BSHARRI, Lebanon: Special prayers were held Wednesday for a Czech tourist who was found dead in the Qadisha Valley Tuesday.
The Qannoubin League for Message and Heritage organized a procession and vigil in the valley. Grievers laid a wreath near the Saint Thomas historical shrine, where the Czech national, Thomas Rezika, died. Police located Tuesday the body of Rezika, 46, who fell to his death hiking along a steep incline in the Qadisha Valley while on a trip to the country’s northern region.
The Saint Thomas shrine is located in Hashta, between the Hasroun and Hadsheet villages. Taking part in the march was Priest Habib Saab, the head of the Qannoubin Valley parish.
“The faith of Thomas Rezika prompted him to go to the sacred valley, where he joined the martyrs of this valley who fell for the sake of their faith,” Saab said.
He said those who had fallen added to the valley’s holiness through their martyrdom, and that “this land remains a shelter equivalent to the meanings of freedom and independence.”
The Qadisha valley is part of the Qannoubin Valley that includes several Christian religious sites and is a popular tourist site throughout the year.
Bishop Maroun Ammar and Nawfal Shedrawi, the head of the League for Message and Heritage, paid their condolences to the Czech ambassador to Lebanon, Svatopluk Cumba.
The two issued a joint statement blaming government negligence in part.
They said that the situation had become worse after the valley was put on the World Heritage list in 1998, and that the government did not provide the basic facilities to the Lebanese and foreign visitors that have increased in numbers over the past decade. They added, “The death of tourist Thomas Rezika exposes the negligence the valley suffers from.”