Bhersaf – Monastery Saint Michael

Saint Michael Convent, Antelias - Bikfaiya Road, Lebanon

Other Details

(ساقية المسك) دير مار ميخائيل - بحرصاف

1740

Bhersaf

Metn

Mount Lebanon

بنى دير مار ميخائيل مشايخ آل بليبل سنة 1740. تسلَّمت الرهبانيَّة اللبنانيَّة هذه الوقفيَّة من الشيخ عبد الأحد بليبل، في تشرين الثاني 1756، بموجب صكٍّ مكتوبٍ وموقَّعٍ ومصدَّقٍ، لكي "تعلِّم الأولادَ وتفيد القريبَ... والأنفس حسب الإمكان"... شيَّدت الكنيسة الجديدة، سنة 1905. وبدأت، سنة 1997، ورشة ترميمٍ للكنيسة وإلباسها حلَّةً جديدة. يتابع دير مار ميخائيل رسالتَه الثقافيَّة بالإضافة إلى نشاطاته الرعويَّة.The Monastery was built by the Bleibels a feudal lords family in 1740. It was put under the custody of the Lebanese Maronite Order by Sheikh Abd el Ahad Bleibel in 1756, in a decree that widens the mission of the monastery to education and pastoral work.The church was rebuilt in 1905. And since 1997 the monastery was renewed to continue the mission.

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Maghdouhe – Our Lady of Awaiting

Basilica of Our Lady of Mantara - بازيليك سيدة المنطرة, Maghdoucheh, Lebanon

مقام سيدة المنطرة العجائبي مغدوشة

Maghdoucheh

Saida

South

Our Lady of Mantara is a Melkite Greek Catholic Marian shrine in Maghdouché, Lebanon, discovered on 8 September 1721 by a young shepherd. The grotto, which according to a legend dates to ancient times, was subsequently cared after by Monsignor Eftemios Saïfi, Melkite Catholic bishop of the Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Sidon. The shrine consists of a tower crowned with the statue of the Virgin and Child, a cathedral, a cemetery and a sacred cave believed to be the one where the Virgin Mary rested while she waited for Jesus while he was in Tyre and Sidon. (Women were not allowed in some cities). Since its discovery, it has been steadily visited by families particularly each year on the occasion of the feast of the Nativity of Mary on 8 September.

Ancient era
Many historians agree that the devotion to the Virgin Mary in Lebanon replaced the Phoenician worship of Astarte. Temples and shrines to Astarte were converted to Christian places of worship, honoring the Virgin. This is also true in Maghdouché where within the vicinity of Our Lady of Awaiting are the remains of a shrine to Astarte.

Middle Ages
During the reign of Emperor Constantine, his mother, Saint Helena of Constantinople, requested in 324 the destruction of all pagan temples and idols dedicated to Astarte. The Astarte shrine in Maghdouché was probably destroyed at that time and converted to a place of devotion to the Holy Mother.

Since the early Christian era, the inhabitants of Maghdouché have venerated the cave where the Virgin Mary rested while she waited for her son, Jesus to finish preaching in Sidon. Saint Helena asked the Bishop of Tyre to consecrate a little chapel at the cave in Maghdouché. She sent the people of Maghdouché an icon of the mother and child and some altar furnishings. Historians believe that Saint Helena asked the people to name the chapel, and they named it "Our Lady of Awaiting" because it was there that the holy mother waited for her son.[4] Mantara is derivative of the Semitic root ntr, which means “to wait."

Saint Helena provided funds from the imperial treasury for the maintenance of the chapel. The funding continued for three centuries of Byzantine rule in Phoenicia until Khalid ibn al-Walid defeated Emperor Heraclius at the Battle of the Yarmuk.[4] While the caliph Omar, who became ruler of Jerusalem, was a pious and humble man, sparing Christendom's holiest shrines and being tolerant of his Christian subjects, the Arab rulers of the rest of Byzantium were less tolerant of the Christians, especially in the maritime cities of Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, Byblos, and Tripoli.[4] After the majority of the Sidonians converted to Islam to receive promised privileges and immunities, the people of Maghdouché withdrew to higher elevation up Mount Lebanon. The caliphate had recognised the Christians of Mount Lebanon as autonomous communities, paying a fixed tax. Before abandoning their village, they concealed the entrance to the cave of Our Lady of Awaiting with stones, earth and vines. The people left the village through obscure mountain paths to the strongholds of Christian Lebanon. The legend of Our Lady of Awaiting was passed down to the exiled generations of Maghdouché for one thousand years.

The people of Maghdouché did not return to their ancestral home despite the arrival of the Crusaders in Sidon. The Crusaders spent most of the 12th and 13th centuries in the shadow of Maghdouché without ever suspecting the sacred cave's existence even though they built a small fort, called La Franche Garde, within meters of the hidden entrance to the cave.

Modern era
The people of Maghdouché only returned to their ancestral village during the reign of the Druze Prince Fakhreddin II (1572-1635). The prince, who was considered a tolerant and enlightened ruler of his day and age, believed in equality amongst the diverse religious followers of his Lebanon. To demonstrate this equality, he appointed a Maronite Catholic as Prime Minister, a Muslim as Minister of the Interior, a Druze as Army Commander and a Jew as Finance Minister. His reign was a rare example of non-sectarianism, and it soon became the most prosperous principality in the Ottoman Empire.

It was not easy to relocate the sacred cave even though the men of Maghdouché worked for hundreds of years near the grotto, pulling down the stones of the Crusader fort for building material for their new homes. The cave was finally rediscovered on 8 September 1721 by a young shepherd when one of his goats fell in a well-like opening in the porous limestone. Wanting to save his goat, the shepherd made a rope from vine twigs, tied it to a tree, and descended into the hole, but the rope broke and he fell. When his eyes became accustomed to the darkness of the grotto, the boy saw a soft glimmer of a golden object, which turned out to be Saint Helena’s icon of the Mother and Child. The boy climbed up the stone walls and ran to the village to tell his discovery.

Greek Catholic

Smar Jbeil – Fortress (Citadel)

Smar Jbeil Citadel, Smar Jbeil, Lebanon

قلعة سمار جبيل

Smar Jbayl

Batroun

North

على تلة مشرفة في البلدة ترتفع قلعة عسكرية حصينة. وتعلو القلعة حوالى 500 متر عن سطح البحر ويعود تاريخ بنائها الى ملوك جبيل الفينيقيين الذين اشتهروا بالقصور والقلاع المنحوتة بالصخر، ثم سكنها ملك بابل “بختنصر”. وثمّة تماثيل رومانيّة بأوشحتها المعروفة تدلّ على أنّ الرومان احتلوها وبنوا فيها هيكلًا بأعمدة ضخمة بقاياها مشتتة في نواح عدة من سمار جبيل، وفي الحائط الجنوبي لكنيستها الأثرية. وقد بنى فيها الرومان أيضًا مسرحًا يدعى الراميّة، وهو مفروش بالإسمنت القديم، كما بنوا معاصر موجودة في الجنوب الغربي من القلعة. في القلعة خندق منحوت في الصخر يُملأ بالمياه لمنع دخول الغزاة، وبرج مراقبة وطاقات لفوانيس.
في التقليد القديم يُروى ان مار لوجيوس وهو شفيع العيون والمعروف لدى السريان بمار نوهرا، قصد بلاد البترون للتبشير، ونال اكليل الشهادة بقطع الرأس ورميه في أحد آبار هذه القلعة بالذات. هذا البئر مازال مقصودًا الى اليوم للتبرك بمائه العجائبي الشافي لأمراض العيون.
كذلك يذكر تقليد آخر ان مار يوحنا مارون قصد القلعـة، يوم تعيينه أسقـفًا على البترون سنة 676، واختارهـا حصـناً له بعـد خراب دير مـار مارون في سوريا. ولمّا أصبـح بطريركـًا سنة 685 نُقل مقـرّه الى كفرحي وبنى فيها ديرًا.
بعد سقوط الامبراطورية البيزنطية، تعاقب على القلعة العرب والصليبيون، وأتى بعدهم المماليك ثم العثمانيون. الحكام اللبنانيون قديماً كان لهم نصيب في هذه القلعة، حيث سكنها الشيخ أبو نادر الخازن الذي ولّاه الأمير فخر الدين على مقدّمي البلاد.

Built by the phonecian kings of Byblos on a hill overlooking the coastline, the castle was used by the Babylonian king Baktensar. Later on in the classical period, the romans built a temple inside of it with a large atrium, nowadays the columns of the atrium are scatered all around the village and in the walls of the historical church. The romans also built a theater, and a winery in the western side of the castle. A watch tower and a protective water trench were added in the late classical period for protection.
According to tradition St Logius the patron saint of eye illness, also known as Nohra in the Syriac world, preached in the lands of Batroun. He was sentenced to death during the Diocletian persecution by beheading in the castle patio. His head was thrown in a well nearby, still visited for its miraculous eye healing waters.
According to another tradition, the first Maronite patriarch St John Maroun, and when he became bishop of Batroun in 676, resided in the castle after the devastation of the monastery of St Maroun on the Orontes in Syria. After he was elected patriarch in 685 he moved again to Kfarhay where he built a new monastery.
After the fall of the Byzantine empire the castle was occupied by the Arabs, the Crusarders, the Mamluks and the Ottomans. During the reign of prine Fakhredyn the Second, the first Christian regent of the land Aby Nader Al khazin took hold of the castle and made it his headquarter.