Charbel, The Man
Born on May 8, 1828 in Biqa-Kafra.
Charbel, The Hermit
Chose to practice his religious vows.
Charbel, The Saint
Countless miracles to his credit.
In 1853,Charbel pronounced the vows.
Charbel was ordained priest in 1859.
He renounced the pleasures of seeing his home, his relations and even his mother forever.
On the 24th of December 1898, on Christmas Eve, at the age of seventy, he died.
During forty-five nights after his death an extraordinary brightness surrounded his tomb.
Every day, people from different countries come to venerate his tomb.
Solemnly proclaimed Saint in a pontifical mass on October 9th 1977 by Pope Paul VI.
The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like the Cedar of Lebanon> (Ps. Xci, 13).
Father Charbel’s intercession for the relief of human suffering, cures of the sick, and other temporal favors are still 21rst century realities.
Charbel took his monastic vows in November of 1853, during a solemn ceremony which was closed to the public and off-limits even to his family. He subsequently studied for the priesthood and was ordained, returning to the Monastery of St. Maron.
The priest-monk lived and served in the monastery for 19 years, showing great devotion to the life of prayer, manual work, and contemplative silence.
Charbel’s superiors observed God’s “supernatural power” at work in his life, and he became known as a wonder-worker even among some Muslims. In 1875, he was granted permission to live as a solitary monk in a nearby hermitage dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul.
Rigorous asceticism, and a profound union with God, continued to characterize the monk’s life for the next 23 years. Deeply devoted to God’s Eucharistic presence, he suffered a stroke while celebrating the Divine Liturgy of the Maronite Catholic Church on December 16, 1898. He died on Christmas Eve of that year.
St. Charbel’s tomb has been a site for pilgrimages since his death. Hundreds of miracles are believed to have occurred through his intercession with God, both in Lebanon and around the world.
He was canonized in 1977 by Pope Paul VI, who had earlier hailed the Lebanese Maronite saint as an “admirable flower of sanctity blooming on the stem of the ancient monastic traditions of the East.”
1828 – 1898
Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in 1828, in Bekaa Kafra (North Lebanon). He had a true Christian upbringing, which had given him a passion for prayer. Then he followed his two hermit uncles in the hermitage of the St Antonious Kozhaya monastery and was converted to monastic and hermetical life.
In 1851, he left his family village and headed for the Our Lady of Maifouk monastery to spend his first monastic year, and then he went to the St Maron monastery in Annaya, where he entered the Maronite Order, carrying the name Charbel, a name of one of the Antioch church martyrs of the second century. On November 1st. 1853, he exposed his ceremonial vows in St Maron’s monastery – Annaya. Then he completed his theological studies in the St Kobrianous and Justina monastery in Kfifan, Batroun.
He was ordained a priest in Bkerky, the Maronite Patriarchate, on July 23rd, 1859. He lived 16 years in the St Maron’s monastery – Annaya. From there, he entered, on February 15th, 1875, the St Peter & Paul hermitage, which belongs to the monastery. He was a typical saint and hermit, who spent his time praying and worshipping. Rarely had he left the hermitage where he followed the way of the saintly hermits in prayers, life and practice.
St Charbel lived in the hermitage for 23 years. On December 16th, 1898 he was struck with an illness while performing the holy mass. He died on Christmas’ eve, December 24th, 1898, and was buried in the St Maron monastery cemetery in Annaya.
Few months later, dazzling lights were seen around the grave. From there, his corpse, which had been secreting sweat and blood, was transferred into a special coffin. Hordes of pilgrims started swarming the place to get his intercession. And through this intercession, God blessed many people with recovery and spiritual graces.
In 1925, his beatification and canonization were proposed for declaration by Pope Pious XI. In 1950, the grave was opened in the presence of an official committee which included doctors who verified the soundness of the body. After the grave had been opened and inspected, the variety of healing incidents amazingly multiplied. A multitude of pilgrims from different religious facets started flocking to the Annaya monastery to get the saint’s intercession.
Prodigies reached beyond the Lebanese borders. This unique phenomenon caused a moral revolution, the return to faith and the reviving of the virtues of the soul.