Couvent de Terre Sainte
Eglise Saitn Joseph – Santa
Rue Gouraud 191 – Gemmaizeh
Christianity in Lebanon and the Franciscans
Lebanon has been a direct witness of the preaching and miracles of Jesus that took place in the region of Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7, 24). St. Paul stopped in Tyre together with his disciples on his way to Jerusalem where he would be arrested.
Until a few years ago, Lebanon was the only Arabic state with a Christian majority. Among the Christians, the Catholic Maronites are the majority.
The presence of the Franciscans in Lebanon dates back to the XIII century. In XVI century, with Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, Tripoli and Latakie (Syria), the Custody built up a network of monasteries along the Lebanese coast, acting as beacons of prayer and missionary spirit to European merchants and sailors. In 1628 the monastery of Harissa was opened. This became an Arab language school for young missionaries who came from the West and it is noteworthy because of the many Maronite Synods that were held there in which the Custos of the Holy Land often participated or was present.
The relationship of the Franciscans with the Maronites has always been great and, more, there are some who credit the Franciscans for having kept the Maronite Church within the Roman Catholic Church.
The Activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in Lebanon
Today in Lebanon the Custody has monasteries in Harissa, Beirut, and in Tripoli-El Mina; other activities take place in Tyre and Deir Minas, where it is in charge of two parishes. In Lebanon, the Franciscans do not have their own shrines, so they make their services available to the local church, especially for the most important sanctuary of the country, that of Our Lady of Lebanon. Among the many activities of the Friars in Lebanon, a special attention is devoted to young people. In Beirut, there is a hostel for troubled youth and a center of spirituality, in Harissa a vocational center and a Franciscan seminary. Many foreign residents of Beirut come to the Franciscan church to attend services conducted in their native languages. In Beirut the Friars also run a nursery. As a consequence of the war in Syria, Lebanon is filled with refugees and the Franciscans do all they can to help those in need.
The Organs of Lebanon
In the churches of the Custody of the Holy Land in Lebanon, there are no pipe organs, but there are many young people interested in music who would very much study this musical instrument, also as a mean to accompany the liturgy.
In 2016 the Terra Sancta Organ Festival has established in Lebanon the “Lebanese Pipe Organ Week”. This event is created in collaboration with the Notre Dame University and it takes place in various churches.
For more info, please visit: www.solfestival.org