06/07/2008, 00.00
Send to a friend

"Miracle" in Beirut, Abouna Yaacoub clears the way for his beatification

by Fady Noun
After months, Martyrs' Square, heart of the capital and the site of the celebration, has been liberated from the sit-in of the opposition. The Franciscan Sisters of the Cross want to make the ceremony "a moment of unification".

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Far from the political tensions characterising the formation of the national unity government, the Catholic Church is preparing for the beatification of a Capuchin priest, born in Ghazir in the Lebanese hillside, in the heart of "Christian country": Fr Jacques Haddad (1875-1954), founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross (1933) and of numerous hospitals, hospices, and schools.

Is the liberation of Martyrs' Square, where the beatification ceremony will be held, due to a miracle by Abouna Yaacoub? Divided in two, the heart of the Lebanese capital, which became a symbol of the division of the Lebanese, has been reunited.  The Doha accord of March 19, a political compromise between the majority and the opposition, in conflict for 18 months, has permitted the removal of the makeshift camp that had divided it in two.

The ceremony will take place on June 2, at 10 a.m. It will be presided over by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and will be concelebrated by Maronite patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir.  At noon, bells will ring at all the churches of Beirut to greet the event. 

Announcing the celebration at a press conference at the Convent of the Cross, a hospital complex built in the 1930's by Abouna Yaacoub, Fr Abdo Bou Kasm, director of the Catholic information centre of the Maronite Church, affirmed: "three weeks ago, we discussed with Mother Marie Makhlouf the possibility of organising the beatification ceremony in Martyrs' Square, which at the time was divided in two.  Mother Marie Makhlouf repeated: let us count on Abouna Yaacoub, he could work a miracle.  And here's the miracle.  On the same day that Mother Marie was having his official portrait blessed by Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter's Square, the Doha agreement was reached, and Nabih Berry announced the end of the sit-in".

Fr Bou Kasm adds that, since then, the Sisters of the Cross "have worked day and night" to prepare for the beatification ceremony.  For her part, Mother Marie Makhlouf, superior of the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross founded by Abouna Yaacoub, has given thanks to God for the turn of events, expressing the desire that the ceremony should be "a unifying event". Mother Makhlouf has invited all the Lebanese, regardless of their affiliation, to join in the joy of seeing Abouna Yaacoub elevated to the glory of the altar, recalling that the institutions that he created welcome everyone who asks for help, without distinction of religion.  She has also expressed her joy that this spirit of welcome follows the historical vocation of Lebanon, a land of happy coexistence.  Never, she affirms, has such a small country boasted such a rich cultural patrimony.

The superior of the congregation founded by the new blessed then spoke emotionally about him, recalling the incredible energy that he possessed, permitting him to found convents, hospices, schools, and hospitals, the most famous of which is certainly the Hospital of the Cross, in Jal el-Dib, founded in 1930, without forgetting the Saint-Joseph hospital in Dora (1949),  Notre-Dame du Puits (1941), Christ-Roi (1950), the schools in Broumana and Deir el-Kamar.  "The light of the priest must be capable of illuminating the world", she added, recalling that Fr Jacques "planted the cross wherever he went".

During a press conference, a programme of celebrations was presented including Masses, choral concert, and spiritual evenings.  Information about Abouna Yaacoub can be found on the congregation's website, www.congfcl.org, or that of the ceremony, www.abounayaacoub.org.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Sfeir: the Country of the Cedars is on the road to collapse
Maronites have a new blessed, but suffer from divided political leaders
Bishops act to end divisions between Maronite political leaders
Maronite bishops: all Lebanese should support the initiative of the Arab League
Maronite bishops call for new electoral law, Geagea's release


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”