I don’t know when it began and why I have not noticed it before today but the Vatican news portal now is asking for donations to support its work. There is a ribbon/banner to this effect at the end of every article. I suppose the Vatican had to come to this. Perhaps you saw the story I posted yesterday about Vatican finances.

Relative to the papal news about Lebanon: Following are some photos I took on a visit to Lebanon and to the shrine of Our Lady of Harissa. You will see Our Lady atop a huge structure, some photos I took of the Lebanese photo from near the top of that structure and of a young Lebanese man, Eifad, and his mother. Harissa is a shrine very dear to Muslims as well as Christians. As I was climbing the steps to get to the statue, I leaned over to take one particular photo (you can guess which one! ) and I think the young man thought I was about to go over the railing because he leaned over to help me. We struck up a conversation and I learned that his mother had tried for years to have a child. She visited the shrine and within a month found she was pregnant. I have always loved that story and love this photo whenever I see it.

One of the photos shows the apostolic nunciature and its gardens as seen from the shrine. In fact, I had just come to the shrine from the nunciature where I visited a good friend. Abp. Gabriele Caccia who was nuncio at the time – he is now the Holy See envoy to the United Nations.


An extraordinary intervention by Pope Francis intends to support the education of young people in Lebanon, which has been hit by “a serious crisis that is causing suffering and poverty” and risks robbing future generations of hope.

By Vatican News

On Thursday, the Holy See Press Office announced that Pope Francis has sent a donation of $200,000 to support 400 scholarships in Lebanon.

The donation was made “in the hope of achieving a gesture of solidarity and with the desire that all involved at national and international levels will responsibly pursue the search for the common good, overcoming every division and partisan issue”.

In a communiqué announcing the gift, the Press Office notes that,“Pope Francis with fatherly concern has continued to follow in recent months the situation of beloved Lebanon… that has always been an example of the coexistence and fraternity that the Document on Human Fraternity wished to offer to the whole world”.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the State of Greater Lebanon, the predecessor of the modern nation. Yet, the communique notes, “the Land of the Cedars … is experiencing a severe crisis that is causing suffering and poverty, and that risks ‘robbing of hope’ especially younger generations who see their present as arduous and their future as uncertain”.

The ongoing crisis has made it difficult to ensure that young people in the country have access to education, which in many places, and especially smaller areas, has been provided by ecclesiastical institutions. The Holy Father’s gift is intended to help meet that need.

According the Press Office, the donation was made through the Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Eastern Churches. “The intervention is in addition to the contribution that the Emergency Fund of the CEC (Congregation for the Eastern Churches) has made in recent days to deal with the emergency linked to the Covid-19 pandemic”, the communiqué states.

The Pope’s donation is accompanied by the prayer that Our Lady of Lebanon, “the Mother of God who watches over Lebanon from Harissa Mountain” together with all the saints of Lebanon, “might protect the Lebanese people”.