Saint Sharbel Makhlouf
Lebanese Maronite Monk
Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born on May 1828 in a highest village named Bikaakafra situated beside the Cedars of Lebanon from poor respectable and devoted parents. Since his childhood he turns to the Hermitic life and was pushing to the hermits of Kadisha Valley.
In 1851, at the age of 23, he left his family and village for his first year's novitiate at the monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq. He then went to the Monastery of Saint Maroun Annaya to join the Order of Lebanese Maronite Monks where he took the name of Sharbel after a second Century martyr of the Church in Antioch. It was there that he took his vows on November 1st 1853 and then continued his theological studies at the monastery of Saint Cyprien of Kfifane Batroun.
The next sixteen years were spent at the monastery of Saint Maroun of Annaya, after which he withdrew definitively to the hermitage of Saint Peter and Saint Paul attached to this monastery. Here he passed a life of constant prayer rarely leaving the hermitage and in all things an exemplary model of sled-denial and sanctity. After twenty-three years at the hermitage, he died on Christmas Eve 1898 and was buried in the cemetery of Annaya.
After his burial (since the first night) the lights appeared and for every night during four months. Then they transferred him to a special coffin, where his body was perspiring blood and water.
Many pilgrims came to pray for their protection and received numerous physical and spiritual cures through his intervention.
The process, for his canonization was opened in 1925. In 1950, the tomb of Father Sharbel was opened in the presence of doctors and official committees, who proceeded to verify that the body was intact and free from corruption. With the opening of the tomb, the number of cures of all kinds abruptly multiplied and pilgrims of all confessions and from all parts of Lebanon came to pray to the Holy Sharbel.
Within a short time, his miracles knew no frontiers. The thousand of letters and other evidences conserved in the archives at Annaya remain the best witness to the spread of his holy renown. This exceptional phenomenon was the immediate cause of a number of conversions and a great renewal of virtue in the heart of the faithful. The humble tomb became a center of attraction for people of all ages and classes, without any distinction of religion or condition; all them gathered before He "Saint" are sons of God.
The Beatification and Canonization of Father Sharbel
In 1954, Pope Pius XVII signed the decision of the process for beatification of the hermit Sharbel Makhlouf.
On December 5th 1965, Pope Paul VI presided over the ceremony of beatification, which took place at the close of the Ecumenical Council Vatican II.
In 1976, Pope Paul VI signed the decision of the process for the canonization of Blessed Sharbel, to be solemnly proclaimed in a pontifical mass on October 9th 1977.
Among the many miracles attributed to the to the intervention of his holy man, the church retained two for his beatification and a third for his canonization.Prayer to obtain Graces
O God, admirable in your Saints, You who inspired Saint Sharbel to follow the way of perfection and gave him the grace and strength in life to prevail in the heroism of the monastic virtues: obedience, chastity and voluntary poverty, and manifested the power of his intercession through numerous miracles and graces, grant us the grace... which we ask of You through his intercession! Amen.
Every year the Church honors Saint Sharbel on July 23.
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