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Panoramic Views > South > Saida > Our Lady of Mantara or the Wait, Maghdouche

Our Lady of Mantara or The Wait, Maghdouche

The sanctuary of Our Lady of Mantara has its origins in the Holy Gospels. We read in Mark ch. 7, v. 24, that after leaving Genesareth in Palestine Christ went to the region of Tyre and Sidon (now called Saïda) to preach the Good News and to heal the sick. It was at Sidon that he cured the daughter of the Canaanite women possessed of a devil: “Woman, your faith is great.” For his part, Saint Luke says in ch. 6. v. 17 that after having chosen his twelve apostles Jesus “came down with them and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal regions of Tyre and Sidon who had come to hear him and to be cured of their diseases.”

According to holy tradition the Holy Virgin accompanied her son when he journeyed to Tyre and to Sidon. However, as we know, Jewish women were not allowed to go into pagan cities. Therefore, as Sidon was a Canaanite town and therefore pagan, Mary waited for her son in this grotto at Magdousheh, for the Roman road which ran from Jerusalem to the Lebanese coast passed by this village. Here she waited in prayer and meditation, from which comes the name Our Lady of the Wait – al Mantara.

Subsequently the early Christians transformed this grotto into a shrine where they came to honour the Virgin and ask for her graces. As a result of the troubled times this region frequently went through in its history, the site was sometimes forgotten; but thanks to a lucky chance it was rediscovered in 1721 during the time of Monsignor Eftemios Saïfi,Melkite Catholic bishop of Saïda, who had the grotto restored. Since then it has been steadily visited by families particularly on the occasion of the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, 8th of September.

How the grotto was rediscovered

The following story is told. A shepherd chanced to be one day near the grotto with his flock. Sitting under an oak tree, he was playing on his flute. Suddenly he heard one of his goats bleating in distress. He ran in its direction and saw that it had fallen into a well, through the opening now to be seen in the roof of the cave just above the altar. He took his knife and cleared away the undergrowth so that he could pass. To his great joy he found a narrow path that led down to the bottom of a cave into which he crawled on hands and knees. He was further reassured when he found an icon of the Virgin on an ancient altar. He rushed out and, leaving his flock, ran off to announce his discovery to the people of Magdousheh. Crowds came rushing up to see for themselves this cave which had been so long abandoned and to contemplate the icon of the Virgin. The bells pealed out to proclaim the event and processions were organized in the village. So it was that worship returned to this sacred grotto.

Our Lady of Mantara, pray for us.

Mgr. Georges KWAITER
Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop of the Diocese of Saïda and of Deir el-Kamar

- Our Lady of Mantara or The Wait, Maghdouche: >> View Movie << (2007-06-01)
Lady of Mantara or the Wait, Maghdouche, entrance: >> View Movie << (2011-03-15)
Maghdouche Cathedral - Saida Palestinian Refugee camp: >> View Movie << (2011-03-15)


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