Editor-In-Chief: Charbel Baini

Ehden Paradise’s book by Rev Fr. Youhanna Makhlouf / Marcelle Mansour



The Historian and writer Rev Fr. Youhanna Makhlouf invites the community members to stick to their roots and to revive the past to be a treasure to the future generations.
Ehden Paradise of Churches and Monasteries, Living Stones is a precious book, launched on May18, 2014 at Our Lady of Lebanon Church Hall, under the patronage of His Grace Bishop Antoine Cahrbel-Tarabay, the Association of Zagharta (YBKBL) Australia and the World Lebanese Cultural Union. 
In1990. Fr Makhlouf embarked on a research about Edhen’s well known people publishing seven books within a series he called Ehden Beacons including Ehden Hermits 2009, Youse Bye Karam, an Icon and a Sacrifice on Nation’s Alter 2013 and he is currently accomplishing his eighth book within this series. Al-Rizzi Patriarchs.
In his current book Ehden Paradise of Churches and Monasteries, Living Stones, the historian author Rev. Fr Youhanna Makhlouf Al Ehdeni has intensively researched in the ancient history to bring up the untold stories of Edhen’s important parts of North Lebanon’s cultural heritage. The purpose of this study is to revive the past. Fr. Makhlouf stated “The European Renaissances started through digging in the past...This is an invitation to stick to our roots.” It is vital indeed to help increase public awareness of the importance of such treasures for understanding our past. History builds the foundation for what we have today and for tomorrow. No doubt there is value in keeping history alive for the benefit of future generations. 
The book is of 232 pages, printed and published by Kareh Printing Press in Zgharta 2014, in English and Arabic; “dedicated to those who built the Churches and Monasteries by efforts of their limbs, the sweat of their brows and the tears of their repentance.” The preface was written by Dr Father Youssef Yammine Al Ehdeni where he sates: “If faith moves the mountain it should also bring stones to life and even make them speak... Ehden is a condensed reflection of history and geography of Lebanon and Maronitism, of Patriarchs, heroes and presidents.” Page 7
An extract in page 225: “These stones that seem to be alive remind us of those who built their faith on the Church cornerstone, the Risen Christ, drawing from him the strength to hold on until the end of the time.”
Ehden is a very old city situated in the middle of the northern slope of Mount Lebanon. It is thought to be a legend, a city of extraordinary wealth of the ancient history which was transformed from Paganism to Christianity. “Ehden is a wonderful work of God’s hands page,” 32. Historian Pomponius wrote in his book De Chorographiain the year of 43BC: “Ehden lies at the foot of a high mountain, known as Qarno-El (Mar Sarkis Mountain today) or ‘Ain al Allah’...The sign indicates ‘place of the cradle’ which means ‘Ehden’,” page 29-30. In the beginning of the 5th century... the first Christian community was founded in Mount Lebanon, which was known later on as ‘the Maronite Community,” page 31.

The book is digging in the treasures of the past history of Ehden. It takes the reader into a journey through history of manuscripts, monasteries and churches. “Ehden you are a blessed city surrounded with a rampart of churches,” page 34.
Viewing the pictures in the book, I found the old natural stones used in the construction and architecture of some of those ancient churches (like St Mamas Church 749, page 49 which was built on the remains of a pagan temple) are similar to the ones used in the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem which I was lucky to visit during my teens. It bestows on pilgrims and visitors the feelings of purity and strength. As Fr Makhlouf mentioned at the book launch that “the stone has the significance of the power of faith.” Not to forget the interior design of the modern churches such as St John the Baptist Church 1950 and the paintings and icons which were written by the worldwide known artist Saliba El Douaihy page181).
This book with its priceless treasures, some centuries of years old, offers a rare opportunity to explore the amazing untold extraordinarily rich culture. It is a privilege to have these treasures of ancient churches and monasteries in Ehden for they have distinguishable archaeological features; they tell the stories of faith, suffering and heroism of many martyrs, worriers, saints and hermits who struggled in saving their Christian religious heritage, despite of various attacks, adversities, oppression and persecutions. The Christians in Ehden were strong in preserving their authentic heritage through the devotion of their Patriarchs, Bishops, Priests and hermits. These stunning precious religious sites are uncovered in this book. It highlights the importance of protecting history and keeping heritage alive for the benefit of future generations with respect and admiration.
Ehden is the original homeland for Zghartians. The Zghartians people of Ehden have contributed to the fields of history, culture, thought, literature, creativity, heritage, patriotism and region in Lebanon.
Moreover Ehden is considered one of the main tourist attractions in Lebanon not only because of it being the cradle of Christianity, but also because of its natural beautiful heritage. It is called (the Bride of summer resorts, and the paradise of Eden.)The place of history and today, the past and present.  
What I found here the book is informative, interesting, rich, inspiring and it’s worth reading! 
Marcelle Mansour 

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