Syria. GEOGRAPHY AND POLITICAL DIVISIONS, Ancient AND MODERN.—A country in Western Asia, which in modern times comprises all that region bounded on the north by the highlands of the Taurus, on the south by Egypt, on the east by Mesopotamia and the Arabian Desert, and on the west by the Mediterranean; thus including within its area the ancient and modern countries of Aram or North Syria, a portion of the Hittite and Mitanni kingdoms, Phoenicia, the Land of Canaan or Palestine, and even a section of the Sinaitic Peninsula. Strictly speaking, however and especially from the point of view of Biblical and classical geography, which is the one followed in this article, Syria proper comprises only that portion of the above-mentioned territories that is bounded on the north and northwest by the Taurus and Asia Minor, on the south by Palestine, on the east by the Euphrates, the Syro-Arabian desert, and Mesopotamia, and on the west by the Mediterranean. The northern portion is elevated, the eastern is level, extending to the Syro-Arabian desert; the northwestern is crowned by the Amanus and Taurus mountains, while the mountains of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon are parallel ranges on the north of Palestine or south of Syria. Between these two ranges is the long narrow valley called Coele-Syria (Hollow Syria). Its chief rivers are the Litany (Leontes), the Orontes (Al-‘Asti), and the Barada or Abana. Coele-Syria varies in breadth from three or four miles to fifteen miles, and is in some places broken by projecting spurs of the Lebanon ranges. At its northern end it curves round to the west and opens out to the Mediterranean. It has two slopes, a northerly and a southerly one, and both are fertile and beautiful. This valley was always an important route of travel between Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean coast, Arabia, and Egypt. The whole of Syria, however, is about 250 miles in length, and an average of 130 miles in breadth, having a total area of about 32,500 square miles. The most important towns of Syria in ancient times were Damascus, Karkamish, Hamath, Baalbec, Palmyra or Tadmur, Riblah, Antioch, Daphne, Seleucia, Abila, Chalcis, Lybo, Laodicea, Arethusa, and Apamea, whereas the famous cities of Tyre, Sidon, Berytus Byblos, and Aradus belong properly speaking to Phoenicia. The most important towns of modern Syria are Alexandretta, Antakiah, Beirut, Aleppo, Latakyah, Hamah, Iloms, Tripoli, Damascus, Sayda, Akka, and Jaffa.
The name “Syria” was formerly believed to be either an abbreviation of “Assyria” or derived from Tsur (Tyre), hence Tsurya, and that it was of Greek origin. This, however, is untenable, as the name, in all probability, is derived from the old Babylonian name Suri, applied originally to the northeastern region of the present Syria. Later on the name Syria was applied by the Greeks and Romans to the whole of Syria, or the country lying between the Euphrates, the Mediterranean, the Taurus, and Egypt. By the Babylonians and Assyrians it was called “Amurru” (the Land of the Amorites) and “Martu” (the West-Land). The extreme northern part of it was also known as “Khatti”, or the Land of the Hittites, whilst the most southern region was known as “Kena’nu” or “Kanaan” (Palestine). In Arabic it is called either “Suriyya” (Syria), or “Al-Sham” (the country situated to the “left”), in opposition to “El-Yemen” or South Arabia, which is situated to the “right”. The political and geographical divisions of Syria have been numerous and constantly varying. In the Old Testament it is generally called “Aram”, and its inhabitants, “Arameans”. But there were several Biblical “Arams”, viz: “Aramnaharaim”, or “Aram of the two rivers”, i.e. Mesopotamia; “Paddon-Aram” (the region of Harran), in the extreme north of Mesopotamia; “Arapi-Ma’ak”, to the north of Palestine; “Aram-beth Rehob”; “Aram-Sobah”, etc. The Syrian Aram, however, which corresponds to the classical Syria is called generally in the Old Testament “Aram of Damascus ‘, from the principal city of the country. It is of these Arameans or Syrians, who occupied Central Syria, with Damascus as the capital city, that we hear most in the Old Testament.
During the Creek and Roman dominations the political divisions of Syria were indefinite and almost unintelligible. Strabo mentions five great provinces: (I) Commagene, a small territory in the extreme north, with Samosata for capital, situated on the Euphrates; (2) Seleucia, lying south of the former, and subdivided into four districts according to the number of its chief cities, viz.: Antioch Epidaphne; Seleucia, in Pieria; Apamea, and Laodicea; (3) Coele-Syria, comprising Laodicea ad Libanum, Chalcis, Abilene, Damascus, Ituraea, and others farther south, included in Palestine; (4) Phoenicia; (5) Judaea. Pliny’s divisions are still more numerous than those of Strabo. It appears that each city on rising to importance gave its name to a surrounding territory, larger or smaller, and this in time assumed the rank of a province. Ptolemy mentions thirteen provinces: Cammagene, Pieria, Cyrrhestica, Seleucia, Casiotis, Chalibonitis, Chalcis, Apamene, Laodicea, Phcenicia, Coele-Syria, Palmyrene, and Batanea, and he gives a long list of the cities contained in them. Under the Romans, Syria became a province of the empire. Some portions of it were permitted to remain for a time under the rule of petty princes, dependent on the imperial government. Gradually, however, all these were incorporated, and Antioch was the capital. Under Hadrian the province was divided into two parts: Syria Major, on the north, and Syria-Phcenice, on the south. Towards the close of the fourth century another partition of Syria was made, and formed the basis of its ecclesiastical government: (I) Syria Prima, with Antioch as its capital; (2) Syria Secunda, with Apamea as capital; (3) Phoenicia Prima, including the greater part of ancient Phoenicia, with Tyre as its capital; (4) Phoenicia Secunda, also called Phcenicia ad Libanum, with Damascus as its capital. During the Arabian domination, i.e. from the seventh to the fifteenth century, Syria was generally divided into six large districts (Giunds), viz.: (I) Filistin (Palestine), consisting of Judaea, Samaria, and a portion of the territory east of the Jordan, its capital was Ramlah, Jerusalem ranking next; (2) Urdun (Jordan), of which the capital was Tabaria (Tiberias), roughly speaking it consisted of the rest of Palestine as far as Tyre; (3) Damascus, a district which included Baalbek, Tripoli, Beirut, and the Hauran; (4) Homs, including Hamah; (5) Qinnasrin, corresponding to Northern Syria; the capital at first was Qinnasrin, to the south of Aleppo, by which it was afterwards superseded; (6) the sixth district was the military frontier (‘awdsim) bordering upon the Byzantine dominions in Asia Minor. Under the present Turkish rule, Syria is divided into the following six vilayets, or provinces: (I) the Vilayet of Aleppo, with the 3 liwas of Aleppo, Marash, and Urfa; (2) the independent Liwa of Zor (Deir ez-Zor); (3) the Vilayet of Beirut, including the coast south of the mouth of the Orontes, the mountain-district of the Nosairiyeh and Lebanon to the south of Tripoli, further the town of Beirut and the country between the sea and the Jordan from Saida to the north of Jaffa, and is divided into 5 liwas: Ladikiyeh, Tarabulus, Beirut, `Akka (Acre), and Nabulus; (4) Lebanon, from the south of Tripoli to the north of Saida, exclusive of the town of Beirut, forms an independent liwa, administered by a governor with the rank of mushir; (5) the Vilayet of Suriyya (Syria) comprises the country from Hamah to the Hijaz—the capital is Damascus—and is divided into the liwas of Hamah, Damascus, Hauran, and Kerak; (6) El-Quds, or Jerusalem, is an independent liwa under a mutesarrif of the first class. At the head of each vilayet is a vali, or governor-general, whose province is divided into departments (sanjak, liwa) each presided over by a mutesarrif; each department again contains so many divisions (kaimmakamlik, kada) each under a kaimmakam; and these again are divided into districts (mudiriyeh, nahiya) under mudirs. The independent liwas of Ez-Zor and El-Quds stand in direct connection with the central government at Constantinople.
ETHNOGRAPHY OF MODERN SYRIA—Ethnographically, the modern inhabitants of Syria consist of Syrians, Arabs, Turks, Jews, and Franks or Europeans.(I) The Syrians are the direct descendants of the ancient Arameans who inhabited the country from about the first millennium B.C., and who spoke Aramaic. Most of these embraced Christianity and continued to speak Aramaic till about the seventh century, when the Arab invasion forced the Arabic language to become the vernacular tongue of the country. Aramaic, however, held its ground for a considerable time, and traces of it are still to be found in the liturgy of the so-called Syrian, Chaldean, and Maronite Churches, as well as in three villages of the anti-Libanus. (2) The Arabian population consists of hadari, or settled, and bedawi (pl. bedu) or nomadic tribes. The settled population is of very mixed origin, but the Bedouins are mostly of pure Arab blood. They are the direct descendants of the half-savage nomads who have inhabited Arabia from time immemorial. Their dwellings consist of portable tents made of black goats’ hair. There are two main branches; one of these consists of the ‘Aenezeh, who migrate in winter towards Central Arabia, while the other embraces those tribes which remain permanently in Syria. (3) The Turks are not a numerous class of the community of Syria. They are intellectually inferior to the Arabs, but the lower classes are generally characterized by patriarchal simplicity of manner. There are two parties of Turks, the Old, and the Young, or Liberal Party. In Northern Syria, as well as on the Great Hermon, are still several nomadic Turkish tribes, or Turcomans, whose mode of life is the same as that of the Bedouin Arabs. (4) The Jews who remained in the country are but few in number; most of those who now reside in Palestine are comparatively recent settlers from Europe. (5) The Franks (Europeans) form a very small proportion of the population. Distinct from them are the so-called “Levantines”, who are either Europeans or descendants of Europeans, who have entirely adopted the manners of the country.
RELIGIONS OF MODERN SYRIA.—In regard to religion the modern inhabitants of Syria consist of Mohammedans, Christians, and Jews. The first are divided into Sunnites or orthodox Mohammedans, Metawileh, Nusairiyyeh or Ansairiyyeh, and Ismailiyyeh. To these may be added the Druzes. The Christians include Roman Catholics of the Latin Rite; Greek Orthodox; Roman Catholic Greeks or Melchites; Maronites (all Roman Catholic); Roman Catholic Syrians, Roman Catholic Chaldeans, Roman Catholic Armenians; Schismatic Syrians, i.e. Monophysites, commonly called Jacobites; Schismatic Armenians, Catholic Armenians, and Protestants.
The Mohammedans or Moslems are and have been for the last twelve centuries the lords of the land and still constitute the great majority of its inhabitants. They are generally ignorant and fanatical, although of late education has spread among the better class in the larger towns. Till a few years ago they were inclined to look with contempt on all other peoples and religions. This, however, is gradually disappearing owing mainly to the wonderful stride the Christians of Syria have been making of late in the matter of schools, universities, hospitals, seminaries, and educational and commercial institutions. The Syrian Moslems are generally noble in bearing, polite in address, and profuse in hospitality; but they are regardless of truth, dishonest in their dealings, and immoral in their conduct. In large towns the greater proportion of the upper classes are both physically and mentally feeble, owing to the effects of polygamy, early marriages, and degrading vices; but the peasantry are robust and vigorous, and much might be hoped from them if they were brought under the influence of liberal institutions, and if they had examples around them of the industry and the enterprise of Western Europe. Experience, indeed, has already shown that they are not slow to adopt the improvements of other lands. In religion the Mohammedans of Syria are Sunnites, or Traditionists that is, in addition to the written word of the Koran, they recognize the authority of the Sunna, a collection of traditional sayings of the “Prophet”, which is a kind of supplement to the Koran, directing the right observance of many things omitted in that book. They are in general exact in the observance of the outward rites of their religion.
The Metawileh (sing. Metawly) are the followers of ‘Aly, the son-in-law of Mohammed. His predecessors, Abu Bekr, ‘Omar, and Othman, they do not acknowledge as true khalifs. ‘Aly they maintain to be the lawful Imam; and they hold that the supreme authority, both in things spiritual and temporal, belongs of right to his descendants alone. They reject the Sunna, and are therefore regarded as heretics by the orthodox. They are allied in faith to the Shi’ites of Persia. They are almost as scrupulous in their ceremonial observances as the Hindus. The districts in which they chiefly reside are Ba’albek, where their chiefs are the noted family of Harfush; Belad Besharah, on the southern part of the Lebanon range; and a district on the west bank of the Orontes, around the village of Hurmul. They also occupy several scattered villages in Lebanon.
The Nusairiyyeh. It is not easy to tell whether these people are Mohammedans or not. Their religion still remains a secret, notwithstanding all attempts lately made to dive into their mysteries. They are represented as holding a faith half Christian and half Mohammedan. They believe in the transmigration of souls; and observe in a singular, perhaps idolatrous, manner a few of the ceremonies common in the Eastern Church. They inhabit a range of mountains extending from the great valley north of Lebanon to the gorge of the Orontes at Antioch.
The Ismailiyyeh, who inhabit a few villages on the eastern slopes of the Ansairiyeh Mountains, resemble the Nusairiyyeh in this, that their religion is a mystery. They were originally a religious-political subdivision of the Shi’ites, and are the feeble remnant of a people too well known in the time of the Crusades as the Assassins. They have still their chief seat in the Castle of Masyad, on the mountains west of Hamah.
The Druzes (The generic name in Arabic is ed-Deruz, sing. Durzy). The peculiar doctrines of the Druzes were first propagated in Egypt by the notorious Hakim, third of the Fatimite dynasty. This khalif, who gave himself out as a prophet, though he acted more like a madman, taught a system of half-materialism, asserting that the Deity resided in ‘Aly. In A.D. 1017 a Persian of the sect of Batanism, called Mohammed Ben-Ismail ed-Dorazy, settled in Egypt, and became a devoted follower and stimulator of Hakim. He not only affected to believe in and propagate the absurd pretensions of the new Egyptian prophet, but he added to his doctrines that of the transmigration of souls, which he had brought from his native country, and he carried his fanaticism to such an extent that the people at last drove him out of Egypt. He took refuge in Wady el-Teim, at the western base of Hermon; and, being secretly supplied with money by the Egyptian monarch, propagated his dogmas, and became the founder of the Druzes. His system was enlarged, and in some degree modified, by other disciples of Hakim, especially by the Persian Hamzeh, whom the Druzes still venerate as the founder of their sect and the author of their law. Hamzeh tried to gain over the Christians by representing Hakim as the Messiah whose advent they expected. For further details see Druzes.
The Jews of Syria are of several different classes. The Sephardim are Spanish-Portuguese Jews, who immigrated after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain under Isabella I; most of them now speak Arabic, though some still speak a Spanish patois. The Ashkenazim are from Russia, Galicia, Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia, Germany, and Holland, and speak the dialect known as Yiddish. These again are subdivided into the Perushim and the Chasadim. The Jews of the East have retained their original character to a considerable extent, and are generally tall and slender in stature. They live in the towns, generally in a quarter of their own.
HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY IN SYRIA. The history of Christianity in Syria proper during the first three centuries and down to the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) centers chiefly about Antioch, while from the time of the Council of Nicaea down to the Arab invasion it is absorbed into that of the Antiochene Patriarchate (see The Church of Antioch), just as the Christianity of Palestine is practically that of Jerusalem, of Egypt that of Alexandria, of the West that of Rome, of Mesopotamia and Persia that of Seleucia Ctesiphon, and of the Byzantine Greek Church that of Constantinople. As Jewish Christianity originated in Jerusalem, so Gentile Christianity started at Antioch, then the leading city of the Hellenistic East, with Peter and Paul as its leading Apostles. From Antioch it spread to the various cities and provinces of Syria, among the Hellenistic Syrians as well as among the Jews who, as a result of the great rebellions against the Romans in A.D. 70 and 130, were driven out from Jerusalem and Palestine into Syria. The spread of the new religion was so rapid and successful that at the time of Constantine Syria was honey-combed with Christian churches. The history of the Christian Church in Syria during the second and third centuries is rather obscure, yet sufficient data to furnish a fair idea of the rapid spread of Christianity in Syria during those two centuries have been collected by Harnack in his well-known work, “The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries” (Eng. tr., 2nd ed., London, 1908, vol. II, pp. 120 sqq.).
Outside the gates of Antioch, that “fair city of the Greeks” (see Isaac of Antioch‘s “Carmen”, 15, ed. Bickell, i, 294), Syriac was the language of the people; in fact it was spoken by the lower classes in Antioch itself and only among the upper classes of the Greek towns was it displaced by Greek. The Syriac spirit was wedded to Greek, however, even here, and remained the predominant factor in religious and in social life although at first and indeed for long it did not look as if it would. Yet, in this Syrian world, Christianity seems to have operated from Edessa rather than from Antioch. The wide territory lying between these cities was consequently evangelized from two centers during the third century: from Antioch in the West by means of a Greek Christian propaganda, and from Edessa in the East by means of one which was Syro-Christian. The inference is that the larger towns practically adopted the former, while the country towns and villages went over to the latter. At the same time there was also a Western Syrian movement of Christianity, though it did not amount to much, both in and after the days of Paul of Samosata and Zenobia. The work of conversion, so it would appear, made greater headway in Coele-Syria, however, than in Phoenicia. No fewer than twenty-two bishops from Coele-Syria attended Nicaea (two chorepiscopi), including several who had Hellenic names. Hence we may infer the existence of no inconsiderable number of national Syrian Christians. By about 325 the districts round Antioch seem to have contained a very large number of Christians, and one dated (331) Christian inscription runs as follows: “Christ, have mercy; there is but one God“.
In Chrysostom’s day these Syrian villages appear to have been practically Christian. Lucian, the priest of Antioch, declares in his speech before the magistrate in Nicomedia (311) that “almost the greater part of the world now adheres to this Truth, yea whole cities; even if any of this evidence seems suspect, there is no doubt regarding multitudes of country-folk, who are innocent of guile” (pars paene mundi iam maior huic veritati adstipulatur, urbes integrae, aut si in his aliquid suspectum videtur, contestatur de his etiam agrestis manus, ignara figmenti); and although this may reflect impressions which he had just received in Bithynia, there was substantial ground for the statement in the local circumstances of Syria. The number of clergy in 303 throughout Syria is evident from Eus., H. E., viii, 6: “An enormous number were put in prison at every place. The prisons, hitherto reserved for murderers and riflers of graves, were now packed every-where with bishops, priests, deacons, lectors, and exorcists”. Further data at our command are as follows: (I) Acts, xv, already mentions Churches in Syria besides Antioch. (2) Ignatius, apropos of Antioch (ad Philad., 10) mentions “Churches in the neighborhood” which had already bishops of their own. These certainly included Seleucia, the seaport of Antioch mentioned in Acts, xiii, 4. (3) Apamaea was a center of the Elkesaites. (4) Dionys. Alex. (in Eus., “H. E.”, VII, v) observes that the Roman Church frequently sent contributions to the Syrian Churches. (5) The document of the Antiochene Synod of 268 (Eus., VII, xxx) mentions, in connection with Antioch, “bishops of the neighboring country and cities”.
The towns in the vicinity of Antioch, far and near, must already have had bishops, in all or nearly all cases, if country bishops were in existence. From Eus., VI, xii we learn that by about A.D. 200 there was a Christian community at Rhossus which was gravitating towards Antioch. (6) Two chorepiscopi from Coele-Syria attended the Council of Nicaea. In Martyrol. Hieron. (Achelis, “Mart. Hieron.,” p. 168) a martyrdom is noted as having occurred “in Syria provincia regione Apameae vico Aprovavictu”, but both these places are unknown. (7) Bishops from the following places in Coele-Syria were present at Nicaea: Antioch, Seleucia, Laodicea, Apamaa, Raphanea, Hierapolis (=Mabug, Bambyce), Germanicia, Samosata, Doliche, Balaneae Gabula, Zeugma, Larissa, Epiphania, Arethusa, Neocaesarea, Cyrrhus, Gindron, Arbokadama, and Gabala. These towns lay in the most diverse districts of this wide country, on the seaboard, in the Valley of the Orontes, in the Euphrates Valley, between the Orontes and the Euphrates, and in the north. Their distribution shows that Christianity was fairly uniform and fairly strong in Syria about 325, as is strikingly shown by the rescript of Daza to Sabinus (Eus., “H. E.”, IX, ix), for we must understand the experiences undergone by the Churches of Syrian Antioch and Asia Minor, when we read the emperor’s words about almost all men abandoning the worship of the gods and attaching themselves to the Christian people. This remark is not one to be taken simply as a rhetorical flourish. For after speaking in one place about the first edict of Diocletian, Eusebius proceeds as follows: “Not long afterwards, as some people in the district called Melitene and in other districts throughout Syria attempted to usurp the kingdom, a royal decree went forth to the effect that the head officials of the churches everywhere should be put in prison and chains” (VIII, vi, 8). Eusebius does not say it in so many words, but the context makes it quite clear that the emperor held the Christians responsible for both of these outbreaks (that in Melitene being unknown to history). This proves that the Christiana in Melitene and Syria must have been extremely numerous, otherwise the emperor would never have met revolutionary outbreaks (which in Syria, and, one may conjecture, in Melitene also, originated with the army) with edicts against the Christian clergy. The Bishop of Rhossus was not at Nicaea (Rhossus, however, may also be assigned to Cilicia). But, as we already know, Rhossus did possess a Christian Church about A.D. 200, which came under the supervision of the Church at Antioch. There was a Jewish Christian Church at Beroea (Aleppo) in the fourth century. The local Gentile Christian Church cannot have been important; cf. the experience of Julian there (Ep. xxvii, p. 516, ed. Hertlein).
As to Phcenicia, one of the most important provinces of Syria, the history of Christianity there is also obscure. Here again, we learn from the Acts of the Apostles that Christianity reached the Phoenician cities at a very early period. When Paul was converted, there were already Christians at Damascus (Acts ix, 2, 10 sq., 19); for Christians in Tyre see xxi, 4; for Ptolemais see xxi, 7; for Sidon xxvii, 3; and in general xi, 19. The metropolitan position of Tyre, which was the leading city in the East for manufactures and trade, made it the ecclesiastical capital of the province; but it is questionable if Tyre enjoyed this preeminence as early as the second century, for at the Palestinian Synod on the Eastern controversy Cassius, the Bishop of Tyre, and Clarus, the Bishop of Ptolemais, took counsel with the Bishop of Aelia and of Caesarea (Eus., “H. E.”, V, xxv) to whom they seem to have been subordinate. On the other hand, Marinus of Tyre is mentioned in a letter of Dionysius of Alexandria (ibid., VII, v, 1) in such a way as to make his metropolitan dignity extremely probable. Martyrs in or from Tyre, during the great persecution, are noted by Eusebius, VIII, vii, 1 (VIII, viii), VIII, xiii, 3. Origen died at Tyre and was buried there. It is curious also to note that the learned Antiochene priest Dorotheus, the teacher of Eusebius, was appointed by the emperor (Diocletian, or one of his immediate predecessors) to be the director of the purple-dyeing trade in Tyre (Eus.,”H. E.”, VII, xxxii). A particularly libellous edict issued by the Emperor Daza against the Christians is preserved by Eusebius (IX, vii) who copied it from the pillar in Tyre on which it was cut, and the historian’s work reaches its climax in the great speech upon the reconstruction of the church at Tyre, “by far the most beautiful in all Phcenicia” (X, iv). This speech is dedicated to Paulinus, Bishop of Tyre, in whose honor indeed the whole of the tenth book of its history is written. Unfortunately, we get no information whatever, in this long address, upon the Christian community at Tyre. We can only infer the size of the community from the size of the church building, which may have stood where the ruins of the large crusading church now astonish the traveller (cf. Baedeker’s “Palestine”, pp. 300 sq.). Tyre as a Christian city was to Phoenicia what Caesarea was to Palestine. It seems to have blossomed out as a manufacturing and trading center during the imperial age, especially in the third century. A number of passages in Jerome give characteristic estimates of its size and importance. In Sidon Origen stayed for some time (Horn. xiv, 2, in Josuam), while it was there that the presbyter Zenobius (Eus., “H. E.”, VIII, xiii, 3) died during the great persecution, as did some Christians at Damascus (IX, v) . Eleven bishops, but no chorepiscopi, were present at the Council of Nicaea from Phoenicia; namely the bishops of Tyre, Ptolemais, Damascus, Sidon, Tripolis, Paneas, Berytus, Palmyra, Alassus, Emesa, and Antaradus. From Eusebius we also learn that many Jewish Christians also resided in Paneas (Eus., “H. E.”, VII, xvii, 18). Tripolis is mentioned even before the Council of Nicaea (in “Mart. Pal.,” III, where a Christian named Dionysius comes from Tripolis); the Apostolic Constitutions (vii, 46) declare that Marthones was bishop of this town as early as the Apostolic age; while, previous to the Council of Nicaea, Hellenicus, the local bishop, opposed Arius (Theodoret, “H. E.”, I, iv), though Gregory, Bishop of Berytus, sided with him (loc. cit.; for Berytus, see also “Mart. Pal.”, iv). The local church was burnt under Julian (cf. Theod., “H. E.”, IV, xxii). Eusebius (VIII, xiii) calls Silvanus, at the period of the great persecution, bishop, not of Emesa but of “the churches round Emesa“. Emesa thus resembled Gaza; owing to the fanaticism of the inhabitants Christians were unable to reside within the town itself, they had to quarter themselves in the adjoining villages. Anatolius, the successor of Silvanus, was the first to take up his abode within the town. Theodoret (“H. E.”, III, vii), writing of the age of Julian, says that the church there was vthavnTor (newly built). With regard to Heliopolis we have this definite information, that the town acquired its first church and bishop, thanks to Constantine, after 325 (cf. “Vita Constant.,” III, lviii, and Socrat., I, xviii). The “Mart. Syriacum” mentions one martyr, Lucian, at Heliopolis. Christians also were deported (“Mart. Pal.,” XIII, ii) by Dazato Lebanon for penal servitude. One martyrdom makes it plain that there were Christians at Byblus. At Choda (Kabun), north of Damascus, there were also numerous Jewish Christians in the days of Eusebius.
We have no information in detail upon the diffusion and density of the Christian population throughout Phoenicia. Rather general and satisfactory information is available for Syria, a province with which Phoenicia was at that time very closely bound up; even the Phoenician tongue had long been dislodged by Syriac. From the letters of Chrysostom and the state of matters which still obtained in the second half of the sixth century, however, it is quite clear that Christianity got a firm footing only on the seaboard, while the inland districts of Phoenicia remained pagan for the most part. Yet it was but recently, not earlier than the third century, that these Phoenician-Hellenic cults had experienced a powerful revival. The situation is quite clear: wherever Christianity went, it implied Hellenizing, and vice versa. Christianity, in the first instance, only secured a firm footing where there were Greeks. The majority of the Phoenician towns where Christian bishops can be traced lay on the coast; i.e., they were towns with a strong Greek population. In the large pagan cities, Emesa and Heliopolis, on the other hand, Christians were not tolerated. Once we leave out inland localities where “heretics”, viz., Marcionites and Jewish Christians, resided, the only places in the interior where Christians can be found are Damascus, Paneas, and Palmyra. Damascus, the great trading city, was Greek (cf. Mommsen, “Rom. Gesch.”, V., p. 473; Eng. trans., II, 146); so was Paneas. In Palmyra, the headquarters of the desert trade, a strong Greek element also existed (Mommsen, pp. 425 sq.; Eng. trans., II, 96 sq.). The national royal house in Palmyra, with its Greek infusion, was well disposed not towards the Greek but towards the scanty indigenous Christians of Syria, as may be inferred from the relations between Paul of Samosata and Zenobia, no less than from the policy adopted by Rome against him.
The Edict of Milan (A.D. 313) marks the beginning of a better-known period in the history of Syrian Christianity, during which the See of Antioch was filled by a succession of bishops illustrious through-out the Church, and the Church of Syria was involved in the most troublesome period of church history and theology, which marks the beginning of those fatal schisms, heresies, and Christological controversies that led to the final separation of the Syrian Church and the Churches of the East from the Church of Rome (See Arianism; Nestorius and Nestorianism; Monophysites and Monophysitism). The death of Severus (542), the deposed Monophysite Patriarch of Antioch, may be taken to mark the beginning of a new period in the history of the Syrian Church; for from this date the double succession in the See of Antioch has been maintained to the present day. The death of the Emperor Maurice (A.D. 602) and the succession of his murderer, Phocas, gave the signal for the Persians to ravage the Roman dominions. Hitherto Mesopotamia had been the arena of war between the rival powers, and Dara, Amida, and Nisibis the keys of possession. But Heraclius came to the throne in 602 to find all Syria in the hands of Chosroes. First Damascus, then the Holy City itself fell before the Persian general Shahrbarz (614), and the Patriarch Zacharias of Jerusalem was carried off with the True Cross itself, to grace the infidel’s triumph. Never since Constantinople was built had there been such a disaster; and at Chalcedon itself, almost opposite the very walls of the capital, the Persians were encamped, stretching out their hands to the Slays and Avars, who threatened the city on the north side of the isthmus, and inviting them to join in its destruction. An insulting and blasphemous letter from the Persian king aroused the emperor and all Christendom; while from Constantinople to Arabia the Church poured forth her treasures of plate and money to help in the crusade. Constantinople was fortified and with a gigantic effort, worthy of the great conquerors of the world’s history, Heraclius drove back the Persians, cutting them off in Cilicia, and forcing them finally to make an abject appeal for mercy in the very royal palace of Dastagerd itself. Chosroes had been already murdered by his son, who submitted to Heraclius (A.D. 628). The emperor returned, leaving the East in peace, to restore the Cross to its place in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile in an obscure corner of the empire Mohammed had been born, and in this very year sent round a letter demanding for a new creed the submission of the kings of the earth. “The year of flight” (A.D. 622) had passed, and Mohammed was at the head of a devoted band of followers, ready to conquer Arabia and perhaps the world. It was an epoch of the world’s history, and twice the patriarchs of Jerusalem saw the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, and thought the end of all things at hand. Ten years after Shahrbarz (637), when the glories of Heraclius paled before the storm of Arab conquest, Sophronius the Patriarch and Omar the Arab stood side by side at the altar of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. East of the Mediterranean the Roman Empire had given way for ever, and the Arab arms now ruled the Churches which the councils of two centuries before had cut off from the orthodox communion. For the future it was not the Melchite or Imperialist to whom the Eastern Churches were to acknowledge an unwilling homage, but to the sword of Islam. Byzantine history now affected them little, for the successors of Heraclius had enough to do to keep the Saracen fleets away from the capital. The famous Iconclastic controversy, begun by Leo the Isaurian, was continued for nearly a hundred years (720-802) by his successors. How little the second great controversy of the times affected the Syrians may be judged by their own language in regard to the “Procession of the Holy Ghost“. The words inserted in the Creed by the Western Church were the occasion of the rupture, for which the rival claims of Gregory of Rome and John Scholasticus of Constantinople had paved the way; and the ninth century witnessed the unseemly recriminations and the final break between the two great communions.
In the seventh century the Syrian Christians fade from the general history of the Church. The Arabs were inclined to favor them as rivals of the Greeks, and early in the eighth century Walid secured the entry of their patriarch into Antioch, whence they had been driven by the Greeks since the death of Jacobus Baradaeus. But he remained there only a short time, nor were his people free from the persecutions which Abdelmalik and Yazid ordered against the Christians; while in 771 the Khalif Abdullah took a census throughout Syria and Mesopotamia, ordering all Jews and Christians, especially at Jerusalem, to be branded on the neck and forehead. A short-lived union between the Syrians and Armenians (726) was followed by persecution at the hands of the Greeks (750), who took away many Syrian and Armenian slaves from Mesopotamia to the West. Two centuries later Nicephorus Phocas, anxious to unite Christendom against the Arabs, caused John Sarighta, the Patriarch of the Syrians, to be brought to Constantinople, there to discuss with Polyeuctus, Patriarch of that city, the differences that divided them. In the letter written by John to Mennas of Alexandria we perceive how much the controversy had become a mere matter of verbal expression, and how the Syrians clung to the words which Greek tyranny had made the badge of a rival party. The imprisonment of John, added to other acts of tyranny, confirmed their hatred of the Greeks, and made them prefer even the domination of the Moslem. From the eighth and ninth centuries down to our own times the history of Christianity in Syria is the history of Nestorianism and of the Nestorian Church, of Eutychianism and the Monophysite or Jacobite Syriac Church, of the Monophysite Armenian Church of Syria, of the Greek Schism and of the Byzantine, Russian, and Greek, or the so-called Orthodox Eastern Church; the Schismatic and Melchite (Catholic) Greek Patriarchates of Antioch; the Syrian, Monophysite, and Catholic Patriarchates of Antioch, the Latin Patriarchate of Antioch, and the Maronite Church, for all which see respective articles.
STATISTICS OF THE VARIOUS CHRISTIAN SECTS AND CHURCHES.—The Christians of Modern Syria, schismatic as well as Catholic, are divided into the following sects and churches:
Greek Orthodox, i.e. the Syrian Greek Schismatic Church.—The Greek Orthodox of Syria are under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox of Antioch, whose residence is at Damascus and who has under his jurisdiction 2 suffragan or auxiliary bishops attached to him personally, and 13 eparchies, or archdioceses, 50,000 families, or about 250,000 subjects, most of whom dwell in Syria proper. Of these thirteen eparchies eleven are in Syria, one in Northern Mesopotamia, one in Armenia and Asia Minor. The Greek Orthodox of Syria have 5 schools with 810 pupils in Beirut; 24 in Damascus and surrounding villages, with 2215 pupils and 60 teachers; and 12 in Northern Syria with 2400 pupils and 65 teachers. The liturgy of the Syrian Greek Orthodox is that of the Greek Church, and the liturgical language, Greek with a great deal of Arabic, which is the vernacular of all the Christians of Syria.
Greek-Melchites, i.e. Roman Catholic Syrians of the Greek Rite.—These are under the jurisdiction of the Greek-Melchite Patriarch of Antioch, whose residence is at Damascus, and who has under his patriarchal jurisdiction 4 archdioceses, 8 dioceses, 2 patriarchal vicariates (at Jerusalem and Alexandria), with a total of about 125,000 souls, divided as follows: (I) Archdiocese of Aleppo, 6 churches and chapels, 10,000 souls, 86 colleges superintended by Franciscan, Capuchin and Jesuit missionaries; (2) Archdiocese of Bostra and Hauran with 12,000 souls, 4 churches, 8 chapels, 15 priests and 4 schools; (3) Archdiocese of Horns and Hamah, with 8000 souls, 20 churches and chapels, 20 priests and 18 schools, residence at Horns;
Archdiocese of Tyre, with 6200 souls, 11 churches and chapels, 20 priests, of which 15 are Basilian monks, and 13 schools, residence at Sur (Tyre); Diocese of Beirut and Djebail, with 15,000 souls, one seminary at Ain-Traz, 150 parishes, 195 churches and chapels, and 19 schools, residence at Beirut; Diocese of Caesarea-Philippi, or Baneas, with 4500 souls, 15 parishes, 9 churches and chapels, 17 priests, and 19 schools, residence at Gemaidat-Marjoun; (7) Diocese of Damascus, of which the patriarch himself is the ordinary, with one suffragan bishop, with 12,000 souls, 9 parishes, and 9 churches; (8) Diocese of Heliopolis or Ba’albek, with 5000 souls, 9 parishes, 10 churches, 15 priests, and 8 schools, residence at Ba’albek; (9) Diocese of Ptolemais or Saint John of Acre, with 9000 souls, 24 stations, 25 churches, 34 priests, and 8 schools, residence at Akka; (10) Diocese of Sidon, with 18,000 souls, 38 churches and chapels, 41 priests, 34 schools, residence at Sayda; (11) Diocese of Tripoli, erected in 1897; (12) Diocese of Zahle and Furzoul, with 17,000 souls, 30 churches and chapels, 35 priests, 12 schools, residence at Zahle.
The two patriarchal vicariates at Jerusalem and Alexandria have a dozen parishes in the latter and four or five parishes in the former. The Greek-Melchites have also a parish with a church in Marseilles, another in Paris (since 1889), and several in the United States. In Jerusalem they have the Seminary of St. Anne, founded in 1882 by Cardinal Lavigerie under the direction of the White Fathers. The number of these average between 125 and 150. They have also a seminary in Rome founded for them in 1577 by Gregory XIII, under the name of College of St. Athanasius; also a small seminary in Beirut, and a larger one at Ain-Traz. Three indigenous religious orders, for men and women alike, are still in existence among the Greek-Melchites in Syria, viz: The Aleppine, with 40 monks and 18 nuns; the Baladites of the Order of St. John, with 96 monks and 42 nuns; and the Mokhallasites, or Salvatorians, with 200 monks and 25 nuns. The rules followed by these three orders are either those of St. Basil or St. George. From the time of Gregory XVI (1831-46) the patriarch of the Greek-Melchites is allowed to assume the official title of “Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem“.
The Syrian Jacobites, i.e. Monophysites.—They are under the jurisdiction of the Syrian Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch, whose residence is at Der-el-Zafaran near Mardin in Northern Mesopotamia. The Syrian Jacobites were formerly very numerous and scattered all over Western Asia, Egypt, and India, having had in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as many as 20 metropolitans and 100 bishops or dioceses. At present, they have but 8 archbishops and 3 bishops with a total of about 80,000 souls, not including those of Malabar, in India, who are not under the direct jurisdiction of the Syrian Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch. The episcopal sees of this Church, with the exception of that of Jerusalem, whose titular bishop resides at Za’faran near Mardin, are all situated in Mesopotamia;, and in the extreme northeastern section of Syria. Their liturgical language is Syriac (see Monophysites and Monophysitism).
Catholic Syrians.—These consist mainly of those Syrian Jacobites who in the last five or six centuries have gradually given up their Monophysite heresy, and embraced the Catholic Faith, though retaining their Syrian Rite, customs, and liturgy. In course of time they have become numerous enough to have a patriarch of their own with several dioceses and bishops. They are to be found mainly in Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Babylonia. Their patriarch, whose official residence is at Mardin, but who lives sometimes in Mosul and sometimes in Aleppo or Beirut, in Syria, is officially entitled the “Syrian Patriarch of Antioch“, having under his jurisdiction nine dioceses with a total of about 40,000 souls, divided as follows: (I) Archdiocese of Bagdad, with 2000 souls, 3 churches, 6 priests, and 1 school, residence Bagdad; (2) Archdiocese of Damascus, with 4000 souls, 6 parishes, 6 churches, 12 priests, and 6 schools, residence Damascus; (3) Archdiocese of Horns and Hamah, with 3000 souls, 5 parishes, and 5 churches, residence Horns; (4) Diocese of Aleppo, with 4000 souls, 3 parishes, 3 churches, and 15 priests, residence Aleppo; (5) Diocese of Beirut, with 700 souls, 1 church, and 3 priests; (6) Diocese of Diarbekir, with 1000 souls, 3 parishes, 3 churches, and 7 priests. (7) Diocese of Djezire, with 2000 souls, 7 churches, 10 priests, and 6 schools, residence Djezire; (8) Diocese of Mardin, with 5000 souls, 7 stations, 9 churches, 25 priests, and 7 schools; (9) Diocese of Mosul, with 10,000 souls, 8 parishes, 12 churches, and 25 priests, residence Mosul. The liturgical language of this Church is Syriac.
Catholics of the Latin Rite.—The Catholics of the Latin Rite in Syria are not very numerous, and are under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Delegate of Syria, whose residence is at Beirut (formerly at Aleppo). They number about 7000, scattered all over the large towns of Syria, and are either of Italian or French descent, having settled in Syria mainly for commercial or educational purposes. The so-called Latin Patriarchate of Antioch owes its origin to the times of the Crusades of the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, in connection with the establishment of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, both of which are nowadays simply titular, without any jurisdiction, and their titulars reside in Rome. The Latin Patriarch of Antioch has under his purely titular jurisdiction the following titular archbishoprics: Apamea, Adana, Tarsus, Anazarbe, Seleucia, Irenopolis, Cyr, Hierapolis, Edessa, Amida, Nisibis, Emesa, Heliopolis, Palmyra, Damascus, Philadelphia, Bostra, Almire, Derbe, Epiphania, Gabala, and Rosea. For Armenians (Catholic and Schismatic) see Armenia; for Chaldeans (Catholic) see Chaldean Christians. The last group of Christians in Syria, and, perhaps the most important one, consists of the Maronites of Mt. Lebanon. They form by far the largest Christian community of Syria, and are all in union with the Catholic Church. (See Maronites.)
The latest approximate statistics of the population and various denominations in Syria are—total population, 3,226,160; Mohammedans, 2,209450; Catholic Christians, 555,949; non-Catholic Christians, 435,389; Nusairiyyeh, about 150,000; Ismailiyyeh, about 120,000; Druzes, about 70,000; Jews, 65,246.
CATHOLIC MISSIONS IN SYRIA. The beginnings of Catholic missions in Syria may be appropriately traced back to the age of the Crusaders and the establishment of the Latin Patriarchate of Antioch in 1100, and that of the Vicariate Apostolic of Aleppo in 1762. The first Latin Patriarch of Antioch was appointed either in 1100 (according to Le Quien) or 1098 (according to Mas Latrie) by Pope Urban II. The first appointee was Bernard, Bishop of Artesia, near Antioch. He died in 1132 and was succeeded by Raoul, from Dumfront in Normandy, who, owing to flagrant acts of impertinence and insubordination to the Holy See, was forced to resign in 1142. He was succeeded by Aimeric or Amaury, of Limoges, who, having incurred the displeasure of Renaud de Chatillon, Prince of Antioch, was persecuted, tortured, and finally compelled to flee to Jerusalem. In 1160, however, he was restored to his see by Baudouin II, Prince of Aleppo. Soon, however, Bohemond III, Prince of Antioch, drove Amaury out of his see and offered it instead, in 1161, to the Greek Patriarch, Athanasius. On the death of the latter in 1170, caused by a terrific earthquake, in which most of the Greek clergy also lost their lives, the Greeks lost their influence and power with the people. In 1196 Amaury himself died and was succeeded by Pierre d’Angouleme, Bishop of Tripoli. In 1204 Pietro of Capua, known as Pietro d’Amalfi, was chosen Patriarch of Antioch. Bohemond IV, however, soon began to intrigue in order to replace him with the Greek Patriarch, Simeon III; but he was excommunicated by the patriarch and by the pope himself, Innocent III, which caused the whole Latin clergy to rebel against the king. Pietro d’Amalfi nevertheless, was imprisoned by Bohemond and died in 1208, and was succeeded by the Latin Bishop of Jerusalem, Pietro di Capua, nephew of the deceased patriarch. Bohemond IV, however, refused to acknowledge him. In the meanwhile, after many quarrels and vicissitudes, King Bohemond and the Latin clergy agreed to the election of Rainier, in 1219, as Patriarch of Antioch, after having succeeded in inducing the pope to create the Greek occupant of the see, the Patriarch Peter, a cardinal. Rainier died in 1226 and was succeeded in 1228 by Albert Rezato, who was present at the Council of Lyons in 1245 and who died a short time afterwards.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries several Latin patriarchs occupied the See of Antioch, but were constantly harassed and molested by the native Greek clergy and by the Frankish princes themselves, who for political purposes were ever ready to sacrifice religious interests in order to secure the good will of the native Greek Syrians. In the year 1348, however, the Latin Patriarchate of Antioch came to an end, as far as effective jurisdiction was concerned, although it continued to exist till our own times simply as a titular dignity. The present Latin Patriarch of Antioch resides in Rome. In the thirteenth century, however, when it was at its height, the Latin Patriarchate of Antioch had under its jurisdiction the Latin sees of Laodicea, Gabala, Antaradus or Tortosa, Tripoli, Byblos, Seleucia, Tarsus, Corycos, Mamistra, Edessa, Apamea, Balanea, Artesia, Albaria, Larissa, Mariames, Hierapolis, Cyr, Nicosia, Paphos, Famagusta, and Limassol (see Le Quien, “Oriens Christianus”, III, 1165-1232). During these two centuries, the presence of so many Catholic bishops, clergy, and lay people of the Latin Rite in Palestine and Syria was productive of good Catholic missionary results, as, owing precisely to the contact of the Latins with the various Oriental Schismatic Churches of the Near East, a large number of Greeks, Nestorians, Jacobite Syrians and Monophysite Armenians, not seldom led by their own bishops and clergy, embraced the Catholic Faith.
The second center of Catholic propaganda in Syria was the Latin Vicariate Apostolic of Aleppo. This Vicariate was first established in 1762, extending its jurisdiction and its beneficial missionary influence over all Syria, Cyprus, Egypt, and Arabia, all of which provinces were then, by a special decree of the Congregation of the Propaganda, detached from the Vicariate Apostolic of Constantinople. Its first occupant was the Lazarist Bassu. After his death, and, in fact, several decades later, in 1817, he was succeeded by Msgr. Gandolfi, of the Congregation of the Mission, who was replaced in 1827 by Msgr. Losanna, titular Bishop of Abydos. From 1827 down to 1896, owing to the special rights and privileges enjoyed by the Franciscans as the custodians of the Holy Land, all the Latin Vicars Apostolic of Aleppo were selected from the Franciscan order as follows: A. Fazio (1836-38); Father Fillardell (1839-52) who died a martyr in Constantinople in 1852; P. Brunoni (1853); S. Milani (1874-76); L. Piavi in 1877, who in 1889 was made Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; and G. Bonfigli in 1890, who in 1896 was transferred to the Latin Vicariate Apostolic of Egypt. In the meanwhile the residence was transferred from Aleppo to Beirut, which was gradually becoming the most influential and progressive town of the Near East. In 1896 a French Dominican, Msgr. Charles Duval, for nearly thirty years missionary at Mosul, succeeded Bonfigli. Duval died in 1904 and was succeeded on January 17 of the following year (1905) by Msgr. Frediano Giannini, titular Archbishop of Serra.
During the course of the nineteenth century the Vicariate Apostolic of Syria suffered several losses. In 1838 Egypt and Arabia were taken away; and in 1848 Jerusalem was elevated to the rank of Latin patriarchate with jurisdiction over Palestine, Southern Phoenicia, and the Island of Cyprus. But on the other hand the Vicariate Apostolic of Syria obtained full jurisdiction over all the Latins of this vicariate, this prerogative being definitely withdrawn from the supervision of the Holy Land. The Vicariate Apostolic of Syria embraces at present the following territory: on the north its boundary line starts from the Gulf of Adalia, and touching the southern limits of Taurus, stretches toward the Euphrates, making a bend at Hamah. On the east is the Desert of Palmyra; on the south, Palestine; on the west the Mediterranean Sea. Since their institution the vicars of Syria have held the title of vicars Apostolic of the Holy See for the non-Latin Catholics who live within the limits of their province. Their power as delegates however has not undergone the same restrictions as their authority of Vicars Apostolic; and Catholics of the Oriental Rite in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem are subject to Syria by way of delegation.
The Latin communities, especially the French, have developed very extensively, particularly in this century, under the Vicariate Apostolic of Syria. They afford at the present time the strongest bulwark against the increasing encroachments of both Protestant and Orthodox missions which are seducing with money and promises the hard-working, but poor people of Syria. The Capuchins, stationed in Syria since 1627, care for the parishes of Antioch, Baabdath, Beirut, and Mersina: they have besides houses at Aleppo, Abey, Ghazir, Koderbek, and Salima. Their religious however are but few in number. The Franciscans have twelve convents in the following places: Aintab, Aleppo, Beirut, Damascus Harissa, Ienige-Kale, Kenaye, Latakie, Marash, Sayda, Sour, and Tripoli. They also have 10 parishes, and number about 56 religious. Their college at Aleppo is in a flourishing condition and numbers 140 pupils. The Trappists have a house at Sheikle by Akbes, near Alexandretta. The Lazarists, established in Syria since 1784, have five houses with parishes and missions at Antoura, Beirut, Damascus, and Tripoli. They number about 37 religious, and possess in the villages of Lebanon a large number of primary schools which they themselves visit and maintain. The Carmelites, stationed in Syria since 1650, have five residences: at Alexandretta, which forms a parish, in Beylan, Biscerri, Kobbayat, and Tripoli. Their religious are about 8 in number. The Brothers of the Christian Schools have 4 primary schools in Beirut, Latakie, Tripoli, and Tripoli By-the-Sea.
The Jesuits were established for the first time in 1595, and later returned to Syria at the invitation of Msgr. Mazloum and in obedience to the order of Gregory XVI. Their mission numbers 174 members, of whom 66 are priests, 47 scholastics, and 61 brother assistants. After being stationed at Zeilah, and later in Mesopotamia, the Jesuits founded at Ghazir in 1846 the Oriental Seminary which was transferred to Beirut in 1875 and has an enrollment of 50 students. This seminary has already sent forth over 130 priests. The younger religious of the Antonines, of the Maronite Rite, of the Basilian, and of the Greek Rite, follow their courses of philosophy and theology with the seminarists, all being related by similarity of rite. In 1848 the Jesuits established another college at Ghazir; this too was transferred to Beirut, and has become the celebrated College of St. Joseph. In 1883 the medical school was added, which today is attended by 130 students; the college has 500 students enrolled. Eighty religious professors and six French doctors take part in the instruction of the students and direct the most complete printing establishment in the Orient, publishing a weekly newspaper in Arabic, the “Beshir”, and the bi-monthly Arabic review, “Al-Mashrik” In 1896 P. Barnier founded at Sayda in the region of Akkar a normal school which is attended by 40 pupils; also an orphanage at Tanail.
During the last three centuries the Catholic missionaries of Syria have had to contend against heavy odds and difficulties occasioned by the Mohammedans, the Druzes, and the various Oriental Schismatic Churches, and, in the last century, also against many obstacles and antagonisms offered by the various Syrian Protestant Missions. But notwithstanding opposition they have forged ahead and are regenerating the Christians of Syria into a new life, mainly through the channels of religious instruction, conversion, and educational and philanthropic enterprises. The Jesuits, the Lazarists, and, of late, the Christian Brothers have achieved such progress in the line of religious and educational work that they have under their care, at present, nearly 300 schools, with 400 teachers and some 14,000 pupils. The Jesuits alone have under their care 155 elementary schools scattered all over Syria: 5 in Beirut with 16 teachers and 900 pupils; 5 in Damascus with 6 teachers and 250 pupils; 19 in Bikfaya with 29 teachers and 1300 pupils; 29 in Ghazir with 27 teachers and nearly 2000 pupils; 21 at Horns with
30 teachers and 1000 students; 37 at Sayda with 55 teachers and 1500 pupils; 18 at Tanial with 22 teachers and 900 students; and 21 at Zahle with 30 teachers and nearly 1300 students. The Lazarists, established in Syria in 1784, have under their care 110 elementary schools with 130 teachers and nearly 6000 pupils. Their high school and college at Antoura and Damascus have 300 and 200 students respectively. The Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul have charge of some 80 female schools and 4000 girls. The Sisters of Nazareth of Lyons, established since 1871, have schools and pensionnats at Beirut, St. John of Acre, Shefamar, Haiffa, and Nazareth, with about 2000 pupils. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Marseilles, established in Syria in 1846, have several schools in Beirut, Sayda, Nazareth, Tyre, and Deir-el-Qamar, with about 1500 pupils. The Sisters of the Holy Family have a large school at Beirut, with over 250 pupils. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd of Angers, have an orphanage at Hammana with 150 inmates. Finally, the Mariamettes, an order of native nuns, established in 1860, have under their care not less than 41 schools, 85 teachers, and some 3500 pupils, scattered all over Syria; 1 at Beirut, 2 at Celip, 9 at Bikfaya, 1 in Damascus, 6 in Ghazir, 2 at Horns, 6 at Sayda, 6 at Tanail, and 8 at Zahle.