Antonine International School

  • Foundation

    In 1740, Youssef Semaan El Semaani, archivist of the apostolic Library of the Vatican wrote the following letter to the Antonine Fathers:

    In 1700 A.D, Bishop Gabriel Belouzani sent Father Sleiman Hage of Mechmech, Friar Atallah of Beit Chabab, Father Boutros Mouannes of Bazoun and Friar Moussa of Baabdate, from the Notre-Dame convent in Tamiche that he had previously constructed, to the Monastery of Mar Chaya in the region of Broumana, in order to live there and worship God Almighty with the called ones who wished to follow their good example, in total respect of the coenobitic rules. Two years later the Reverend Fathers Boutros Ataya of Sahel Alma, Ibrahim Youassaf of Aramoun – Kesrouan and Semaan Arid of Qtalé, followed them. When the late Patriarch of Antioch Mar Stephan Doueihy of Ehden saw their good behavior and the fulfillment of their desire to see their Order grow, he made use of his patriarchal authority and confirmed their vows and their statuses. The three Patriarchs who succeeded him on the Antioch See ( Mar Gabriel Belouzani, Mar Yacoub Aouad of Hasroun and Mar Youssef El-Khazen), followed his heed. The latter honored their Community with their approbation by their patriarchal authority, considering the good reputation of your Order and the subsequent benefits to the Community resulting from the preaching, the good example, the evangelization, the establishment of schools in the monasteries, from their total submission to the heads of the Church and their conformity with the pastoral principles. Therefore, they were honored by the leaders and the people, and thereby set an example for all the Oriental Churches.   
  • Your order prospered in Kesrouan. Monks multiplied like the Cedar of Lebanon; particularly under the supervision of Patriarch Mar Yacoub Aouad, in the monasteries of Mar Elias in Ghazir, Mar Abda Al Mechamar, Notre-Dame in Aïn Chqayq, Notre-Dame in Bkerké, Mar Elias in Antelias, and even reached Mar Sarkis in Ehden in the region (Ayalé) of Jebbé under Mar Youssef El-Khazen. In 1734, when this latter wished to reform the Maronite Church, in a permanent union with the Church of Rome, considering his overwhelming paternal attention and his heavenly inspired altruism, he implored the Holy See, in agreement with the Bishops of his Church, to send me to Mount-Lebanon as Papal Nuncio, which I did by order of the Holy Father Pope Clement XII and of the Holy Consistory.   

    “After having evaluated the situation of the monasteries in Mount-Lebanon, I came to the conclusion that the monks, praise God, lead an austere life, giving their counsels willingly and setting edifying and profitable examples to the others, in total respect of pastoral principles. Therefore they are worthy of the praises and the appraisals of the Pastors, the Faithful and of the whole Parish.
  • El Semaani continued:

    When the Patriarch convened the Lebanese Synod, in our presence, and in presence of the Bishops, priests, parish priests, missionary priests and notables, between the end of September and the beginning of October of 1736 A.D., these Synodal Fathers decided as well that the monks should continue to pursue the confirmation of their statuses by the Holy See in Rome.

    Then, Father Semaan Arid, Superior General of our Order, as well as the Assistant Fathers (or Counselors), expressed their submission to the Pope of Rome and their obedience to the decisions of the Lebanese Synod, convened by Rome, and conveyed to me their desire to send two of their monks to Rome to seek the blessing of the Successor of Saint Peter to the Holy See and ask for the confirmation of their statuses. They asked for my support after my return from Rome. Then they sent Father Boutros Ataya, First Assistant, with Father Younan Ben Hage Boutros of Bikfaya, provided with letters of recommendation from the Maronite Patriarch and Bishops, imploring His Holiness the Pope to favorably confirm your statuses and your monastic Constitutions. His Beatitude the Patriarch and the Bishops, upon our return from Rome in 1738 and their arrival in 1739, wrote to me and to my nephew Bishop Stephan Aouad, asking us to pursue in this direction and to put into execution our promises made in Mount-Lebanon.   

  • In response to the desire of the Patriarch and respectful of your order and of its spiritual development, we made our utmost to urge His Holiness the Pope to grant you in his universal Kindness the desired confirmation; the latter was declared in a Papal Bull on the seventeenth of the month of January, the year 1740. This took place with the help of the Providence, twenty days after the proclamation of the above-mentioned confirmation, His Holiness passed away after having granted this noble favor.

    On the 15th of August 1700, the first Mass was celebrated in the newly built church on the Aramta Hill, dedicated to Mar Chaaya in the district of Matn (Lebanon). The region was then inhabited mostly by Druzes, which created in the beginning a few problems; but Mgr Gabriel of Blawza established a friendly relation with the Druze Emir Abdallah Qaydoubey Abillamaa who ruled the region. Their relationship lasted on good terms.