Beirut (Agenzia Fides) – The-sixteen-meter mega-statue representing Lebanese Saint Charbel will be inagurated on the heights of the village of Hammana in the next few days. From there, the statue will dominate the surrounding villages and will also be visible from the Beirut area. The transfer of the statue, from Mar Moussa to the place of its next installation, aroused curiosity and surprise among the local population, due to the large size of the sculpture, whose creation required five months of work by skilled workers. The sculpture was financed by engineer Charles Barmaki, while the municipality of Hammana made available the land where the statue will be placed. Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, Patriarch of the Maronite Church will be present at the ceremony for the installation and inauguration of the statue, scheduled for Sunday, July 22.
The town of Hammana is located in a strategic position. The statue of Saint Charbel will have a great visual impact for those who use the national highway that connects the east to the west of the Country, connecting Lebanon also to the Middle Eastern motorway network that reaches up to Saudi Arabia.
Charbel Makhluf (1828-1898), priest and monk of the Lebanese Maronite Order, a figure dear to the Lebanese Christians for his austere spirituality, known for the healing miracles attributed to him even after his death, was proclaimed saint by Pope Paul VI in 1977.
In the summer of 2017, an even larger statue of Saint Charbel, 27 meters high, was installed on the heights of Kesrouan, while last March (see Fides 17/3/2018) the first statue dedicated to Pope Francis in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East was inaugurated in Hadath, a municipality in the Baabda district, considered part of the southern suburbs of Beirut. Local sources explain to Agenzia Fides that even the multiplication of statues and images of saints and Christian symbols, placed in public places and visible to all, wants to be a sign intended to encourage local Christians, so that they do not give up to visibly show their own identity, continuing to offer its own original contribution to the coexistence with different religious communities, in the horizon of a common citizenship. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 9/7/2018)