St Sharbel Makluf
Celebrated on July 24th
A Lebanese hermit. , born in 1828, Joseph Zaroun Makluf was raised by an uncle after his father, a mule driver, had died when he was three. At the age of 23, Joseph joined the Monastery of St Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, and took the name Sharbel in honour of a second-century martyr. He professed his final vows in 1853 and was ordained six years later.(1828-1898)
Following the example of the fifth-century St. Maron, Sharbel lived as a hermit from 1875 until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. When his superiors occasionally asked him to administer the sacraments to nearby villages, Sharbel did so gladly.
He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1965 and canonized him 12 years later.
Pope John Paul II often said that the Church has two lungs (East and West) and it must learn to breathe using both of them. Remembering saints like Sharbel helps the Church to appreciate both the diversity and unity present in the Catholic Church.
When Sharbel was canonized in 1977, Bishop Francis Zayek, head of the US Diocese of St Maron, wrote: “St Sharbel is called the second St Anthony of the Desert, the Perfume of Lebanon, the first Confessor of the East to be raised to the Altars according to the actual procedure of the Catholic Church, the honor of our Aramaic Antiochian Church, and the model of spiritual values and renewal. Sharbel is like a Cedar of Lebanon standing in eternal prayer, on top of a mountain.”