SAINT CHARBEL – THE MARONITE MONK
Feastday 24 July 2017
By: Jim Dunning
(This article was originally published in “Ireland’s Own – web now down” magazine. The webmaster would like to thank the author for his kind persmission in reprinting it here.)
Most of us are familiar with European saints, such as St. Bernadette, St. Therese and Padre Pio. Less well-known, but still popular in his own area, is Saint Charbel, a monk from the Lebanon who lived much of his life quietly as a hermit, achieving fame only after his death.
Charbel Makhlouf was born on 8th May, 1828, in the small village of Biqa-Kafra in the high mountains of Northern Lebanon. His parents were poor but religious, and their fifth child was attracted at an early age to prayer and solitude. In spite of the opposition of his family, he left home at the age of twenty-three and entered the Monastery of St. Maroun at a place called Annaya. Ordained priest in 1859, he spent sixteen years there before receiving permission from his reluctant superiors to retire to the nearby hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul.
It had taken over seven years for his wish to be granted. Only exceptional monks were allowed such a privilege. A sign that he was ready to leave the secure environment of the monastery came about in a strange way. Given a request to prepare an urgent report, Charbel sat down at night to work on it. To his dismay he found his lamp had run out of oil. He asked one of the monastery’s lay servants to fill it for him. By way of a joke the servant filled it with water, but was amazed to see that the lamp lit up immediately and continued to burn brightly. The Superior, when advised of this, removed the lamp to check it for himself. To his amazement he found it was indeed full of water. He took this as a sign from above that Charbel was ready to live the severe life of a hermit. [ ]