Here the presence of the Holy Spirit is ever felt,
here where nobody comes for simple amusement or
for mere sight-seeing. Here one comes to pray, to
meditate, to be in touch with one’s Creator. This
is a village like no other, for rather is it a cathedral,
an alter raised to the glory of the Lord, with its
houses scattered among the trees of the forest,
the cliffs and the valleys.
The steep precipices and the caves, the clefts in
the rocks, the bold reliefs and the strange forms,
all these would seem to have been shaped by the
hands of the Creator. The region is sublime and
one can no more talk of beauty or of picturesque
landscapes, for one is truly overwhelmed by the
grandeur, the immensity of this unrivalled, soaring,
rock-hewn presence, a presence that is alive and
animated by the depths and by the paths which wind
their way among the oak trees and other lords of
the forest. The sylvan shadows extend their embrace
and the views all draw one’s eyes towards Paradise.
Here is a village that takes to its heart both the
faithful seeking prayer and the travelers seeking
the miracles of nature. They find themselves in
a valley rich in its churches and sanctuaries, those
of Mar Semaan, Mar Mema, Saint Osapios, Mar Adnah,
Our Lady, and John the Baptist, nestling in its
hollows, not to mention the various Roman remains.
Mere story or not, it is said that a certain cave
to be reached only by a ladder is accessible only
to those who have faith and whose souls are pure.
I am speaking of Abaydat, a village ensconced in
the heights two thousand feet and more above sea
level in the north-east of the region of Jbeil,
ten minutes’ drive from Amsheet and easily reached
by the Byblos-to-Lehfed road. The name is of Aramaic
origin and indicates commerce, or undertaking, or
work. The local people lead an organized life, some
wintering in Byblos or along the coast where they
are employed, while others spend both summer and
winter in their village homes.
The village has a school, shops, some scattered
workshops for skilled industry, and a modern mill,
and a municipal authority meets local requirements.
There are many olive trees, vineyards, orchards,
clumps of woodland, and vegetable gardens close
to the houses. Abaydat has conserved its traditional
aspect and should be visited by all who love recollection
and meditation and an atmosphere of piety.
Translation from the French : Kenneth J. Mortimer