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Patriarch Simon Aouad (1683-1756)

Patriarch Simon Aouad (1683-1756)
Founder of El-Midane village. He was born in Hasroun in 1683. At the age of 13, Patriarch Doueihy sent him to the Maronite College in Rome, where only outstanding young Maronites were sent, to study Philosophy, Liturgy and European Arts. He returned to Mount Lebanon in 1707, where at that time, his uncle Jacob became the Maronite Patriarch. He was ordained a priest on June 10, 1708. For 8 years he was his uncle’s secretary. On January 27, 1716 he was ordained Bishop of Damascus by his uncle and was assigned the servicing of the Tyre and Sidon parishes.

When Patriarch Joseph Dergham Khazen died on May 13, 1742, Simon Aouad was elected the new Patriarch in the following day without informing the absent bishops. Simon humbly refused that honor. The bishops, then, elected Elias Mouhasseb as a new Patriarch. But Bishop Toubia Khazen, who was absent during the election, refused to recognize the election of Mouhasseb and was elected by his group as the new Patriarch. Facing this situation, Rome stepped in and annulled both elections, reinstating Simon Aouad as the new Patriarch. Both parties accepted Rome’s decision and Simon Aouad was inaugurated as the new Maronite Patriarch in Harissa.

The persecutions that were carried out in Northern Labanon by the Ottomans and the Hamadeh family pushed Patriarch Simon to leave the Patriarchal convent in Quannoubine and settle in the convent of Our Lady of Machmoucheh, the one he built when he was a bishop of the region.

The importance of Patriarch Simon Aouad, in addition to his religious position, lies in his books which are still hand-written. Among them are: “Patriarchs of the Orient”, “Proofs of Christian faith”, “Explanations of the 4 Gospels”, “Life of Patriarch Stephan Doueihy” and others.

Foundation of The Lady of Machmoucheh convent by Bishop Simon Aouad

In 1730, Bishop Simon Aouad came to the Jezzine area as a delegate to his uncle Patriarch Jacob Aouad (1705-1732) to be the head of the parishes spreading from Palestine to Sidon. He felt the need to establish a permanent residency in the area. Therefore he chose the land called Ain EL Jaouze near Machmoucheh to be his place. He bought the land from its owners: Kabalan Harmouche from Semkanieh in the Chouf area and the wife of Emir Melhem Chehab mother of Emir Sayyed Ahmad Chehab. He also bought an adjacent land from the sons of Abou Atmé from Machmoucheh in 1732.  In 1736, the Lebanese Maronite Order bought the convent of Our Lady of Machmoucheh from Bishop Simon Aouad in the presence of Bishop Youssef Semaani.

When Bishop Simon Aouad was elected Patriarch in 1742, he decided to leave Northern Lebanon and settle between the Machmoucheh convent and the village of El-Midane, which he had bought previously. His mother, brother and nephew were the first inhabitants of El-Midane.

It is known that Patriarch Simon lived in El-Midane for almost all his stay, except for the official visits and meetings where they were held in the convent of Machmoucheh. Patriarch Simon Aouad moved with him to El-Midane Saint Jude (Mar Laba) who became the Saint of the village.

Patriarch Simon Aouad died on February 12, 1756 in El-Midane and was buried in the Machmoucheh convent where many of his relatives were also buried next to him.

The importance of Patriarch Simon was in his arrival in the area where many Christians moved in because of his presence and because of his encouragement to other Christian families to move into the Jezzine region, which resulted in the demographic change of that region, as known today.

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