In a Lebanon shaken by a devastating economic crisis and yet another paralysis of the political system, on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord Christians and Muslims are once again invoking the Virgin Mary together, to ask that the Mother of Jesus help the Lebanese people heal from their wounds and safeguard national social and religious coexistence.
In Lebanon, the Marian solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord has been proclaimed a national holiday since 2010. Today, Saturday, March 25, a public event organized to celebrate the feast will be held from 4 to 6 pm at the Maronite Archdiocese of Antélias, in Kornet Chehwan. The prayer and sharing meeting, organized with the collaboration of the Focolare Movement, will be attended by Christians and Muslims, and will be sponsored by Antoine Farès Bounajem, Maronite Archbishop of Antelias.
In Lebanon, today’s Marian solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord has been proclaimed a national holiday since 2010. In the years preceding the pandemic, there was a proliferation of initiatives in which Christians and Muslims shared acts of veneration towards the Virgin Mary, on the occasion of this feast. Now, after the 2020 suspension due to Covid, Christian and Muslim Lebanese continue to ask Mary’s help together in the face of the emergencies and old and new pitfalls that besiege the country. Sunni Sheikh Mohamad Nokkari, professor of Islamic law in Beirut, Dubai and Strasbourg, told Fides about the path that in Lebanon has led Christians and Muslims to value the shared veneration of Mary as a factor of social and national cohesion (see Fides, 25/3/2020). The choice of date to have Christians and Muslims celebrate Mary fell on the feast of the Annunciation, also because the Annunciation of the Angel to Mary is narrated both in the Gospel and in the Koran. Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Koran 34 times (while Mary’s name appears in the Gospels 19 times). The first Islamic-Christian celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation was hosted in the Lebanese sanctuary of Our Lady of Jamhour, in 2007.
Political leaders were impressed by the initiative, and in 2010 Prime Minister Saad Hariri, proclaimed March 25 a national holiday, the day on which the Annunciation is celebrated.