LEBANON IMAGES: PALESTINIAN REFUGEE “CAMP”

In the valley below Maghdouche, is a Palestinian refugee camp. This should erase ideas of tents, as this is a fully-operational community with houses, shops, etc. It is also thought to hold some enemy combatants. The Lebanese government is not allowed to enter the area.

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30JUL13. Maghdouche, Lebanon.

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LEBANON IMAGES: MAGHDOUCHE

Maghdouché’s most famous landmark is the tower of Our Lady of Mantara, which is a Marian shrine built (May 16, 1963), above the cave that is believed to have been the resting place of the Virgin Mary as she waited for Jesus while he preached in Sidon. The tower height is 28 m, Statue height: 8.5 m, width: 3.5 m and the weight is 6 Tons. (wiki)

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The name, Maghdouché, originates from the Syriac word, which means “crop collectors.” It is also derived from the Syriac word Kidsh and its derivatives (Kadisho, Kadishat, Makdosho). In Hebrew, it means “holy” or “saintly.” According to Christian belief, when Jesus came to Sidon, the Virgin Mary who accompanied him, waited for him at the top of the hill where Maghdouché is located today. She spent the night in a cave that came to be known as Mantara, or the “Awaiting.” Emperor Constantine the Great responded to St. Hélène’s request and transformed the cave into a sanctuary for the Virgin. He erected a tower in honor of the Virgin. The tower collapsed during the earthquake of 550. Later, King Louis IX erected a watching tower in the same location. The Mantara cave was once again discovered accidentally by a shepherd in 1726. An icon of the Virgin was also discovered, and it was of Byzantine style, dating back to the 7th or to the 8th century. Since then, the cave has been transformed into a place of pilgrimage for all the Lebanese confessions. In 1860, the Greek Catholic Church became the owner, and transformed the cave into a sanctuary in 1880.

At the beginning of the sixties, under the auspices of Mgr Basile Khoury, renowned architect Varoujan Zaven designed and executed a beautiful hexagonal chapel topped by a 36-meter tower in a conical shape to support an 8 and a half meter one-piece bronze statue of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus in her arms, of his own design as well, realized by Italian artist Pierrotti in Pietra Santa. The design and supervision of the project were both a donation on behalf of the architect. Our Lady of Mantara is considered the protectress of children, and many baptisms are celebrated at the sanctuary.

On November 22nd 1986, the armed conflict between Amal (Shi’a Muslim militias) and the PLO (The Palestine Liberation Organization) spread to Maghdouché. Ferocious combats took place in this Christian strategic town. Ultimately, it fell partially in the hands of the Palestinians and its residents were forced to flee from their homes. Maghdouché was destroyed. In 1990, after four years, the residents of Maghdouché returned to the ruins of their village and began rebuilding what was destroyed in the war. (wiki)

30JUL13. Maghdouche, Lebanon.