The birth anniversary of St Charbel
Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born on May 8th, 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 Antonios 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.
Due to the miracle of the lamp and water, 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.
St Charbel died on Christmas’ eve, December 24th, 1898, and was buried in the St Maron monastery cemetery in Annaya.
In 1954, Pope Pius XII signed the decision of the beatification of the hermit Charbel Makhlouf.
On December 5, 1965, Pope Paul VI presided over the beatification ceremony, during the closing ceremony of the Second Vatican Council.
In 1976, Pope Paul VI signed the decision of the canonization of Blessed Charbel. His Holiness was declared at a prestigious ceremony on October 9, 1977.
May His prayers be always with us.
Raymond Nader is a Lebanese Christian Maronite citizen born in “Ghineh” village in “Ftouh Keserwan”, on the 10th of November 1961, married with a family of three children. He graduated from the Jesuit University in Lebanon with a degree in Electro-mechanical engineering. He then left Lebanon to work in the United Kingdom, where he specialized in Nuclear physics.
He began to search through science and technology, for answers concerning creation, the universe and God’s mystery. The mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrament has always perplexed Raymond since his childhood. His grandfather, being a priest has incited him to search for the truth, and to find answers revolving around the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
“ Does God truly exist? Where is He? Is Christ really the Son of God? Was He truly crucified? Did he die and rise from the dead? Why does God become incarnate? How does the bread that we bake become the Holy Body of Christ when the priest prays on it? And why people after receiving it, are supposed to love each other and God?
Since 1985, Raymond persevered in his prayers and regular spiritual retreats in hermitages and monasteries (one of them was the hermitage of Annaya). On the eve of November 9th, 1994, Raymond arrived at St Peter and Paul hermitage in Annaya, carrying the Holy Bible and five candles in a bag. He lit the candles and began prayers and meditations. Suddenly, he started to feel changes in his surrounding. The wind grew stronger, the temperature began to rise and the flames of the 5 candles stopped flickering, but continued to burn with no motion.
Raymond suddenly felt that he is in a different world. He lost his sense of hearing, sight and feeling. He felt as if he has been transported from darkness to the center of a brilliantly radiating light. However, the light didn’t emit any temperature. It was warm, smooth and had no color, like a pure crystal. He felt the presence of someone addressing him with no language, no audible voice, and no words. However the greeting was amazingly clear. At the thought of asking a question, Raymond felt someone answering him. “ You are not dreaming… you are now more conscious than any other time in your life!” This transcendental situation lasted for four hours; Raymond felt them as less than one second!
Raymond returned to our world at around 3:35am. He then, tried to comprehend what has happened. Was it a dream? Or hallucination? He remained in this state of mind until he discovered the mark on his arm: a trace of five fingers imprinted by a strange flame of fire. Raymond immediately notified the Father superior of Annaya monastery, Tomas Mehanna, and the Maronite bishop of Beirut Abi Nader, who knew him since his childhood. They both asked Raymond to consult credible physician specialists and obtain from each a medical report that explains the cause of the mark. All reports stated that the cause couldn’t be established, and that the mark looks like a third degree burn without any pain or inflammation. Besides, the color was not typical of any deep burn that is usually gray or black, but instead, was pinkish and red. It was a precisely drawn lesion that healed within 5 days without any treatment.
Since the 10th of November, these apparitions were repeated several times. During each apparition, Saint Charbel gives Raymond a message and often renews the mark on his arm.
Apparition of Saint Charbel to Raymond Nader leaves a trace of five fingers imprinted on his arm
Nouhad el Chami:
My name is Nouhad, spouse of Semaan Chami, from Mezarib, Jbeil. I am 55 years old. I have 12 children (7 sons and 5 daughters). On the 09/01/1993, I had hemiplegia on the left side: my leg, my arm and my mouth. I entered to Sainte Martine hospital in Jbeil.
Dr. Joseph Chami a cardiologist received me and referred me to the Intensive care Unit and to Dr. Antoine Nachanakian and my family doctor, Majid Chami. After many consultations, x-rays and medical tests, they deduced that the hemiplegia was due to the total obstruction of the brain left arteries and 70% of the right ones. “ In this case, no treatment can cure you.
Nevertheless, we still have the possibility to undertake a surgery and replace the obstructed arteries by plastic ones,” said the doctor. They advised me to go home and come back in 3 months to Hotel Dieu hospital to have new x-rays. My eldest son Saad went to Annaya and brought me consecrated oil and sand from Saint Charbel’s tomb. When my daughter coated my body with them, I felt pins and needles in my arm and my leg. I left the hospital 9 days later. At home I had to stay in bed. My husband had to help me go to the bathroom and my children had to feed me with a straw. This is how I passed the next three days. In my dreams, I could see myself going down the stairs of the hermitage in Annaya where I was attending the mass in the presence of monks, and Saint Charbel was giving me the communion.
The fourth day, Thursday 22/01/1993 night – Friday morning, I was suffering from an awful headache, and a pain in the right side. I started praying to the Holy Virgin and St Charbel saying: “ what did I do? Why did you do this to me? what sin did I make? I raised 12 children with lots of suffering, prayers and perseverance to make them good men. I am not imposing my will, but if you want you can heal me, or else take my soul, it is at your disposal. I accept all what you want.” My husband and children left me to get some rest. At 11:00, I saw in my dreams, a blinding light coming into my room, 2 monks came near my bed; Saint Charbel put his hand on my neck and said: “ I am here to make a surgery to your pain”.
I turned around but couldn’t see his face as a blinding light was coming out of his body and eyes. I said: “ Father, why do you want to make a surgery, they didn’t advise me to do so?” He replied: “ I am Father Charbel and I want to do so.” I looked at Virgin Mary’s statuette and said: “ Virgin Mary, please help me. How are these monks going to undertake a surgery and suture the cut without anasthesia?” I was staring at the statuette which took place between the two monks. I felt at that moment an awful pain and Saint Charbel was rubbing my neck… When Saint Charbel finished, the other monk approached holding a pillow, helped me to sit straight, put the pillow behind my back and gave me the cup of water and the straw which were beside me. He put his hand under my head and told me: “Drink this water.” I said: “ father, I can not drink without a straw.” He replied: “ we made the surgery, you have to drink and walk too.”
I woke up in the middle of the night, I realized that I was able to drink water and I was sitting the way the monk made me sit. I looked at the statuette and noted that it regained its place. I felt a pain in my neck. I put my hand to see what happened and realized that I could use my disabled hand, and that I could move my leg under the blanket. I was so happy that I kneed before the Virgin statuette and Saint Charbel’s portrait to thank them. I went to the bathroom to see what happened, I saw 2 cuts in my neck, one to the left and the other to the right, each of 12 cm approximatively. It was 2:00hr in the morning. I went to my husband’s room in front of mine and turned the light on. My husband looked at me and said loudly: “ how did you come here all by yourself? you may fall and this would be another catastrophe.” I moved my hand and said: “Don’t worry, Saint Charbel healed me, I can walk…”
The following day, I went to the hermitage with my son and my husband, to thank Saint Charbel for his graces. When I came back home all my relatives and friends were very surprised. The news circulated very quickly. Visitors started coming from inside and outside Lebanon. A week later, upon the request of the priest of our Parish in Halat, father Abdo Yaacoub, and of Doctor Majid Chami, I agreed to leave only for few days to get some rest. In the night, Saint Charbel appeared to me and said:
“Do not leave people, I cut you thanks to the providence so that people can see you. A lot of people left Church, they neglect praying and respecting saints. You can do nothing about the matter. He who wants anything from me, I father Charbel, can come to the hermitage. I am always there, I don’t leave the place. I want you to visit the hermitage every 22 of the month and attend the mass from now on”.
The following day, I woke up in the morning, 3 stitches were very obvious on the right side of my neck and 2 others on the left side. Dr Majid took out 2 of them.
I started organizing a procession every Thursday ( day of the miracle) at my house, in Halat. On 15/08/1993, I was in my village. Saint Charbel came to me in my dreams and said: “ Nouhad, I ask you to recite the Rosary in a procession the first Saturday of the month at your house.”
As usual, I woke up in the morning, took the incense to the small altar, lit a candle and started praying. I looked at the portrait of Saint Charbel, it was sweating oil and still is especially when we recite the Rosary in a procession as Saint Charbel asked me to, with a large number of visitors in my house. The first procession took place on the 6th of November, since then, the portrait is still sweating.
On the 2nd of july, Saint Rita appeared to me in my dreams as I was praying in front of the sanctuary of Virgin Mary next to my house in the village. She put her hand on my shoulder and said to me: “God bless you for your faith.” I turned around to tell her what happened to me but she said: “I know, Saint Charbel made a surgery for you. The monk who gave you water to drink was Saint Maron.”
I. St Charbel Words
II. To light a candle, say a prayer, and know more about St Charbel, visit Mar Charbel’s website:
 Father Hanna Skandar