Saturday, May 17, 2008

May 18th: Lebanon - Our Lady of Lebanon

The Harissa Hill is situated at a distance of 25 kilometers from Beirut, and at a 600m altitude in the heart of Kesrwan. On the hillside, there is Bkerké the Patriarchal Maronite see in Lebanon; at the top, the convent of the Paulist Greek Melkite Catholic Fathers; and at a distance of some meters the summer see of the Apostolic Nuntio in Lebanon, and just near there a convent for the Franciscan Fathers; far from there, the convent of Charfeh, the see of the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate and on the hill of Bzoummar the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate. It is not surprising then, that the attention was drawn towards the hill, which over looks one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, to set up there a sanctuary vowed to the Virgin, the Queen of Lebanon.

In fact, When the Patriarach Elias Hoyek and Mgr Carlos Duval, the Apostolic Delegate in Lebanon, decided to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Immaculate Conception dogma declared on the 8th of December 1854, they both formed the project of setting up a statue of the Virgin on the hill of Harissa. The statue was made in Lyon; it is of bronze covered with white paint and of 8 meters and a half long. The statue arrived to Beirut in 1906 on board of a big ship. The construction of the sanctuary was finished on the third of May 1908, with the tower-piedestal of 20meters high.

On that day, the virgin was proclamed Sovereign of the mountains and seas, and Queen of Lebanon. It is the most visited sanctuary in Lebanon, and many come walking from far away. The processions to Harissa increase during the month of May, the month of Mary. (Opus Libani)
The website of Our Lady of Lebanon has more information. Don't miss this panoramic view taken from the base of the statue. The large building is a modern Basilica built with a wall of windows overlooking the shrine.

Lebanon has many different Christian communities - Maronite, Melkite, Armenian, Chaldean, Syriac and more. You can read about them here. The Maronites, led by the Patriarch of Antioch, are the largest community and are in union with Rome. Their liturgy is in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. This site has some rather random, but interesting, snippets about Lebanon and Christianity there. Around 40% of the population of Lebanon is thought to be Christian.
Our Lady of Lebanon, please pray for peace, peace in our hearts, peace in our family, peace in our land, and peace throughout the world.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

This is all so fascinating. Some of the places you have written about are such surprises to me. Thank you for gathering all this together.