At least one massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut Tuesday afternoon, which ignited fires and destroyed buildings in the city’s port area, caused damage across the city, and has reportedly flooded hospitals with casualties.
Some local news sources are reporting that at least 10 people are dead, and videos have emerged online showing cars overturned in city streets and buildings with shattered windows and crumbled balconies.
The cause of the explosion is not yet clear, but Christian leaders in Lebanon and around the world have called for prayer, and Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced that Wednesday will be a day of mourning across the country.
Sixty percent of Lebanon’s people are Muslim, evenly split among Sunni and Shia, and nearly 35% of the country’s population is Christian, most of whom are Maronite Catholic Christians. In the wake of the explosion, Christians will likely turn to St. Charbel, Lebanon’s patron saint, who is also revered by many of Lebanon’s Muslims.
Raymond Nader, a Maronite Catholic and a fierce devotee of St. Charbel, told CNA Tuesday he would turn to the saint’s intercession, adding that ”the situation is catastrophic in Beirut. Hundreds of people killed and wounded and buildings destroyed.”
St. Charbel Makhlouf lived from 1828 to 1898, spending much of his life as a monk and hermit. He is known in Lebanon for the miraculous healings of those who visit his tomb to seek his intercession – both Christians and Muslims.
“St. Charbel has no geographic or confessional limits. Nothing is impossible for [his intercession] and when people ask [for something], he answers,” Fr. Louis Matar, coordinator of the Shrine of St. Charbel in Annaya, Lebanon, told CNA in 2018.
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