Saint Nimatullah Youssef Kassab Al-Hardini was born in 1808 in Hardin, Lebanon. As a child, he as strongly influenced by the monastic tradition of the Maronite Church. Four of his brothers became priests or monks, and Youssef himself entered the Lebanese Maronite Order in 1828.The young man began religious life at the monastery of St Anthony in Qozhaya, near the Qadisha (Holy Valley), where he remained for two years until he began his novitiate and was given the name “Nimatullah”. During the novitiate, he deepened his life of personal and community prayer and dedicated time to manual labour, while also learning to bind books
Nimatullah was especially noted for his love of the Blessed Sacrament. During his free time – frequently at the sacrifice of sleep – he was often found in the chapel on his knees, arms raised in the form of a cross and eyes fixed on the tabernacle.On 25 December 1833 he was ordained a priest and became director of the scholasticate and a professor. During the two civil wars of 1840 and 1845, he suffered greatly with his people. His brother, Fr Elisha, suggested he withdraw to a hermitage, but he replied: “Those who struggle for virtue in community life will have greater merit”.
Throughout his life he had a special devotion to the Virgin Mary, his “source of strength”. He never tired of repeating her holy name, and carried a special place in his heart for the mystery of the Immaculate Conception (a dogma proclaimed by the Church in 1854). After the Angelus he would often repeat: “Blessed be the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin”.
In December 1858, while teaching at the monastery of Kfifan, he became gravely ill, a result of the bitter cold in that region. His condition worsened, leading to his death on 14 December. He died holding an icon of the Blessed Virgin and saying: “O Mary, to you I entrust my soul”. He was 50 years old.
While still alive, Fr Nimatullah was known as the “Saint of Kfifan”, a monk who gave himself completely to his brother monks and neighbours during a time of suffering in his Land and difficulty within his Order. Fr Nimatullah was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 10 May 1998.
Father Nimatullah lived a holy life. He was a man of prayer, totally "enraptured by God". He spent days and nights in meditation, prayer and adoration of the Eucharist. The Virgin Mary was his patron and Father Nimatullah prayed Her Rosary.
He was also a very humble, sensitive and patient person who lived his monastic vows of "obedience, chastity and poverty" to perfection. His fellow brother Monks and the people who knew him called him "The Saint" while he was still alive.
He died holding a picture of the Virgin Mary, his last words being: “O Virgin Mary between your hands I submit my soul.” People who were nearby at the moment of Father Nimatullah’s death witnessed a heavenly light illuminating his room and an aromatic smell which remained in his room for a number of days afterwards.
When the then Patriarch, Boulos Massad, heard of Father Nimatullah’s death he commented: “Congratulations to this monk who knew how to benefit from his monastic life.”
During his life, Father Nimatullah performed many miracles due to his deep spirituality, his high virtues and his radiant soul that became united to its Creator through prayer. “The Saint of Kfifan” had the charism of prophesy and hence became known as “a man of vision.” His presence always imposed a special respect, reverence and solemnity. Blessed Hardini was always known as “the saint of Kfifan” and was responsible for a number of miracles, including cures.
Miracles performed during his life
• The Saving of his student from the fall of a wall.
• The Saving of the monastery cows.
• The Healing of the Altar-boy from high fever
• The Provisions Wheat Box filled and spilled over
Miracles performed after his death
• The raising to life of a Muslim child whose mother claimed had died
• The healing of a person with a neurological disease