Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas is the 122nd successor to St. Peter in the Apostolic See of Antioch. He was enthroned as the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church on September 14, 1980.
He was born on April 21, 1933 in Mosul, Iraq. He was the fourth child and was named 'Seenaherib' (name of the father of St. Behnam). He had three brothers and three sisters. Some of his ancestors adorned very important posts in the Kingdom. His grand father has received an award from King Faisal I of Iraq for his excellence in his job as Chief craftsmen and architect of the State.
After the death of his parents, at the tender age of 12, young Zakka decided to enter into the ecclesiastical life, fulfilling the wishes of his beloved father. He joined the St. Ephrem Theological Seminary in Mosul in 1946 at the age of 13 and was henceforth came to be called 'Zakka'.
On November 28, 1948, young Zakka was ordained 'Koroyoo' (Deacon) by H. E. Mor Athanasius Touma Kasseer. On February 8, 1953, he was elevated to the rank of 'Afodyaknoh' (Half Deacon) by H.E. Mor Gregorios Paulos Behnam. The very next year he graduated with a diploma from the seminary.
On June 6, 1954, at the age of 21, he was ordained by Mor Gregorios Paulos Behnam into Rabban (monk). On December 18, 1955, he was promoted to the rank of full deacon by H.E. Mor Divanasious Jirges Behanam. Rabban Zakka became the second Ring Light with Stand, and later the first, Secretary to the Patriarch of Antioch Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem I. After the demise of Moran Mor Aprem I, he continued as First Secretary to the new Patriarch, Moran Mor Ya`qub III.
On November 17, 1957, Patriarch Mor Ya`qub III ordained him a priest. On April 15, 1959, the Patriarch decorated him with ‘the Holy cross of the grand monk?
From 1955 to 1958 Rabban Zakka studied journalism as a part-time student and took a diploma in journalism. In 1960, he joined the General Theological College of the Episcopal Church in New York in the United States, where he studied oriental languages, philosophy and pastoral theology and mastered in the English language. In 1983, the college offered him an Honorary Doctorate in theology.
On November 17, 1963, Rabban Zakka was ordained Metropolitan by the Patriarch Mor Ya`qub III for the Mosul Archbishopric with title 'Severious'. Thus he came to be known as Mor Severios Zakka. In 1969 Mor Severios assumed the charge of Baghdad & Basra Archdioceses.
In 1975 Mor Severios was elected to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, which position he held till his enthronement as Patriarch in 1980. From 1995 onwards, he is one of the Presidents of the World Council of Churches.
On June 26, 1980, the Patriarch Mor Ya`qub III passed away. The Holy Synod held on July 11, 1980, with His Beatitude the Catholicos of the East Mor Baselios Paulose II in the chair, unanimously elected Mor Severios Zakka, Archbishop of Baghdad and Basra, as the new Patriarch of Antioch and All the East.
On September 14, 1980, Mor Severios was installed as the 122nd Patriarch of Antioch & all the East, by name IGNATIUS ZAKKA I, in a rite officiated by the late lamented Catholicos of the East Aboon Mor Baselios Paulose II, along with the archbishops of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church.
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