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S:t simon dzeyte

By: Melfono Zekay Demir

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Saint Mor Şemun (Simon) d'Zeyte was born in Hapses, the border village of the Mihallemi region of Tur Abdin, in 657 to faithful parents. His father, Mundar, is a leading and respected figure in the Mihallemi region.


When he reaches a certain age, his parents sent him to the village madrasah (school), where he receives his first education. Attracting attention with his intelligence and hard work, Simon gains the closeness of his teacher and student friends with his meekness.


When he was 10 years old, his family, following the tradition of families in Tur Abdin at that time to leave their first-born sons in the monastery for education, leaves him at Mor Gabriel Monastery. After passing this training, the student can become a priest or a monk if he wishes.


Nephew of S:t Simon d'Zeyte, son of the brother of the Metropolitan Mor David, in the life story of S:t Simon d'Zeyte, written by the monk Eyüp, it is stated that Simons arrival in the monastery coincided with the seventh day of Saint Gabriel's death. During the mass held on that day, 10-year-old Simon dies from trampling due to the stampede of those attending the funeral. The priests leading the ritual take the child and place it on Mor Gabriel's body. With the common prayers of the clergy, they ask God to resurrect the oppressed child. As a result of prayers, the child opens his eyes and stands up. Seeing this, the society rejoices and praises God. After that, Simon becomes inseparable from the monastery. After successfully completing his education, he became a monk at the age of fifteen, adopting the monastic life. After being consecrated as a priest on June 1, 682, he first became a teacher and then the principal of the monastery school.


Attracting attention with his faith, intelligence, hard work, successful management and modesty, S:t Simon is appointed as the abbot of the monastery next to the ancient city of Servan, built by the persian king Shabur. He heals many patients because of his devotion and strong faith in God. His fame spreads everywhere. The patients who flock to the monastery he manages return with healing.

It is known that he used the treasure his nephew found in a cave near Heytem Castle for charity. He does important work for the development and income sources of the Mor Gabriel Monastery. He adds the vineyards, gardens, mills, inns and baths, irrigated and waterless fields he bought and built, to the Monastery Foundation. Especially the foundations he established in the city of Nusaybin are remarkable. At the eastern gate of the city, he bought a large land with a ruined monastery built in the name of St. Fabruniye and had a beautiful church built in the name of S:t Teodoros. The Mor Theodoros Church, which draws attention with its marble and ornaments, was completed in 707. S:t Simon d'Zeyte had a mill built outside the city wall to generate income for the Mor Theodoros Church. He surrounds the mill with a wall at the height of the city wall and has a gate opened here from the city wall.


Mor Simon is a tolerant and respectable person who respects people from different faiths and establishes warm relations with them. Due to the strong dialogue he established with the emir of the muslims in Nusaybin and the islamic caliph of the time, he is hosted by state authorities wherever he goes; muslim people show him great love and respect. This love and respect towards him does not go unrequited. He had a large and motif mosque built next to the Mor Teodoros Church he had built in Nusaybin and decorated it with all kinds of ornaments. Moreover he had a madrasah (school) built next to it, and paid the salaries of the teachers himself.


S:t Simon d'Zeyte also restored the Virgin Mary and St. Fabruniya monasteries in Nusaybin, settled nuns here and wrote laws for their administration. He had a church built in the name of Mor Dimet and a monastery in the name of Mor Eliyo, and added the baths he bought to the foundation of this last monastery. He establishes important income-generating foundations such as vineyards, gardens, mills, inns and baths for the expenses of the churches and monasteries he built or repaired in Nusaybin; It adds the income that will increase from all these foundations to the foundation incomes of Mor Gabriel Monastery. Thanks to these revenues, both the Mor Gabriel Monastery and the parish churches are repaired and kept alive. He also built a school, a church (Mor Şemun d'Zeyte Church) and a monastery (Mor Loozor Monastery) in his own village, Hapses.

However, Saint Simon d'Zeyte's most colorful aspect and the reason for his nickname d'Zeyte (Oliveist) is the 12 thousand olive saplings that he bought and planted in a hamlet around a monastery in Servan in the Beth Araboye district of the Mor Gabriel Monastery. Saint Simon d'Zeyte, who hired a man to look after the olive saplings he had planted, gave the priests the task of collecting the olives. After these olives are hand-picked by the priests, they are brought to the Mor Gabriel Monastery, where they are pressed by the monks in the olive oil factory he established here, again using the methods he taught, to obtain olive oil. This olive oil is used for the oil needs of the oil lamps of both the monastery and the churches in the entire Tur Abdin region. Thanks to the foundations established by S:t Simon d'Zeyte and the revenues from the olive oil sold, the Mor Gabriel Monastery lived one of its richest and brightest periods during the 8th century.


On June 1, 700, Patriarch Yulyane II ordained S:t Simon d'Zeyte as a metropolitan and appointed to the Harran diocese of Urfa. It proves that he was one of the most famous and influential metropolitans of his time. Aziz Şemun, besides his hard work in the field of development, Daniel of Kendiripli, one of the famous calligraphers of the period, and the calligraphers of Kfar Tevno Monastery in Harran donated 180 manuscripts, including the Psitto translations of the Bible, decorated with ornaments made by miniature makers, and the Chronicle of Mor Yakup from Urfa to the Mor Gabriel Monastery library. In 726, he participated in the Sensinod, which was held jointly by the Syriac and Armenian churches in Manzikert, together with the other four metropolitans, as the representative of the Syriac Church. One of the decisions taken in the Sensinod was to accept S:t Simon d'Zeyte as a saint.


Realizing that the time of his death is approaching, S:t Simon d'Zeyte gathers the inhabitants of the monastery and tells them his last suggestions. After blessing them, he closes his eyes to life. He died on 1 June 734 in Mor Gabriel Monastery. The news of the saint's death is heard all around in a short time. 12 metropolitans, 2000 priests, 4000 monks and deacons, thousands of civilians from Harran and other cities and towns, especially the people of Tur Abdin, attended the funeral. After a great funeral ceremony lasting seven days, he is buried in the tombs of Mor Shmuel and Mor Şemun, the founders of the Mor Gabriel Monastery, in the house of the saints.


Mor Simon d'Zeyte, a tolerant and respectable person who draws attention with his faith, intelligence, hard work, successful management, and humility, respects people from different faiths, establishes warm relations with them, is on the Tur Abdin Church Calendar on January 3 and the other day 1 June (the date of his death) since it is celebrated twice a year.

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