Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center
Unofficial History of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church / Grec Melkite Catholique
Melkites are perhaps the oldest continuous Christian community in the world. Antioch was one of the first cities to become a center of the Christian faith. As the capital of the province, Antioch was to become the site of the area’s most prestigious Church.
The beginnings of The Melkite Greek Catholic Church / Grec Melkite Catholique (the story of the first Chirstians) is documented in the Book called Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. Antioch is the second most frequently mentioned city in Acts of the Apostles.
Acts of the Apostles "Chapter 11, verse 19. Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews. 20 There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however, who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. 21 The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas [to go] to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, 24 for he was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord. 25 Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians." (Acts 11:19-26)
Antioch - Church of the Holy, Glorious and Illustrious Princes of the Apostles Peter and Paul
Church tradition maintains that the See of Antioch was founded by The Holy, Glorious and Illustrious Prince of the Apostles Peter in A.D. 45.
One of the earliest converts was Nicholas, one of the original seven helpers of the apostles. They are considered the first Deacons.
The Church in Antoich was joined by members of the fledgling Christian community in Jerusalem, who fled during the persecution by Saul of Tarsus (later The Holy, Glorious and Illustrious Prince of the Apostles Paul) (Acts 11:19). (This persecution resulted in the the death of Saint Stephen, one of the original seven helpers of the apostles (Deacon) and the First Martyr (c. 35 AD) (Acts 7:58-60; 22:20)).
Later, Saul of Tarsus recieved letters from the High Priests and the whole council of elders to the Synagogues in Damascus to bring back Jewish converts to Christianity in chains to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1-2, 22:5). On the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus encountered the risen Christ (Acts 9:1-9, 22:6-11) in c. 37/38 AD. Saul of Tarsus continued to Damascus where he was Baptized (Acts 9:10-19a, 22:12-16). Then, Holy, Glorious and Illustrious Prince of the Apostles Paul began preaching in Damascus (Acts 9:19b-22). Finally, in Antioch, he "met with the church and taught a large number of people" (Acts 11:26).
At Antioch, the followers of Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ were first called the word "Christians" (Acts 11:26).
Later, from Antioch, The Holy, Glorious and Illustrious Prince of the Apostles Paul started his first apostolic journey in c. 44/45 (Acts 13:1-3).
Other Important Events
At Antioch, the word "Catholic" was introduced. The word "Catholic" means "universial" or "whole" or "according to the whole" or "pertaining to the whole". The first record of the word "Catholic" is its usage by Holy Hieromartyr Ignatios the God-Bearer (Bishop of Antioch) (107 AD) in the letter to the Smyrnaeans. Holy Hieromartyr Ignatios the God-Bearer was the second successor to The Holy, Glorious and Illustrious Prince of the Apostles Peter. Then, the Holy Hieromartyr Ignatios the God-Bearer was the third Patriarch / Batriyark of Antioch.
One of the most important Antiocheans of the early church was St. John Chrystostom.
Patriarchate of Antioch Established
In 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicaea, the Patriarchates (Sees) of Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria were established. Antioch was both a territorial and juridical entity. The bishops of these Sees were given the title of Patriarch.
In 381 A.D., the city Constantinople was elevated to a Patriarchal See. This event happened after the capitol of the Roman empire was moved to Constantinople.
In 451 A.D. at the Council of Chalcedon, the Patriarchate (See) of Jerusalem was established.
The government of the church was held by the Sees of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. The bishops of these Sees were given the title of Patriarch.
Historically, the patriarchs have had an order of precedence. The Patriarch of the West (the Pope) is the First. After the Patriarch of Constantinople (the Ecumenical Patriarch) was established, it became second. In 381 A.D., Constantinople was elevated to a Patriarchal See and given the ranking of "second only to the See of Peter" (the See of Rome).
First Three Patriarchs
In the 5th century, some teachers said that Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ was not truly God and truly man. In 451A.D., the Council of Chalcedon decreed the true doctrine that Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is both fully Holy God and fully Man. The Emperor of Constantinople, Marcian (450-457), made the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon the law of the empire. Laws, passed on 27 February and on 13 March, 452, enforced the decrees of the Council and threatened heavy penalties against dissenters. The people who followed the lead of the Byzantine emperor and accepted the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon were called "Melkites" or "King's Men".
In the seventh century, there was an Islamic conquest of the Middle East. After the Byzantine Empire re-conquered the Middle East, there were close ties to the Patriarch of Constantinople. But, Melkites never broke off relations with Rome and with the Pope.
The great strain between the Melkite Church and Rome happened because of the actions of some of the Crusaders. But the Melkites never broke off relations with Rome.
For at least two centuries after the Ottoman conquest of the Middle East in 1516, the persecution of Melkites continued unabated. The Turkish sultan wanted his capital, Constantinople, to be the religious capital of the East, so he gave the Ecumenical Patriarch complete authority over all the Melkite hierarchy. Although the Antiochean church was under the direct control of the Orthodox Church, the Melkites managed to maintain some links to Rome. Because the Melkite patriarchs were chosen from the local clergy, the church remained in union with Rome while under the direction of Constantinople. Some of the Melkite hierarchs were more disposed to Constantinople, while others favored the authority of Rome - but as "the church in the middle," the Melkites retained their allegiance to the Holy See.
Roman/Melkite union in 1724
In the 1600's western missionaries to the Middle East found fertile ground among the Melkites who were eager to obtain an educated clergy. In 1709, His Beatitude, he Regretted, Cyril V, Patriarch / Batriyark of the cities of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, of Cilicia, Syria, Iberia, Arabia Mesopotamia, Pentapolis, Ethiopia, of all of Egypt and the entire East, Father of Fathers, Pastor of Pastors, Bishop of Bishops, the Thirteenth of The Holy Apostlesformally recognized the authority of the Pope of Rome as the head of the Church. Some of the Antiochean faithful looked to the West for salvation of their church, while others only saw the missionaries as outsiders who did not understand their eastern customs, ancestral laws, and had not gone through the centuries of deprivations. As a result in 1724 the church split in two. One faction under the influence of Constantinople became known at the Antiochean Orthodox, while the other group, loyal to Rome, became known at the Melkite Catholics. There was a formal declaration of Roman/Melkite union in 1724.
Since the formal declaration of Roman/Melkite union in 1724,
the Melkite Catholics have worked steady to be a "voice for the East within the Western Church." His Beatitude, he Regretted, Gregorios II, Patriarch / Batriyark of the cities of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem, of Cilicia, Syria, Iberia, Arabia Mesopotamia, Pentapolis, Ethiopia, of all of Egypt and the entire East, Father of Fathers, Pastor of Pastors, Bishop of Bishops, the Thirteenth of The Holy Apostles spent his thirty-three years working for union of the Churches while striving to maintain the Eastern traditions and rituals. His was a significant voice during the deliberations of
the first Vatican Council and he was an important influence on Pope Leo XIII's Orientalium Dignit.
Unofficial Histories of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church
Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton Roslindale, Massachusetts, United States
Who is the Melkite Church, Chapter Two of Bearers of the Mysteries Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton, Roslindale, Massachusetts, United States
The Eastern Churches and Patriarchates Most Rev. Nicholas Samra and Philip M. Kayal Saint Ann Melkite Catholic Church, West Patterson, NJ
Melkite History Our Lady of Redemption, Warren, Michigan
The Melkites Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton, Roslindale, Massachusetts, United States
A Short History of the Melkite Church Click on History of the Melkites, Saint Ann Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Danbury, CT
Jesus The King Melkite Catholic Church Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Resource Center Click on Who are the Melkites? Sts. Peter and Paul Melkite Catholic Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. This paper is different than another paper with the same name.
Who are the Melkites St. Elias Melkite Catholic Church, Cleveland, Ohio This paper is different than another paper with the same name.
History St.George's Melkite Greek Catholic Mission, Vancouver, British Columbia
History St. John's Chrysostom Melkite Church, Atlanta, GA
History Click on History, Our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom Parish, London, England, United Kingdom
The History of Melkites Opus Libani
Melkite Church Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church, Placentia, CA
The Patriarchal Order Of The Holy Cross Of Jerusalem Historical Notes On The Melkite-Greek Catholic Church The Patriarchal Order Of The Holy Cross Of Jerusalem
L'Ordre Patriarcal de la Sainte Croix de Jérusalem L'Église Melkite Grecque Catholique Notes Nistoriques L'Ordre Patriarcal de la Sainte Croix de Jérusalem
Eastern Christianity Development of Eastern Christianity The Five Eastern Rites - As explained by Roman Catholic Archbishop Messmer in 1919 Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton, Roslindale, Massachusetts, United States
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dedicated to my cousins: Bucky (Richard C. Liles) and Shirley (Shirley Jean Liles Buck). Bucky fell asleep in the Lord on Dec. 12, 2000 and Shirley fell asleep in the Lord on Nov. 8, 2001.
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