The Latin rite (Roman) Catholic church, which throughout the centuries had never forgotten Antioch, returned to the town in 1846, the Capuchin Fathers returning approximately seven centuries after the departure of the crusaders.
Fr Basililo Galli from the province of Parma, and authorised by Pius IX, was the first to arrive. Indefatigable and active, he gained everyone's respect. He opened a chapel and a school, but paid for his pioneering zeal with his life on 12 May 1851.
The French Capuchins who took his place built a modest presbytery, and in 1852 the Sultan gave them permission to build a church for the Catholic community and this was done a few years later. The French Capuchins were joined after a few years by some Lebanese confreres and despite the events of history, the Capuchins have remained here for over 90 years. In 1939, they were forced to move to the new quarter of the town, into an old liquorice factory that the Armenians had used as a church immediately before their emigration to Syria. In 1964, with the departure of the French and Lebanese Capuchins, the service of the Catholic church in Antioch passed to the Capuchins of the Parma province who periodically travelled here from Mersin. It was only in 1973 that a priest was sent to live here. In 1977 the property, where the construction of a church had already been begun in 1965, was seized and the priest was forced to move into a 150 year old house on the site of the present one, in the heart of old Antioch where in Peter and Paul's time the Jewish quarter had stood, becoming a domus ecclesiae (house church) as in the beginning of Christianity.
This was the hand of Providence. The Catholic Church thus found itself in an ideal 'ecumenical triangle' only a few meters from the synagogue, backing on to an old mosque, and not far from the Orthodox church.
This house and the one next door, which was bought later, have been restored in the classical oriental style. Now the Catholic church in Antioch comprises a small presbytery, a small church dedicated to the Apostles Peter and Paul, two rooms which can be used by the parish or for hospitality to pilgrims; and three beautiful gardens which are much admired by those who come to pray or simply to visit. The restoration of the buildings took two years (1989-1991) and is the work of a local architect, Selahattin Altinöz.
These days the Catholics here are a 'small flock' of 70 baptised, but, like the yeast in the dough, they try to live the Christian message they have received, fraternally and courageously, together with their Orthodox brothers. Since 1988 the Catholics in Antioch have celebrated Easter on the same date as the Orthodox. In 1992 Caritas opened an office in the town and the campaign of sharing during Lent was done by both communities working together. These are the moments which the Christian community lives its vocation to unity and love with particular intensity. Since 1995 near the Church there has been a guest house used on a "self-catering" basis. It includes 9 rooms (4 en suite) with 15-18 beds, a large kitchen and a beautiful sitting-room.