Kafar Birem

كفر برعم כפר ברעם

Church of Our Lady in Kefar Birem

Kefar Bir’em Church is located on the highest point in the center of the village at a latitude of 752m above see level and is called the Church of Our Lady – Lady of the Assumption.

The current building of the Church stands on an ancient structure which, according to common belief, was destroyed in an earthquake that hit the country on the first day of January 1837. The building was renovated in 1926 whereby the wooden ceiling was replaced by concrete and a dome was built at its center. The dome rests on four pillars which also hold the ceiling. In addition, in-situ concrete was casted on the western entrance to the Church and it now holds the belfry. The western entrance is the highest part of the Church.

The Church was damaged when the Israeli army bombed and demolished the houses in Kafar Bir’em on 16-17 September 1953. The eastern wall and the doors of the Church were damaged. However, responsible government authorities repaired the damage and an external concrete wall was erected to buttress the damaged eastern wall.

In addition, since 1972 the inhabitants of Kefar Bir’em have been cautious to maintain the Church and renovate it.

In 1956 the remains of Father Elias Ibrahim Sousan were interred inside the Church and in 1987 Father Youssef Stephan Sousan was buried in it.

Eight fathers served in the Church of Our Lady seven of whom are buried in it: Father Andrawes Abu Fares; Father Elias Youssef Risha; Father Mansour Asi; Father Moussa Elias Soussan; Father Youssef Daoud Risha; Father Elias Ibrahim Sousan; Father Youssef Stephan Soussan. The late Father Youssef Elias (Abu Farid) is the only servant of God who was not buried in the Church but was buried in Lebanon.

Since 1972, the uprooted villagers maintained and renovated the Church. In 1998, the Church was connected to the Regional Electricity Company. The bell of top of the Church was donated in 1975 by the people of Kefar Bir’em who were expelled and deported to Lebanon. The original bell was stolen in the beginning of the 1950s and its location has not been discovered to date.