Skip to Navigation

Memory Eternal! + Metropolitan ILYAS Kurban

Metropolitan ILYAS (Kurban) Archbishop of Tripoli and al-Koura (i.e. "the countryside"), former proistamenos at St. George Church in Boston and the senior-most member of the Holy Synod of Antioch (having served as a Metropolitan from 1962 until the present), fell asleep in Christ on Thursday, July 30th, 2009. Sayyidna ILYAS was affectionately known as "The Nightingale of Antioch" because of the beauty and compunctionate character of his chanting (click here for video). May his memory be eternal!

Update: His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP has written and sends this loving obituary of the man about whom he writes "the echo of his voice will remain in the ears of the present Orthodox generation, and in many generations to come. His memory indeed is eternal!" More photos of Metropolitan ILYAS may be found here.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his righteous ones” Psalm 115:5

Metropolitan ILYAS (Kurban) was born in Ain-Sindyaneh in the late 1920’s. He lost his father when he was a child. He and his brothers and sisters were raised by his late mother of blessed memory. He began his life in the Church at a very early age at Saint Elias Monastery of Showaia and subsequently he enrolled at the Balamand Seminary near Tripoli, Lebanon. He was gifted with an angelic voice and excelled in Byzantine Music. After he left Balamand Seminary, he enrolled at the Asiya Orthodox School in Damascus where he received his Baccalaureate Degree. From Damascus he came to Beirut to live at the Orthodox Bishopric under the Omophorion of the late Metropolitan ELIA (Saleeby).

While in Beirut he enrolled at the American University of Beirut where he earned his Bachelor and Master Degrees in History. His Thesis for his M.A. Degree was on the Antiochian Crisis of 1898-1899. In the early 1950’s he left Beirut for the United States of America where he lived with the late Metropolitan ANTONY (Bashir), and at the same time studied theology at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Divinity. In the late 1950’s he was ordained a priest by Metropolitan ANTONY (Bashir) and assigned to the pastorate of Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Parish in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1961, he was elected Metropolitan by the Holy Synod of Antioch and in early 1962 he was consecrated as Metropolitan of Tripoli, Al-Koura, and Dependencies. He worked tirelessly in his archdiocese for 47 years. He distinguished himself by organizing many Syro-Byzantine choirs which have enriched the spiritual life of the Patriarchate of Antioch.

He was loved by Christians and Muslims alike, and contributed much to a dialogue of understanding between Christians and non-Christians. He established many institutions in his archdiocese and left many beautiful recordings which are his greatest legacy. Metropolitan ILYAS is gone but the echo of his voice will remain in the ears of the present Orthodox generation, and in many generations to come. His memory indeed is eternal!

+ His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP (Saliba)