Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fr. Edward Billottet, S.J. (1812-1860) Martyr Of Lebanon

Zahle, Lebanon
Fr. Edward Billotet’s first two years in Lebanon were spent teaching French while he studied Arabic. In 1848 he was appointed minister at the Beirut residence and later in 1850 he was made superior of the entire Lebanese-Syrian mission. As superior he increased the number of schools funded by the Propagation of the Faith and in 1853 he started an Arabic press for disseminating Christian literature. He spent a total of eight years as mission superior before he went to the Jesuit residence and church at Zahle in Feb 1859. Because the church had previously received the gift of a vineyard outside the city, the Druses, a fanatical Muslim sect in Lebanon tried to force Fr Billotet to pay taxes. But because he was a French citizen he was therefore not subject to the sultan’s taxation. As the revenue from the vineyard went to support a Christian school and a Catholic church, the Druses continued to harass Fr Billotet and tried to force him to leave the country. The Druses then began from June 1860 to massacre Maronite Christians. Within three weeks they killed 7750 Christians, destroyed 560 churches, burned 360 villages, razed 42 convents and left 28 schools in ruins. Zahle was the worst casualty because of its concentration of Catholics.....the Druses rushed upstairs they forced all seven Catholics onto the terrace.... As Fr Billotet raised his eyes to heaven and thanked God that he could offer Him this sacrifice, several bullets struck him in the breast.
Link (here) to read the full biography of Fr. Billottet  and the other 4 Jesuit martyrs of Lebanon at the Singapore Jesuit website.

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