Accepted Paper:

The Virgin Mary in Lebanon: a shared worship  
Emma Aubin-Boltanski (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris)

Paper short abstract:

This paper describes and analyses the encounters between Christian and Muslim worshippers that take place around a Virgin Mary statue in Lebanon. A Jesuit brought this statue here at the beginning of the 20th century. Since then, it has been held in veneration, especially among Maronites and Shiites.

Paper long abstract:

In Lebanon, a small Maronite village (Bichû'ât) located in the North of the Bekaa area is the center of a pilgrimage that is gathering Christian and Muslim worshippers. A Virgin Mary' statue attracts pilgrims coming from the entire Lebanese territory, as well as from the neighbouring countries (Jordan and Syria). This statue is a representation of the Virgin who appeared in 1871 in Pontmain, a village of the west of France. A French Jesuit brought it at the beginning of the 20th century, a time where the catholic missionaries were exporting in great numbers holy images toward the countries of the Orient.

I will analyse the forms of the encounters of worshippers from different religions. These encounters take place in a context, Lebanon, where the relations between religious communities, since the civil war (1975-1990) are marked by the suspicion and the prejudice toward the "confessionnaly Other". Also, they take place around and thank to the mediation of a figure of great importance for both religions (Christianity and Islam): the Virgin Mary.

Panel W031
New perspectives on 'European' Christianity