A Lebanese priest gifted Pope Francis with a crucifix made from salvaged wood from the devastating August 2020 Beirut explosion.
Fr. Pierre Najm, the newly appointed head of the Mariamite Maronite Order, gifted the crucifix ahead of Pope Francis’s Lebanon meeting on July 1. It was made by young Lebanese artist Mario Khoury, who said the crucifix serves as a sign of hope for the people of Lebanon.
“I was able, with God’s grace, to design something whole from the remains of destruction— a symbol of strength and faith, of new hope rising from the ashes. [It is] a cross that stands tall against whatever may befall our people,” he wrote on Facebook.
“This cross means many things to me. Offered as a gift to Pope Francis, [it is] a gift that carries a strong message about resilience and perseverance— in the same way Jesus’s Resurrection offered his disciples hope.”
Symbol of Hope
Last year’s blast left Lebanon with 200 people dead, 600 citizens injured, and $4 billion worth of damages. (Read: Filipinos Reported Dead, Injured After Beirut Explosion in Lebanon)
For months, the country has been dealing with financial and political crises, as government leaders failed to implement reforms and address people’s needs.
“The Beirut explosion of the 4th of August took a lot from us, the buildings in the area were turned to rubble and our souls were left shattered, killing our last glimpse of hope for our beloved Lebanon,” Khoury said.
Still, the young artist chooses to trust in Christ and inspire hope among his people through his art. (Read: Pope Francis Leads Prayers for Victims of Lebanon Explosion)
“I hope my message reaches you and I hope you find inspiration wherever you look, even if it’s in the darkest of places,” he said.
Prayers for Lebanon
On July 1, Pope Francis will lead a day of prayer for Lebanon from the Vatican. He said the purpose of the event is to encourage everyone to “pray together for the gift of peace and stability.”
Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, the apostolic nuncio to Lebanon, confirmed that all leaders of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christian communities in Lebanon have been invited to the prayer meeting.