Beirut - For the first time, Lebanese President Michel Aoun opens the doors of the presidential palace of Baabda to the celebration of the Annunciation, which since 2010 has been proclaimed an Islamic-Christian national holiday in Lebanon. The same Maronite President, together with his wife Nadia Chami Aoun, presided over the solemn meeting hosted on Monday March 26th at the Presidential Palace, which saw the participation of Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, of Bishops of different Churches and Shiite, Sunni and Druse representatives. The meeting saw the participation of Msgr. Ivan Santus, secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Beirut, and members of the Islamic-Christian dialogue organizations - starting from the Ensemble Autour de Marie group - that every year, on the occasion of the Annunciation solemnity, promote meetings and celebrations in various parts of the Country.
During the ceremony - local sources told Agenzia Fides - the story of the Annunciation to Mary in the Gospel of Luke, and the Surah al Imran, which expresses the veneration to Mary in the Koran, the Holy Text of Islam, were read. During the meeting historian Hareth Boustany presented the feast of the Annunciation as a moment of national unity which gathers around the Virgin Mary the different communities of believers, in a Country that wants to present itself to the world as an example of tolerance and inter-religious coexistence. The participants at the meeting also recited a prayer to the Virgin together, invoking her protection for the Country and for the Lebanese people.
In Lebanon the Marian solemnity of the Lord's Annunciation has been proclaimed a national holiday since 2010, when the government was led – and is currently led - by Sunni Saad Hariri, with the declared intention to find in the devotion to Mary - shared also among the Muslims - a point of convergence among the different religious communities, in order to also defuse sectarian tensions that always loom on social coexistence in the country, especially this year in view of the political elections scheduled for next May 6th.
This year, for the Churches that follow the Gregorian calendar, March 25 - the date on which the Solemnity of the Annunciation is traditionally celebrated - coincided with Palm Sunday. For this reason the liturgical celebration of the solemnity of the Annunciation for the year 2018 has been postponed to next April 9th. >>