The Italian saint is particularly beloved of Lebanese Christians
Alwan Nayef, of Lebanon, was the winner chosen out of many who had submitted miniature sculptures of the Saint to the town of Cascia. The statue was first flown to Rome, where it had its first stop before it was taken and placed upon its final base.
According to Alwan, the statue was designed, created and carved entirely in Lebanon.
Alwan indicated that the rock that was used originally weighed 76 tons. It was taken from the property of Tartej resident Mr. George Najam. Once the sculpture was completed it weighed 25 tons and stood nearly 20 feet tall. He further indicated that the work had been completed in one year.
The statue of Saint Rita appears with the iconic elements that usually accompany her, such as roses, a tall staff that rises to a cross. Additionally, there is a thorn, bees and other beautifully aesthetic details.
The statue was blessed by His Holiness, Pope Francis on September 13, 2015, during a general meeting in Saint Peter’s Square, with the sculptor, Alwan, and other Lebanese individuals in attendance.
The statue was dedicated and unveiled in Cascia on October 18 during a Mass celebrated by Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi. A group of other Lebanese dignitaries, who arrived at the birthplace of the saint on a flight that was chartered for this occasion, also attended.
Patriarch al-Rahi visited the professional sculptor Alwan in order to bless the statue of Saint Rita in Hayruna Aitou Lebanon before it was shipped to Italy.
Alwan stated that upon becoming engrossed in making the statue he spent time in prayer and reflection, and from this spread forth the power and determination to complete the task. He further noted that Christians are a foundation of Lebanon and the region and will remain in it, because nothing shakes their resolve, whatever the sacrifices and suffering. Thus, the dawn of the resurrection will inevitably break forth.
Despite the problems that beset Lebanon this is once again the nation of the cedar and the hand of God has been with us throughout this momentous event. This is a sanctuary to the saint so long as she is known as the patron saint of impossible causes. Perhaps she will intercede for Lebanon and the Lebanese people after their own solutions become impossible!
Translated from the Arabic.