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St. Charbel Makhlouf

St. Charbel Makhlouf

Feast date: Jul 24

On July 24, the Catholic Church celebrates the life of St. Charbel Makhlouf, a Maronite Catholic priest, monk, and hermit who is known for working miracles both during his life and after his death.

On the occasion of his beatification in 1965, the Eastern Catholic hermit was described by Pope Paul VI as “ a new, eminent member of monastic sanctity,” who “through his example and his intercession is enriching the entire Christian people.”

Born into humble circumstances in Lebanon during 1828, Yussef Antoun Makhlouf was the youngest of Antoun Zaarour Makhlouf and Brigitta Elias al-Shediyaq's five children. Antoun, who had been taken away from the family and forced into hard labor, died when his youngest son was only three.

Yussef studied at the parish school and tended to his family's cow. Engaged in prayer and solitude from a early age, he spent a great deal of time outdoors in the fields and pastures near his village, contemplating God amid the inspiring views of Lebanon's valleys and mountains.

His uncle and guardian Tanious wanted the boy to continue working with him, while his mother wanted him to marry a young woman. Yussef had other plans, however, and left home in 1851 without informing anyone.

Yussef would become “Brother Charbel,” after making a pilgrimage on foot to his new monastic home. In this, he followed the example of his maternal uncles, who were already living as solitary monks at the Hermitage of Saint Paul in the Qadisha Valley.

Charbel took his monastic vows in November of 1853, during a solemn ceremony which was closed to the public and off-limits even to his family. He subsequently studied for the priesthood and was ordained, returning to the Monastery of St. Maron.

The priest-monk lived and served in the monastery for 19 years, showing great devotion to the life of prayer, manual work, and contemplative silence.

Charbel's superiors observed God's “supernatural power” at work in his life, and he became known as a wonder-worker even among some Muslims. In 1875, he was granted permission to live as a solitary monk in a nearby hermitage dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul.

Rigorous asceticism, and a profound union with God, continued to characterise the monk's life for the next 23 years. Deeply devoted to God's Eucharistic presence, he suffered a stroke while celebrating the Divine Liturgy of the Maronite Catholic Church on December 16, 1898. He died on Christmas Eve of that year.

St. Charbel's tomb has been a site for pilgrimages since his death. Hundreds of miracles are believed to have occurred through his intercession with God, both in Lebanon and around the world.

He was canonised in 1977 by Pope Paul VI, who had earlier hailed the Lebanese Maronite saint as an “admirable flower of sanctity blooming on the stem of the ancient monastic traditions of the East.”

Cardinal visits Ukraine, conveys closeness of pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of State, visited Ukraine to hold high-level meetings, meet local Catholics and represent Pope Francis at the final stop of a pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine of Berdychiv.

"My presence in Ukraine (is) to bring in person the closeness of the pope," the cardinal said July 22 on the Secretariat of State's official X account.

The cardinal met with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and other government officials in Kyiv July 23 and "reiterated the pope's closeness and commitment to find a just and lasting peace for martyred Ukraine," the secretariat said on X.

Zelenskyy said on his official X account July 23, "We discussed the consequences of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the ongoing aerial terror, the difficult humanitarian situation, and the outcomes of our meeting with Pope Francis in June in Italy." 

parolin zelenskyy
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, meets Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, during his visit to Ukraine July 23, 2024. (CNS photo/Volodymyr Zelenskyy via X)

"We focused particularly on the decisions of the first Peace Summit and the Vatican’s role in establishing a just and lasting peace for Ukraine. I am grateful for (the) Cardinal’s support of our country and people," the post said.

"I appreciate this significant gesture of support for Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, and our desire to live peacefully in our own state. It is essential for us and for the cause of peace that the Vatican remains active in protecting lives and supporting the implementation of the Peace Formula, particularly regarding the release of prisoners," Zelenskyy wrote on X July 23.

Cardinal Parolin's visit from July 19-24 included stops in Kyiv, Odesa, Berdychiv, and Lviv. On July 23 he visited the Okhmatdyt children's hospital in Kyiv, which still showed signs of Russian bombing July 8. 

The cardinal visited the different wards that have been reopened and spoke with the young patients and their parents, the secretariat said on X July 23. He greeted and encouraged the medical staff and looked at drawings made by the children.

Cardinal Parolin also visited Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halych and head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. 

He went to the cathedral, which continues to function as a "refuge" for people during Russian airstrikes, said a press release from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church July 23.

The cardinal "expressed his support and gratitude for the humanitarian missions of our church and he was pleasantly surprised by our progress," the press release said.
The cardinal and archbishop also discussed the Vatican's efforts to free prisoners of war. 

"It was emphasized the need to be able to visit prisoners of war, both military and civilian, who are illegally detained in Russia, bringing them food, needed clothes, and, especially religious literature, which they need for their spiritual life," the press release said.

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