Saint Sharbel

In 1828, the very same year that St. Maroun Monastery in Annaya was built, and 80Km away in Bkaa Kafra – the highest village in the Middle East – Youssef Makhlouf was born.

At the age of 23, he joined the same monastic Maronite Lebanese Order as his maternal uncles, taking up the name Sharbel after one of the early martyrs of the Antiochian Syrian Church. His decision to join the monastic life was severely opposed by his uncle and guardian Tanious and by his mother, but he was not deterred.

He was ordained on July 23, 1859. As a priest he returned to serve in St. Maroun Monastery in Annaya for the next 16 years. On February 15, 1875, Sharbel was permitted to join the hermitage of Saints Paul and Peter in Annaya, where for 23 years until his death on Christmas Eve of 1898 he longed to totally consecrate his life to Jesus under the austere rules of the monastic life. Among these rules is this short route to holiness:

A hermit imprisons himself in his hermitage, adopting solitude and control of sense and mind. He does not leave his solitude but for an extreme necessity. He does not mix with people but with his brother monks, who are advanced in virtue, and speak little, because in the abundance of talking, even quality discussions, there is disturbance of prayer atmosphere.

Beatified on December 5, 1965, he was canonized Saint for the Whole Church on October 9, 1977.

Among his innumerable miracles is the healing of Nohad el Shami from partial paralysis on January 22, 1993. The night after the healing, he said to her in a dream: “I did the surgery to let people see and return to faith. I ask you to visit the hermitage on the 22nd of every month, and attend Mass regularly for the rest of your life.”

Thousands now congregate on the 22nd of every month to pray and celebrate the Mass in the hermitage of Saint Sharbel in Annaya.