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And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch

St Joseph of DamascusCommemorated July 10: Come, ye faithful, let us honor the martyr of Christ, a Priest of the Church of Antioch who by the word of the Word and by his blood and the blood of his companions baptized the land of Damascus, its Church and its people. Being immersed in the light of the Gospel from his youth, he worked and taught and defended the Church of Christ and her flock. O holy Joseph of Damascus, be for us an example, defending us and interceding for us fervently before the Savior. Troparion of St. Joseph, Tone 5

Saint Joseph of Damascus was an Orthodox priest and educator, canonized as a saint in 1993.

St. Joseph was the Director of the Patriarchal School in Damascus, under his leadership, the Patriarchal School became the leading Orthodox institution of higher learning in the Middle-East. 

He was martyred during the 1860 Damascus massacre.


We do not know precisely who established the Patriarchal school in Damascus, nor when it was established. It is confirmed that the school became associated in the nineteenth century with the name of Father Joseph, until it became known as his school.

When he took charge of the school in 1836, he brought together its students with his own students. Then he spared no effort to develop it, by appointing a board of administration and gave the teachers regular salaries, until it attracted students from all Syria and Lebanon.

Father Joseph's concern was to educate the minds of Orthodox young men, and to "prepare them for priesthood and to serve the flock in a useful way." The expenses of education were covered by the faithful and by the Patriarchate.

His vision was to make the interest in theological studies increase. In 1852, during the Patriarchate of Irotheos (1850-1885), Father Joseph took the initiative to open a department of theological studies, striving to elevate it to the level of the other theological seminaries in the Orthodox world. Twelve students were enrolled in it, and all of them became bishops in the Church. His martyrdom in 1860 put an end to his dream, which aimed to establish the department on solid foundation.

He breathed in his students the spirit of peace and success, which can be found among the saints, until this godly spirit spread like a chain beyond his students and graduates to reach all their acquaintances, colleagues and friends. Thus, his teaching became widespread, and his education bore the fruit of righteousness. It is mentioned that Father Joseph was for a period of time one of the teachers at Balamand Seminary, between 1833 and 1840.