Jaffa PDF Print E-mail

The Maronites seem to have first appeared in Jaffa 1099, accompanying the arrival of the Crusaders from Lebanon (Azar manuscript). Their lasting stability began under the Ottomans towards 1559, but only as individuals, then later in an organized manner during the late eighteenth century, with the arrival of many Lebanese families (from Bkassine, Saida, Gebail, Bekfaya and other towns). But when it came to religious needs, they talked to Latin priests, since they had neither a church nor a monastery of their own. This would last until 1855, when two monks from the Maronite Lebanese Order - Father Abdel Ahad Matta and Father Libaos Karam - founded a monastery and a church in the old town of Jaffa near the harbor.

In 1895, thanks to Mrs. Berna's generosity, Father Antonios Shbeir Ghostaoui built a church and a new monastery on an area of 1,600 square meters, which is still the spiritual center of the community. Later on, between 1901 and 1920, the church was demolished and replaced by a bigger and more attractive one, the first stone of which was laid during a grand ceremony on February 28, 1904. That church is still standing today. The Maronite Lebanese Order also owns an estate at Jaffa administered by a monk delegated for this purpose. The Maronite community in the city prospered and by the beginning of the twentieth century consisted of some 600 people, which increased to 800 by 1948 (for example, the families of Tyan, Barakat, Hajj, Akiki, Maadi, Hannouche, Jebji and others). Many had important positions in the administration. After the war of 1948, however, most of them emigrated either to Lebanon or abroad. About sixty of these people remain here to this day.