Brother Estephan Nehme was born in Lehfed, on March 8th, 1889. He was baptized on March 15th, 1889, at Our Lady Church of Lehfed, by Father Gerges Fadel. He was given the name of Youssef.
Youssef grew up in the warmth of his parents. He was the angel of the family. He used to run away from noise and prefer loneliness and quiet. When he wanted to pray, he went to a peaceful place where he could meditate and listen to God. He learnt the basics reading and writing as well as Christian teachings principles with the children of the village under the trees near the Church of Saint Estephan.
Since his childhood, Youssef loved God and holy Mother Mary. When Her name was mentioned, his heart jumped joyfully especially when he recited the rosary slowly, meditating each word and sentence. He prayed with deep faith and piety. He used to remind his family to start the traditional evening prayer that fermented the members and turn the Christians houses into a paradise corner.
He preferred to stay at home and pray late at night. Afterwards, he went to bed and repeated: “God can see me, God can see me. Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph, help me at the moment of death.”
In 1905, when he was 16-year-old, Youssef left his parental house heading to the Monastery of Saints Cyprian and Justine in Kfifane in order to become monk. Eight days later, he wore the novices’ cassock and took the name of “Estephanos”. On August 23rd, 1907, the Superior of the Convent, Father Youassaf Saker from Kfoun, blessed the simple vows of Brother Estephan who wore the novices’ cassock.
Brother Estephan was a “worker monk”. He worked in the fields and gardens of the monastery. He was responsible for the field. He learnt carpentry when he was in Mayfouk. Furthermore, he was good in construction and he was robust and sturdy. Thus, this tough monk spent his life in the fields of the Order. In the evening of Tuesday 30th of August 1938, B. Estephan passed away.
On December 17th, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI recognized Brother Estephan Nehme Venerable. Furthermore, the Congregation for the causes of saints was held in the Vatican to study the process of the beatification of the said monk.
When meditating the life of Brother Estephan Nehme and reviewing the testimonies and proofs on the continuous ascension of his mind and soul towards God, we can tell that this man was a spiritual citizen.
Since his childhood, he preferred remoteness, loneliness and silence. According to his brothers, he used to seek refuge in the fields where he could pray and meditate. He felt for a long time a great aspiration to join Christ and he consecrated thus his life to Him by choosing the monastic way.
Brother Estephan Nehme spent most of his time in the monasteries praying and working. His sole work consisted of working the land. Thus, his feet treated on its soil which was watered by his sweat. Both were mutually sanctified.
He used to participate in all masses without any exception. Afterwards, he spent the rest of the day praying, meditating, reciting the rosary, kneeling before the Holy Host and working the lands of the convent. For him, time was priceless. He was known by his poverty, his purity and his obedience. He talked few and whenever he had to warn someone, he did it in a low voice.
Brother Estephan was also known by his devoted love towards God as well as towards his brothers the monks and workers who used to help him. Those workers felt as if they were working with a loving brother and not with an authoritarian master. The love he bore to others required a continuous self-sacrifice. He loved the other more than himself. He gave food to hungry people, according to his relative Brother
Despite his eminent morals, his rigid piety and his progress in the frame of perfection, he was modest and humble that he neglected himself. His contemporaries said: “He reflected modesty and humbleness in each stage of his life. Thus, he has never boasted or shown off with one of the talents that God gave him. On the contrary, he built his monastic tower on the rigid basis of modesty and he reached an advanced rank of virtues. The smile had never quit his lips.”
Forty eight years after the death of B. Estephan, whereas his body was still safe and sound and people flow from the four corners of Lebanon in order to visit his tomb and get blessed by touching him and asking his intercession, and whereas God had performed extraordinary miracles through him and his news was spread all over the country as well as worldwide, the Lebanese Maronite Order submitted a file to the Holy See, enclosing all his virtues and asked for his venerability recognition.
His tomb was sealed with red wax and it was forbidden to touch his body.
Theological experts voted unanimously for the healing miracle attributed to him which is the healing of Sister Marina Nehmeh, his brother’s daughter, from osteosarcoma (bone cancer).