Spring in Lebanon: Saydet el Nourieh Convent, Hamat

When it comes to my favorite places in Lebanon, the Saydet el Nourieh (Our Lady of the Light) Orthodox Convent in the Batrouni village of Hamat, which many people incorrectly believe is in Chekka, ranks high.

It’s possibly one of the most peaceful and picturesque places you can find. But I may be biased. Batroun pride, I guess. I think it’s very difficult not to be taken by the beauty of the mountain descending almost perpendicularly into the sea, giving you a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean and for religious people a very serene place to pray.

The story of the convent goes as follows: around the year 503 AD, two sailors found themselves in peril at sea. So they prayed to the Virgin Mary for salvation. She appeared to them as light and guided them safely to shore. To honor Her, they carved a cave where they saw the light emanating from. An Orthodox monastery was built in the 17th century.

And what better way to bid farewell to the Marian month than with a tribute to one of the most famous Marian shrines in Lebanon?

The convent

The view from the top of the mountain

Going towards the cave

The cave that was carved

All of these pictures were taken with an iPhone 4S and edited with the app Camera+.

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A Convent in Lebanon… Or a Farm?

The following is a picture taken in the Southern caza of Jezzine of a convent in the region of Atroune.

The place looks very forgotten. Do Maronite clergy know that a convent exists in this region? Or have they simply ignored its presence hoping no one notices?

Shouldn’t the presence of goats and sheep in a convent be at least frowned upon when the Lebanese Catholic Information Center panics about movies portraying people having sex in a convent?

Shouldn’t the MPs and the political representatives of the region protest about this when they’re so adamantly proclaiming themselves as the defenders of Christians in Lebanon? Or is the “70% myth” only applicable in political discourse to get their followers’ pride through the roof?

I guess we’ve officially seen it all in Lebanon.

There Goes My Heart… Home

We all know how it feels to be home… you’re too comfortable being there, you’re yourself there… But you know what feels even better than being home? Going home after a long absence.

I belong in Batroun. I am from the North and my heart will always go there. Driving around my hometown, Ebrine, in the Batroun Caza, I snapped these pictures.

When I wake up and open the blinds, this is the first thing I see:

And if I feel like going to sightsee, I don’t need to wander off a lot… these are a few scenes that await me after a few minutes of walking.
And whenever I feel like I want to be alone, I can simply drive down to a very old church, dating back to the 1400s. This is St. Charbel (the Lebanese saint took his name).

My hometown also harbors the mother Convent for Sainte Famille. We all know people who have been to their schools and there are two streets, one in Tripoli and one in Beirut, named after my hometown because they have Sainte Famille convents on them.

And if I feel like visiting my grandma, I pass by a canopy of trees and beautiful olive tree fields…

And if you ever feel hungry, Royal’s Pizza in Batroun offers the best pizza in Lebanon. And trust me, I have tried many, many pizzas. Nothing will ever come close.

All of these pictures were taken through my iPhone 4 and all effects are via an iPhone app: Camera+