Oil dedicated to St Charbel on a prayer handkerchief
The Oil dedicated to St Charbel on a prayer handkerchief is in honour of Charbel Makhlouf, O.L.M. May 8, 1828 – December 24, 1898). He was a Maronite monk and priest from Lebanon. During his life he obtained a wide reputation for holiness and he has been canonized by the Catholic Church. He is known among Lebanese Christians for his miraculous healings. This is in answer to prayers said at his tomb, located at the Monastery of St. Maron.
Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born on May 8, 1828. They lived in the village of Bekaa Kafra, possibly the highest in the Lebanese mountains. His father, a mule driver, died in August 1831. Later his mother remarried a man who went on to seek Holy Orders. He became the parish priest of the village.
Youssef was raised in a pious home and became drawn to the lives of the saints and to the hermit life, as was practiced by two of his uncles. As a young boy, he was responsible for caring for the family’s small flock. He would take the flock to a grotto nearby, where he had installed an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He would spend the day in prayer.
In 1851, Youssef left his family and entered the Lebanese Maronite Order at the Monastery of Our Lady in Mayfouq to begin his training as a monk, later transferring to the Monastery of St. Maron in Annaya, located in the Jbeil District near Beirut. Here he received the religious habit of a monk and took the name Charbel, after a Christian martyr in Antioch from the 2nd century. He made his final religious profession in the Order on November 1, 1853.
As a young monk Charbel began his study of philosophy and theology at the Monastery of Saints Cyprian & Justina in Kfifan, in the Batroun District of Lebanon, to prepare himself for receiving Holy Orders. Among his professors at the seminary was Father Nimatullah Kassab, who was himself later also declared a saint. He was ordained six years later, on July 23, 1859, in Bkerke. He was sent back to St. Maron Monastery, where he lived a life of severe asceticism in the monastery.
In 1875, Charbel was granted by the abbot of the monastery the privilege of living as a hermit at the Hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul, a chapel under the care of the monastery. He spent the next 23 years living as a solitary hermit, until his death from a stroke on December 24, 1898.
Death and miracles
Charbel was interred at St. Maron’s Monastery on Christmas Day of that year. It was reported that, during the transport of his corpse, the inclement weather conditions hindered the pallbearers in carrying out their duty.
“Father Charbel died on the eve of Christmas; the snow was heavy. We transferred him to the monastery on Christmas day. Before we moved him, the snow was falling rapidly and the clouds were very dark. When we carried him, the clouds disappeared, and the weather cleared.” Statement by George Emmanuel Abi-Saseen, one of the pallbearers.
One story claims: “A few months after his death, a bright light was seen surrounding his tomb and the superiors opened it to find his body still intact. After that day, a blood-like liquid flowed from his body. Experts and doctors were unable to give medical explanations for the incorruptibility and flexibility.” In the years 1950 and 1952, his tomb was opened and his body supposedly still had the appearance of a living one.
The official site mentions: In this century his grave has been opened four times, the last time being in 1955, and each time “it has been noticed that his bleeding body still has its flexibility as if it were alive”; no mentioning of later openings . The Catholic Tradition website says: Father Joseph Mahfouz, the postulator of the cause, certified that in 1965 the body of Saint Charbel was still preserved intact with no alteration. In 1976 he again witnessed the opening of the grave; this time the body was completely decomposed. Only the skeleton remained.