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The St. Maroun spring in Ghouma, Lebanon

Survey about Saint John Maroun Spring

34 questionnaires were filled by Ghouma inhabitants in December 2012

Demographics

  • Sex: 14 females - 20 males
  • Age range: between 18 and 92
  • Education level: Intermediate (2) – Secondary (9) – University (18) – Vocational (3)

 

1. Do you know the Spring of Saint John’s? 

All the inhabitants answered yes

 

2. What do you know about the Spring of Saint John?

Their answers were as follows:  

  • It is a holy spring
  • It is a natural ancient spring in an arched cellar that goes back to the year 676 located in the valley of Harba next to the river facing the Monastery of Saint Youssef Jrabta  and Saint Antonios Church in fghal  and it is surrounded by beautiful nature
  • It’s a very old spring and it is still the same throughout the years
  • It’s a property of Ghouma
  • It is a spring of potable water; all the inhabitants of Ghouma and the surrounding villages used to drink from it in the past.
  • It’s the only  spring present in the valley of Harba
  • It is an old spring that was named after the Patriarch of the Maronite Church, Saint John Maroun who used it as a residence for prayers.
  • It’s a spring that never runs dry ...most probably because of its holiness (sainthood)
  • It is a ground basin where underground water springs out all around the year
  • It’s a spring that doesn’t run dry neither in winter nor in summer and it always keeps its level (it never floods) even if you take water from it.
  • It’s a spring where the water  level never decreases being blessed by Saint John Maroun

 

3. Why is it called this way?

The spring is called after the Patriach Saint John Maroun since the 7th century. He was the first Maronite Patriarch in Lebanon; he used to take shelter next to the spring and he also used its water when he was residing in the fortress of Smar Jbeil. He was the one who built the arched cellar over the spring and taking it as a hermitage where he used to pray and meditate.

4. Do you drink from this spring?

  • No: 9
  • Yes : 16
  • We used to drink from it : 4
  • We drink from it only when visiting the place. 

 

5. Who are the beneficiaries of this spring?

  • In the past it was the only source of drinking water and all our parents used to drink from it
  • In the past the inhabitants of Ghouma and the surrounding villages used it for drinking water before the installation of the water network
  • Nowadays the shepherds (for their herds) and the hunters and the walkers who pass next to it  
  • The inhabitants of the surrounding villages could benefit from it as it was the case in the past

6.  Who does the spring belong to?

  • Property of  the inhabitants of Ghouma 
  • It is part of the properties of Ghouma
  • They say it is public common property of Ghouma inhabitants

 

7.      Who takes care of the spring?

  • No one : 16
  • No one for the  moment: 7
  • I don’t know :2
  • The shepherds and the hunters: 4
  • It is neglected :4
  • The inhabitants of Ghouma: 1

 

8.      Is the spring important in your point of view?

100% replied positively

 

9.      Where is the importance of this spring?

  • It’s a historical, religious, environmental and natural site, since it is an ancient natural symbolic spring and very beautiful and lot of stories about it are passed on.
  • It is important because it is a religious site since it was a hermitage of prayers for the Patriarch Saint John Maroun; located in the holy valley next to 17 hermitages and near the monastery of Saint Rafka. Besides, it has a natural beautiful geographical location
  • It is a holy spring 
  • It’s important as an ancient and natural source of drinking water that belongs to Ghouma (it is the only spring in Ghouma) in addition to that the water of this spring never run dry and the level of water is the same all the time ; it never decreases or increases (the water of the spring is none running)
  • It is a spring with heavy water , if we pump its water to the village it will be very important

 

10.  Do you visit the spring?

  • Yes: 18
  • Sometimes: 10
  • No:1
  • No (age problems): 2
  • I  would love to visit it every day :1

 

11.  What are the characteristics of this spring?

  • It is a special because of its location and its water and its religious symbolism.
  • The water springs in a natural rocky ground basin which is located in a small arched cellar and its water never runs dry all year round ; the level of water never decreases no matter what quantities are withdrawn (a whole herd can drink from it and the water level stays the same)
  • It is characterized by its natural beautiful shape and its cold, clean, pure, fresh and still water and its location is far from residences in a wonderful nature facing a very steep rocky mountain
  • It is an ancient natural and rare spring
  • Spring with heavy water, level does not decrease or increase  neither in winter nor in summer
  • It is an important ancient site in the valley of Harba which is very near to religious and historical sites like the hermitages in the valley in addition to the monastery of Saint Rafka

 

12.  What are the reasons of this spring that allow it to maintaining the same level of water even if we take out water from it?

  • It could be because of gravity
  • There is a big underground stream under it that is providing the spring with the water 
  • I think there is a very big underground well on the same level of the spring that provides the spring with water
  • According to maps found at the monastery of Maad , there is a big underground lake of clear water and the spring could be the outlet of this lake
  • I think the spring maintains the same level of water because it is connected to a big underground lake that has the same level as the basin of the spring; more than 200 goats can drink from it without losing its level.
  • It is located on the same level of an underground river which lets it maintain its level
  • Because it’s a window for an underground  tank
  • Because of the heavy quantities of water surrounding it which nourish the spring
  • Because the level of the underground basin (that provides it with water) is higher than the basin of the spring
  • Some believe that it is a holy spring and this is why it does not run dry, God’s might
  • It is holy water blessed by God through the Patriarch Saint John Maroun

 

13.   Do you consider the spring a touristic site :

  • Yes: 21
  • No: 5
  • For the time being no :3
  • It should become a touristic site :4
  • It should be a religious site :1

 

14.  Is there any guide for the spring:

  • No:26
  • No for the time being: 4
  • Not yet but we hope so: 1
  • Yes: 3

 

15.  Are you with the idea of transforming the spring into a touristic site?

33 replies ant to transform it to a touristic site and one person was with eco-tourism and religious tours ...not with tourism on a large scale

 

16.  Do you know any story about the spring that the inhabitants used to tell and what is it?

  • Our parents used to go there either to get drinking water, to wash their clothes over there and for promenades , picnics, hunting activities and collection of the myrtle
  • They used to spend time next to this spring while traveling from one village to another
  • It was the only source of drinking water for Ghouma and the surrounding villages. The inhabitants used the spring mostly in summer, when their tanks get empty.
  • The level of water never decreased in spring.
  • There are a lot of stories talking about the difficulty of transporting water from the spring to the houses; many persons used to slip with the water jars while doing that.
  • There are stories about the hyenas and the foxes that used to attack the people while getting water from the spring
  • Also inhabitants used the insects/larvae of the water as a cure for those with high blood pressure... by putting the insect behind the ear (the insect once it touches the human body , sucks quantities of blood and consequently reduces the  blood pressure)
  • The Patriarch Saint John Maroun used it as a hermitage and a place for prayers ; sometimes he would stay there more than one month
  • They used to shower themselves with its water to protect themselves from diseases considering it a holy water 
  • They used to spray its water in their houses to repel insects and reptiles
  • There is a story about a shepherd who left his goat next to the spring and he prepared for her the necessary food. At night the fox killed her and the people said that it was a punishment for the shepherd because he left his goat next to the holy spring
  • There is a story about the warriors who stayed in the valley of Harba they used it as a source of drinking water before their fights with the Mamlouks  around the year 1299.
  •  They are stories about the presence of a church next to the spring where women used to visit it for taking vows to get pregnant; and that the vows were fulfilled by many women among who were the wives of Tannous Mkhayil and Hanna Dib who both got pregnant after the age of 50!

 

17.  From your point of view, do you think it is a holy spring?

  • No: 5
  • Yes :28
  • Maybe: 1

 

18.  What is its religious significance?

  • It is located in a holy valley filled with hermitages and caves for prayers and monasteries such as Saint Rafka monastery
  • It was the first place of prayers of the first Maronite Patriarch and it was named after him.
  • The hermits living in the valley used to drink from its water

 

19.  What do you suggest to benefit from this spring?

  • Rehabilitate the spring and protect it from the mis-usages of water and pollution
  • Build a pedestrian road where people would take a walk in nature, visit this region and benefit from its beauty and its pure environmental atmosphere...protect its natural aspects without making any changes.
  • Transform it into a religions and touristic site.
  • Coordinate with the religious authorities to include this site on the religious map for those who visit Lebanon...also a suggestion to bottle its water and provide it to religious visitors.
  •  Include the spring as an eco-touristic site
  • A plan should be implemented to remove the mines from the region.
  • Build a dam and form an artificial lake
  • Pump the spring water to the surrounding village 
  • Benefit from it by transporting its water to the surrounding villages for agricultural practices
  • Provide a road for the visitors to be able to reach it
  • Organize trips to visit the spring  and provide touristic and religious guides
  • Take care of it and cover its news in the media so people could know about it

 

20.  Are you with the idea of registering the spring in the map of eco-touristic sites?

  • Yes:33
  • Yes with a strategy for the tourisim:1

  

21. Do you have any additional ideas that you would like to share?

  • I suggest the establishment of a sky lift “telepherique” that transports visitors from Ghouma and the Monastery of Saint Refka to it...Or to get electrical cars for transporting people who cannot walk its road.
  • This spring could prosper the village and the whole region since it is ancient and historical
  • Transform it to an ancient touristic park and include it on the touristic map
  • To drill a well to be able to benefit from its water 
  • To test the quality of water and make use of it instead of wasting it ... also to encourage eco-tourism on foot.
  • To organize a program of visits to this spring and provide guides to explain about the importance of this touristic and religious region
  • To organize an annual program for the religious and touristic activities that could be held and to create a website for the spring to cover all the activities so everybody knows about it
  • The inhabitants believe that it is a holy valley and it should be considered among the monasteries and the religious sites in the region whereby visits could be  organized similar to those to Medigorjie
  • There are a lot of important sites in the valley that should be revealed to the public including this spring and the hermitages and the caves around it such as the cave in Chir al Gharib that can accommodate up to 500 goats
  • To rehabilitate the existing roads that connect the spring with the villages (which could be a link between the past and the present) and these roads connect the 17 hermitages found in the valley and the spring and the monastery of Saint Refka.
  • This way, visitors would spend a whole day in a religious region with a nice atmosphere for prayers; in addition, explanatory boards could be placed on each site talking about their history and their special prayers and the road could terminate in Saint Refka Monastery whereby a small booklet of prayers could be provided. 
  • To establish a café in the space next to the spring where visitors could rest and have a break
  • In addition to the idea of building a dam in front of it whereby rain water could be collected, a lake would be formed connecting with the winter river that passes by that point whereby fish could be bred; so the benefit from this place would be on different levels: touristic, natural, religious and environmental.