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LIFE

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in 1828, in Bekaa Kafra (North Lebanon). He had a true Christian upbringing, which had given him a passion for prayer. Then he followed his two hermit uncles in the hermitage of the St Antonious Kozhaya monastery and was converted to
monastic and hermetical life.In 1851, he left his family village and headed for the Our Lady of Maifouk monastery to spend his first monastic year, and then he went to the St Maron monastery in Annaya, where he entered the Maronite Order, carrying the name Charbel, a name of one of the Antioch church martyrs of the second century. On November 1st. 1853, he exposed his ceremonial vows in St Maron's monastery - Annaya. Then he completed his theological studies in the St Kobrianous and Justina monastery in Kfifan, Batroun.He was ordained a priest in Bkerky, the Maronite Patriarchate, on July 23rd, 1859. He lived 16 years in the St Maron's monastery - Annaya. From there, he entered, on February 15th, 1875, the St Peter & Paul hermitage, which belongs to the monastery. He was a typical saint and hermit, who spent his time praying and worshipping. Rarely had he left the hermitage where he followed the way of the saintly hermits in prayers, life and practice.St Charbel lived in the hermitage for 23 years. On December 16th, 1898 he was struck with an illness while performing the holy mass. He died on Christmas' eve, December 24th, 1898, and was buried in the St Maron monastery cemetery in Annaya.Few months later, dazzling lights were seen around the grave. From there, his corpse, which had been secreting sweat and blood, was transferred into a special coffin. Hordes of pilgrims started swarming the place to get his intercession. And through this intercession, God blessed many people with recovery and spiritual graces.In 1925, his beatification and canonization were proposed for declaration by Pope Pious XI. In 1950, the grave was opened in the presence of an official committee which included doctors who verified the soundness of the body. After the grave had been opened and inspected, the variety of healing incidents amazingly multiplied. A multitude of pilgrims from different religious facets started flocking to the Annaya monastery to get the saint's intercession.Prodigies reached beyond the Lebanese borders. This unique phenomenon caused a moral revolution, the return to faith and the reviving of the virtues of the soul.


Beatification and canonization of Saint Sharbel
In 1954, Pope Pius XII signed a decree accepting a proposal for the beatification of Charbel Makhlouf, the hermit. On December 5, 1965, Pope Paul VI officiated at the ceremony of the beatification of Father Sharbel during the closing of the Second Vatican Council. In 1976, Pope Paul VI signed a decree of canonization of Blessed Charbel. That canonization took place in the Vatican on October 9, 1977.
Among the many miracles related to Saint Charbel the Church chose two of them to declare the beatification, and a third for his canonization. These miracles are:
· the healing of Sister Mary Abel Kamari of the Two Sacred Hearts
· the healing of Iskandar Naim Obeid from Baabdat
· the healing of Mariam Awad from Hammana.


Miracles
A great number of miracles were attributed to Saint Charbel since his death. The most famous one is that of Nohad El Shami, a 55-year old woman at the time of the miracle who was healed from a partial paralysis. She tells that on the night of January 22, 1993, she saw in her dream two Maronite monks standing next to her bed. One of them put his hands on her neck and made her a surgery that relieved her from her pain while the other held a pillow behind her back.
When she woke up, Nohad discovered two wounds in her neck, one on each side. She was completely healed and retrieved her ability to walk. She believed that it was Saint Charbel who made her the surgery but did not recognize the other monk. Next night, she again saw Saint Sharbel in her dream. He said to her: "I made you the surgery to let people see and return to faith. I ask you to visit the hermitage on the 22nd of every month, and attend Mass regularly for the rest of your life". The second monk is widely believed to be Saint Maron. Since then, and according to Saint Charbel's will, people gather on the 22nd of each month to pray and celebrate the Mass in the hermitage of Saint Charbel in Annaya.
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