Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in 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 Antonious 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. From there, 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. He died on Christmas' eve, December 24th, 1898, and was buried in the St Maron monastery cemetery in Annaya.
Few months later, dazzling lights were seen around the grave. From there, his corpse, which had been secreting sweat and blood, was transferred into a special coffin. Hordes of pilgrims started swarming the place to get his intercession. And through this intercession, God blessed many people with recovery and spiritual graces.
In 1925, his beatification and canonization were proposed for declaration by Pope Pious XI. In 1950, the grave was opened in the presence of an official committee which included doctors who verified the soundness of the body. After the grave had been opened and inspected, the variety of healing incidents amazingly multiplied. A multitude of pilgrims from different religious facets started flocking to the Annaya monastery to get the saint's intercession.
Prodigies reached beyond the Lebanese borders. This unique phenomenon caused a moral revolution, the return to faith and the reviving of the virtues of the soul.
As a member of the Lebanese Maronite Order and as a Saint of the Maronite Church, St Charbel is an exemplar of the Maronite expression of Catholic holiness and values.
He had an intense veneration for the Most Holy Eucharist. His tireless kindness had made him loved by all. He became a monk at 23, a priest at 31, then a hermit at 46
People never saw his face when he was alive. He always kept his head down in church, at work or when walking, always looking to the ground. He would lift his eyes only to heaven. When in church, he always faced the altar with his eyes fixed on the tabernacle. However, when he died and was laying face upward, his eyes were closed, still not looking at anyone, exactly as in his lifetime.”
The hermitage at the summit of Annaya, which appear "like a globe suspended in the sky, dominating the valleys and surrounding mountains." Father Charbel slept on a mattress of straw with a log for a pillow. He took one meal a day and never ate meat or delicacies. His nourishment consisted of vegetables and herbs or other simple dishes. Though the hermit tilled the fields and took care of the vineyards, they never tasted the fruits of their toil.
In the sublime solitudes of the mountains of Lebanon, Anaya monastery, Saint Charbel prayed, meditated, contemplated and praised God for his wonders. And there he stayed—alone, isolated, mortified, poor, reflective, and silent—for the next twenty-three years in Christian “solitary confinement,” willingly separating himself from the world so he could more easily attach himself to Christ.
When someone, who is totally devoted to God prays, he makes God's all-powerful love present in the world. Father Charbel united to Christ, he would radiate the joy of his pure love to everyone he met; and that is why Jesus could work all kinds of miracles and signs through him.
The Miracle of Nagibe Al-Khoury
The Miracle of Mentally Ill
The mysterious light after his death
The mystery of his body
The Mysterious Photo
Since then, St Charbel has performed hundreds of thousands of miracles and to this current day in over 133 countries around the world. St Charbel has performed miracles to people that are sick, disabled, mentally ill and dying from various religions.
There are over 26,000 miracles attributed to the intercession of Saint Charbel Makhlouf since his death in 1898. You could say he has a bit of a track record—and he’s not slowing down anytime soon. These are some examples :
The healing of Sister Mary Abel Kamari of the Sacred Hearts -1950
The healing of Iskandar Obeid – 1950
The healing of Mariam Awad from Hammana – 1965
The healing of Samira Hannoch -1992
The healing of Nohad El Shami -1993
The healing of Raymond Nader-1994
The healing of Nadia Sader -1996
The miraculous healing of Hanna Jabbour -2012
The miraculous healing of Dafne Gutierrez’s vision -2016
The miraculous recovery of Côme de Cacqueray -2018