In the presence of His Excellency Minister of Education and Higher Education MP Marwan Hmadeh and His Eminence Bishop Maroun Ammar, Maronite Archdiocese of Sidon, Notre Dame University- Louaize (NDU) and Director of NDU Shouf Campus Fr. Naji Khalil organized the book-signing of "Volume XIV - The Virgin Mary in Lebanon - Shouf District" authored by Jean Sadaka on October 24, 2018.
The book-signing was held in the presence of notable political, education, and diplomatic, figures; as well as administrators, faculty, staff, and students.
Director of the Office of Publications at NDU Georges Mghames welcomed the audience and gave an overview of the event in which he emphasized unity and coexistence. He said, “In publishing Volume XIV of The Virgin Mary in Lebanon NDU seeks, by delving into the intricately-woven Shouf district, alongside the people of the Mount, to make headway in their mission; a mission that guarantees the persistence of a free, sovereign, and independent Lebanon.”
NDU Shouf Director Fr. Naji Khalil briefly covered the construction history of the Church of Our Lady of the Hill. “Between Our Lady of Louaize in Zouk Mosbeh and Our Lady of the Hill in Deir el Qamar lies a heartfelt mission. One that was initiated in the Shouf Mount in 1750 A.D. In the mid-eighteenth century, the Mariamite Order established the first democratic school in Lebanon and the East. Standing in proximity to the church, this school taught the children of emirs and peasants alike from both the Druze and Christian communities.”
For his part, Jean Sadaka tackled Volume Fourteen of the series, which includes a comprehensive mapping of the Shouf Mount, with particular emphasis on the shrines dedicated to Virgin Mary of all Christian communities. The book describes the history, icons, altarpieces, and frescoes, which the churches house. It also treasures rare and valuable documents, manuscripts, and archives compiled in an elegant colored printing.
The book was translated into English to reach a wider audience. Sadaka finally praised the efforts of a team, inside and outside the University that ensured the editing, translation, photography, production, and printing of the book under the supervision of NDU President Fr. Pierre Najem.
For his part, his excellence Bishop Maroun Ammar centered his speech on Our Lady, “When we speak of the Virgin Mary in Lebanon, we speak of the sanctity of Christians that withstood the test of time and still holds the purity aspired by every believer.”
His excellence Minister of Education and Higher Education MP Marwan Hamadeh seized the opportunity to talk about his spiritual relationship with the Virgin Mary, who never left a reform or reconciliation unattended. MP Hamadeh also stressed that the establishment of the Shouf Church in Deir el-Qamar was no coincidence in 2001, known as the year of return. In closing, he congratulated NDU on this beautiful compendium, particularly the fourteenth volume that highlights the importance of Shouf in Lebanese society and history.
In conclusion, Fr. Naji Khalil and Georges Mghames presented MP Marwan Hamadeh, his excellence Bishop Maroun Ammar, and Jean Sadaka with shields of appreciation.