The Catholic Defender: Saint Sharbel Makhlouf
Saint Sharbel Makhlouf was born in Bekaa Kafra on May 8, 1828. Bekaa Kafra is a small mountain village, the highest in Lebanon and the Middle East, 5118 feet (1560 meters) above sea level, in the region of Bsharri (North Lebanon).
With more than 29,000 registered miracles, St. Sharbel is considered to have the most miracles out of the over 10,000 saints in the history of the Church, other than the Blessed Virgin Mary. Click HERE to watch the talk on the Divine Mercy website.
A large number of miracles have been attributed to Saint Charbel since his death in 1898–many of them very recent. Some say the number is as high as 26,000 accounts of healing.
Although this saint never traveled far from the Lebanese village of Beka-Kafra where he was born, his influence has spread widely.
Joseph Zaroun Maklouf was raised by an uncle because his father, a mule driver, died when Joseph was only three. At the age of 23, Joseph joined the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, and took the name Sharbel in honor of a second-century martyr. He professed his final vows in 1853, and was ordained six years later.
Following the example of the fifth-century Saint Maron, Sharbel lived as a hermit from 1875, until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. When his superiors occasionally asked him to administer the sacraments to nearby villages, Sharbel did so gladly.
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.
He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Pope Paul VI beatified Sharbel in 1965, and canonized him 12 years later.
Among the many miracles attributed to Makhlouf, the Catholic Church chose two to confirm his beatification, and a third for his canonization: the healing of Sister Mary Abel Kamari of the Sacred Hearts;the healing of Iskandar Naim Obeid from Baabdat; and. the healing of Mariam Awad from Hammana.
The second Maronite monk that was present in the operation of Nohad was St Maroun. Since St Charbel appeared to Nohad in her dream on the 22nd January 1993, hundreds and thousands of people from Lebanon and all over the world gather on the 22nd of each month to pray and celebrate Mass in Annaya, Mount Lebanon.
John Paul II often said that the Church has two lungs—East and West—and it must learn to breathe using both of them. Remembering saints like Sharbel helps the Church to appreciate both the diversity and unity present in the Catholic Church. Like all the saints, Sharbel points us to God and invites us to cooperate generously with God’s grace, no matter what our situation in life may be. As our prayer life becomes deeper and more honest, we become more ready to make that generous response.
O Lord infinitely glorified by His Saints, You who fascinated the heart of Saint Charbel who chose the hermit life, granting him the grace and the power of being away from world keeping firm to his monastic virtues of chastity, obedience and poverty, we ask You to give us the grace of loving You and serving You as he ...
Oh, Saint Charbel, joy of heaven and earth, intercede for me. Oh, God, who chose Saint Charbel to defend us before your divine power, grant me through his intercession this grace (name the grace) to glorify you with him till the end. Amen.