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2013
custodia.org

Corpus Christi in Beirut: an ancient Christian neighborhood revives its traditions

For the first time in at least 30 years, the Franciscan fathers of Holy Land Monastery in Beirut, together with the La Salle Brothers and Saint Maroun parish, yesterday (Thursday) invited the local Christian community to a joint celebration of Corpus Christi. It was at Gemmayzeh, in the heart of Beirut, where, in spite of the somewhat tense situation in the country, some 500 faithful adults and students assembled and enlivened the Eucharistic procession through the streets of their neighborhood.

The procession set out from the Franciscan monastery and continued, with four stops (stations) for prayers and blessings, to the Maronite parish church, where the celebration ended with Solemn Benediction. A participant in the procession who lives in the neighborhood spoke and recalled the importance of this neighborhood along the ancient route that for over 3000 years has connected the city of Beirut with Byblos.

In recent years, the Christian residential neighborhood of Gemmayzeh has become an area with a hectic nightlife, deplored by the Christian community. “The streets should not serve only for spectacles or political demonstrations, but should also give witness to our Christian presence in the heart of the city,” says Father Toufic Bou Merhi, superior of Holy Land Monastery at Gemmayzeh. He emphasized that the residents are particularly fond of these processions. “The restaurant and bar workers stopped their work, not only to watch the procession, but also to pray and receive benediction,” said Father Toufic, who wishes that Lebanon would rediscover a bit of this religiosity.

“Gemmayzeh is not only for watching, but also for praying,” declares a large placard in the form of the heart carried by the youngest secondary school students. The Corpus Christi procession is a beautiful example of that.

Andrea Krogmann

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The Custody of the Holy Land is present in Lebanon in two monasteries, one in Beirut and one in Harissa, where six Friars (three and three) provide spiritual service and pursue the works of the Custody in Beirut, Harissa, Tripoli, Tyr and Deir Mimas.

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