Of Mongol descent, Yaballah entered a monastery near Beijing, China. After three years’ novitiate, he received the tonsure from the archbishop Nestorius. He studied there in the theological school under the tutelage of a certain Rabban Sauma and was later ordained as a priest.
Rabban Sauma and Markos decided to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they arrived at Maragha, Markos was consecrated metropolitan bishop of China (ca. 1280). Two years later (1282), he was elected patriarch of the East Syrian Church. Barhebraeus informs us that he knew no Syriac, but his abilities in the language of the Mongols was more important. Together with the Mongol Il-Khan, he sent his old teacher Rabban Sauma to Paris on a mission to expore cooperation and peace between the Mongols and the Western powers. Mar Yaballah III guided the church through the tumultuous reigns of eight Mongo Khans of the Il-Khanate of Persia. He died, probably on 13 Nov 1317. Shortly after his death, his biography was written in Persian. It survives in a Syriac translation.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, copyright © 2001 by Scott W. Sunquist, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- Bedjan, Paul, ed., Histoire de Mar Jab-Allah, Patriarche, et de Raban Sauma (1895).
- Budge, E. A. W., The Chronography of Bar Hebraeus, 2 Vols. (1932).