Church of St. Catherine (Beirut, Lebanon)
The Church of St. Catherine is located in Ashrafieh, an eastern district of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. A broad Lebanese Greek Orthodox community resides in this district. St. Catherine's is one of eleven parishes falling under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Beirut and its dependencies.
The church is located on the grounds of the monastery of the same name and is the worship place of both the parish and the monastery which includes also the Zahret El Ihsan school.
Since the foundation, late in the nineteenth century, of Zahret el Ihsan school and St. Catherine's Monastery, a large central hall in the monastery served as a place of worship for the nuns, the students and the orphans that the convent sheltered. The religious offices, with the exception of the Eucharist, took place in this hall. For the Sunday mass and the great feasts, the nuns and the students went on foot to the neighbouring churches: Saint Nicholas and Saint Dimitri. The Akathist of the Theotokos (called Χαιρέτισμα) that was celebrated the first five Fridays of the great Lent and the Matins of the Holy Saturday (Lamentations called Επιτάφιος Θρήνος,) celebrated on Holy Friday evening, attracted a great number of believers who came from different regions of Beirut.
On April 22, 1950, 18 years after the death of the hegumen of the monastery Mother Mary (Geahchan) and 3 years after the death of the principal donor to Zahret el Ihsan Mrs. Emily Sursock, the worship hall was consecrated as the church of the monastery by H.E. Elia (Saliby) Metropolitan of Beirut and its dependencies.
In 1976 and with the beginning of the civil war in Lebanon, the Saint Catherine’s church became parochial when the metropolitan of Beirut H.E. Elia (born Saliby) designated Father Elia (born Issa; 1916 – 2003) as pastor of the church and the new parish, and Mr Elias Geahchan (1910 – 2006) as church’s mandatary.Later on in 1994, Fr Elia Issa was promoted by H.E. the present metropolitan Elias (born Audi), to the archimandrite title, and served the parish until his death. Archimandrite Seraphim (born Bardawil) is the present pastor of the parish, assisted by Fr Stephanos (born Abdelnour).