Charbel Makhlouf – Saint

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Saint Charbel Makhlouf
Bika’Kafra, Lebanon (1828–1898)
Beatified: 1965
Canonized: 1977
Patron: Lebanese Catholics
Feast day: September 5

Following his ordination into the priesthood at age 31, Father Charbel joined a monastery of strict observances and lived his life in solitude as a hermit. Hermits generally take a vow of silence and live alone in small buildings known as hermitages. They generally come together for work, meals, and prayer, but live alone in an effort to solidify their relationship with God.

During Father Charbel’s solitude, he practiced extreme penances of fasting and wearing a hair shirt to further discipline his body and make him even freer to love and worship God. His reputation for holiness increased, and people began to seek him out for prayers and blessings. In 1898, Father Charbel suffered a fatal stroke. His tremendous love of the Holy Eucharist was apparent in that the host had to be physically removed from his hands after the stroke.

He was buried in the monastery cemetery without being embalmed. Indeed, he wasn’t even placed in a casket because it was customary for the poor order to place their deceased members directly into the earth. When Father Charbel was buried, a bright light shone from his grave for more than 45 days.

This marvel necessitated that his body be unearthed and examined. Despite abundant rain and no embalming or hermetically sealed casket, the body was in excellent condition. In addition, oil resembling blood dripped from his pores in such abundance that the monks had to change Father Charbel’s habit twice a week.

In 1927, the body was examined again and was still in excellent condition. Father Charbel’s body was then laid to rest undisturbed until 1950, when oil exuded from the crack of the tomb. Again, the body was examined, and again it was in perfect condition, pliable and oozing this oil. Father Charbel was beatified in 1965 and canonized in 1977. At the time of his beatification, the Blessed Charbel’s body began to deteriorate.

Today, only the bones of the saint remain, clothed in the vestiture of a priest with wax hands and face. His body is displayed in the Saint Maron Monastery in Ananaya, Lebanon.

Last updated: March 21, 2013 at 21:43 pm

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