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St. Charbel Makhlouf, the Miracle Monk of Lebanon

by Russell Fleur Gallego

Born as Youssef Antoun Makhlouf on May 8, 1828 to Antoun Zaarour Makhlouf and Brigitta Chidiac in a village called Bekaa Kafra. His father died in August of 1831 returning from a free-labour in the Turkish Army. His mother later remarried to a man who later on became a priest and became the parish priest of their village.

In 1851 he entered the Lebanese Maronite Order at the monastery of Our Lady in Mayfouq. When he received his religious habit as a monk he took the name Charbel, after a Christian martyr in Antioch during the 2nd century. He made his final religious profession on November 1, 1853. In 1875, he was granted the permission to become a hermit at the Hermitage of Sts. Peter and Paul. He spent 23 years living as a solidarity hermit until he had a stroke on December 24, 1898.

After his death, miracles were attributed to him. During the transfer of his corpse, heavy snow was experienced in the place where his corpse is supposed to be brought, making it hard for the bearers to carry him. But when he was already brought out, the sky cleared and the heavy snowing stopped as narrated by one of the bearers, George Emmanuel Abi–Saseen. It was also reported that from his death until 1965, his tomb was opened thrice but his body was found to be incorruptible. But in 1975 when the tomb was opened again, his body was completely decomposed and only the bones were left.

On December 5, Pope Paul VI presided on the beatification of St. Sharbel during the end of the Vatican II. On October 9, 1977 he was canonized.

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