|Governorate||Mount Lebanon Governorate|
|Highest elevation||700 m (2,300 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||600 m (2,000 ft)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
Harissa (Arabic حريصا) is a mountain village in Lebanon. The village, which is located 650 meters above sea level, is home to an important Lebanese pilgrimage site, Our Lady of Lebanon. The village is located 20 km north of Beirut, and accessible from the coastal city of Jounieh either by road or by a nine-minute journey by a gondola lift, known as the Téléphérique. It attracts both pilgrims and tourists who want to enjoy views of the bay of Jounieh.
Founding of the Shrine
Harissa is about 12 miles from Beirut and at around 2000 feets above sea level. It is a key Christian pilgrimage site with a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Lebanon (Notre Dame du Liban). In 1904, Patriarch Elias Hoyek, on the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, announced the foundation of the building of Our Lady of Lebanon. The shrine belongs to the Maronite Patriarchate who entrusted its administration to the Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries since its foundation in 1904. The original church was built by Sleiman Yakoub Hokayim from Batrun. The mountain is called Harissa (after the village at the peak of the mountain). When it was inaugurated in 1908 the Patriarch dedicated Lebanon to the Virgin Mary: "Oh Mary, Queen of mountains and seas and Queen of our beloved Lebanon….” The Patriarch Hoyek designated the first Sunday in the month of May as the Feast of Our Lady of Lebanon. On this day the Maronite Patriarch and all the Lebanese Bishops celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the open air at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon. It is one of the most important shrines in the world honoring the Virgin Mary. The shrine is highlighted by a huge, 15-ton bronze statue of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of God. It is 8.5 m high, and has a diameter of five meters. The Virgin Mary stretches her hands towards Beirut. The shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon draws millions of faithful both Christians and Muslims from all over the world. The 50th jubilee in 1954 was also the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Immaculate Conception. During these Jubilee celebrations, Pope Pius XII sent his representative, Cardinal Angelo Roncalli to Lebanon, the later Pope John XXIII. Pope John Paul II visited Our Lady of Lebanon in 1997. The Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries, responsible for the administration, works at reinforcing relations among all local Churches, Christian communities and apostolic movements.
Religious significance of the Shrine
The famed pilgrimage site there is a huge 15-ton bronze (and painted white) statue of Virgin Mary, known as Our Lady of Lebanon or Notre Dame du Liban, with her arms outstretched. The statue was made at the end of the 19th century and inaugurated in 1908, on land donated by the noble Maronite Khazen family. Inside the statue's base, there is a small chapel. A huge Brutalist Maronite cathedral built of concrete and glass stands right beside the statue.
Among other churches of various denominations, it is worth mentioning the Byzantine-style, Melkite Greek Catholic basilica of St. Paul, located south of the statue and built between 1948 and 1998. The Apostolic Nunciature (Papal Embassy), as well as the residences of four patriarchs of Eastern Catholic Churches, are in the vicinity of Harissa and Our Lady of Lebanon.
On 10 May 1997, Pope John Paul II visited Harissa.