Saint Rafqa's Basilica
Saint Rafqa said to the superior nun in the monastery:
"May the land give you from below and the sky from aboveMay God develop our monastery"The prayer of Saint Rafqa is still being heard until now all over Saint Joseph monastery transformed due to her prayers and sacrifices to a holy big edifice and to a world famous visited place.
The words of Saint Rafqa are a simple translation of the divine providence that guided the steps of the nuns since the establishment of the monastery in 1897 until now.
Rafqa’s basilica will be erected like her.
She is like the lily of Himlaya
Grown as a bud in the land of Jrabta
And will grow thanks to the sky
1. The idea of Saint Rafqa’s basilica
Honoring Saint Rafqa spread out in 10 June 2001 after her declaration as Saint all over the world. Since that time, thousand of visitors started to came to visit her grave for benediction, prayer and intercession.
Before declaring her as saint, the nuns at Saint Joseph monastery insisted on building a big church in her name in order to gather thousands of visitors especially during the important celebrations : Saint Rafqa’s Day, our Lady’s Day, Sundays, occasions and ceremonies, conferences, meetings and spiritual education.
Several difficulties appeared especially concerning location and financing. It was agreed upon that it will be located within the scope of Rafqa’s first grave on the mountain’s versant where Saint Joseph monastery was erected to the south overlooking a small village.
2. Plan of the basilica
Rafqa's basilica is constituted of three floors:
Constituted of a conference hall, films' hall, library, first aid room, reception hall, library for priests, meetings rooms…
The plan of Saint Rafqa’s basilica embodies the Maronite privacy as to churches’ design and Saint Rafqa’s grave.
The Maronite traditions used to make from the churches fortresses embedded in the ground on a mountain or on a hill, on the foot or versant of a mountain and in the deep end of a valley graved in the rock and crowned with trees, plants and water. Saint Rafqa’s basilica was embedded on the versant of Jrabta’s mountain to the south as if it was a natural prolongation of this mountain plunged into the ground as a cave and overlooking the forest as a fortress.
Based on these traditions, the basilica has a rectangular form with a cupola characterized by its simple design and architecture and its high altitude as if it was the guide leading the believers on the bells’ resonance to the basilica for meditation, praying and participation in life’s secrets and holiness delight.
The design of the basilica was inspired by the grave of Saint Rafqa made from marble in the form of a ship and a lamp.
The lamp symbolizes the light seen by Saint Rafqa while she was blind and the lights that filled her eyes to see her sisters and her monastery before her death.
The ship represents her life between the waves of difficulties, pains and sufferance ending with salvation and holiness. Rafqa’s grave surmounting the altar is placed on the glass surrounding the choir in the direction of the East source of light and life.
As to the roof of the basilica, it is also in the form of a lamp and a ship covering the whole area of the basilica. The halls of the fortress seemed to be a fortress starting from the ground and elevating to the interior, large from the lower side and narrow from the upper side to constitute a base to hold the roof.
The basilica is wide enough for two thousand persons.
The roof of the basilica sticks to the level of the ground coming down to the south as if it was a prolongation of the forest surrounding the monastery. The architectures spared no effort to design it in a concave form to constitute an integral part with the monastery embedded between the trees and the plants. The roof appears as a garden overlooking Rafqa’s first grave.
Architecture and design It was carried out by the architects:
Claude ABI SAAD and Joseph KOBRIANOS Design, studies and supervision of architectural works
Georges ABI KHALIL
“The widow’s fils”, the soil transformed into gold by the prayers and the intercession of Lebanon’s saint were the principal source of finance of the construction of Saint Rafqa’s basilica. All believers participated in the costs due to the construction of this basilica: Children, adults, olds, poor and rich persons, ill persons, disabled…
Saint Rafqa asks all persons to participate in the construction of her home to be worthy of her God and her visitors. She is waiting for them opening their hands and their hearts and she will reward them with her prayer, recovery and supplication.
- For your contribution and your participation in building St. Rafqa's Basilica, please refer directly to our address:
St. Joseph's Monastery - Tomb of Saint Rafqa, Jrabta, Batroun, LEBANON.
Tel : 961 6 720 402
+961 9 750 325
Fax : 961 6 720 401
Information office: email@example.com
Mother Superior: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accounting & financial office: email@example.com
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