This area was home for more than one hundred thousand Catholics for three hundred years. But unfortunately, the sad events that occurred in 1985, forced them out of Salhiye and rendered them homeless.
Three hundred years ago, the people of Salhiye bought their land from the church and from some feudal lords. Upon this land they built their homes and planted vineyards and fields of olives, almonds and fig trees. They continued cultivating their land and selling its crops until their financial situation improved, thus, enabling them to build their own parish of St. John the Baptist Church in 1884. This Byzantine style church, was the fruit of their hard labor, having carried the stones of the church on their shoulders. It was an architectural master-piece until its destruction in 1985.
In 1984, in spite of the tragic events that were taking place in Lebanon, Salhiye celebrated the first centenary of its church, thus, proving its faith and its attachment to the land of their ancestors. Unfortunately, in 1985, hardly one year after this celebration, extremist militias invaded the whole area. Salhiye, like many other villages, was totally destroyed, its houses, and church, turned to rubble.
The people of Salhiye never lost hope. As soon as peace was restored and the Lebanese army regained control over the area, they came back. They rebuilt their houses and started fund raising campaigns, and with our help they began a very difficult process: the reconstruction of their historical church.
Today, they celebrated masses and prayers in St. John the Baptist Sanctuary, a little grotto dug in a mountain. Near by this sanctuary was their church three hundred years ago and it will remain a temporary church until the completion of the reconstruction of the new one.
By this letter, we appeal to Catholics & the Catholic associations for help. We need you to complete the reconstruction of the church of Salhiye, a village which is attached strongly to its Catholic faith and the land of the ancestors who were the first Catholics in the area.
In our diocese, four churches were already sponsored by other diocese from all over the world:
The church of the village of Abra was sponsored by the diocese of Strasbourg.
The church of Kefraya was sponsored by the diocese of Paderborn.
The church of Mrah El Bass was sponsored by the diocese of Lausanne. The church of Ain El Mir was sponsored by the diocese of Dallas.