Collège Saint Joseph – Antoura

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La Tour .The Main Court
College Saint Joseph - Antoura
Antoura, Keserwan District, Mount Lebanon
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic Church
Founders Congregation of the Mission
Head of school Father Jamil Semaan
Average class size 32
Education system French & Lebanese Baccalaureate
Language French, English and Arabic
School color(s) Red, Gold and Royal Blue
Accreditation French Ministry of Education
Yearbook Palmarès

The Collège Saint Joseph in Antoura, Lebanon, is the oldest French school in the Middle East. It was established in 1834 by the Lazarist priests, led by Fr. Andrew Francis. The school's current headmaster is Father Jamil Semaan and its student body comprises 5500 students. Located in the valley of Antoura, the campus consists of more than eight buildings with several courts and gardens. It is still considered today as one of the best schools in the country, being of the few accredited by the French Ministry of Education ("école homologuée"). The high school or "lycée" offers both the Lebanese and French baccalauriate programs with the possibility of a rather challenging intensive double baccalauriate program.

The school also accommodates the oldest scouts group in Lebanon. Previously members of the Scouts et Guides de France, the scouts and guides of Saint Joseph Antoura later joined the Scouts du Liban association when it formed. The group is still one of the largest and most prominent scouts groups of the nation.

Antoura is well known for the visit of French poet Alphonse de Lamartine, who wrote about the school and the town.


As early as 1651, Cheikh Abou Nawfal Khazen asked the Jesuit Fathers to develop their mission on his lands in Antoura. In 1773,their efforts were realized. The Lazarists were given the mission to preach God's teaching. In 1834,The apostolic delegate, Monseigneur Auvergne encouraged the transformation of the mission into a teaching college. The Colleges beginnings were quite modest, in October 1834 seven students enrolled, thus forming the first secondary Francophile school in the Middle East. The college developed spectacularly. In 1874 the central building was built. the Left wing opened in 1884 and the big chapel was inaugurated in 1895. The symbol of the school, the tower was built in 1904 and seals the courtyard beautifully.

During WWI and the Armenian Genocide, the Lazarists were expelled by the Turks and the college was transformed into a Turkish orphanage where, under the direction of Djemal Pasha and Halide Edip Adıvar, about 1,000 Armenian and 200 Kurdish children were forcefully Turkified.[1][2]

College attendance saw a resurgence in 1919, counting 350 Students. In 1936, The French Academy awarded the Grand Prix of French Language to the college. In 1970,a Basketball Court was constructed. In 1977, despite the Lebanese Civil War, the Kindergarten building was built. The Centre Lamartine, named after the illustrious French poet who visited the college,is a documentation center which is used by both students and teachers to further their research. In 1982, the boarding school was opened.The college Then counted 2500 students. In 1994, the College turned 160 years old. 1996, the great chapel was 100 years old, and was completely restored. In 2004, the Tower turned 100 years old. The Saint Joseph Sports center was opened in 2006 and includes a semi-Olympic indoor pool, and diverse sport activities take place there.


The College Offers 15 years of schooling, starting with three years of Kindergarten, and 12 years of schooling (Grade 1 to 12). The school follows the Lebanese program. Students in grade 9 pass the Brevet and in grade 12 the baccalaureate (Scientific, Sociology-Economics and Humanities). The school also offers to students the possibility of studying the French Baccalaureate and Lebanese as well, in a Double Baccalaureate intensive program.


The town of Antoura sits on a sloping hill overlooking the Mediterranean sea at an altitude ranging between 250 and 300m above sea level. The Town is bordered by Zouk Mikael and Zouk Mosbeh to the west, Hrash, Jeita and Ain El Rihani to the east.[3]


Antoura derives from Syriac `aïn meaning "fountain" or "spring" and țoura meaning "mountain".[3]

Notable alumni[edit]

Official website[edit]



  1. ^ Robert Fisk: Living proof of the Armenian genocide. The Independent. 9 March 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2013
  2. ^ S.D. Hunchakian Youth Visit St. Joseph Antoura French College. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2013
  3. ^ a b Hachem, Victor (2009). Antoura, de 1657 à nos jours - Une histoire du Liban. Antoura, Lebanon: Antoura. ISBN 9953-0-1189-3.