How hundreds of Israeli Christians are making pilgrimages to Lebanon

Lebanon and Israel do not have diplomatic relations since they are enemy states. However, many Israeli Christians have made pilgrimages to Lebanon in the past 100 years. The trips, which are organized by the Galilee’s Christian clergymen in Israel, last for a week. People from all ages visit Lebanon to pray and visit holy sites. The people who would like to take part in this trip register their names in the church. Then, the Palestinian authorities issue passports to the visitors. These passports are valid for one visit. The pilgrims go from Israel to Jordan, and then they fly to Beirut. The trip is organized in a way that leaves little time for participants for themselves. They have about two to three hours to spend in malls. The instructions are clear: visitors should follow the schedule and not go anywhere without the guide’s knowledge.

The visited sites

The last religious trip included visits to the most renowned holy sites in Lebanon such as Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa, Saint Maroun monastery in Annaya, Saint Charbel Church in Annaya, and the shrine of Saint Charbel in Faraya. The participants also visited Beirut, Maghdoucheh, Zahle, Baalbek, and Mount Lebanon. One of the visitors got excited about the visit to the Church of Saint Charbel since she hears a lot about the miracles that happen there. The trip costs 1,800$. The price covers everything including the stay in Jordan. There is an agreement between Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian authorities, and Israel. The pilgrims leave and return to Israel with their Israeli passports, while they use their Palestinian passports in Jordan and Lebanon. In fact, the Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al Rai accompanied the Pope to Israel where he visited many Christian communities. In his discussion with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Al Rai suggested a plan to help Israeli pilgrims to visit Lebanese holy sites.

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