From the Heights of Ehden
to the Heights of Sanctity
Jamil El - Doaihi Rouba Douaihy
The Association of Batal Loubnan Youssef Bey Karam – Zagharta (Australia) 2007
All rights reserved
Any historian would not be realistic if he were to claim ‘creativity’ while writing a biography about one of the greatest Maronite Patriarchs ever.
The different aspects of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi’s holy life were documented by many biographers such as: Patriarch Semaan Awwad, Archbishop Boutros Shebly, Archbishop Youssef Al Debs, Abbot Boutros Fahd, Father Michael Abdallah Ghibril, Father Boutros Barakat, Dr. George Haroun and George Kousa.
Many articles have been published about Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi including: ‘A Man from our History’ [featured in Sanabel Magazine (1955) by Father Antoine Khater], ‘Estephanos Douaihi: A Liturgical Patriarch’ [featured in Al-Manara Magazine (1984) by Father Emmanuel Khoury] and ‘Estephanos Douaihi: The Archbishop and Patriarch’ [featured in Al-Manara Magazine (1981) by Archbishop (Patriarch) Nasrallah Sfeir].
Meanwhile, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi’s Cultural Association in Zagharta, Lebanon, has published many booklets and lectures about Patriarch Douaihi including: ‘A Booklet About Patriarch Douaihi - What Happened to his Case?’ (1989), ‘A Booklet about Douaihi the Great’s Century - A Lecture by Father Youssef Yammine’ (1990) and ‘A Booklet about Patriarch Douaihi - A Lecture by Father Youssef Yammine’ (1990)...
Hence, it is obvious that the life of Patriarch Douaihi has been ‘rediscovered’ by numerous writers and researchers. All has been written about ‘The Great Douaihi’.
Therefore, it is not possible for one to uncover new aspects of his life.
Patriarch Douaihi’s various written works, including books, letters and manuscripts have been analyzed and published several times. However, there is a need for his biography to be documented in English, in order to cater for the English-speaking Lebanese communities
around the world.
In this English biography, ‘Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi – From the Heights of Ehden to the Heights of Sanctity’, we obtained information from most of the above-mentioned sources and from Patriarch Douaihi’s letters. Inessential elements were omitted and only the significant details were emphasized. We attempted to maintain a chronological order of events to avoid confusion and ambiguity.
We divided our book into three parts: 1- Ehden and the Douaihi Family, 2- Estephanos Douaihi (1630-1704) and 3- Achievements and Miracles. We documented Patriarch Douaihi’s life under the guidance of logic, without emotional interference or fanaticism.
Finally, we would like to draw the reader’s attention to the fact that we kept most of the proper nouns without alteration such as: Gerges, Boutros and Gebrayel instead of George, Peter and Gabriel.
We thank God for helping us produce this book. We also thank Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi, who was the prime inspiration of this project. Nevertheless, we thank the Association of Batal Loubnan Youssef Bey Karam - Zagharta in Australia for printing this book and distributing it to the Lebanese community. We hope that we are successful in delivering the cultural message of Lebanon to Lebanese immigrants abroad.
Jamil El-Doaihi and Rouba Douaihy
Ehden and the Douaihi Family
Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was born in Ehden, a historical village situated on the highest mountains of North Lebanon.
In his incomplete encyclopedia, ‘Dairat Al Maaref’, Boutros Al-Boustani quoted: “Ehden is beautifully located and rich in water and fresh air. It is situated on the top of a mountain to the south-east of Tripoli. Ehden is three hours away from Tripoli. The Ehdenians(1) reside in Ehden during the summer and return to Zagharta during the winter due to extremely cold weather.”
Al-Boustani added: “The Ehdenians are kind and courageous. The village is the birthplace of the famous Patriarch, Estephanos Douaihi, and the well-known hero, Youssef Bey Karam… Ehden once consisted of 17 villages. The meaning of the term ‘Ehden’ is ‘Paradise’.”(2)
(1)The Ehdenians are the same people of Zagharta. About 1000 years ago, they sought another place to stay during the winter. They resided in Zagharta .
(2)Dairat Al Maaref, Vol. 4: P. 578.
2-The History of Ehden:
It is difficult to find written documentation about the ancient history of Ehden, particularly because of the disasters that occurred there in the previous centuries. All the old temples and statues were destroyed, and all the documents which belonged to Ehden’s citizens vanished. Nothing remained except a rare piece of paper and a few monuments which were poorly preserved.
One ancient record was handwritten by an unknown Ehdenian citizen. He hid it under his shirt when the Ehdenians were forced, by their enemies, to desert their village and spread out to the different parts of North Lebanon. This happened in the mid-summer of 1283.
3- The Disaster of 1283:
When the Crusaders attacked the army of King Al Zaher in Tripoli, the people of Ehden and Jebbeh helped the European attackers and won the battle. King Al Zaher fled to Hosn Al Akrad in Syria.
Since then, Al Zaher harbored hatred against the people of Ehden.
When the King gathered his defeated army and marched to Jebbeh on May 23, the horsemen of Ehden confronted them in Akbat Hairouna. The battle of Akbat Hairouna lasted for about three days.
Despite the courage of the Ehdenians, they were outnumbered by Al Zaher’s army. The Ehdenians withdrew to Ehden Fortress for more than forty days before losing the battle. Al Zaher killed many innocent civilians and his army looted the village. They destroyed the castle, and the fortress which was built on the top of the mountain (The current location of Our Lady of the Fortress’ Church).
On July 1, Al Zaher invaded Bkoufa and captured the village leaders. He locked them up in a house, along with their wives and children, before burning the house to the ground.
The army of Al Zaher killed many citizens from Hasroun, Al-Hadath and Kafar Saroun. Some of the villagers were killed in churches.
4-Traces of the Hidden Document:
As mentioned before, one of Ehden’s citizens hid a document under his shirt. He concealed this document with a close friend. A priest from Ehden, Father Gerges Yammine, discovered the document in the 18th century, written on a leather sheet, in the house of a priest from Becharre. Father Yammine duplicated it and stored it. After the death of Father Yammine, his own son attained the document. Later, it was transferred to Monsignor Boulos Hanna Dib Saade, then to his grand-children.
During that time, the aged document was destroyed by decay and could no longer be read. Only one copy of it was found in the Monastery of the Lebanese Missionaries in Jounieh in 1930.
5-Translation of the Most Important Contents of the Document:
“Ehden is a high altitude village that is located in the middle of the curve of Lebanon’s mountains towards the north. It was once known in the past as ‘Eden Betlasar’, which means ‘the round paradise’. Ehden is rich in water and trees. A cold water spring erupted in the east of Ehden to form the second section of Abou Ali River…
Some of the Biblical interpreters claimed that Ehden was once the residence of Adam and Eve, after God punished them. This claim cannot be proven. However, the tribe of Sam (Son of Noah) settled in Ehden. Since then, it became a famous place.
2500 years after Creation, Ehden was destroyed because the Ehdenians went to Mount Palestine to support the Palestinians in their war against the Israelis. The Ehdenians then settled in Mount Palestine.
Ehden remained destroyed for 439 years. Then a Syriac King named Hezra Azar rebuilt it and constructed a statue of Ehden’s God, otherwise known in Lebanon as the God of Snow. The location of that statue was on a broken cliff of a high mountain in the north, named Bab Al Hawa (Door of the Wind). All the Lebanese who lived in Mount Lebanon used to worship that God. Ehden became the most famous village in Lebanon.
3252 years after Creation, Sennacherib, the King of Assyria (Iraq), invaded Ehden, burnt it, and killed its citizens. Meanwhile, his leader, Rafsafa, a Syriac, demolished the statue of the God of Snow. Ehden remained deserted until 3654 after Creation.
Then Seleukos, one of Alexander the Great’s army leaders, rebuilt the village and made it a new home for some of his fellow Macedonian citizens. Ehden’s residents spoke the Greek language for many years. Seleukos also established a huge temple and a statue dedicated to the God of the Sun, on a high mountain to the east of Ehden.
The village, Ehden, was besieged once again by Pompeii, after the death of Alexander the Great. It was demolished and many Ehdenians were killed.
Fifty years later, the Syriacs reconstructed the village and settled there...The Ehdenians became Christians and remain Christians to this day.”(3)
6-The Ruins of Ehden:
Nothing has remained from ancient Ehden’s ruins except some stones that were used to build Saint Mamas’ Church (Mar Mema) in 749. Saint Mamas’ was the first Maronite church in Lebanon.
(3)Semaan Khazen, History of Ehden, Vol.1: P.81-82.
The Ehdenians used stones from their old temples to construct Saint Mamas’. Mysterious words were inscribed on these stones. Meanwhile, one of these stones, which belonged to ancient Ehden, is now preserved in the Monuments Museum of Paris under the number ‘4524’. This particular stone dates back to 272 AD.(4)
There are at least four famous places that allude to ancient Ehden. They are:
1-Bab Al-Hawa (Door of the Wind): As previously mentioned, the Ehdenians built a huge statue dedicated to the God of Snow. This statue had two large holes bored into its chest and mouth. Therefore, whenever the wind blew, a noisy sound came out of the statue’s mouth. This indicated to the Ehdenians and neighboring villagers that it was time for prayer. They had to leave their homes and kneel towards their God.
2- Al–B’oul: This rocky location was a holy place. The Ehdenians built, in that location, a statue of the Phoenician God ‘Al Baal’.
3- Sayyidat Al-Hosn (Our Lady of the Fortress’): This dignified church was built in 945 on the ruins of an old temple and fortress which date back to the Pagan era. The church was destroyed due to violent cyclones. It was rebuilt in 1160, 1350, then recently.
(4)Semaan Khazen, previous Ref: P. 83.
4- Saint George’s Church: This church is situated in the center of Ehden. It was built over the ruins of the main fortress of the village.
7-The Home of Adam?
In some of his books about the history of the Maronite sect, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi argued that: “It had been thought that God planted Paradise in Ehden Valley.”
Obviously, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was influenced by Ezekiel’s passage in the Bible, which describes a Cedar tree in Lebanon:
“There was once a Cedar tree in Lebanon with large, strong branches reaching to the sky. This tree had plenty of water to help it grow tall, and nearby streams watered the other trees in the forest. But this particular tree towered over the other trees and its branches were long and thick… It had beautiful long branches and its roots found water deep in the soil. None of the Cedar trees in my Garden of Eden were as beautiful as this tree… All the other trees of Eden wanted to be just like it.” Ezekiel 31: 3-9
Also, in his book, ‘Terrestrial Paradise’, Patriarch Douaihi argued that “Ehden is the Biblical Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve lived in Ehden.”
Douaihi was not the only writer who claimed that ‘Ehden’ means ‘Eden’. Carmelite Father, Philippe de la Tres Sainte Trinite, quoted in his book, ‘Voyages d’Orient’ (Journeys to the East), that: “God created huge Cedar trees. They have been preserved by his protection since then.”(5)
Years after Patriarch Douaihi’s death, many writers claimed that Ehden was the homeland of Adam and Eve. Father Emmanuel Al Baabdati mentioned in his book, ‘The History of the Antonine Order’, that: “Ehden is a very old village. Some people argued that it was the residence of Adam.”(6)
In addition to this, many western writers thought that paradise on earth existed
(5)Father Martin the Jesuitical, History of Lebanon: P. 85.
(6)Semaan Khazen, History of Ehden, Vol.1: P. 82.
in Lebanon on a beautiful land called Ehden or Eden. It is the most beautiful place in Lebanon.(7) Furthermore, Riad Hounein mentioned that: “According to an urban legend, the term ‘Ehden’ is synonymous with ‘Eden’. The location of the Biblical Garden of Eden was in the Holy Valley near Ehden.”(8)
Some local legends claimed that Adam moved to the Bekaa Valley in Eastern Lebanon, following his banishment by God. Adam named the valley near Ehden ‘Kadisha’, which means ‘Holiest of Holies’.
Moreover, Al Faradis is another neighboring village to Ehden. ‘Al Faradis’ means ‘The Paradises’.
8-A New Haven for Christianity:
In Lebanon and Syria, Paganism lasted for a long time. In the 5th century AD, the people of Mount Lebanon became Christians by the influence of Saint Simon Al -Amoudi, who was one of the followers of Saint Maroun’s rigid lifestyle habits.
(7)Semaan Khazen, Previous Ref: P. 84.
(8)Asma’ Koura Wamoudon Loubnaniyyah Fi
Riwayat Shaabiyah, P.24.
Saint Simon Al-Amoudi lived between 389 - 459 AD. Many people from various parts of Europe and the East visited him to learn more about his life. Saint Simon also possessed the power to heal the sick. For this reason, many people approached him to seek healing for their sick relatives.
People from all walks of life visited Saint Simon. Among those visitors were some villagers from Mount Lebanon.
These villagers were disturbed by vicious animals that were habitually attacking their flocks. Saint Simon said to the villagers: “Go back to your villages, get baptized and convert to Christianity. Then, set four crosses around every single village.” Saint Simon also sent some of his disciples to teach the villagers about the Bible. Since then, savage animals refrained from attacking Lebanese villages.
Some crosses, which were carved on stones, were discovered near Ehden, Hasroun, Becharre, Hadath Al Jebbeh, Aitou and other villages in North Lebanon.
Several historians claimed that Saint Simon visited Lebanon to preach.
The first Lebanese Christians were from Ehden, Jebbeh, Kadisha Valley and nearby villages.
The first thing the Ehdenians did after they became Christians was build churches. They did this by moving the stones of their old temples. Some of these stones are still apparent in the walls of Saint Mamas’ Church (Mar Mema).
Saint Mamas was one of the greatest Christian martyrs of the third century. He was born in Cappadocia and lived a humble life as a shepherd. His parents were devout Christians. They were imprisoned due to their faith. Saint Mamas was born in a jail cell. After the death of his mother, he was adopted and raised by a Christian woman.
When Orleans Caesar oppressed the Christians, Saint Mamas was asked to offer oblations to the idols. Due to his refusal, he was killed in 274 AD at the age of fifteen.(9)
The Ehdenians also built many other churches alongside Saint Mamas’, such as Saint Peter’s, Saint Yaakoub’s, Saint John’s, Saint Paul’s, Saint George’s and Our Lady of the Fortress’.
(9)Herbert Thurston & Donald Attwater, Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Vol.3: P. 339.
Numerous historical references mention many incidents where the Ehdenians sacrificed their lives to protect Mount Lebanon. We mentioned before that they confronted Al Zaher’s army in Akbat Hairouna in 1283. They refused to convert to Islam under political and military pressure. For this reason, many Ehdenians were put to death. Ehden was also burned to the ground, which resulted in the death of many innocent Ehdenian citizens.
In 1488, the King of Cyprus invaded Alexandria, Egypt. His army looted the city and killed hundreds of its Muslim citizens.
The Arabic Sultan sought revenge against Christians. In Damascus, he jailed their leaders and held them as hostages. The Archbishop of Ehden, Yaakoub, took refuge in Hjoula (A village located to the east of Jbeil). However, the Archbishop’s attempts to spare his own life were fruitless. Soon after he took asylum in Hjoula, the governor of Tripoli captured him and burnt him alive outside the city of Tripoli (In the same place of Tinal Mosque-Bab Al Ramel).
On two separate occasions, the Ehdenians banished the Jacobites(10) from Jebbeh, and destroyed parts of Bkoufa because their citizens were Jacobites.
In 1676 AD, the Shi’ite Hamadi family sent soldiers to Hairouna Valley to kill Sheikh Bou Karam, Son of Bechara from Ehden. The Hamadis had assassinated Antoine Chidiac before they sent thirty horsemen to Zagharta to murder Sheikh Bou Karam. Though only eight men defended Zagharta, the Ehdenians defeated their enemies due to their warrior-like bravery. Consequently, the attackers fled. Many witnesses
such as Al Hajj Moustapha Katergie Khodr Agha saw Our Lady of Zagharta protecting the Ehdenians with her hands.
9-Leaders from Ehden:
Since the beginning of the 17th century, the district known as Jebbeh (of Becharre) was governed by Ehdenians.
Sheikh Bou Karam Al Sahiouni Al Karami was the governor of Jebbeh between 1624 - 1635. He resisted the Turks. They offered him the position of Lebanese governor, only if he would convert to Islam. He refused to abandon his religion. He was captured and tortured to death.
(10)A Syriac Christian sect from the 6th century. They believed that Jesus had only one Divine nature. (Munir Baalbaki, Al Mawrid Al Akbar: P.990.)
Sheikh Bou Karam Al Sahiouni lived in Prince Fakhr Al Din’s era. When Fakhr Al Din attacked Tripoli, his army marched through Ehden. Bou Karam ordered his men to stand on the two sides of the road from Al Kounaitara Spring to Ain Al Wahsh Spring, carrying plates full of food. Twelve thousand soldiers were served with delicious meals prepared by Ehdenian women.
Between 1635 - 1763, five men from Ehden governed Jebbeh. They were:
- Sheikh Youssef Bou Gebrayel Bou Dib (1635-1641).
- Sheikh Hanna Bou Dib (1641-1643).
- Sheikh Bou Karam, Son of Bechara (1673- 1679).
- Sheikh Michael Nahlous (1692 - 1704).
- Sheikh Bechara Karam (1757-1763).
All five governors were strongly loyal to their faith and their country. Sheikh Michael Nahlous was a great hero. He was killed by a Shi’ite man, called Son of Al Shakrani, in Dannieh in 1704.
The history of Lebanon proudly mentions Youssef Bey Karam as a great political leader and national hero. He confronted the Ottoman Empire, and declared victory in many battles against the Turks and their huge army. His forces were formed by only a few men, from Ehden and other Lebanese villages, armed with their faith in God and ultimate love for Lebanon.
Youssef Bey Karam’s corpse has been well preserved in Saint George’s Church in Ehden. A statue dedicated to this Ehdenian hero has been erected in Saint George’s churchyard. His corpse and statue remind us of his courage and the numerous sacrifices he made for Lebanon.
In the 20th century, Ehden provided Lebanon with two great presidents: Soulaiman Frangie and Rene Mouawwad. They strived to unify Lebanon during difficult situations. Frangie’s sacrifices for Lebanon will always be praised. Mouawwad was assassinated in a horrible plot to prevent Lebanon from being a sovereign state. Indeed, Hamid Frangie was the man of Lebanese independence.
Furthermore, many writers, historians and artists were born in Ehden-Zagharta. Jawad Boulos was an excellent historian and political leader, while Saliba Douaihi was a brilliant painter.
Ehden offered Christianity several Patriarchs. They were:
- Gregory Al Ehdeni (? - ?).
- Daoud Al Ehdeni (1363-1370).
- John Makhlouf (1609-1633).
- Gerges Oumaira (1633-1644).
- Estephanos Douaihi (1670-1704).
Some historians argue that Patriarch Jeremiah Al Amchiti (1199-1230) was Ehdenian. The surname ‘Al Amchiti’ descended from Obeid, which was a branch of Douaihi.
Ehden also provided the Church with about forty Archbishops and a large number of priests.
Meanwhile, the Maronite School of Rome attracted about thirty students from Ehden and Zagharta.
The Douaihi Family
The Douaihi family is one of the oldest families in Ehden. Many families in Lebanon and Syria descended from the Douaihi family tree, such as Reaidy (Tannourine), Obeid (Amchit), Zoureib (Akkar) and Hawwa in Aleppo.
It is well-known that Obeid is a branch of the Douaihi family. Some members of the Obeid family moved from Ehden to Amchit (near Jbeil) in 965 AD.
Semaan Khazen insisted that the Lahoud family of Amchit descended from Yazbeck, Son of Obeid Douaihi.(11)
Meanwhile, the Kallab family of Jbeil descended from Merhej, Son of Tarabay, Son of Obeid Douaihi.
The Karam family, who resided in Becharre then Dair Al Ahmar, goes back to Tanios, Son of Obeid.
(11)Semaan Khazen, History of Ehden, Vol. 3: P. 332.
The Karams moved again to Niha in North Lebanon, then to Amchit in 1321.
Jerr in Yahshoush is definitely related to Jerr Douaihi.
Some other Lebanese families who have roots in Douaihi are: Khoudeir (Zawyeh), Kachou’ (Beirut), Hnoud (Dair Al Kamar), Al Khoury (Ehmej and Meshmesh of Jbeil), Abi Kassem (Beirut), Al Hani (Kesrawan), Oumaira (Mejdel Al Ma’ouch), etc.
Some researchers argued that the Douaihi family is related to Kouba, Mattar, Ayoub and Hawwa in Aleppo.
The Douaihi family came to Lebanon before the 10th century and resided in Ehden.
There is a great deal of confusion among historians about the roots of Douaihi. Some say that this family descended from a French family called ‘Douai’.
Other researchers claim that the Douaihis came to Lebanon from Douai, a little village in Northern France. Their leader was called ‘Marquis De Douai.’
Monsignor Boulos Hanna Dib Saade denied that the Douaihi family had French roots. He believed that the ancestors of the Douaihis migrated to Lebanon from a village in Syria named ‘Douaih’. Members of this family were wealthy and well-educated.
We have never heard about a village in Syria called ‘Douaih’.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Sarkis Asaad Tannous Douaihi, who was a brilliant expert in the Douaihi family roots, supported Monsignor Boulos Hanna Dib Saade’s claim. Sheikh Sarkis Asaad Tannous Douaihi sent a letter to Philip De Trazi in 1942, saying: “Preserved traditions which were inherited from previous Ehdenian ancestors indicate that the Douaihi family originated from Eastern Syria.”
Philip De Trazi, who was an orientalist, depended on the opinion of Sheikh Sarkis Asaad Tannous Douaihi. He believed that the origin of the Douaihi family was not purely Lebanese, but that they arrived in Lebanon from Sadad, a little Syrian town located between Tigris and Euphrates.(12)
(12) Previous Ref: P. 329-332.
2-Spiritual and Political Douaihis:
The Douaihi family played a great role in protecting Lebanon and the Maronite people.
In 1572, the Muslims took control of monasteries and lands in North Lebanon. The Douaihis, at the time, were managing the mortmain of Saint Sarkis’ in Ehden.
The Jamous family in Tripoli purchased the monastery lands. Then, the Douaihis paid an enormous amount of money to repossess them.
The Douaihi family offered the Maronite Church several Archbishops. Some historians believe that about thirty Archbishops were Douaihis, such as:
- Sarkis Douaihi (1565-1577).
- Michael Obeid (1602-1610).
- Elias Sarsar Douaihi (1639-1659).
- Boulos Douaihi (1659-1690): He was the cousin of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi.
- Gebrayel Douaihi (1693-1739).
- Estephanos the 2nd (1728-1762).
- Estephanos the 3rd (1810 - 1844).
Boutros Wehbe Douaihi argued that four Maronite Patriarchs were from the Douaihi family. They were:
- Jeremiah Obeid Al Amchiti (1199-1230).
- John Makhlouf (Douaihi) (1609-1633).
- Gerges Oumaira (Douaihi) (1633-1644).
- Estephanos Douaihi (1670-1704).(13)
Boutros Wehbe Douaihi relied on a letter sent by Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi to Father Boutros Moubarak in 1701. Patriarch Douaihi said in this letter: “Eight Archbishops and two Patriarchs descended from the Douaihi family during the previous two generations.”
A large number of Douaihis traveled to Rome to receive an education from the
(13)Boutros Wehbe Douaihi, Al Douaihiyoun, P.93.
Maronite School. Some of them were: Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi (1641), Archbishop Michael Obeid (before 1700), Father Bakhos Douaihi (1669), Gerges Obeid Kass Hanna (1671), Father Rizk Douaihi (1685), Father John Wehbe Douaihi (1696) and Father Youssef Maroun Douaihi (1733). (14)
It is impossible to count all the priests who descended from the Douaihi family. One of them was the famous Father Yaakoub Douaihi, who was the uncle of Patriarch Gerges Oumaira.
Father Yaakoub resided in Saint Yaakoub Al Ahbash’s Church in Ehden. He was a brilliant teacher who provided more than 100 priests with a good education. Among them were Patriarch John Safrawi (from Safra - Jbeil) and Patriarch Gerges Oumaira himself. Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi wrote about Father Yaakoub saying: “God granted him spiritual patience and grace. He donated 4000 silver piasters to Kannoubine Monastery.”
Furthermore, the Douaihi family produced several governors. If we go back to the 18th century, we certainly remember two governors of Ehden: Sheikh Gerges Boulos Douaihi (1757-1779), and Sheikh Youssef Boulos Douaihi (1779-1788).
(14)Father Nasser Gemayel, The Roman Maronite School: P. 160-218.
Sheikh Gerges Boulos Douaihi confronted the armed men of the Hamadi family near Al Sheikh Mill. He liberated Ehden and Jebbeh from the Hamadis and confiscated their lands.
In the 20th century, Father Semaan Douaihi, a monk from the Douaihi family, was a courageous political leader and a member of the Lebanese parliament. He was well known for his love and loyalty to Lebanon.
From Childhood to Rome
1- Estephanos’ Childhood:
Estephanos Douaihi was born in Ehden. His father was Michael, Son of Father Moussa, Son of Father Yaakoub, Son of Al Hajj Ibrahim Douaihi. His mother was Mariam Douaihi.
Estephanos had a brother named Al Hajj Moussa, who had three children: Father Michael, Father Youssef and Al Hajj Kiriakos.
Estephanos wrote a letter to Boutros Moubarak, who was a student at the Maronite School of Rome, saying: “I belong to the Douaihi family, which is famous among our Maronite sect in faith, education and politics. Eight Archbishops and two Patriarchs have descended from this family. I was born on 2 August 1630, which coincides with the memorial day of Saint Estephanos, the first martyr. My parents gave me his name.”
It is obvious that Estephanos Douaihi was born during Prince Fakhr Al Din Al Maani’s era. Estephanos wrote about the situation of Christians in that period of time saying: “During the reign of Fakhr Al Din, the Christians were well respected because the majority of the Prince’s army were Christians. His servants were also Maronites.”
Estephanos described some traditional aspects that were practiced by Christians: “They rode horses with saddles. They adorned their bodies with silky belts and carried rifles embedded with jewels. Many churches were built in Bekfaya, Arbania, Bche’le, Kafar Zayna and Kafar Helta…”
On the other hand, the political situation was not always stable due to the bitter conflict which erupted between the Princes of Maan in Shouf and the family of Sayfa in Northern Lebanon.
In 1638, Prince Assaf Sayfa invaded the monastery of Kozhaya, near Ehden. He stole the belongings of Archbishops and priests and tortured them.
Estephanos was only three years old when his father died. His mother, Mariam, held great responsibility to raise the infant with faith and patience. She sent him to a primitive school in Ehden to learn the Syriac language. He was successful in his studies and demonstrated a great deal of intelligence and distinction.
Patriarch Gerges Oumaira, whose mother was also a Douaihi, nominated Estephanos to be sent to the Maronite School of Rome, accompanied by Father Semaan Al Toulani, Deacon Youssef
Fetian Al Hasrouni, Youssef and Boutros Al Rami (from Ram, Batroun) and Boutros, Son of Father Ibrahim Al Ehdeni, who was the cousin of Estephanos.
They arrived in Rome on June 1641. Estephanos Douaihi was only eleven years old.
Patriarch Gerges Oumaira himself was a former student of the Maronite School of Rome.
2-The Maronite School of Rome:
It was officially established in 1584 by Pope Gregory the 13th, after he realized that the Lebanese Church was in desperate need for educated priests and spiritual leaders. The Maronite School accepted a few students before 1584.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Antonio Krava donated all his wealth to the Maronite School and promoted the success of its students.
The relationship between the Maronite sect and Europe did not only start with the Maronite School. Since the Crusaders’ invasion of the Holy Land (Palestine), the bonds were very strong between the two sides, particularly after the settlement of Saint Francis’ monks in Palestine. The ties became even stronger in the 15th century with the arrival of western missionaries in the East.
The first Lebanese student who studied in Rome in 1470, before the establishment of the Maronite School, was Gebrayel, Son of Al Kala’i (from Lehfed). He was one of Saint Francis’ monks. In 1507, he became the Archbishop of Cyprus.
Two other Lebanese students went to study in Rome in 1579. They were Gebrayel Saad Al Adniti (from Adnit, an extinct village near Ehden) and Gaspar Al Hajj (from Cyprus).
In 1581, five students went to Rome. They were:
- Yaakoub Semaan (from Hasroun).
- Antoine Francis (from Hasroun).
- John Al Rayes (from Hasroun).
- Marcos Al Matoushi (from Cyprus).
- Ne’me Al Hasrouni (from Hasroun).
They were accompanied by Father Maroun Estephan Al Matoushi from Cyprus.
On 14 December 1583, eight students arrived in Rome. They were:
- Moussa Saade (from Akoura).
- Gerges Oumaira (from Ehden).
- Gebrayel Ne’me (from Ehden).
- Michael Saliba (from Baslouit).
- Boutros Al Matoushi (from Cyprus).
-Yaakoub, Son of Michael (from Cyprus).
- Gerges, Son of Antoun (from Cyprus).
- John, Son of Gerges (from Cyprus).
Between the establishment date of the Maronite School and its closure in 1808, the number of its students reached more than 290. Forty five of them were from the district of Zagharta. About thirty students were from Ehden.
Some of the Maronite School students who became Patriarchs were:
- Gerges Oumaira (1633-1644).
- Estephanos Douaihi (1670-1704).
- Abd Al Ghal Akhijian (Syriac) (1658-1677).
- Yaakoub Awwad (1705-1733).
- Semaan Awwad (1743-1756).
- Youssef Estephan (1766-1793).
- Michael Fadel (1793-1795).
- Youssef Al Tayyan (1796-1809).
The Ehdenians who studied in the Maronite School of Rome were:
- Gerges Oumaira (1583).
- Ibrahim Al Ehdeni (1583).
- Yaakoub Al Ehdeni (1583).
- Gebrayel Al Sahiouni Al Karami (1583).
- Benyamine Al Ehdeni (1608).
- Gerges Al Ehdeni (1608).
- Sarkis Al Ehdeni (1608)
- Yaakoub Al Ehdeni (1608).
- Gerges John Al Kassar Douaihi (1622).
- Youssef John Al Kassar Douaihi (1622).
- Sarkis Al Jamri (1625).
- Gerges, Son of Oumaima (1638).
- Boutros Oumaira (1641).
- Estephanos Douaihi (1641).
- Antonios (Bakhos) Douaihi (1669).
- Ne’me, Son of Yammine (1669).
- Gerges Benyamine Obeid (1671).
- Michael Ne’me (1681).
- Rizk Douaihi (1685).
- Gerges Al Ghawi (1685).
- Sarkis Boutros Al Jamri (1691).
- Gerges Zallouaa (1696).
- John Wehbe Douaihi (1696).
- Boutros Douaihi (1725).
- Youssef Benyamine (1727).
- Gerges Benyamine (1751).
- Ibrahim, Son of John Douaihi (1782).
- John Douaihi (1782).
- Antonios Sahiouni (?).
- Youssef Maroun Douaihi (after 1780).(15)
Some of these students became instructors in European colleges, like Sarkis Al Jamri, a professor of Oriental Languages in the Royal College of Paris.
(15)Father Nasser Gemayel, The Roman Maronite School: P.160-218.
John Wehbe Douaihi, the nephew of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi, wrote several books and manuscripts, such as ‘The Pillar of Israel’ and ‘The Most Famous Events’ to name a few.
We proudly mention Gebrayel Al Sahiouni Karam (1575-1648), who was sent to Rome in 1583 by Patriarch Sarkis Al Rizzi. He was nine years old at the time. He became a great scholar in Philosophy and Liturgical Studies, and was appointed as a lecturer at the Wisdom University of Rome, then at the University of Venice in Italy. He spent thirty four years in Paris and was a close friend of King Louis the 13th.
Al Sahiouni also spoke eight languages. He wrote and translated many encyclopedias and books.
Certainly, one of the most brilliant students of Rome was Estephanos Douaihi.
3-Estephanos Douaihi in Rome:
As we mentioned before, Estephanos Douaihi sailed to Italy when he was eleven years old. His only ambition was to excel in his studies. He strived to illuminate his life with knowledge, sanctity and prosperity.
Many historians who wrote about his journey to Rome assured that Estephanos showed superiority in his studies. He outdistanced his colleagues and demonstrated outstanding skills in Latin, Arabic, Syriac, Logical Studies and Mathematical Sciences.
Patriarch Semaan Awwad described the student, Estephanos Douaihi, as: “An eagle who surpassed all birds. He was shining among students like the sun among planets.”
Estephanos never forgot his religious duties. He persisted in praying with deep faith and endless love for God and Mother Mary.
He was always seen by his colleagues reading, even in public places. He avoided wasting time and playing with other children. Furthermore, he often used to wake up at night to read for more than three hours. Later on, he became completely blind, which made his teachers and friends very sad, especially when they saw him sitting in his room unable to study.
He tolerated his long illness with patience and faith. He asked other students to read for him. They were stunned because he could remember and quickly understand all the lessons given to him. Moreover, he could explain to his colleagues all the difficult concepts.
Despite the great effort that Estephanos made, the director of the Maronite School decided to send him back to Lebanon. This made the young boy very anxious and depressed. He felt that neither medicine nor treatment could cure him. He then walked to the church, kneeled in front of the Mother of God and asked her for help. He made a vow to her. He immediately recovered from blindness and never suffered from eye problems even on the last day of his life.
When Estephanos’ teachers and friends heard about the miracle of Saint Mary, they were full of joy and happiness. He never told anyone what the vow he made was. All that he said about it was: “My vow was very little. I am surprised that Saint Mary accepted it and rewarded me with recovery.”
Estephanos then successfully completed his philosophic studies in 1650. He presented a detailed academic thesis entitled:
Conclusiones Philosophical EE. Principi Aloysio S.R.E. Cardinale Capponio a Stephano Edenensi… Dicatae. Romae, 1650.
He defended his opinions with a great deal of logic in front of many teachers and scholars presided by Cardinal Capponio. They were very impressed by Estephanos’ thesis. They permitted him to publish it. Since then, the words ‘Stephanos Edenensi Maronita’ spread out in Italy and all over Europe. Some said: “There is no one like him in Italy.”
In Europe, the word ‘Edenensi’ became synonymous with the word ‘genius’.
After finishing his philosophical studies, Estephanos started studying Liturgy. His teacher, Asparsa, who taught in many famous European institutes said: “I have never taught any student like Estephanos Douaihi.”
In 1654, Estephanos accomplished his studies with another excellent thesis dedicated to Patriarch John Safrawi. His teachers never helped him or provided him with any assistance during the lengthy discussions of his two theses. They left him to defend his opinions, feeling proud of his confidence and intelligence.
The Italian people received news about Estephanos Douaihi and talked about him more than they spoke about their numerous Christian celebrations. Some of them used to leave their daily work to listen to him lecturing. They wanted to learn the ideas of the most brilliant man in Italy.
After completing his studies, Estephanos spent eighteen months in Rome before sailing back to Lebanon. During this period, he visited schools and libraries, looking for references about the Maronite people.
He read hundreds of manuscripts and gathered valuable information, which helped him write some of his historical and religious books.
When he was a student in Rome, Estephanos Douaihi began writing a book about the terrestrial Paradise. We mentioned before that he considered Ehden as the Garden of Eden. This notion is clearly manifested in ‘Terrestrial Paradise’.
Before leaving Rome, to head back to his mother country, the Sacred Assembly appointed Estephanos Douaihi as a missionary. The Sacred Assembly members urged him to stay and teach in Rome. Also, a rich Italian man asked him to teach his children for a monthly salary of 40 piasters.
Meanwhile, the Jesuitical Fathers in Rome tried to convince him to join them. He refused all these generous offers, preferring to sail back to Lebanon to serve his fellow citizens.
On 3 April 1655, Estephanos returned to Lebanon. Once he arrived in Ehden, he established a little school to educate the children of his village and its surrounding areas.
He also strived to refresh his memory of the Arabic language, after fifteen years of being away from Lebanon.
On 25 March 1656, he was promoted as a priest by Patriarch John Safrawi, on the altar of Saint Sarkis’ Church (Ras Al Nahr - Ehden). Estephanos achieved the lowest ecclesiastical ranks in Rome.
As a new priest, Estephanos continued teaching the children of Ehden and nearby villages. He began writing his famous book ‘A Testimony about the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in the Holy Host.’
1-Douaihi in Aleppo for the First Time:
Father Estephanos Douaihi was sent to Aleppo in 1657 by Patriarch Gerges Al Besebaali. He spent about eight months in Syria assisting Abd Al Ghal (Andraous) Akhijian to regain the Syriac people to the Catholic Church.
Abd Al Ghal was born in Mardin. His parents opposed the Catholic Church, but he disobeyed them. He was affected by a Jesuitical Father called Amados.
Abd Al Ghal moved to Lebanon. He was welcomed by Patriarch Youssef Al Akoury, who sent him to the Italian capital in 1646 to strengthen his faith. He stayed there for two years before heading back to Lebanon to accept the rank of priesthood from Patriarch John Safrawi. After a while, Abd Al Ghal went back to Aleppo.
The French Consul in Aleppo, Francis Pickat, asked the Jacobite Patriarch, Sham’oun, to promote Abd Al Ghal as Archbishop. Sham’oun did not respond positively. The Consul then sent a letter to the Maronite Patriarch, John Safrawi, begging him to raise Abd Al Ghal to the rank of Archbishop. Estephanos Douaihi convinced Patriarch John Safrawi to reward Akhijian with the rank of Archbishop of Aleppo, on two conditions:
1- He should not interfere with the Maronite sect and
2- He is prohibited from visiting the Maronite Church.
Soon after, Abd Al Ghal came back to Lebanon, complaining that he had faced many difficulties in Aleppo. Estephanos Douaihi encouraged him to confront hardships. Estephanos then accompanied him to Aleppo. During his stay in the city, Estephanos helped Abd Al Ghal Akhijian spread out the principles of the Catholic Church among Syriacs, and regain the majority of them after they abandoned their Church.
Estephanos also practiced teaching in Saint Elia’s Church. He debated with the Jacobites about their misguided faith.
Many European traders, businessmen and diplomats took advantage of his excellent Latin language, to understand his preaching about the Catholic faith.
2-Estephanos’ Return to Lebanon:
Estephanos Douaihi moved back to Lebanon after he had fulfilled his mission in Aleppo. He resided in Saint Yaakoub Al Ahbash’s Church in Ehden. This church once harbored an Ethiopian priest called Yaakoub. He had stayed there for a few years before the Ehdenians discovered that he was a Jacobite. They forced him to flee to Saint George’s Church in Hadchit. He was then forced to flee again.
Saint Yaakoub’s Church remained destroyed for several years. Estephanos Douaihi rebuilt it and lived there for the next five years, accompanied by Father Moussa, Son of Al Hajj Youssef.
Estephanos offered a free education to about forty children from Ehden and other surrounding villages. Twelve of these young students became priests.
Many Ehdenians were wondering how an excellent lecturer could leave Rome, the greatest city in Europe, to teach little children in a primitive school in Ehden.
Estephanos believed that the love of God could be found in the hearts of those young kids.
In 1659, Estephanos Douaihi moved to Je’ita in Kesrawan. There, he taught more than fifteen students Religion and the Syriac language. During that period, he was writing a book entitled ‘Manarat Al Akdas’ (The Lighthouse of Sacraments).
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Ehden, Elias Al Ehdeni, passed away. The Ehdenians wrote to Patriarch Gerges Al Besebaali requesting the appointment of Estephanos Douaihi as the new Archbishop. Estephanos rejected the proposal.
In 1660, Patriarch Gerges Al Besebaali advised Estephanos Douaihi to visit the district of Shouf, the Bekaa Valley, Saida, Marje’oun, the Taym Valley and surrounding villages. In most of these areas, people were Turks or followers of the Orthodox or Druze sects. That trip lasted for three months. Estephanos Douaihi wrote a detailed report about it for Patriarch Gerges Al Besebaali, who then asked him to stay, from then on, beside him in Kannoubine.
On 28 December 1660, Estephanos sent a letter to the secretary of the Sacred Assembly in Rome, mentioning that the French Consul in Aleppo, Francis Pickat had asked him to travel to India to establish a Christian church.
Estephanos Douaihi told the French Consul that any trip to India should be permitted by the Sacred Assembly and the Maronite Patriarch. Furthermore, he refused the Consul’s request because he was unfamiliar with the Indian language and traditions.
In 1661, Patriarch Al Besebaali ordered Estephanos Douaihi to serve as a priest in Arde-Zagharta and nearby villages. In some letters written by Estephanos, he quoted that many people in that area were ill. He used to walk all day, visiting houses to serve his parish and pray for the sick.
In a letter sent to Rome on 20 April 1662, Father Estephanos Douaihi mentioned that he was tired of walking through the villages and fields, so he was forced to buy a mule to relieve himself from walking around all day to visit the poor and the sick people.
Estephanos stayed in Arde from October 1661 until the end of April 1662.
3-To Aleppo Again:
The existence of Maronite people in Aleppo dates back to Hercules’ era (610-641).
The bonds between the Lebanese community and the Syriac community in Syria were very strong.
Some Lebanese fled their country and migrated to Aleppo for political reasons. On the contrary, some citizens of Aleppo came to Lebanon due to similar circumstances.
Documentation found in different churches proved that several Maronite families in Aleppo descended from villages in North Lebanon, such as Ehden, Becharre, Ban, Blaouza, Seb’el, Ejbe’, Hadchit, Abdin, etc.
Some Lebanese families moved to Aleppo in the beginning of the 17th century, fleeing the war between Prince Fakhr Al Din Al Maani and Youssef Sayfa. Sayfa claimed control over Tripoli in 1621 and treated the Christians in North Lebanon harshly.
In 1638, the Maronite citizens of Aleppo received permission from the Ottoman Sultan, King Mourad, to renew Saint Elia’s Church, the main Maronite church in the city.
The Maronite population of Aleppo exceeded 3000 citizens in 1640. The majority of them were originally Lebanese.
When Patriarch Gerges Al Besebaaly asked Estephanos Douaihi to move again to Aleppo in 1662, Estephanos hesitated.
The Archbishop of Ehden, Boulos Al Ehdeni, convinced him to accept the new mission. Two months later, Estephanos traveled to Aleppo, taking with him some members of his family.
When he arrived in the city, the Maronite community warmly welcomed him. Saint Elia’s Church was renewed. Only two Archbishops took care of that church since it was re-established. They were Youssef Al Blouzani and Gebrayel Al Blouzani.
The Church in Aleppo was in desperate need for an enthusiastic religious leader. Estephanos was that leader who made a great effort to strengthen the ties between the parish and its spiritual authority.
Indeed, Estephanos Douaihi’s mission in Aleppo was not easy. He had to reorganize the church, preach and regain those who abandoned the Maronite sect and joined other non-Catholic sects.
Father Estephanos Douaihi confronted the Jacobites, but treated the Latin missionaries with compassion. He even asked the Archbishop of Aleppo to permit them to preach. They were allowed to visit people and deliver the word of Jesus to them four times a year. Furthermore, he corrected the Arabic mistakes in the preaching of the Latin priests.
Estephanos debated with the leaders of the Orthodox sect about purgatory, for they did not believe that purgatory ever existed.
Many members of non-Maronite sects, like the Armenians, Jacobites and Romans, attended masses presided by Father Estephanos. They confessed to him and received the Holy Host from his hands, ignoring instructions given to them by their religious leaders.
It is obvious that the citizens of Aleppo were very impressed by Father Estephanos Douaihi’s preaching. The Christians listened to him speaking as if he were a teacher and teaching as if he were a Saint. The church was always overcrowded. His loud voice and his precise words even reached people who sat down in the churchyard.
Some eyewitnesses said: “In the entire history of Aleppo, nobody preached and declared the Word of Jesus Christ like Estephanos Douaihi. He flavored his speeches with deep culture and religious concepts, which were preserved in his miraculous memory.”
One of the copyists described Estephanos Douaihi, after he became a Patriarch, as the “Pathfinder of the Saintly Fathers.” He added: “No preaching was ever heard in the city like Estephanos’ preaching.”
It was not a matter of exaggeration for the people of Aleppo to nickname Father Estephanos Douaihi ‘The Spiritual Philosopher’ and ‘The Golden Mouth’.
He established the Maronite School (Al Kouttab Al Marouni) of Aleppo, which provided many students with an education. His main concern was to build an elite school similar to the Maronite School of Rome. He invited some students of Rome to teach in Aleppo. They were:
- Father John Namroun Al Bani.
- Deacon Ne’me Yammine Al Ehdeni.
- Father Youssef Al Bani.
- Father Rizkallah Douaihi.
- Sheikh Yaakoub Al Dibsi, who was a well known linguist.
The Maronite School of Aleppo became very famous. It was considered as an important cultural center and competed with many Islamic schools. It was well known as the Planet of the Orient and the Dome of Wisdom. Estephanos Douaihi also possessed these two nicknames when he became a Patriarch. He taught Arabic, Latin and Syriac in Aleppo.
The students of the Maronite School of Aleppo were of different religions. Some of them established monastic orders.
4-From Aleppo to Ehden:
In 1665, Estephanos issued a letter to Patriarch Gerges Al Besebaali, asking him for permission to go back to Lebanon. Estephanos mentioned in this letter that all the students of the Maronite School of Rome were obliged to work for only three years under the instruction of the Maronite Patriarch. Estephanos wrote a similar letter to the Archbishop of Aleppo, Gebrayel Al Blouzani. He did not receive a response from either of them.
He then wrote a letter to the Sacred Assembly in Rome, saying that he is “now convinced that serving in Aleppo or Lebanon is similar. The struggle is the same in both places.”
On 21 May 1668, Estephanos Douaihi was granted permission to leave Aleppo. He visited the Holy Land in Palestine, accompanied by his mother, Mariam, his brother, Hajj Moussa, and a group of Maronite followers. After a short time in Palestine, he went back to Ehden, where he was joyfully welcomed by the Ehdenians, after being away from his mother country for a long time.
The first thing he did in Lebanon was visit Kannoubine to receive blessings from Patriarch Gerges Al Besebaali. The Ehdenians urged the Patriarch to promote Douaihi as Archbishop, in order to award him for his excellent effort and sacrifices. The Patriarch agreed that Estephanos deserved to be awarded.
We are aware that Estephanos Douaihi was reluctant to accept the new position of Archbishop, not because he did not deserve to be a religious leader, but because he was humble and modest. He always believed that serving people could be achieved disregarding positions and ecclesiastical ranks.
On 8 July 1668, Estephanos became the Archbishop of Cyprus. He accepted the new mission under pressure from Patriarch Al Besebaali and his fellow Ehdenians.
5-Archbishop Douaihi in Cyprus:
Before leaving Lebanon for Cyprus, Archbishop Douaihi never asked for residency in Nicosia or a monthly salary. He made a short trip to Jebbeh, Zawyeh and Akkar to inspect the daily life of the Maronite people in these areas.
The Maronite community existed in Cyprus before the 12th century. The King of Jerusalem, Guido De Losignan, bought the island from King Richard of England. Guido encouraged the Christians from Antioch, Tripoli, Palestine and Armenia to reside in Cyprus.
Many Christians went to the island looking for new opportunities, away from political unrest in their countries.
When the Muslims invaded Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Antioch, the Crusaders stepped back. The Losignan family kept its authority on Cyprus. Hundreds of Christians sailed to the island, fleeing the oppression.
The Maronites resided in more than sixty villages in Cyprus, after the reign of the Prince of Venice. Another wave of Maronite immigrants landed on Cypriot coasts.
Archbishop Boutros Shebli duplicated some handwriting found on the cover of an old religious book. These writings proved that a group of people from Kour, Ram and Tartej resided in Cyprus.
One letter was written by a man named Yaakoub from Ram. He was oppressed in his village, so he migrated to Cyprus and settled in Marina.(16)
When the Hamadis raided Jbeil, Al Koura and the district of Batroun, several Maronite families fled Lebanon to settle in Cyprus. Estephanos Douaihi quoted that “many Lebanese citizens migrated to foreign countries in 1510. 120 people arrived in Cyprus onboard only one boat. They were from Tartej, Lehfed and other neighboring villages of Jbeil. They established churches in their second country.”
(16)Archbishop Boutros Shebly, Estephanos Boutros Douaihi: P. 40.
Douaihi added: “When the Turks invaded the island in 1571, they killed between 15000 and 30000 Maronite citizens.”
Since then, many Maronites returned to Lebanon. Others moved to Malta. The Archbishop of Cyprus took refuge in Lebanon.
Soon after 1570, four Archbishops were appointed for Cyprus. They were:
- Archbishop Youssef.
- Archbishop John, Son of Askila.
- Archbishop Moussa Ounaisi.
- Archbishop Gerges, Son of Maroun Al Ehdeni.
Following the death of Archbishop Gerges, Son of Maroun Al Ehdeni, the Archbishop’s Chair in Cyprus became empty for thirty five years.
After this long period, Estephanos Douaihi was appointed as Archbishop of Cyprus. The number of Maronite people on the island was then only about 3000.
The mission of Archbishop Estephanos Douaihi in Cyprus was both religious and cultural.
Archbishop Boutros Shebli discovered some handwriting by Estephanos on books preserved in Cyprus, showing that the new Archbishop endorsed deacons like John, Son of Merco, and George, Son of Christophros.(17)
Meanwhile, Estephanos left hand-written records in a town called Asomatos, saying: “In 1669, I, the poorest among Archbishops, Estephanos Douaihi from Ehden, Archbishop of Cyprus, visited the Maronite parish on the island and the citizens of Asomatos on the 13th of blessed March. I blessed them with chrism and endorsed I’ssa, Son of Michael, as a deacon…”
In 1669, Estephanos also endorsed Ibrahim, Son of Father Gerges, from Tartej as a priest
Archbishop Douaihi did not leave official records describing his mission in Cyprus. Nevertheless, it was well known that he searched for old books and manuscripts, in order to gather valuable historical materials that would help him complete some of his very precious books, such as: ‘Tarikh Al Azminah’, ‘Silsilat Al Batarikah’, ‘Al Ihtijaj’, etc.
(17)Archbishop Boutros Shebly, Previous Ref: P. 44.
The New Patriarch
1-Events Between 1670-1674:
On 12 April 1670, Patriarch Gerges Al Besebaali passed away in Saint Challita Mokbes’, after being infected with the plague.
The plague epidemic spread out in Lebanon and Syria in 1668. It killed about 140000 people in Aleppo, 75000 in Damascus and many others in Lebanon. One of them was Patriarch Al Besebaali.
The priests refused to bury the corpse of the deceased Patriarch under Saint Challita Mokbes’ Church, to avoid being infected with the epidemic. They buried him under a big rock standing to the west of the church.
The election of a new Patriarch was delayed until 20 May 1670, because the clergy could not leave their monasteries due to their fear of contracting the plague.
Those dramatic events coincided with the return of Estephanos Douaihi from Cyprus. He was elected to be the next Maronite Patriarch. He refused to accept this elite position, and hid away from the public eye. The Archbishops found him and convinced him to change his mind.
The celebrations which followed the election spread out from Ehden to Jebbeh, Zagharta and many different parts of Lebanon.
The old Maronite tradition required that the dignitaries attend the elections of the Maronite Patriarchs.
That tradition was also common in some European societies, but it was gradually eliminated.
In Lebanon, the case was different. Wealthy people used to express their opinions about every newly elected Patriarch.
Fortunately, the modern Maronite Church has prohibited that intervention which may trigger conflicts between the clergy and the community.
When Estephanos Douaihi was elected as the new Maronite Patriarch, some powerful dignitaries did not attend the election meeting, because the plague broke out fiercely in many parts of North Lebanon and killed hundreds of people.
Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen, who was the most respected nobleman in Kesrawan, opposed the election of the new Patriarch,(18) Estephanos Douaihi. He wrote to the Maronite Archbishops, the Pope and the Sacred Assembly in Rome, to explain the reasons of his opposition. Some Archbishops also opposed the election of the new Patriarch.
Some historians argued that the opposition of Sheikh Nader Al Khazen was related to the huge debts left by Patriarch Gerges Al Besebaali. Sheikh Nader feared that Patriarch Douaihi would not be able to repay the debts, so the wealthy Al Khazen family would be forced to repay them.
Sheikh Nader donated some of his lands and properties in Kesrawan, and granted big portions of his wealth to the Maronite Church. He also established
(18)Archbishop Youssef Al Debs, Al Jame’ Al Moufassal Fi Tarikh Al Mawarina Al Mouassal: P. 237.
strong ties with the Pope, Alexander the 7th, and with the King of France, Louis the 14th. King Louis assigned Sheikh Nader the responsibilities of the French Consulate in Beirut in 1659.(19)
The Ottoman government approved the appointment of Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen as the new Honorary French Consul.
Soon after his election as Patriarch, Estephanos sent Father Youssef Sham’oun Al Hasrouni to the Italian capital, to receive the approval shield.
The Patriarch’s letter to the Pope, which had been written in Saint Challita Mokbes’-Kesrawan, on 24 August 1671, included: “Whoever wishes to quench his thirst should head for the spring of flowing water, and whoever desires to relieve his ship from fierce wind must harbor it in the city of rest… To this spring of wisdom in the Great Rome every thirsty person should rush, and in this safe port every traveler should relax…”
(19)Father Mansour Al Hattouni, A Historical Summary about the Territory of Kesrawan: P.78.
He added: “The outraged enemy of mankind, along with the non believing Kings, the sects of Jews, the miscreant soldiers and groups of deceivers, opened the door of hellfire against the Church of Saint Peter. But they could not defeat this Church, for its milestone is fixed on a rock.”
He also said: “Since the beginning of the Church, the Maronite sect is still obeying the virtuous Chair of your Holiness…”
Estephanos told the Pope about the death of Patriarch Gerges Al Besebaali and asked his Holiness to send his blessings and the approval shield.
Estephanos said: “Our brothers, the honorable Archbishops, along with your sons, the Father Superiors of monasteries and dignitaries of your Maronite people, met and obliged me to succeed the late Patriarch on the Holy Chair of Antioch, though I do not deserve this position…”
Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi heard that Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen claimed, in his letter to the Pope, that the new Patriarch is hiding in an isolated cave, fearing the plague epidemic. Estephanos was extremely shocked and disappointed, so he immediately wrote a letter to his messenger, Father Youssef Sham’oun, asking him to return to Lebanon without the shield. When he tried to seal the letter three times, his seal did not stick on the paper. He considered that a Divine sign for him to insist on receiving the shield.
Archbishop (Patriarch) Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir argued that Patriarch Douaihi moved to Kesrawan to settle the conflict with Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen.(20)
The purpose of Estephanos Douaihi’s visit to Kesrawan was not only to deal with Al Khazen family, but also to move away from North Lebanon due to the oppression inflicted by some Jebbeh governors.
A meeting of reconciliation was held in Saint Challita Mokbes’ Church. Some references claimed that Patriarch Douaihi met Sheikh Nader in Ajaltoun-Kesrawan. Soon after, Sheikh Nader issued a letter to Rome, declaring his support for the new Patriarch.
On 8 August 1672, Pope Clement the 10th sent the approval letter to Patriarch Douaihi, but Father Youssef Sham’oun Al Hasrouni, who carried the letter, did not leave Rome for Lebanon until 6 October 1672.
(20)Al Manara, Estephanos Douaihi, The Archbishop and Patriarch: P.365-395
The Pope mentioned that Estephanos Douaihi was once the Head of Nicosia’s Church in Cyprus, and that he fulfilled his duties there with perfection.
The Pope added: “Soon after consulting our honorable brothers, the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, we approved your election by our Apostolic authority…We appoint you as a Patriarch and shepherd of the Patriarchal Church of Antioch. We also grant you the responsibility of this Church…”
The Pope ordered all the Archbishops, priests, dignitaries, members of clergy and Maronite people to obey the authority of the new Patriarch and to abide by his instructions.
On December 1672, the Pope sent the ‘Balium’ shield to Patriarch Douaihi. The shield represented the approval of the new appointment by the Catholic Church in Rome.
The Balium was a scarf made from wool. It had two ends. One of them hung on the chest, and the other on the back. Every end was embedded with black crosses.
The wool of the Balium was taken from two white lambs, donated annually by the law-makers of Saint John La Trun’s.
The Pope used to bless the two lambs at Saint Agnes’ Church every year, on 21 January (Saint Agnes’ Memorial Day). The two lambs would then be raised by the nuns of Saint Laurentinus’. Afterwards, the wool would be cut off to make shields.
The shields were to be placed on the tomb of Saint Peter on his memorial day. They would remain on the tomb for two days.
The Pope chose the Archbishop of Akoura, Gerges Habkouk Al Beche’lani, and the Archbishop of Aleppo, Gebrayel Al Blouzani, to place the Balium around the neck of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi.
2-From Saint Challita’s to Kannoubine:
Soon after occupying the Patriarchal Chair, Estephanos Douaihi left Kannoubine for Kesrawan, where he stayed for a while in Saint Challita Mokbes’- Ghosta.
Saint Challita’s Church was one of the oldest churches to the south of Ibrahim River, which lies between Jbeil and Kesrawan. The church was built by a rich European man during the Crusaders’ military existence in Lebanon. It was renewed during the era of the Ehdenian Patriarch, John Makhlouf, in 1628.
Father John Mouhaseb from Ghosta and people from the surrounding villages, like Dar’oun, Ashkout and Ajaltoun, helped to renovate the church.
Saint Challita Mokbes’ Monastery became a safe refuge for the Maronite Patriarchs, who fled North Lebanon to avoid the oppression caused by the Jebbeh governors.
Soon after his arrival in Saint Challita Mokbes’, Patriarch Estephanos began looking after his people in Kesrawan, like a loving father. He also searched for books and written references.
He discovered some defects in the church building, so he contacted his friend, Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen, urging him to fund the construction work.
The memorial writing on the outside wall of the church, which has been well preserved, tells us that the building was reconstructed during the era of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi, Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen and his sons.
Patriarch Douaihi also built a Maronite House, located to the east of the church. It includes one large room with several pillars and small windows, and a poor basement, which is topped with a tiny, poorly illuminated room. In this room, Patriarch Douaihi read many books from which he extracted valuable notes.
On 10 December 1672, Patriarch Estephanos called for Father Lucas Al Karbassi to visit him in Saint Challita Mokbes’. There, the Patriarch promoted Al Karbassi as Archbishop of Cyprus. Al Karbassi was one of the students of the Maronite School of Rome.
Al Karbassi died one year later. Then a tyrannical Turkish governor confiscated the Maronite churches in Nicosia, and oppressed the Maronite community.
By the end of 1672, Patriarch Douaihi headed back to Kannoubine. He filled his time with religious duties, writing and searching for historical references.
On 4 July 1674, he promoted Father Boutros Makhlouf Al Ghostawi as the new Archbishop of Cyprus.
3-Another Trip to Kesrawan:
In the beginning of 1675, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi left his Chair in Kannoubine, and moved again to Saint Challita Mokbes’ to seek protection from the Hamadis.
Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen provided Patriarch Douaihi with a safe refuge in Kesrawan.
The Hamadis came to Lebanon from the town of Bukhara in Uzbekistan.
For political reasons, their grandfather, Hamadi, fled Iran with many of his tribe members and settled in Kahmaz, in the high mountains of Kesrawan.
Some members of the family spread out to Jebbeh, Hermel, Dannieh, Almat Valley, Jaj, Jbeil, Batroun and Lassa.
The influence of one of their first leaders, Isma’el, reached Syria. Another leader, Sarhan, took control over Jebbeh.
The conflict between the Maronite sect and the Hamadis in North Lebanon had religious and political roots.
Lebanon was divided into two parts:
1- North Lebanon, which was governed by the governor of Tripoli.
2- South Lebanon, which was ruled by the governor of Saida.
The history of the Hamadi family in North Lebanon and Kesrawan was full of blood and violence. They provoked wars and atrocities in many areas.
In 1675, a deadly conflict erupted between the governor of Tripoli, Hassan Basha, and the Hamadis, for the Hamadis had failed to pay taxes. The governor’s army chased the Hamadi armed men to Afka, near Akoura, before the two parties signed a truce. Then, the governor invited the leaders of the Hamadi family to lunch in his house in Tripoli. There, he killed many of them.
The Hamadis, who sought revenge, attacked villages in the region of Jbeil, burnt houses and killed innocent people. On their way back to North Lebanon they raided villages in Batroun and Jebbeh. They also kidnapped some rich men from Kesrawan and Jbeil and ordered their parents to pay ransoms for them to be released.
In 1677, armed men from the Hamadi family in Faraya, killed some villagers from Kafar Zebian. In 1682, they killed one monk of Saint Abda Harharaya’s. In 1683, they murdered eight farmers from Ghosta and Kafar Zebian.
In another incident in 1684, they looted Ashkout and killed eleven innocent men and women.
The Hamadis wanted to strengthen their military and political control over Jebbeh. They tried to kill the Maronite leaders of the area, such as: Sheikh Hanna Daher Kairouz, Sheikh Issa Al Khoury Rahme, Sheikh Soulaiman Awwad and Sheikh Gerges Boulos Douaihi.
In 1771, the Maronites, led by Sheikh Gerges Boulos Douaihi, confronted the Hamadi armed men and forced them to flee to the Bekaa Valley, ending their control on the North.
What we mentioned about the Hamadis was very little, particularly in relation to their atrocities against the Maronite people. Many Maronite leaders were forced to leave their towns and villages, and some Patriarchs fled North Lebanon to find a peaceful and safe haven in Kesrawan.
After moving once again to Saint Challita Mokbes’, the mission of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was not different from that of his previous trip to Kesrawan. Here, he promoted several priests and Archbishops. Some of them were:
- Deacon John Mouhaseb Al Ghostawi, who was promoted by Patriarch Douaihi on 3 February 1675, to be the priest of Saint Challita Mokbes’ Church. He became, on 7 July 1698, the Archbishop of Arka.
- Father Antoine Al Bani, who was granted the responsibility of Saint Elia’s Church (Antelias) on 5 March 1675.
- Father Antonios Al Besebaali, who was granted the responsibility of Our Lady of Seb’el’s Church on 13 May 1675.
- Monsignor Youssef Sham’oun Al Hasrouni, who was promoted as the new Archbishop of Tripoli on 14 July 1675.
4-Events Between 1676-1683:
In 1676 two great men died. One of them passed away in Rome and the other in Lebanon.
On July 1676, Pope Clement the 10th died. Pope Innocent the 11th succeeded him. Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi sent a letter to the new Pope to congratulate his Holiness and tell him about the ordeal of the Maronite sect.
Patriarch Douaihi described the new Pope as “the housemaster, the head of shepherds, the law maker and the owner of the Sacred Kingdom.”
He said, in his letter to the Pope: “The man cannot take anything unless it was given to him by God”, adding: “I intended to visit your Holiness, and congratulate you for the highest rank and lofty authority, but God did not permit me to travel overseas, because of the huge amount of tyranny and oppression which your Maronite people experienced, particularly during the last three years. They suffered from disasters and difficulties more than the Israeli people suffered from the Pharaohs.”
The Patriarch told the Pope that many villages were destroyed, some monasteries were burnt and some churches were abandoned. Furthermore, many people were killed and many others spread out in foreign nations. All this happened because of the continuous change of governors and also due to these governors’ harshness.
Patriarch Douaihi informed the newly elected Pope about locusts that covered both sky and land, long-time drought and high prices which jumped five folds.
One of the Patriarch’s main purposes of writing that letter was to draw the attention of the new Pope to the horrible agony that the Maronite people faced, and to seek any kind of help Rome could offer.
The Pope wrote a response to Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi, thanking him for his warm emotions.
The Pope mentioned in his letter that he sent ‘an insignificant thing’ as a sign of Rome’s satisfaction regarding the Patriarch’s performance and loyalty.
In Lebanon, Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen passed away. He was one of Patriarch Douaihi’s best friends. Sheikh Nader lent him his generous hand in several difficult conditions, and funded many construction projects from his own wealth.
Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen established strong bonds with the Maan family in Mount Lebanon. We still recall that he was the Honorary Consul of France. He was also the Consul of Venice. In 1671, the authority of Kesrawan district was granted to him and his children.
We also remember when Sheikh Nader opposed the appointment of Patriarch Douaihi. But, after the two men met in Kesrawan, they became close friends.
Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi lost, by the death of Sheikh Nader Al Khazen, one of the greatest Maronite men, who helped poor people and defended the Maronite Church until the last day of his life.
5-Events Between 1683-1704:
By the beginning of 1683, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi moved again to Kesrawan because of the confrontation between the Hamadis and the Maronite people.
There, Estephanos appointed Father Youssef Moubarak as the new Archbishop of Saida, following the death of Archbishop Boutros, Son of Father Ibrahim Al Ehdeni.
The Patriarch did not stay for long in Kesrawan, due to the dispute between him and the Maronite dignitaries in this area. Patriarch Douaihi resisted the interference of Al Khazen family in his ecclesiastical duties. They tried to force him to promote some priests to become Archbishops. He refused to implement their decisions. He left for Dair Al Kamar in the district of Shouf, to visit Prince Ahmad Al Maani. There, he rented a little village called Mejdel Al Ma’oush from Prince Ahmad.
The residents of this village were originally Muslims. A war broke out between them and many innocent people were killed. They vowed to sell the village. Prince Ali, Son of Prince Fakhr Al Din Al Maani, bought it for 12000 piasters and handed it to the Christians.
Patriarch John Makhlouf Al Ehdeni settled with some Ehdenians in Mejdel Al Ma’oush. He established a church and a house there.
Patriarch Douaihi followed in the footsteps of his Ehdenian ancestors and resided in Mejdel Al Ma’oush. The first thing he did there was renew the church and build a new large house for the clergy. He realized that many people in the surrounding areas were complaining from poverty. He lent them a helping hand. Then he wrote to Sheikh Abou Saber from Reshmaya asking for funds to build a monastery.
Douaihi spent about three years in Mejdel Al Ma’oush. Some messengers from Jebbeh visited him carrying letters from the Hamadis, who assured their respects to him and promised not to mistreat the Maronite people ever again.
The Patriarch returned to Kannoubine in mid- 1685.
As soon as he arrived in Kannoubine, Patriarch Douaihi sent Father Boutros Abdallah from Toula-Batroun to Aleppo, to teach the Maronite students Arabic, Philosophy and Religion.
Father Boutros Abdallah was a former student of the Maronite School of Rome.
In 1694, three students came to Mount Lebanon from Aleppo. They were Gebrayel Hawwa,(21) Abdallah Karaali and Youssef Al Betn. They planned to establish the Maronite Order.
They visited Kannoubine and told Patriarch Douaihi about their project. In 1695, the Maronite Order was tentatively born. Patriarch Douaihi granted the three monks Mart Moura’s Church, in Ehden, to start their mission from there.
In the same year, Patriarch Estephanos was forced again to leave Kannoubine. He headed to Kesrawan, for the Hamadis never kept their promises to him. They repeatedly asked people to pay hefty taxes. If they refused, their villages would be subjected to military action, and they would be forced to flee and hide in rough terrains.
(21)Hawwa is an extinct Ehdenian family. Some members of this family migrated to Aleppo in 1615. Others moved to Marseilles (France).
The Turks also practiced a great deal of oppression in Maronite areas. The governor of Tripoli sent a letter to Patriarch Douaihi ordering him to pay 5000 gold piasters. The Patriarch could not afford to pay this monumental amount of money. He sent a response to the governor offering to pay only 2000 gold piasters. The governor refused this offer and stirred the Hamadis to react against the Patriarch, who fled Kannoubine, and sought a refuge in a cave located on the top of a high mountain.
The Patriarch then lodged a complaint, about the governor’s mistreatment, to the Ottoman Sultan, who ordered his governor in Tripoli to accept the fact that the Maronite Church should only pay the amount of tax mentioned in the old tax records.
In spite of the Ottoman Sultan’s order, the Hamadis did not ease their harshness against the Maronites in North Lebanon.
In 1697, the Ottoman military leader in Jebbeh confiscated the donkeys and mules of Kannoubine. The French Consul in Tripoli contacted Governor Arselan Mohammad and complained to him about the Ottoman leader’s action. Arselan issued a letter of apology to Patriarch Douaihi, and condemned the inappropriate behavior of his leader, promising that he would not interfere ever again with the affairs and properties of Our Lady of Kannoubine’s Monastery and all the other churches in the area.
On 20 March 1700, Patriarch Douaihi sent a letter to the King of France, Louis the 14th, complaining that the Turks “are collecting taxes from the clergy, men, women, orphans, widows, minor children and other people.”
Patriarch Douaihi also told the French King about the long history of agony the Maronite people were experiencing by the hands of the Turks and the Hamadis.
He said in his letter: “All places and villages in our country were destroyed… Furthermore, our enemy insulted me and my Archbishops, and mistreated me like I were a normal person, so I was repeatedly forced to wear civil clothes, and disguise myself…”
Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi added: “I fled from them and resided in valleys and caves, in spite of my old age, to spare my life from their cruel hands… I escaped to weird places, leaving my Patriarchal Chair.”
In 1704, Patriarch Douaihi fled Kannoubine to Kesrawan for the last time. Archbishop (Patriarch) Nasrallah Sfeir recounted the events related to his escape saying: “Sheikh I’ssa Hamadi went to Kannoubine’s Monastery with a group of his relatives. He begged Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi for a monumental sum of money. The Patriarch refused to pay. I’ssa was outraged. He yelled at the old Patriarch and slapped him fiercely.(22) The Patriarch lost his balance and almost fell to the ground, but he reclined on a wall… He then went to his room, and immediately began writing a letter to Sheikh Hosn Al Khazen, telling him about what had happened to him by the hands of the Hamadis.”
When Sheikh Hosn received the letter, he became extremely upset. He gathered more than 400 men and sent them to Kannoubine, led by his brave brother Dergham, who was well known for his knighthood.(23) Sheikh Hosn ordered his men to bring Patriarch Douaihi to Kesrawan.
(22)Abbot Boutros Fahd, Important Historical Maronite Events, Vol. 16: P. 31-32
(23)Sheikh Dergham became a priest, an Archbishop then a Patriarch.
When I’ssa Hamadi heard that Hosn sent his men to Kannoubine, he rushed to the monastery, kneeling on the feet of the Patriarch and begging him for forgiveness. He said: “I beg you my Father to forgive me for my mistake… Please do not leave for Kesrawan. I will be your supporter… If you wish, you can now step on my neck.”
I’ssa Hamadi also said to the Patriarch: “Do not you say in your prayers: ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?’ I trespassed against you, so please forgive me.”
The men of Sheikh Hosn Al Khazen were humiliating I’ssa Hamadi, laughing at him and pulling his turban.
Some historians cited that the armed men from Kesrawan intended to kill I’ssa Hamadi, but Patriarch Douaihi prohibited them from committing any wrongdoing against the villain.
Other historians quoted that I’ssa Hamadi was very anxious about the abuse he had inflicted on the Patriarch. He feared that Prince Bashir Al Shihabi would punish him severely for mistreating the Patriarch.
The warm-hearted Patriarch said to I’ssa: “I forgive you by the love of Jesus, resembling my ancestors, the previous Patriarchs… But my people will not let me stay in Kannoubine.”
Then, Sheikh Hosn’s men, along with the Patriarch, started to move to Kesrawan on a rainy day. The men wanted to delay their trip due to poor weather conditions. The Patriarch said to them: “Elia withheld the rain for three years and six months. I, with the power of God, who heard the demand of Elia, ask for the rain to cease pouring until we reach Ghazir.”
The men rode for three days despite fierce winds and extremely cold weather. Nevertheless, the rain did not fall until they arrived in Ghazir.
We should mention here that, before moving to Kesrawan, Patriarch Douaihi kneeled before the tombs of his ancestors in the Grotto of Saint Marina. He cried and prayed to God to let him rest his bones next to the departed Maronite saintly Patriarchs.
Prince Bashir Al Shihabi heard about what had happened to Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi. He sent him a letter saying: “I have received news that Sheikh I’ssa went to your place, and trespassed against you, forcing you to pay unjust taxes. I was unhappy about that. I also sent a letter to Sheikh I’ssa Hamadi expressing my feelings toward this matter and condemning him for mistreating you.”
Prince Bashir issued another letter to Sheikh Hosn Al Khazen, expressing his distress about the Hamadis’ dreadful behavior toward the Patriarch.
Bashir found out about the incident from the governor of Tripoli, who also sent a letter to the Patriarch, urging him to return to Kannoubine.
The Hamadis themselves wrote a letter to Patriarch Douaihi saying: “We met with our brothers, the dignitaries of the Maronite people. We talked to them about the return of our beloved Patriarch Douaihi to his monastery in Kannoubine. The Maronite dignitaries asked us to hand-write this statement, and stamp it. We state that the actual yearly tax will be 143 piasters… Not one of us will interfere with the affairs of the monastery. The Patriarch will be well respected with his properties, monks and employees. We will protect and treat them as we treat our people.”
6-The Death of Estephanos Douaihi:
On 10 April 1704, Estephanos returned from Kesrawan to his Patriarchal Chair.
He arrived in Kannoubine after three days. On Sunday, he presided the mass. After lunch, he bid farewell to his guests outside the monastery. All of a sudden, he could not walk again to go back to his room. He said: “I thank you God for hearing my desire not to let me die away from Kannoubine and not to be buried far from my ancestors, the Maronite Patriarchs.”
When Patriarch Douaihi realized that he was close to death, he said to his deacon: “I think my time is coming. I have occupied the Patriarchal Chair for a long time and now I should leave it for someone else.”
Soon after, he fell very ill. The priests brought him a doctor from Tripoli. He received treatment for two days, but he did not feel any better. The doctor went back to Tripoli to prepare some new medicine. The Patriarch said to the priests who surrounded him: “When the doctor comes back, I will not be alive.”
It was on a Friday. Before he died, he received the Holy Host. He also heard the priests crying outside the door of his room. He yelled to them: “Have you never seen anyone else dying?”
On the midnight of Saturday, he felt thirsty. He asked for water to drink. After a while, he blessed his parish, crossed his arms over his chest and died.
Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi left this world praying and chanting psalms. The priests were chanting with him: “Glory to God in the highest… Glory to God in the highest.”
When Patriarch Douaihi died, his face was full of life. Some people did not believe that he had passed away. Others said: “This face is not a human face, but the face of an angel.”
The greatest Patriarch was buried in the Grotto of Saint Marina, after the priests put an embedded crown on his head, a scepter in his left hand and a Cross in his right hand.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral of their Patriarch. They came to Kannoubine from the different parts of Lebanon. The valley was crowded with mourners who were all crying and wailing for their unrecoverable loss.
Patriarch Douaihi passed away on 3 May 1704. He was seventy three years and nine months old. He spent thirty three years, eleven months and thirteen days as the Maronite Patriarch.
He dealt with five Popes during his Patriarchal era. They were:
1- Clement the 10th (1670-1676). He approved the appointment of Patriarch Douaihi.
2- Innocent the 11th (1676- 1689).
3- Alexander the 8th (1689- 1691).
4- Innocent the 12th (1691- 1700).
5- Clement the 11th (1700- 1721).
Patriarch Gebrayel Al Blouzani succeeded Patriarch Douaihi on the Sacred Chair of Antioch. Blouzani sent a letter to the Sacred Assembly in Rome saying: “My ancestor, the late Patriarch Estephanos did not die due to illness, but due to the increase of abuse, deception and violence, and due to his frequent escape from the Patriarchal Chair.”
Blouzani also wrote to the Maronite students in Rome: “My beloved children, you may have received news about the death of my ancestor, the late Mar (Saint) Estephanos, Patriarch of Antioch. I pray to God, who called him to his Kingdom, to rest his soul along with the saintly Fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets…”
Blouzani recalled in his letter the tall stature of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi, his devotion to God, his love, patience and outstanding culture.
After the death of Patriarch Douaihi, Archbishop Yaakoub Awwad sent a letter to Deacon John Wehbe Douaihi, the nephew of the late Patriarch. Awwad recalled the life of sanctity and the purity of Estephanos.
Deacon Youssef, Son of Gerges Al Halabi wrote to the students of Rome: “A voice has been heard in Lebanon. The Maronite people are crying and wailing for the loss of their great Father, but they refuse to accept condolences, for Douaihi did not die.”
He added: “The iris flowers have dried, the roses have withered, the teaching has been done and the sanctity is now complete.”
Achievements and Miracles
1-The Teacher and the Spiritual Father:
There is no simple word which can describe the sacrifices Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi made to protect the Church and the Maronite people.
Due to the ongoing mistreatment he sustained, he did not experience tranquility for one day. He suffered from the Hamadis, the Turks and from the disputes between the Maronite dignitaries.
Sometimes, he was forced to leave Kannoubine and hide in caves for many days without a piece of bread.
He was once forced to take refuge in a cave in Jebbeh. Soon after midnight, he walked back to the Sacred Valley. Despite the extremely cold weather, he crossed a river. The water surpassed his chest. Then he fell down from fatigue.(24) He sat down on a rock near the bottom of the mountain, relying on his stick and shivering.
In the early morning, some villagers carried him to Our Lady of Haouka’s Church. He was then at the age of seventy three.
(24)Abbot Boutros Fahd, Important Historical Maronite Events, Vol. 16: P.31.
In spite of this, Patriarch Douaihi was distinct with his courage, patience, poverty, modesty and ultimate love. He always considered that any human suffering would not reach the limit of Jesus Christ’s agony on the Cross.
He filled his Maronite people with love and respect, encouraging them to face difficulties with endless faith.
Many historical references cited that he used to visit the villagers in North Lebanon, Kesrawan and Jbeil, urging them to face the most difficult circumstances and stay in their lands.
The Patriarch had a sharp memory and excellent senses even during the last days of his life.
Due to his appreciation for education, he opened a school in Kannoubine soon after his election as Patriarch. That school taught children for free. It lasted until he died. Furthermore, he sent excellent students to continue their study at the Maronite School of Rome.
Despite Patriarch Douaihi’s loyalty to the Maronite Church, he tried to establish strong relations with other sects. We remember that he traveled to Aleppo, to help Abd Al Ghal (Andraous) Akhijian in his difficult mission.
In 1690, the European missionaries elected Gregory Boutros, also known as Ignatius Boutros the 6th, as a Patriarch for the Syriac Catholic sect in Aleppo, but the Jacobites rebelled against the newly elected Patriarch and refused to obey his instructions. He took refuge in Kannoubine Valley. Patriarch Douaihi welcomed him and allowed him to stay in the valley for four years.
In 1691, Douaihi permitted the promotion of a Spanish Franciscan monk, called Juliano Ramirez, as an Archbishop for Tyr (Sour) in South Lebanon.
Ramirez received funds from the Duchess of Aveiro (Portugal) to establish a printer in Mount Lebanon, but for unknown reasons that project was not implemented.
The historical references mention with pride that Patriarch Douaihi strongly defended the principles of the Catholic Church.
We recall that some Archbishops opposed the election of Estephanos Douaihi as a new Patriarch. They sent letters to Rome to explain their bitter opposition. Douaihi was disappointed. He threatened to deprive them. This did not happen because he insisted on controlling the Patriarchal Chair, but because he wanted to put things in the right order. We knew that Douaihi tried to send a letter to the Sacred Assembly in Rome to declare his resignation. Some references indicate that Patriarch Douaihi decided to resign several times, but the Maronite sect obliged him to stay in his post.
He was always heard saying: “The Patriarchate is a burden. Nobody knows how heavy it is except those who tried to hold it.”
To know more about Douaihi’s courage, we should recount some events related to the dignitaries’ interference in the Church affairs:
Once, an Archbishop asked Patriarch Douaihi for permission to receive the donations of a parish. The Patriarch refused his request. The Archbishop sought the support of Al Khazen family in Kesrawan. The leaders of this family endorsed the Archbishop’s point of view, but Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi sent a letter to the Archbishop refusing to carry out his wish.
He advised the Archbishop to reside in the farms of Brisat, Blaouza, Kafar Zaina and Ser’el, and to oppose the oppressive leaders and governors, instead of staying in Kesrawan and gathering supporters to remove the assets of Kannoubine to other areas.
Douaihi reminded the Archbishop that Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen declared many times, even in front of the clergy, that: “The Patriarchal Chair belongs only to the Patriarch, and he makes the decisions. Furthermore, Sheikh Fayyad Abou Kansouh and Sheikh Nawfal Abou Nassif received numerous letters from priests, asking them to put pressure on the Patriarch. Afterward, Abou Kansouh and Abou Nassif wrote to the Patriarch saying: ‘Do what you believe is right.’ ”
When the Patriarch fled to Saint Challita Mokbes’ in 1683, the civil leaders in Kesrawan offered him a safe haven. They asked him, in return, to promote some Archbishops. He promoted Archbishop Youssef Moubarak to avoid conflicts with the Kesrawani leaders. Other priests attempted to get promoted as Archbishops by seeking support from the dignitaries.
When Estephanos Douaihi realized the danger of the dignitaries’ intervention, he left Kesrawan for Mejdel Al Ma’oush. He preferred suffering again instead of obeying orders given to him by others.
In a letter dated on 20 June 1683, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi detailed some important issues related to the promotion of clergical ranks such as:
1- Nobody can promote himself for the sacred ecclesiastical ranks.
2- Jesus Christ did not glorify himself… The one who glorified Jesus was God who said to him: “You are my son.”
3- Any member of clergy found receiving ecclesiastical ranks by bribery should be stripped from his post, along with those who promoted him.
4- Any Archbishop who promotes a priest or a deacon by receiving bribes loses his dignity.
5- Nobody is allowed to instruct the Patriarch to promote the clergy.
In 1683, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi visited Dair Al Kamar to meet Prince Ahmad Al Maani and rent from him the village of Mejdel Al Ma’oush. The Melkite Patriarch, Kirillus the 5th, traveled to Dair Al Kamar to discuss with the Maronite Patriarch some religious differences between the two sects. Kirillus accompanied four Melkite Archbishops to support him and defend his point of view.
The Melkite Patriarch argued that the incarnation of God in the Holy Host happens after the priest calls upon the Holy Spirit. Patriarch Douaihi proved with crystal clear evidence that the incarnation occurs after the words of Jesus Christ: “…Drink from it, all of you. For this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, shed for many for the forgiveness of sins…”
Matthew 26: 27-29.
Kirillus could not deny the evidence presented by Patriarch Douaihi. Since then, he followed the rules of the Roman Catholic Church.
On another occasion, Patriarch Douaihi heard that the Franciscan Monks in Jerusalem and Nazareth (Palestine) mistreated the Maronite people in Palestine and tried to attract them to join their Church.
Patriarch Douaihi lodged a complaint against the Franciscan Monks to the Sacred Assembly in Rome. The Assembly ordered the Franciscans to refrain from oppressing the Maronites, and obliged their Superior, Father Rafael, to travel to Lebanon and express his regret to the Patriarch.
In 1693, Baldassaro Caldera was elected as the new Father Superior for the Franciscans. The first thing he did was accept, in his sect, a Maronite man called Boutros who was banished from the Maronite sect for an unforgivable sin.
Then Baldassaro convinced the Maronite parish in Akka-Palestine to sign an agreement, stating that the Maronite people join the Latin Church by their own will, and that they accept the authority of Jerusalem’s Monks instead of the Maronite Patriarch’s authority.
Patriarch Estephanos wrote again a letter to Rome. The Sacred Assembly issued another strict warning to the Franciscans.
Unfortunately, the monks did not obey the recommendations of the Sacred Assembly, so Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi sent, to Palestine in 1699, Archbishop Youssef Al Shami and Father Elias Al Hasrouni, to rebuke the Franciscan Monks about their appalling behavior and unacceptable acts against the Maronite Church, which contradicted the Divine Justice.
The two Maronite messengers told the Franciscans that the Maronite sect was established 500 years before the birth of Saint Francis, and that this sect obeys only the instructions given by its religious leaders.
The conflicts between the two parties ceased only when Father Stephano Di Napoli was elected in 1699 as the new Father Superior for the Franciscans. He ordered his monks to respect the Maronite people and never interfere with their decisions and religious freedom.
The courage and determination of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi transformed the Maronite Church into a well organized state, formed by a just governor, a loyal parish and disciplined clergy. The Patriarch used to reward the Archbishops and priests who succeeded in their missions. On the other hand, he punished those who failed or showed any sign of weakness and deterioration.
Furthermore, he prohibited the clergy from smoking. He could not tolerate anyone who smoked in front of him. Some clergy members were punished for contradicting Douaihi’s order: “Do not smoke!”
2-Douaihi’s Financial Management:
Patriarch Douaihi inherited a huge debt of 1396 piasters from his ancestor, Gerges Al Besebaali.
In 1670, when Estephanos was elected as the new Maronite Patriarch, another debt of 1158 piasters was added to the previous debt.
Patriarch Al Besebaali could not repay the debts due to his unsound financial management and shortage of the Church’s revenue.
We mentioned before that Estephanos Douaihi was reluctant to accept his appointment as a new Patriarch. Some biographers argued that his hesitation to accept the elite position was due to the huge debt left by Patriarch Al Besebaali. Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen opposed the election of Patriarch Douaihi because he feared that the new Patriarch would not be able to repay the debt. Hence, Al Khazen family would be obliged to repay the debt out of their own pockets.
The Turks and the Hamadis obliged the Maronite Church to pay huge amounts of various taxes every year. When some Patriarchs refused to pay taxes, they were forced to leave North Lebanon, and flee to Kesrawan to protect themselves from oppression and abuse.
Many churches were burnt to the ground or totally destroyed because the Maronite clergy failed to pay hefty taxes. Patriarch Douaihi himself fled from Kannoubine several times. Once, I’ssa Hamadi slapped him for his refusal to pay a big sum of money to the Hamadis.
On other occasions, he left Kannoubine and hid in isolated caves and rugged terrains.
Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi sent many letters to the Ottoman government complaining about the monumental taxes the governors imposed on the Maronite Church.
Sultan Ahmad, the Ottoman King, sent a strict letter to the governor of Tripoli, ordering him not to impose more taxes on the Patriarch. Sultan Ahmad said in his letter to the governor: “We inform you, that the Maronite Patriarch, Estephanos, who settles in Kannoubine Monastery (The district of Tripoli - Jebbet Becharre) lodged a complaint to our lofty government about the taxes imposed on the Patriarchal Chair. According to the financial record and the Ottoman law, I am satisfied with the Patriarch paying the usual amount of tax.”
The Sultan added: “But the two officers did not accept the fact that the Patriarch should only pay the usual sum of tax. Moreover, they imposed more taxes than what was documented in the normal record book. Due to this aggression and wrongdoing, Patriarch Douaihi complained to us, asking our government to repel injustice. So, following his request, we issued this lofty order and offered it to him. When you receive this order, you should revise the new sealed tax book, and demand the Patriarchate to pay only the amount of money which was documented in the old tax book.”
Ahmad warned the governor saying: “Soon after the Patriarch pays the tax, do not ask him to pay more and do not harm him. If anyone imposes higher taxes on the Patriarch, you must oppose him and not permit any officer to disrespect the contents of the tax book. Furthermore, if anyone is found contradicting our order, you should write down his name and send it to us.”
The Sultan ordered his governor “not to say to the messenger who carries our lofty order: ‘We also have another order’. This claim will be invalid.”
We recall that Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi depended on the financial aid he obtained from Lebanese dignitaries and the King of France, Louis the 14th. He used all the money he received to build churches and help impoverished and needy families.
When the Patriarch decided to rebuild Saint Challita Mokbes’ Church, he sought the help of Sheikh Nader Abou Nawfal Al Khazen, and he wrote to Sheikh Abou Saber, from Reshmaya, asking for funds to build a monastery in Mejdel Al Ma’oush.
The record book of the Patriarchal Chair, ‘Accounts of the Patriarchal Chair’, which is well preserved, shows the excellent financial management of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi.
We read in this book: “The whole debt reached 2400 piasters. God will help to repay it.”
Patriarch Douaihi did not spend money on his personal life. He preferred living in poverty instead of luxury. Even his clothes were old and shabby. On the other hand, he was an outstanding manager who enriched the Maronite Church, not only with virtues, but also with financial flow.
We should mention here that the Patriarchal Edifice was in Kannoubine Monastery. The Patriarch was not the sole resident of this monastery. Some historians estimated that more than 300 priests and Archbishops lived in Kannoubine, most of them worked on lands, but others were hermits who stayed in caves and hermitages away from their hard-working brothers. Some other members of the clergy were elderly, sick or disabled.
The Patriarchal Chair depended on agricultural harvesting and financial aid to cater for the daily expenses which sometimes trespassed the financial capability of the Maronite Church, especially when Patriarchs were obliged to move with many priests from one place to another or when several students sailed to Rome to receive an education.
Estephanos Douaihi mentioned in the ‘Accounts of the Patriarchal Chair’ the expenses imposed on Kannoubine for sending Boutros Moubarak and Safi Al Koudsi from Shanan’ir to Rome. The two students sailed to Rome with Father YoussefSham’oun. The cost of the two students’ trip was fifty piasters, and the cost of Father Sham’oun’s trip was another fifty piasters.
Patriarch Douaihi detailed all the expenses of sending priests to Rome such as Father Elias Al Hasrouni, Father Gebrayel Hawwa and all the Maronite students who went to Rome in 1703.
When Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi rented Mejdel Al Ma’oush from Prince Ahmad Al Maani in 1683, he spent a lot of money to build the monastery and restore the agricultural lands in that village.
The whole yearly revenue of Mejdel Al Ma’oush was only 360 piasters. This amount clearly indicates the lack of money available in the hands of the Patriarch, while the cost of reconstructing Saint Challita Mokbes’ Church reached about 200 piasters.
In order to shed more light on his excellent financial management, we should present to our reader a brief description of the ‘Accounts of the Patriarchal Chair’. In this book, he recorded all the expenses and revenues whether big or small.
The account book was divided into sections:
1- A section which includes the old and new debts and their repayments.
2- The section of silk revenue.
3- The parish contribution section.
4- The expenses of clergy promotions which reached 120 piasters.
5- Expenses of the monastery residents, particularly their clothes. (Douaihi also mentioned the price of his own clothes).
6- Taxes paid to the Ottoman government.
7- Accounts of the monastery from 23 May 1670 (Only three days after Estephanos Douaihi became a Patriarch).
8- Expenses of the construction work in Kannoubine.
9- A section including the payments to the monastery workers.
10- A financial statement related to the church’s utensils and bread used to make little pieces of Holy Host. (Douaihi used to donate utensils and bread to poor villages in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Cyprus).
Patriarch Douaihi also documented in his account book all the charitable donations that his mother, Mariam Douaihi, received from ordinary people such as: “three piasters from…” or “four piasters from…”
Furthermore, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi considered investment as the main source of financial flow. He asked Pope Innocent the 11th to help him as if he were one of the Catholic clergy in Rome. He invested the money sent to the Patriarchal Chair by the Pope to buy lands and some soap factories, particularly in North Lebanon.
In a statement written by Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi on 10 December 1682, he said: “We received, from the Honorable Archbishop of Nicosia, Boutros Doumit, the amount of 307.5 riyals sent by Mr. Fausto, our representative in Rome. This amount of money is half of the whole amount donated by his Holiness Pope Innocent the 11th, to support our Sacred Chair of Antioch.”
In the account book, Douaihi clearly detailed all the Chair’s properties such as:
1- Purchasing lands in Hadchit, Ser’el, Tripoli and Assnoun (near Zagharta).
2- Buying shares in Bab Al Hadid Soap Factory in Tripoli from Youssef, Son of Father Abdallah Al Dahdah.
3-Douaihi and the School of Rome:
In 1685, after Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi returned from Mejdel Al Ma’oush to Kannoubine, the Maronite School of Rome celebrated 100 years of providing education.
The school was decorated with candles, colored lamps, silky textiles, pictures and icons of Saints.
Pictures of twenty four excellent former students were also displayed. Three of them became Patriarchs. They were: Gerges Oumaira Al Ehdeni, Estephanos Douaihi Al Ehdeni and Abd Al Ghal (Andraous) Akhijian. Twelve others became Archbishops and nine were preachers.
A memorial booklet was published which included twenty four pictures of these former students, with a big picture of Patriarch Douaihi.
Under the picture, a tribute was written about Patriarch Douaihi’s endless love for his people and his Church, and the great achievements he made during his Patriarchal era.
The complete translation of the tribute is: “There is no praise which can be enough to reward this Pontiff, for he outdistanced every praise. He was raised to the throne, but he was found higher than this rank. He strived to outrun others, not only with greatness, but also with righteousness and grace. He wrote the history of his nation and documented its rites. Hence, he deserved to be honored. Let his virtues spread, not only to the current generations, but also to the old and future generations. Patriarch Douaihi lived a real monastic life. He used to dedicate himself to serve his faith and please God, as if he did not have a parish to take care of. Meanwhile, he used to take care of others, as if he was not devoted to his faith in God. He always attempted to enrich others. How happy could that nation be which received taxes from its leader instead of paying taxes to him!”
In 1696, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi sent to Rome Father Ibrahim, Son of Khairallah (from Ghazir), who studied in the Maronite Schoolbetween 1671 and 1684, and Michael Al Korbassi, accompanied by eleven students, from whom were Semaan Awwad,(25) the Great Semaani (from Hasroun) and Andraous Iskander.
Douaihi wrote several letters to the students of Rome, encouraging them to excel in their studies and protect their faith. He compared them with “strong trees on a watercourse, which are ashamed from not giving fruit, or with fertile land which receives lengthy rain, so it is impossible for it to stop harvesting.”
In another letter to the students of Rome, he said: “The East is lacking those who teach, discipline and reduce the harshness of oppression…”
He added: “I advise you, my children, do not waste your time with laziness… God selected you to educate your neighbors and discipline people with your lectures and service for the Divine Sacraments. So when the Housemaster comes and observes your excellent work, he will provide you with what he promised
(25)Awwad became a Patriarch and wrote a famous biography about Estephanos Douaihi.
you, as he promised the pure disciples to sit down on twelve chairs. Otherwise, whoever would be lazy and neglects his Master’s account, amusing himself with this world’s falsehoods, instead of spiritual duties, will be punished with hellfire where there is wailing and the hellish dog.”
When some students of Rome returned to Lebanon, Patriarch Douaihi joyfully received them and appointed them as religious leaders in different villages and towns.
4-Douaihi’s Bonds with France:
A close relationship was established between Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi and the Kingdom of France. Douaihi managed to obtain from the French King, Louis the 14th, many scholarships for the Maronite students. Later on, tens of Lebanese students started to study in the French universities and institutes instead of Rome.
The French King sent financial aid to the Patriarch to help him pay taxes to the Hamadis and Turks.
The Patriarch distributed some donations, sent by the King and the little Lebanese community in France, to needy families in Lebanon. He also paid ransoms to release some Maronite prisoners who were captured by the Turks.
In 1699, Patriarch Douaihi sent a letter to the King of France describing the agony of the Rizk family in Tripoli. He wrote: “Our beloved son, Youssef Rizk, is a Catholic Maronite man from our parish and one of the dignitaries of our sect. He is the brother of Sheikh Younes. Sheikh Younes was forced to declare his disbelief, out of his mouth not his heart, to save himself and his children. After about forty days, God helped him flee with his children to Kesrawan. There, he confessed his wrong - doing and reaccepted, with obedience and humility, the Maronite rules imposed on him. Soon after, he received from the Greatest Ottoman Sultan a lofty order, based on the ruling of judges, considering his disbelief by force as an unlawful act and his pretension as a Muslim as invalid and unreasonable. Then Younes returned to Tripoli and declared his Christianity for five years. Some powerful leaders of the city harbored hatred against him. They were able to kidnap him and kill him on an appointed stick. During his suffering, he repeatedly declared his faith in Jesus Christ… His brother, Youssef, was also arrested and thrown into jail. He lost an enormous amount of money because the government sold his properties, furniture and even his house. He could not stay in Lebanon nor afford to feed his family of fifteen people. He was obliged to borrow money to pay for his expenses, despite the fact that he had no chance of repaying the debts, so he came to us many times asking to write this letter for him. We are hopeful that charitable people who love the wounds of the Savior and his Immaculate Mother will lend their generous hands to help Sheikh Youssef, his children and his late brother’s children.”(26)
Patriarch Douaihi sent another letter to the King of France seeking his intervention with the Ottoman Sultan about the Turks’ mistreatment of the Maronite people. The King instructed his Consul in Istanbul to do everything he could to protect the rights of the Maronite sect in Lebanon.
Patriarch Douaihi informed the King of France about the terrible situation of the Maronite people. He said: “After sentencing men, children and women, they (The Turks), hung women from their breasts on trees, as I saw by my own eyes.”
(26)Abbot Boutros Fahd, Maronite Patriarchs and Archbishops (16th Century - 17th Century): P. 218.
The French King, Louis the 14th, replied in a letter to the Patriarch saying: “I received from your secretary, Father Elias, a letter dated on 20 March 1700. I was very disappointed by what you told me about the suffering of the Maronite sect in Mount Lebanon, and about difficulties you went through to protect yourself from abuse… I am always ready to defend the Roman Catholic religion in any place, particularly into the boundaries of your Patriarchate. For that reason, I sent with your secretary a letter to my ambassador in Constantinople, renewing my previous orders to him to do every effort with the Ottoman Sultan, in order to receive from him all that is right for the Catholic religion in the Maronite country…”
On 30 October 1702, Patriarch Douaihi wrote a letter to the Consul of France in Saida, Mr. John Baptist Estelles, complaining against the Jacobites, who mistreated the Maronite community in Syria and Palestine.
Douaihi told the Consul that the Patriarch of the Syriac Jacobites in Aleppo reported to the Ottoman Sultan that the Roman Catholic Pope appointed Patriarch Douaihi without receiving an approval from the Sultan. The Ottoman government ordered Patriarch Douaihi to stand before the governor of Tripoli and explain the circumstances of his appointment.
Some eyewitnesses who lived in the era of Patriarch Douaihi confirmed that a big picture of the King of France, Louis the 14th, was hung on the right side of the Patriarchal Edifice in Kannoubine Valley.
The Patriarch offered daily prayers to the King of France and his family. The Patriarch himself told the French Consul, Mr. John Baptist Estelles, about his prayers for the King, when Estelles visited North Lebanon.
Estelles wrote a letter to his King, mentioning the Patriarch’s prayers.
On July 1674, the Ambassador of the King, Marquis De Nointel, visited Kannoubine after a long trip to Turkey, Saida and Tripoli.
The Patriarch warmly welcomed his visitor and invited him to his table alongside the Maronite religious leaders.
The next day, the Patriarch and his guest visited the Cedars of Lebanon. Behind them walked members of the clergy and ordinary people.
An altar was built in the Cedar Forest, and prayers were raised to God who protected the Cedars of Lebanon for thousands of years.
On their way back to the Sacred Valley, the two men discussed the historical relationship between the Maronite people and France, the great nation which declared the protection of Lebanon since 1649.
5-Consecration of Churches:
Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi paid much attention to constructing, reconstructing and consecrating churches.
In Lebanon, he consecrated about thirty five churches in Ehden, Becharre, Jezzine, Kaitouli, Jbeil, Kesrawan and Matn.
Archbishop (Patriarch) Nasrallah Sfeir confirmed that Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi consecrated thirty five churches in thirty five years.(27) Douaihi sent a manuscript to the Vatican Library in which he mentioned twenty seven churches he consecrated in several villages and towns in Lebanon. They were:
(27) Al Manara: P. 365-395.
- Saint John Hrash’s (1671).
- Saint Challita Mokbes’ (1672).
- Saint Zakhia’s (Ajaltoun-1672).
- Our Lady of the Field’s (Dlebta-1675).
- Saint Elias’ (Zouk Mosbeh -1675).
- Saint Elias’ (Harat Al Bellaneh-1675).
- Saint Mary’s (Ain Warka-1680).
- Saint Elias’ (Ghazir-1680).
- Saint Mary’s (Ghazir-1683).
- Saint Ouriakos’ (Reshmaya-1683).
- Saint George’s (Mejdel Al Ma’oush-1684).
- Saint John the Baptist’s (Slima-1684).
- Church of Apostles (Harissa-1689).
- Saint George’s (Selfaya-1690).
- Saint Abda’s (Bait Shabab -1690).
- Our Lady of Zagharta’s (11 March 1693).
- Saint George’s (Ajaltoun-1696).
- Saint Peter and Paul’s (Zouk Mosbeh-1696).
- Saint Elias’ (Sahel Alma-1696).
- Saint George’s (Dair Al Roumiyeh-1696).
- Saint Ephram’s (Mazraat Kafar Zebyan-1696).
- Saint Antonios Kozhaya’s (1697).
- Saint Michael’s (Sharaya-1697).
- Saint Elias’ Ghosta (1698).
- Saint Antonios’ (Ain Warka-1698).
- Church of Our Lady of Mart Moura (Ehden-1701).
- Saint Sarkis and Bakhos’ (Becharre 1701).(28)
(28)Father Nasser Gemayel, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi: P. 280-281.
Some of the churches which Patriarch Douaihi consecrated, but were not mentioned in his letter, were:
- Saint Abda Harharaya’s (1670).
- Saint George’s and Saint Elias’ (Mtain-1672).
- Saint Sassine’s (Bait Shabab-1675).
- Saint Charbel’s (Kaitouli-1680).
- Saint Elias’ (Shouaya-1680).
We mentioned before that Estephanos Douaihi discovered a defect in the building of Saint Challita Mokbes’ Church (Ghosta). He reconstructed it and established a house next to it for Patriarchs who visited the area.
Patriarch Youssef Al Tayyan (1796-1809) made his residency sometimes in Bkerki and sometimes in Saint Challita Mokbes’.
One year before the resignation of Youssef Al Tayyan, the Maronite clergy held a General Assembly in Kannoubine and decided to transfer the Patriarchal residency from Bkerki to Saint Challita Mokbes’. The decision was not implemented after Al Tayyan’s resignation.
6-Promotion of Archbishops:
Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi promoted a large number of Archbishops in Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus. Some of them were:
- Lucas Al Karbassi: Archbishop of Cyprus (1 January 1672).
- Boutros, Son of Makhlouf Al Ghostawi: Archbishop of Cyprus (5 July 1674).
- Youssef Sham’oun Al Hasrouni: Archbishop of Tripoli (14 July 1675).
- John, Son of Jalwan: Archbishop of Batroun (18 May 1677).
- Boutros Al Ehdeni: Archbishop of Saida (21 April 1680).
- Youssef, Son of Moubarak: Archbishop of Saida (6 June 1683).
- Gerges Obeid Al Ehdeni: Archbishop of Ehden (27 August 1690).
- Youssef Al Shami: Archbishop of Beirut (27 January 1691).
- John Habkouk: Archbishop of Kozhaya’s Monastery (8 September 1691).
- Michael Al Ghaziri: Archbishop of Damascus (?).
- Gebrayel Douaihi: Archbishop of Sarafand (28 January 1693).
- John Mouhaseb Al Ghostawi: Archbishop of Arka (7 September 1698).
- Yaakoub Awwad Al Hasrouni: Archbishop of Tripoli (6 July 1698).
- Khairallah Estephan Al Ghostawi: Archbishop of Al Akoura (12 November 1703).
7-The Establishment of the Maronite Order:
The founders of the Maronite Order were Gebrayel Hawwa, Abdallah Karaali and Youssef Al Betn. They came from Aleppo to Lebanon, aiming to revive the Order of Saint Antonios, Father of the Hermits.
Without the wisdom of Patriarch Douaihi and his intelligence, the three men were not able to found the Maronite Order.
Hawwa, Karaali and Betn left Aleppo on February 1694. They visited Palestine then Lebanon. Soon after, they headed to Kannoubine to receive blessings from Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi. When they told him about their ambition, he replied: “My sons, you grew up in a rich ambiance, so living in harsh mountains and valleys would not be easy for you. Furthermore, the war is breaking out in the country and the bloodshed has never stopped. Can you afford all these difficulties?”
After he realized their insistence, he permitted them to carry out their desire.
Hawwa, Karaali and Betn accompanied Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi in one of his trips to Jebbeh, Batroun and Jbeil, looking for a suitable location for their Order.(29) They did not know that a little church in Ehden would be that location.
The Ehdenians helped the three monks establish the Maronite Order, after they realized their virtues and righteousness. The Ehdenians vowed to abandon their rights of managing Mart Moura’s mortmain. On August 1695,
(29)Father George Nassif, A Brief Biography About Abdallah Karaali: P. 16.
the caretakers of the mortmain wrote an official statement: “We abandoned the monastery and its mortmain and we handed them to the three monks from Aleppo, Father Gebrayel Hawwa, Deacon Abdallah Karaali, Deacon Youssef Al Betn and all the monks who follow them or will succeed them… We transferred to them the rights to build or destroy the monastery by their own will. No one will oppose them in any decision they make.”
Some of the caretakers of the mortmain who signed the statement were:
Father Ibrahim, Father Gerges (Son of Antoun), Father Youssef (Nephew of the Patriarch), Father Saade, Father Hanna (Son of Hikar), Father Gerges (Son of Al Maksissi), Father Zakhia, Father Boutros, Sheikh Bou Yazbek Al Sahiouny and his family, Bou Gerges Dahdah, Doumit Finianos and his brother, Bou Ibrahim Al Hanache, Iskandar, Yammine and Bou Younes (Son of Kass Hanna).
The above - mentioned statement was well preserved in the Monastery of Louaize.
Abdallah Karaali wrote about that period of time saying: “After we decided to reside in Mart Moura’s Monastery, we began planning for the construction work, because the monastery was destroyed except for some little parts. There was only one monk and an elderly priest called Antonios. The monk joined us, then we started the reconstruction work which lasted three months. Father Gebrayel Hawwa and Deacon Youssef Al Betn paid for the construction expenses for I did not have money…”
Karaali added: “In 1696, we rented a house in Tripoli to stay during the winter. By the beginning of the spring, we went to Mart Moura’s. There we completed the construction project... Meanwhile, we signed a statement saying: ‘Anyone who decides to leave his brothers should not carry any amount of money.’ Archbishop Gerges Yammine sealed the statement.”
Karaali mentioned that the monks were teaching little children in Ehden and Saint Joseph’s School in Zagharta.
On October 1695, the monks elected Gebrayel Hawwa, who was a wise and faithful man, as their first Father General. Then they settled in the Monastery of Mart Moura - Ehden. Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi emptied Mart Moura’s for the new Order.(30)
Due to their excellent reputation of purity and morality, tens of young men joined the monks.
They established their own constitution which was extracted from Saint Antonios’ principles.
After a while, they carried out some reconstruction work at Saint Elisha’s Church near Becharre. It was a destroyed hermitage between many other hermitages in the Sacred Valley. In 1696, the monks resided in Saint
Elisha’s and elected Abdallah Karaali as its Father Superior after he became a priest. Karaali would be later elected as Archbishop of Beirut in 1716.
In 1697, the monks conducted their first Assembly at Saint Elisha’s, where they elected Father Gebrayel Farhat as the Father Superior of Mart Moura’s. Farhat became the Archbishop of Aleppo in 1725.
In 1698, they completed their constitution in fifteen sections: Obedience, Abstinence, Poverty, Monks’ Clothes, Isolated Residency, Travel, Food Table, Handwork, Silence, Heart Praying, Oral Praying, Confession, Receiving the Sacraments, Good Manners and Treating the Sick.
(30)Abbot Boutros Fahd, A Guide to the Monasteries of Lebanon: P.31.
During that period, Patriarch Douaihi realized that nuns’ monasteries were established near monks’ monasteries. He sent a letter to their Superiors, on November 1698, saying: “We previously recommended you many times not to accept nuns in monks’ monasteries for protecting purity and eliminating doubts. Despite this, we heard that some of you disobeyed these recommendations and accepted nuns who were under twelve years of age. Some of them were forced to wear black…”
He added: “We order, from now on, that nobody is permitted to promote a nun or accept a woman under the age of sixty years in mens’
monasteries. If anyone disobeys what we mentioned in this letter, he will be denied from his Order. Meanwhile, the woman who became a nun in mens’ monasteries will also be denied.”
In his letter, Patriarch Douaihi prohibited nuns from begging in villages and cities, walking through fields, socializing with men and sleeping outside their rooms.
Since the establishment of the Maronite Order, the monks experienced a bitter misunderstanding between them. Gebrayel Hawwa, the Father General, vowed to disobey the rule of Isolated Residency and followed, instead, the rules of the Jesuitical Order, dedicating himself to teaching, preaching and living among ordinary people. He had proposed to his colleagues the need for canceling the rule of Isolated Residency. They opposed this idea.
The dispute became more aggressive, particulary between Hawwa and Karaali. Another General Assembly was held and Hawwa was banished from his post. Karaali was elected as a new Father General of the Order. Patriarch Douaihi approved the Assembly decision.
In 1700, Gebrayel Hawwa met Patriarch Douaihi and asked him to be released from the Order. Under the pressure of his insistence, the Patriarch called the monks and declared before them the resignation of Hawwa. Then he granted him Mart Moura’s while Karaali was given Saint Elisha’s. The Patriarch left the door open for the monks to follow either Hawwa or Karaali. Only two monks followed Gebrayel Hawwa and the others supported Abdallah Karaali.
On a paper written in Kannoubine in 1700, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi stated: “We learned about the conflict which broke out between our sons, the monks of Aleppo. Father Gebrayel (Hawwa) intended to preach, while Father Abdallah (Karaali) preferred to live as a hermit. After listening to their views, we ordered
Father Gebrayel to take responsibility of Mart Moura’s Monastery and its construction work. On the other hand, we instructed Father Abdallah to devote himself to Saint Elisha’s… The monks’ assets should be divided between them... Any other monk can take the food and clothes he needs and join either Hawwa or Karaali…”
Hawwa stayed in Mart Moura’s until 1701. Another conflict erupted between him and Archbishop Gerges Yammine. One of his two followers left him and went to Saint Elisha’s.
After a while, Hawwa sought permission from the Patriarch to sail to Rome. The Patriarch sent with him some students to the Maronite School and instructed him to print some religious books.
Historical references mentioned that Hawwa went to Rome to purchase a printer and bring it to Lebanon. He left the Lebanese coast on 10 November 1701. After he arrived in Rome, the Pope sent him to Egypt to discuss some religious issues with the Coptic sect. Soon after, he was appointed as the Archbishop of Cyprus.
The Maronite Order faced even more difficulties when another monk, Gebrayel Farhat left his colleagues due to boredom. He resided in Saint Joseph’s Church (Zagharta) with a deacon who taught little children. Farhat stayed in Zagharta until 1705, when he fell ill. His doctors advised him to leave Zagharta. He then went to Saint Elisha’s where his brothers warmly welcomed him back. He rejoined them once again.
Gebrayel Farhat was one of the most famous writers and historians among the Maronite monks.
Karaali added: “I met Father Gebrayel Farhat, the Father Superior of Mart Moura’s Monastery, in the monks’ house in Tripoli. He revealed his secret to me saying: ‘I want to leave our Order due to boredom and join another Order.’ ”
Karaali investigated the reason of Farhat’s boredom. He learned from him that Gebrayel Hawwa planned to establish a monastery in Kesrawan and he decided to send Gebrayel Farhat to the new monastery. Farhat packed his books and clothes, preparing himself to depart to Kesrawan, but Deacon Youssef Al Betn opposed sending Farhat to Kesrawan. A severe conflict sparked between Al Betn and Farhat who consequently decided to leave the Maronite Order.
The news of Farhat’s decision was widespread among the monks who were extremely disturbed, particularly because they had a great deal of respect for Farhat.
The monks showed their support to Gebrayel Farhat due to his position, his knowledge of the Arabic language and poetry, and his eloquence.
Many monks blamed the management of Gebrayel Hawwa regarding Gebrayel Farhat’s decision to abandon the Order.
Due to disturbances which escorted the establishment of the Maronite Order, Patriarch Douaihi was reluctant to approve its constitution, but Archbishop Gerges Yammine convinced him to declare the approval on 18 June 1700. The approval was granted in a ceremony attended by the monks and invited Archbishops.(31)
The approval statement was well preserved in the monastery of Our Lady of Louaize. It said: “If anyone contradicts one of the Order’s rules, he is not committing a sin unless his act was severe and implies hardship on other monks…I endorse the constitution, by the Apostolic authority…”
Meanwhile, Archbishop Gebrayel Al Blouzani sent, from Tamish’s Monastery in Kesrawan, Father Soulaiman, Son of Al Hajji (from Meshmesh), Father Abdallah Krayker (from Syria), Father Boutros Mouwannes (from Baz’oun) and Father Moussa Al Baabdati to Saint Ashaaya’s Church in Broummana to reside there and establish the Antonine Order. Patriarch Douaihi approved the new Order in 1703.
(31)Arshbishop Boutros Shebli, Estephanos Boutros Douaihi: P.167-185.
7-Douaihi’s Books and Manuscripts:
Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi wrote more than thirty books on different subjects. He also encouraged other authors to write books, while the Ottoman authorities were oppressing people and preventing them from expressing their views.
The era of Douaihi was labeled with lack of creativity. Writing activities were very rare. That era deserved to be named: ‘The Dark Era’, but the Maronite clergy played a significant role in preserving the heritage and enriching it with hundreds of valuable books and manuscripts. Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was undoubtedly the most famous writer during the 17th century and one of the most outstanding liturgical historians of all time.
The first realistic question, which the researchers asked about the numerous books Patriarch Douaihi wrote was always: “How could he be so prolific, when he was busy managing the Maronite Church and fleeing from one village to another to spare his life?”
There is only one answer to this question: “Patriarch Douaihi was many men in a single man.” He had a very important writing task, which was to defend the Maronite Church and confirm its strong relations with the Roman Catholic Chair.
The European people used to believe that the Church in the East rebelled against the Catholic Chair and refused to obey the Roman teachings. The Europeans misjudged the relationship between the Oriental Church and the Church of Rome for three reasons:
1- The lack of communication between East and West.
2- Some European writers managed to deceive ordinary people, by accusing the Oriental Church, particularly the Maronite sect, of disobedience of the Catholic Church.
3- The support of some Christian Arabs to the Muslims in their bloody war against the Crusaders.
When the Maronite students arrived in Rome, they tried to convince their European colleague about the strong commitment of the Maronite Church to the Roman Catholic Church.
We remember that Patriarch Douaihi was a student in Rome. He copied many articles and other references about the history of the Maronite people.
And so he did when he went to Aleppo and Cyprus. He wanted to refine the Maronite religious books, in order to prevent more false accusations against the Maronite Church.
The books and manuscripts that Patriarch Douaihi wrote are:
1- ‘Silsilat Al Batarikah’ (The Series of Maronite Patriarchs): This book includes short biographies about the Maronite Patriarchs, from the first Patriarch, Saint John Maroun, until Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi himself.
‘Silsilat Al Batarikah’ was published in 1898 in Beirut by Rashid Al Shartouni.
2- ‘The History of the Maronite School of Rome’: This book was lost. Only a few of its pages have been preserved.
3- ‘Tarikh Al Azminah’ (The History of All Time): This valuable book studies the history of the Orient since the birth of Islam until 1699. It includes scientific references about Arabs, Crusaders, Turks, political events and wars. It also includes information about Patriarchs, Archbishops, writers, leaders, monasteries and churches...
The title, ‘Tarikh Al Azminah’, was not original. Gregory, Son of Al E’bri entitled a book ‘Tarikh Al Zaman’.
4- ‘Nisbat Al Mawarinah’ (The Origin of the Maronite People): This two-volume book sheds light on some bleak historical periods, and
reveals the origins of the Maronites. It includes references about Saint Maroun’s life and information about monks, priests, monasteries and churches named ‘Maroun’. Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi also wrote about the first organizer of the Maronite Church, Patriarch Saint John Maroun.
5- ‘Radd Al Touham’ (Denial of Accusations): Patriarch Douaihi refuted the allegations of the anti - Maronite historians like Sa’id, Son of Al Batrick, Thomas, the Archbishop of Kafar Tab, Guillaume De Tyr, Arnoldus Albertini, Francescus Berdinus and Carlo Giangolino... Some of these historians claimed that the Maronite people failed to join the Catholic Church before 1215. They also said that the Maronite people suffered later from heresy and did not rejoin the Catholic Church until 1533, which was the era of Patriarch Gerges Oumaira.
Some other historians said: “The Maronites followed the Catholic Church only during the 15th or 16th centuries.”
6- ‘Al Ihtijaj’ (The Defense): Patriarch Douaihi defended the Maronite sect again. Father Philip Semrani published ‘Al Ihtijaj’ in 1937.
(Douaihi wrote ‘Nisbat Al Mawarinah’, ‘Radd Al Touham’ and ‘Al Ihtijaj’ as one book).
7- ‘Terrestrial Paradise’: This Latin book argued that the village of Estephanos Douaihi, Ehden, was the Terrestrial Paradise.
8- ‘Manarat Al Akdas’ (The Lighthouse of Sacraments): This book, which was written in two volumes, explains the rites of the Maronite mass. ‘Manarat Al Akdas’ was published in 1895 by Rashid Al Shartouni.
‘Manarat Al Akdas’ was not an original title. Son of Al E’bri entitled one of his books ‘Manarat Al Akdas’. Father Joachim Moutran (1696 -1766) used this title for a book he wrote.
9- ‘Al Shartouniah’: This book details the ecclesiastical ranks and the rites of blessing places and utensils.
We should mention that, before Patriarch Douaihi, fifteen similar manuscripts of ‘Al Shartouniah’ had been written. The first of them was written by Patriarch Jeremiah Al Amchiti (1209-1239), and the last was written by Patriarch Abd Al Ghal (Andraous) Akhijian in 1676.
After the death of Patriarch Douaihi, about fifty seven similar books were written. The majority of them extracted elements from the Patriarch’s manuscript.
10- ‘Sharh Routbat Al Shartouniah’ (Explanation of Al Shartouniah Rite): This liturgical manuscript, which is related to the previous one, explains more ecclesiastical rites.
11- ‘Debate Against the Jacobite Sect’: In this book, Estephanos Douaihi criticized the Jacobite sect, and proved that the promotion of their Patriarch, Dioscuros, was false and unlawful.
12- ‘The Brief Sacred History’: We read about this book in several references, but we could not gather any information about its contents.
13- ‘The Stories of Glorified Fathers’.
14- ‘Biographies of Some Saints’.
15- ‘Tasshih Al Takrisat’ (Correcting the Consecrations): In this book, Patriarch Douaihi explained the consecration of churches, altars, baptism, tombs, crosses, icons, oil and utensils.
16- ‘Book of Funerals’.
17- ‘The Syriac Hymns’: This book explains the
rules of Syriac poetry and hymns.
18- ‘The Book of Syriac ‘Nawafir’’: Estephanos Douaihi confirmed that the Maronite Church uses thirty one ‘Nafours’. He also mentioned some
19- ‘The Memorial Days of the Year’.
20- ‘The Preaching’: Patriarch Douaihi copied, in three books, his preaching in Aleppo.
21- ‘Book of Prayers’ (Al Shahimah).
22- ‘Prayers to Saint Marina’.
23- ‘The Philosophical Outcomes’: The first academic thesis Estephanos Douaihi wrote when he was a student in the Maronite School of Rome.
24- Another academic thesis Douaihi presented to the Maronite School, to accomplish his studies.
25- ‘Distribution of the Seven Sacraments’.
26- A written record preserved in Bkerki, including some of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi’s writings.
27- ‘The Rites of Haircutting and Dressing Monks’.
28- ‘A Testimony about the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in the Holy Host’.
29- ‘Translation of Letters’ sent from Popes to Maronite Patriarchs and their responses.
30- ‘Translation of Writings Carved on Rocks near Nahr Al Kalb’: Nahr Al Kalb (River of the Dog) lies between Jounieh and Beirut. The writings near the river were carved by the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who built the bridge over the river.
31- ‘Syriac - Arabic Dictionary’.
32- ‘Accounts of the Patriarchal Chair’: This record book includes all the accounts of the Chair in Patriarch Douaihi’s era, showing his excellent financial management.
33- ‘Moukaddamou Jebbat Becharre’: The ‘Moukaddamoun’ were civil, political and military leaders in Jebbeh and Becharre.(32) Patriarch Douaihi wrote a valuable reference about their families and their roles between 1382 and 1690.
The literary contribution of Patriarch Douaihi was not limited to writing religious and historical books. He encouraged other writers to do the same. In his era, Father Boutros Al Toulani wrote several liturgical and philosophical books, and Merhej, Son of Al Namroun Al Bani produced historical manuscripts, particularly about the right faith of the Maronite people.
Gebrayel Farhat, who was one of the Maronite Monks, wrote many books in Douaihi’s era.
(32)Father Youssef Mahfouz, Brief History of the Maronite Church: P. 82.
Patriarch Douaihi sent Al Semaani to Rome, where he became one of the most famous scholars and writers.
Douaihi ordered Father Elias Al Semaani to travel to Rome then to Egypt. There Al Semaani discovered, in Al Natroun Monastery, some precious Syriac manuscripts.
He also sent Gebrayel Hawwa to Rome, carrying with him books to be printed. Hawwa intended to bring a printer to Lebanon.
Furthermore, Patriarch Douaihi urged the Apostolic Chair in Rome to print the Bible and letters of Saint Paul in Syriac and Arabic. He also sent Ibrahim Al Ghaziri and Michael Al Matoushi (from Cyprus) to the Italian capital to bring a printer to Lebanon.
Due to his excellent role in the literary movement in his period, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi received many nicknames describing his superiority as a great writer. Some of these nicknames were:
- The Great Douaihi.
- The Father of Lebanese History.
- The Lighthouse of the Orient.
- The Scholar of All Time.
- The Golden Mouth.
- The Greatest Patriarch.
- The Crown of Maronite Scholars.
- The Complete Teacher.
- The Dome of Wisdom.
- The Teacher of the Orient.
- The Greatest Man from Lebanon.
- The Pride of the Maronite Sect.
- The Spiritual Philosopher.
1- The Man of Humility:
Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was well known for his modesty and humility. Since he was a student in Rome, many Italians used to leave their work to listen to his lectures, but he never showed any sense of superiority or pride.
He never ate fresh fruits and vegetables, remembering people who starve from poverty. He also never consumed meat unless his doctors advised him to do so. When he came back from Italy, he isolated himself in a monastery in Ehden and established a little school to teach children.
Furthermore, when he was chosen to be the new Archbishop of Cyprus, he did not ask for residency or a monthly salary.
When he was elected as a new Patriarch, he refused the post, then accepted it due to pressure from the public and clergy.
As a writer and historian, Estephanos Douaihi did not seek fame or glory. He wrote what he considered right, without criticizing any of his opponents.
As a Patriarch, he was tolerant and patient. We still remember when I’ssa Hamadi slapped him. He forgave him and did not insult him with harsh words.
When Estephanos fled Kannoubine to hide in a cave in the valley, Father Elias Sham’oun Al Hasrouni fled with him. They crossed a chilly river after midnight. Patriarch Douaihi realized that Father Sham’oun was suffering from cold weather conditions. The Patriarch lit a fire and offered him a drink. He ignored his own agony and took care of Father Sham’oun.
Once more, the Patriarch’s writer came back to Kannoubine from Tripoli. It was raining heavily. When the Patriarch saw the writer shivering, he left his bed, forgetting his own sickness. He walked on one leg to a wooden box. There, he offered his writer a shirt and a glass of drink.
On another occasion, the Patriarch was traveling to the high villages of Jbeil. The snow was thick and covered everything. When he noticed that his followers were trembling, he descended from his horse and walked with them.
Estephanos was also famous for helping the poor and needy. Every time he received money from the King of France, Louis the 14th, he offered a big portion of that money to impoverished families.
The clothes of Patriarch Douaihi were simple. Eyewitnesses said that his shirt was old and shabby. He wore his blue robe for many years.
Once, a man from Aleppo presented him with a piece of silk fabric. Patriarch Douaihi gave it to a porter and exchanged it for the porter’s old clothes.
The eyewitnesses added: “Everytime a farmer visited Patriarch Douaihi, he welcomed him near the door, let him sit on his chair, offered him wine in his cup and treated him like a brother.”
Semaan Awwad recounted that Patriarch Douaihi treated the students of his school in Kannoubine with love and compassion. He used to bring grapes, sweet and delicious food from his room to offer them.(33)
References showed that, despite his modesty, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was a brave man who respected himself, his people and his Church.
(33)Patriarch Semaan Awwad, Patriarch Mar (Saint) Estephanos Douaihi: P. 28.
He was seen many times praying to Mother Mary and talking to her. She once said to him: “Do not be worried about the Monastery possessions. Nobody will touch them.”
On another occasion, a priest entered Douaihi’s room. He found him crying and wailing. The priest asked him: “What happened?” He replied: “How could the thieves stand in the way of the Virgin Mary? What could they possibly steal from her?” The Patriarch was then reflecting on the escape of Jesus’ family to Egypt.
2-The Man of Justice:
Estephanos was a just and righteous Patriarch. On 15 May 1675, he issued a ruling concerning a disagreement between three monasteries about water. Those monasteries were: Saint Challita Mokbes’, Saint Abda Harharaya’s and Saint John Hrash’s. He ordered them to divide the water equally without further disputes.
In Je’ita, a man called Abou Soulaiman Aoun lodged a complaint to Douaihi about a piece of land owned by a priest from the same village.
Abou Soulaiman Aoun claimed that he owns the land and he offered it as a gift to his daughter, who is also the wife of the priest’s brother.
After Douaihi heard two witnesses, Ibrahim, Son of Father Michael and Father Youssef (the Father Superior of Raifoun’s Monastery), he ruled that Abou Soulaiman Aoun sold the land and received its full price of two piasters.
Douaihi also sent the Father Superior of Raifoun’s Monastery to investigate the case with the farmers who work on the land. They were: Youssef Abou Abdallah, Abou Mas’oud, Abou Farah Salameh, Abou Harfoush Shoukair, Sajaan Al Kayim, Sons of Al Shammari, Sons of Abou Khalife, Sarkis Abou Mattar and other farmers. They all confirmed that Abou Soulaiman sold the land and did not offer it to his daughter as a gift.
Once, he ruled about a conflict between two men from Aleppo. One of them was rich and the other was poor. Patriarch Douaihi found that the poor man’s case was valid. He ordered the rich man not to harm his foe ever again. The rich man tried to offer the Patriarch a bribe to reverse his ruling. The Patriarch was outraged and said to him: “The right judgment will not be changed even if you fill the whole valley with gold.”
Estephanos Douaihi’s Miracles:
1- Miracles During Douaihi’s Life:
God made by the hands of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi several miracles. Douaihi’s tomb became a shrine for people who seek help from God. We will now mention a list of miracles which were carried out by Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi. We translated them from books and biographies without any interference or change:
- When Estephanos was a student in Rome, he became completely blind, and no medicine could cure his eyes. Saint Mary healed him.
- He dismissed a European priest in Cyprus for some unforgivable sins he had committed. The European priest swore at Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi and sailed to Lebanon to abuse him. Soon after he landed on the Lebanese coast, he suddenly died.
- He dismissed another priest from Saida for copying prohibited books. The priest died after three days.
- When Patriarch Douaihi was in Kesrawan, a villain threatened to kill him. God made the villain crazy. He was sent to Kozhaya’s. He died after a while.
- When Patriarch Douaihi was in Mejdel Al Ma’oush, a blaze broke out in a barn owned by a Druze man. Some neighbors advised the barn owner to seek help from Patriarch Douaihi. He did. All of a sudden, the fire was extinguished. The next day, the Druze man offered the Patriarch some of his flock as a gift.
- In Mejdel Al Ma’oush another incident occurred. When some people carried gifts to the Patriarch, one man could not join them. He came later by himself carrying a cup full of wheat. The Patriarch accepted the gift. When the man returned home, he found the same cup full of wheat.
The man recounted what happened to him with the Patriarch to a Druze friend, who informed the Prince of Maan about the Patriarch’s miracle. The Prince said: “Do not be surprised as Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi made more important miracles.”
The Prince also said: “The Patriarch possesses Divine power… If the Maronite sect loses this Patriarch it will face difficult situations.”
- A woman abused her sister and accused her of misconduct. The Patriarch, who heard the abusive woman said to her: “Your tongue should be tied.” Suddenly, her tongue was tied and she could not talk again.
- The Patriarch called the dignitaries of Jebbeh to Aitou, near Ehden, to elect one of them as civil leader. When they refused his advice, he became furious. They were sitting under a fig tree. The tree dried and all its leaves fell down to the ground.
- In Bekfaya, the rain had not fallen for many years. The people asked the Patriarch to pray. After he did, the rain fell heavily. A Turkish man was in Bekfaya at the time. He promised to convert to Christianity if God accepts the prayers of the Patriarch. When he saw the rain, he fled to avoid becoming a Christian. After a while, he was killed by some criminals.
- Another miracle happened in Bekfaya. A little child fell ill. His father sent a boy to the altar where Patriarch Douaihi was conducting a mass. The boy gathered a small quantity of soil from the place where the Patriarch was standing. The father of the sick child mixed the soil with water and gave the mixture to his child to drink. In an instant, the sick boy was cured. He left his bed and ran to play with other children. That child was Philip Gemayel, who joined the clergy and became an Archbishop.
- In Kannoubine, the rain had not fallen for a long time. Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi carried the picture of Saint Mary and walked with the clergy and villagers from Kannoubine to Saint Marina’s Grotto, praying and chanting hymns. Before they returned to Kannoubine, plenty of rain fell.
- In Sahel Alma, near Jounieh, heavy rain and hail destroyed the trees. People asked the Patriarch to pray. When he started praying, the vigorous weather eased.
- A huge blaze broke out in Kannoubine Valley, between Hadath Al Jebbeh and Brisat. In seven days, the monstrous fire destroyed thousands of trees. The lands dried out and big rocks began to fall down from the top of the mountain. One day, when Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was observing the disaster, a monumental rock rolled from the top of the mountain. He drew the sign of the Cross toward the rock saying: “Calm down you blessed!” The rolling rock stopped moving immediately.
Semaan Awwad quoted that he saw the rock and touched it with his bare hands.(34)
- On the road to Hasroun, there was a big haunted rock. The villagers said: “Satan lived there inside the body of a monkey and scared passers-by.” Patriarch Douaihi drew the sign of the Cross on the rock. The Satanic monkey vanished from the area for good.
- A man from the Hamadi family made a toast for Patriarch Douaihi. A friend of the Hamadi family started swearing at the Patriarch. He became dizzy and fell on the ground. A Christian man, who eyed what happened, threw a glass in the air saying: “For your eyes Patriarch!” The glass fell on stones without breaking.
- In Al Barbara, between Jbeil and Batroun, Patriarch Douaihi saw farmers working on rough lands. He asked them: “Why are you neglecting your fertile lands and working on these harsh lands?” They answered: “On our good lands, there is a kind of worm that is destroying our plantations.” Douaihi took a cup of
(34) Patriarch Semaan Awwad, Previous Ref: P.35.
water and prayed on it. Then he asked the farmers to pour the water on their lands. Since then, the worm vanished from the area. After the death of the Patriarch, the worm attacked the crops again. Sheikh Youssef Al Dahdah Al Akoury advised the villagers to visit the tomb of the Patriarch, in Saint Marina’s Grotto, and bring some soil from the location. When the soil was dispersed on the land, the worm disappeared for good. Similar miracles happened in Ehden and Jbeil.
Ibrahim Al Ghaziri, the Father Superior of Saint John’s Monastery in Reshmaya, recounted another miracle made by Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi. Al Ghaziri went with Patriarch Douaihi to Mejdel Al Ma’oush.
Semaan Awwad heard about the miracle from Father Al Ghaziri as the following:
- When Estephanos was in Shouf district, two Druze men from Al Barouk approached his writer and other priests, begging them to convince Patriarch Douaihi to walk near their dye shop in the village and bless their business.
The two men struggled for years to make profits from their shop, but they never succeeded. They wanted the Patriarch to draw the sign of the Cross on their tools. When Estephanos heard about their ordeal, he walked toward their shop. There he drew the sign of the Cross. He said to the two men: “Soak your fabrics in the dye.” When they did so, they became delighted to see better colors on their fabrics. Since then, they enjoyed a better standard of life.
- On the way between Kannoubine and Ghazir, Estephanos withheld the rain for three days.
2- Douaihi’s Miracles After his Death:
After his death, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi performed several miracles. He saved the historian Semaan Awwad and Deacon John Wehbe from the rough sea. Awwad decided, in return, to write Douaihi’s biography.
- A man from Blaouza, called Boutros Koubeish, was very ill. He asked his parents to take him to Douaihi’s tomb in Saint Marina’s Grotto. They did, then they left for lunch. Boutros started praying until he saw Patriarch Douaihi standing in the grotto. A beautiful scent perfumed the place. The Patriarch said to the faithful man: “What do you want Boutros Koubeish?” Boutros replied: “I want to be healed.” Estephanos said: “Let Jesus heal you!” In an instant, Estephanos disappeared. Boutros stood up and went to his parents to tell them what had happened to him. They praised the Lord.(35)
- Son of Rizk Barakat was very ill. He slept on the tomb of Patriarch Douaihi in Saint Marina’s Grotto. The next day, he was cured.
- Estephanos healed a sick boy from Ghosta. The boy, Elias Mouhaseb, joined the clergy and became the Archbishop of Arka.
- Semaan Awwad recounted a miracle he witnessed in Rome. A student called Ibrahim Jelwan Al Semrani was sick. He had a terrible fever. Awwad took one of Patriarch Douaihi’s books, placed it on the head of Ibrahim and prayed: “Oh Lord, you adorned your Pontiff (Estephanos) with virtues. I ask you to accept Estephanos as a mediator for us, as he was our real father on earth. I pray to you Lord to heal your servant by the mediation of Estephanos.”
Then Semaan Awwad opened Patriarch Douaihi’s book and asked the sick student to kiss the Patriarch’s seal. Soon after, he placed the book on the head of
(35) Archbishop Boutros Shebli, Estephanos Boutros Douaihi: P. 238.
Ibrahim Al Semrani and left him alone. After dinner, Semaan revisited the sick student. He found him surprisingly cured.
- Patriarch Douaihi lit the way of Therese Habib Dahdah in Ehden. He sent spiritual signs to Nazira, the wife of Jawad Akle, by responding to her prayers. He also sent similar signs to Najwa, the wife of Michael Dahdah.
- Some people gather soil or grass from Saint Marina’s Grotto, seeking Patriarch Douaihi’s mediation.
Many Christians and Muslims used to believe someone’s story only if he swore by the prayers of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi.
Patriarch Douaihi’s Cause of Beautification
The cause of Patriarch Douaihi’s Beautification started in 1982, about 280 years after his death.
On 3 May, the Maronite Council of Archbishops approved the probability of introducing the cause to the Roman Catholic authorities in Rome.
Al Nahar newspaper published on 3 May 1982: “The Maronite Archbishops ended their yearly spiritual closed meeting, which was held in Bkerki and presided by Patriarch Mar Antonios Boutros Khouraish. They discussed for one week the affairs of the Church, the parish and the administration, especially the issues related to the Maronite immigrants and their relations with the Mother Church. They also discussed the possibility of presenting the Beautification cause of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi to the specialized Roman authorities.”(36)
The Archbishops who attended the annual closed meeting were: Nasrallah Sfeir,
(36) Al Nahar, 3 May 1982, Issue 14945.
Roland Abou Jaoude, Abdo Khalife (Australia), John Chedid (Brazil), Ignatius Ziade (Beirut), Youssef Mer’i (Cairo), George Iskandar (Zahle), Francis Al Zayek (USA), Hanna Shedid (USA), Youssef Salame (Aleppo), Elias Farah (Cyprus), Michael Doumit (Sarba), Shekrallah Harb (Jounieh), Youssef Al Khoury (Tyr), Antoine Joubair (Tripoli), Ibrahim Al Helou (Saida) and George Abi Saber (Latakia).
A statement issued by the Archbishops stated that they authorized Archbishop of Beirut, Ignatius Ziade, to pursue the cause.
We should clarify that the Canonization of Patriarch Douaihi will not be achieved unless his cause passes into three levels:
1- The Pope should approve the cause presented to him by the Cardinals. Hence, Douaihi becomes ‘Venerable’.
2- A physical miracle should be presented to the Pope and approved by the Church. Douaihi becomes ‘Blessed’.
3- Another miracle is required to declare the Canonization of Douaihi as a Saint.
On 10 July 1987, another statement was issued by the Maronite Patriarchal Chair, regarding the appointment of Archbishops George Abi Saber, Boulos Emile Saade and Bechara Al Ra’i to pursue Douaihi’s cause. It was evident that the previous effort was not enough to send the cause to Rome.
On 20 April 1988, Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir declared the parish of Zagharta-Ehden as the ‘applicant’ in regard to the Beautification cause.
Patriarch Sfeir appointed a new committee to look after the arrangements related to the cause. The members of the new committee were: Father Michel Hayek, Father Boulos Sfeir and Father Youssef Tawk.
Archbishops Abi Saber, Saade and Al Ra’i were appointed to supervise the investigations.
Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir declared the beginning of investigations about Douaihi’s cause.
On 19 November 1995, another committee was founded. Its members were: Fathers Michel Hayek, Nasser Gemayel, Boulos Sfeir and Youssef Tawk.
The Archbishops appointed to supervise the investigations were: Boulos Emile Saade, Francis Al Baisari and Bechara Al Ra’i.
On 22 July 2000, a new committee was formed including Father Boulos Kazzi, Father Nasser Gemayel, Monsignor Mansour Houbaika, Monsignor Mounir Khairallah and Monsignor Michel Hayek.
The supervisors of investigations were: Archbishops Boulos Emile Saade, Francis Al Baisari and Samir Mazloum.
Meanwhile, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi’s Cultural Association (Ehden-Zagharta) made an enormous effort to support the cause of Beautification. The Association published numerous booklets about the Patriarch, his life and his books even before 1969.
Boutros Wehbe Douaihi, one of the most enthusiastic members of the Association published a book entitled ‘Al Douaihiyoun’ (The Douaihis). Boutros, who is also nicknamed ‘Al Batrack’, wrote in his book a biography about Patriarch Douaihi. As a member of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi’s Cultural Association since its establishment in 1968, Boutros also documented the achievements of the Association.
Another enthusiastic member, Joseph D. Reaidy, who owns a printing business in Beirut, printed most of the books published in Lebanon about Patriarch Douaihi for free. The other Association members made enormous contributions to speed up the cause.
In 1982, the Association formed a committee to support the Patriarch’s cause. The members of the committee were: Joseph D. Reaidy, Boutros Wehbe Douaihi, Joseph Frangie, Antoine Dahdah, Youssef Zaidan, Sayed G’itani, Hector M’errawi, Emile Azar, Simon Milad Mkari, Michel Douaihi and Enias Mouawad.
The Association committee sent a letter to Bkerki on 28 January 1987, announcing that the Association will afford all the financial expenses of the Patriarch’s cause. The Association organized yearly activities about Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi in Ehden and Zagharta.
On 5 January 1991, the Association’s committee issued an open letter to Bkerki to protest about the slow progress of the Patriarch’s cause.
The members of the committee said in their letter: “We pursued the cause as secular members of the Church. Meanwhile, the Church must prepare Patriarch Douaihi’s file and reinforce it with profound scientific studies, then refer the cause to the Council of Saints’ Canonization.”
The members also reminded the Patriarchal Chair that 2920 days (eight years) passed since the beginning of the Beautification process, but the Patriarch’s file was not yet sent to Rome.
The committee drew Bkerki’s attention to the fact that the Association held many meetings between 1982-1984 with Archbishops Roland Abou Jaoude, Nasrallah Sfeir and Ignatius Ziade to establish the ecclesiastical committee. Since then, several committees were established to study the cause, but no progress was made.
The Ehdenian Association asked:
- What happened to the Beautification cause of Patriarch Douaihi?
- At what level of progress is the cause now?
-Are there any pressures to disrupt the Beautification effort?
The letter finally confirmed that Patriarch Douaihi was the ‘Father of Lebanese History’ and the pioneer of liturgical reform in the Church. He also served the Maronite Patriarchal Chair for about thirty years. Hence, he deserves every bit of support from us.
In a letter sent on 28 December 1993, to Patriarch Sfeir, Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi’s Cultural Association reminded Sfeir that all the previous attempts to document the life of Patriarch Douaihi were disrupted and the cause of Beautification was not sent to Rome, even after eleven years since the appointment of the first committee.
The Association’s members were wondering why Bkerki’s committee is still searching for biographers to write about the life of Patriarch Douaihi, despite all the instructions given to that committee by Patriarch Sfeir to start working genuinely in order to send the cause to Rome.
The Association proposed on Patriarch Sfeir to review all the previous arrangements and appoint new members of clergy in the Patriarchal committee.
The Association also proposed on Sfeir to seek the assistance of monks, excellent scientific writers such as Archbishops Antoine Jbeir, George Saber, Boutros Gemayel and Hamid Al Mourani, and Fathers Youssef Yammine, Nasser Gemayel, Antoine Daou and Hector Douaihi, to write an official biography of Patriarch Douaihi.
The letter urged Patriarch Sfeir to make the visit of Pope John Paul the 2nd to Lebanon as a unique occasion, by declaring Patriarch Douaihi a Saint or Blessed in his country.
Another letter was issued to the public, concerning the financial support of the Patriarch’s cause. The letter was dated on 29 April 2001, soon after the Church declared that the authorities in Rome began studying Douaihi’s file.
The committee asked the public for donations to cover the expenses of the cause. For this reason, an account was opened in Syria and Lebanon Bank to raise donations.
For the sake of reality and justice, we should appraise the effort made by Lebanese immigrants around the globe to speed up the progress of the cause. On 30 April 2007, the Association of Zagharta (Batal Loubnan Youssef Bey Karam) in Sydney invited several lecturers to shed light on Patriarch Douaihi’s life. On 16 May, the Association organized a fund - raising dinner to support Patriarch Douaihi’s cause. The president of the Association, Sarkis Al Maksissi, appraised the saintly Patriarch and his virtues.
On 26 August 2007, the Association organized a similar dinner in Melbourne. Antoine Harbie, the president of the Association section in Melbourne, declared that the ‘Zaghartawieh’ in Australia are planning to build a church in Ehden to commemorate the saintly Patriarch.
Meanwhile, Ehdenians appraise the contribution of Archbishop Bechara Al Ra’i. Al Ra’i was invited on 21 August 1990 to Saint Sarkis and Bakhos’ Church in Ehden to speak about ‘Patriarch Douaihi: The Man of Faith’. Joseph Wehbe Douaihi and Joseph Frangie welcomed Al Ra’i who helped to make the dream a reality.
Douaihi and Frangie said: “Without the contribution of Archbishop Al Ra’i, the cause of Patriarch Douaihi would not have made progress.”
They added: “When we started our work in the Association some said to us: ‘You should only pray’, while some others asked us: ‘Why are you doing this job?’, and others said: ‘Focus on his (Patriarch Douaihi’s) books’. We did not lose our hope. Archbishop Bechara Al Ra’i was the one who took the paper, wrote on it, pursued the cause and attended the meetings. Years after, the committee was established (1982-1988) and he is still working and pursuing the cause despite his responsibilities and other parish affairs.”
Douaihi and Frangie added: “We admit that without Archbishop Al Ra’i, the train could not be placed on the tracks. Al Ra’i is the loyal Father from the Maronite Order and Patriarch Douaihi was the patron of this Order. He supported it and looked after it.”
Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi
Soulaiman Frangie (Late Lebanese President): I urge the Archbishops’ Assembly to speed up the progress of Patriarch Douaihi’s cause, to reward the righteous of the Maronite sect.
Charles Al Helou (Late Lebanese President): Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was one of those brilliant characters who amazed all who lived around him, with his virtues. Estephanos attracted the attention of writers and philosophers with his culture and faith, and most importantly, with his humility. Hence, his life became the cause of glorifying the act of God in every person, and a generous spring for all who aim to please God and save themselves.
Estephanos Douaihi’s Patriarchal era was full of enormous religious, liturgical, congregational and social achievements… He consecrated and built churches in all the Lebanese areas, in spite of the difficult economical situation that Lebanon faced during Estephanos Douaihi’s Patriarchal period.
He strived to write research and organize the books of rites, which strengthened the spiritual faith in his Maronite people. These books enabled the Maronites to acknowledge the beautiful prayers and the charming hymns of their celebrations.
Cardinal Antonios Boutros Khouraish: The great scholar Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi, who was also known as ‘The Father of Lebanese History’, made an enormous effort to unify some members of the Oriental Church with the Catholic Church, and to create an ambiance of cooperation between the Lebanese people and their leaders.
Cardinal Boulos Al Ma’oushi: Let every Maronite get inspired by Mar (Saint) Estephanos Douaihi’s life and his long struggle against oppression, injustice and tyranny, for Lebanon to always remain a lighthouse for culture, faith and virtues.
Patriarch Douaihi was the first one who established a school in the Orient. He also was the first scholar who saved the Arabic language from the danger of disappearance and gained international effective protection for Lebanon and the Christian ideology. Douaihi was the greatest Lebanese historian and one of the greatest Arab historians, and he was the one who began implementing the harmony between East and West...
Patriarch Semaan Awwad: Patriarch Douaihi was down to earth more than a servant in the kitchen, but every time he appeared in public or among leaders he manifested himself as a high class Patriarch and scholar. He was tender, merciful and just… He never complied with the wishes of his relatives and friends. Instead, he pleased only the rightful people.
Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir: The news about Patriarch Douaihi’s sanctity spread out even during his life. People attributed miracles to him. Hence, his tomb became a shrine visited by faithful people after his death.
Archbishop Boutros Shebly: Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was the greatest Maronite in relation to his culture and hard work. He was greater than Jeremiah Al Amchiti, greater than Son of Al Kila’i, greater than Al Haklani… and even greater than Al Semaani. Furthermore, I dare to compare him with Al Saroumi because he resembled him regarding his vast knowledge. Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was the essence of the Maronite sect.
Archbishop Boulos Emile Saade: Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi, the Saint, made enormous reforms. He was an ecclesiastical man.
Archbishop Bechara Al Ra’i: The disasters did not shake Patriarch Douaihi nor unsettle his determination and courage. He overcame all the crises which happened in his era with patience. The Patriarch faced with courage the dramatic events, armed with his strong respect of the historical reality and his acknowledgement of God’s will.
Archbishop Youssef Sham’oun (Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi sent him to Rome to receive the approval Balium from the Pope): Patriarch Douaihi is called ‘The Righteous Pontiff’ and ‘The Complete Teacher’. Some call him ‘The Dome of Wisdom’ or ‘The Teacher of the Orient’. Others call him ‘The Unique of his Century’ or ‘The Unique of All Time’ for his culture and sanctity.
Archbishop Shekrallah Harb: Estephanos practiced Christian virtues to the limit of heroism. He was never proud of himself. He preferred teaching the children of his village, Ehden, under an Oak tree, instead of lecturing on the podiums of Rome and its elite universities. Furthermore, he used the Patriarchal Chair to serve God, righteousness and the people. Estephanos received the dignitaries as he received the ordinary people with the tenderness and simplicity of Jesus Christ.
Archbishop George Abi Saber: Patriarch Douaihi was the man of providence . His faith in God’s love was vital and effective either in his life or writings… His culture was based on the Bible and the Antioch Syriac heritage, and derived from the environment in which he grew up and from his rich personal experience.
Abbot Boulos Ne’man: Many thanks to Patriarch Douaihi, the scholar and Saint, for without him, we would not have known anything about the history of Lebanon. He was the ‘Father of Lebanese History’.
Abbot Elias Atallah: Whenever we enrich our knowledge of history, and whenever we study thoroughly the Maronite Church’s lifestyle, we would be more convinced and surprised by the fact that this Church was able to understand itself, as a Maronite body, due to the effort made by Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi… He was the Father of the Maronite Church.
All the attempts made by the Maronites today to scientifically document the history of their faith, their civilization and existence during the current century, find their incentives in all the books written by Patriarch Douaihi.
Father Michael Mouawwad: Will we see in the near future our great Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi raised on altars, like our monk Charbel Makhlouf, as a Saint blessed among other Saints?
Father Dr. Youssef Yammine: Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was the third founder of the Maronite sect after Saint Maroun… Douaihi was the pioneer liturgical man, the first writer of modern Lebanese history and the first writer of Maronite history… He also was the first organizer of the Maronite sect.
Father Michel Hayek: Estephanos Douaihi will be the most beautiful Maronite face of all time. He is an incomparable faithful and capable Saint. He made basic reforms.
Father Boutros Kass Hanna Douaihi: Patriarch Douaihi was always wearing a blue robe. He was satisfied with little personal belongings, even in the days of his Patriarchal authority and during his management of the Antioch Maronite Church. He should be an example for us to follow… Patriarch Douaihi did not live only in financial poverty, but he also was a poor faithful man, who begged the graces from God, for himself and the parish… He was in need for God, he was rich in God and capable by God… We never saw Douaihi discriminating between a farmer and a leader, or between a child and a strong man. He sat down with farmers and he poured for them wine in his own cup. Moreover, he offered, by his hands, the best food from the monastery fields and the most delicious sweet to the children of Kannoubine’s School.
Father Semaan Akle: Patriarch Douaihi was the first historian, the scholar of scholars and the most famous Patriarch, regarding his culture and sanctity, since the era of Saint John Maroun.
Father Ignatius Saade: The Greatest Douaihi carried in his mind, his heart and his pen the concerns of his mother land and his nation, since he was a student in the Maronite School of Rome… We recall him sitting down on a rock, under the monastery Oak tree in Ehden, and teaching children… We remember him, as a preacher in Aleppo, spreading the Word of God to the faithful people from all the Christian sects and teaching young and adult students in the Maronite School (in Aleppo)… We also remember him as an Archbishop for the Maronite people in Cyprus, practicing the duties of praying, teaching and searching for an old manuscript hidden in a dark corner… Furthermore, we recall him as a Patriarch on the throne of Antioch for thirty four years, defending his nation… Estephanos Douaihi was the giant pioneer, who resembled Saint Maroun, the founder of the Maronite Church and John Maroun, the first Patriarch.
Father Youssef Tannous: The glory of Rome did not blur Patriarch Douaihi’s vision. He was not lured by the temptations of Rome. Instead, he insisted on his love for Ehden, ‘His Eden’ and for his country, Lebanon. His deep culture taught him humility and made him closer to his people. He was a great creator in regard to preaching, liturgy, history and literature. Hence, he became a resource for every researcher.
Jawad Boulos (Historian and Political Leader): Patriarch Douaihi, the Saint, is the greatest Patriarch concerning his sanctity and culture, not because he was Ehdenian, but because he was the pride of the Maronite sect.
I offer my financial and intellectual capabilities for the progress of the Beautification cause.
Fouad Ephram Al Boustani (Scholar): The end of the 17th century eyed a new renaissance of the Maronite sect. That renaissance was born between the hands of Patriarch Douaihi, the great scholar, the historian, the lecturer, the writer and the Saint… One of Patriarch Douaihi’s many virtues was his care for monastic orders…
Philip Hitti (Historian): Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was one of the most intelligent students who returned to their country. The most brilliant student was undoubtedly Estephanos Douaihi. He was well known in the West with his Latin name ‘Aldoensis’.
Youssef Mezher (Historian): Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi was the first teacher who laid the milestone of the primary school in the East. He was a great reformer and eloquent scholar.
George Kousa (Writer): Lebanon had known, during the old centuries, scholars and famous pioneers, such as: Koudmous, Abd Amoun (from Tyr) and Sankhon Atn (from Beirut) and others. It is not surprising for Lebanon to have Patriarch
Estephanos Douaihi Al Hednani, the great scholar, in the rank of those brilliant achievers. Humanity creates only one like Patriarch Douaihi every one thousand years.
Kamal Al Salibi (Historian): Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi the Great was the only resource for modern Lebanese history. All the historians extracted from him. He wrote history with impartiality.
Dr. George Haroun: Estephanos Douaihi was a man of ideology and a symbol of his century. Patriarch Douaihi was the greatest pioneer of the Lebanese Nationalism Ideology.
Nicholas Ziade (Historian): Before the Monastery of Kannoubine, which contains the corpse of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi, I bow my head to glorify the ‘High Mountain’ who lived in Kannoubine, righteous in his faith and firm in his culture.
Tanious Noujaim (Professor): Patriarch Douaihi struggled against tyrant leaders like the Hamadis to protect the rights of his sect and its existence, but he did not isolate his people away from their oriental environment. In his book ‘Tarikh Al Azmina’, he believed in the necessity for his sectto play a vital role in the Orient’s history, and the importance of the diverse reaction with other minorities in Lebanon.
(Please note: Manuscripts of Douaihi’s letters are published in the original book. They do not appear in this Appendix)
Some of the following letters were written by Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi. Others were sent to him. We have extracted information from these letters in our biography. In the next few pages, we will translate the most important details of selected letters:
This letter was written by Estephanos Douaihi when he was a priest in Aleppo on 9 August 1666. It was signed by him and 7 other priests and sent to Cardinal De Buillion in Paris.
The letter, which was written in ‘Karshouni’ (Arabic letters written in Syriac), mentioned that the priests who served the Catholic people in Aleppo followed the principles of the Catholic Church and protected the Catholic rites of the Christian mass.
This letter was copied from the original text by Archbishop Boutros Shebli. Douaihi sent this letter to Sheikh Abou Kansouh Al Khazen in Ajaltoun-Kesrawan in 1670. He said that he received two letters from Abou Kansouh, but the Patriarch neglected to answer these two letters due to hard work and lack of travelers to Kesrawan…
This letter, which was written in Italian, was sent by Patriarch Douaihi on 28 August 1671 to Father Giovanni Oliva, the Father Superior of the Jesuitical Monks. Douaihi urged Oliva to take care of his messenger, Father Youssef Sham’oun Al Hasrouni, and help him receive the approval Balium from the Pope. Estephanos also promised to protect the Jesuitical missionaries in the Orient.
Another ‘Karshouni’ letter sent on 8 August 1675 to Cardinal De Buillion. In this letter, Estephanos mentioned that he wrote a book about ‘Nawafir’, and he asked De Buillion to print this book.
This ruling was made by Patriarch Douaihi on 5 August 1683. The ruling was related to a conflict between Abou Soulaiman Aoun, from Je’ita, and the priest of that village, over a piece of land. After hearing the witnesses, Patriarch Douaihi ruled against Abou Soulaiman Aoun.
Father Ibrahim Harfoush copied the ruling from the original ‘Karshouni’ passage as the following:
وجه تحرير الأحرف هو أن حضر قدامنا أبو سليمان عون من قرية جعيتا واندعى على الخوري خادم الضيعة بسبب الأرض السليخ الذي تحت توت أبو حرفوش شقير أنه بخششها لابنته زوجة حنا أخو الخوري وحضر ابراهيم ابن الخوري مخايل وشهد وتذمم أنه هو ثمّن لأرض المذكورة قبلما تُنصب بقرشين وأن المبلغ المذكور وصل لأبو سليمان عون من صهره حنّا ومن أخوه الخوري بالتمام والكمال وأنهما اشتركا في تعزيق الأرض المذكورة وفي نصبها ومنذ ثلاث سنين قسماها بينهما على رضى وقبول الفريقين بالنصف. ثم حضر قدامنا الخوري يوسف رئيس دير ريفون واستقر أنه نزل إلى الضيعة المذكورة وجمع الفلاحين وهم أبو عبدالله يوسف وأبو مسعود وأخيه وأبو فرح سلامة وأبو حرفوش شقير وشجعان القيم واولاد الشمري وأولاد أبو خليفة وأبو مطر سركيس وغيرهم من الحاضرين وسألهم عن الأرض المذكورة فشهدوا أنها انباعت بالثمن المذكور وعلى موجب التثمين والشهادة المذكورة تكون الأرض منباعة وليس بخشيش وأن القسمة بين الخوري وبين أخيه في النصف شركة لا غبن فيها ولا غدر والله أعلم بالصواب صح.
حرّر في دير مار شليطا مقبس في خامس يوم من شهر آب المبارك سنة ألف وستماية وثلاثة وثمانين مسيحية.
(For the full story related to the previous letter read p.149-150)
This letter was written in 1695 and sent to the Patriarch by the governor of Tripoli, who confirmed to the Patriarch that the Chair in Kannoubine will not be forced to pay extra taxes. The letter was written in Arabic:
فخر الملة المسيحية بترك قنوبين وفقه الله تعالى
والثاني نعرفكم هو أنه بوصول البيورلدي إليكم ووقوفكم عليه تكونوا طيبين القلب والخاطر وارجعوا لموضعكم وما بيتاخذ منكم زيادة عن عادتكم ولا منعطيكم لأحد. وواصل لكم مكتوب من القنصل حتى تقفوا عليه ونبقا (نبقى) نحوله عليكم تبقوا توردوا (تدفعون) له المعتاد لجهة الميري (الضريبة) ويأخذكم على كيسه فلا يصير لكم عاقة ولا توقف عن الرجوع بوجه من الوجوه تعلمون ذلك وتعتهدوه غاية الاعتهاد.
Another letter sent to the Patriarch by the governor of Tripoli in 1697, after his military leader confiscated the mules of Kannoubine. The governor condemned the behaviour of his leader and promised to respect the properties of Kannoubine Monastery and all the churches in the area. The letter was written in Arabic:
فخر الملة المسيحية اصطفانوس يترك قنوبين وفقه الله تعالى
والثاني نعرفك هو أنه أنهى إلينا الترجمان الذميّ طربايه (أنطون طربيه ترجمان القنصل الفرنسي) بأن ضابط الجبة سخّر دواب الدير(قنوبين) وصار لك تشويش خاطر فنحن أيضاً ليس لنا رضى يصير عليك ولا على غيرك تعدي قطعاً وقد نبّهنا على ضابط الناحية أنه لا بقا يتعارض دواب دير قنوبين ولا ساير الديورا التي في الجبة حواليك فيكون خاطرك طيّب من ساير الوجوه. ثم نعرفك هو أنه تتفق أنت ومشايخ الناحية على مال الميري (الضريبة) المطلوب منك جاري العادة مثلما يصير القول بينك وبينهم وتقشع لك كفيل بدفع المال عنك مثل المعتاد وتكون متقيد مع مشايخ الناحية بأمور الميري وعمار الناحية واستمالة قلوب الفقرا الرعايا وذلك مما يسرنا منك وتكون متقيد أيضاً في انتظام أحوال ديورتك ودوابهم ينزلوا يطلعوا لا يتوهموا من سخرة ولا من التعدي. نحن ما نريد في زماننا يصير على أحد غدر ولا تطاول قطعاً. وطيّب خواطر جماعتك من ساير الوجوه يكونوا منه على وثيقة تامة نعلم ذلك ونعتهده غاية الاعتهاد. سنة ألف ومئة وتسعة هجرية.
A paragraph from a letter Patriarch Douaihi sent to the King of France on 20 March 1700.
The Patriarch described the agony of the Maronite people in North Lebanon by the hands of the Turks and the Hamadis:
وبعد حبس الرجال والأولاد والنسوان اللواتي صاروا يعلقوهن على السجر(الشجر) في أبزازهن كما رأينا بأعيننا وحريق قلوبنا شيئاً لا صار له مثيل ولا انسمع إلى يومنا هذا حتّى أن جميع الأماكن والقرى التي في البلد المذكور خربت بالكلية وسكانه تشتتوا وتبددوا في بلدان بعيدة وأمم كثيرة وغريبة عادمين كل رئاسة وسياسة روحانية. ولم كفاهم (يكفِهم) يظلموا الشعب فقط بل مدوا أيديهم إلى أقنومنا وإلى مطاريننا وبهدلونا بسواة (كسائر) الرعيّة وهلقدر عاملونا حتى مراراً كثيرة التزمنا نلبس طراز العامية ونهرب من أمامهم ونسكن في الأودية والمغاور وفي الشقفان (الوعر) والجبال تحت جور الأزمنة والأيام ولو أننا انطعنّا في العمر لكيما نخلص من أيديهم الظالمة. ولسبب أن ما عاد لنا جلادة على ذلك لانهزمنا في أماكن غريبة وتركنا كرسينا ولم يكن لنا أحد نشكي له قهرنا ولا جناح لنطير بها إلا جناحكم أيها السلطان الأجل والاعلى.
The approval of the Maronite Order’s law, which consisted of fifteen rules:
الحقير إسطفانوس بطرس بطريرك أنطاكية وسائر المشرق
هو أننا قد وقفنا على الخمسة عشر باباً ومقدمتها التي إنما ترتبت ليكون أولادنا الرهبان الأعزاء سالكين بها على طريقة واحدة بحفظها ليتيسر لهم الاقتداء بالنذور المفروضة عليهم فمن تعدى أمراً من هذه الأبواب لا يخطئ إلا إذا كان الأمر ثقيلاً وخاصة إذا صدر منه معثرة للأخوة وغيرهم، فنحن بالسلطان الرسولي وبمشورة إخوتنا المطارين المكرمين نثبتها لهم ونحرضهم على السلوك بحسبها ليحظوا بالآخرة الصالحة. تحريراً في الثامن عشر من حزيران سنة ألف وسبعمئة.
A paragraph derived from a letter Patriarch Douaihi sent to the Sacred Assembly in 1700, detailing the mistreatment inflicted on the Maronite people by the Fransiscan Monks in Palestine:
قد انعرضت على سيادتكم السامية أولاً من رهبان القدس ثم مني أنا مطاولتهم على هذه الملة المارونية القاطنة بالقدس الشريف، وغيرته بما يخص عوايدها القديمة، وزيجتها وطاعتها لكهنتها وبطركها الأنطاكي. وقد أمرتوهم أولاً وتهددوا عليهم ثانياً أن يتركوا جماعتنا على حالهم، ولا يعارضوهم بشيء... إلخ
Letters 11- 12:
Two letters written by Prince Bashir Al Shihabi in 1704, after I’ssa Hamadi slapped Patriarch Douaihi . Bashir informed the Patriarch that he contacted the Hamadis and warned them about their misbehaviour toward the Patriarch.
A ruling concerning the conflict which broke out between three monasteries in Kesrawan about water. The Patriarch ordered the Superiors of the monasteries to divide the water equally:
وجه تحرير الأحرف هو أنه صارت الخصومة بسبب ماء المغيسيل بين أصحاب الأراضي التي بقربها. أولاً حضر رئيس دير مار شليطا الذي هو متصرف بالبستان وقوله إن الأمير عساف منذ الزمان القديم كان يأخذ الماء المذكورة لذاك البستان. وكذلك حضر رئيس دير مار عبدا هرهريا وذكر لنا بعد خراب البستان كانت تجر الماء إلى أرض البراهشة وهي يومئذ في تصرفهم وبرهان ذلك من البراك التي في الأرض المذكورة. وحضروا كذلك رهبان دير مار يوحنا حراش وقصدوا أن الماء تكون لهم لأن نبعها في أرضهم فعلى موجب ذلك حكمنا أن الماء تنقسم مثالثة وكل واحد يأخذ له عدّان في الأسوات من غير خصومة ويكون البدو (البدء) من الأرض الأقرب للماء والله أعلم بالصواب.
تحريراً في الخامس عشر من أيار سنة ألف وستمئة وخمسة وسبعين مسيحية.
(Please note: pictures are shown in the original book. They do not appear on this copy)
An old picture of Patriarch Douaihi.
The picture of Estephanos Douaihi on the booklet that the Maronite School of Rome published. A tribute for Estephanos was written under the picture. (For full translation of the tribute, see page 112).
Statue of Patriarch Douaihi in Ehden.
Ehden: The Den of Christianity.
Saint Sarkis’-Ehden: Where Estephanos Douaihi was promoted as a priest.
Our Lady of the Fortress’-Ehden (Sayyidat Al Hosn’s)
11- An old damaged painting of Saint Mary in the Monastery of Kannoubine. The painter drew the face of Patriarch Estephanos Douaihi on the right side of the painting.
إعتمدنا غالباً على الرسائل التي كتبها البطريرك إسطفانوس الدويهي أو أرسلت إليه، أمَّا المصادر التي اقتبسنا منها، فهي:
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- الجميِّل، الخوري ناصر: المدرسة المارونيّة الحبريَّة الرومانيّة، بيروت، 1993.
- الحتّوني، الخوري منصور: نبذة تاريخيّة في المقاطعة الكسروانيّة، دار مارون عبّود، بيروت، 1987.
- حنين، رياض: أسماء قرى ومدن وأماكن لبنانيّة في روايات شعبيّة، دار لحد خاطر، بيروت، 1986.
- خازن، سمعان: تاريخ إهدن، ج1، مطبعة المرسلين اللبنانيِّين، جونيه، 1938.
- خازن، سمعان: تاريخ إهدن، ج3، المطبعة التجاريّة، 1939.
- الدبس، المطران يوسف: الجامع المفصَّل في تاريخ الموارنة المؤصَّل، ج1، دار لحد خاطر، بيروت، 1982.
- الدويهي، بطرس وهبة: الدويهيّون - ألف عام من التاريخ
الماروني واللبناني، إهدن، 2007.
- شبلي، المطران بطرس: إسطفانوس بطرس الدويهي، منشورات الحكمة، 1970.
- صفير، نصر الله: إسطفان الدويهي الأسقف والبطريرك، مجلّة المنارة، 1980.
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