concise History of the Convent of Our Lady of the
From Damascus, with goodness, came
To build for our Lady of the Assumption a shrine
I say, recording its history, and fame
Bless you Abraham, your work is divine
words are inscribed above the convent's church door
in Bkaatouta to commemorate the name of this great
benefactor and to record the history of this unique
convent, which was built in 1767.
convent lies between Baskinta and Bkaatouta, resting
in a spot endowed with the most beautiful climate,
scenery and population in Lebanon. This village
of natural silk, rises 1300 m above sea-level. It
is surrouded by a chain of high mountains' crowned
with snow in winter. This mountain overlooks vast
regions of artistic convass of colourful flowers
spread over a green tapestry gradually changing
into gardens of golden velvety red apples, peaches,
and vignards with grapes of pearls. This panorama
of green is fenced by a forest of pine and oak trees.
convent overlooks the city of Beirut and the Mediterranean
sea. Its area is known for its dry healthy climate
in summer and for its cold climate in winter, when
it becomes a heaven for ski lovers.
solitude and solemnity that surround it make of
it an ideal location for those who wish to spend
time thinking, meditating, relaxing and enjoying
peace. The area is sought by visitors of all ages.
Writers and poets alike seek it in search of peaceful
and fruitful retreat. It is the home of the famous
Lebanese writer Michael Nouhaime.
convent was built by Ibrahim Kheir Al-Mokdsy, a
Damascan citizen, known for his generosity, great
qualities, piety and for his love for God and the
church. He was a good friend of the Basilian Choueirite
Order. He used his own wealth to build the convent.
he was visiting his Excellency the bishop Ignas
Sarrouf at St Simon convent in Wady Al-karm Valley,
he was so much fascinated by the beauty of the region
that he wished to build a convent for secluded nuns
who would spend their time in prayers, retreats
and meditation in the protection of Our Lady of
bishop blessed him so he bought the land known as
the Rock of Mourad Al-Khazen or the "Kishk
rock", known for its bright and light colours
and for its scenic location.
construction started in 1760. The Choueirite Order
requested the Reverend Father Ibrahim Al-Mouallem,
famous for construction and architectural art, to
prepare the plans and supervise the construction.
He was assisted by the Reverend Father John Al-Halaby.
built, the convent turned into a master piece with
the beauty of its yellow-petro stone, the magestic,
symmetric and grandiose arcades. In some places,
two or three arcades are built on top of each other,
something unusual and very rare in Lebanon.
The construction was completed in 1767. The convent
was occupied by twenty worshipping sisters, who
came from all parts of Lebanon such as the convent
of the Annonciation, Zouk, from St Joseph, Ain Al-Rummaneh.
When one of the Chiite girls, who used to frequently
visit a convent in the region of Al-Hermel was baptised,
her family persecuted the nuns and monks in that
region. She was sent to Rome while the nuns took
refuge in Bkaatouta. In Rome she became a nun performing
miracles while still alive.
Excellency the Reverend Father General Monsignor
Jacob Sajaty, with the efforts of the Reverend General
superior of the Basilien Order, helped over forty
nuns come from Syria, Lebanon, even Baghdad to join
the convent. All consecrated their lives and time
for prayer, meditation and artcraft, earning their
living by following the example of Our Lord Jesus,
His Mother Mary and foster Father St Joseph.
convent illuminated that beautiful natural spot
by its prayer, silent work and spirit of the Gospel.
It helped the poor, offered hospitality to foreigners
and provided councel to the lost. This was the spirit
of the Gospel and St Basil's rules, wich the nuns
followed, practiced and fulfilled.
for the benefactor, he built special living quarters
in the convent for himself and his wife and took
care of all the convent's needs and properties.
Unfortunately, four years later, he died in April
1773, at the age of seventy. His funeral service
was celebrated by his beatitude the Patriarch Kyrio
Dahan, Monsignor Ignace Sarrouf and the Reverend
General superior Jacob Sajaty. They were assisted
by a great number of monks, priests and nuns. His
wife, shortly after, joined the nuns and took her
sacred vowels before her death in 1782.
1942 the nun's cluster was removed, and the nuns
devoted their lives to missionary and service works
as required by the Church. Ever since, the convent
opened its doors for those who wished to visit and
pray. A free school was built to serve the orphans,
the needy, and those with social problems; it also
served the children of the region. Today this school
is dedicated to serve and raise needy girls from
all over Lebanon.
residence of the benefactor was transformed into
a hospitality house. Presently, the convent is seeking
partners and men of goodwill to erect on its land
a home for the elderly as well as other projects
to serve the general welfare of the region and its
great importance and fame of the convent is not
merely based on its history, on the beauty of its
stone and its social, cultural services, it is rather
based on the permanent miracle that took place 250
the convent was fully constructed and the second
floor was occupied by the clustered nuns, drinking
water was not reaching the second floor because
the water spring in the convent's ground was much
below the second floor. The engineers tried in vain
as no technology was available at the time. They
told the nuns to buy big jars, fill them daily with
water and use them when needed. But the nuns believed
that their trust and faith in God, the Holy Mother,
and Divine Providence will do miracles. They rejected
the engineer's suggestions. They spent an entire
month in special prayers and sacrifices asking the
Holy Mother, the convent's patron for help. By the
end of the month, they carried, in solemn procession
of prayers all over the convent, a beautiful and
very old Icon of our Lady of the Assumption, reported
to be an original copy of the one painted by St
Luc, the Evangelist. Then they stopped at the same
place indicated previously where the water would
not flow. They placed the Icon of Mary in the same
spot and prayed with love and full faith. Miraculously,
the water began to flow, and continues to do so
miracles were reported by the faithfuls, who drunk
the water. The engineers decided then to distribute
the water to the nunís rooms in the same floor,
but were unable even today. The water flows only
under the Icon of Mary.
ancient convent remained standing for all these
years although it was exposed to the eroding factors
of nature as well as to the catastrophic events
of the Lebanese civil war. The Order wishes to acknowledge
the Lebanese government for placing the convent
on the list of touristic sites, as well as for assisting
the nuns to refurbish a small part of the convent
1990, the Order took upon itself, assisted by competent
engineers, to remodel the entire convent save the
cave. It brought the convent to its original design
and structure. It took five years and substancial
funds to complete the task.
the convent acts as a source of light, hope, help
and love. The sisters will continue to offer their
daily prayers and devotion as special incense ascending
before the throne of our Creator on behalf of Lebanon,
its people and leaders in particular, and the whole
of humanity. They continue to pray for God's mercy,
for his special gifts and for his heavenly blessings.-The
Text in Arabic-
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