AUB Libraries Online Exhibits

Sheltering the Jesuits

Jesuits at SPC.jpg

Letter describing how some Jesuit priests took refuge at SPC, Jesuits Archives, USJ.

Upon the closing of the Univeriste Saint Joseph by the Ottoman Authorities, due to their affiliation with the French Government, the SPC extended a helping hand to the Jesuit Faculty and Staff, and Dr. Bliss and Dr. Post made all necessary arrangements for them to be housed temporarily on campus: “When the Commander-in-Chief of the Fourth Army arrived to Syria in December 1914 and established his headquarters in Damascus, the two Western Universities of Beirut, the SPC and the University of St. Joseph were looked upon with hostility by the local Turkish authorities. In the same month of Jemal Pasha’s arrival, all British and French residents of Beirut were ordered to move inland. Soon after USJ was closed down, its French teachers had to leave Beirut. The SPC remained open, and some of the students who were studying at USJ transferred to it. The SPC’s General Faculty Minutes of November 24, 1914, provide some detail about the assistance that the College extended to a few French priests associated with the USJ to leave the country safely."

Vahid Behmardi, “Djemal Pasha and the Syrian Protestant College During World War I” ,Al Abhath magazine, 2002/2003,  p. 147-148

House of Dr. George Post.jpg

House of Dr. Post where the Jesuits were sheltered ca 1915, Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

“Can you imagine Dr. Post’s house being the refuge of Jesuit Fathers and of the French Frères, who take their meals at the Restaurant of West Hall. Such is the case. For the splendid University of St. Joseph, with its magnificent Library of 100,000 volumes is now a prize of war in the hands of Turks. The fathers are distributed around, some as I said being housed in our College Buildings. And most grateful they are. Mary [Bliss Dale] has received at the Hospital much personal property from the Sisters of Charity, and had arranged to receive some forty of the sisters, but at present, the school had been closed, their domicile there had not been disturbed.”

Frederik Bliss Letter November 20th,  1914, Howard Bliss Collection, AUB Archives.