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Abstract

There is a gap in the knowledge of the history of Beirut from 1291 to 1516, during the Mamluk period. The intent of this paper is to fill an important gap in the history of Beirut under the Mamluks: it is an attempt to restore and shed light on a part of the religious history of the city which included a holy and venerated place from the eighth century on. Beirut at that time was an important port and was known for the miraculous icon of Jesus Christ that was mentioned in chronicles and pilgrims’ accounts from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries, depicting a miracle that took place in Beirut in the eighth century. Though the Church of the Savior was for much of its existence exceedingly small and obscure, we can learn more about belief and practice, as well as Christian-Muslim relations, from its history than from a study of a major cathedral or monastery. That is, the modest and typical of a rich religious past can be more revealing than the grand and exceptional. Neglected and forgotten during many centuries, the Church of the Savior in Beirut under the Mamluks was a key place of contact between Europeans and locals, both Christians and Muslims. This article aims to answer the following question: though Beirut had been known in Europe in the Middle Ages for the miraculous icon of Jesus Christ, why did it only become a destination for European pilgrims and regain its importance and role in relations between East and West during the Mamluk period?

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