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Eid Mar Elian 2001

Every September 9th the feast day of Mar Elian ("Eid Mar Elian") is celebrated at Dayr Mar Elian. As the saint is venerated as both a Christian saint (Mar Elian) and a Muslim Sheikh or holy man (Sheikh Ahmed Khoury - Sheikh Ahmed the Priest) several thousand people from Qaryatayn and the neighbouring villages attend the mass held in the cloister. This is presided over by the local Syrian Catholic Metropolitan and the Sheikh of Qaryatayn. These pictures start by showing the preparations for the event the day before the pilgrims arrive, before showing the events of the day itself. Msgr. Georges Kassab and Sheikh Assad are shown addressing the crowds attended by assorted Christian clerics, including Fr. Jacques Mourad, Prior of Mar Elian and Fr. Paolo Dall'Oglio, the Abbot of Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi. On this occasion a small display was constructed in the church to explain about the forthcoming archaeological excavations and to educate local people about the processes of archaeology so that they were happy that the project would not impact on their worship at the tomb of Mar Elian.

Type: Ethnographic information/Social History
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Gathering information on local history

Over the duration of the project efforts were made to talk to local people to collect their memories of the monastery. The older inhabitants of Qaryatayn could remember the small mud brick shrine that stood over the sarcophagus until the modern church was built on the site in 1938. The eastern range of the cloister had also had a range of mud brick rooms until the 1980s, when termite damage caused them to collapse leaving only the south east tower and one other chamber still standing. Until this collapse the monastery was inhabited by Bayt Habib, a Christian Bedu clan. Members of this family, especially the family patriarch Abu Nasif, were amongst the most knowledgeable of the local informants.

Type: Ethnographic information/Social History
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Visits of Cardinal Musa Daoud to Dayr Mar Elian

Cardinal Musa Daoud was formerly Syrian Catholic Metropolitan of Homs before being elevated to the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate in 1998. However he swiftly resigned the Patriarchate after being named Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in November 2000, a post that he held until 2007. As a native of Meskaneh in Homs province, the Cardinal had a special devotion to the shrine of Mar Elian and visited it annually to celebrate a mass at the site. Here two such visits in 2001 and 2003 represented in these photographs.

Type: Ethnographic information/Social History
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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