From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Rabba (Arabic: الربة‎) is a town in Jordan in the Karak Governorate. As Ancient Areopolis, it is a former bishopric and present Latin Catholic titular see.

It is about 15 kilometers away from the city of Al Karak itself. It had a population of about 7208 in 2015.[1]


Rabba was formerly known as Rabbath Moab. In the Hellenistic and Roman times it was called Areopolis, its Greek name. It was one of the two leading cities of the Karek Plateau at this time.[2]

Historical references[edit]

Areopolis is mentioned by Ptolemy,[3] Eusebius,[4] who cited the terrrifying nature of the place, Hierocles[5] and Stephen of Byzantium,[6] Sozomen[7] and also the Notitia Dignitatum[8] The town is shown on the Tabula Peutingeriana and the Madaba map and is attested to on numerous milestones. Areopolis also minted its own coin between 193 and 222AD [2]

Archaeological Remains[edit]

Rabba is home to Nabatean ruins, which are located along the main street in the center of town. They consist of a temple and a cavernous ancient reservoir. There are many smaller ruins scattered all over town albeit not as extensive..

Ecclesiastical History[edit]

Ancient Bishopric[edit]

Areopolis was important enough in the Late Roman province of Palestina Tertia to become a suffragan of its capital Petra's Metropolitan Archbishopric, but was to fade.

Known Bishops include:

Titular see[edit]

In the 18th century, the diocese was nominally restored as a Latin Catholic titular bishopric Areopolis (Areopoli in Curiate Italian) and had the following incumbents of the fitting episcopal (lowest) rank.[13] Bishops include:

  • Pietro d’Alcántara della Santissima Trinità Gagna di Cherasco, Discalced Carmelites (O.C.D.) (1728.01.28 – 1744.11.03)
  • João da Madre de Deus Seixas da Fonseca Borges, Benedictines (O.S.B.) (1733.09.28 – 1768.03.05)
  • Florence of Jesus of Nazareth Szostak, O.C.D. (1746.01.19 – 1773.07.26)
  • Tomasz Ignacy Zienkowicz (1755.07.21 – 1790.12.09)
  • William Wareing (1840.06.05 – 1850.09.29)
  • Anton Frenzel (1852.09.27 – 1873.04.03)
  • Blessed Ciriaco María Sancha y Hervás (1876.01.28 – 1882.03.27) (later Cardinal*)
  • Francesco Giordani (1882.07.03 – 1887.11.25)
  • Gabriele Gzele (1888.06.01 – 1903)

In 1903 it was promoted as Titular archbishopric, and as such had the following incumbents of the fitting archiepiscopal (intermediary) rank :

  • Titular Archbishop Henry Moeller (1903.04.27 – 1904.10.31)
  • Titular Archbishop Lazare Miedia (1904.12.24 – 1909.04.14)
  • Titular Archbishop Paolo Emio Bergamaschi (1910.07.26 – 1925.02.10)
  • Titular Archbishop Saint Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (1925.03.03 – 1934.11.30) (later Pope John XXIII*)

In March 1925 it was demoted back to titular bishopric. It is vacant since decades, having had the following incumbents of fitting episcopal rank :

  • Michael Joseph Keyes, Marists (S.M.) (1935.09.23 – 1959.08.07)
  • Leonardo Gregorio Gallardo Heredia (1960.02.13 – 1961.05.23)
  • René-Noël-Joseph Kérautret (1961.07.22 – 1965.05.09)


Rabba lies on the historical King's Highway. It is situated on a thin semi-fertile plain, giving way to Wadi Ibn Hammad in the west, and the desert in the east. Located near the northern edge of the town is the Farming College, a branch of Mu'tah University.


Rabba was traditionally populated largely by the Majali and Zureikat families, the first of which has considerable political influence in the country. However, since 1948 when Israel was formed, many Palestinians, who left their homes in Palestine settled in Rabba as well, now accounting for about a third of the town's population.

Rabba is known for its friendly, welcoming people, and its world-renowned Jameed and Samneh.[citation needed]


The economy in Rabba is largely agrarian, and relies greatly on seasonal crops such as wheat and oats. Many people own sheep goats or cattle.


  1. ^ "The General Census - 2015" (PDF). Department of Population Statistics.
  2. ^ a b c d The Roman Frontier in Central Jordan: Final Report on the Limes Arabicus Project, 1980-1989, Volume 1(Dumbarton Oaks).
  3. ^ Claudius ptolemy, Geographica 5.17.5-6.
  4. ^ Eusebius, Onounasticon 10.17
  5. ^ Heirocles, Synedemos 721.9
  6. ^ Stephen of Byzantium, Ethnica 156.3.
  7. ^ Sozomen, HE 7.15.
  8. ^ Notitia Dignitatum Or 37.17.
  9. ^ Richard Price, Michael Gaddis, The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, Volume 1 (Liverpool University press, 2005)
  10. ^ By W. M. Ramsay, The Historical Geography of Asia Minor.(Cambridge University Press, 2010)
  11. ^ Michel Le Quien, [Oriens christianus: in quatuor patriarchatus digestus](ex Typographia Regia, 1740) p892.
  12. ^ Acts of the council, and the Epistle of the decretal, and the Constitutions of the Supreme.
  13. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 842

Sources and external links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°16′N 35°44′E / 31.267°N 35.733°E / 31.267; 35.733