Two days of national mourning and schools closed for the death of Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir

The patriarch Emeritus died on the night between 11 and 12 May. "The Maronite Church is an orphan and Lebanon is in mourning," says Card. Beshara Rai. Condolences from all the offices of the State and all religious communities.


Beirut (AsiaNews) - The 76th Maronite patriarch, Card. Nasrallah Sfeir died at 3.30 am on the night between 11 and 12 May. The patriarch died three days before celebrating his 99th birthday and was admitted to the Hotel Dieu hospital in Ashrafieh a few days earlier for some lung and urinary tract infections.

A few hours after the death of Card. Sfeir, Patriarch Beshara Rai issued a statement announcing the death of his predecessor and saying that now "the Maronite Church is an orphan and Lebanon is in mourning".

The Council of Ministers decreed two days of national mourning, on May 15 and 16. On the day of the funeral, May 16, public and private offices will remain closed. Even Catholic schools will remain closed.

Since yesterday, Bkerké, the seat of the Maronite patriarchate, has seen a succession of political and religious personalities come to offer their condolences to the Maronite Church and to Card. Beshara Rai.

Condolences came from the President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, and from Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The president of the parliament, Naby Berri has sent the deputy Ibrahim Azar. A visit to Bkerké was made by a delegation from Dar-el-Fatwa, on behalf of the Mufti of the Republic.

In the two days of decreed mourning, the flags will be flown half-mast in front of the public offices. There will be silence in television broadcasts.