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Our Lady of Mantara, Maghdouché, Sidon, South Governorate, Lebanon

Commemorated on September 8, June 11
Our Lady of Mantara, Maghdouché, Sidon, South Governorate, Lebanon
While Jesus preached in Sidon, Mary is said to have waited here in the cave of Mantara ("awaiting" in Arabic). Emperor Constantine's wife Helena replaced Astarte's shrine here with one to the Holy Mother, donating to it an icon and altar furnishings. Three centuries later, after takeover by an intolerant Arab ruler, Christians sealed up the cave and fled Maghdouché. In 1683, descendants of the exiles returned to their homeland under the inclusive Prince Fakhreddin II. On September 8, 1721, when a goat fell through a gap in the porous limestone, its young herder made a rope from vine twigs, tied it to a tree, and followed the animal into the hole, but the rope broke. The boy fell into the darkness, where eventually he made out the golden glimmer of an icon of the Madonna and Child. On seeing the image, the Melkite Catholic clergy recognized it as St. Helen's icon. Christians now celebrate its rediscovery annually on September 8, Feast of the Virgin's Birth. A cathedral was added to the site in 1860 and a modern tower topped with a bronze statue in the 1960s. On June 11, 1911, some 400 people saw a silent, luminous apparition of the Madonna and Child near the cave. Our Lady of Mantara is invoked for the healing of eye diseases and the protection of children, so the shrine is a popular site for infant baptisms. (Information from Picture from   




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