Lebanon News

Sleiman arrives at Vatican prior to unveiling of Saint Maroun statue

BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman arrived at the Vatican Tuesday ahead of the official unveiling of a statue of Lebanese Saint Maroun, in a ceremony that could provide a forum for achieving headway on the country’s lingering political deadlock.

Sleiman will meet with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir for the event in St. Peter’s Square, which will be attended by Pope Benedict XVI, as well as number of Lebanese MPs, officials and former lawmakers.

Caretaker State Minister Youssef Saadi, representing the Marada Movement, also traveled to Rome Tuesday in addition to March 14 figures Batroun MP Antoine Zahra, Beirut MP Nadim Gemayel and Metn MP Sami Gemayel. Baabda MP Alain Aoun, Jbeil MP Simon Abi Ramia, caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Basil and caretaker Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud all headed to the Vatican to represent March 8’s Change and Reform bloc.

The event could provide Sleiman with an opportunity to gauge the state of ongoing negotiations over the formation of Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati’s Cabinet.

Sfeir, who has submitted his resignation to the Vatican, told reporters in Rome that all parties in Lebanon should be represented in Mikati’s government.

“Usually a majority should rule and a minority should oppose, but recently we have seen that both the majority and the minority formed up the Cabinet,” Sfeir said. “We cannot decide if March 14 should do the same and become part of the government. March 14 leaders know how to deal with this matter.”

St. Maroun’s statue, donated by the late Antoine Choueiri’s family at a cost of 500,000 euros, will sit alongside several other figures of saints.

St. Maroun was a mystic and hermit born in fourth century Syria, whose miracles and teachings attracted many supporters throughout the eastern Roman Empire. He is considered the father of Maronite Christianity, which has more than 3.5 million followers across the world. 





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