There cannot be any doubt that this monastery is one of the most ancient in Lebanon. According to historians, it has been known to exist ever since the year 850 A.D.. The vaulted cellars in the lower storeys illustrate this strikingly. The monastery was the seat of the Maradites, as also of the unionist monks.
The Lebanese Maronite Order took possession of it in 1766, after it had been ceded to them by Emir Yussef Shehab. Its reconstruction advanced little by little, and its restoration was carried out by the monks themselves. The monastery played a preponderant role both religiously and politically; thus it was that in 1831, for example, secret talks took place between Sheikh Ali Al Imad and the monks at a meeting in the monastery when the peasants and members of the clergy had revolted against the authorities.
In 1850, Saint Sharbel Makhlouf spent nearly the year there. In 1870 the Third Lebanese Synod was held there with Patriarch Yussef Stephan presiding. The case was examined there of “Sister Hendiyeh”, whose real name was Anne Oujaïmi. She pretended that Christ had appeared to her and ordered her to found an order of nuns, which she did, but then the order was dissolved because of the bad conduct of its superior and the sisters, several prelates being involved.
In 1922, the Lebanese Order founded a college in the monastery, one which is still active at the present day with its chemistry laboratory and its school of acting.
In 1968, an important chapter was held within its walls; it made a number of decisions and published a communiqué concerning the acquisition of property by foreigners. In 1982, a presidential decree officially instituted an agricultural college at Our Lady of Mayfouq. In 1984, another presidential decree set up a medico-social centre and the same year saw the creation of a parish development council to serve the neighbouring villages.
As well as carrying on its agricultural activities, the monastery concerns itself with young people and provides parochial service throughout the nearby region. A museum of traditional crafts and a collection of religious articles attract many visitors. Finally, mention should be made of the fine architecture of the arcades, the colonnades and the barrel vaulting.
- Monastery Deir Saydat Mayfouq: >> View Movie << (2003-02-01)