|Christianity came to Syria in apostolic
times. There were already Christians in Damascus, when St. Paul (then
Saul of Tarsus) underwent conversion on his way there to arrest
adherents of the new Faith. St. Paul and St. Peter both taught at
Antioch in Syria, where the Church first opened her doors to the
Gentiles. The city of Edessa was another important center in the early
days of the Church. In 638 Syria was conquered by Arab Muslims, who made
Damascus the capital. In the schism of 1054, the majority of Christians
favored the Orthodox side. Catholicism became dominant during the
Crusader period (1100-1268), when part of Syria was included in the
western Kingdom of Jerusalem, but it was lost again to Saladin of Egypt.
The Ottoman Turks took over in 1516, and remained in control till the
end of WWII. The Catholic minority of 2% of the population is made up of
Armenians, Chaldeans, and Greek-Melkites in communion with Rome.