The Social Committee of the Romaïan Cultural Society, headed by Mr. Nicolas Mokbel, organized a cultural and recreational trip to the most important archaeological, historical and religious sites located in South Lebanon. The trip took place on October 8, 2016, and about 80 members of the Romaïan Cultural Society and some of their friends participated in it. Two modern, large and air-conditioned buses transported the group to their destinations, and stopped first for breakfast at Canaan’s Rest house at the northern entrance of the city of Sidon.
The trip included successively a visit to the town of Maghdouché, located east of Sidon, to the rich city of Tyre, which is full of ancient ruins, and to the town of Qana, which, some believe, is the place where Jesus Christ performed his first miracle. The visitors had lunch at the luxurious “Rêve de la Mer” restaurant in the town of Naqoura, on the southern border of Lebanon. In the first phase of the trip, the group visited the town of Maghdouché, which is part of the Romaïan Catholic Diocese of Sidon. They moved between its spacious new church and the cave in which it is believed that the Theotokos Mary waited for her son when he was touring the coast of Sidon and Tyre. In this cave, resides an ancient Romaïan icon that was discovered by chance in the eighteenth century, and that dates back to hundreds of years ago. The pastor caring of the shrine, Archimandrite Samir (Nohra), met the participants in the trip, explaining to them the history of this ancient religious site. The visitors had the opportunity to watch the Sidonian Lebanese coast extending under Maghdouché, from the heights of the new tower, topped by a statue of the Theotokos.
The most important phase of the trip was the visit of the ancient city of Tyre, the coastal capital of Phoenicia in the Romaïan era. The delegation toured at length in many archaeological places, including the ancient Roman and Romaïan cemeteries, the famous triumph arch that leads to the ancient hippodrome, the ancient baths and the remains of the famous cathedral, which was, since the fourth century, the greatest church of Paralia (Coastal) Phoenicia and which witnessed the convening of historical church councils. After touring the old streets of Tyre, and visiting the current harbor crowded with fishermen, the delegation visited St. Thomas Cathedral of the Romaïan Catholic diocese of Tyre, and the Romaïan Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas. Next to the cathedral, the visitors rested in the premises of the Romaïan Catholic diocese and met with the bishop, K.K. Michael ( Al Abras).
After a rest and a delicious lunch in one of the Naqoura restaurants overlooking the Mediterranean coast, the touring group continued its journey and visited the small town of Qana, where had been found an ancient cave and several sculptures on the rocks of the trail leading to it. Qana is located on one of the hills overlooking the city of Tyre. Some believe that it is the site of the wedding of Cana mentioned in the Gospels and where Christ performed his first miracle by turning water into wine.
This trip was indeed an opportunity to explore some of the distinctive Romaïan Christian religious sites in Southern Lebanon and to discover the great role played by Tyre, the ancient capital of Phoenicia, which contains multiple Phoenician, Roman, Romaïan and Crusader antiquities.
The Social Committee noted a progressive increase of the number of participants in its recreational activities, trip after trip.