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Christians, Muslims United in Celebrating Annunciation
Retrieved from Naharnet on March 25, 2010

Lebanon's Christians and Muslims celebrated the feast of the Annunciation on Thursday after it was recognized as a national holiday by the Lebanese government.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri extended greetings to the Lebanese on this occasion. It is the responsibility of clergymen to make this day a spiritual and national occasion for all Lebanese, he said.

Seikh Mohammed Nokkari, who is a teacher at the faculty of law and at the Institute of Islamic-Christian Studies at St. Joseph University in Beirut, was one of the promoters of the feast's announcement as a national holiday in the country, Catholic News Service said Wednesday

The feast of the Annunciation marks the moment when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus.

All state institutions, schools, universities and banks were closed on Thursday for the holiday, and the Lebanese government has encouraged private business to close as well.

Nokkari's hope is that such a holiday will spread to other parts of the world, but he told Catholic News Service it was fitting that it began in Lebanon, which the late Pope John Paul II has described as "a message of pluralism for the East and the West."

The Council of Maronite Bishops has lauded the government's decision, saying it "helps in bringing hearts together."

Beirut, 25 Mar 10, 09:33