Serhel,a Northern town of natural beauty, sanctitude

Thu 31 Jan 2013 at 06:39 Know Lebanon

Written by Farid Abou Francis

Translated by Lynn Waked

Serhel is a small village on the edge of the Kadisha valley in northern Lebanon and the separation point between Zghorta and Koura districts.
It is the sole entrance to Zghorta towns and Koura villages.

Serhel, this serene village, rests on the shoulders of the Sacred Valley and is enveloped by the Mountain leading to Zghorta.

The town's architecture combines both ancient and modern aspects.

The town is typical for what it encloses of marvelous natural sights as well as fresh and clean air.

Serhel has become a tourism spot due to a humble and devoted servant of the church: Father Youssef Abi Maroun. He was appointed to Serhel's parish in 1899. In his life, he worked the land alongside villagers who, until now, are still telling stories of his many charitable works and secret donations, recounted throughout the region.

Father Maroun died in 1929, and under the Church of the town lays his final resting place, as indicated by the marble plate overheating the entrance of the Cabella which was constructed to preserve the priest's body.

Eleven years after his death, villagers were stunned to discover him still sitting, as he was buried, in his parish chair, a skeleton fully clad in his priestly robes. He was removed to a small mausoleum specially built next to the historic church of St Michael's.

Tourist buses regularly stop in Serhel en route for the Cedars, to allow foreign and Lebanese visitors to witness the phenomenon.

Father Yousef was deeply revered by his congregation and called 'Saint' because his prayers for them continued to be answered even after his death.

Today, many people claimed to have been cured from terminal illness and acute physical or mental complaints through his intercession.

Turning to municipalities, Serhel's municipal council is comprised of nine members and it is headed by Youssef Albert Abou Elias.

The council has so far achieved major accomplishments in cooperation with Zghorta Municipalities' Union and Tony Sleiman Franjiyeh.

"We have constructed a road, in cooperation with Tony Sleiman Franjiyeh, to the core of the valley so as to enable residents to arrive to their lands," Municipality head said.

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