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Macarius III (Zaim) of Antioch

His Beatitude, Macarius III (Zaim) of Antioch, also Yousef Yuhanna Meletius Macarius III Zaim, was the Patriarch of Antioch from 1647 to 1672. He was involved in the reforms of Patriarch Nikon of Moscow.


Yousef Zaim was born in Aleppo in Syria, the son of a priest named Paul. His date of birth is unknown. Yousef was a disciple of Euthymius III Karmah. Before entering the priesthood, he had worked as a weaver and had married. He and his wife had a son in 1627, named Paul Zaim, who became Yousef's secretary and biographer.

After his wife died in 1627, Yousef retired to the Mar Saba Monastery near Bethlehem where he remained until 1634. On October 27, 1635, Yousef was consecrated metropolitan bishop of Aleppo by Patriarch Euthymius IV of Chios. With his consecration he took the name Meletius. Patr. Euthymius IV appointed him catholicos, that is supervisor, of the whole patriarchate.

During his time as Metropolitan of Aleppo Meletius led a period that was bright and rich for the Aleppo Christians. In 1624, he led a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There, he met the Catholicos of Georgia, Zakaria Jorjadze, whom he accompanied to Damascus. In 1647, during persecutions by the governor, he had to flee from Aleppo a number of times.

After the death of Patr. Euthymius IV in 1647, Metr. Meletius was elected Patriarch with the name Macarius III on November 12, 1647 by four metropolitans. After his enthronement Patr. Macarius' first initiative was restoring financial stability to the patriarchate after high Ottoman taxation of the Christians. To accomplish this, he appointed and consecrated a vicar to manage the affairs of the Patriarchate while he traveled through Eastern Europe to find assistance. On February 11, 1652, he set out with his son Paul on a trip through Constantinople, Wallachia, Moldavia, Ukraine, and Russia.

During the trip he spent sixteen months in Moscow as guest of Tsar Alexis, from January 26, 1655 to May 29, 1656. During this time he participated in the religious and liturgical reform movement of Patr. Nikon ongoing at the time, having brought with him the new recension of the Euchologion made by Euthymius II Karmah and other liturgical books of the Patriarchate of Antioch.

He also backed the validity of the Roman Catholic baptisms of the Poles, a suggestion that was approved. Patr. Macarius, however, criticized the atrocities committed by the Polish Catholics against followers of the Orthodox faith, using as an example the religious peace in the Turkish empire.

After his return to Damascus in 1659, Patr. Macarius was able to settle the debts of the patriarchate, after which he excommunicated the acting patriarch Athanasius Ibn Amish, Metropolitan of Homs. In 1660, Macarius III blessed the Holy Chrism for all the patriarchate for the first time since 1594. He was reserved towards the Latin missionaries in Syria until 1661. After that his attitude changed. He frequently sent his greetings to the Roman pope and kept very good relations with the missionaries.

In 1666, Tsar Alexis invited Patr. Macarius to Moscow to participate in the Synod of 1666 that affirmed the revised religious and liturgical reforms of the Russian Church while anathematizing those of the Old Ritualists who opposed them and the old Russian books and rites. Macarius was accompanied on the trip by Patr. Paisius of Alexandria. During the trip, Patr. Macarius asked the Polish king John Casimir to work for reunion between the Eastern and Western Churches.

Returning to Syria in 1672, Patr. Macarius died in Damascus on June 12, 1672, probably having been poisoned.

Succession box:
Macarius III (Zaim) of Antioch
Preceded by:
Metropolitan of Aleppo
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Euthymius IV
Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by:
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