In Lebanon, 25 March is Annunciation Day, which is a national holiday.
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Even though Lebanon is mostly Muslim, there is a relatively large Christian population there as well. And in recent years, the Annunciation to Mary was made a joint Muslim-Christian holiday, despite the obvious differences of belief between the two religions on who Jesus was and on the status of the Virgin Mary.
Annunciation Day is the day Roman Catholics believe that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she, though being a virgin, would conceive a child, the Lord Jesus Christ. The account is in Luke. The Quran also gives an account of the annunciation to Mary and mentions Mary over 30 times. And the Quran says that Mary was preferred by Allah over all other women in creation.
The centre of Annunciation Day activities in Lebanon is at the Marian shrine in the town of Harissa, just north of Beirut. There, a nearly 1,900-foot tall statute of Mary overlooks the Eastern Mediterranean, from which many catch breathtaking views. Some one million pilgrims come to the shrine every year in March alone.
The Catholic church at Harissa is extremely busy, with 12 masses on Sunday and seven on other days of week, plus hours and hours of confession every day. In fact, the shrine is open 24/7, every day of the year.
Many come to Harissa on or near Annunciation Day to pray and to seek solutions to their problems and to confess their sins. Muslims also visit the shrine to “Maryam”.
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