By Father Youhanna Sader, O.A.M.
By Guita G. Hourani
In 1997, the book entitled Painted Churches and Rock-Cut Chapels of Lebanon was published in English to record and preserve in photographs the sacred art still existing in churches in Lebanon. The book is a fully illustrated compendium of major frescoes and murals from ancient Christianity in Lebanon. There are over 170 photographs of paintings, mosaics and architectural plans of the photographed sites.
This book clearly shows Lebanon's place in the history of salvation. Much of its role had already been chronicled in the sacred text of the Old and New Testaments and later in paintings adorning churches and chapels and the sanctuaries and chambers carved from rock by the pious anchorites and hermits in the northern part of the country.
These paintings are mostly frescoes and murals which, besides our Lord, depict the sanctified personages of the Old and New Testaments, like Abraham and Moses, then Mary, John the Baptist, the Apostles, and other Saints as well as the Fathers of the Church and Bishops.
The majority of these frescoes date back to the tenth, twelfth and thirteenth centuries and are to be found in small churches and in the chapels and shrines rock-carved by hand from the early inaccessible, perpendicular face of a mountain. What has survived is simply magnificent, although damaged by man and nature.
In its 295 pages, the hard-cover book includes descriptions of buildings, mosaics, temple-churches, and painted churches; and also contains indexes, bibliography, glossary, and architectural plans of the most important painted sites. The book includes several of the author's paintings inspired by the frescoes and murals.
Father Youhanna Sader of the Antonine Maronite Order, who holds a Doctorate in Theology from the University of St. Anselme in Rome and a Doctorate in Archeology and History of Art from the University of Louvain, is the author. The photographers were Father L. Rohban and Mr. Adolf Uhlemann.
The author has published several other books including: (italics) Peintures murales dans les églises Maronites medievales, Dar Sader, Beirut, 1987; and Croix et symboles dans l'art Maronite Antique, Dar Sader, Beirut, 1989.
Through the pages of this book, you step back into ancient Christian history in Lebanon and from there into ancient Antioch and Byzantium to savor both the faith of earlier believers and the genius reflected in their religious art.
For those who have not visited Lebanon or wonder at the news that there are Christians in Lebanon, this book will add to their wonder by showing them ancient churches and a living Bible here in the forgotten land of early Christianity, Lebanon.
This book documents and preserves for future generations the magnificient religious art of the East.
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