The Khazens and the Maronite Church: The Role of the Khazens In Electing The Maronite Patriarch
Maronite Patriarch Summer Residence in Diman
Before the 18th century, the Maronite Patriarchate in Mount Lebanon was subjected to the rule of Tripoli’s governors, a reality which forced the Patriarchs to seek protection by migrating towards the district of Kerserwan, where the Khazens were in power. At the time, the Khazens had vowed to protect the Church and its Patriarches from the injustice of the Ottoman rule and by doing so, forged and led the Maronite political line at the time in parallel with the Maronite Church and its clergy’s path. The Khazens were involved in every aspect of the Maronite Church, whether organizational or spiritial or managerial. The Khazens’ ever growing influence, along with the Hbeich and Dahdah Cheikhs and other influential Maronite families, gave them a rightful and important role in the electoral process inside the Church and the Maronite Church’s congregations and organizational matters in relation with the Holy Synod in Rome.
The Electoral Process and the Cheikhs’ privileges before the Maronite Synod
Before the Maronite Synod of 1736, and every time the Maronite bishops and priests woud elect of the bishops to become Patriarch, the elected Patriarch, along with the Bishops, the Priests and Cheikhs would dispatch letters to the Holy Synod in Rome in order to seek the papal blessing. When Bishop Gebrael Al Balouzani was elected in 1704 as Patriarch, he seeked the apostolic blessing shield by a book from Pope Clement XI (1700-1721):
Here’s the original letter that he sent:
Added to that, the Maronite Bishops and Cheikhs would also write to the Pope to express their consentment over the electoral process and to seek the papal blessing and his endorsement for the elected Patriarch on the Antioch Chair.
Here’s one of the original letters sent:
In the next part, we will discuss the major changes that came after the Lebanese Synod took place as well as the role of the Khazens in the appointment of Maronite Bishops.
The Khazens and the Maronite Church
Throughout the next few days, we will be publishing a series of posts on the Khazens and the Maronite Church. Ever since they moved to Keserwan in the 16th century, the Khazen family and its Cheikhs have shown a unique and unmatched interest in the Church and in helping it prosper and spread out. They took charge of the spiritual, cultural, apostolic and organizational matters and donated to the Church without asking for any return.
Their relationship with the Maronite Church is a historical one and their bonds have been solid for centuries now and will only get stronger with time.
Here are the parts that this special historical series of posts will cover:
1- The Church Under The Patronage of the Khazens
2- The Role of the Khazens in electing the Maronite Patriarch
3- The Khazens and the Appointment of Maronite Bishops
The Khazens in Keserwan (Part1)
Why The Khazen Cheikhs migrated to Keserwan:
El Khazen Cheikhs migrated to Keserwan in the 16th century after various economic and political crisis that hit Lebanon due to the Ottoman invasion, forcing them to move to Keserwan which was safer and offered new economic opportunities.
Factors that led to population movements in the 16th century:
Since the 15th century, Northern Mount Lebanon witnessed a new political dynamic and an economic crisis which left a negative impact socially and economically. On one hand, the surge of the Jacobians in Bcharre led to a state of political chaos after Maronites "Moukaddams" distanced themselves from the Church and started fighting for political power. On another hand, the shortage of lands fit for cultivation and the harsh working conditions, as well as the rise of taxes and extra fees cause a drift between the various social classes and led to further impoverishment.
In the start of the 16th century, and after the Ottomans defeated the Mamluks North of Aleppo in 1516, Sultan Salim The First entered Damascus as a conqueror and obtained loyalty and obedience from the local princes. These princes had to abide by the Ottoman law, and pay taxes to the Ottoman Sultanate. Among the princes was a Sunnite Zaiim from the Bekaa called Prince Mohammad Ben el Hanash who was handed over the Bekaa area and named Moukaddam over it. However, Hanash rebelled with the help of Four Druze Leaders against the Ottoman invasion and wanted to restore the Mamluks’ rule, but his attempt failed and he was later on arrested and condemmed to death. This incident led to a state of political chaos and lack of security in the Bekaa due to rebel movements, which forced the residents to seek a safer and calmer refuge somewhere else.
Prince Assaf el Turkmani was kept by Sultan Salim The First as a ruler over Keserwan, and was given an official blessing and forced to pay a tax and revive his province. Prince Turkamni took it upon himself to boost the economy in Keserwan and started building businesses and shops, and made Keserwan a safe economic haven for North Mount Lebanon Christians from one side and Sunnite and Shiite Muslims from the Bekaa area.