Between Kesserouan and the district of the Metn, a
river runs down to the sea whose name is legendary
– Nahr el-Kelb, the Dog River. It pours out of the
caverns of Jeita and then meets the sea between two
sharply rising hills. On one of these stands the monastery
Mar Yusuf al-Borj while above the cliff on the opposing
side stands the institution of Christ the King. The
river has an abundant flow sufficient to irrigate
agricultural land and also to supply Beirut with clean
drinkable water. One can take a most agreeable walk
along the river banks.
The Christ the King complex comprises a hospice and
a retirement home for the clergy. The statue that
dominates everything recalls that of Christo del Corcovado
dominating Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It was in 1950
that the Capuchin Father Blessed Jacques (Yaacoub,
James) managed to acquire this high hill on the right
side of the river and to build a hospice, with a religious
house and church, on the site where the monument now
rises. The hill itself still bears the name of Kherbet
al-Malik, the King’s Ruin.
The great statue of Christ standing above points with
its right hand towards Our Lady of Lebanon, the Holy
Virgin of Harissa, and with its left towards the monastery
of Mar Yusuf, Saint Joseph, bringing together Jesus,
Mary and Joseph in the Holy Family.
At a lower level, at the foot of the hill bearing
the Saint Joseph Monastery, there are the famous steles
on which are inscribed the names of the great strategists
of history to commemorate their passage with their
armies through this narrow and difficult pass between
the mountains and the sea.
Christ the King may be reached by following the coastal
highroad northward from Beirut or by taking the road
from the town of Zouk. It is just over eight miles
from the capital and stands at an altitude of three
hundred feet. As one enters, one comes onto an esplanade
that has been planted with trees and there one is
entranced by the splendid view of Beirut, the sea,
the river, the mountains and the valley.
One feature of the valley is an aqueduct barely visible
among the vegetation and the roots of ancient trees
alongside the river. Further, while work on the project
of Christ the King was going ahead, the workmen discovered
a charming cave at the foot of the building. They
called out to “Abouna Yaacoub” and he answered, “This
is for the Queen, there can be no king without a queen!”
So the grotto was converted into a sanctuary to honor
the Virgin Mary, Queen of all creation.
This religious house is a place of recollection, of
meditation, of rest, and of prayer, particularly for
members of the clergy who are getting on in years
and who need relaxation, care and the service of an
infirmary. But the center opens its arms to everybody
and welcomes members of the laity for prayer and religious
retreats, for which the faithful come from every region.
One room in particular has been arranged inside to
hold a collection of photographs and souvenirs of
Father Yaacoub. Halls have been provided to serve
for video projections, congresses, reunions and seminars.
The feast of Christ the King is celebrated on the
last Sunday of October.
At present the house and the church are undergoing
restoration. The worksite is a busy one, on account
of the wholesale modernization of the whole building
including the church, the gardens, the inside installations,
the grotto and the approaches. All this is very costly
and will demand much time and effort.
The achievements of the great saint Father Yaacoub
are colossal. They not only cover all Lebanon but
also extend all over the Middle East and go far beyond,
with religious houses, seminaries, schools, hospitals,
homes for the ill and the elderly, retreat houses,
churches and reception centers.
For Bless Father Yaacoub national boundaries do not
exist. Any person who is sick, disabled, suffering,
poor or hungry is a human being created by God in
His own image and likeness. No discrimination is to
be made between races, communities, or nationalities,
for all are brothers in Christ and his children. Nobody
should miss a chance for going to visit Christ the
King with its glorious site overlooking mountain and
Joseph Matar - William Matar
Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer
- Christ the King - Exterior: >> View
Movie << (2015-04-01)
- Christ the King - Church: >> View
Movie << (2015-04-01)
- Christ the King - Grotto: >> View
Movie << (2015-04-01)