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Melkites or Melchites (‘Emperor's men’, from Syriac malkaya, ‘imperial’). Christians of Syria and Egypt who accepted the Council of Chalcedon and remained in communion with Constantinople. After the rise of Islam their liturgical language became Arabic. Today the term embraces all Arabic-speaking Christians of the Byzantine rite, whether Orthodox or Uniat, in the patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria. The Orthodox number about 750,000, while the Uniats (for whom there has been a separate hierarchy since 1684) number c.400,000.

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Members of the Melkite (sometimes rendered Melchite), or Greek Catholic, Church. This is a Uniate Church—that is, one affiliated with, but not under the control of, the Roman Catholic Church—which follows its own rites, customs, and liturgy. The name is derived from the Syriac melek, which means "belonging to the king" (the Byzantine emperor Marcian), and was possibly derisive when first used. The name was given to the Christians of Syria and Egypt who remained faithful to the Byzantine emperor after the Council of Chalcedon, in 451 C.E. Separated from Rome in 1054, some of them rejoined the Roman family in 1724 when a Roman Catholic was elected patriarch, splitting off from the Greek Orthodox Church, which also follows the Byzantine rite but is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

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Melchites: see MELKITES.

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