Vol.6, No.1 | [Articles] Staging the Extraordinary Emergence of Divine Entities in the Daily Life of a Visionary House in Beirut




Catherine, a Maronite resident of Nab'a (Beirut), married and the mother of three children, claims that for the past twenty years she has “seen” and been “kidnapped” by the Virgin Mary and the saints. Hundred of Christian and Muslim devotees meet regularly in her house, which has almost been turned into a sanctuary. At Catherine's house, the presence of the divine is built up through an interplay between the visionary, the faithful, the priests and the saints. Every Tuesday the divine manifests itself through the body of the visionary by means of ecstasies and on Good Friday each year stigmata appear on the body of Catherine, on her front, her feet, her hands and her side. The saints, as a spiritual force, overcome her and possess her body. Their interventions seem very precise and ritualized. The miracle expected - "descent of the saints", "divine messages", appearance of the stigmata - is within a spectrum of actions. Our discussion will present the ritualized intervention of the saints by focusing on the performance itself. In other words we will approach the performance of the visionary and the actors around her as an art on the borders between the real and the imaginary. We will focus on the pace of ceremonies marked by moments of variable intensity. This rhythm gives the ritual both the aspect of a well-settled "performance" at times and that of an unexpected or even disorganized one at other times. It plays an essential role in the staging of the extraordinary emergence of divine entities in the daily life of an ordinary household.

Keywords : Lebanon, rituals, saints, visionary, miracles