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What is essentials is Invisible to the Eye

The Shrine of Saint Charbel in Annaya, Lebanon, has kept comprehensive records of over 6,000 miraculous acts of healing. These represent only a small portion of the miracles wrought through the intercession of the holy hermit of Lebanon. About a tenth of these were experienced by people who had not been baptized, including Muslims, Druse, and adherents of other faiths. The following article details just a few of these miraculous healings.

Recent healings

In the spring of 2004, 54 year-old Bernadette Vernamat, a resident of Orange, France, went on a pilgrimage to Lebanon to visit the tomb of Saint Charbel. She had severe cancer of the breast and stomach. After going to Confession and receiving Holy Communion, she prayed the rosary at   Saint Charbel’s tomb. Tests completed upon her return home showed a complete recovery and no trace of the cancer.

In 2004, George Younan, a heart specialist working in the USA, began to complain of a ringing in his ears and headaches. It turned out that these symptoms were the result of a blockage in the main artery supplying blood to the brain. Surgical intervention was necessary but risky, for failure could end with paralysis or even death. Younan agreed to the operation. When the date of the operation was confirmed, his wife started to pray fervently to Saint Charbel. She begged him to intercede before God on behalf of her husband. The very next day Younan felt much better and all his pain had gone. Medical tests revealed that in some inexplicable way the blocked artery had started to function normally.

Malake Michel-Malek, a Lebanese woman with deformed legs, could only move with the help of crutches and a special orthopedic prosthesis. Numerous operations proved to be of no use. In the summer of 2004 she spent three days in the monastery where Saint Charbel’s body rests. There she fasted and prayed for a healing. On returning home, she experienced a complete recovery. Her legs were healed. Michel-Malek immediately went to Saint Charbel’s tomb and there thanked him for her miraculous recovery.

In 1992, Swedish and British newspapers, The Guardian among them, carried the story of Samira Hannach, a fifteen-year-old girl, whom Charbel visited at her home near Stockholm. Ever since then, a mysterious healing fluid has been seeping from Charbel’s portrait, which Samira keeps in her house.

 Every month the wound bleeds

In early January of 1993, Nouhad Al-Chami, a 59 year-old Lebanese woman, mother of twelve, suffered a total paralysis of her left side. What is more, she had a blockage in her neck artery, which made eating and speaking increasingly more difficult. The doctors said surgery might help, but the chances of success were slim. So her husband and children laid their hopes in God. Nouhad’s eldest son, Saad, went on a pilgrimage to the monastery in Annaya. There, at the saint’s tomb, he begged him to intercede before God on his mother’s behalf.

After returning, Saad anointed his mother’s neck with the fluid that seeps from Saint Charbel’s body. By now the woman was in great pain and begging Our Blessed Mother and Saint Charbel to let her die. That night she had a strange dream. She dreamt that Saint Charbel and another monk appeared at her bedside. They had come to operate on her neck, they told her. At first she would not hear of it, but in the end they convinced her she could not get better otherwise. “How are they going to operate on me, since they have no surgical instruments or anaesthetic?” she thought, trembling with fear. Then she felt the saint’s hand on her neck. She felt a spasm of acute pain, but was unable to shout or resist. When the operation was over, the other monk helped her to sit up, plumped up her pillow, and offered her a glass of water. She told him she could not drink without a straw, for her tongue was paralyzed. The monk assured her that she was now well and could eat, drink, walk, and work without help. Then both monks disappeared in a mysterious flash of light. Immediately, Nouhad woke up out of her dream and knew that her paralysis had gone. She rose unaided from her bed and began to walk about the room without the least difficulty. Looking into the mirror, she saw scars on both sides of her neck. They were about twelve centimeters long and stitched up with black thread. Her neck and nightgown were covered in blood.

When her husband woke up, he began to shout in fear, for he saw his wife — all bloodied, with two scars on her neck — walking freely about the room: “What happened?” he asked. “You were paralyzed. How did you get out of bed? Where did all the blood come from?” Calming her husband, Nouhad told him that Saint Charbel and another monk had visited her, performed an operation on her neck, and healed her completely. That same day the entire Al-Chami family went to the monastery in Annaya to offer thanks and inform the abbot of the miraculous healing that Saint Charbel’s intercession had worked. The next day, Nouhad went to the hospital in Beirut to see the doctors who had been treating her. Imagine their surprise when, after examining her and removing the sutures, they were forced to conclude that Nouhad’s recovery had no medical explanation. Never had they seen such perfect stitches!

News of Nouhad’s miraculous recovery received mass coverage in the media throughout Lebanon. Crowds of curious people visited her. The priest and family doctor advised Nouhad to take her family to another town. However, one night Saint Charbel reappeared to her in a dream. “I operated on you,” he told her, “so that people might see the miracle of your recovery and become believers. Many have turned their backs on God, no longer pray (though they continue to receive Holy Communion), and yet live their lives as if God did not exist. I ask you to attend Holy Mass at the monastery in Annaya, and on the twenty-second day of every month your scars will bleed.”

From that time on, every month on the day marking her recovery, Nouhad makes her way to the monastery in Annaya with a great pilgrimage of faithful to attend Mass and give thanks for the miracle of her healing. Another extraordinary phenomenon should be noted here. Saint Charbel’s picture hanging in the Al-Chami household began to secrete a fragrant fluid, the like of which cannot be found in nature; moreover, there grew in their garden a large oak which, as Nouhad confirms, was blessed by Saint Charbel himself — for the purpose of healing anyone who drank an infusion made from its leaves.

In 1996, the miraculous healing of 30 year-old Nadia Sader, a mother of two, became front-page news. She was very wealthy, loved luxury and the high life. One day she became totally paralyzed, suffering terrible pain. Visits to various European clinics and the best specialists proved useless. A devout friend of hers advised her to receive Holy Communion and pray for Saint Charbel’s intercession. She also gave her an infusion made from the leaves of the oak-tree growing  in the Al-Chami garden. She claimed that Saint Charbel had blessed the infusion while appearing to her in a dream.

At first Nadia cynically dismissed her advice, but after a few more days of great suffering, she agreed. First she made peace with God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, then received Holy Communion. She also began to pray and ask Saint Charbel to intercede for her before God. After praying, she  drank the wonder-working infusion. After the first swallow she felt a terrible pain, screamed, and fainted. Later she said that, before fainting, she saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus bathed in intense light. After this she lost consciousness for three days. After awaking, she rose unaided from bed, her paralysis completely gone. Now she could start a normal life, but no longer the same as she had lived prior to her illness. She understood that living as if God did not exist made her the greatest beggar in the whole world, despite all her wealth. Since then she prays the rosary daily, reads the Holy Bible, and regularly receives the Sacraments, being completely devoted to her husband, to the raising of her children, and the helping of people in need.

All these episodes of miraculous healings point to the fact that, as the author of The Little Prince, Antoine de  Saint-Exupéry, correctly observed, “what is essential is invisible to the eye” — in this case, a return to God and living life day by day in faith.

Saint Charbel’s main mission was, and still is, to make people aware, through signs and miracles, that God exists. Our time on earth is but a brief one. It cannot be wasted, but should be used so the we may grow in love, for when we die, only love will count.  “Christ,” Saint Charbel tell us, “knows what lies in our hearts; that is why He wishes us to change them. Do not look for truth beyond Christ. When you come to know Him, you will know Truth, and you will find freedom and love. Jesus wishes you to be free so that you may learn to love. You may be sure that with Christ you will conquer all evil.”

The saints are a visible sign of the presence of an unseen God. They love us and act by the power of His love; in other words, it is God Himself who acts through them, calls for our freedom, shows us the ultimate meaning and aim of our life on earth, which is heaven. Jesus encourages us to choose a new path, to depart from the old path of sin, which leads to the appalling reality of hell. He calls us to a life of constant daily prayer, regular confession, frequent reception of the Eucharist,  and living out the Gospel.


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