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“The glory of Lebanon shall come to you” (Isa. 60:13)

At a certain moment, when I was praying on the rosary, I saw with closed eyes an absolutely real figure. I asked myself who it was. When the figure approached me, I recognised Father Charbel. He only said: “You wanted a miracle — you shall have one”, and disappeared.

“The glory of Lebanon shall come to you” (Isa. 60:13)

In the Acts, we read that “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11–12). God performs extraordinary today, as well, for instance through the intercession of the humble Maronite monk from Lebanon, St Charbel.

Yusuf Makhlouf, who is spoken of here, was born into a poor family of Lebanese Maronites as the youngest, fifth child of Antony and Bridget Makhlouf, in 1828. The learning of, and love for, the word of God nourished in him a love for Jesus and Mary. Yusuf would often hide in a cave to pray in solitude.

After an elementary education, he started to work on the farm to help support his family. It was at that time that he finally recognised Jesus’ call to life for the sake of the kingdom of heaven only (cf. Matt. 19:12b). His decision was influenced by his two uncles, the hermits Augustine and Daniel, with whom Yusuf stayed in touch. At the age of twenty-three, he left his family home for ever and entered a monastery of the Lebanese Maronites, assuming the name Charbel, which means “Divine story”.

Immersed in God

Father Charbel was fascinated with God’s love and mercy. For in Jesus Christ, God became a true man, died and resurrected for us and our salvation, and is truly present with us in the Eucharist. Everyday prayer was Father Charbel’s highest priority, followed by hard work and various bodily mortifications, which made for a harsh life.

A special friendship developed between Charbel and Father Elisha of the hermitage of SS Peter and Paul, a place he eventually entered after sixteen years. It was thanks to Father Elisha that Brother Charbel was admitted onto a course of theological studies. He completed it under the tuition of St Nemetallah Al-Hardini, who became his spiritual guide and teacher.

Throughout his life, Father Charbel strove to remain unknown and hidden from the world by leading the harsh life of a hermit. Yet God had a different plan for him

Throughout his life, Father Charbel strove to remain unknown and hidden from the world by leading the harsh life of a hermit. Yet God had a different plan for him, which he started to carry out after Charbel’s death. Several days after his death, the superior of the monastery made the following prophetic entry in the monastic journal: “On 24 December 1898, the hermit Father Charbel of Beka Kafra died, having received the sacraments. […] What he achieves after death will suffice to testify abundantly to his excellent conduct, especially in keeping his vows. His obedience was more angelic than human.” Indeed, after Father Charbel’s death, hitherto unknown phenomena began to occur. From his grave, for a month and a half, there shone a bright light, which was visible from many kilometres away, while the body exuded an oily fluid with healing properties. About 20,000 litres of the fluid oozed out over sixty-seven years, which is inexplicable to science. This fluid helped heal many people in Lebanon, especially from serious and otherwise incurable diseases, while the fame of St Charbel soon spread beyond the country’s borders.

A year of miracles

After many years of continual miracles, on 22 April 1950, in the presence of a patriarchal commission, the coffin with the body of Father Charbel was laid in state for public veneration. Despite the bad roads and other difficulties in reaching the secluded Maronite monastery in Annai, people flocked there day and night, walking on foot across mud and difficult mountain passes, with the host of the sick among them. All tried to touch the coffin or obtain a relic. Curiously enough, nobody knows how these people learned that the coffin with Father Charbel’s body would be displayed in public. Those who were not able to obtain any relic plucked the leaves of the oak tree under which Father Charbel used to pray next to his hermitage. Soon, the old oak was totally stripped of its leaves. The leaves were cooked, and the extract was served to the sick as medicine.

Miracles attributed to the intercession of St Charbel have been recorded by monks since 11 November 1926. Since the day his body was displayed in public in 1950, the number of miraculous cases of healing has grown by tens of thousands. That year was named the year of St Charbel’s miracles. These are two miracles from this period:

I come from Mayfuk. Tumours appeared all over my body, which the doctors could not heal. Then my aunt from Annai said that the prior of St Maron’s monastery, Father Butros Junus, had a few drops of the blood of God’s servant, Father Charbel. ‘Believe in his intercession, ask the prior for a drop of this relic and rub it into your tumours, and you will be healed right away. Then, throw away the medicine, because you will not need it anymore’, my aunt said. So I asked the prior for a drop of Father Charbel’s blood and rubbed it into the tumours before going to bed. I woke up in the morning healed. The disease had completely disappeared!”

Butros Bishara Salame

My wife, Elizabeth (aged forty-five), had been sick with cancer for five years. Over that time, she had received treatment from many famous Lebanese doctors. They decided that she should undergo surgery. After the operation and many other therapeutic sessions, the disease not only did not abate but grew even more acute. We then heard about miracles performed through the intercession of St Charbel and felt that there was some hope for us. We went to the monastery in the late summer of 1950. When a priest carried the Blessed Sacrament in procession around the hermitage, Elizabeth asked God for the intercession of St Charbel and that she should be healed. Suddenly, he appeared to her in front of the picture of the hermitage patron, St Peter, as if raising his hand in a blessing in a beam of light. Elizabeth then felt that the pain that had pierced her back and abdomen began to subside and spread to her side like an electric current. By the time the procession was over, the disease had disappeared altogether. Since then, she has been very well, as fresh as a daisy.”

Mansur Yusef Sabir, Elizabeth’s husband

Not only Lebanon The healings and conversions performed by Christ through the intercession of St Charbel are a gift not only to the Lebanese people but also to the Church around the world. A hymn glorifying the hermit proclaims: “From the celebrated monastery in Annai, Charbel has lit a bright lamp, and the Church around the world prays and desires: Charbel, pray for us!” For over a decade, St Charbel has become increasingly popular in Sweden, America, Russia, the UK and Africa, as well as in Poland. Here are several testimonies of recent healings through his intercession.

Several months ago, we experienced powerful Divine care through the intercession of St Charbel. Our seven- month-old son, Michael, began to show symptoms that were initially diagnosed as a three-day fever and then as laryngitis. Medicines were prescribed, but his condition deteriorated. Other symptoms appeared: growing abdomen pain and problems with crawling. We decided to go to the hospital, where, after a few tests, we were immediately referred to the isolation ward. The test results were very alarming: acute inflammation of the organism. It was the gravest case in the entire ward, and the doctors, despite a succession of tests, could not find the cause of the disease.

We waged a campaign of prayer for heavenly intervention, asking also our friends to pray for little Michael. Greatly worried, we placed his life in God’s hands, saying: ‘This is your child, not ours. You alone take it in your care and see to its health and life.’ Michael’s godfather brought an exorcised crucifix, which stayed with us until the end of our hospital stay.

During the treatment, we rubbed St Charbel’s oil into Michael’s body twice: once in the place of his kidneys, which at a certain moment were diagnosed as a focal point of the infection, and then into his operated left leg. After rubbing the oil into the inflamed place on the leg, something extraordinary happened: blood began to seep from it. An orthopaedist who saw this said that the wound had begun to cleanse itself in that way.

We left the hospital after a continuous two-month stay with a discharge summary featuring an endless list of the forms of treatment undertaken. A paediatrician, having studied our son’s test results, told us straight: ‘Somebody must have been praying for you very much. A few hours made the difference in saving Michael’s life.’

Our son is still under the doctors’ care. We are grateful to God for saving his life and to all those who prayed for us, above all St Charbel, and we are still praying for his full recovery with confidence and trust.”

Maria and Piotr

A paediatrician, having studied our son’s test results, told us straight: “Somebody must have been praying for you very much.”

For many years now, I have been working as a technologist. My work demands self-control and firmness. I have always believed that only being down-to-earth and holding emotions at bay will help me take reasonable decisions. Frequently, at turning points in my life, I have asked saints to intercede on my behalf. Recently, I have grown particularly attached to St Charbel.

In late February 2014, I felt very unwell. An unknown pain in my chest made me believe it was something serious. I was taken to an emergency room. Soon, it turned out I had an extensive myocardial infarction. I was immediately operated on, but unfortunately there were complications. On two occasions, my circulation stopped. Only later did I learn that the second time, the doctors had a really hard time trying to restore the pulse. After the surgery, I was in a serious condition, and the first EKG only confirmed the bad prognosis. Despite all this, I felt calm, although I was aware how serious the situation was. My life was still in danger.

After another operation, my heart began working normally again. As the hours and days passed, I felt increasingly better and was finally taken off the life-support apparatus. However, I remained in the emergency ward, together with other patients. Many of them were resuscitated: I heard some of them struggle for their life and others depart this world … I began praying for them on the rosary.

When my sister visited me after the operation, she said: ‘I have brought a visitor with me, a friend.’ I asked: ‘Is it Father Charbel?’ I was right. She gave me a picture of St Charbel. Next, my sons, Wojtek and Mateusz, came and said a prayer for recovery over me, with Wojtek anointing me with St Charbel’s oil.

At a certain moment, when I was praying on the rosary, I saw with closed eyes an absolutely real figure. I asked myself who it was. When the figure approached me, I recognised Father Charbel. He only said: ‘You wanted a miracle — you shall have one’, and disappeared. Surprised, I started thinking whether I had been thinking about a miracle at all … At that moment, I understood that my recovery actually required a true miracle!

The next day, I felt much better. Admittedly, my physiotherapist strongly suggested that I should resume my everyday activities very slowly, but I was back in my normal routine after just two days. Later, I was moved to another hospital, where a different physiotherapist suggested that I slowly climb the stairs. I climbed to the second floor without the least problem. What is more, my pulse rate did not increase a bit. The physiotherapist said that my heart was functioning properly. Nevertheless, I signed up for oneyear cardiology care support. After a year, I had further tests. Much to the doctor’s surprise, my heart was managing very well, despite the permanent damage done to it by the infarction.

So far, I have not felt any side effects of the infarction: no circulatory disturbances, organism insufficiency or even leg swelling. Stressful situations, in particular those related to my business, have become much easier for me to bear. St Charbel has truly surprised me. He is a matter-of-fact and straightforward person, and loving in his actions, too.”


Both St Charbel and other saints wish to support us in our fight with selfishness, hubris and other sins, as well as the forces of evil. Saints teach us to believe and trust in Christ in all the situations of our life and accompany us on our way to heaven! They are intent on convincing us to have a single crucial desire, as they do, which is complete belonging to Christ. For this to happen, we must radically break with all sin and grow to hate it, as well as praying daily and persistently and entrusting ourselves to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Only in Christ is there love, joy and peace. Hence, we consider the words of St Paul as our own: “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (Phil. 3:8–9).


The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!" in September 2020.

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