Nearly a year on from a devastating blast that rocked the Lebanese city of Beirut, there is a cause for celebration.
The historic Jesuit-run Church of St Joseph, which was badly damaged in the August 2020 explosion, is due to reopen next month. The Church has been restored with the help of Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
“The supply and installation of the new wood doors will be completed by the end of next week,” Father Salah Aboujaoude SJ told ACN. (Read: Catholics Place Statue of Mary on War-Damaged Church in Iraq)
He also noted that as the painting and electrical works near completion, the installation of the false ceiling is due to start soon.
Last year’s blast killed 200 people and injured thousands more when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate ignited in a docklands warehouse. St Joseph’s Church, which was built in 1875, was among the buildings that were heavily damaged by the explosion.
Farid Hakimé, the engineer overseeing the church’s restoration, said “most of the wooden windows and doors [of the church] were destroyed, the pitched roof was severely affected too.” (Read: Filipinos Reported Dead, Injured After Beirut Explosion in Lebanon)
Other damage included all the original woodwork being torn off by the blast, damage to the false ceiling and lighting fixtures, as well as to the timber structure supporting the pitched roof, which lost most of its tiles.
“You could see many cracks in the ceiling of the church, and many other areas, caused by the blast,” Hakimé said.
According to ACN, St Joseph’s Church supports a number of different communities. It holds Mass in French on Sunday evenings, as well as Sunday morning Masses in English, and in Arabic in the Maronite rite.
With Lebanon’s economy severely impacted by the collapse of the Lebanese pound, the funds for the church repairs, which amount to US$400,000, are more vital than ever. (Read: Caritas Internationalis Launches Appeal for India as Cases Rise)
ACN has continued to support Lebanon’s Christian community with more than US$6 million in aid following the August 2020 dockside blast, including emergency aid and repairs for church buildings in the capital’s historic Christian quarter.