Sylvester of Antioch

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His Beatitude Sylvester of Antioch was patriarch of the Church of Antioch from 1724 to 1766. His consecration resulted in that portion of the Church of Antioch agreeable to union with Rome to separate itself to become the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

Life

Other than that he was of Cypriot origin, nothing of Sylvester's early life is known. Before Patr. Athanasius III Dabbas of Antioch died, he designated, in 1724, his former deacon Sylvester, who was a monk at Mount Athos, as his successor. On August 5, 1724, Patr. Athanasius died. On September 20, 1724, the Damascus faction of the patriarchate that favored union with the Roman Catholic Church elected their candidate Seraphim Tanas, who had been education at the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda in Rome, patriarch of Antioch, as Cyril VI. However, Patr. Jeremias III of Constantinople declared Cyril's election invalid and consecrated the monk Sylvester patriarch of Antioch.

Sylvester, who was supported by the Aleppo faction of the patriarchate, was recognized by the Ottoman Turk government. The deposed Cyril was excommunicated by Constantinople and fled to Lebanon where he sought refuge. Thus, through these events a schism within the Church of Antioch was formalized between the pro-Catholic Damascus segment of the patriarchate, that became known as the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, and the Aleppo segment.

Over the next five years, supported by the Ottoman Turks, Patr. Sylvester suppressed the members of the Damascus faction. His heavy handedness exacerbated the divisions in the church and led the people of Damascus to unite against Sylvester and, finally, cause him to flee to Aleppo.

With Sylvester's enthronement a period of Greek domination of the Antiochian patriarchate began that lasted until the election of Patr. Meletius II (Doumani) in 1899.

Patr. Sylvester reposed in 1766.

Succession box:
Sylvester of Antioch
Preceded by:
Athanasius III Dabbas
Patriarch of Antioch
1724-1766
Succeeded by:
Philemon
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