Beirut blast – An impact still felt

Time passes and memories fade, but how long would it take to dull the pain of the tragic explosion at the Port of Beirut on 4 August 2020 that destroyed or damaged a large part of the city? No Lebanese, no matter where they live, can forget.

Saint Joseph’s University in Beirut has chosen to turn that memory into a strength by nurturing the memory of the strength of its community for generations to come. On 18 March, a stained-glass memorial dedicated to the victims of the tragedy, especially students and former students of the institution, was installed in the church. The disaster killed 235 people and injured more than 7,000, but now the windows remind the community of the courage of the community in the aftermath.

The ceremony was attended not only by the university authorities but also by relatives of the victims of the explosion. Professor Christian Taoutel, head of the History Department, pointed out that the stained-glass window had a profound significance, as it was made from the remains of Church’s 19th century stained-glass windows that had been shattered by the explosion. On the morning of 5 August, Professor Taoutel went to the church to collect the broken pieces of stained-glass from the floor. He then contacted stained-glass artists and a concrete project plan was drawn.


Fr Salim Daccache, rector of the USJ, expressed his solidarity with the families and encouraged their resilience. He did so by denouncing forgetfulness and calling on everyone to remember those who perished. He said: “On that day, the blood of martyrs of different ages, groups and families mingled, uniting the Lebanese and offering a single blood on the altar of the homeland. Only a fool can refuse to admit the wrong committed against the innocent martyrs who left, as well as the martyrs living in their pain and disaster.”

Catherine Nasr el-Khoury, the first artist contacted by Christian Taoutel, shared the creative process behind the stained-glass window, highlighting the symbolism of the restored pieces and their message of hope and remembrance depicted by soaring flowers, a major element of the composition. “This was the moment”, she said, “when we felt our hearts, a part of us, burst into 1,000 pieces. It took us a long time, a lot of courage and all our faith in God to pick up these pieces, to make a new creation to fill this great void inside us.”

Finally, a representative of the families of the victims said that this stained-glass window not only represents the broken hearts of those whose lives were cut short, but also the determination of their parents to continue the fight for justice demanded by a social and political environment that adds the crime of silence to the disaster of the explosion.

Share this Post:
Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

Related Posts: