Damascus, Syria

[Damascus, Syria]
One of the oldest cities in the world, and a Latin archiepiscopal titular see; also a metropolitan see for the Catholic and non-Catholic Melchite Greeks, for the Catholic Syrians, and a Maronite episcopal see. Mentioned in Genesis and on the pylons of Karnak, with the fall of the Kingdom of Syria it seems to have lost its autonomy, and appears only occasionally in the history of the Jews, Greeks, and Romans. When Syria became a Roman province, 65 B.C., Damascus was the chief commercial emporium for the nomad Arabs. In the vicinity occurred Saint Paul’s conversion. In early times Damascus was a metropolis with eleven suffragan sees, subject to the Patriarchate of Antioch. Besides its Greek prelates, numerous Jacobite bishops are known, and many illustrious names are associated with its history, notably Saint John Damascene. After its capture by the Arabs, 635, freedom of worship was allowed to the Christians, and from 660 to 753 it was the capital of the Arabian Empire. In the following centuries its history is one of broils and revolutions, unsuccessful sieges of the Crusaders, and invasions of the Tatars, until the French occupation of 1860, following frightful slaughter of the Christians.