Patriarch Estefan Duwayhi
1630 - 1704


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    Patriarch Estefan Duwayhi, his Life and his Times
by Msgr. Ignace Sadek
He was known as “The Saint Patriarch,” “The Saint of the Patriarchs,” “The Father of Maronite History,” “Pillar of the Maronite Church,” “The Second Chrysostom,” “Splendor of the Maronite Nation,” “The Glory of Lebanon and the Maronites.”

Estefan Duwayhi
Born: August 2, 1630
Name: Estefan (Stephen) after his patron, St. Stephen, first deacon and first martyr, whose feast day is August 2.

Place: Ehden, stronghold of the Maronites, in North Lebanon, 3,500 feet above sea level, with a rich religious history: three patriarchs, thirty-four bishops and many priests, hermits, monks and nuns.

He had pious and good parents: Deacon Mikhael Duwayhi and Mariam Duwayhi; one brother, Moussa; an uncle, Bishop Elias Duwayhi. He lost his father when he was three years old.

  Elementary School:
At age five, he entered the Parochial School of St. Peter in North Ehden, acquiring basics of arithmetic, Arabic and Syriac languages, and a solid Christian formation. He distinguished himself by his prodigious and precocious intelligence.

Aware of his intellectual capacity and of his religious and moral qualities, Patriarch Gerges Omayra Duwayhi and Bishop Elias Duwayhi, both from Ehden, sent him to Rome where he arrived in June, 1641; he was only eleven years old.

The Maronite College:
He joined the Maronite College of Rome, founded in 1584 by Pope Gregory XIII and directed by the Jesuit Fathers.

The Genius:
There, he astonished everyone by his superior intelligence, profound piety, and outstanding personality. His professor, Father Sparsa, testified: “I taught in many lands and in many universities, but I have not found the likes of Estefan, in the brightness of his mind and the purity of his life.”

Because of his intense studying, he became almost completely blind, but, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, he miraculously regained his sight, never having to wear glasses.

His Education:

He learned all that the Eternal City had to offer to a brilliant student. He earned a Doctorate in Philosophy and Theology. Besides his canonical formation, he was fluent in Arabic, Syriac, Latin, Italian, Greek and Hebrew. Later he obtained some knowledge of French and Turkish.

Oriental Engagement:

In 1655, he brilliantly finished his intellectual formation and his reputation spread throughout Europe. However, he refused all tempting offers in universities and Royal Courts. He chose to return to Lebanon, after remaining in Rome for another six months, visiting all the libraries and gathering precious documents about the Maronites. He returned to Lebanon on April 3, 1655, following fourteen years in Rome.

The Priest:


He was ordained a priest on March 25, 1656 by Patriarch Youhanna at the Monastery of Sts. Sarkis and Bacchus in Ehden.


He opened a free school for children at the Monastery of St. Yacoub Al Ahbach in Ehden.


In 1657, he was sent to Aleppo (Syria) by Patriarch Gerges Bshebhely, to work for the unity of Christians and to help his friend, Bishop Andrew Agheejan, who became the first Syrian Catholic Patriarch.

Mission in Lebanon:

In 1658, he was named missionary of the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith and returned to his school in Ehden. That same year, he was sent by Patriarch Bshebhely to Jheeta, Kasrouan, Lebanon to teach and preach, and then to South Lebanon, to Saida, Bekah, Marjehyoun. Finally, he was appointed pastor of Ardee and the neighboring villages in North Lebanon.


In 1662, at the request of Patriarch Bshebhely and the people, he returned to Aleppo (Syria), where he was called “The Second Chrysostom.” He remained there for six years.

Holy Land:

In May, 1668, Duwayhi returned to Lebanon and went with his mother and brother for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The Bishop:


Upon his return from the Holy Land, he was surprised to learn he had been elected Bishop of Cyprus. On July 8, 1668, he was ordained Bishop by Patriarch Gerges Bshebhely.


Before leaving for Cyprus, Patriarch Bshebhely sent him to visit and comfort the parishes of Jebbee, Zawiya and Akkar in North Lebanon.


That same year, he entered the Diocese of Cyprus, establishing his residence in Nicosia, but visiting all the Maronite cities of the Island, preaching, gathering documents and organizing the Diocese which had been vacant for thirty-four years. Providentially, he left Cyprus on April 12, 1670, for a short visit to Lebanon. It was the day that Patriarch Gerges Bshebhely died.

The Patriarch:


May 20, 1670, Bishop Estefan Duwayhi was elected Patriarch. Two days later, he was ordained Patriarch at Qannubine, the patriarchal See at that time, in the Holy Valley.


Throughout his thirty-four years of Patriarchate, Duwayhi did not taste rest. Nine times, he was forced to flee from his See of Qannubine to Mar Challita Mekbes in Ghosta, Kesrouan, to Mejdelmhooch in the Chouf or in Jbeil and Batroun. Through his trials and persecutions, he personally sums up the whole story and destiny of the Maronite Nation. He was always on the move, hiding in caves and places almost insalubrious, carrying notes and documents, writing late into the night under very bad conditions, and caring about everyone and everything in the Maronite Church.


He built twenty-seven churches and many monasteries, ordained fourteen bishops and many priests. He protected the Maronite Church from Latinization, gave her the proper and distinguished identity, was instrumental in the foundation of the Lebanese Order and in the conversion to the Catholic Faith of the Melkite Patriarch Cyril and of the establishment of the first Syrian Catholic Patriarch. He reorganized the Maronite Church, reaffirmed her foundations and endowed her with the precious treasure of his writings.


Patriarch Estefan Duwayhi died, as he wished, at his See of Qannubine in the aroma of sanctity, on May 3, 1704.

The Author:

Always engaged in traveling because of the political unrest and social situation, he nevertheless wrote thirty extensive books on history and Church liturgy, not including his precious commentaries and his enormous correspondence to Popes, Kings, Cardinals and civic leaders. Among his writings are: History of the Times; The origins of the Maronites; The Defense of the Orthodoxy of the Maronites; The Book of Ordinations; The Series of Maronite Patriarchs; The Lamp of the Sanctuary; The Book of Consecrations; The Book of Anaphoras; The Book of Rites and Benedictions; The Book of Syriac Tunes, and many others…

His Sanctity:

Patriarch Estefan Duwayhi was revered as a saint. Many miracles are attributed to him, both during his life and after his death. The Cause of his Beatification presented by the parish of Ehden was accepted by Rome and is advancing tremendously.

His Personality:

The person:

He was of average height, and had a large forehead, a long beard, a solid constitution, an aquiline nose and well-defined eyebrows.


He refused the Roman honors and tried to refuse the Episcopate and Patriarchate. He used to receive the poor and peasants the same as he would receive great leaders.


He was a man of prayer. He liked to seclude himself in caves or in hidden places for prayer and meditation. In Qannubine, he had made an opening in his room so he could look freely at the Blessed Sacrament and the Icon of Mary in the church.


He was very enduring and austere in his lifetime. According to his contemporary and biographer, Bishop Semaan Awad, later Patriarch from 1742 to 1756,“He never ate meat during his life, except when ordered by his medical advisor or his spiritual director and only for health reasons.”


He possessed all the qualities of a true scientist in history and liturgy. Everything he advanced was based on proof and documents. In Rome, he undertook a thorough investigation related to documents concerning the Maronites at the Vatican Library and Archives, at the Maronite College, and in many other places. In Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus, he visited almost all the Maronite churches, monasteries and houses, gathering very ancient and precious documents and manuscripts. Many events related by Duwayhi have been verified by later discoveries.


His love for his Church and country was always the guideline of his life. He visited almost all the parishes, reviewing and correcting the books he could find, and properly organizing their administration, or even paying their debts. Thanks to him, the Maronite Church was furnished with all the liturgical books needed for prayers, consecrations and benedictions. He has been rightly named, “The Father of the Maronite Church.” As for his patriotism, his books on history, many of his writings, and his entire life of trials and sufferings reveal an authentic national sentiment. To him, we owe the knowledge of many obscure points of our history.

The Giant:

He was a giant, a genius, so gifted a person that the world would not see the likes of him for centuries. His biographer, Semaan Awad said, “He was like an eagle flying above all the birds and was among his peers like the sun among the stars.” They talked about his miracles, but without doubt, the greatest miracle he ever performed was certainly his various and immense writings. Only a person inspired, encouraged and pushed from above can produce the giant-like and encyclopedic treasure he left for posterity to admire.


Maronite Patriarch of Ehden
Patriarch Estefan Duwayhi
1630 - 1704

  Patriarch Estephan Boutros El Douaihy
by - Encyclopedia 
  Patriarch Estephan Boutros El Douaihy (also Etienne Douaihi, Stefano Douayhy, Istifan Ad Duwayhy, Stephane Al Doueihi Arabic: أسطفان الدويهي‎ ) was born in Ehden, Lebanon on August 2, 1630. He was the Patriarch of the Maronite Church from 1670 to 1704. He is considered one of the major Arab Historians of the 17th century and was known as “The Father of Maronite History”, “Pillar of the Maronite Church”, “The Second Chrysostom”, “Splendor of the Maronite Nation”, “The Glory of Lebanon and the Maronites”. He was declared Servant of God by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints under Protocol number 2145[1]. On July 3, 2008, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to draw up a decree on the heroic virtues of Patriarch El Douaihy who will be referred to as Venerable from the moment of publication of the decree This is an important step in the ongoing Beatification process  


 Early life

El Douaihy was born at a time when the Maronites were suffering badly from Ottoman oppression. However, the Ottoman empire was not benefiting from the expansion of world commerce, and so the Ottoman rulers, and the local Muslim and Druze chiefs who ruled with Ottoman consent (something which could be withdrawn) enriched themselves by taxing the Maronite peasantry. At the age of sixteen, recognized as a brilliant young talent, he was sent to the Maronite College (Seminary) in Rome. [4] He studied there for nine years, being cured of a serious condition which almost led to blindness. El Douaihy believed that the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary was responsible for his cure. While in Italy, he traveled as widely as possible seeking manuscripts dealing with Maronite history and liturgy. When he returned to Lebanon at the age of 25, he continued his research.

 Expanded description

As bishop, and later as Patriarch, he undertook reforms of the Maronite Church and its monks. Douaihy was elected Patriarch in 1670, when he was only 40 years old. This is universally seen as an acknowledgment of his personal moral qualities, his extraordinary learning, and his keen appreciation of the issues the Maronites faced. He paid particular attention to the traditions of the Maronite Church, and favoured a de-Latinisation of rites and ceremonies. He was hounded - there is no better word - by Ottoman authorities, who resented his principled appeals for justice for the Maronites. In particular, they were frustrated by his resistance to their oppressive taxation policies: policies which saw the abandonment of many villages by peasants unable to pay their taxes. It was also a period when Maronites and, in particular, their clergy, were liable to sudden arrest, assault and murder. The Patriarch was not exempt, being assaulted himself. He was accordingly obliged to move from place to place. Yet, he maintained his writing, and without him, we would be very much poorer in our knowledge of Maronite matters.

Douaihy traveled throughout the Maronite world, including Cyprus and Aleppo, which were even more important centers of the Maronite faith then, although they are still important now. This is partly because Aleppo was at that time a focus for the international overland trade, the only trade where the Ottoman empire had any opening, given the European domination of the sea routes.

 Death and afterward

Almost immediately after his death, he was considered by many Maronites of Lebanon, but particularly in North Lebanon and in Zgharta, Ehden to have been a saint. The Congregation of the Causes of Saints issued the decree of nulla osta for his beatification cause on December 5, 1996. The Patriarchate of Antioch of the Maronites proceeded with the diocesan investigation and, at its culmination, submitted the results to congregation, which validated the proceedings with a decree dated on November 8, 2002. The Positio for the beatification cause was published in 2005 and it received the approval of the Historical Commission of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints on January 24, 2006. On July 3, 2008, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to draw up a decree on the heroic virtues of Patriarch El Douaihy who will be referred to as Venerable from the moment of publication of the decree. Some of the miracles attributed to him have been collected by M.S. El Douaihy.[5]

 Religious, philosophical and/or political views

Douaihy strongly believed in the social importance of education and science (being an amateur scientist himself). Given the importance of learning, and his experience in how far European education exceeded Oriental, he pursued a successful policy of sending as many Maronites to Rome as possible, to become capable of returning to the villages in which the Maronite peasantry lived, and raising the level of general education. Douaihy established a college in Aleppo, which became the base for the development of renewed monastic orders. As with his educational policy, his monastic renewal was a success, and still bears fruit today.

Some of Douaihy's historical theories (e.g. of the perpetual orthodoxy of the Maronites) is controversial. But as a whole, with one or two exceptions, his general account of Maronite history is accepted as trustworthy. It is certainly the most satisfying general account of Maronite realities into the eighteenth century.


Of the many works of Patriarch El Douaihy, the vast bulk are still available only in Arabic. A selection has been translated into French by Youakim Moubarac in Pentalogie antiochenne/domaine Maronite[6]. That selection focusses upon his discussion of the rites and cermonies of the Maronite Church. However, his major work is a general history book, Tarikh Al Azminah, available in several versions.

 Published works

  • Duwayhī, I., & Fahd, B. (1976). Tārīkh al-azminah. Dar Lahd Khatir, Lebanon.  
  • Duwayhī, I., & Tawtal, F. (1951). Tārīkh al-azminah, 1095-1699. Bayrūt: al-Matbaaah al-Kāthūlīkīyah.
  • Duwayhī, I., & Hage, L. (1987). The Syriac model strophes and their poetic meters, by the Maronite Patriarch Stephen Douayhi an introduction, translation, commentary and critical edition. Kaslik, Lebanon: University of the Holy Spirit.
  • Duwayhī, I., & Shartūnī, R. a.-K. (1980). Manārat al-aqdās. Rābitat al-Batrīark Istīfān al-Duwayhī al-Thaqāfīyah, Zgharta, Lebanon.
  • Duwayhī, I., & Fahd, B. (1974). Kitāb al-sharh al-mukhtassar fī asl al-Mawārinah wa-thabātihim fī al-amānah wa-ṣiyānatihim min kull bidaah wa-kihānah. [Bayrūt]: Butrus Fahd.
  • Duwayhī, I., & Daww, A. (1973). Asl al-Mawārinah. Manshūrāt Muaassasat al-Turāth al-Ihdinī, 1. Ihdan, Lebanon: [Muaassasat al-Turāth al-Ihdinī].
  • Duwayhī, I., & Hage, L. (1986). Les strophes-types syriaques et leurs mètres poétiques du patriarche maronite Etienne Douayhi. Bibliothèque de l'Université Saint-Esprit, 13. Kaslik, Liban: Bibliothèque de l'Université Saint-Esprit.
  • Duwayhī, I., & Shartūnī, R. a.-K. (1890). Tārīkh al-tāifah al-Mārūnīyah. Bayrūt: al-Matbaah al-Kāthūlīkīyah.
  • Duwayhī, I., & Fahd, B. (1974). Liber brevis explicationis de Maronitarum origine eorumque perpetua orthodoxia et salute ab omni haeresi et superstitione. S.l: s.n.].


  1. ^ Hitti, Philip K. Hitti (2004), History of Syria, including Lebanon and Palestine, New Jersey: Gorgias Press, 2004 reprint of 1951 original, p.675
  2. ^ EL Douaihy, Mikhael S. El Douaihy (20074), Patriarch Estefan El Douaihy, Lebanon? Cultural Committee of Patriarch El Douaihy, 2007, pp.15-6
  3. ^ * Moubarac, Y. (1984)- Pentalogie Antiochienne / Domaine Maronite, Volume 1, Part 1, éditions Cénacle Libanais, Beirut.(French)


  • Jumayyil, N., & Duwayhī, I. (1991). al-Batrīyark Istifānūs al-Duwayhī hayātuhu wa-muaallafātuhu. Bayrūt: N. al-Jumayyil
  • Shiblī, B. (1970). Tarjamat abīnā al-maghbūt Istifānūs Butrus al-Duwayhī batriyark Antākyah, 1630-1704. Jūniyah, Lubnān: [al-Hikmah].
  • Hārūn, J. (1981). Istifān al-Duwayhī. Beirut: s.n.].
  • Nūjaym, T. F. (1990). La maronité chez Estéfān Dūwayhī. Kaslik, Liban: Université Saint-Esprit.
  • Maroun, S.-G. (1988). Stephan Ad-Doueihy a Maronite splendor. Washington