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Basilian Chouerite Order

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The Basilian Chouerite Order of Saint John the Baptist is a religious order of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. The Latin name of this order is Ordo Basilianus Sancti Iohannis Baptistae, the French name is Ordre Basilien Chouerite de St. Jean Baptiste, the abbreviation used after the name is B.C.[1]

History

This order was found in 1696 by five monks who left the Balamand Monastery to look for a quite place where to better follow the rule of Saint Basil.[2] The settled in 1710 in the village of Choueir (or Dhour El Shuwayr, near Khinchara) in Mount Lebanon using the little church of Saint John the Baptist, from which they took the name and that is still their motherhouse (33°55′18″N 35°43′58″E / 33.921575°N 35.732780°E / 33.921575; 35.732780).

In 1733 Abdallah Zakher set up an Arabic language printing press using movable type at the monastery of Saint John at Choueir, the first home made press in Lebanon.[3] In 1757 Pope Benedict XIV approved their particular rules, and the final approval from Rome was given in 1772.

The Basilian Salvatorian Order soon became one of the two main religious orders of the Melkite Catholic Church. The other order was the Basilian Salvatorian Order. According to their tradition, the Basilian Salvatorian Order had a more missionary aim, while the Basilian Chouerite Order was more contemplative. The Basilian Salvatorian Order recruited in the areas of Damascus and South Lebanon, while the Basilian Chouerite Order recruited in the areas of Aleppo, Homs, North Lebanon and Galilee. Attempts to unite these two orders in the 18th century failed: the opposition between them and between the different communities from which they recruit members is an important aspect to understand in the early history of the Melkite Catholic Church.

Between 1824 and 1832 the order split in two branches: the Alepins (formed mainly by monks who came from Aleppo area), and Baladites or Chouerite (who came mainly from Lebanon and Galilee). The order founded its seminary in 1880 and run many parishes in the Middle East. Three Melkite Patriarchs and about 36 bishops were members of the Basilian Chouerites.

The female branch of the order (the The Congregation of Basilian Chouerite Sisters) was founded in 1737 and approved in 1763 by Pope Clement XIII. The first house of this congregation was the Monastery of the Annunciation at Zouk Mikael.[4]

References

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