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Panoramic Views > North > Akkar > Church of Our Lady at Gebrayel

The Archangel’s Rest - Church of Our Lady at Gebrayel

After having traversed the cosmos from one end to the other and carrying out his divine mission, the Annunciation made to Mary, the Immaculate Conception, of the Blessed Fruit of her womb...

After having come in contact with mankind and seeing that human beings created in the image of God are kind, hospitable, friendly and sociable...

After having admired the work of the Creator in this universe, the nebulae, galaxies, stars and planets and above all the beauty of this earth of ours, and not wishing to leave us but rather to find rest, the Archangel Gabriel chose a domain not far from Nazareth, one that drew him by its splendid beauty, a corner of North Lebanon, near the Cedars, a delightful village of breath-taking charm, situated on the mountain slopes at a height of five hundred meters above the sea, blending into the paradise around. He gave it his name “Gebrayel”, Gabriel.

Here was an open space of unrivalled verdure, with forests of pine trees, a village bathed in the sun, sparkling in an air pure and without pollution, with kindly people but awesome calm, the only voice being that of silence.

Water gushes on all sides but to find one of its sources one must follow a long, winding, narrow and shaded route, a road of dreams of Paradise. Well may one wonder if one is in this world or in some planet with the Little Prince of Saint-Exupéry. It is like the Retiro, the park in Madrid, a memory of Neuchâtel, a play of chiaroscuro, a tunnel of verdure, of alternating light and shadow, opening out on a site where the water leaps from its spring, “el Halzoum”, the two-horned snail.

Gebrayel is ten kilometers from Halba, the chief township of the region. This village of the angel has some three thousand inhabitants, belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church. One may notice several churches, among them ones dedicated to Our Lady and to Saint Elias the Prophet. The schools are quite modern but we may well pause at the Church of Our Lady, the arched construction of which dates back twelve centuries or more. It is a veritable fortress with walls two meters thick, leaving narrow windows which give little light to the interior. There is a fine icon-screen bearing a large number of Byzantine icons representing the great saints, the apostles, the holy virgins and the martyrs. A baptismal font of one solid block stands at the left of the entrance, a tall column of stone with a bowl in the top.

It is pleasant to think that this Christian center has come down through the ages and remained so welcoming and full of activity. So many conquerors and empires have passed here. An imposing citadel was raised and many times taken, the Castle of Aqqar, today only a heap of ruins, while at its feet the village still lives on in its verdant groves, with the music of running water on all sides. Gebraïl is a most ancient name, Gaber-Il, the force and strength of God, whose quiet power is felt in the durability of a generous Nature. A century-old cypress tree stands guard on the left of the entrance. The old door still remains but because of the recent restoration of the front wall another door, this time of aluminum, has been added to provide protection.

A bell-tower rises over the terrace, surmounted by a cross, and from here one enjoys a superb panoramic view of the green surroundings and of the red-roofed dwellings, the whole giving a delightful effect. Visiting Gebrayel is like visiting Paradise itself.

Joseph Matar
Translated from the French by K.J. Mortimer

- Church of Our Lady at Gebrayel: >> View Movie << (2008-09-01)


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