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Luwis Sabunji (1838–1931)


Portrait of Luwis Sabunji

(Service to SPC 1868[20])

A Catholic priest, educator, journalist and political figure, Dr. Luwis Ṣabunji was born in 1838 near Malikiyah, Syria. He studied at Dier el-Shorfa in Keserwan, Lebanon and graduated around 1853. He travelled to Rome to continue his studies and journeyed around Turkey, Lebanon, Italy and finally the United States. He mastered Arabic, Latin, Turkish, English, Italian and French.

Sabunji was appointed the Head of the Syriac Catholic community in Lebanon and established a printing press to publish books in Arabic, Syriac, and Turkish, in addition to establishing al Madrasa Al Siriyaniyya or the Syriac School, in 1864. He was the first to introduce the art of photography to Lebanon.

Sabunji was the first Turkish and Latin teacher at the Syrian Protestant College and taught Italian at the Patriarchal School. He later became the private tutor of the children of Mutessarif Franco Nasri Pasha and Sultan Abdul Hamid. He established and edited many magazines, the most famous was “al Nahla” magazine, 1870, which was published in Beirut, Cairo, and London.

In 1871, he made a trip around the globe that lasted more than two years in addition to making numerous travels to Egypt, Turkey, America, England, and the Arab countries, Sabunji became the professor of the Arabic language at the Imperial Institute in London in the late 1880s. He finally settled in Los Angeles, United States until he was murdered there in 1931.

[20] Needs further research, no specific dates of employment.