St. Paul's Cathedral - Cathedral of the
Missionaries of St. Paul - Harissa
are the missionaries of St. Paul?
The Society of St. Paul was founded in 1903 by Mgr.
.To foster the faith and spiritual life of Christians
in the Middle East and in countries where they have
. To strive for Christian unity by research and
. To bring about brotherly dialogue between Christians
First and foremost, the most specific forms of apostolic
labour, namely preaching and publishing.
Membership: Missionary priests and coadjutor brothers.
order to be able to pray, to draw on their inner
life and to reflect, these men of action need a
retreat which is calm and conducive to meditation.
the founder chose Harissa, near Our Lady of Lebanon,
as a place with an atmosphere favouring study and
prayer for unity supported by interior union with
only remained to erect a sanctuary whose authentic
style and artistic perfection would create a fraternal
climate of prayer.
were made in this direction and towards the year
1945 an Armenian architect by the name of Mardiros
Altonian, a specialist in Byzantine architecture,
drew up a project for a church at Harissa that was
full of promise.
Dimitrios Constantinidés, one of the great
Greek specialists in iconography, studied the plan
and fixed the iconographic details. The Pierrotti
Studio took charge of elaborating the studies in
colour and the decorative designs for the parts
in marble and mosaic, with the collaboration of
the workshops of Favret Mosaics.
estimated cost was enormous, but the desire of the
faithful to see a beautiful and sumptuous church
rise up on such an chanting hilltop overcame all
on the way to completion:
. Laying of the foundation stone, 22/11/1947.
.Completion of the general structure, 1968.
.Placing of the high altar its ciborium, 1980.
.Placing of the first mosaic, 1980.
.Inauguration and consecration of the cathedral,
main Apse (Surface: 450m2)
purpose behind the construction of the cathedral
was to further ecumenical dialogue and Christian
unity, this is why an effort was made to present
side by side the principal representatives of the
Catholic and Orthodox Churches against the background
of the cultures of East and West.
John of Damascus, Ephrem the Syriac, Gregory of
Armenia and Methodius decorate the pylons on the
right and left sides.
Between are the great patriarchs and bishops who
founded the five patriarchates, namely Rome, Constantinople,
Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.
centre and the upper part of the main apse covered
by mosaics of the Last Supper and Our Mother, who
conceived the word and so became "more vast
than the heavens" (Platyra), represented as
main Dome (Height: 45 m; surface: 280m2)
the Almighty, is represented in the very centre
of this dome as the keystone which strengthens,
consolidates and upholds the whole edifice.
high altar is held up on five columns; four represents
the Four Evangelists, symbolized by a bull, a lion,
an eagle and a man, and the fifth represents the
Kalamos, it means the pen, with which they write
ciborium, eight meters high, represents heaven.
Resurrection or Descent into Hell (surface: 113
according to Christian tradition, Christ descended
into hell, he broke all the bonds and took Adam
by the hand, together with Eve and all the Fathers
of the Old Testament, the Prophets and all those
awaiting deliverance, proclaiming, his resurrection
from among the dead.
Ascension (Surface: 113m2)
his Ascension, Christ rose to heaven, so becoming
closer to each one of us, closer than we are to
(Surface: 113 m2)
mosaic represents the descent of the Holy Spirit
upon the Apostles, who surround the Virgin Mary.
It is this same Spirit which is given in Confirmation,
when the priest anoints the newly baptized, repeating
"The seal of the Holy Spirit".
for the flame above the head of each apostle, this
signifies the gifts of the Holy Spirit giving life
to the weak human being and making of him a witness
in the Church. It gives new force and courage in
the service of the Church, and the Church in turn
continues by the Holy Spirit to illuminate and to
unify the Whole universe.
mosaic of the Assumption (Surface 66 m2) and The
Nativity of the mother of God
represents the great Christian hope. The Church
gathers round the bed of the dying just as the Apostles
gathered around Mary when she died, so that they
might celebrate her Assumption. Christ holds the
pure soul of Mary in his arms as he will gather
up every pure soul.
On the east side there is a leaden cylinder containing
the document reporting the ceremony of the inauguration
and consecration of the cathedral on 25/7/1998,
with the signatures of the religious and civil authorities
and various benefactors present.
Veil (Surface: 5,5m2)
According to tradition, a woman named Veronica accompanied
Jesus on the Way of Sorrows, the Via Dolorosa. She
used her veil to wipe his tortured face, with the
result that it bore the imprint of his features.
For this reason the icon is called "The Icon
not made by the hand of man".
Elevation of the Holy Cross (Surface: 16m2)
represents the victory that the Byzantine Emperor
Heraclius gained over the Persians in the year 638,
after which he brought back the Holy Cross, which
the Persians had looted, in triumph back to Jerusalem.
Patriarch Zacharius raised the Cross on high and
with it blessed the people.
Triumph of Orthodoxy (Feast celebrated on the 1st
Sunday of Lent) (Surface: 16m2)
mosaic also has a historical reference, as the yearly
exposition of the icons for the veneration of the
faithful recalls the ferocious hundred-year-long
struggle against the iconoclasts, the breakers of
icons. In the Byzantine rite, the icon is a kind
of catechism that teaches and preserves the true
faith among the people.
Iconostasis (Icon Screen) (Height:4m; Width: 12
of the icons (To the left):
- The Mother of God
- St. Paul
- The Archangel Michael
- St. Germanos
of the icons (To the right):
- John the Baptist
- The Archangel Gabriel
- St. Anthony the Great
is a screen which divides off the Holy of Holies,
It bears icons representing Christ, the Holy Virgin,
the Last Supper, the Evangelists, the Apostles and
those saints who spread the glad tidings or gave
witness by the sacrifice of their lives.
Peter and Paul (Superficie: 24m2)
stand erect as faithful guardians before the Church
of which they and the other Apostles are the foundation
stones, and over which they keep vigilant watch.
Plan and Dimensions of the Church:
1) Main entrance
3) Royal Doors
4) Central nave
5) Right-hand aisle
6) Left-hand aisle
7) Holy of Holies
9) Altar of the offerings
10) Patriarchal throne
48 m. - Width: 24 m. - Height: 48 m. - Diameter
of the dome: 12 m. - Height of belfry: 52 m.
- Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral: >>