Historical overview of Baalbek - Deir El Ahmar Maronite Eparchy
Christians were present in the city of Baalbek, since the dawn of Christianity. The evidence of their presence dates back to the late first century i.e. 96 where the first bishop resided. History tells us that the Emperor Constantine stopped the worship of idolatry in the city in 330 and ordered to build a large church (width of 36 m and length of 63 m) to atone for sins that were committed in its temples, till the year 1933 when the decision was made to allow the archaeological excavations to remove the remains of the church and bring the stadium to the view. The limestone threshold remains in situ between the temples.

According to the history, the Bishop of Baalbek who was often called the Patriarch showed up in councils and large gatherings of Antioch in particular. He was committed to their decisions and was playing an active role in the history of the region and the church.

Despite the Islamic conquest in the year 636 AD, the Christian presence in the city survived and still active nowadays.

As for the presence of the Maronite, the region was known since the establishment of the Maronite Church for its special presence. Saint Maron Apostles passed through the region to preach in Jebet El Mnaytra and Jebet Becharri, and they settled down at St Maron monastery on the Orontes.  With the beginning of the organization of the Maronite Church and before the Lebanese Synod of 1736, the Eparchy of Baalbek; one of the oldest Maronite eparchies according to the existing order, was founded in 1671. It comprised along with the Baalbek region a large part of Kesserouan region. The Holy See was in Aramoun town neighboring Ghazir town.  

In 1977, the Maronite Eparchy of Zahle was founded and included Baalbek region. Baalbeck Eparchy was limited to Kesserouan and Deir El Ahmar region remained a part of the Patriarchal diocese, under the auspices of the Patriarchal Vicar in Bkirki and Diman.

Following the Council of Bishops, held between the 4th and 9th of June 1990, the current Eparchy was built and called "The Maronite Eparchy of Baalbek - Deir El Ahmar". It comprises the entire area of ​​the northern Bekaa, consisting of Baalbek and Hermel districts.

Coinciding with the decision of the establishment of this Eparchy in 1990, the Synod of Bishops elected the Archbishop Philip Chubaiah, who was ordained in Diman, on Sunday the 5th of August 1990. He started his ministry on Friday, the tenth of August 1990 and passed away on October 8, 2002, after he resigned in 1995 under the legal age.

During the Synod of Bishops, held between the 5th and 10th of June, 1995, the Archbishop Paul Monajed El Hashem was elected as his successor. Ordained on Sunday the 13th of September, 1995, he began his ministry on September 16, 1995 and designated Father Hanna Rahme as Vicar General on October 1, 1999.

On September 24, 2005, the Archbishop Monajed El Hashem was appointed by the Pope, as a Papal Ambassador to Kuwait and the Persian Gulf and an apostolic visitor to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Hence, the Archbishop Mansour Hobeika was appointed as a Patriarchal Vicar for the diocese until the election of Archbishop Simon Atallah by the Council of Bishops, held between the 19th and 24th of September 2005. Ordained on February 11, he started his ministry the next day on February 12, 2006 and he’s still in charge of the diocese at the present time.

The Eparchy covers 27 % of the area of Lebanon i.e. 2846 km2; extended to ​​Baalbek and Hermel; bounded by the Lebanese-Syrian border to the east and north, the high mountains of Lebanon to the west, and the borders of Zahle district or Zahle Eparchy to the south.

 The Eparchy encompasses 51 churches and ecclesiastical sites in 36 villages and places, distributed on 30 legal parishes. It comprises as well 12 priests’ houses and 17 church halls for parishioners.

Given the importance of the Christian presence in the region, which started with the beginning of Christianity, and due to strong immigration and displacement suffered by people of the region, Christian presence is shrinking little by little to generate imbalance and loss of the ability to accomplish the mission. Hence, it is time to raise the voice and work on developing an action plan to promote and maintain all fields.

 Our concern today is to shed the light on the ancient history of the Christian presence in the region and encourage youth to come back home and live together, Muslims and Christians. Such valuable role based on history, filled with lessons and even martyrdom and such existence in a Nation that overwhelms its sons’ life with abundant blessings, either through investing in groundwater extraction or building educational and financial institutions and hospitals, are appreciated as they strengthen the role of each and everyone to accomplish his own mission in the country.
Article:Article: Historical overview of Baalbek - Deir El Ahmar Maronite Eparchy:Diocese
المصدر Baalbek - Deir El Ahmar Maronite Eparchy - Father Hanna Rahme - Vicar General
الفئة Deir El Ahmar Region - Religious
الضيعة Deir El Ahmar
التاريخ 2011-04-06