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Damage Eparchy of Tyre



 Report on the damage done to the churches and chapels of the Maronite Eparchy (Diocese) of Tyre during the 33-day-war in Lebanon.

August 23, 2006

 As you well know, the Maronite Eparchy of Tyre has been hardly affected by the war that took place, especially that our parishes situated in South Lebanon and make the borders with Israel.

During 33 days, our villages has been bombarded days and nights as well as hundreds of houses have been damaged or burnt down and the harvest of the villagers has been spoiled. Hundreds of jobs have been abolished: Shops, workshops, farms, cars, etc...

Many churches have been strongly damaged by the bombardment. I will list 8 churches hit by air strikes and cannons: Saint Joseph-Qawzah, Saint George-Debel, Our Lady-Ein Ebel, Saint George-Qlayaa, Saint Peter and Saint Paul-Tyre, Saint Maron-Jarmaq, and Saint Joseph-Hamra.

We describe the churches damaged showing the magnitude of destruction without neglecting the spiritual, archeological, and historical value of these edifices and their symbolic and religious value for each one of us:

1- Saint Joseph-Qawzah: It is a small church built at the beginning of the 19th century. Its architecture shows its unique decorated windows, its doors and church bell. All of this gives testimony of the artistic nature of its time and style. I have to mention that the tiles go back to the time of the construction.

This church has been bombarded severely in two places: In first place, at the corner between the principal facade (west), the north facade, and the roof. In second place, the tiles have been destroyed almost entirely, which new ones need to be installed. We mention that the pews have been destroyed and the church square and its fences have been demolished by (Israeli) tanks.

Estimated cost for restoration: 85 000 $


 2- Saint George-Debel: Responding to their pastoral needs, after a considerable demographic growth, the parishioners of Debel have built at the second half of the 20th century a beautiful church to welcome 600 people. This church contains a parish hall for the feasts and diverse activities in the parish.

The parishioners deprived themselves from necessity in order to build their beautiful church which responds with its hall to their spiritual and social needs. The cannons have changed the spectacle: The prayers and ceremonies were stopped and the church was distorted. Four bombs have destroyed the principal facade (west). The entrance and the principal wall have been seriously damaged. We must say that the ground of the church which constitutes at the same time the ceiling of the hall has fallen down as well as the doors and windows of the hall. We note that the pavement done with marble has been damaged considerably.

Estimated cost for restoration: 100 000 $

3- Our Lady-Ein Ebel: This church represents a unique architecture of the first half of the 19th century. It was classified a historical monument of national heritage due to its architectural and historical uniqueness. This church has considerable damages, because of this war, at the level of the wooden construction covered with tiles. As a consequence, we see almost half of the construction touched by bombs, which requires a quick reparation.

Estimated cost for restoration: 35 000 $

4- Saint George-Qlayaa: The church of Qlayaa goes back to the first half of the 19th century. We need to confess that this church, that welcomes more than 350 people, represents many characteristics that we cannot find elsewhere: The paintings that cover the interior walls represent symbolic configurations of heaven, earth, angels... Another architectural characteristic can be observed at the level of the cupola placed at the center of the tiles. The statues placed around the cupola fell down because of the cannons.  This church is found actually pierced at the level of the wall of the facade (east). This place is the most sensible and most delicate because of the location of the altar and sacristy, where the sacred objects are placed. This church, appreciated by the tourists, is found today in ruins. In addition to the church, the hall has been damaged by direct hits.

Estimated cost for restoration: 25 000 $


5- The two churches of Saint Paul and Saint Peter-Tyre:  In remembrance of the passage of the two apostles, Peter & Paul, in Tyre and due to pastoral needs, the parishioners took the initiative to build two chapels to commemorate the first predication of the Gospel proclaimed by the two Apostles and to always remember that the land of the South is a holy land. These two chapels were affected by this latest war. If the chapel of Saint Paul has been subject to disintegration, the chapel of Saint Peter has been hit directly: The walls are deteriorated in every corner. The rooftop covered with tiles is damaged seriously. The windows are completely broken. The pavement is damaged in great part... The church’s current condition does not allow the practice of Faith. As these two chapels represent a moral and symbolic strength to all the faithful, their reparation remains a spiritual and social need.

Estimated cost for restoration: 35 000 $


6- Saint Maron-Jarmaq: The village of Jarmaq has known the disasters of the Lebanese war since 1975. The war of July 2006 achieved what was left of the church and village, which needs an urgent intervention to rebuild a new church, which will allow to re-give a new breath of life to the devastated village of Jarmaq.

Estimated cost for restoration: 100 000 $


 7- Saint Joseph-Hamra : This church had its part in damage caused by this war: The facades are deteriorated. The windows were completely broken. The walls are disintegrated. The painting was degraded at the level of the whole church.

Estimated cost for restoration: 33 000 $


This report was originally written by Fr. Sharbel ABDALLAH, Vicariate of the archdiocese of Tyre, translated by Fr. Antonio Elfeghali.