The Heliopolis of the Greek and Latin writers, a Syrian town located now in present-day Lebanon — Ed. at the base of the western slope of the Anti-Lebanon, and the see of a Maronite and of a Melchite bishop. Nothing is known of the origin and ancient history of Baalbek, although conjectural attempts have been made to identify it with Baalgad ( Joshua 11:17 ; 13:5 ), Aven ( A.V. Amos 1:5 ), etc. Among the monuments of Baalbek were three temples : the Great Temple of Jupiter, the Temple of the Sun, and the Circular Temple of Venus; all of them date from the second century A. D. The so-called Acropolis, on the platform of which two of the temples were erected, is older. Baalbek has been destroyed almost entirely by earthquakes and wars, but even today its ruins are said to be the most beautiful in existence. The boldness of the architecture and the cyclopean dimensions of some of the monoliths of the Acropolis are among the many features interesting both to the scientist and the traveler. The political history of Baalbek is that of the surrounding country. (See SYRIA.)
The introduction of Christianity into Baalbek is obscure. In the life of St. Eudocia, there is mention of one Theodotus, Bishop of Heliopolis, in the reign (117-138) of Hadrian. (Acta SS., 1 March, 8f.) The account is of doubtful historical value and when Constantine forbade the licentious pagan practices, there were no Christians there. Constantine, however, erected a church or perhaps simply transformed one of the temples into a Christian basilica, which he entrusted to a bishop with priests and deacons ( Eusebius, Life of Const., III, lviii). During the reign of Julian (361-363) the Christians were severely persecuted ( Sozomen, History, V, x). Paganism disappeared from Baalbek only after Theodosius (379-395) had destroyed the idols and probably the Great Temple. Of the former bishops of Baalbek (Heliopolis) only a few scattered names have been preserved. Baalbek is now a titular archiepiscopal see in partibus infidelium , with the Most Rev. Robert Seton, formerly of Newark, New Jersey , U.S.A. as incumbent, consecrated 5 July, 1903. In 1861, Baalbek was made a Maronite bishopric, with about 30,000 Catholics. The Melchite diocese was erected in 1868, and numbers some 5,000 Catholics with fifteen priests, mostly Basilian monks. The Armenians of the district are under the Armenian Archbishop of Aleppo, and the Latins under the vicar Apostolic of the same place. (See ALEPPO) The Orthodox Greeks (schismatical), also have a resident bishop at Baalbek; further, the town is a station of the British Syrian Schools' Committee with two missionary women, three native women, and a village school, high school, and a dispensary.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online