Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church


Blessed Estephan Nehme
Lebanese Maronite Monk
1889-1938

On the holy ground of Lebanon, Brother Estephan Nehme saw the light, under the wings of the Maronite Church he grew up and in the care of the Lebanese Order he was raised. He was inspired by the spirit of worship and the motivation ofCopyright Imageholiness transferring them in his turn to upcoming generations.

† 1) His birth :

Brother Estephan Nehme was born in Lehfed, on March 8th, 1889. His parents, Estephan Bou Haykal Nehme and Christina Badawi Hanna Khaled were very decent. He was baptized on March 15th, 1889, at Our Lady Church of Lehfed, by Father Gerges Fadel. He was given the name of Youssef.

† 2) His life :

Youssef grew up in the warmth of his parents. He was the youngest among three boys and two girls. He was pampered by everyone and he brought joy, and he was the angel of the family. He used to run away from noise and prefer loneliness and quiet. When he wanted to pray, he went to a peaceful place where he could meditate and listen to God. He learnt the basics reading and writing as well as Christian teachings principles with the children of the village under the trees near the Church of Saint Estephan. Since his childhood, Youssef loved God and holy Mother Mary. When Her name was mentioned, his heart jumped joyfully especially when he recited the rosary slowly, meditating each word and sentence. He prayed with deep faith and piety. He used to remind his family to start the traditional evening prayer that fermented the members and turn the Christians houses into a paradise corner. Youssef was not sociable and he was not interested in parties, even among family. On the contrary, he preferred to stay at home and pray late at night. Afterwards, he went to bed and repeated: "God can see me, God can see me. Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph, help me at the moment of death."

† 3) His integration to the Lebanese Maronite Order :

In 1905, when he was 16 year old, Youssef left his parental house heading to the Monastery of Saints Cyprian and Justine in Kfifane in order to become monk. Eight days later, he wore the novices' cassock and took the name of "Estephanos". On August 23rd, 1907, the Superior of the Convent, Father Youassaf Saker from Kfoun, blessed the simple vows of Brother Estephan who wore the novices' cassock.Copyright Image Afterwards, B. Estephan spent a 31 year monastic life: twelve years at the Monastery of Our Lady in Mayfouk, ten years at the Monastery of Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil, three years at the Monastery of Saint Antonios in Houb and around seven months at the Monastery of Kfifane. He also lived in Saint Chalita Monastery in Kettara and the Monastery of Saint Maron in Annaya. Brother Estephan was a "worker monk". He worked in the fields and gardens of the monastery. He was responsible for the field. He learnt as well carpentry when he was in Mayfouk. Furthermore, he was good in construction and he was robust and sturdy. Thus, this tough monk spent his life in the fields of the Order.

† 4) His death :

Brother Estephan has demarcated the borders of the Order's land when the latter bought it. He was conveyed to reveal the marks after a long conflict. When he achieved his mission and resolved the problem due to his perspicacity, his cleverness as well as his good intention, he went back to the Monastery of Kfifane. He was extremely tired and ill. In the evening, when he was sitting with the other monks, Brother Charbel Nehmeh, before going to sleep, asked him if he wanted to get his jar filled with water, and he answered: "Do whatever you want". When B. Charbel was heading towards the room of the said monk to bring the jar, B. Antonios Ramy followed him asking: "Where is water?" When he followed him, they found out that B. Estephan passed away. Report on his death: Brother Estephan had a pious life that ended virtuously at the Monastery of Saints Cyprian and Justine, on August 30th, 1938. Father Antonios Nehme, Superior of Kfifane Monastery, wrote in the register of deceased monks, number 22:

On Tuesday 30th of August, 1938, at 7 pm, B. Estephan from Lehfed left this ephemeral world at the age of 49. He was a helpful monk and devoted to the interests of the monastery. He was strong and sturdy, peaceful, kind and sober. He worked in the fields and he was skillful in manual labor. He respected his duties as well as his vows and achieved the required mission meticulously. Few days before his decease, he went to the Monastery of Mayfouk in order to demarcate the lands of the Maronite Order who bought during the war some pieces of land. Last fall, the partners rebelled claiming the possession of the lands' totality. Thus, the Order was obliged to prove this possession and confirm it. The monks convened then the topographers in order to demarcate the monastery's borders. It is worth mentioning that the said people have hidden the limits so that they embezzle the returns. The late monk was convened to uncover the limits since he was present in Mayfouk at the moment of sale. At the end, the borders were revealed as consented at the moment of sale. But B. Estephan got a sunstroke which caused him a severe fever that led to an apoplexy that put an end to his life. May he rest in peace!" This dear monk passed away at the age of 49. He deceased full of holiness and graces. His work in the field as well as his presence in the different convents, were printed by his humanitarian, Christian and monastic spirit. His prints are still alive and still shining until present. Brother Estephan was buried in the tomb of monks in the monastery of Kfifane. On March 10th, 1951, while monks were burying the late Father Youssef Souraty who spent his sunset in this convent, they found the body of Brother Estephan non decayed. Then, he was moved to a new tomb where he lays today and where visitors seek his intercession or ask the grace of healing.

†5) Brother Estephan, Venerable and Blessed :

Forty eight years after the death of B. Estephan, whereas his body was still safe and sound and people flow from the four corners of Lebanon in order to visit his tomb and get blessed by touching him and asking his intercession, and whereas God had performed extraordinary miracles through him and his news was spread all over the country as well as worldwide, the Lebanese Maronite Order submitted a file to the Holy See, enclosing all his virtues and asked for his venerability recognition. His tomb was sealed with red wax and it was forbidden to touch his body. On December 17th, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI recognized Brother Estephan Nehme Venerable. Furthermore, the Congregation for the causes of saints was held in the Vatican to study the process of the beatification of the said monk. Theological experts voted unanimously for the healing miracle attributed to him which is the healing of Sister Marina Nehmeh, his brother's daughter, from osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Brother Estephan was recognized Blessed on the altar of the Lord on June 27th, 2010 at the Monastery of Saints Cyprian and Justine in Kfifane, by Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B. Prefect of the Congregation for the causes of saints. Dear brothers, let us count on God, source of all graces and blessings, asking Him to lift Brother Estephan to the rank of saints so that he joins his saint brothers in the Lebanese Maronite Order: Charbel, Rafka and Nehmatalah. As Saint Paul says: "The crown of Glory is kept for you", you loyal servant and faithful monk.



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