Antonines (Antonians)

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ANTONINES (ANTONIANS)

Under this title are included several religious orders of the Eastern Churches that have taken as their guide and inspiration St. anthony of egypt. Anthony did not leave a written rule; his followers were united only by a common spirit and the observance of similar ascetic practices. What is known as the Rule of St. Anthony is of later origin and was published in Arabic (1646) by abraham ecchellensis and in Latin (1661) by Lukas Holste (Holstenius); it is based on the life of Anthony, his authentic and apocryphal writings, and a compilation known as the Apophthegmata patrum. The influence of Anthony over Oriental monachism is universally recognized, but the systematic application of his rule to a religious order dates only from 1695, when it was adopted by a group of Maronite monks. Only the first part of their monastic legislation was based on the Rule of St. Anthony; the second part was patterned according to the constitutions of the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit, a community founded in Hungary in 1250 (see hermits of st. paul). Following the occupation of Hungary by the Turks and the subsequent decline of the order, a thorough reform was made in the 17th century by means of new constitutions that were devised at Rome in 1643. These constitutions became the prototype not only for the Antonines, but also for other Oriental orders.

Lebanese Maronite Order of St. Anthony. Monasticism flourished among the Maronite people who lived in the neighborhood of the great monastery of St. Maro, located near the source of the Orontes River (see maro of cyr, st.). When the monks of St. Maro migrated to Lebanon, they were already accustomed to the cenobitic life, but they were forced, by lack of means for building monasteries, to return to a more heremitic form of monastic life. The valley called Qadisha, with its numerous natural caves, lent itself to this type of life and became for centuries the abode of holy hermits. At that time there were no explicit vows made in a juridical form. According to the traditional custom of the East, the embracing of the religious life was manifested by the taking of a religious habit and by the celebration of a special rite.

Patriarch Stephan Al-Douaihi (16711704), who had studied at Rome, introduced among the Maronite monks the Western system of religious congregations in order to unite the separate and independent monasteries. He began with three young men from Aleppo who, on Nov. 10, 1695, received from his hands the monastic habit. Soon a group of disciples gathered around them. In 1698 a first draft of constitutions was adopted along with the Rule of St. Anthony. The constitutions, approved by the patriarch in 1700, were later revised and approved by Clement XII in 1732.

The new order was known at first as the Aleppian congregation after the name of the city of the founders. This name was changed to that of Lebanese in 1706. At certain periods the Lebanese monks were known also as Baladites, that is, "natives," from the Arabic word balad. At first the contemplative life prevailed in the congregation, but in time the monks began to dedicate themselves to parish work and teaching. This new role was officially recognized by the Holy See in the motu proprio Postquam apostolicis litteris (1952), and on Dec. 16, 1955, the Lebanese Antonine congregation was declared a nonmonastic (active) order. Associated with the order is a branch for religious women, comprising five autonomous monasteries of ancient origin.

Aleppian Maronite Order of St. Anthony. Tensions that existed in the original Maronite congregation between the Aleppian and Lebanese (Baladite) factions were not resolved. At a meeting held at Louaizé, Lebanon, on April 1, 1758, the order split into two independent congregations, one called Aleppian, and the other Lebanese. The successive attempts of Rome to reconcile the two groups failed. Finally Clement XIV, in the brief Ex iniuncto (July 19, 1770), approved officially the split in the order. The Aleppian congregation retained the same constitutions and the same form of government as the Lebanese. It too was declared a nonmonastic order in 1955.

Maronite Antonine Order of St. Isaia. In 1700 the Maronite bishop of Aleppo, Gabriel Blouzawi, gathered some of the remaining independent monasteries, those that had not joined the Lebanese congregation, to form the Antonine Order of St. Isaia, named after the principal monastery, Mar Isaya. He gave them the Rule of St. Anthony and constitutions that were approved by Patriarch Al-Douaihi in 1703. Clement XII granted papal approval in the brief Misericordiarum Pater (Jan. 17, 1740). The constitutions and way of life are practically identical to those of the other Antonines, and, like them, the congregation of St. Isaia also was declared a nonmonastic order in 1955. The headquarters are located near Beirut. From the beginning there existed also a feminine branch of the order, dedicated to the contemplative life. In 1953 the religious women of the Antonine Order of St. Isaia were constituted as an independent congregation with an active apostolate.

Chaldean Antonines of St. Hormisdas. The ancient Chaldean monachism, which flourished in Persia from early Christian times until the invasion of the Mongols (12th century), became extinct at the beginning of the 19th century. Around that time a Catholic Chaldean merchant, Gabriel Dembo, founded the Chaldean Antonines. He embraced the monastic life in the novitiate of the Maronite Antonines in Lebanon. After returning to his own country (Iraq), he established a monastery on the ruins of the ancient monastery of Rabban Hormizd (7th century) near Alqosh in 1808. There he gathered a few followers to whom he gave the Rule of St. Anthony and constitutions borrowed from the Maronite Lebanese Antonines. These constitutions, with some modifications, were approved by Rome in 1830 and 1845. Dembo spent the rest of his life working for the conversion of the Assyrian Christians. He was assassinated by the pasha of Ravanduz in 1834. The Chaldean Antonines, are found principally in Iraq

Other Antonines. Several groups that no longer exist, some of them Oriental and others Latin, are included under the term Antonines.

Armenian Antonines. Four brothers, Armenian Catholics who lived in Aleppo, established a monastic institute in 1705 and founded the monastery of St. Salvator at Creim, near Beirut, Lebanon. An attempt to join their group to the mechitarists of Venice failed, and the congregation adopted (1752) the Rule of St. Anthony after the manner of the Maronite Antonines. Clement XIII approved the constitutions in 1761 and transferred the novitiate to Rome. The monks never exceeded 60, and their number declined after they went into schism during the politico-religious troubles (186980) under the rule of the Armenian Patriarch and Cardinal Anthony Hassoun (180984). The former library of these Antonines is conserved in the Armenian institute at Bzommar, Lebanon.

Ethiopian-Coptic Antonines. Although there has never been a congregation of Antonines among the Ethiopians

of either the Monophysite or the Catholic tradition, there is a fictional "Order of St. Anthony" associated with the hospice San Stefano dei Mori in Vatican City. San Stefano was designated for the use of Ethiopian pilgrim monks by Sixtus IV in the 15th century. The socalled rule of the hospice dates from 1551, but it is only a set of regulations for the discipline of the house. In a brief of Clement XII (Jan. 15, 1731) the care of the hospice was handed over to the Coptic and Ethiopian monks of the "Order of St. Anthony," although no such order existed. Much later, in 1919, San Stefano dei Mori was converted into the Ethiopian College and placed under the direction of the Capuchins.

Antonines of the Latin Rite. The Antonine Hospitallers, or Canons Regular of St. Anthony of Vienne, began in France in 1095, and the Antonines of Flanders, founded in 1615, did not follow the Rule of St. Anthony, but rather that of St. Augustine. Neither group is extant.

See Also: monasticism.

Bibliography: Oreinte Cattolico (Vatican City 1962) 560565, 606608. p. j. khairallah, Histoire résumée de l'ordre Antonin Maronite de la Congrégation de s. Isaie (Beirut 1939). c. karalevskij and f. tournebize, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 3:861873. r. janin and k. hofmann, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 1:676677. h. heimbucher Die Orden und Kongregationen der Katholischen Kirche (Paderborn 193234) 1:6776. v. adviellle, Histoire de l'ordre hospitalier de s. Antoine (Paris 1883).

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Antonines (Antonians)

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