ALEPPO Beroea

ALEPPO Beroea. Caravan city of N Syria, situated in the province of Syria on the road from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean. With Damascus, Aleppo is one of the oldest cities known to us. It is mentioned in the Ebla texts. From the archives of Mari and Alalakh we learn that already in the 18th c. BC it was the capital of the kingdom of Jamchad, which included almost all of N Syria. Called Khalbou in hieroglyphic texts, in cuneiform inscriptions it is recorded as Halboun. The Arabic name of the city, Halab, derives from this earliest name. Coming under the Macedonian rule of Seleucus Nicator 312 281 BC, the city was enlarged and assumed the new name of Beroea, like the Macedonian city. With the arrival of the Arabs, however, it reverted to the original name. The name Beroea appears in 2 Macc 13:4-8 with regard to Menelaus, who had usurped the supreme pontificate and was condemned to death by Antiochus Eupator. In the Roman period, Beroea became part of the province of Syria CoeleSyria. Repeatedly conquered by the Persians 540 and 608 609, it came permanently under Arab rule in 637. Regarding the Christian presence in Aleppo, the sources go back as far as the 4th c., but there is no doubt that Christianity was established there very early, perhaps even 1st c., following the Christian dispersion after the siege of Jerusalem. Supporting this possibility is a fact reported to us by Jerome, in which he mentions the existence of a gospel of Matthew in Hebrew which Jerome himself attests to be in the possession of the Nazoreans living at Aleppo, from whom he was able to obtain it so as to make a copy De vir. ill. III. The church of Aleppo is given a clear profile through its first bishop known to us: Eustathius of Side, who governed the community of Aleppo until 323 324, when he was transferred to the patriarchal see of Antioch. Monarchian in tendency, he had a central role at the Council of Nicaea as an intransigent opponent of the Arians. Caught up in the antiNicene reaction, he was exiled. Also notable among the city’s ecclesiastical personalities was Acacius. Born ca. 340, while still young he chose the monastic life. A correspondent of Basil of Caesarea and Epiphanius of Salamis, who wrote the Panarion at his request, Acacius at first entertained friendly relations with John Chrysostom, though for personal reasons later became his bitter enemy. Ordained bishop by Meletius in 378, who sent him to Rome to Pope Damasus to seek a resolution to the schism of Antioch, he participated at the Council of Constantinople 381. Though very old, he had an essential role in the mediation between Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch, resulting in the 433 formula of union. Succeeding Acacius as bishop was Theoctistus, to whom Theodoret of Cyrrhus wrote inviting him to receive at Beroea the Christians fleeing the Vandal invasion of Africa Letter 32 and 135. Theodoret also tells us in the History of the Monks that two noblewomen he knew at Beroea were dedicated to a heroic ascetical life of enclosure and penance. According to Anastasius I 6th c., Beroea assumed the title of metropolitan church; it figures in the Council of Constantinople of 536 under this title. Installed at Aleppo during the following centuries were bishops of various confessions and rites which are still present there: Jacobites, Melkites, Armenians, Maronites, Latins. Bishops known to us are Eustathius, Cyrrhus, Anatolius 363, Theodotus ca. 374, Acacius 378, Theoctistus 438 and Peter 511. DHGE 1, 101-116; 8,887-888; R. Devreesse, Le patriarcat d’Antioche depuis la paix de l’‰glise jusqu’  la conquªte arabe, Paris 1945, 179-181; L. Padovese, Guida alla Siria, Casale Monferrato 1994, 110-116; Fedalto 2, 693-699.
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