Ignatius III Atiyah of Antioch

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His Beatitude Ignatius III Atiyah was the Patriarch of Antioch of the Church of Antioch from 1619 to 1634. During the early part of his patriarchate he contended with a rival, Cyril Dabbas, who was also consecrated patriarch on the same day by a rival group within the Antiochian patriarchate.


Little is known of either the early secular or ecclesiastical lives of Ignatius Atiyah before he became secretary for the Emir Fakhr-al-Din II. In 1605, Ignatius Atiyah became metropolitan of Saida (Sidon). After the earlier deposition and later death of Patr. Athanasius II Dabbas of Antioch in 1619, the Orthodox faithful of Damascus, who's had been unhappy under the leadership of Dabbas elected Ignatius Atiyah to be patriarch and had him travel to Constantinople where he was consecrated Patriarch of Antioch by Patriarch of Constantinople Timothy II on April 24, 1619.

As he was dying, Patr. Athanasius II recommended his brother Cyril Dabbas, metropolitan of Bosra, as his successor as patriarch. On April 24, 1619, Cyril Dabbas was consecrated Patriarch of Antioch in Amioun, Lebanon by metropolitans Simeon of Hama, Lazaros of Homs and Dionysios of Hosn, who were under the political influence of the Pasha of Tripoli, Ibn Sifa. Cyril was also strongly supported by Patr. Cyril Lucaris of the Church of Alexandria.

With the two consecrations, the old Melkite Orthodox Church was split into two factions. The Orthodox Christians in the area of central Syria, including Hama, Homs, Panras, that was under the political authority of Tripoli, recognized the authority of Cyril Dabbas. The Orthodox Christians on the region of Mount Lebanon that was under Emir Fakhr-al-Din II and of the Northern region of Aleppo were faithful to Patr. Ignatius Atiyah. This split in the Church not only created discord, but also caused a huge expenditure of money, because both factions asked for the formal recognition by the Ottoman sultan who granted it successively to the party who paid more.

Cyril Lucaris, who was Cyril Dabbas' protector, became Patriarch of Constantinople on November 4, 1620 and succeeded in obtaining a firman from the sultan deporting Ignatius Atiyah to Cyprus as well as punishing all bishops who did not recognized Cyril as the sole Patriarch. In 1624, Emir Fakhr-al-Din II defeated the Pasha of Tripoli, who was Cyril's main political protector. Cyril was forced to leave Tripoli and moved to Aleppo, where he immediately clashed with the Metr. Meletius Karmah, a fierce opponent of Cyril. While Cyril succeeded twice in having Meletius imprisoned, Meletius, supported by the Christian population of Aleppo, always refused to recognize him.

In his attempt to have a unified Lebanon, Emir Fakhr-al-Din II, in 1628, summoned a synod of all the bishops at Ras-Baalbek, a town a few kilometers north of Baalbek, Lebanon. The synod was convened on June 1, 1628 in the Church of the Blessed Virgin with all twelve Melkite bishops present, but not Cyril Dabbas. The synod proclaimed Ignatius III Atiyah to be the only Patriarch. Cyril Dabbas was brought in chains to Ras-Baalbek and then exiled to northern Lebanon near Hermel. Soon after he was executed by men of the Emir.

After the 1628 Synod of Ras-Baalbek, Ignatius III Atiyah remained in office for other six years. During this time he resided near Beirut, near to his protector Emir Fakhr-al-Din II. In 1633, the Ottoman Sultan began a successful war against Fakhr-al-Din who had been attempting establish his independence from the sultan. After the emir's defeat Ignatius Atiyah, now without political protection, had to escape from Beirut to Saida. Later, when he tried to return to Beirut, dressed as a soldier, he was kill by a group of Druzes. He died immediately. While the date of his death is not known, but it was in the early months of 1634.

Succession box:
Ignatius III Atiyah of Antioch
Preceded by:
Metropolitan of Saida
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Athanasius II Dabbas
Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by:
Euthymius III Karmah
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