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The Bell-Tower of Saïdet El Talle Church
The Bell-Tower of Saïdet El Talle


The Church of Saïdet El Talle which means Our Lady of the Hill. Built in the fifth century by the Monk Nicolas Smisaati over the ruins of an old Phoenician temple dedicated to the goddess Astarte, the Church was destroyed by an earthquake in 859 then reconstructed by the Order of the Templars during the Crusaders occupation of the region. It was again destroyed by the Saracens and rebuilt once more during the reign of Fakhreddine 1st Maan (1518-1544). In 1673, Sheikh Abu Fares Karam of Ehden, Emir Ahmed Maan’s secretary, and his brother Sheikh Abu Nader enlarged the church by building a solid main structure and vault. Later under the reign of Bechir II Chehab (1789-1840), more work was carried out to enlarge and restore the edifice leaving it very much as it appears today.


The Saïdet El Talle Square dominated by the Majestic Statue of Our Lady. (1983)
The Saïdet El Talle Square
dominated by the Majestic Statue
of Our Lady. (Photo.1983)


The church is today included within a Maronite Bishopric. Its massive nave is twenty-six meters long. Before it was last renovated in the 1990’s, a cordon ran all the way around the interior walls of the church because popular belief was that this “belt of Our Lady” would protect the worshipers from all scourges, danger, war and illness.


The Interior of Saïdet El Talle showing the "Belt of Our Lady". (1983)
The Interior of Saïdet El Talle
(Photo.1983)


Saïdet El Talle is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The image of the Virgin is seen in many spots throughout the church. One in particular hangs over the altar and is a copy of a painting which was vandalized in 1860. A local artist inspired by "The Virgin of Saint Luke" venerated in Sainte Marie Majeur in Rome painted it. The Virgin shown wearing a blue cloak and red dress stands holding the infant Jesus in her arms. He wears a pink tunic, one hand resting on a large book and with the other gives a blessing. Beneath their crowns of golden feathers their features are rather gross and unattractive.


The Bell-Tower of Saïdet El Talle
The Bell-Tower of Saïdet El Talle
seen through the western vault of the Seraglio


As you leave the church, notice in the courtyard that the ancient doorway has been inserted within the wall. It is topped by a Byzantian stone carved beam showing a cross over an inverted crescent which envelops a rosette (depicting the sun). According to Prof. F.E. Boustany, in the ancient liturgy the sun symbolized the Virgin.


Saïdet El Talle Church
The Interior of Saïdet El Talle


In the maze of DeirElQamar's narrow streets and old houses a small stairway leads to the church of Saïdet El Talle or Our Lady of the Hill.

Just a few steps from a Maronite monastery, tradition holds that the church goes back to 451 when it was built on the site of a Phoenician temple dedicated to Astrate.

Enlarged, restored and rebuilt over the centuries, today it bears the marks of both natural upheavals and human conflict.

Saïdet El Talle is consecrated to the miraculous Virgin and is one of the most popular places of pilgrimage in Lebanon.

The first Sunday of August is ostentatiously celebrated in this church, surrounded by the buildings of the monastery.

MINISTRY OF TOURISM IN LEBANON

 


The Bell-Tower of Saïdet El Talle

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