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Spiritual Spaces

The notion of a “blessed” location requires the divine. Manoug trained his lens on churches and steeples, monks bathed in sunlight treading on ancient monastery footpaths, mosques and Islamic architecture. The result was the creation of an image of an intricate mosaic, rich and variegated in color, yet unified as a whole: a deeply spiritual place, stretching both horizontally and vertically across the temporal and geographic axes of generations, cultures, faiths and geography. The journalist John Cooley, saw a place in which “every village, every patch, every bend in the road housed another family, another clan, another way of looking at the world."

Ernest Renan, philologist, archeologist, historian of Christianity and professor, spent a year in the seaside village of Amchit north of Byblos with his wife and sister, Henriette (who died during their stay and is buried in a family plot in Amchit that was provided to Renan by his rich host). Renan writes:

“ The cults in Mount Lebanon are as old as the world, and over the years have gone through several metamorphoses, borrowing elements from different sources… A temple crowned the top of every mountain […] The Lebanon made a powerful impression on the imagination. These mountains, a rare feature in these regions, are both majestic and benevolent: they are cheerful, blooming and perfumed Alps. […] The location of these temples is always extremely beautiful, the landscapes of Lebanon being particularly enchanting when seen from above. A centuries old carob tree, woods, often of oak, and some oleanders shade these ruins.[…] Chapels here are often more interesting than churches. Saint George and Saint Elias, their usual patrons, and the Prophet Jonas whose name one finds often on the coast, have in all likelihood taken the place of older [practices]. […] Often these cults—especially those pertaining to saints George and Jonas—are common to both Christians and Moslems. Nowhere more than in this country could anyone say that here, humanity eternally prays in the same spots.

 (Translated by A. Feghali Gorton)