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The Monastery of Our lady of Tamish

The Monastery of Our Lady of Tamish belongs to the Lebanese Maronite Order (OLM). It is 12km north of the capital, Beirut, and situated 250m above sea level. In 1994 the monastery became the seminary of the OLM, where young monks undergo formation.
Monks come to Tamish after two and a half years in the novitiate. They receive formation here for a further five years. Today, there are 41 seminarians living at Tamish. They are well looked after by seven senior monks.
The people of Christ deserve ministers committed to life-long learning and growth in holiness. The OLM has dedicated the Monastery of Our Lady of Tamish to giving monks the best formation in all fields. The seminary provides post-graduate and advanced ministerial degree programs, as well as ongoing formation for those already engaged in ministry.


The Temple of the Goddess Artemis
It is said that King Ptolemy V Epiphanes gave an order to build a temple to the goddess Artemis in 187 BC. We do not know much about this temple, but we do know that by the Middle Ages it was in ruins and used by shepherds. Already by that time the area was called Tamish. The word "Tamish" could have come from "Artemis". In the 17th century monks arrived and repaired as much as they could of the temple, building an altar, installing an icon of Our lady and living there as hermits.

A new monastery
In 1670 the Maronite Bishop of Aleppo, Gabriel, restored and rebuilt the temple and converted it into a monastery, giving it the name of Our Lady of Tamish. The monastery became famous because of its unusual monastic structure: monks and nuns used to live together but in different wings (they only shared the church). In his diary the Maronite Patriarch Estephan Al Douaihy (1670-1704) expressed pride in the monastery.

God’s Plan for the New Monastery
In 1695 three young Maronite men visited Patriarch Al Douaihy to ask for his blessing to become monks on Mount Lebanon. The Patriarch sent them to the Monastery of Our Lady of Tamish. There, one of them, Abdallah Qaraali, was inspired to found a religious order. Accordingly, he returned to the Patriarch and asked for his approval to launch the order. The Patriarch encouraged him and gave him a small monastery called Mart Mora at Ehden in the north of Lebanon. Abdallah Qaraali, Gibrael Hawwa and Youssef El Bitin were presented with their monastic hoods by the Patriarch on November 10th 1695. This date was the beginning of the first organized order in the East. Later that year a young man called Gibrael Farhat joined them. The new order was named the Lebanese Maronite Order because it was founded on Mount Lebanon.
The order grew quickly in numbers and in holiness. In 1727 the OLM was asked to take over the Monastery of Our Lady of Tamish and ever since the OLM has run the monastery.

Tamish from 1670 to 2017
Maronite monks have lived in Tamish monastery for more than 347 years. There is naturally a great deal to speak of during this period. Here is a brief sketch of some key events;

a. In 1700 the superior of Tamish, Fr Solomen Iben Al Hageh, was so impressed by the new order, the OLM, that he left the monastery and founded a new order called the Antonine Order at Mar Chaaya at Maten Mount Lebanon. The Antonine Order was fully supported by the Monastery of Our Lady of Tamish.
b. Tamish was the mother house of the OLM from 1772 to 1913. Many significant events took place during this period.
c. One of the great saints of the Maronite Church is St Nemetallah Al Hardini. He lived for nine years at Tamish monastery as a General Assistant.
d. In 1994, Tamish monastery became the place of formation for all monks of the OLM.




The Hermitage

As with most Maronite monasteries, the hermitage at Tamish is not far from the monastery itself. It houses those monks who have a vocation to be hermits. In order to become a hermit a monk must obtain the permission of the authorities. Tamish's hermitage is named after St Antony the Abbot. We believe that the hermitage is very old but unfortunately there are no detailed records about it before 1926.
Today, the Most Reverend Charbel Merhi, Bishop Emeritus of the Maronite Catholic Eparchy in Buenos Aires, is occupying the hermitage, where he is spending his days in prayer and fasting.
Tamish's hermitage or the monastery are both greatly respected by the Lebanese people who come from all over the country to receive a blessing or to seek a spiritual advice.