The Life of Saint Sharbel
Saint Sharbel Makhlouf, monk of the Lebanese Maronite Order (OLM)
O Lord, you inspired Saint Sharbel to live and die in the path of Jesus Christ.
You taught him how to live his monastic vows with perfection, in absolute silence, conforming his life to yours.
O mighty God, you spread the power of Saint Sharbel’s intercession through his multiple miracles and marvels.
Grant us the grace to love you and serve you as he did,
and grant us, through his intercession,
the petitions that we hold in the silence of our hearts.
Yousef Antoun Makhlouf was born on May 8, 1828, in the village of Bkaakafra (North Lebanon). He grew up in a religiously committed family and was raised in the Christian faith. He was inspired by the ascetic and monastic form of life practiced by the solitary hermits of the monastery of Saint Anthony-Kozhaya of the Lebanese Maronite Order, and early on in his life, desired to become a monk. He frequently withdrew to a grotto dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray and meditate. Villagers in Bkaakafra called him the “saint” for his piety, unwavering faith in Jesus Christ, and exemplary devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In many respects, the grotto became his first hermitage and altar of worship. In 1851 Yousef joined the Lebanese Maronite Order, choosing the name Sharbel. After two years of intense academic and spiritual formation, Sharbel took his religious vows of obedience, poverty and chastity on November 1, 1853 at Saint Maron’s monastery in the village of Annaya (Mount Lebanon). Having completed theological studies under many teachers including Saint Neematallah Hardini, Saint Sharbel was ordained a priest on July 23, 1859. He was single-minded in his pursuit of spiritual perfection.
Having spent 16 years as a monk in the community of the monastery of Annaya, Saint Sharbel formally requested to become a hermit. The “miracle of the lamp”, which gave light though filled only with water, convinced Saint Sharbel’s superiors that his request was truly of divine origin. On February 15, 1875, Saint Sharbel entered the hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul affiliated with the monastery of Saint Maron in Annaya, where he consecrated himself to a life of prayer, worship and manual labor.
Having spent 23 years in the hermitage, Saint Sharbel went to eternal rest in the Lord on Christmas Eve (December 24), 1898. Several months after his burial, light shone from his tomb. Upon the approval of Church authorities, Saint Sharbel’s body was exhumed and was found to be incorruptible and further examination showed that his body transpired blood and water like any living organism.
The news of the miraculous condition of Saint Sharbel’s body spread throughout the region and many flocked to the monastery of Saint Maron in Annaya, seeking the intercession of this saint. Reports of physical and spiritual healings began to be examined by Church authorities.
On January 5, 1965, at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Saint Sharbel was beatified by Pope Paul VI and was the only person to be beatified at the end of this Council. This brought great joy not only to the Lebanese Maronite Order but to the entire Catholic Church who witnessed this monumental event. Saint Sharbel was subsequently canonized by the same Pope on October 9, 1977.
Over the years, the fame of Saint Sharbel has spread throughout the entire world, with multiple healings and miracles attributed to his intercession. Many people continue to seek Saint Sharbel’s prayers for the healing of body and soul, and for the transformation of their life.