Thursday , September 21 2017


Saint George Maronite Cathedral – Beirut

Saint George Maronite Cathedral is the cathedral of the  Maronite Archdiocese of the city of Beirut. Its construction, with a Neoclassical facade, interior and plan inspired by the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, began in 1884 and ended in 1894.

The cathedral was heavily damaged during the Lebanese civil war and was plundered and defaced. A number of works of art that were looted have since been recovered, including the famous painting by Delacroix representing Saint George, the patron saint of the cathedral and of the Archdiocese of the city of Beirut. The cathedral was restored after the end of the hostilities and was re-inaugurated by the Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir on April 24, 2000.


The Cathedral of Saint George was built by Monsignor Joseph Debs, the Archbishop of Beirut, on the site of an earlier church that was also dedicated to the same saint. The earlier structure was built in 1755 to serve the Maronites of Beirut. Work began in 1884 using Roman columns from the temple of Deir El Qalaa in Beit Mery. The edifice was completed and consecrated on Palm Sunday in 1894. Built on the plan of a basilica with its nave and two lateral aisles separated by two rows of columns, the cathedral has a façade of neo-classical style. The interior bears a general resemblance to that of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Inspired by the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, Saint George Maronite Cathedral was built between 1884 and 1894, and inaugurated by Bishop Youssef Debs. Prior to this, the Maronite community of Beirut had made use of a small church that stood nearby and dated back to 1753. In 1954, engineer Antoun Tabet undertook restoration works inside the cathedral. Originally planned in the shape of a cross, its transept was shortened and arches added at either end. Badly damaged during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), the cathedral was completely rehabilitated by 1997, recovering its original Renaissance cruciform shape. It was inaugurated in April 2000. Beneath the forecourt of the cathedral’s annex, significant archeological remains have been unearthed and preserved. They include a Hellenistic structure, part of the Roman Decumanus Maximus colonnaded street, and an Ottoman wall.


1884-1894: Construction of the Cathedral, which was inspired by the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

1954: Restoration works inside the cathedral undertaken by Antoun Tabet.

1975-1990: Civil War badly damaged the cathedral.

1997: Post war rehabilitation of the Cathedral led to the recovery of its original Renaissance cruciform shape. Significant archaeological remains were unearthed and preserved.

April 2000: Cathedral inauguration.

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