Jbeil – Saint John Marcus

Monastery of Saint John Marcus Jbeil Lebanese Maronite Order, Byblos, Lebanon

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مار يوحنا مرقس - جبيل




Mount Lebanon

A beautiful Romanesque church, Eglise Saint Jean Marc is the cathedral church of Jbail-Byblos. The Church is dedicated to Saint Jean Mark, the patron saint of the town, who is said to have founded the first Christian community of Byblos. The church itself was built in 1115 A.D by the Crusaders, originally as the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. After their departure, earthquakes, invasions and other disasters have repeatedly damaged the structure, and for a few centuries it remained disused. In 1764, Emir Youssef Chehab, of the Druze dynasty that ruled a semi- autonomous Lebanon under the Ottomans, donated the church to L’Ordre Libanais Maronite (Lebanese Maronite Order) which subsequently restored and reopened in 1776 after re-dedicating it to St Jean Marc. British bombardments of Lebanon in 1840 caused further damage, but the church was restored yet again. Eglise Saint Jean Marc continues to serve the Maronite Christian community. One interesting feature in the church is its open- air domed baptistery on the northern side which dates from the original construction in 1115 A.D, The church is situated on Rue de Port, between the port and the archaeological area.

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Maarab – Saint Gregory and Basil

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كنيسة مار باسيليوس وغريغوريوس - معراب




Mount Lebanon

بنى الموارنة كنيستهم الأولى في معراب على أنقاض هيكل رومانيّ وثنيّ. خُرّبت هذه الكنيسة الأولى مع حملة المماليك على كسروان سنة ١٣٠٥. أعاد أبناء البلدة بناء الكنيسة على إسم ما باسيليوس وغريغوريوس، وأخذت شكلها الحاليّ سنة ١٨٨٥. في هذه الكنيسة يرقد على رجاء القيامة المطران بولس فؤاد نعيم تابت (١٩٢٩-٢٠٠٩) وهو أوّل سفير بابويّ مارونيّ لبنانيّ.

The first church was built by the Maronites over a roman pagan temple. The church was destroyed during the Mamluk’s campaign on Keserwan in 1305. After their return, the villagers reconstructed the church and it was consecrated to Sts Basil and Gregory. It took its final shape in 1885. The church is the final resting place of Bishop Paul Fouad Naim Tabet (1929-2009), the first Lebanese Maronite Papal nuncio

Kaftoun – Monastery of our Lady

Monastery of Our Lady of Kaftoun, Kaftoun, Lebanon

دير السيّدة - كفتون





عود تأسيس الدّير الى القرن السادس، كُتِب عنه في منشورات تعود الى القرن التاسع موجودة في مكتبة أوكسفورد. تمَّ بناؤه على عِدَّة مراحل أمّا ترميمه الأخير فيعود الى العام 1910. الوجهة الخلفية للدير ملاصقة لشيرٍ صخريٍّ ضخم، وكنيسته في قلب الشير.
كان الدير بدايةً ديرًا مارونيًّا سكنه المطران (البطريرك لاحقًا) إرميا الدملصاوي. بعد حملات المماليك تنسّك فيه الرهبان الأرثوذكس. كانت أوجّ الحياة الرهبانيّة فيه عام ١٩٠٤. وفي بداية السبعينات أضحى مهجوراً ونُهبت كافة الأيقونات والمخطوطات. تجدّدت الحياة الرهبانيّة في الدّير سنة ١٩٧٧. عام ١٩٩٧ أُعيدت إليه أيقونة سيّدة كفتون العجائبيّة. تكمن أهميّة هذه الأيقونة أنّها مرسومةٌ على الوجهتين: الأولى تعود الى القرن الحادي عشر وتُمثِّل العذراء مريم والسيّد المسيح، والثانية تعود الى القرن الثالث عشر وتُمثِّل معموديّة السيّد المسيح ومدوَّنٌ عليها باللغات الثلاث: السريانيّة والعربيّة واليونانيّة، شهادةً عريقةً للطقس السريانيّ الملكيّ. يضُمّ الدير آثارًا تاريخيّةً قديمة كأجران منحوتة بالصخر وآبار ومطحنة ومعصرة قديمة تعود للقرن السادس.

The monastery was founded in the VIth century and many documents from the IXth century attesting its existence are still present in the Library of Oxford. The building was done over time up until 1910. The monastery is built inside a rocky cliff, with the main church inside the cave. At first the monastery was served by the Maronites and was the seat of Bishop (later patriarch) Jeremiah of Dmalsa. After the Mamluk’s raids the ownership was taken by the Orthodox hermits. The monastic life saw its peak in 1904 yet it declined up to the seventies when the monastery was deserted and looted. The monastic life would be renewed in 1977. In 1997 the miraculous icon of Our Lady of Kaftoun was returned. The importance of that icon reside in its being a double sided icon: on the first side dating back to the XIth century is a depiction of the Theotokos, on the other one dating back to the XIIIth century is a Theophany with inscriptions in Arabic Greek and Syriac, a true witness to the Syriac Melkite Rite.

Mayfouk – Saint Elige monastery

Our Lady of Ilige, Maifouq, Lebanon

سيدة ايليج



Mount Lebanon

The 3rd Patriarchal seat from 1120 to 1440 AD. This beautiful, small church dates to 1121 AD. There’s a tradition that the Monastery of Our Lady of Elij took the place of one of the train stations of the Roman road from Baalbak and the banks of Al Assi River to the North coast of Phoenicia. The apostles used this road during their trips between Antakya and the beaches of Palestine, and turning the place into a Christian one is attributed to them. (The apostles and students of St. Lucas).

The name of Elij is derived from the word “Eel”, from the Aramaic language, and it means “God of soft valley”. But from the Greek, it is derived from the word “Ellios” meaning “Goddess of the Sun”.

According to a Syriac inscription on the church wall (1277 AD.): “In the name of the eternally living God, in the year 1588 of the Greek era, this Jacobi temple was built for the Mother of God who prays for us, by the bishops Mark and John, in 1588 of the Greek era.” A cross was also engraved with a Syriac state “In You we conquer our enemy and in your name, we tread our haters”. There’s Syriac writing on the monastery’s wall: “In the name of the living God, in 1746 A.D, the two monk- brothers Amoun & Ming. It was established by four patriarches Botros, Ermia, Yaacoub, and Youhanna in 1121 A.D”.

The church is known for its ”Elij” icon of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ: while restoring it in 1985, Sisters of karlmalite-Harissa, researchers had found 10 different layers of paint, and the oldest one backed to the 10th century (every layer is over 100 year).

This monastery is the fourth oldest belonging to the Maronites. It is one of the most ancient Episcopal seats in Lebanon. It was built on the ruins of a pagan temple as mentioned before. It had witnessed all types of persecution and martyrdom for the name of Jesus Christ, in addition to the history and faith, in what it spared miracles and glorification of Virgin Mary. It is not an edifice, but it looks like a grotto, built in the valley amidst old trees, between the mountains and the rebellious course of two rivers, of soil-colored dabachi stones which cannot easily be seen under the walnut trees…

What is left of the monastery today are two floors. The church occupies the greatest part of the ground floor while the first floor contains a small loft and a wide hall. The patriarch lived on the upper floor, in the small loft, which can be reached either by an internal flight of stairs within the church, or by external stone stairs. There is also a secret access from the patriarch’s room to another hidden room or to the outside. A small window was opened in the patriarch’s room facing the Holy Sacrament and the icon of Our Lady of Elij over the main altar. Next to the church on the first floor, there are two rectangular rooms with low curved ceilings, open to each other by a small path on the west side, inside the separating wall.

The church is distinguished by its “Bema” (the throne in Greek), with stairs leading to it on the western side. The bema is a high tribune in the church where the first part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word, is celebrated, where the Patriarch sit with bishops. It is the only church in Lebanon that still keeping a bema. There are a number of basements (narrow tunnels) inside the walls used to hide and run during persecution, invasion and war. There is a library containing souvenirs: religious relics, photos, books, documentary, local products.