Religious Tourism
Christian Worship Sites

For a blessed land, Lebanon is a country where places of worship abound by excellence. A the  dawn of the third millennium, Christians of this "Holy Land" of all congregations find peace, serenity and meditation in the basilicas, cathedrals, churches, chapels, shrines, convents, monasteries and even caves were once hermits took shelter. As imperishable remains, these Christian places of worship generously scattered on the Lebanese territory – a territory marked by the Song of Solomon – and whose cedars remain both a symbol and a reality, attest to the vitality of faith and beauty of architecture.

 

In the light of the eastern Mediterranean, the cradle of the great monotheistic religions where Islam and Christianity neighbored harmoniously, Lebanon witnessed on its soil the flourishing of shrines, meditation homes, asceticism and confrontation with the absolute. None can forget that Lebanon was one of the first children of Christianity, and that the Son of God himself made it the first evangelizer. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus undertook more than one preaching, and done many miracles between Tyre and Sidon, among which the first was transforming water into wine in Cana. Jesus even praised the faith of the people of Tyre and Sidon, as contrasted with the unbelief manifested by the villages of the Orthodox Judea. To the Pharisees of his day, Jesus recalled an episode in the life of the prophet Elijah who, during a famine, was fed by a widow of Zarephath, our Sarafand. The first Christian communities were present from apostolic times, and St. Paul dedicated many visits to them. Not to mention that St. Paul went through Tyr on his last journey to Jerusalem before his arrest. Living memory and eloquent witness of the first acts of faith and Christian revelation, Lebanon is rightly a land of prayer and devotion.

 

From north to south, passing through the coastal roads and the Bekaa, these Christian worship places are scattered. They are either carved into the stones of the most impressive valleys or perched on the heights of the mountains with the most breathtaking views. Modest small churches built on the rocks, in the hollow of a pine forest, in a hill, in the shade of an olive or oak tree, sometimes alongside schools kept by the minaret of a beautiful mosque on the coast and in the foliage of Deir El-Kamar. Serene and harmonious contrast establishing a permanent soft and informed dialogue, reflect of the traditional values of this land where the concepts of faith, respect, tolerance and friendship never tarnish since they are essential features of a multi-faith society in the remarkable sense of harmony, friendliness and unity. Rosary of "Houses of God" found on time of a mess, of a candle to be lit, a chanted prayer, a wish, a baptism, a funeral, a wedding, a pilgrimage, or sometimes just a random discovery.

 

In the words of John Paul II himself, it is in this region that "Jesus gave Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven." This is also where, on the summit of Mount Hermon, the Christ was transfigured before his apostles Peter and Jean Jacques.

 

With so much evidence – power of the advent of Christianity, mixing irrefutable historical truths and pious legends – Lebanon, as a bridge between past and future, entered the third millennium in the light of a bright and intense heritage.

 

In the lofty and majestic mountains of North Lebanon, Christendom has a long presence (more than two thousand years!). Its history is punctuated with countless shrines and places of worship.

 

Throughout the centuries, the spiritual and mystical life has found in these solitudes one of its places of prediction and choice. Meditation homes and asceticism have almost overrun. Some natural architecture, barely developed by man and other built in a spirit of mortification and humility, unveil these lives fully dedicated to this face to face with God...

 

Opening at the feet of Bcharré, the Holy Valley commonly referred to as Wadi Kadisha is a deep valley where many small valleys meet and give a tortuous journey to the sea. Qadicha term is derived from a Semitic root meaning "holy". Hence, the name of the holy valley refers to the depths often cut by steep cliffs and rich waters of snowmelt. Many caves and rock shelters inhabited since the 3rd century were found. During the medieval period, in this valley to the sound echoes were also erected chapels, hermitages and monasteries rock. There, monks of all faiths and even Sufi Muslims withdrew to lead a life of seclusion, contemplation and meditation. We are all praying in Arabic, Greek, Syriac and Ethiopian.

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