The holy valley of Lebanon, Wadi Qadisha, has housed Christian monastic communities for many centuries.
A destination where people seek peace, the holy valley is the home of the 83-year-old Maronite monk from Colombia. Qadisha Valley is an attractive tourist destination.
In fact, it is one of the 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Lebanon. However, it is also a place where Maronite hermits decided to reside in order to distance themselves from people and be closer to God.
Colombian hermit in the holy valley
Father Dario Escobar has been living in Our Lady of Hawqa Monastery for 17 years.
Back in Miami, he heard from a Maronite priest about the history of the Qadisha Valley that has always been a place of refuge and serenity for Christians. So, he decided to come to Lebanon and be a hermit.
In fact, he waited for ten years to get the blessing of superiors at the Monastery of Saint Anthony of Qozhaya to take up this life.
Our Lady of Hawqa Monastery has been founded in the late 13th century. It is located at the base of a cave.
Archaeologists have found Medieval pottery and arrows in there. Other findings suggest that this cave has been used since the Paleolithic and Roman times.
Later, early Christian communities, the Maronites being the dominant Christian group in the valley, found shelter in the valley where they took refuge from religious prosecution.
The life of Father Escobar is simple. He is vegetarian, and he cultivates vegetables from his garden. Also, he prays for 13 hours a day. He dedicates 3 hours to work, two hours to study, and five hours to sleep.
The sanctuary receives a lot of visitors during the summer who are curious to meet the hermit that came all the way from Colombia. They also come to light candles, pray, and ask for the blessing of Father Escobar.
Ever since the Lebanon Mountain Trail has been created, people from all regions of Lebanon have been visiting the Hermitage to meet the monk who has found a connection with God in the beautiful valley of Lebanon.