Feast Day: December 24
Born:1828 :: Died:1898
St. Charbel was born Youssef Zaroun Makhlouf in the mountain village of Beka-Kafra in Lebanon. He was the son of a mule driver and his life was very ordinary.
Youssef attended the small school and the parish church. His favourite book was Thomas a Kempis's The Imitation of Christ. He loved the Blessed Mother and spent lots of time praying.
He had two uncles who were monks. Although Youssef did not tell anyone, he prayed to Our Lady to ask her help in becoming a monk. His parents wanted him to marry. There was a very nice girl in the village who would make an ideal wife, they thought. But Youssef believed it was time to follow his call to become a monk.
He joined the monastery of Our Lady at the age of twenty-three. He took the name Charbel, after an early martyr by that name. Charbel studied for the priesthood and became a priest when he was thirty. He remained at the monastery of St. Maron for sixteen years.
Father Charbel was a special person whose love for prayer became his outstanding quality. From time to time he would go alone to the order's hermitage for stronger prayer times.
The last twenty-three years of his life, Charbel spent in the peace of the hermitage in total silence. He chose to lead a very hard life. He made sacrifices, ate little, slept on the hard ground, and prayed long hours.
The years passed, and Charbel became a person totally in love with Jesus. Then as he celebrated the Mass on December 16, 1898, he suffered a stroke during the consecration. Charbel lingered for eight painful days, then died on December 24, 1898.
Miracles began to happen at the holy monk's grave. Some of those miracles were accepted for declaring Charbel "blessed" and then "saint."
Father Charbel was proclaimed a saint by Pope Paul VI on October 9, 1977. The pope explained that St. Charbel taught us by his life the true way to God. He said that our lives today give so much importance to wealth and comfort. Charbel, instead, teaches by his example the value of being poor, self-sacrificing and prayerful.
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