Hadchit – Saint Elias

St. Elias Monastery, Hadchit, Lebanon

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مار الياس حدشيت




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Bickfaya – Mar Abda

Saint Abda Church، Antelias - Bikfaiya Road, Lebanon

مار عبدا - بكفيا




Mount Lebanon

The Life of Mar Abda
Mar Abda was born in Persia (1) in the first generation after Christ. Judas – the disciple – baptized him and bestowed priesthood upon him then raised him to bishop over the city of Babel.
He preached the faith of Christ and baptized those turning to Christianity and bestowed priesthood in every country he crossed.
Some of his miracles include healing the sick and the blind and expelling devils. He walked over the water of the "Big River " with two of his disciples. He was martyrized by decapitation in the city of Noa on the Indian border with seven priests and nine virgins of his disciples.
After his martyrdom he became the intercessor of barren women and the guardian of children and Christian families as well as other families
(1) The Syriac church spread from Persia till the Mediterranean and was divided to Eastern and Western. The followers of this church used to move from one area to another carrying with them the saints they worshiped. Some of them carried with them the worship of Mar Abda to our area.

The Ancient History of Bikfaya
The name of the town comes from Armaic Syriac origin ( Beit Kfeya) the stone house – that is consecrated to worship the God "Kifa".
Church historian, the German historian Roehinger, proved that the Christian peoples – later known as al-Marada have dwelled in this area and built BasKinta, Bikfaya, and Bhersaf starting at around the year 679 – short time before building Ehden in north Lebanon. Historians mention as well that Bikfaya and Bhersaf were the headquarters of the Maronite Emirs and Bishops starting from the 7th Century A.D. and the most distinguished of these was Emir Semaan who resided in Bhersaf in the 11 th Century .
The residents of the old Kesrwan ( which included at the time the Metn area and its surroundings ) supported the Crusaders who stayed in this country from 1098 till 1291.
When the Crusaders withdrew from these lands, the Arabs led their first Mamluk campaign in revenge under the leadership of prince Pedra in 1292. However, these harsh mountains proved resistant to Mamluk soldiers who led a second campaign in 1293 which ended in the death of their leader and the slaughter of most of their soldiers.
The Marada victories filled the Mamluk with hatred.
They gathered an army of fifthy thousand warriors who attacked Kesrwan in 1305. They destroyed villages, burned temples, cut trees and wiped out all traces of construction and also killed everyone they could lay hands on. Only a few of the residents of these areas survived and wandered in the mountains of North Lebanon. As such , Bikfaya and its surroundings remained uninhabited until the 16th century.

Bikfaya during the era of the Assafiyeen Emirs
Feudalism in the Mamluk era was granted by the sultan in return for military services provided by individuals to the state.
The Mamluk granted the Turkuman ( known as Assafiyeen ) control over the north ( Lubnan Fi al-Tarikh- Dr Philip Hitty- Dar al –Thakafa- Beirut ,1959 ) with the mission to safeguard the shoreline against intrusion by occidentals and early natives. The Assafiyeen inhabited areas they called after their notables and then moved to Ghazir.
During the era of prince Mansour al-Assafy , with security spreading in the Kesrwan area, some members of the Bikfaya families- who had survived in 1305-started to return to their hometown in 1540 (Sheikh Edmond Bleybel ) . It seems that prince Mansour decided to befriend the Christians after destroying the Shiites in his area who had plotted to kill him .The Gemayels came from Jaj in 1545 and met him. He honored them and granted them control over Bikfaya and its northem suburbs and sent them immediately to it.
It is told that the Gemayels came to Bikfaya carrying the picture of Mar abda. With them came to Mhaidseh the Maalouf family and the two families became even closer when a member of the Maalouf family ( today known as klink ) married the sister of father Antoun Gemayel and was blessed with two children one of whom became a priest. In 1587 father Antoun sought to build a church in Bikfaya, so he donated one thousand Kobrosy to this cause. However , this sum was not enough and the number of inhabitants of Bikfaya was little, so father Antoun resorted to his brother-in-law and nephew for help and unified the efforts of the two towns and implemented his project next to an old oak tree. The tree is estimated to be around 1000 years old and its trunk still remains visible until our present day.
Antoun set in the south-eastern side of the church an altar in the name of Mar Abda for the Maronites an another in the north –eastern side in the name of Our Lady for the Greek Orthodox (Bleybel).
Dweihy says in his book: the history of the Maronites page 181 :…and in the year 1587 (996H) father Antoun of Gemayel family built the church of Mar Abda in the village of Bikfaya and had it illustrated by Elias al-Hasrouny. He spent on it 1000 Kobrosy in addition to donations by the residents of Bikfaya and other philanthropists… then Patriarch Sarkis followed in the steps of his predecessors and raised father Antoun to Archbishop as a reward for his efforts.

Kfarsghab – Saint Awtel

St Awtel Church, Kfarsghab, Lebanon

كنيسة مار أوْتِل - كفرصغاب





بُنيت الكنيسة أوّلاً سنة ١٤٧٠ ورُمِّمَت سنة ١٧٧٦. هي الوحيدة في الشّرق التي تحمل شفاعة هذا القدّيس. الكنيسة ما زالت تُحافظ على الشَعريّة التي تفصل أماكن جلوس الرجال عن النّساء وهي مِن صُنعٍ مِصريّ تعود للقرن الثامن عشر. مذبح الكنيسة إكتُشف إبّان الترميم الأخير مِن سنة فرمِّمَ وأُعيد لبهائه الأصليّ. لوحة مار أوْتِل تعود لسنة ١٩٠٣. مار أوْتِل هو شفيع كفرصغاب إذ حماها من داء الطاعون، لذلك تُقيم البلدة تذكارًا رسميًّا لهُ في ٣ حزيران وتذكار هذه المعجزة في ٢٧ آب. كذلك مار أوْتِل هو شفيع المسافرين وإليه ينسب حماية بعض أبناء كفرصغاب من الغرق في سفينة التيتانيك سنة ١٩١٢.

The church was first built in 1470 and restored in 1776. It is the only church in the east consecrated to St Awtel. The church still conserves the traditional wooden separator between men’s and women’s sitting place, made in Egypt in the XVIIIth century. The painting of St Awtel dates back to year 1903. The old altar was discovered a year ago during restoration. Kfarsghab celebrates two feasts of the saint on the 3rd of june and the 27th of august when the saint miraculously protected the village from the plague. St Awtel is also the patron of the travelers since he miraculously protected the Kfarsghaby passengers of the Titanic in 1912.

Rachkida – Mar Geryes

مار جرجس, Rachkida, Lebanon

دير مار جرجس - راشكيده




يعود بنا هذه الكنيسة إلى القرون الوسطى وتتألف من كنيستين:
الكنيسة القديمة ‏جدرانها مكسوة بالجداريات. هي من النوادر في العمارة الكنيسة لأن فيها حنيتان يتوسطهم رسم المصلوب. مواضيع الجداريات: الشفاعة، العذراء على العرش محاطة بمار بطرس وبولس، ذبيحة النبي ابراهيم، آثار لجدرانيات أخرى باتت مندثرة.
اما الكنيسة الثانية فهي أحدث عهداً ملاصقة للأولى، مبنية على النمط البازيليكي بثلاث اسواق، وامامها رواق بالحجر المعقود.
بقيت الكنيسة مستخدمة الى القرن التاسع عشر حين نزح آخر موارنة البلدة. ومنذ عام ٢٠١٢ انطلق مشروع ترميم الكنيسة.

This church is built in the medieval ages, and is composed of two parts:
The old church has walls filled with frescoes. It is one of the very rare churches in which you can see the crucified drawn between two naves.
The drawings are as follows:
The Deisis, Mary the throne of wisdom, surrounded by Saints Peter and Paul, Abraham's sacrifice, in addition to different frescoes that are damaged and can hardly be seen now.
The second church is just next to the first, but built in a later era, in a basilical form with three aisles.
The church was still in use by the maronite community until the 19th century.
Since 2012 a project to renew the church was launched.