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Version Franaise

We have several versions of the life of Mar Awtel. We will reproduce hereafter the official version of the Maronite book of saints (Sinksar) along with the version researched by the great historian Father Louis Cheikho translated and published by Youakim Moubarac in Pentalogie Antiochienne / Domaine Maronite - Tome II - Volume I - pages 17-18 in the year 1984 by the editions of Cenacle Libanais - Beirut. 
Saint Awtel is celebrated by the Byzantines, the Jacobites and the Maronites. His place and date of birth vary according to the sources. From an unknown place in modern Turkey for the Maronite Sinksar and born in the third Century AD, he is from Lycia for the other sources and he lived during the sixth Century AD. His feast day varies also according to the different traditions as we will see below. But most sources have corroborating deeds: he escaped a forced marriage arranged by his family, spent some time in Byzantium, delivered his fellow passengers during a severe storm, went back to his place of birth after the death of his parents and finally became a monk than a hermit. 

The version of the Maronite Book of Saints (Sinksar)

Mar Awtel was born in the middle of the 3rd century. As a youth he was converted to Christianity and baptised. He pledged his virginity to God but his father wanted him to marry and thereby break his pledge of celibacy. To escape he left for the city of Byzantium [re-named in 330 to Constantinople and subsequently to Istanbul in 1930].

While travelling on route in a boat he encountered a severe storm endangering the boat and all on board. He prayed for deliverance and the boat was saved and as a consequence those on board were converted to Christianity and baptized.

He remained for 20 years in Byzantium until his father died, whereupon he returned to his home and became a monk. He performed many miracles, one of which was the cure of a pagan man. This cure was the reason for the conversion and baptism of ten thousand pagans. After being a monk for 12 years he became a hermit until he died in 327.

Saint awtel

Other Versions (1) - From Father Louis Cheikho

" ... It is the saint about whom the archbishop of revered memory His Lordship Joseph Debs consulted us by saying that his feast day is celebrated by Maronites on June 3rd and that a church is dedicated to him in the village of Kfargb. We had answered His Lordship in the magazine Al Maxreq, X, 1907, 672-672. Then we found some information about Mar Awtel in the Jacobites book of saints, in a handwritten copy belonging to His Beatitude the patriarch Ignatius Ephrem II Rahmani. It is also mentioned in the Bibliotheca Orientalis of Assemani (11,255) and in the calendar of lba the Jacobite (MRS 185-195), on the dates of October 9th and June 3rd.

Of all those references, we learn that Awtel or Awtilios was born in a city called Magdal or Magdaloun in the land of Lycia in Asia Minor (2), in the 6th century A.D.

His two parents were pagan but his was converted very young, became Christian and ran away from the paternal home to avoid marriage. He boarded and ran away to the city of Moumista (probably al-Maa) delivering his fellow passengers from a tempest where they would have perished. He came to Constantinople, led an ascetic life in one of its monasteries, then came back to his fatherland before spending some time in the region of Antioch, then back in Lycia. There, he converted the pagans of this region, christened them and ended his life in the desert in a monastery which he built nearby and where he lived up to his death. In the calendar of the antiochian Church of al-Brn that we published in Maxreq VI, 1903,69, a martyr called Uwaytilyos is mentioned on the date of September 23rd. But we were not able to determine if it is Mar Awtel or another saint.

P.S. (from Youakim Moubarac) We find other information in the answer already made by Father Cheikho to HL Debs in 1907, that the Byzantines would have called Saint Awtel, according to Fr Peeters, Agios Attaros and that they celebrated his feast day between the 2nd and the 7th of June. He delivered his fellow passengers who wanted to make him a slave by capturing him. According to the Jacobite book of saints, he remained 20 years in Constantinople (3), went back home after the death of his parents, spent some time in Seleucia (4) and in Antioch (5) before reaching Lycia. There, he joined the monastery of Mar ba (?), became monk and made miracles. He left the monastery because he did not want to become elected superior. He was served in his ultimate retirement in the desert by a man whom he had cured of the bite of a snake (cf. I. MR FIEY, o.c ., p. 32)... "

Notes of the Editor

(1) This article is based on the work of the great historian Father Louis Cheikho sj and especially on his work Awliya" Allah fi Lubnan edited in Beirut in 1914. Youakim Moubarak translated it to French and enriched its contents and published it in his Pentalogie Antiochienne / Domaine Maronite - Tome II - Volume I - year 1984 - Editor Cenacle Libanais - Beirut - Lebanon. 

(2) Today, in modern Turkey, the ancient land of Lycia came to occupy most of the Teke Peninsula at the south-west corner of Anatolia, roughly defined as the area of Turkey lying south of a line drawn from Dalyan to Antalya. 

(3) Constantinople (also Byzantium) is the older and traditional name of the modern city of Istanbul in Turkey. It is located between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. 

(4) Seleucia in Syria functioned as the sea-port of Antioch and lay near the mouth of the Orontes. Paul and his companions sailed from this port on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:4). This city was built by Seleucus Nicator, the "king of Syria." It is said of him that "few princes have ever lived with so great a passion for the building of cities. He is reputed to have built in all nine Seleucias, sixteen Antiochs, and six Laodiceas." Seleucia became a city of great importance, and was made a "free city" by Pompey. It is now a small village, called el-Kalusi. 

(5) The city of Antioch-on-the-Orontes (modern Antakya) is located in what is now Turkey. Located on the eastern side of the Orontes River, it was founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, who made it the capital of his empire in Syria. Seleucus I had served as one of Alexander the Great's generals, and the name Antiochus occurred frequently amongst members of his family.

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