Citizens, as the second installment of our week of holy breads, we turn now to the Qurban bread used by the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Unlike most host breads in the Catholic faith, this one is extraordinarily perfumed with spices and incense, and redolent of orange and rose water essences. It is also leavened.
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church (Arabic: كنيسة الروم الملكيين الكاثوليك, Kanīsat ar-Rūm al-Malakiyyīn al-Kāṯūlīk) is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See as part of the worldwide Catholic Church.
It is headed by Patriarch Youssef Absi, headquartered in Cathedral of Our Lady of the Dormition, Damascus, Syria. The Melkites, Byzantine Rite Catholics, trace their history to the early Christians of Antioch, formerly part of Syria and now in Turkey, of the 1st century AD, where Christianity was introduced by Saint Peter.
The Melkite Church is related to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. It is mainly centered in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine. Melkite Greek Catholics are present, however, throughout the world by migration due to persecution.
Outside the Near East, the Melkite Church has also grown through intermarriage with, and the conversion of, people of various ethnic heritages as well as transritualism. At present there is a worldwide membership of approximately 1.6 million.
While the Melkite Catholic Church’s Byzantine rite liturgical traditions are shared with those of Eastern Orthodoxy, the Church has officially been part of the Catholic Church since the reaffirmation of its union with the Holy See of Rome in 1724.
The six major traditions of the Catholic Church are Alexandrian, Antiochene, Armenian, Chaldean, Constantinopolitan (Byzantine), and Latin (Roman Catholic).
A Roman Catholic may attend any Eastern Catholic Liturgy and fulfill his or her obligations at an Eastern Catholic Parish. That is, a Roman Catholic may join any Eastern Catholic Parish and receive any sacrament from an Eastern Catholic priest since all belong to the Catholic Church.[
Melkites who do not reside within a convenient distance to a local Melkite Church are permitted to attend other Catholic churches while retaining their Melkite membership.
The origins of the Melkite Catholic Church go back to the establishment of Christianity in the Near East. As Christianity began to spread, the disciples preached the Gospel throughout the region and were for the first time recorded to be called “Christians” in the city of Antioch (Acts 11:26), the historical See of the Melkite Catholic Patriarchate.
Scholars attribute the actual writing of the gospels in Koine Greek to the Hellenized Christian population of Antioch, with authors such as St. Luke and others.
By the 2nd century, Christianity was widespread in Antioch and throughout Syria. Growth of the church did not stop during periods of persecution, and by the end of the 4th century Christianity became the official state religion.
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church traces its origins to the Christian communities of the Levant and Egypt. The church’s leadership was vested in the three Apostolic Patriarchates of the ancient patriarchates: Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.
Qurbān is usually a word used for the sacrifice of a livestock animal during the Islamic festival of Eid-ul-Adha, but has a very different meaning in the context of the Maronite Church, where it refers to a sacred Host bread.
This bread is called qurban in Lebanese, pronounced as the letter “k” followed by “urbane”. This bread is most commonly used at the 40-day anniversary of a passed away family member and is handed out during mass. Qurban is typically stamped with a special seal that can be purchased online or from your local Church.
Qurbān is related to the Hebrew qorbān “offering” and Syriac qurbānā “sacrifice”, specifically referring to “a way or means of approaching someone” or “nearness”.
Qurban is a unique bread that is well worth making regardless of your faith, Citizens – it is spiced to my especial preferences and is absolutely authentic!
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
The Hirshon Lebanese Qurban Holy Bread – قربان
- 6 cups bread flour (TFD prefers White Lily brand)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter, soft
- 1/2 tablespoon dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 pebbles of mastic, 2 pebbles of musk crystals and 2 pebbles bakhoor (incense rock) ground with a teaspoon of sugar in a marble mortar
- 1 teaspoon ground mahlab
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/8 cup orange blossom water (Cortas brand strongly preferred)
- 1/8 cup rose water (Cortas brand strongly preferred)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
- Proof the yeast in ¼ cup of water warmed at 110F and a dash of sugar.
- Mix the flour with the sugar, mahlab, ground mastic, musk and bakhoor, nutmeg, dash of salt and baking powder.
- Add the rose and orange blossom water in a small container. Measure the milk and let it sit at room temperature or make sure it is not too cold. Ideally, you want it at 110F.
- Place the flour mixture in a mixing bowl and add the yeast, milk, butter and rose water mixture and mix the dough until smooth. Let it rest one hour.
- Divide the risen dough into small balls. Let them rise 2 hours.
- Shape the balls into flattened disks and let rise one hour.
- Sift a thin layer of flour on the disks and press the holy seal (if you have one and are using it) firmly on each disk.
- With a toothpick, poke each disk 5 times all around to help prevent it swelling up while baking. (5 times to symbolize Christ who was nailed 5 times to the cross)
- Let the disks rest and preheat the oven to 400F, making sure the disks are placed on a heavy-bottomed sheet.
- Bake the bread for 10 minutes or so until golden.
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