Born with the name Youssef Antoun Makhlouf, Youssef entered the Lebanese Maronite Rite monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq in 1851, taking the name Brother Charbel.
The private and prayerful rhythm of monasticism suited Brother Charbel, enabling him to grow in intimacy with Our Lord through continuous prayer. However, in this prayerful relationship, Brother Charbel felt the Lord calling him away from the community of monasticism into an even more contemplative life, a life spent almost entirely alone with the Lord—the life of a hermit.
Brother Charbel was granted permission to enter the hermitage of Sts. Peter and Paul in 1875. Tradition surrounding St. Charbel says that his request was approved after a brother monk refilled St. Charbel’s lamp with water rather than oil and witnessed it miraculously burn through the night nonetheless.
Brother Charbel spent the next 23 years as a solitary hermit, embracing his vocation of poverty and prayer until his death on December 24th, 1898.
While alive, Brother Charbel lived a quiet, simple life. But in his death, the many miracles continually attributed to him made him famous.
While attempting to transport his body for burial, his pallbearers were met with an immense snowfall impeding their travels. Already set on their journey, they had to keep moving forward on their trek. Suddenly, the sky cleared entirely, allowing them to transfer Br. Charbel safely to his burial site.
The grave itself became the site of many miracles. Over the years, dozens of witnesses reported heavenly lights coming from the exact place where he was buried. His body was exhumed three times over the next hundred years, and each time, witnesses were amazed to see that his body appeared incorrupt. It maintained lifelike flexibility and exuded sweat and blood, even decades after his death. In 1954, this miracle of his incorruptibility was recorded on television.
However, in 1975, his body was exhumed and found entirely decomposed, leaving only bones. Pilgrims continue to flock to the gravesite of the “Miracle Monk of Lebanon,” where his powerful intercession has been credited with many miraculous healings of body and soul. He was canonized on October 9th, 1977.
Like St. Charbel, let us embrace a life of total union with Christ. Meditate upon the life of Christ with this Jerusalem Crucifix containing soil from the Holy Land, the very land Christ journeyed upon. This crucifix is inspired by the rich Eastern tradition of Catholicism, the very same tradition St. Charbel was immersed in, and makes the perfect aid for your daily prayer, hermit or not! Get yours today at The Catholic Company!