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Zahle and Forzol

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A Greco-Melchite diocese. In the seventeenth, or perhaps in the sixteenth, century the diocese of Seleucia Pieria was for greater safety transferred by the Patriarch of Antioch to Maaloula in the Lebanon. The reason of this transfer was forgotten at a later date, and a town of "Seleucia Libani" was invented and identified with Maaloula, though such a town never existed. When the see was transferred from Maaloula to Forzol, the title of Seleucia accompanied it. The transfer had already taken place in 1760, for the Catholic titular Euthymius then signed as Bishop of Forzol and Beqaa (Echos d'Orient, V, 86). In October, 1790, a Catholic bishop of Zahlé assisted at a council held in the Convent of Saint-Sauveur (Echos d'Orient, X, 227). The Diocese of Zahle is identical with that of Forzol, under which name it often appears. Since 1849 (Council of Jerusalem ), at least among Catholics, the bishop bears the titles of Zahle, Forzol, and Beqaa. Since 1768 his residence has been at Zahle. Among the schismatics the bishop always bears the title of Seleucia. Zahle itself dates only from the end of the seventeenth century, when Catholics fled thither in great numbers, the locality being under the protection of the emirs of Lebanon, by whom they were protected from schismatics and Mussulmans. Gradually the place grew larger; it is now a city of about 20,000 inhabitants, nearly all Catholics of the Greco- Melchite Rite. In 1860 the Druses destroyed 2000 houses, and several Christians were massacred, among them four Jesuits. There are today a Jesuit residence and a school, similarly a residence and a school in the Molallaqa quarter. The diocese comprises 30,000 Catholics 47 priests, 33 churches and chapels, 9 primary schools, 3 convents of Salavatorians, Alepins, and of Chouerites, with 43 religious.

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