In the mountains of Lebanon there are many villages
which bear the holy names of saints and of these I
have visited many.
There is the village of Gabriel (Gebrayel) thirty-five
kilometers north of Tripoli which bears the name of
the archangel of the Annunciation; that of the Virgin
(Al-Aazra), the Virgin Mary; that of the Mother of
God (Umm er-Rabb); the Valley of Qadisha (the Holy)
with its famous caves occupied by hermits; the House
of Job (Beit Ayoub), and Paradise (Janneh). And how
many names of villages are made up with Mar (Holy)
and Deir (Monastery)! The list is certainly very long.
On the slopes of the hills overlooking the sanctuary
of Harissa, a little to the North, in Ftouh Kesrouan,
there is a small village named Aazra. Did the village
get its name from the monastery of the same name?
Or might it be that the name is Aramaic, derived from
Ezr, meaning the support, the column, or even meaning
a flock of sheep or goats, or a tree of the forest,
When speaking of Aazra it is of the monastery that
one thinks first, one dedicated to Sts. Peter and
Paul. The village itself may be reached by a number
of routes, all leading up to the Ftouh heights. Its
houses stand at an altitude of rather over 2,500 feet
at a distance of twenty-five miles from Beirut.
The village is a fine vantage-point that gives a superb
view of the sea, the coast including Byblos, and all
this most picturesque region. The houses are somewhat
scattered, forming an agglomeration around the church
dedicated to the Holy Virgin.
At Aazra one feels surrounded by Nature in all its
beauty, amidst a forest of evergreen oaks and other
trees growing wild. Terraces have been cut out of
the mountainside to allow the cultivation of vineyards,
olive groves, and orchards of apple and other fruit
The infrastructure of the village is very modern,
with the means of communication in constant use. Large
numbers of the faithful come as pilgrims to the monastery
to pray, to find spiritual peace, to fulfill vows,
and simply to relax.
A great deal of activity goes on at the monastery.
There is a school, lectures, exhibitions, concerts,
conferences, prayers and social activities. The Superior
is known for his action all around. Originally built
in 1854, the monastery has been restored and modernized
several times and monks distinguished for their sanctity
have resided there.
A century-old oak tree stands as a living testimony
to the history of the monastery, impressive by reason
of its massive and wide-spreading branches. How many
holy monks have knelt to pray in its shade and how
many nostalgic memories it hides of past events, how
many tears and how many smiles its branches have witnessed!
- Al Aazra - Monastery Sts. Peter and Paul 1:
>> View Movie
- Al Aazra - Monastery Sts. Peter and Paul 2: >>
View Movie <<