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(both: mĕl`kīts), members of a Christian community in the Levant and the Americas, mainly Arabic-speaking and numbering about 250,000. They are in communion with the pope and have a Byzantine rite much like that of Constantinople but in the Arabic language. Their head, under the pope, is called patriarch of Antioch; he lives in Damascus or Egypt. The name Melchites (which derives from the Syriac word for "king") was first applied to all who followed the emperor Marcian in accepting the Council of Chalcedon (451) and came back into use in the 18th cent. to designate that segment of the Orthodox Eastern Church that reunited with Rome; it is now, however, also sometimes applied to the Orthodox of Syria and Egypt. Like the MaronitesMaronites
, Lebanese Christian community, in communion with the pope. By emigration they have spread to Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt, South America, and the United States and now number about one million.
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 and the Syrian Catholics (see Jacobite ChurchJacobite Church
, officially Syrian Orthodox Church, Christian church of Syria, Iraq, and India, recognizing the Syrian Orthodox patriarch of Antioch as its spiritual head, regarded by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox as heretical. It was founded (6th cent.
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), the Melchite community has its own hierarchy under the pope and its own rite.


See D. Attwater, The Christian Churches of the East, Vol. I (1947).

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References in periodicals archive ?
The Ottoman conquest attached the Melchites strongly to the Greek church.
The Orthodox Roums - formerly the Melchites - are scattered principally in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.
Named Jacobites, a sobriquet derived from the name of the chief organizer of a parallel hierarchy to the Melchites in the 6th century, Jacques Baradee (Ya'qub al Barad'i), they make up an ecclesiastical family with other non-Chalcedon Christian communities such as the Copts and Armenians, as well as the Ethiopians and the Malankaras in India.
Syrian Christians held key posts at the Caliph's court beside the Melchites under the Omayyads and next to the Nestorians under the Abbasids.