Maronite Patriarchs and Patriarchates over 1,332 years from the 6th century until the present

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This study covers briefly the history of the Maronite Church (Catholic) beginning with its founder Mar (saint) Maroon and the specific Patriarchs that followed him in guiding this Church and its Patriarchal Seats from 686 AD till today. World events are included, especially those that impacted the Church.

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Before going to Rome, St. Peter founded the Church of Antioch in 69 AD and it included the Eastern Mediterranean, i.e. Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Turkey and Cyprus and he was its first bishop. He led the church there and appointed Patriarch Evodius to be his successor. Evodius is said to have been a pagan who converted to Christianity.  Further, it is worth mentioning that Saint Peter appointed John Mark Bishop of Byblos. Evodius eventually succeeded Saint Peter as bishop of Antioch when Peter left for Rome. From the middle of the sixth century, the Maronite activity moved from northern Syria to the sources of the Aasi River in the Hirmel region, Lebanon, and to the mountains of northern Lebanon. The reason for this spread may have been that these areas were elevated, rugged and difficult for invading soldiers to climb from the plains of Constantinople and Antioch and to penetrate the region easily.

Saint Maroon
Mar (Saint) Maroon
Saint Yuhanna (John) Maroon
Mar (Saint) Yuhanna (John) Maroon

The Maronite community is rooted in Saint Maroon, who lived in the fourth century (350-410) and became a monk on Mount Semaan near the city of Aleppo in northern Syria. He attracted dozens of monks around him. After his death, his monks spread their evangelization in northern Syria. Some historians have said that they played an important missionary role, which led to the weakening of the authority of the official Patriarch of Antioch over the areas wherever they were located. Their monasteries expanded to about 40 convents, surrounded by groups of believers committed to the Chalcedonian faith. Knowing of these monks’ knowledge and dedication, the . Patriarch of Antioch, Ephram Amid (529-545) attempted to approach them and bring them to his side because of their theological righteousness. Many stayed away despite the catastrophe that afflicted them. Those of them who escaped continued their evangelism. At that point, the Maronite identity began to emerge and crystallize with the emergence of a number of prayers specifically for the Maronites.

In the seventh century, the Church of Antioch finally departed from the authority of the Church of Constantinople, after the Islamic armies invaded it in 636. It became the capital of the Christians of the East without a patriarch. The Bishop of Constantinople elected an Honorary Patriarch of Antioch who lived in their city. The Levant allowed Chalcedonian Christians, who followed Rome, to ordain a patriarch on the throne of Antioch. He appointed Patriarch Theocalfit, but he resided in Damascus and did do anything for his Church.

The Muslim Conquest of Lebanon, Syria...etc. in 636 AD
The Muslim conquest of the Levant (Arabic: اَلْـفَـتْـحُ الْإٍسْـلَامِيُّ لِـلـشَّـامِ‎, Al-Faṫṫḥul-Islāmiyyuash-Shām) or Arab conquest of the Levant(Arabic: اَلْـفَـتْـحُ الْـعَـرَبِيُّ لِـلـشَّـامِ‎, Al-Faṫṫḥul-ʿArabiyyu Lish-Shām) occurred in the first half of the 7th century,[1] and refers to the conquest of the region known as the Levant or Shaam (Arabic: شَـام‎, 'Syria'), later to become the Islamic Province of Bilad al-Sham, as part of the Islamic conquests. Arab Muslim forces had appeared on the southern borders even before the death of prophet Muhammadin 632, resulting in the Battle of Mu'tah in 629, but the real invasion began in 634 under his successors, the Rashidun Caliphs Abu Bakrand Umar ibn Khattab, with Khalid ibn al-Walid as their most important military leader.

After the death of Patriarch Theocalfit in 681, Yazid Khalifa, the successor of Muawiya, prevented Christians from electing a new Patriarch of Antioch. Further, he prevented the Byzantines from ordaining a new patriarch for Antioch. However, the faithful selected a leader, Patriarch Anastasius II who died in September 669. At that point, the Patriarchal throne of Antioch became vacant and the conditions of Christians in confusion without their Patriarchs. There is some ambiguity regarding Patriarch Boulos Tawaghan (661-665) who as the earliest patriarch; however, nothing is known about him.

At this time and despite the catastrophes they suffered, the number of Maronites became larger and spread from the plains of Aleppo and Homs north to the peaks of Mount Lebanon and the springs of the Ibrahim River south. Their number spread also to Damascus, in the east, and a number of their monks became bishops.

In 686, the Maronite monks met and elected monk Yuhanna (John) Maroon, Bishop of Batroun, to become Patriarch on the vacant seat of Antioch in 675. He was the 63rd patriarch after St. Peter, founder of the Patriarchal and Maronite Patriarchs. With this election, the Maronite Church was built and organized as a complete church on the national and social levels.

The goal of the election of St. John Maroon was not to be a patriarch of the schism of the universal Mother Church in Rome, but to fill a vacuum after the vacancy of the Antioch patriarchal throne, and to save it from dispersion, dependence and dissolution, while expediting the affairs of the people because Rome was very far from the East.

The Maronite Patriarch, in his capacity as Patriarch, after St. Peter, presided over the Antiochian Church. The Maronite patriarchs added the name of Peter, the successor of Christ, to their names.

From 686 until today, the Apostolic Succession of Maronite Patriarchs was unbroken. They numbered 77 Patriarchs, and presided in the following headquarters:

In the monastery of Kafrhayi, known today as the monastery of St. Yuhanna Maroon, it is located in the center of the Batroun area
It was the first patriarchal seat where the following patriarchs resided and it is fully staffed:

1. Yuhanna Maroon: When he was elected, the first Maronite Patriarch tried to move to northern Syria, but he could not stay there long. He returned to Mount Lebanon carrying with him the head of Saint Maroon. In the Monastery of Kafrhayi, he established his patriarchal seat in the center of Batroun. The monastery was called "Ras Sidna" (head of our master -- رأس سيدنا -- in Syriac). He managed the affairs of the Maronite Church. Sometimes, he moved to the fortress of Samar Byblos in the area of Batroun until his death in 707.

2. Qorush: He was the nephew of the first Maronite patriarch.

3. Gabriel: The Third Maronite Patriarch.

The Monastery of Our Lady of Yanouh, located in the wilderness of Byblos near Aqoura
It became another patriarchal seat where the following patriarches resided:

4. Yuhanna Maroon II: He tried to return to the original seat in Antioch to refill its vacant patriarchal chair, but the Arabs who control those areas prevented him from doing so. He returned to Mount Lebanon and did not reside in the monastery of Kafrhayi but moved to the Monastery of Yanouh. The reason for his move to Yanouh is to stay away from the coastal areas controlled by the Arabs. Specifically, because it was very difficult for Arab horses to climb to the peaks of Mount Lebanon. Meanwhile, Kafrhayi was easily accessible to break into by the Islamic armies.

5. John Damlasi: He was from the town of Damelsa in the district of Byblos.

6. Gregory: He was a contemporary of Harun al-Rashid, the fifth Abbasid caliph, who ruled between 786 and 809 AD.

7. Stephen I.

8. Mark.

9. Eusebius: He was a Scholastic Transliterator.

10. John IV: He was the patriarch who participated in the Council of Constantinople in 869.

11. Joshua.

12. Dawood.

13. Gregory.

14. Taoukilktos or Tawafilkutus: He was the lover of transliteration.

15. Joshua: He was also called Issa (Jesus).

16. Domitius or Doumit.

17. Isaac.

18. John V: He was the patriarch in whose days appeared Archbishop Dawood who translated the "Book Guidance."

19. Simon I.

20. Jeremiah I.

21. John VI

22. Shimon I.

23. Shimon II

The East-West Great Schism in 1054
The East–West Schism, also called the Great Schism and the Schism of 1054, was the break of communion between what are now the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox churches, which had lasted until the 11th century. The Schism was the culmination of theological and political differences between the Christian East and West which had developed over the preceding centuries.

24. Yusuf al-Jerjessi: He was a Patriarch when the Crusaders came in 1098 and during his reign the Maronites began to ring bells instead of hammering pieces of wood [ringing of bells were forbidden by the Muslims and the Turks that even today many monasteries and convents in Greece and Slavic countries continue to summon the monks to prayer by hammering a plaque of wood].

Thus, the Monastery of Our Lady of Yanouh became the seat of the Maronite patriarch for about 370 consecutive years. It is located on the elevated outskirts of the borders between the elevated outskirts of Batroun and those of Byblos. It currently administers the area of Byblos and is staffed.
Our Lady of Eleejj Monastery patriarchal seat where the following patriarchs resided:

25. Peter I: elected in the year 1120 in the Monastery of Our Lady of Yanouh but moved to the headquarters of Our Lady Eleejj. He remained there until his death in 1130.

26. Gregorius: He came from the town of Halaat at the coast of Byblos. He lived there until his death in 1141.

27. Yacoub al-Ramati: He came from the town of Ramat. The town of Ramat was lost over time but it used to be east of the town of Joran in the center of the Batroun area.

28. John VII: He is known as John Al-Lafidi. He was elected in 1151 and moved to stay in the monastery of St. Elias in his hometown of Lhafud in the center of Byblos. The town was the birthplace of the Blessed Brother Estephan Neema. He stayed for some time in the town of Habeel on the coast of the region of Byblos. He, thereafter, returned to the Monastery of Our Lady Eleejj and died there in 1154.

29. Peter II.

30. Peter III.

31. Peter IV.

32. Jeremiah Amsheeti: He came from the town of Amsheet, in the district of Byblos, and was elected in 1209. He was the first Maronite Patriarch who visited the Vatican in 1213, to participate in the Ecumenical Council held in Lateran known as the Lateran Council. In that Council, the Church decided to launch a crusade to repossess the Holy Land. According to the scholar El-Duwayehi, he returned to Lebanon in 1215 and disembarked in Tripoli in March. He went to the Monastery of Our Lady Eleejj where he died in 1230. Ibn al-Qala'i wrote that when Patriarch Jeremiah was sanctified the host, in the presence of the Pope, and raised it up, the sacrificial host remained lifted "hanging" in the air above his head. The Pope was astonished and ordered an image and inscription of what happened, on the wall of the old Saint Peter's Church. El-Duwayehi witnessed the inscription on the wall of the church when he was a student in Rome.

33. Daniel Shamati: He came from the town of Shamat in the region of Byblos. After his election in the Monastery of Our Lady Eleejj moved to the Monastery of Kfefaan, in the center of the Batroun region. Thereafter, he moved to the Monastery of Kafrhayi Patriarchal Headquarters. According to El-Duwayehi, in 1236, he was resident in the Monastery of St. George Al-Kufir. After this he moved back to the Monastery of Our Lady Eleejj. He died and was buried there in 1239.

34. John Boutros Al-Jajee: He came from the town of Jaj in the Byblos district. He was elected to become patriarch in the Monastery of Our Lady of Eleejj and lived there for a period of time. Thereafter, he moved to the Monastery of Our Lady Yanouh; however, he returned to Eleejj. When he died he was buried in Yanouh.

35. Simon IV: He was elected in 1245. A year after his election, Brother Loransius the Franciscan arrived in Mount Lebanon. He was an Apostolical Delegate of Pope Innocent IV, as a pastoral visitor to the Maronite people. In 1270, the King of France Louis IX led a new crusade to the east. The Maronites, in their thousands, led by Prince Shimon charged forward to meet and support them. However, because of an infectious deadly epidemic among the arriving soldiers, they did not complete the campaign with them to Jerusalem. This patriarch was then briefly established in Yanouh. He died in 1277 and was buried in the monastery of Our Lady Eleejj.

36 – Jacob II: He was the second Patriarch with this name. He renovated the Monastery of Our Lady Eleejj and lived there until his death.

37. Daniel Hadcheeti: He came from Hadcheet in Jibbit Bcharré. During his time, an invasion of the Memluks* lead by their slave King Al-Thahir arrived in Tripoli, Lebanon in 1264. The Maronite armies descended from the mountains to stop him and his army from reaching Mount Lebanon. The Maronites stopped the invaders. In 1266, the Memluks tried again to advance but failed. Later, in 1282, the Mamluks launched a large campaign to Mount Lebanon under the leadership of Sultan Qalawoon while Husam al-Deen from Damascus supported him from the other side. They besieged and invaded Jibbit Bcharré and Hassroon. Consequently, they besieged the Maronites who held Ehden under the leadership of Patriarch Daniel Hadcheeti, who led the Maronite fighters himself for 40 days. Regretfully, the Muslims were able to break into Ehden. They practiced tricks and deceit to take Ehden and thereafter they captured the Patriarch and killed him. He was buried in Eleejj in 1282.

*Memluks: (Arabic: مملوك mamlūk (singular), مماليك mamālīk (plural), meaning "property", also transliterated as mamlouk) is an Arabic designation for slaves. The term is most commonly used to refer to Muslim slave soldiers and Muslim rulers of slave origin. They came from Egypt.

It is worth mentioning that when the Crusader ruled in the east, many took refuge in the Maronite mountains. Hence, many Europeans intermarried with the local population. Pope Alexander IV gave the Maronite Patriarch all the mandates and powers to care for the members of the Latin Rite, in addition to the Maronites. Consequently, tens of Lebanese Maronite families, still carry European names and genetics.

The Mamluks controlled Mount Lebanon, making the Maronites pay the price of their friendship and support to the crusaders, so they persecuted them and harassed them and fought them and cursed them. Also, they were able to capture and arrest of Patriarch Gabriel Al-Hajouly and kill him.

38. Luke Al-Banharani: He came from the town of Banharan in the Koura district and was elected in 1282 in the Monastery of Our Lady of Eleejj. According to Al-Duwayehi, he moved between the Monastery of Eleejj, his town of Banharan and the Monastery of the Lady of Derouna, in high elevations of Jibbit Bcharré during the summer. He was also known to have lived in a town of Barhaleion in Jibbit Bcharré. The year and place of his death was unknown.

39. Jeremiah Damelsawi: He came from the town of Damlees in the district of Byblos and was the third Patriarch of this name. He was elected in the Monastery of Halaat on the coast of Byblos and traveled to Rome. During his reign, a battle took place to take back the city of Byblos from the Memluks in 1290. The Maronites tried to break into the city on both sides of the valley of Fidaar and the valley of Madfoon, commanded by the Commander Kafarkida. The mission of the Maronite fighters, who were militarily holed in the valley of the Madfoon commanded by Kafarkida, was to block the supplies route from Tripoli to the occupied garrison in Byblos. A terribly major battle took place during which Commanderr Kafarkida was killed. Since that day, the valley became called the Valley of the Madfoon -- because of the enormous number of Memluks who were buried there (Madfoon means buried). The same valley used to be known as Valley of Harba, that is the Valley of War, in the Syriac language. Originally, the valley was named after a battle that took place in 693 between the Maronites holed in Samar Castle in Byblos and the Byzantine army. During the reign of this patriarch, the Mamluks ended Crusader presence in all the cities of the East, except for the islands of Cyprus and Arwad. Patriarch Jeremiah died in 1297 and was buried in the Eleejj Monastery.

The Crusaders left the East in 1291
The Mamluks ended Crusader presence in all the cities of the East, except for the islands of Cyprus and Arwad.

40. Shimon or Simon V: He was the fifth to have this name. In his reign, a most terrible campaign began by the Mamluks against the Maronites which was never been witnessed before. The year 1302, the Mamluks campaign against Mount Lebanon, was faced by the Maronites and their military leaders. The leaders were: Khaled Muqaddam Mishmish and Sinan, together with his brother Solomon the commander in Eleejj. Also, Saada and Sarkis were commanders of Lihfid, while Antar commander of Aqurah, and Benjamin commander of Hardeen. At the entrance of Byblos, a terrible battle took place in which Hamdan, commander of the Mamluk armies, was killed.

41. John the Aakouri: He was elected in 1339, the fifth by this name, lived, died and was buried in the monastery of Eleejj.

42. Gabriel: He was from Hjoula and elected in 1357. Hjoula was a town located in the high outskirts of the country of Byblos. In April 1367, he was burned by the Mamluks at the entrance to Tripoli.

According to Al-Duwayehi, the circumstances of his martyrdom were: The Crusader king of Cyprus attacked Alexandria. Consequently, the Sultan of Egypt ordered his two deputies in the Levant and Tripoli to avenge the attack by punishing the Maronites and their Patriarch, without their having committed any deed that justified punishment. The Deputy of Tripoli arrested 40 Maronite men, some of them from the village of Hjoula (the Patriarch’s village) and forced the Maronite Patriarch to surrender. He surrendered himself to release of the detainees. As soon as he was handed over to the Deputy of Tripoli, he was ordered to burn outside the city in the Tinaal district, on April 1, 1367.

43. David II: also known as David John, elected in the monastery of Our Lady Eleejj and lived for a period in the town of Abel on the coast of Byblos, then moved to the monastery of St. Sarkis in Hardin in the Groves of Batroun to return to Eleejj, died in 1404 and was buried in Eleejj.

44. John Jajee: He came from the town of Jaj in high outskirts of the region of Byblos. He was elected in Eleejj and then moved to Qannoubine, and with him the headquarters of the Maronite Patriarchate moved to Qannoubine Valley or Qadisha Valley (Arabic: وادي قاديشا).

The Armenian Catholic Church splits from Armenian Orthodox in 1439 (451 & 1740)
The Armenian Catholic Church (Armenian: Հայ Կաթողիկէ Եկեղեցի, translit. Hay Kat’oġikē Ekeġec’i; Latin: Ecclesia armeno-catholica), is one of the Eastern particular churches sui iuris of the Catholic Church. They accept the leadership of the Bishop of Rome, known as the papal primacy, and therefore are in full communion with the Catholic Church, including both the Latin Church and the 22 other Eastern Catholic Churches.

The move to Qannoubine has a story behind it: In 1439, Pope Eugene IV addressed and invitation to the Maronite Patriarch to participate in a council to be held in Florence. The purpose of the council was dedicated to the unification of the Eastern and Western Churches. The Patriarch was unable to participate, and he commissioned the Franciscan Friars' Head in Beirut, Father Fragon to attend in his place. He sent a letter to the council a message that was read at the Synod meeting in February 12, 1439. In early October, Fragon, the monk returned to Tripoli carrying with him the Shield of Confirmation of the Patriarch and the resolutions of the council. He was met by a large crowd of the city’s Maronites. The Deputy of Tripoli unjustly suspected that Father Fragon was a spy for the crusaders who were trying to return to the east. When this news arrived to Eleejj, the Maronite Patriarch sent some of the community's dignitaries to Tripoli's Deputy, guaranteeing, the monk. He was released and went up to Eleejj. The Patriarch presented the shield and letters and confirmation. Father Fragon returned to Beirut, but it seems that the Tripoli Deputy changed his mind and ordered the monk back to Tripoli when he knew that he was in Beirut. Thereafter, he prepared a military campaign and attacked the Eleejj Monastery. Concurrently, his soldiers harassed the monks and the people and destroyed the monastery, houses and fields. However, the Patriarch John Al-Jajee was able to flee with many Maronite monks and peasants to the Holy Valley of Qannoubine in 1440. There, he completed his reign at the Monastery of Our Lady of Qannoubine until his death in 1445. Beginning with this patriarch the series of Maronite Patriarchs who resided in the Holy Valley of Qannoubine began.

Monastery of Our Lady of Qannoubine
The location of Our Lady of Qannoubine is Jibbit Bcharré, where the following patriarchs resided:

45. Yacoub Boutros son of al-Hadthi: He came from the town of Hadath near Beirut and was the third Patriarch to be named Jacob. He lived in Qannoubine. He died and was buried there on February 8, 1468.

46. Yusuf Boutros son of Ya`qoub: He was well known as the famous Ibn Hassan who also came from Hadath, and the second patriarch to be called Yusuf. He resided in Qannoubine and during his reign the Maronites suffered tremendously on the hands of the Memluks who practiced all sorts of persecution and humiliation. This prompted the Patriarch to sell even the church utensils to pay taxes on behalf of the poor Maronites. He died in 1492.

47. Simon Peter VI son of David, son of Joseph, son of Hassan. During his reign, Pope Leo X sent as an Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See to the Maronite community in the year 1515. The Nuncio traveled around the Maronites communities and returned to Rome to report on their situation. After the Pope was briefed by his emissary, he sent to the Patriarch a letter expressed his joy and said: ".... I thank God Almighty for the Maronite Church for His great mercy He saw that the nation of the Maronites is implanted among the people of infidelity and heresy, and it is protected like a rose thorn between the thorns. That is so for the glory of His name and the conversion of the unbievers to the faith...". The Patriarch died on November 27, 1524 and was 120 years old when he died. He was buried in Qannoubine.

48. Moses Akkari or Moses son of Boutros son Saadé from the town Al-Bardé in Akkar. He attempted to seek European help for the independence of Mount Lebanon. He sent a letter to Emperor Charles Quint (Charles V of Habsburg) dated March 25, 1527: "…for four years we have been pleading with your Majesty to help us gain our independence. We have 50,000 finely trained fighters in shooting and ready to serve you in our war of Independence, ...".

The Maronite Patriarch did not reach his goal. He tried to contact the Ottoman Sultan, who was in control of the whole East a few years earlier. In 1550, he sent Father Tanius Al-Hassrooni who was received by the Ottoman Sultan Selim II in Aleppo. Father Tanius explained to him the situation of the Maronites in Mount Lebanon and the injustice and tyranny which they were subjected to, at the hands of The Mamluks. He sought the Sultan’s help in lifting the injustice from them and preserve their internal independence. He had what he asked for. The Ottoman Sultan issued a "Hamayunic Line" addressed to the judge of Tripoli ordering him not to interfere in the affairs of the Maronites.

Patriarch Moses Akkari lived in Qannoubine until his death on March 19,1567 and was buried there.

49. Mikhael al-Razi: Mikhael son of John Razi was the first patriarch with this Christian name. He came from the village of Baqoofa near Ehden. He was elected on March 31, 1567 and was a solitary monk in the hermitage of Saint Bishay in the Qadesha Valley. He lived in the Monastery of Qannoubine and died on September 21, 1581 and was buried there.

50- Sarkis Al-Ruzi: He was the brother of the former Patriarch and his successor in the hermitage of Saint Bishay. During his reign, the Maronite School was established in Rome in 1584. It was considered the pride of Maronite achievements, and where the star of the great Prince Fakhiruddeen Al-Maani shone brightly. Father Jerome Dandeeni visited Mount Lebanon in 1596 to look after the state of the Maronite community, as well as, participate in the Council of Qannoubine.

Father Dandeeni spent three years in Mount Lebanon and visited the various areas where the Maronites lived. He recorded his observation of Maronite society very precisely – religiously, socially, culturally, politically and urbanely. These records became very important references used to describe life in Mount Lebanon during that time. Patriarch Al-Ruzi died in 1597 and was buried in the Monastery of Qannoubine.

51. Yusuf Al-Razi: Yusuf was son of Moses al-Razi and nephew of the former patriarch, as well as, being the third patriarch with this name. He was elected patriarch, in the presence of Father Dandeeni. At that time, the Church was ordered to follow the Gregorian calendar in the Maronite community, during the council that assembled the year after his election. He lived, died and was buried in Qannoubine in March 1608.

The Coptic Catholic Church of Alexandria Split 1630
The Coptic Catholic Church of Alexandria -- Ϩ ⲔⲞⲠⲦⲒⲬ ⲔⲀQⲞⲖⲒⲬ ⲈⲔⲔⲖϨⲤⲒⲀ ⲐⲤ ⲀⲖⲈϬⲀⲚⲆⲈⲒⲀⲤ (Arabic: الكنيسة القبطيّة الكاثوليكيّة للاسكندريّة) is an Eastern Catholic in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. The Coptic Catholic Church uses the Alexandrian Rite. Uniquely among Eastern Catholic Churches, it uses the Coptic language. Union with Rome was sometimes broken.

52. John XI son of Makhlouf Ehdeni: According to Al-Duwayehi, after the death of predecessor Patriarch Youssef Razi, the successor was not elected "because of the injustice of the rulers" until November 16, 1608. He was eventually elected in Qannoubine as the new Patriarch and established there. During his reign he built in 1624 the first Seminary for the Maronite community in the Monastery of Our Lady of Hooka (near Ehden). However, because of the harassment of the ruler of the country, the patriarch moved to the town of Majdal al-Mooush in the Chouf. There he built a church and a monastery. On December 15, 1633 he died and was buried in Qannoubine.

53. Girgis Amayra El-Ehdeni: He was elected in Qannoubine on December 27, 1633 and was a student of the Maronite School in Rome. He was the author of "Syriac – Latin Grammar". He lived in Qannoubine and died on July 29, 1644 and was buried in Qannoubine.

Estephan Al-Duwayehi
Estephen Al-Duwayehi

According to Al-Duwayehi: "During the rule of the Maanite Dynasty (Druze Princes of Lebanon), the Maronites breathed a sigh of relief. They built churches and rode the horses with their saddles, previously forbidden. They also were able to put on belts (previously forbidden). Meanwhile, many missionaries from Europe came to Lebanon and lived in Mount Lebanon. The Maanites had many soldiers who were Christians who served the princes well. Thence, Fakhiruddeen requested the help of Patriarch Makhlouf and Patriarch Amira in achieving the independence of Lebanon. The patriarch helped the prince to conclude treaties between him and Tuscany, Italy, and some European countries through His Holiness the Supreme Pontiff. Further, the Patriarch placed at the disposal of Prince Fakhiruddeen, a group of Maronite bishops and scholars to assist him in governing the country. The scholars were Archbishop Gerges Maroon Al-Ehdeni, Archbishop Sarkis Al-Jamri Al-Al-Ehdeni, and Bishop Sarkees, as well as, the genius Abraham Haqlani. When Prince Melhem, the nephew of Prince Fakhiruddeen, became ruler after his uncle, he requested from Patriarch Makhloof assistance, through the Supreme Pontiff, for recognition by the Ottoman Sultan as Prince of Lebanon. The Maronite Patriarch wrote to his Holiness the Holy Pontiff indicating the great and preferential treatment of the Maanite Princes of the Maronites. He essentially asked the Pope to intervene with the European rulers and use their influence to establish for good the Maanite rule, and so had happened.

54. Yusef Al-Aakqoory son of Haleeb a.k.a.: He came from Aaqoora and was elected on August 15, 1644. He resided consecutively between Qannoubine and the Monastery of St. John Hrach in Kissirrwaan. He actually built the latter and held a council there. He also lived for a while in the Monastery of Mert Moroh in Ehden, where he held another council. He died on November 3, 1648 in Aqoura and was buried in its church.

55. John Bawwaab: He came from the town of Safra, at the coast of Fttouh Kissirrwaan. He was elected, lived and died on December 23, 1656 in the Monastery of Qannoubine and buried in it.

56. Girgis Rizkullah: He is Girgis son of the pilgrim Rizkullah, and was the second patriarch with this name. He came from the town of Bassbaal in the Zawiya region. He moved between the Monastery of Qannoubine and the Monastery of Saint Shalleeta Muqbas in Ghosta in Fttouh Kissirrwaan. He died on April 13, 1670 and was buried in Ghosta.

57. Stephen Al-Duwayehi the Great: He was the pride of the Maronite community and one of its greatest patriarchs. He is credited with preserving the history of the Maronites. He was a graduate of the Maronite School and was elected patriarch in Qannoubine on May 20, 1670 and lived most of his Patriarchate in the Holy Valley of Qadeesha. He lived for a few years in the Monastery of Saint Shalleeta Muqbas. There he renovated the church and built a house for his residence. For a short while, he lived in Majdel Maoush in the Chouf region. He visited all dioceses and visited most of the parishes and examined the books related to the Church, keeping notes about them that enabled him to write the History of the Church. He preserved the history of this action. He died in holiness on May 3, 1704 in Qannoubine and was buried there.

58. Jibril al-Bluzani: He came from the town of Balouza in the area of Bcharré. He was elected on August 1, 1704 and lived in Qannoubine, died and was buried there on October 31, 1705.

The Melkite Greek Catholic splits from Greek Orthodox 1724
The Melkite (GreekCatholic Church -- Η Ελληνική Καθολική Εκκλησία του Μελκίτη (Arabic: كنيسة الروم الملكيين الكاثوليك‎, Kanīsat ar-Rūm al-Malakiyyīn al-Kāṯūlīk) is an Eastern Catholic Churchin full communion with the Holy See as part of the worldwide Catholic Church.

59. Jacob Awwaad: He was the son John Awwaad, a priest, from the town of Hassroon in Jibbit Bcharré, and a pupil of the Maronite School. During his reign, he moved between Qannoubine, the Monastery of Qozhayya and the Monastery of Saint Shalleeta Moqbas in Ghosta. He died on February 19, 1733 and was buried there.

60. Yusuf Dargham Khazen: He came from the town of Ghosta in Fttouh Kissirrwaan, he was elected and lived in Qannoubine. During his reign, the Lebanese Synod settled in the Monastery of Our Lady of Louyizé in 1736. He died in 1736, in the Monastery of Rayfoon on May 13, 1742, and was buried in the Church of St. Elias in Ghosta.

61. Simon Awwaad Al-Hassroony: He came from the town of Hassroon in Jibbit Bcharré. He was elected in the Monastery of Ain Daraa in Kissirrwaan. He moved the patriarchate between Qannoubine and the Monastery of Our Lady of Musmoushé in the Jizzeen region where he died on February 12, 1756 and was buried there.

62. Tobias Khazen: He came from the town of Buqaata Canaan in Kissirrwaan. He was elected on February 28, 1756, in the Church of St. Joseph in Aintoura in Kissirrwaan. He spent most of his years in Ajaltoon in Kissirrwaan. At the beginning of his reign, the bishops assembled under his chairmanship at the Monastery of Saint Antonius - Buqaata and decreed to add the phrase “Patriarch of Antioch and all the East” to the old Maronite Patriarch title. He died on May 19, 1766 and was buried in the Church of the Lady of the House of Khazen in Ajaltoon.

The Syriac Catholic splits from Syriac Orthodox in 1782
The Syriac Catholic Church (or Syrian Catholic Church) (Classical Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝܬܐ‎, translit. ʿĪṯo Suryoyṯo Qaṯolīqayṯo), (also known as Syriac Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch), is an Eastern Catholic Christian Church in the Levant is a self-governed sui iuris Church while it is in full communion with the Holy See of Rome. In 1782, the Syriac Orthodox Holy Synod elected Metropolitan Michael Jarweh of Aleppo as Patriarch. Shortly after he was enthroned, he declared himself Catholic and in unity with the Pope of Rome.

63. Youssef Estephan: He came from the town of Ghosta in Kissirrwaan and was the sixth by this name. Originally, he was a student of the Maronite School in Rome. He was elected on June 9, 1766, in the Monastery of Saint Shalleeta Muqbas in Kissirrwaan. He was the most frequent resident of the Monastery of Saint Joseph of Hosn in Ghosta, where he died on April 22. 1793 and was buried there.

64. Mikhael Faadel: The second by this name, and he came from Beirut. He was elected on September 20, 1793 and his election was delayed due to the outbreak of the Plague, which "destroyed much of creation." He lived in the monastery of St. John Hraash in Kissirrwaan, died and was buried there on May 17, 1795. At that time, the elected patriarch had not received the Shield of Confirmation until June 27, 1795.

65. Philippe Gemayyel: He came from Bikfayya and was elected on June 13, 1795, in the Monastery of Our Lady of Bkerki. He was the first Maronite Patriarch to reside in Bkerki and in Ajaltoon on April 12, 1796,

66. Yousef Al-Thiyyaan: He was the seventh by this name and came from Beirut. Originally, he came from the town of Haddtoon in the at the outskirts of the Batroun area. He was a student of the Maronite School and was elected on April 18, 1796 in the Monastery of Bkerki. He resided for a number of years in Qannoubine and sometimes in the Monastery of Saint Shalleeta Muqbas. On May 10, 1809, he abdicated the Patriarchal throne and spent the rest of his life as a monk in Qannoubine where he died on February 20,1820 and was buried there.

The resignation of Patriarch Thiyyaan was not only an act of asceticism, but a result of a plot waged by Prince Bashir al-Shehaabi (Prince of Lebanon) and the Papal Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon, Monsignor Louis Gandolfi, the Prince's friend. The reason behind this plot was the Patriarch rejection of the policy of injustice, oppression and tyranny practiced by the Prince on the poor, especially increased taxes. The Patriarch resisted the injustice and objected most strongly. He even threatened the Prince with excommunication, if he does not revert from his plan of oppression. Consequently, the Prince asked his friend, the Apostolic Nuncio, for help. The latter reported the matter to the Holy See against the Patriarch. Patriarch Thiyyaan resigned.

67. John Helou: He was the thirteenth by this name and was elected in the Monastery of Saint Joseph, Aintoura on June 8, 1809, in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio Monsignor Louis Gandolfi. He restored and expanded the Monastery of Our Lady of Qannoubine, and where he lived most of his patriarchate until his death on May 12, 1823 and was buried there.

Monastery of Our Lady of Bkerki:
In the area of Kissirrwaan where the following patriarchs resided:

68. Youssef Habaysh: He came from the coast of Alma, and the eighth by this name. He was elected on May 25, 1823, in the Church of Our Lady of Qannoubine. He lived in the monastery of Bkerki in winter. He built a patriarchal residence in Demaan in Jibbit Bcharré and stayed there in summer. He was the first oriental patriarch who was awarded the “Ottoman Sultanic Bejeweled Decoration” in Istanbul. He accepted it with reservation and placed it in a box. He did not wear it on his cloak. He fought the Egyptian rule for injustices committed. During his reign the regime of the two Qaaimmaqameetain (Mount Lebanon split into two areas of jurisprudence), which he rejected. He insisted on keeping Mount Lebanon united. He died in Demaan on May 23, 1845 and was buried in the church of Qannoubine.

69. Yousef Raji Al-Khazen: The ninth by this name. His election was postponed to August 15, 1845 because of the events that took place in Mount Lebanon in spring and summer of that year (interreligious war between the Christians and the Druze). He was elected to the Monastery of Our Lady of Mayfook and lived in Bkerki in winter and in Demaan in summer. He died on November 3, 1854 and was buried in Qannoubine.

70. Boulos Massaad: He was the writer and historian of the Maronite School. He came from Ashkoot in Kissirrwaan. He was elected on November 12, 1854, and he lived in Bkerki and Demaan in summer. During his reign the peasant revolted in Kissirrwaan in 1858 -- known as the Revolution of Tanios Shaheen. That is, the interreligious strife of 1860 and the adoption of the Mutasarrifiyyé and Yusuf Bayk Karam’s revolution. He died on April 18, 1890 and was buried in St. Peter and St. Paul's Church in his hometown.

71. John Hajj: He was Father John Khoury Jacob Hajj. He was the fourteenth by this name. He came from Dilibtaa in Kissirrwaan and was elected on April 28, 1890. He continued building the Monastery of Bkerki, as it is today, though this monastery was started during of Patriarch Habaysh’s reign. He spent most of the year in Bkerki but some summers in the Demaan. During his reign the Maronite School was renewed in Rome in 1891. He died in Bkerki on December 24, 1998.

(Patriarch Al-Houwayyek)
72. Elias Houwayyek: He was the “Architect of the Greater State of Lebanon.” He came from the town of Halta in the center of the Batroun region, and a student of the Maronite School. He was elected on January 6, 1899 in Bkerki and lived there in winter. He renovated the Patriarchal headquarters in Demaan in its present state, becoming the official Patriarchal residence in summer. Since his election, he focused his primary effort on the Independence of Lebanon. When he received his patriarchal Croziers, he declared “…I will exercise every effort, peace of mind and life, for the sake of my people and my church.” He was the founder of the Holy Family Maronite Nun’s Order. He was persecuted by the Ottoman ruler of Lebanon during the First World War, Jamal Basha or al-Saffah, "the Blood Shedder" who almost banished him. In 1919, he headed the first Lebanese delegation to the Peace Conference in Paris. He is credited with expanding the boarders of Lebanon to its present ones. He died in Bkerki on December 24, 1931 and his remains were later transferred to the primary Church of the Monastery of the Holy Maronite Sisters in the town of Ebbreen in Batroun.

73. Antoine Areeda: He came from Bcharré and was elected on January 8, 1932 in Bkerki. He completed the construction of the Demaan Patriarchal Palace. He opened the Saint Maroon Seminary in Ghazeer. He lived in Bkerki and Demaan and died on Thursday, May 19, 1955, and was buried in the Church of Demaan.

(Patriarch Maoushi)
74. Paul Maoushi: He came from the Valley of Lemon in the region of Jizzeen. He was appointed on May 25, 1955 by Pope Pius XII, when he was head of the of the Apostolic Commission. He was the first Maronite Patriarch to become a Cardinal in 1965. During his reign, Father Sharbel Makhlouf was beatified. He lived in Bkerki and Demaan and died on January 11, 1975 and was buried in the church of Bkerki.

(Patriarch Khraish)
75. Antonius Khraish: He was the second by this name. He was elected in Bkerki on February 3, 1975, months before the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war. He was the second Maronite Patriarch to become a Cardinal. His patriarchate witnessed the horrors of the Lebanese war and the tragedies that afflicted the Christian people. In 1977, Blessed Sharbel Makhlouf was declared a saint and beatified and the nun Rafqa al-Rayyis Tobaawi in 1985. He lived in Bkerki and Demaan summer, especially when there was a lull in the war. His resignation came on November 27, 1985. The Apostolic Nuncio appointed Maronite Bishop Ibrahim El-Helou, the patron of the Maronite diocese of Sidon, as the Apostolic Administrator. This prompted most bishops to raise an objection to the Vatican, declaring that they did not like the idea of having an appointed patriarch. Their objection was heeded by the Supreme Pontiff and patriarchal elections returned as the applicable means of selecting patriarchal successors.

The Syrian Army's Occupation of Lebanon Ended in 2005
The Syrian occupation of Lebanon (Arabic: الاحتلال السوري للبنان‎, French: Occupation syrienne du Liban) began in 1976, during the Lebanese Civil War, and ended in 2005 following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.

(Patriarch Sfeir)
76. Nasrallah Sfeir: He became the Architect of the Second Lebanese Independence in the Spring 2005 from Rayfoon, Kissirrwaan. He was elected in Bkerki on April 19, 1986 and was the third Maronite Patriarch who became a Cardinal. He was able to lead the community and his country in the most difficult circumstances. In the 1990s, his voice remained the highest and the strongest, demanding the freedom, sovereignty and independence of Lebanon from Syrian Occupation. During his reign, Blessed Brother Estephan Naaimtallah al-Hardeeni was declared a saint in 2001. Also, father of Naaimtallah al-Hardeeni was beatified in 1998 and then declared a saint in 2004. Capuchin Father Yacoub was beatified in 2008 and brother Estephan Nemeh, as well, in 2010. In May 1997, His Holiness Pope John Paul II visited Lebanon. At the end of 2010, he resigned to the Holy See because of his advanced age. He still lives at the Monastery of Our Lady of Bkerki in winter and in Demaan in summer.

77. Bishara Elrai: He came from Himlayaa in the northern Matn district. He was elected by the Bishops' Council on March 15, 2011 with the slogan "Cooperation and Love." Pope Benedict XVI appointed him a Cardinal, the fourth Maronite Cardinal and the first Maronite and Oriental, in modern times who is participats in the election of a new Popes. in 2013. He participated in the election of Pope Francis I. In his reign, Pope Benedict XVI visited Lebanon between September 14 and 16, 2012. Patriarch Elrai continues to hold the leadership of the progress of his sect and his homeland to righteousness of salvation. God prolong his age and make his footsteps steadfast.

Why there is no mention of Protestants?
Protestant denominations that were cannibalized into Protestantism by foreign missionaries remained very few and incirumstantial in the affairs of the Apostolic Churches mentioned in this study. Missionaries who spent around 200 years in the East did not convert but maybe a handful of non-Christians, if that. However, the same missionaries paid well to buy/convert Catholics, Orthodox, Syriacs, Armenians and Assyrians/ Chaldeans. At that time, Protestantism was called the "Religion of the Shilling" (because it paid to become a member). The majority of these Protestants today are Presbyterians, Baptists, Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and probably some spare LDA Mormons. All are represented by ONE Member of Parliament out of 128 MPs.


In total, the Maronite patriarchs relocated their headquarters to five main places:

  • Monastery of Saint Maroon, or St. John Maroon, is currently in the town of Kafrhayi in the center of the Batroun area where the first three patriarchs lived for about 60 years.
  • Monastery of Our Lady of Yanouh in mountainous outskirts of Byblos where 21 patriarchs lived there for 370 years.
  • Monastery of Our Lady Eleejj in Mayfook on the top of the country of Byblos where 20 patriarchs lived for 320 years.
  • Monastery of Our Lady of the Valley of Qannoubine in Jibbit Bcharré where 23 patriarchs lived for 383 years.
  • Monastery of Our Lady of Bkerki in the area of Kissirrwaan -- since the second quarter of the nineteenth century – where the Patriarchal Maronite headquarters has been until today and 10 Patriarchs lived.

The history of the Maronite Church will remain the history of both a church and a people. It has been a continuation of a procession that began in the 7th century. Its seeds grew from the fifth century with its founder and monks, and throughout the ages. The mission of the Maronite Church was not limited to spiritual and priestly affairs. At the same time, it had a national leadership that required it to pay attention to various temporal matters for the good of its people. The Patriarchal Palace, which had moved between Kafrhayi, Yanouh, Eleejj, Qannoubine and Bkerki over the years, remains perhaps the most important reference in the entire East, and is certainly very important for the Holy See in the Vatican.

The Maronite Patriarchate is an institution with an history, heritage, values and righteous path. Its values original path does not change or fail. The Maronite Patriarch is known to all his sons and takes positions that protect the Church and fortify the homeland. He takes a comprehensive and impartial approach that give the Maronite Patriarchate a national dimension and makes it a symbol that everyone feels that Patriarchal Palace is his/her home.

The Maronite Patriarchate was established on religious-spiritual guidelines and not on political-worldly ones and became famous for its patriarchs who were masterful in learning, knowledge, thought and holiness. These are the foundations which the Maronite Patriarchate holds fast to and depend on while facing all sorts of upheavals. This explains why the Maronites and the other Christian and Islamic communities go to the Maronite Patriarch in times of trouble to find solutions, in adversity and to solve existential crises. They also turn to seek the views of the Maronite Patriarch on national and religious aspirations. Maronite expatriates are still depending on the Maronite Patriarchate in simple matters across the globe.

It is no secret that without the Maronite Patriarchate, Lebanon's spiritual, cultural, scientific and urban renaissance would not have existed, all these years. Mount Lebanon is larger now than it would have been because of this patriarchate. During the Syrian Occupation of Lebanon, the Maronite Patriarchate played a vital role in achieving Lebanon's Second Independence.

In short, the assertion that without the Maronite Patriarchate holed in Mount Lebanon, there would not have been a Christian presence in the East, as witnessed by the Nestorian Patriarch of the Syriac Church from Iran to southern Sudan. Dr. Fouad Afram al-Bustani wrote that during his participation, in the mid-sixties of the last century, in the celebrations of the 1000th anniversary of birth of Cyrus II of Persia (قوروش) held in Tehran, he met the local patriarch -- Catholicos (patriarch) of the Nestorian Syriac sect, whose followers are spread in northern Iraq, Kurdistan and some areas of Iran), and who had never visited Lebanon. He said: "Our strength comes from the strength of Bkerki, as long as Bkerki is strong, we are strong, and if it weakens, we weaken."

This was and will remain the role and mission of the Maronite Patriarchate, and it will continue to use the appropriate action to follow its timeless journey. May God keep the footsteps of our Patriarch Saint Bishara Boutros Rai steadfast, as well as, the total benevolent Council of Bishops, for the service of our Maronite people, the Lebanese, Christian people in the East and our homeland Lebanon in dignity, independence, sovereignty and freedom.


  1. Adapted and translated by the author from © Copyright, Professor Nabil Yousef.
  2. Les Annales (تاريخ الازمنة), Grand Patriarche Estéphan El-Douaihy, 1976
  3. Catholic Encyclopaedia
  4. The British Encyclopedia: 1933, 10 volumes
  5. Cambridge Encyclopedia: one-volume encyclopedia from Cambridge University Press
  6. Collier's Encyclopedia (1951–1998)
  7. Collins Encyclopedia of Scotland: one-volume encyclopedia
  8. Columbia Encyclopedia: one-volume encyclopedia from Columbia University Press
  9. Compton's Encyclopedia: 26-volume encyclopedia
  10. Dictionary of the Middle Ages (1982–1989)
  11. The Domestic Encyclopedia (1802, Am. editions 1803, 1821)
  12. Encarta, digital multimedia encyclopedia by Microsoft
  13. Encyclopædia Biblica: published in 1899

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