The church is dedicated to Mar Charbel the Elder who is said to have lived in Edessa in the 2nd century and is said to be a pagan converted to Christianity. Having become a Priest, he and his sister Bebaia are said to have been martyred under Trajan. It is celebrated every 5 September.
The site, located on the heights of the Byblos region itself, offers stunning views to the north of the town of Batroun.
The Church of Maad
The church has remains that date back to various historical stages extending beyond the Roman period.
These steps are intertwined and intertwined in such a way that the reuse of the same elements has been practiced systematically. A Byzantine church would have existed here on the site of a Roman temple which, perhaps, would have replaced an older Phoenician temple.
Finally, the Church as it stands today would be a construction dating back to the time of the Crusaders. It was partly disfigured during the Ottoman period in 1615.
Similarly, changes were carried out in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The architecture is presented under a basilica plan or 2 rows of columns supporting archs in full hanger divide the interior space into 3 naves. Limestone columns are like capitals and part of the original ancient paving.
Medieval frescoes, a treasure of this recently rediscovered church
The central nave ends to the east with an apse with frescoes.
The church is preceded to the west by a kind of Narthex where the porch whose floor is higher than the rest of the church and where are currently arranged the various elements found during the excavations of 1947 and the early 1970s.
It was through these excavations that these frescoes were rediscovered.
On the collateral side, 2 narrow doors lead to ancillary rooms. Here we see the rest of the wall and the threshold of the ancient temple. The south room retains more than one layer of frescoes.
These, in strictly local style, represent a row of 7 saints, on either side of a bishop carrying a tiara on his head, blessing with one hand and carrying the book with the other, stand the apostles Peter and Paul accompanied by 4 evangelists.
These paintings form a precise iconographic program, with the Dormition of the Virgin on the southern wall, the figures of saints and martyrs comparing in their quality and intercessors in the presence of the Archangel Michael, weigher of souls on the day of the Last Judgment on the north wall.
All these scenes bear witness to a funeral symbolism. Donor figures (4 at least) claim that this place actually served as an ex-voto for these people for the salvation of their souls.
A grave of a lady is also present outside on the left side of the building. It is believed to be a woman from a noble family who died during the Crusades.
Finally, the artistic language with the oriental type of faces, the frontality of the poses, the rigidity of expression and the linearity brings these images back to the middle and the second half of the 13th century.
See the Photo Gallery
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