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A Remarkable Saint from the East - the Hermit of Lebanon

by aquinasandmore on July 24, 2008

Today, July 24, is the feast day of St. Charbel Makhluf of Lebanon.

Today the Church celebrates the holy memory St. Charbel Makhlouf, a Maronite Catholic monk from Lebanon, known for his piety, and called by many the hermit of Lebanon and the Wonder Worker of the East. Charbel was born Youssef Antoun Makhlouf in 1828, in North Lebanon. His father died when he was only a child, and the boy was raised by his uncle, who opposed Makhlouf's piety. He sneaked away at the age of 23 to join the Baladite monastery of St. Maron at Annaya. This is where he took on the name Charbel (sometimes also spelled Sharbel) in memory of a convert who was martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Trajan in the early 2nd century.

For a time, Charbel was sent to a monastery in Kiffan to study philosophy and theology in preparation for his ordination, which took place in 1853. He then returned to the St. Maron monastery, where for 16 years he performed his ministry and monastic duties with an undivided heart. After 16 years of this, he was granted permission to live as a hermit on a nearby hillside. He lived there in solitude, in total abandonment to the Lord, for the next 23 years, until his death. Many  miracles have been attributed to St. Charbel since his death, including a bloody sweat that flowed from his body several times between 1927 and 1950 and the healing of many pilgrims who had visited Charbel's grave or had seen the saint in visions. St. Charbel was canonized in 1977 by Pope Paul VI. His tomb remains a popular destination for pilgrims, both Lebanese and non-Lebanese, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. St. Charbel is one of the Incorruptibles, saints whose earthly bodies have not decomposed after death - from the time of the early Church, this has been considered a sign of very great sanctity.

St. Charbel belonged to the Maronite Church of Lebanon and the Near East, comprising one of the largest groups of Arab Christians in the world. This sui juris church is one of the Eastern Catholic churches in communion with Rome. Fore more information on the Eastern Catholic churches, please visit our Eastern Catholicism specialty store. We also recommend this book:

A Prayer for the Intercession of St. Charbel

O Merciful Father, through the Holy Spirit, you chose Saint Charbel as a voice crying in the wilderness. His monastic life is an example to Your Church. In the Scriptures he discovered Your Holiness as Word Made Flesh, and darkness gave way to light. In the Eucharist he encountered Your Divinity as Bread of Life, and the poverty of this world gave way to the treasures of Your Kingdom. In prayer he experienced Your Silence as Mystery Present, and lonelieness gave way to communion. Through the Virgin Mother he embraced Your Son as Lover of Mankind, and hostility gave way to hospitality. We now beseech You, through his intercession, to change our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, and to grant our special request .... We give praise to You, Your Only Begotten Son, and to Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

St. Charbel, pray for us and for the persecuted Church in the Middle East.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Br. Philip Grinslade July 25, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Thank you for posting this information on St. Charbel, priest, hermit, and saint. Yestereay at the Mass celebrated in his honor and memory, I learned of his life for the first time. I myself follow the life of a hermit according the the simple rule of St. Francis of Assisi and under the inspiration of what I have been able to learn from the rules of other orders and their saintly examples.

Early in my youth I entered the Franciscan Order (O.F.M.) as an aspiratant to the priesthood as a Franciscan. When my mother’s illness led me to choose to leave the Franciscan community to assist her in her last illness, I did not realize that this choice would lead me to live a life that would exclude a return to the cloister and religious life. In the interim I have sought to emulate the holy examples of those who have inspired me and the result is this simple life as a hermit which I try to live in the spirit of St. Francis.

However, I am greatly inspired by the life of St. Charbel and wonder if there is any possibility of my becoming a Maronite priest so I could emulate his life as a hermit and a priest?

Thank you for receiving and helping me in my effort to seek to follow the Will of God in this regard and to live my vocation according to God’s grace and calling.

Sincerely and respectfully yours,

Br. Philip Grinslade

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