US: Maronites to Gain Presence at National Marian Shrine

Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn Spearheading Project

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 31, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Construction has begun on a new Maronite Chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, who has spearheaded the project, announced that the Chapel will be named in honor of Our Lady of Lebanon.

"The Maronite Chapel will be a unique, Middle Eastern Catholic presence at the Shrine," the Maronite Eparchy wrote in a press release. "It will also place the Maronite Church in America in the context of the Universal Church for all Shrine visitors, and appropriately recognize the rich tradition and legacy of the Maronite Church and her devotion to Our Lady."

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is the preeminent Marian shrine in the United States, attracting nearly a million visitors a year.

The new chapel was designed by Master Artist Louis R. DiCocco III, the president of St. Jude Liturgical Arts Studio of Havertown, Pennsylvania, who also worked on the Chapel of Our Lady of La Vang in the national shrine.  

The interior of the chapel will reflect the aesthetic of the intimate stone churches of Lebanon. A Syriac Cross will adorn the altar, as it does in many ancient churches in Syria and Lebanon, and a Cedar of Lebanon will sprawl out across the tile floor.

St. Maron and Our Lady of Lebanon flank the entrance to the Chapel. Behind the altar worshippers will see the four evangelists, the Crucifixion scene, and the Virgin and Child, taken from a 6th-century illustrated Book of the Gospels, the Rabboula.  

The dedication for the new chapel is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 23, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary in Washington, D.C. and the 50th priestly ordination anniversary of Chorbishop Seely Beggiani, the seminary's rector.

The new chapel is part of a three-year project undertaken by the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn to financially support seminarians and retired priests, strengthen the missions, and renovate the eparchy's cathedral in Brooklyn.

On May 12, Bishop Gregory Mansour of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, and Chorbishop Michael G. Thomas, the Eparchy's Vicar General and Chancellor, held a benefit dinner in Washington, D.C. with Cardinal Donald Wuerl as the featured speaker.

The Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn consists of 40 parishes and missions located in 16 states along the East Coast, as well as a seminary in Washington, D.C., a monastery for contemplative monks and a convent for religious sisters.

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On the Net: www.stmaron.org