An image of the Holy Family inside St Joseph Church in Lebanon (photo courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need UK)
Christians in Beirut are hoping to see the Jesuit-run Church of St Joseph reopen next month, almost two years after the devastating explosion that rocked the Lebanese capital in August 2020.
Engineer Farid Hakimé, who is overseeing repairs to the Church, described the damage: “Due to the explosion which occurred on the 4th August 2020, Saint Joseph’s Church was severely damaged. Most of the wooden windows and doors were destroyed, the pitched roof was severely affected too.” All the stained-glass windows and wooden doors have had to be replaced.
The explosion also destroyed original woodwork, and damaged the timber supports for the pitched roof, which lost most of its tiles. “You could see many cracks in the ceiling of the church,” said Hakimé, “and many other areas, caused by the blast.” The electrical wiring, much of it decades old, also needed replacing.
Fortunately, despite the devastation, the Church of St Joseph – now almost 150 years old – remained structurally sound. A press release from Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, which has supported the rebuilding project with aid of more than £280,000, says painting and electrical work are almost complete, and installation of a new false ceiling is expected to begin next week.
Following the 2020 explosion, ACN has supported Lebanese Christians with more than £4.5 million in aid, including emergency aid as well as repairs for church buildings in Beirut’s historic Christian quarter.
The Church of St Joseph serves various communities, offering Mass in English and French, as well as a Divine Liturgy in the Maronite rite each week.