostle in A D 67. It provided the world with eminent scholars like Ephraim the Syrian, Jacob of Sarug, Philaxinos of Mabbug, Jacob of Edessa, Moses Bar Kepha, Dionysius Bar Salibi and Gregorios Bar Hebraeus. The Church has several Arch Dioceses and Patriarchal Vicariates in the Middle East, India, the Americas, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II is the present Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.
The See of Antioch continues to flourish till our day, with His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II , being the 123 rd in the line of legitimate patriarchs