A 26 meter St. Charbel statue made its journey from Jounieh to Faraya. If that’s not enough of a Keserwan dose for one day for anyone, I don’t know what is.
The problem is it doesn’t stop there. The problem is that this huge statue is being celebrated as some kind of national achievement, à la the giant plate of hummus we made to beat Israel as they continuously attempt to appropriate our national food.
Except there’s really nothing to prove to the world or to ourselves or to even Mar Charbel himself here, and there’s no other society on Earth today that’s setting out to beat us when it comes to how big we can make a Mar Charbel statue. Why? Because there’s no other country on Earth that has a Mar Charbel to begin with, and no other country celebrates this particular saint as much as we do.
I’m beginning to think St. Rafca and St. Hardini are beginning to get jealous at the amount of attention Maronites put towards St. Charbel while completely ignoring the fact they have a bunch of other saints to indulge with endless veneration. But please don’t get any more ideas for 26 meter statues.
The fact of the matter is this St. Charbel statue is not a national triumph. It’s not even a religious triumph. If anyone knows any inkling about the life of St. Charbel, they’d have known that his entire life was centered around that which is humble. His pillow was a wooden log. His mattress was a thin layer of cotton on the floor. His entire life was a celebration of what it is to be a human who knows that pride is not how you heal your soul.
And yet here’s a 26 meter statue of him being paraded around as some form of victory. For whom? For him? He’s probably nauseous at the site of it wherever he is. For Maronite pride? It’s pitiful if that entity needs a 26 meter flag for validation. For Keserwan to have some claim to being a religious pilgrimage site for the country as it boasts to being the beacon of Maronitism while every saint in this country lays elsewhere?
This 26 meter St. Charbel statue is yet another example of a practice that we as Lebanese excel at: the art of vanity. Even in prayer and religion, two acts which should be as subdued and restricted to one’s person, we have to get out of our way to prove – no idea to whom – that we can do it bigger, flashier, and better.
I wonder, what does Faraya have to do with St. Charbel in the first place? He was not from there. His town Bkaakafra, in the heart of the North, is long forgotten in this equation. He was not buried there – Annaya, Lebanon’s top pilgrimage site seems not to be part of this. The only reason why such a gigantic statue would be placed in a town whose entire economy revolves around tourism can be summed up with one word: boasting. It’s a “mine is bigger than yours” country.
Picture this from now: visit Faraya, home of Lebanon’s most visited slopes… and the biggest statue of the country’s most famous saint.
What this statue does is further numb the masses to the many failings that their politicians have dealt them by giving them the opioids they crave most: look at how big we can make your religion look. It’s only a matter of time before the region’s and other Maronites politicians rise to the mantle of declaring themselves responsible for such a statue. Remember this come Election time, for they will remind you of it.
For a saint whose entire existence was to get his fellow Christians to rise beyond their idolatry, this statue is the biggest insult one can deal him. You’re not doing St. Charbel proud by erecting a 40 ton statue of him. You’re not making him proud by boasting about this being the world’s biggest, a foolish claim to say the least. We’re not proving anything to the world except how unfocused and deluded our priorities are as a nation if we go gaga over a statue whose purpose is to boost someone’s ego.
I wonder, as a closing thought, what this statue cost. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on a statue of a saint that could have been spent in donating money to the Monastery where that saint’s body resides or, better yet, to his village to better its infrastructure or, even better, actually help the needy societies – Maronite or otherwise – of this country, for that is what Charbel would’ve wanted.
Until then, enjoy the traffic.
Not cool to not credit the photographer ya jamè3a!
I don’t know who the photographer is. The picture was sent to me by a friend.
This is all so very true w/ one exception. He is a saint of the whole of the Catholic Church & the whole world & not only the nation of Lebanon. (Any Catholic can venerate any saint from any of the many rites). This is especially true for all the Maronites all over the world.
When Constantine painted crosses on the shields of his soldiers & made Christianity the state religion — Christianity became wedded to nationalism… & more distressingly war & the sin of pride which you have mentioned. Pride is called the mother of all sins precisely because it gives birth to the others. This has obviously been forgotton as you have pointed out.
There are Christian anarchists now. Those who believe we should return to the pre-Constantine pre-Augustinian state. (St.Augustine instituted his ‘just war’ theory). The Vatican had a special symposium (whatever it is called in the Church) in 2016 to reexamine ‘just war’ theory. If the Latin rite can reverse the Church on this wrong turn it took — that will be a massive step in the direction of human spiritual evolution.
Most Maronites don’t realise how much of our indigenous Syriac Church has been lost w/ the latinisation forced upon us over the years. You are right it is antithetical to the life of the saint. More importantly it is against the teachings of Jesus & then those of his followers who were the early Church. We are not meant to have statues or rosaries or sit staring at the Body of our Lord for hours; either in statue form or more pornagraphically His body in the form of Eucharistic Holy Bread. As an analogy: one makes love to their wife/husband which we believe is a sacred communicative act. To ask them to stand across the room & stare at them would objectify them… reduce them to nothing more than an object vs. engaging w/ them in perfect symmetry. (For the last two words of that sentence I need to thank the late Nizar Qabani). These are latinisations that entered the Maronite practise after latinisation due to the tragic schism between the Eastern & Western Church.
There are a few people fighting to recover the true Maronite faith (inc. a Maronite priest here in the States) but Maronites do not understand what is a latinisation imported from Western Rome & what is from our early indigenous Christ centered Church. We are not meant to venerate statues. The Maronite Church is an Oriental Catholic Church not the Latin rite Catholic Church.
The Melkite Church is working harder on de-latinisation than the Maronite Church. (In the States especially — untethered to Lebanon — Melkites suffered forced latinisation by Latin rite bishops).
There is a Maronite monastery here in the States which consists of mostly (if not all) convert monks & the abbot (also a convert he told me). They are highly latinised including the name of the monastery.
A lot of young Catholics who are not Lebanese are joining Maronite & Melkite parishes vs. converting to Orthodoxy which has also been ocurring. The Antiochian Orthodox Church in the States is now 70% convert — mostly from Evangelicals & other protestants but also from Latin rite Catholicism. So that Church has changed also.
I went to my local Antiochian Orthodox Church (because the Melkite & Maronite Church are too far from where I moved to outside of NYC) & fell out w/ that Church over their prayers for the victory of Assad.
In 2011 the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese for America sent a delegation of priests to meet w/ Assad AND the Grand Mufti his premier henchman which Amnesty International researched had conducted the mass murders of prisoners. They returned saying what a “gentleman” Assad was & also the Grand Mufti was. They reported that they had seen nothing abusive but admitted they had a minder the whole time & were only brought to see designated places & things. It is still up on their website for anyone to see. Yet in Church they pray for the victory of a proven mass murderer. The fact the Daesh/IS is evil does not mean we should pray IN CHURCH for the victory of a mass murderer.
If you want to know Christ & have theosis it will not be by building statues & equating nationalism w/ Christianity/being Christian or praying the rosary (a Latin rite very late invention). Rather emulate St.Charbel & other early saints & followers by reading & following the teachings of Jesus. Including his having told us not to pray where everyone can see us — but rather ‘… Go to your room and shut the door’.
i really was amazed by your way of thinking, you are maybe right in a big part of what you have said, but after all that is your opinion and we are a free country, but i have just one small remark, seems my dear that you have not paid a visit to St. Maron Annaya Monastery to see that St. Charbel is not a Saint for Lebanon only or a Saint for Christians only.
so why don’t you take tuesday off (it will be the 22nd) and pay a visit to the Monastery, maybe sainte Charbel will make thing clearer in your mind.
my dear it is all about faith and it is the only thing that Lebanese people have left.
have a blessed evening
Joelle; don’t take it personal… look at the discussion from a broader angle, as a matter of fact what Elie is saying makes a lot of sense, and if you read between lines, he has suggested a better way to plead a faith, and meet the purpose!
St. Charbel is celebrated in every country in this world, not only lebanon.
A statue is not made for any saint in person, a statue is made for it’s beauty! We are the land of the saints and i personaly would rather live in an arabic country full of religious statues and churches and rosaries than any other place.
There is too many stupid things happening in this country and this statue is not one of them so why do you have to criticize something this beautiful?
I was hesitant to express myself regarding this issue due to its high sensitivity and people’s emotions. But here you are speaking my mind in this post. Thank you.
Elie, the donator has the liberty and freedom of expressing his faith as he’d like to. I am sorry, if this caused traffic jam. The act in itself is good. In my opinion, it’s better to spend money on a symbol of faith that will attract people to prayer than on something bad that could have attracted people to sin. Next donation, he might do better, in your opinion, like helping the poor. We all have plenty opportunities to help but we all turn our back from Christ time till nowadays. As for vanity, it starts in the heart of people who consider themselves above others in thinking, in moral or value…. Let us be humble in accepting what our brother the donator offered for future generations to express their faith. He hasn’t done a bad thing. May God bless you all, you and the readers! May Saint Charbel too pray for all of us! Have a nice day
forgot to mention that they had to fuck a beautiful mountain to open a road for the statue to reach its peak 😦
We were recently in Beirut for a street art project painting walls. We wanted to paint a mix of religions and people all standing together to represent Lebanon. We were told by the graffiti council that we could not paint anything political or religious in public including a woman in a hijab because it symbolized religion and will cause issues. Is this statue not public art and is it not both political and religious? Why is the government selective about regulating the public space?
+ 1000. Lol Samantha! Because distressingly the French occupiers put Maronites in political charge awhile ago. And ever since many Maronites & some other Lebanese have been shameless francophiles.
There are also Melkites & Orthodox Christians who are not meant to build & pray w/ statues; who either are forced to live w/ this against their will or have themselves drank this poison which contradicts the teachings of Jesus. And of course also Lebanese Muslims & Jews have this lording over them. Imagine a massive Star of David accepted only because somebody donated it.
Imagine giant sized (flat painted) Melkite/Orthodox icons destroying treelines & mountainsides dotting the landscape! This would make a great guerilla art project.
Welcome to Lebanon Samantha !
You stupid fuck there are plenty of St. Charbel churches around the world. Look up your information before saying anything. I only read the first paragraph to distinguish what an ass hole you are truely!
Most people who commented completely missed the point of your article, and focused on St Charbel not being a saint for the Lebanese only.
Just shows how big the gap between what you meant and what people understood is.
In my first paragraph I wrote about it not only being about Lebanon — but not for the reason you have given. I’m not sure if you read past my first paragraph before including me w/ the others you wrote of.
I wrote of it not only being about the St. Charbel statue in Lebanon to illustrate how we have over the years been robbed of our original Syriac Church & it has been replaced by the Latin rite w/ Latin rite practices like statues & the rosary & ‘adoration’.
Jesus did not ask us to build & venerate statues. Jesus did not ask us to stare at a gold frame w/ bread that we are to believe is Him. (Called the practise of ‘adoration’ & begun in Spain long after the East West schism in Christianity). He said of the bread & wine ‘Do this in rememberance of me’. The key word being ‘Do’. We’re meant to eat it — not stare at it (Him?) in a frame of gold for hours. It is the same w/ statues.
Please read my entire first post; as you have misunderstood if you only read the first paragraph & then included me in your statement about “most”. I was agreeing w/ Elie throughout.
There is a reason our Gibran toward the end of his life never left his Tenth Street Greenwich Village studio apartment here in NYC & only prayed there in a room w/ ‘candles everywhere’ (to quote a visitor there) — rather than attend our Maronite Church here.
Statues are not of our original Oriental Syriac Faith. Between the Hellenised Church (Antiochan Orthodox & Melkite) & Latin Rite Church (Rome) our true Syriac Maronite Church has been very forcibly & very tragically lost. (Most if its hymns & writings & practises etc). Statues are yet another latinisation forced upon our original indigenous Faith/Church.
Furthermore since Melkites & Orthodox are against statues & only pray w/ icons & since most of the country is now muslim (population) I percieve this as a way for Maronites to mark what they see as their territory to the rest of the populace & world. And then other Lebanese — in addition to Maronites — have bought into this as a symbol of national pride. National pride has zero to do w/ our original Faith. Our faith was derailed from the teachings of Jesus when Constantine painted crosses on his soldiers’ shields & declared Christianity a state religion.
This — giant statues destroying mountains & treelines — has nothing to do w/ the Syriac Faith of our ancestors. Please let us not participate in the mother of all sins: pride.
Three kisses xxx
Couldn’t be said better; applause!
❤ Thanks Mimo Joe… this is why the forerunner Youhanna ran away into the desert to get away from people! … & Jesus Himself to fasting alone in the mountains! It seems pointless to even try to communicate w/ words most of the time xxx
Well Faraya is a Maronite village and the MAJORITY of Christians in Lebanon are Maronites… Ma 7ada jabarik to visit this statue! Go put your icons wherever you want no one forbids you! In fact we would encourage that and we would go on pilgrimage to your churches as well UNLIKE YOU!
Lol JJ! My grandfather founded — w/ other young men & women — a Maronite church in the Lebanese diaspora in the early 20th c. (Elie wrote about the town/city where this church is in his post about Lebanese on the Titanic). Not a Melkite or Orthodox church.
This might be a bit obvious from what I have written — none of which you seem to have understood. Including the bit about the Maronite Gibran praying alone in his room in NYC vs. at our Maronite church here… & the other bit about Jesus’ teachings & what He wanted for us.
My grandfather was chrismated Melkite though… prior to that in Marjeyoun. (So *touché* for you in this fencing match?).
You have only assumed what you’ve written about my chrismation/baptismal rite etc. precisely because you associate the Church w/ your personal FACTIONAL identity VS. w/ the words & teaching of our Lord & those of His earliest Jewish followers. (Called the Jerusalem Church & lead by The Brother of God St.James).
It’s madness. Did you read the actual words of Jesus about this; which I’d conveniently left at the bottom of the page for you to read? Why don’t you leave a comment after HIS words about this; since you don’t want to believe mine here.
Honestly — what is the point of even HAVING a Church when so many who say they belong to it are so VIRULENTLY against the teachings of Jesus. The Church is the body of true believers — called ‘the invisible Church’ that make up the EUCHARISTIC body of Christ & cannot be found at the feet of a statue JJ. Statues that Jesus did not believe in. As He whilst walking amongst us on this earth is a practising Jew & not a Maronite or Melkite or Orthodox.
The pride you are referring to is considered the most dangerous sin JJ. Because it is the cause of anger & division & war etc. Nobody is forced to come to the table Jesus Christ laid out for people… for us. But that does not mean a giant statue should be put at that very table. Trees & hillsides — the mountains & wilderness in which He Himself prayed — ravaged in the process.
Plz educate urself before posting such a disgusting comment about something u have no idea about . Awal chi hle temssel ta2dimer men 3ayler 3emil St Charbel 3ajiber ma3 ebnon twice hener dafa3o ha2a w hener men faraya w nadaro ya3mloulo akbar temssel . Ba3den St Charbel ma3rouf bel 3alam kello la2ano aktar ediss bya3moul 3ajeyib
Ignorant people like you should be banned from having sites or stupid and disrespectful ideas . Allah y2adssak w ynawrak .
LOL! Elie you really unleashed the monster in people w/ this post! You are brave to voice these truths!
I am sorry people are being so very rude to you here & giving you so much dross. They do not even see past their blind spots to observe how their words & behaviour toward you in this thread are completely *contrary* to the teachings of Jesus. Including — LOL — the cursing. As if that is the representation of a faithful follower of the commandments & beatitudes & parables given to us by Jesus; cursing at people like possessed lunatics rather than having calm & reasoned discourse on important matters.
I hope & pray that more of us honour & represent the original teachings of Jesus vs. the many sleepwalking & talking in their sleep through our Faith by defending statues & rosaries & ‘adoration’ (staring at the Eucharist for hours) etc. This has zero to do w/ our indigenous Syriac Oriental Church. They are latinisations which we were forced to adopt after hellinisation after Constantine & latinisation after the great schism. We adopted these things due to politics *alone*. They are NOT original to our ancient Syriac Faith & Church.
Here’s who else who was misunderstood & shouted down & cursed at for trying to bring people back to the nucleus of the Faith & the Truth of what is most important in the Faith: Jesus Himself & afterward the early Holy Martyrs. And before Him the forerunner: Youhanna. So you are in very good company Elie! Your parents named you well! xxx
Enta li badak chafa2a khaye
Read my comment!
Jesus’ words to you on this matter are as follows (Matthew 6:5-6):
‘And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the streetcorners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have recieved their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’
Before writing this please do some research on why this statue has been done. Too much mockery in this article is just insulting to religion and to people who have faith. At least these lebanese people have faith and believe that saint charbel saved the son of the person who decided to install it in faraya the village of that person!! It is not about who has it bigger!!
How ignorant are u?
Do u even know why the statue was made?
Get your resources correct you imbecile
This is a dad owning up to his word as “neder” for Mar Charbel saving his son after being in a coma.
Plus, talking about saints as being Jealous?
Seriously you need to have a little faith in you cause most of time have a lot more of it than you do.
This is not us proving ourselves to anyone, this is a dad keeping his promise and the lebanese people stopping on the side of the road in tears humbled by the size and the idea and the presence they felt because they have faith.
To those of you who support the erection of that statue, I’m sure some of you were unhappy when the large Al Amin mosque was built in the heart of Beirut on a very prominent site. The Saint George church subsequently extended its bell tower to be taller than the mosque’s minarets. You must realize these acts are infantile and offensive to both religious and non-religious people of all walks of life. Please consider how you’d feel if members of other religions in this country built giant statues and religious symbols such as minarets or stars of David or giant letters spelling Allah Akbar other types of religious objects all over the mountains on the hills of their towns. Once you’ve tried being in other people’s shoes and imagined how they feel about this, reflect and decide if you still support the building of the statue.
If you still do…….Get therapy 😉
*applause* for Bernard xxx
Right out the gate let me establish that I am not Maronite but a Greek Orthodox who believes and venerates St. Charbel may his grace be upon us all. Now while I understand your concern of where the expenditure of erecting such an obscene monument could have been channeled to I agree whole heartedly. Where my comment here is directed to, is that while St. Charbel hails from Lebanon, he is recognized and canonized by the Vatican and revered world wide by thousands and I am inclined to say hundreds of thousands. So to me that does not make him exclusive or unique to Lebanon. FYI here outside Philadelphia in Media PA there is a beautiful St Charbel Lebanese Maronite Monastery and immaculately manicured grounds. Here in the heart of Quaker Country, a yearly tri day festival of food and dance is held and well attended by all walks of American life. Ex pat Lebanese pilgrimage here ongoing. Nothing says that this Lebanese community here in Delaware County PA and Metropolitan Philadelphia might not take on a 30 meter St. Charbel Statue project just because they can. Please keep in mind that Lebanese pride can take over any time anywhere in this world. So for now enjoy the party and rest assured that the race for the tallest St. Charbel monument may pop up at a Lebanese community near you on this amazing globe we call our earth.
In closing and on a side note, while the most civilized nation on this Earth is deeply engaged in moving to taking down statutes in fear of offending fellow citizens, Lebanese are taking on erecting them in the most volatile place and society in the world. What an amazing country we hail from.
With respect Mr.Khoury — w/ your statement you have shown you do not understand *why* many people want the American Confederate Jim Crow era statues taken down — representing the 400+ year GENOCIDE against Black Africans brought forcibly to this country as enslaved people — & *why* they are extremely offensive & injurous to empathic people.
These enslaved people included black Arabs who spoke Arabic & wore Arab clothing (thob & kefiyeh etc.) & were educated. And by saying that I am not maligning enslaved people who did not possess these traits & beliefs (those who had indigenous West African etc. ancient beliefs & customs); I simply point that out to illuminate that you (a presumably Arabic speaking person) are not so different.
Please research the serious issues behind the statues before making such an insensitive comment. Not only genocidal slavery which these Confederate statues in The States represent; but also the Jim Crow era in which they were put up.
Many Arab Americans (really mostly Syrian Lebanese Americans) and other people of colour suffered from Jim Crow era racism also. My father — who is Lebanese & was born in the States & whose own father came in the early 20th c. & uncles in the early 1890s — was called “a black man” by Americans of Northern European heritage & told not to marry my blonde pale green eyed German WWII refugee mother because “He’s a black man!”. Consequently they were forced to be married outside on a church property by the Euro-American priest vs. INSIDE the building. (Research anti-race mixing laws that existed prior to the ‘Loving vs. Virginia’ case).
Please do not misunderstand what I have written. I am not describing that they had a lovely *garden* wedding. I am telling you that during this Jim Crow era — which the statues you have written of *represent* — w/ my Lebanese father being taken for “a black man” they were not allowed to marry inside of a building in Appalachian Ohio. Including this church. All my mother’s neighbours etc. (of Northern European heritage) were telling her not to marry this “black man!” — saying she would not be able to get into hotels etc. (Which was actually true then).
My father moved to NYC & became a very prominent person in the music industry there & nationally (he is listed in the Arab American Institute list of “famous” Arab Americans for that) but was prevented from buying a house an hour outside of the city in Connecticut. My family had to move to the one town outside of the cities there that had broken the colour line & allowed people of colour to live there. Yet I was still not allowed to swim in the pools in this town as a young child in the early 60s (& called a Biafran & mocked by the town’s police for my looks etc.). I was literally pulled screaming & crying out of swimming pools or forced to sit far way & watch the other children my age — all very pale — swim & having fun in the water. This is what the Confederate statues you’ve written of represent.
When we travelled by car through the South in the 60s & early 70s we were not allowed to stay in nice hotels like those we stayed in in NYC & other places in the Northeast or in the West (Denver CO). We were forced to stay in insect infested motels bordering cemeteries until we got to my father’s destination of Houston Texas (a multicultural cosmopolitan city w/ a Greek & Vietnamese fishing community & Arabs from the oil industry & a Gay community) or Miami (a cosmopolitan city w/ a large Cuban & Gay community then). This is what the Confederate statues you’ve written of represent.
My father was taken for Jamaican in Jamaica also; only then not in an abusive way but in a good welcoming way!
So please do research on native Black Africans & also black Arabs (inc. Syrian Lebanese) & Jim Crow laws & racism before making such an insulting comment comparing religious statues to statues of Confederate murderers. This is disrespectful to the saints & martyrs.
If you were truly “Orthodox” Christian as you say you would be very against even a *tiny* statue that could fit in your hand; much less a MASSIVE one that imposes itself on other people & nature. (We are called in our daily prayers to *humility* above all else; after belief in God). Orthodoxy PROHIBITS statues. This is true for Melkites as well.
Of greater issue is the very tragic loss of our Syriac Maronite belief customs hymns writing etc. It is almost completely gone People. We are (were!) an Oriental *Syriac* Church. We did NOT have statues OR the rosary OR ‘adoration’ (sitting staring at the Holy Bread for hours) etc. What has replaced our beautiful indigenous ancient Syriac Faith & Church is the Latin rite Catholic faith which was forced upon us due only to politics. We have now become nothing more than the adorable to Europeans & Americans etc. ‘Oriental’ travel poster for the Latin rite Roman church in Lebanon.
There is also the serious matter of people (Catholic & Orthodox alike) of completely dismissing the teachings of Jesus — who did NOT want us to have statues (as I have already written of in my other comments here).
I find it astonishing that people here who call themselves Maronites (& Orthodox) are not intensely saddened by the fact that what is left of their ancient Syriac Church is almost gone. There are scholars & priests *desperately* trying to save our ancient Faith & customs (Tradition w/ a big T & tradition w/ a little t) by de-latinising the Church; just as Melkites have been committed to carrying out. Yet most Maronites understand so very little about this — about their OWN Faith — that it is an astonishingly difficult endeavor.
Please research the fact that your own Orthodox Church is against statues & read the teachings of Jesus on these matters. Please see what He said about praying which relates to this statue. I left some of His words
about these matters in this thread previously.
The person who placed the statue miraculously was cured of a brain tumor.
Mar Charbel is known world wide and is among all saints presently the highest in terms of miracles happening. People from all faiths have been cured. And the property is private and unselfishly donated
There is a “miracles” contest w/ people keeping score Jacqueline? Lol.
Also indigenous people practising their traditional ancient beliefs in the Americas (Native Americans & First Nations etc.) & Muslims & Jews & Buddhists have “miracles”.
It is God & belief which cause healing & other “miracles”. Not wether a massive fiberglass statue is erected. Lol. We used to have one of a giant farmer here where the annual autumn harvest fair was held. Jesus did not ask nor want people to erect massive fiberglass statues. If he did Jewish people would be ruining the beautiful landscape w/ them to this day.