The cave where the Virgin
Mary awaited for Jesus
Our Lady of Mantara is a place of pilgrimage located at the diocese of Saida in Lebanon. According to the tradition, it is a cave where the Virgin Mary awaited for Jesus while he was preaching in Sidon (Saida nowadays); this is the origin of the name Mantara which means waiting.
In fact, Jewish women
were not allowed to enter pagan villages. Gospels witness the coming of
Jesus to Sidon where he cured the daughter of a woman from Canaan.
Since the dawn of Christianity,
the early Christians turned this cave into a place of prayers and pilgrimage.
However, in the 13th century for different political reasons, Christians escaped
from the region and stayed away for about 200 years. Scrubs invaded the cave and
it was completely forgotten.
In the 16th century, by a
stroke of luck the cave was rediscovered.
How the cave was rediscovered
History tells the following story: one day a shepherd was in the
surroundings of the cave keeping his herd sitting under an oak tree, he
was playing the flute, when suddenly he heard the bleating of one of his
kids in pain. He ran in the direction of the squeal and found that a kid
has fallen in a well (itís the opening in the ceiling of the cave above
the altar) he took his knife to clear the area and open a way. He was so
happy to discover a narrow path leading to the deep back of a cave! He got
into the cave by crawling. His anguish turned into happiness when he found
at the back of the cave an icon of the Virgin Mary on an ancient altar. He
then got out rapidly, left his herd and went to break the good news to the
inhabitants of Maghdouche.Crowds hurried to discover this deserted cave long time ago, and to observe the icon of the Virgin. Belles were sound to announce the event and processions were organized in the village. Thatís how the cult was practiced again in this cave.