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Lebanon  
Saint Sharbel
From his Contemporaries To our Era

by Father Hanna Skandar
 
 
Sharbel Crazy by God
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    Introduction  
 Sharbel Crazy by God!
 
 
1   Chapter I: The first journey 1
  1.1 Youssef Anton, in Bkaakafra

             1 – A Holy Family

His father is Antoun Zaarour “Abu Hanna" from Bkaakafra, and his mother Brigitta Elias Yaakoub Al-Shediak from Becharre. He had two brothers: Hanna and Beshara, and two sisters: Kaoneh and Wardeh, he was the youngest. The origin name of Fr. Sharbel was Youssef; he changed it when he entered the Order. His father was a simple farmer like the majority people in his village; he was living from the cultivation of his properties, while his mother took care of the house chores. His parents were pious and righteous; they were interested in raising their children due the true Christian education.

            2 - The death of the father during forced labor

At that time, the army of the prince of Lebanon Emir Beshir Shehab was making use of the owners of pack animals, to transfer to Beit Eddin the crops of the prince, including all kinds of grains.  

 In the harvest season of the year 1832 Anton Zaarour had a beast for burden, he was working in the region of Mejdlaya (a town between Zgharta and Tripoli).There, he was restrained for forced labor. He carried on his donkey a crop from Mejdlaya to Jbeil to be sent after that to Beit Eddin. In his coming back from Jbeil to Bekaakafra, he reached Gharfine where he got ill then died and got buried. So on August 8, 1831, Antoun Zaarouz gave up his last breath in Gharfine located in the region of Jbeil due to forced labor. His widow took care of the children with the help of his brother Tannous Zaarouz.

       3 – The birth and the Baptism of Sharbel

     The House of St Sharbel's maternal grandfather, where he was born, is still in Khaldiyeh; it was renovated and converted into a church.

They said that Brigitte used to come to Khaldiyeh in winter with her family and their cattle, to escape the cold and poverty. She helped her parents during the olive harvest and stayed there for four months. Youssef (St. Sharbel) was born there in the winter of 1833, after few months of the death of his father(1).  He got baptized in the ancient church of Our Lady of Khaldiheh, or in the church of Our Lady of Bkaakafra.  

[ 1 - for three reasons:
  • The mother still young, she gave birth after her second marriage for two kids: Tannous on September 8, 1834 ... and Noah on July 3, 1837.

  • Youssef is the last child, from her first marriage, and more likely that the mother was pregnant before the death of his father.

  • The priest must have with him when he entered the Order, a certificate attesting to his birth, baptism, and confirmation... So the calendar of Annaya which recorded that he was 20 years old in 1853 is more logical.]

              4-The remarriage of his mother

 Brigitta married Lahoud Georges Ibrahim, in the month of October, 1833. Then she moved with him, to Shlifa and Btedii where he owned some lands. Around the year 1850, Lahoud ordained a priest, and called Fr. Abdel-Ahad. He did not serve in Bkaakafra, but in the region of Baalbek, and he died on the year 1853.  

               5 -An orphan under the uncle guardianship

 Youssef lived as an orphan. His uncle Tannous raised him with his siblings. The children remained in the house after the remarriage of their mother. Brigitta was overlooking them from time to time. They looked after each other, under the supervision of their uncle Tannous, and their distant relatives.

              6-The monastery school of St. Hawshab

Youssef learned to read and write, according to the custom of those days, by the priests of the village, in the monastery of St. Hawshab, the village school at that time. He was carrying a prayer book always in his hands. He had a good character and cared for his brothers. Youssef grew up with age, knowledge, piety and righteousness. He was a good example, in word and deed, among the children of his village. He prayed a lot, and often went to confession and Holy Communion.

              7 - Joke among the disaster 

Youssef was smart and intelligent; sometimes inclined to joke; he had many jokes, of course in the context of politeness.

    It was raining on Monday, October 12, 1842 (2).  Rain was abundant, followed by a torrent which rushed to Shaghoura in Becharre, close to the "Cedars of God". He described the scene in a popular poem, and recited it in the village school, where he was learning to read and write with other friends:   

  A small flood has started in "Toum Elmezrab" (3)

    and then went down to Shaghoura  

 The Arabs in "Daher El-Qadib" said;

  "The relief that comes from God is near"  

 This is a great opportunity for the wolf;

           to attack a sheep or a lamb  

The residents of Becharre first said: we could make a visit 

         This is a cloud that does not last; a passing   cloud;  

When it reached Becharre the people got confused

           Let's bring our shovels to close the gaps  

This torrent raked the valley and left no standing wall

People were screaming and calling, what a wonderful scene!  

When it arrived to Hadchit it took the greater fame and glory

The walls collapsed, the largest buildings were demolished  

Then it reached  Qanoubine , pouring right and pouring left

The residents got troubled,   and hid themselves in the dens  

In the Valley of Faradice it redoubled its efforts and became stronger

People carried the image of the Saint and said: deliver us O Saint

The inhabitants of Bqarqacha, these gazelles, all lost Sleiman  

Youssef Hanna, the crooked teeth, projected in the pit  

In the pit he covered it and called his uncle Sarkis

He came to dust off his gown, instead he ripped it down   

As for the inhabitants of Bqaakfra their appearance turned pale

When they decided to move they used boats not beasts 

The residents of Hasroun and Bazoun were afraid of the stream  

They said, let's cut branches and shrubs to fill the slots 

Then it reached Hadad and Qnat, a farmer-member died

Hanging on a mulberry tree, in the garden of Hantoura

The owners of the mill, "Shahla ", fled in terror;

The miller took it slightly, and then of fear he filled the pit (4)

The owners of the mill, "Blatt "exclaimed

"Bring us the mud to coat, and clay the cracks.  

When it arrived to Joura   O God, what a scene!

the largest trees in that grounds, was carried to "AlKura".  

  At "Tourza" it came with force, all the trees bent,

"O people! What can we do, we have never seen such a scene!" 

 At Raskifa, the inhabitants, were sick of life

The flood carried away the soil, and opened hundred graves 

At Kosba, it grew stronger and became more violent,

 It uprooted all the trees with unimaginable force.  

In Bsarma, a torrent, of overwhelming pride

Didn’t spare a hand-less jar, or strainer or small jar.  

At Kfarquahel (5), the people were traitors and deserved it

The strongest walls collapsed and left no more traces.

 When it arrived to "Dahr ElAain" it raked both sides

They said: "the bad luck strikes us, the sign is clear enough."  

At "Abu Ali" the waves rose, higher and higher 

Some people were killed, and others abandoned their houses.  

When it reached El-Mina, it raged and roared more

Flowing from right and left, the punishment of God was visible.  

The sea water became muddy; the high tides exceeded any expectation  

If it lasted a little longer, it would spare no boat.

   [ 2- The eyewitness ,Salim Khairalah, described the flood: At 3:00pm the river of "Abu-Ali"overflowed and the water covered the bridge; devastated the iron gate (Bab Al Hadid), Al-Suwaïqa, the Slaughterhouse, the  "Haraj" market, Al-Milaha, and attacked with rage the Christian quarter. Markets and shops had been swallowed up; the water reached the ceiling; the houses, by force of the waves, collapsed on its people ; cattle, horses, donkeys and camels fled away; the sycamore and poplars trees were uprooted; men, women and children drowned in the markets; approximately the third of the region, was devastated; the stores were completely damaged with their contents: furniture, copper items, mattresses, blankets, supplies, gold and silver; were estimated at 3,000 bags of gold (each bag 500 pound);  damage also in gardens, in windmills and fruit trees surpassed the 2,000 bags of money. More than 100 women died because of terror ,which was so weird ! The waters rose, about 6 feet above the bridge. The whole event took place in half an hour, if God didn't take care of his creatures, more people would have drowned in the water.  But at 4:00pm the River calmed down, the water was so muddy and dark like the clay, but God had mercy in his people. If the flood had lasted another quarter of an hour, two-thirds of the region might be affected, and if this had happened in the night, we would have suffered similar losses; if God didn't save us, we would have been died with the rest of the people. To Him be praise in all circumstances, now and forever. Amen. When the water flowed back , the Basha came with some divers, they collected all the treasures carried by the 'flood", and he won lot of money. ]

  [ 3- Toum Al Mezrab and Dahr al Qadib are two peaks of the mountain "Al Makmel" which is the highest mountain in Lebanon, at an altitude of 3080m ]

  [4- The word is not clear, it means he was at first mocking from the flood then he collapsed from fear.]

  [5- At that time, its inhabitants were from the lineage of princes....they were oppressors and any bride should spend her first night of marriage among them.]

              8-The "Rock of the Saint" and the cow             

 He used to plow his father's properties, isolated himself away from other children of his age, and avoided the frequent contact with people; seeking solitude and loneliness, not only to pray but also to avoid unpleasant conversations. He led his cow, which he inherited from his father, to pasture, while he sat aside in a place called "the rock of Bhaiss", a rock that resembled to a cave, a property of his family, and a prayer book in his hand. He visited this place quite often, that the people called it the "Rock of the Saint." When the cow had eaten enough, he let her rest, saying:" Rest now, "Zahra" it's my turn and not yours, I want to pray."   So he prayed, even when his cow rested, then again, if the cow got up to eat, he told her:"Do not start now, wait till I finish my prayer because I cannot talk with you and God at the same time, God is my priority." There, he spent a long time absorbed in prayer, and we never heard that he left his cow ruined the property of others.

              9 - "The Saint" and the cave.

Since his childhood, Sharbel felt a deep desire for prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He was kneeling in the church, like a monument, without moving, prayed alone, and went to the grotto for prayer, the fact that aroused astonishment, and sometimes the scorn of his peers. This cave is called so far, "the Cave of the Saint." It's located south of Bkaakafra, and it belonged to his family.

 There, he took refuge so often, carried a handful of incense that was burning before an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where he laid a bouquet of flowers. Because of his great devotion, his tendency to prayer, his attendance to the mass and the ritual liturgy, and his distinction by his good behavior; the people in the village called him "the Saint". At first, to make fun of him, but then, God accomplished their prediction by making him actually a saint.    

             10 - Miseries

His step-mother, the wife of his uncle Tannous who was his guardian, died on 9/9/1839, when Sharbel was six years old. Also when he was seven, the civil war broke against the Egyptians and killed at least two people from Bkaakafra, by the soldiers of Ibrahim Basha, in the summer of 1840.  At the age of 14, an outbreak of the contagious cholera widespread, and at least one person from Bkaakafra died and buried outside the village on 11/10/1847.

 In the ambiance, of these tragedies and natural death, Youssef wrote a poem describing the fact, especially the dead of young people, either by murdering or because of illness, and then he reflected on the eternity:  

         Poetry:
            O ye tears!  Pour yourselves! The sun of life declined; 
            Death struck me and closed my lids; my parents bore me no more;
            They called the priests to funeral and covered my body with soil; 
            O sinner! Submerged in the sea,

 Thou art a passing shadow in life;

 Death came knocking at your door

 What was the use of being young!  

             11 - Weddings: early marriages

Early marriages were common in the old society; Sharbel was almost 12 years, when his sister, Kaoneh, got married in March 19, 1845 at the age of fifteen. In less than two months, his brother Hanna got married in May 3, 1845, at the age of sixteen, and had a baby girl at the end of March 1846.

 
  1.2- Sharbel the Monk

            1 - The two maternal uncles of Saint Sharbel   

Fr. Sharbel had two maternal uncles: Youssef and Antonios, sons of Elias El-Shediac, who had no other children; both entered the Lebanese Order. The first, took the name of Augustin, the second, was called Daniel. Fr. Daniel was the youngest, but he was ordained before his brother. Being the eldest, Augustin remained at his father’s house to serve him because he was already old and didn't have anybody to take care of him. After the death of the father, the elder brother followed the youngest; fulfilling two sacred obligations. Both were virtuous hermits, and thus the proverb came true with St. Sharbel: "Although the boy changes, he looks like his maternal uncle." The two monks were born in their village Becharre or in Khaldieh where the family had spent the winter. Daniel pronounced his vows on 2/29/1838 and was ordained a priest on 6/20/1841. He lived with St. Sharbel in the monasteries of Kfifane and Maifouq. He was the spiritual father of St. Al-Hardini Nehemtallah, while Augustin pronounced his vows on 7/1/1841 and was ordained on 3/23/1847, he remained on the convent of Kozhaya and then transferred to Our Lady of Maiifouk convent.

 After that, the two brothers were transferred to the convent of Kozhaya to remain there after 11/2/1874. Then, Daniel entered the hermitage of Saint Boula-Ghebta that belongs to Kozhaya convent, before February 8/1875, his brother Augustin followed him.

  Both of them died as hermits; Fr. Augstin the hermit died, provided with the last rites, he died suffering from dropsy, in the state of holiness on 11/1/1884.  Fr. Daniel the hermit died, already well advanced in age, provided by the last rites, on March 23, 1895. He was virtuous, he passed away, saying: " I long to resolve myself, to be with Christ."  

              2-On the way to the priesthood... in the convent of Kozhaya

Sharbel remained in the village until the age of eighteen; he did not infatuated with entertainment, nor to hang out with youngsters, rather he  sought solitude, isolation and prayer. He used to go with his brother Hanna, to visit his two uncles. Once Fr. Daniel went to Bqaakafra and when he wanted to go back to the convent, he asked Hanna Antoun Zaarour, to allow his brother Youssef to accompany him, Hanna said: "Uncle, I am afraid that Youssef will never come back and will stay in the convent, if he goes with you."

Daniel replied: "I hope that he will enter the Order, there's nothing worth it in this world." Then Youssef accompanied his uncle to the monastery of Kozhaya. 

                   3-In the monastery of Mayfouq: follow me: (Mk 2/14)

  After eight days from his returning to Bkaakafra, Youssef entered the Order accompanied by Fr. Daniel, to the Monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq, where his uncle lived at that time. There, Youssef entered the novitiate and called Sharbel on August 8, 1851.  He stayed in his secular clothes for eight days, after which he  put on  the monastic custom; which means he had to go deeper in spirit and neglected the body; knowing  that he  left his biological  parents , and surrendered himself to  his spiritual parents. (the superior and the novices’ teacher).  During the period of novitiate, he performed his duties perfectly, and was very pleased by his vocation. He was a model in the observation of the monastic rules and regulations, and an example in his obedience to the superiors, and his love for his brethren.  

   4-The name of Sharbel

 Sharbel is a Syriac name, a compound of two words; sharb means story or tale, and El means God; the name of Sharbel therefore means the story or the anecdote of God. This name was carried by a Syriac martyr who was the Bishop of Edessa (now in Turkey), and was crucified in 121. Several monks of the Lebanese Maronite Order bore the name of Sharbel. The remains of St. Sharbel's church are still in Bqoufa, near Baghlett-Becharre. It's known till today, that part of the territory of Baghlett-Becharre near Bqoufa, belongs to Al-Shidiac family; the family of Sharbel's mother. Sharbel may have visited frequently the properties of his maternal grandfather and became aware of Saint Sharbel, the patron saint of that church, and would have prayed there.  

     5 - He didn't look back (Lk 9/62)

            First, his uncle and guardian, Tannous, followed him, then his mother and after that, his two brothers, Hanna and Beshara; they all tried to prevent him from entering the Order and bring him back home, but he refused to return with them. After that, his mother Brigitta went to Mayfouk, where Sharbel was a novice, accompanied by her brother-in-law, Tannous Zaarour, she tried again to bring her son back to the village, watching the exit of the novices who were heading to the fields, hoping to see her son. When she saw him, she rushed and grabbed him by the habit, while he was staring at the ground, and she said: "Come home with me." He took advantage of her distraction, escaped from her and followed his brothers. About twelve times, she and his uncle Tannous went there to bring him back to Bqaakafra but they failed. In Mayfouq the people called him a "Holy Spirit"; he raked behind the laborers, kept his eyes lowered to the ground; he looked at no one and spoke to no one.

  6-Do not grieve for Youssef (Lk 23.28)

            When Brigita had despaired from the returning of her son Youssef to Bqaakafra, she felt a great sadness that the signs appeared on her face; for she was always thinking of Youssef. Then, after the death of her daughter, Wardeh, the villagers told her: "Do not grieve for Youssef; God put you to the test, by the death of your young daughter." Wardeh died, on November 22, 1851, bearing the last sacraments.

 7-Wardeh….the fervent

She was a very pious girl addicted to prayer; she prayed with great fervor, knelt upright, raised her arms and recited the rosary. She was engaged to Tannous Hanna El Khaïssi; and she had a long rosary in her pocket, so when the villagers saw her praying , they told her:"Your rosary is so long, once you get married, do your stepmother let you recite it?" She replied: "Let me die before walking into her house." Indeed, her wish was granted, because she died a virgin and betrothed. She kept saying:"O my Lord, bring the good, and take away the evil, I'd rather die before I get married if the marriage does not delight you." It was said that her cousin, Antoun Boutros Zaarour, saw a dove getting out the window of her house when she died.

 When her fiancé came to visit her, while she was kneeling and praying her arms outstretched, she used to tell her niece, the daughter of Hanna: "Stand behind me, block between me and my fiancé by lifting your arms like me, so I can complete my prayers.” 

 8-A crazy adventure (Mt 18/8-9)

          The Superior General and his councils banned the joint work between monks and women in the treatment of silkworms, even if this affected the monasteries incomes. Therefore, it became accustomed in Mayfouq to send the novices to peel the bars of mulberry branches and pluck them, while women and girls in the other hand, took care of feeding the worms, in the same house.
         It happened that one of those girls, who worked at the convent, noticed the decency of Fr. Sharbel, which distinguished him from others. Willing to test him, she threw at him a silkworm from above where she stood, then came down to pick up the worm and put it in his hand; so he left the monastery at night, and went to the convent of Saint Maron Annaya which is isolated and far away from the civilization.
         Therefore, we read in the diary of Mayfouq convent, opposite the name of brother Sharbel the term "defrocked", which means that he left the Order.
But when Sharbel recounted this event to the superior of the convent of St. Maron Annaya, the latter, had consulted the Superior General about this novice, then the Superior General granted approval to admit Sharbel, in the convent of St. Maron Annaya to resume his second year of novitiate.The term "defrocked" annoyed his brother Hanna, but he knew that the real reason for leaving Mayfouq was his desire to a complete withdrawal from the world. Fr. Ephrem of Bqaakafra, one of his fellow villagers, was at that time, in the monastery of Saint Maron Annaya.  

   9-You have the words of eternal life (Jn 6:68)                                                           

After this news, Brigitta hastened to bring him back to Bkaakafra.  So, while he was leaving the monastery of Saint Maron with the novices, to work in the field, she rushed towards him held him by his habit, insisting to bring him back with her. But when she found that he was persisted in his vocation, she told him: "Either stay firm in the Order and become a good priest, or come back home immediately with me."  Sharbel replied: " What you have said, be done."  

 10-My burden is light (Mt 11:30)

After the novitiate, Sharbel made his solemn vows, and wore the angelic hood, handed from the higher priest of the monastery of Annaya, Fr. Antonios Al-bani, on November 1/1853, at the age of twenty. At that time, the solemn vows were pronounced only one time, while celebrating.

             11-We will meet again in heaven (Mk 3: 31-35)

            Birgitta went again to visit her son in the convent of Annaya after his solemn vows. She requested to see him urgently, but he didn't confront her, instead he talked some few words with her, from inside while she stayed outside. She told him: "Thus, you deprive me from seeing you, my son?" She was astonished and admonished from his behavior. He replied:" If I don't see you now, we'll meet again in heaven." Sad and moved to tears, the mother went back home. Sharbel has done so according to the novice policy: do not speak with non-monks of his family and others. As for the females, the novice  should do his best with the superior, not to force him to meet them , and if he was obliged to do so, he must strive not to look at their faces and talk briefly with them; observing the monastic rules, a monk should be away from women even the relative ones. ( 6)

  [6- Qoraali, the founder of the Order of St. Sharbel, explained: It is known that many of the hermits saddened their parents and relatives because they didn't allow them to talk with them, to see them, or to spend time together; as it is well known from the biography of Fr. Simeon the Pillar, and Fr. Benyamin and his brothers, and many others.] 

             12 - I give you rest (Mt 11/28)

He was tightly bound to his oath and his responsibilities. We couldn’t give him even the slightest criticism, about what he did in his entire life. His work, his behavior and his appearance were all phenomenal which imposed respect and reverence. He had never known an air of lassitude even at the end of his life, quite the contrary; he was growing more and more in righteousness, devotion and piety. He practiced all the virtues in a way that surpassed everyone and every monk, constantly and consistently without any weakness or fragility; promptly and willingly. He had no more thoughts than to think about God, no more tongue than to praise God, no more voice than to bless God. He was an example in the observance of the rules and the performance of his duties, to the point if someone is asked to perform a difficult job, he replied:  “Do you think I am Fr. Sharbel to ask me to do all of these?  I cannot live like Fr. Sharbel or work like him."

 When the lay people, saw Fr. Sharbel in this state; constantly kneeling in continuous silence, in uninterrupted prayer and total devotion during the Mass; doing the hardest job like the least of the servant, dressing despicably, neglecting the worldly matter, they said: "Congrats to him, this monk has lived as the past Saints and hermits of whom we’ve read in the book of martyrology, he strengthened our belief and we blamed ourselves for our commitment to this perishable world." 

               13 -Alishaa the hermit ... a spiritual father for Sharbel

 Fr. Alishaa "the Saint", discovered the Charisma of Sharbel, since he had met him in the novitiate, in the monastery of Annaya ... Sharbel used to visit Alishaa frequently in his hermitage, and he took him as his spiritual father, early in his monastic life. After his solemn vows, it was decided to keep Sharbel in the convent; so he remained three years in Annaya.  Alishaa benefited from the presence of Sharbel near him, and he took a personal initiative to give him linguistic and theological lessons, on Sundays and Holidays. After Rome had appointed the monastic authority in 1856, St. Al-Hardini Nehemtallah assigned as a general counsel. Therefore, Alishaa asked his brother to send Sharbel to the Monastery of Kfifane to study and become a priest. He saw in him, in spirit, a Holy priest. 

              14 - Sharbel...student of St. Nehemtallah Al-Hardini 

 His superiors sent him to the Theological Institute at Saint Cyprien in Kfifane to complete the necessary studies for the priesthood. At that time, the principal of the Institute was father Nehemtallah Al-Kafri, a man of goodness and knowledge. In this atmosphere of learning and sanctity, brother Sharbel found what he was looking for.

 He accomplished, by his efforts and diligence the greatest part of his studies in moral theology, besides the fundamentals of Syriac and Arabic languages, and a harvest of another good part of the monastic virtues and of Christian perfection. When Fr. Al-Kafri was absent, Saint Nehemtallah Al-Hardini replaced him in teaching.  Sharbel was one of the best and the most talented students, smart and diligent, skillful in moral theology, and excellent in his other theological studies.  His superiors and teachers showed full appreciation when it came to his person; praising his virtues and his monastic ideal behavior, so that he never had to be admonished or punished. He was a good model when he prayed, kneeling, on the same spot. There was neither pews in church, nor kneelers. His kneeling showed his perfect devotion, so that other students felt a deep respect when they saw him in this position, which led them to call him a "Saint".

 Al-Hardini said: "I have a Holy student, who is brother Sharbel from Bqaakafra." When he died on12/14/1858, Sharbel was present.  

            15-A pious mother                                                                                  

Some women in Bqaakafra worked on spinning "cocoons worm" to weave silk   shirts, between them Brigitta the mother of Fr. Sharbel. If she hears the bell ring for the vigil Sunday, she would abandon her work to attend the prayer, and did not return to it, till Monday. Brigitta used to fast every day until noon; she retained this purpose until the end of her life; refraining from eating meat by applying a vow that she had promised. She used to go to the convent of the Carmelite Fathers in Becharre to confess. Once, she told her confessor about her vow of daily fasting and abstinence from eating meat for life; he allowed her to fast but forbade her to abstain completely from eating meat saying: "You are obliged to taste the dish that you prepare with meat for your family, because you do not make two kinds of food, so you have to eat what you cook, but I request that you pray the rosary every day, instead of eating greasy food. 

16- To serve not to be served             

After the success of Sharbel in his studies, he was ordained a priest on July 23, 1859, by laying on the hands of Bishop Joseph Al-Marid. Later his niece, Wardeh, came accompanied by some relatives to congratulate him and urge him to go to his village to celebrate a Mass there, he replied: "The monk who entered the convent then go back to his village should repeat his novitiate." In fact, since his departure from Bqaakafra to the Order, he never returned there.  

        17-In the convent of Saint Yaaqoub Al-Hosson                      

      Sharbel was sent to the convent of Saint Yaaqoub Al-Hosson in the town of Batroun, where he spent a period of time entirely dedicated to the ascetic life, abstinence and prayer. On 10/30/1859, the monastic community of Bqaakafra, elected Brother Youhanna of Bkaakafra, as a delegate for the General Synod.  Shortly after few months, Alishaa asked again for Sharbel to come back to Annaya to develop his talents, watch over him and accompany him.

       18 - In the Convent of Annaya    

     In 1820, the Order built some cells and a chapel (7) in the place (Al-Hara), where the threshing was located.  In 1828, the decision was taken to build the monastery of Annaya. But actually, the work began, on May 8, 1839 with the establishment of the wells, the cellars and the basement. (8) On October 20, 1841, the work was completed despite the damage caused by the army of Ibrahim Basha, the Shiite (9) resistance and the spread of smallpox disease. Thus, Sharbel was transferred to Annaya by the obligation of obedience. His name was already in Annaya, in the local councils for the election of the delegates for the years 1868 1871 1874.  Sharbel also worked with the novices, between the years 1869 and 1874, 1895 and 1898.   

[ [7] Shipley explained: the monks moved to the house of Annaya where they temporary lived.

[8]   Fr.Abdulla Al-Khabaz (known by Al-Hajjar) built the church and the basements completely.
While Father Saba al-Akouri built the rooms on the north aisle with two rooms on the sea side.
The rest of the rooms on the sea side were built by Fr. Roukouz Meshemsh with other few small rooms to the south.

[9]  3 monks died from the smallpox disease; Father Emanuel from Kartaba on 11/15/1841; brother Germanos from Amshit on 12/15/1841; brother Samuel from Tannourine on 01/8/1842;  and the Shiite killed  brother Skandar from Tarteg on 09/23/1842. ]

  
19 - Miracle of 1865

 In 1865, the locusts invaded the district of Batroun, yet the government took no action against it. The monks tried in vain to drive them out, but they did not succeed.  Fr. Roukoz Meshmesh, the Superior of the convent, ordered Fr. Sharbel to bless the water and sprinkle the properties of the convent, to prevent the locusts from destroying the crops and the trees. Sharbel walked through the field sprinkled it with holy water; turning to the locusts, he said: "Blessed are you, eat from what is wild and not what is edible." Thus, God preserved the crops and the mulberry of the monastery from the damage caused by the locusts.

 
  1.3  Sharbel, the Hermit

 1 - The establishment of Sharbel's hermitage

In 1798, the sons of Abu Ramia Boutros and his brothers from Ehmej, purchased the land called Al-Mourouj (the meadows) from the family Melhem, according to a deed of sale, from the dignitary (Sheikh) Hassan Melhem who gave them the convent of the “Transfiguration”, located on Mount Tabour, which the Shiites called "the prophet", "Rass".  Abu Ramia family, in turn, gave the land to their brother Youssef, (10) and helped him, to build the church of St. Peter and Paul, assisted by the villagers.  Youssef abandoned the world, joined the Order of the Worshippers, and received from the hands of the Patriarch Youhanna Al-Hélou the monastic habit. Four years later, Daoud joined this Order and was ordained a priest. In 1814 both entered the Lebanese-Maronite Order and left their possessions to the Order. From the village of Ehmej, Brother Michael and father Simon were also with them. In 1828, the monastery of Saints Peter and Paul was converted into a hermitage.

[10]  (He is the one who established the Order of the Worshippers, before he came to an agreement with the Lebanese Maronite Order and joined them.)

   2 - The description of the hermitage  

 The hermitage is located on a hillside, at an altitude of 1378m. It has only one floor down, consisted of two sections, east and west, each consists of three cells, and their roofs covered with wooden beams .The ceiling of the church enclosed by a vault structure. The altar next to the eastern wall is dedicated on the name of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the hermitage. The ground of the church is paved with tiles from simple stones.  In the west wall is the actual entrance to the hermitage, where the faithful can enter directly from outside the hermitage to attend the mass.  The corridor which separate the cells from the church, ended in the north with a hallway opened by an arch.  The hermitage is surrounded by a high wall of two to three meters height, and exposed to storms and thunderbolts. Few hermitages on such level, on the mountaintops of Lebanon, are inhabited. 

  3- Its first hermit

            The first hermit, from our Order, who entered this hermitage, was the man of God, Fr. Al-Hardini Alishaa; after obtaining the permission from the Superior General Fr. Ignatius Bleibel, on November 29, 1829. At first, he remained at the hermitage of Kozhaya for about a year and a half, and then he transferred to the hermitage of Saint Maron Annaya. He had a passion for manual labor: it was he, who paved the hermitage, carrying the plates on his back from a great distance. It is he, too, who planted the vineyard to the east of the hermitage, after cutting the trees. He also dug and plowed the soil.  God performed miracles through his intercession.  

 4 - View of the two masters of Sharbel about the anchoritic life

            Once St. Nehemtallah Al-Hardini came to visit his brother, the hermit Alishaa, in the monastery of Annaya (1847- 1850). Alishaa invited him to enter the hermitage to be in peace and tranquility, he said: "It is more advantageous and more convenient for you to abandon the Convent life, and live in this hermitage with me, where you'll spend the rest of your life in stillness and tranquility away from the noise, to pray with a spirit of calm and serenity. Let us spend our lives together and live in peace.”

 Nehemtallah replied:"Those who strive in the community with people gain the greatest reward and the highest merit. This is where; we must endure tolerance and patience, break our will and accept the weakness of the weak.

  The spiritual fathers consider the common life as a perpetual martyrdom, for the monk, cannot do what he pleases, which is suitable to his temper and his life, rather he must be careful that he does not violate or offend his brethren.  He also must observe his behavior in order to give them no doubt on him; this is the duty of a monk, dear brother. However, the hermit lives alone, he is spared from the temptations of the outside, he spends his time in prayer and in the vineyard, and he lives as he wants, while in the convent the monk applies to the vow of obedience. In the hermitage there is no tempter or humiliation while with the community they are always existed.  Then, at the convent, we have to live among our brothers, and endure with patience and firmness what attacked us from ridiculousness and despicableness. In this way we increase our recompenses and we expiate for our sins, and live the words of the Lord: "Those enduring to the end shall be saved."(Matthew 24/13). Also, in the monastery who practiced the virtue, set a good example to others. So I can say, each person has his vocation, because everyone is unique; one lives for prayer, other for life in the community, as for me, this is my vocation, which I have followed for a long time.”  

        5- The status of the Order before Sharbel’s entry to the hermitage  

      The Parties started in the Order, after the general Synod on 1832, during which the Maronite Patriarch intervened to appoint the man of God, Fr. Houlaihel Mubarak as a Superior General, and later, the affiliation to the village communities started to grow.  Despite the minimal observance to the monastic spirit, this approach to membership in the region had increased. The convents of Jbeil and the North remained in common between the monks of the two regions, till the appointment of Fr. Ephrem Geagea as Superior General in 1862.                        

         6 - The policy of the Superior General, Ephrem Geagea  

       The Superior General Geagea was a supporter of regionalization in the Order... He proceeded to transfer almost all the monks of the North from the region of Jbeil. He founded the convent of Saint Semaan Al Qarn and the school of Ban in the North. He abandoned the siege of superiorship General in Tamiche convent, to reside mostly in the convent of Kozhaya and of St. Semaan Al Qarn. 

             7 - The convent of Annaya until the entry of Sharbel into the Hermitage   

           The monks of Jbeil, especially those of Meshmesh, took over the ministries of Annaya convent and began to minimize the hermit Alishaa Al-Hardini, who was almost a superior in his hermitage and an excellent administrator. The Maronite Patriarch proposed his name to be a Superior General in 1856 as a solution to the conflict between the two hostile camps in the Order in that time, because he was considered one of the most famous monks in knowledge, virtue and administration. He invested the profits of the hermitage in the purchase of fifty lots, and other seven properties, between the years 1833 and 1870, in addition of some lands that were sold after his death. After 1870, when he bought the last land, a fight broke out between him and the Superior of the convent of Annaya Fr. Roukoz Meshmesh, then the misunderstanding perpetuated to Fr. Abdel Massih supported by fathers Roukoz and Antoun Meshmesh.  They sent a band to hit brother Abdallah Al-Bani who was serving the hermit Alishaa.  As a result of this accident, the Superior General had to intervene, so the hermit left the administration of the estate entirely. The monks, however, were eager to assimilate everything and had sent out Fr. Antoun Meshmesh to take away "the goats from their shepherd." The hermit then wrote a letter to the Patriarch, in which he asked, by the name of Christ, to help him.

 8- Alishaa asked for Sharbel with the audacity of the Saints 

 The membership of the region had sorted the monks of the Order into five major groups; each consisted of a small team that linked with the kinship, and particularly, the affiliation to the village (11) and to personal interests. Fr. Alishaa, “the "Saint", loved his Order, regretted what was happening, and worked for the benefit of the convent of Annaya and the Order, that’s why he did not withdraw to the North to escape persecution but rather, he asked for Fr. Sharbel from the Superior General, Ephrem Geagea, who respected him for his virtues, his good management and because he was the brother of the "Saint of Kfifane".  Fr. Geagea granted his request, by keeping Sharbel with him and not transferring him to the North.  Alishaa, also, sent the same request to the superior of the convent, Fr. Roukoz Meshmesh who at first refused and then, after the miracle of the lamp that Sharbel performed, in July 1869, he accepted his request. Fr. Sharbel officially inherited Alishaa, on the eve of his death and his funeral ...  so that, in one day, they could both be two universal and important saints.

[11]  (St. Basil said: It’s not fair to have in the monastery some brothers linked by the agreement of four by four, three by three, and two by two, because the one who loves a brother more than the others, he shows that the perfect love is not on him. )


       9- Water in the lantern
(Mt 25:1-13)

                 When Sharbel was at the convent during the triennium of Fr. Roukoz Meshmesh he worked in the field as one of the lowest servants.  One night, he was watching the goats, and it was harvest time, while in the convent there was a group of thirty reapers having their dinner, the servants bustled to serve the tables, the dispenser (12) was eager to serve the reapers; this was when Fr. Sharbel came and asked, before the whole crowd to fill his lantern oil. The dispenser scolded him and said, "Why didn't you come on the day time?" He replied: "I was in the field." The dispenser replied: "As a punishment, I will not give you oil for tonight, go away." He obeyed and returned to his cell.  The servant, however, placed a bench transversely to block his way, so Fr. Sharbel stumbled and fell to the ground, without complaining. Saba, who was only 13 years, and was a servant in the convent ,went up to him and asked him for the lantern, pretending that he wants to fill it with oil , but in reality  he poured water into it, from a metal container where they put the ashes . Fr. Sharbel took the lamp and lit it and it was lit.  Meanwhile, in the absence of Fr. Sharbel, the use of oil had been prohibited; it was a strict order from the superior, to all the monks not to light their lanterns after the bell rings for sleep. That night, the superior woke up because he needed something, as he was leaving, he saw a light and went straight to see from where it came, it was from the cell of Fr.  Sharbel. He told  him: "Didn't you hear the bell?  “Why haven't you turned off your lantern?  Haven’t you taken the vow of poverty!?" He immediately knelt down and begged forgiveness and said: “I came back from the field and tried to finish my prayer, and I am not aware of this ban."  Saba who was close to the cell said to the Superior: "I really wanted to fill the lantern of Fr. Sharbel with oil but the dispenser refused;   on my return I saw the metal tube, and I filled the lamp with water .The Superior opened the lamp and made sure it was water. Then he could not restrain his feelings, went and told all the brothers in the monastery, and this fact spread in the convent.  After this event, in the morning, the Superior called Fr. Sharbel and said:" If you want to serve the hermits, I give you permission." Fr. Sharbel replied:" There is a big difference between my desire and the Superior orders, I made a vow and I do not work due to my will because my will doesn't belong to me anymore, but if you order me, I will obey and go." The Superior replied: "Go".   Fr. Sharbel knelt asking his blessing, so he recited a prayer and blessed him. He rubbed up expressing his gratitude, hastened and gathered his spiritual and prayer books, his mat and blanket, tied them up with a cord, put the burden on his back, entered the church to visit the Blessed Sacrament and walked toward the hermitage.

(12) The dispenser is the father responsible for the supplies of the convent.

           10- Why the hermitage?

 Fr. Sharbel felt a strong desire to withdraw from the world, this impulse was even more apparent after his ordination, because he didn’t request to be freed from manual labor, that he had performed before his ordination.

  His presence in this convent far from the villages in the wilderness didn’t happen out of his own request, but by an order from above. Therefore, he submitted to the same discipline as all the monks, who went to the field work after the prayer service in choir and meditation, as the ancient monks did. But since in recent times, it was less common to see monks working in the field, because the parishes needed its priests. The attendance of Fr. Sharbel in the convent and in the field was a very rare matter that reflected his belief in this statement.

 His commitment to silence and his preference to avoid, not only people but also his fellow monks, and his passion for absolute poverty and the harsh and strange mortification that he applied; all of these made his Superiors met his desires without asking. So they kept him in the monastery and didn’t entrust him with the pastoral ministry in parishes, not to disturb him in his sublime thoughts, so he could be a model in prayer, in the Mass, at work and in theological dispute, and sometimes being available as a confessor for men. Then, he was sent to the hermitage after realizing that he was already living as a hermit.  His anchorite life in the hermitage wasn't other than a continuation of his priesthood life since the novitiate.... Therefore, there was no difference between his life in the convent and that in the hermitage, so they truly called him the miracle of the hermits. His entry to the hermitage was in obedience to his Superiors and not due to his request because he had no particular inclination. His merit of being in the hermitage wasn’t greater than that of the monastery.  On the other hand, his fellow brothers could no longer endure his holiness, because by his example, monks and hermits, conservative or not, felt rebuked.  Then, if someone craved to eat a grape and saw Fr. Sharbel, he would drop it at once, feeling ashamed.  

 11 - Servant of Alishaa

The hermit Alisha Al-Hardini requested Fr. Sharbel to come to the hermitage, he immediately accepted. Fr. Sharbel was serving the hermits and particularly, Fr. Alisha; he used to bring to the monastery his eating, his drinking and serving his Mass. Sometimes, he celebrated Mass in the convent, because he had no one in the hermitage to serve his Mass. He remained diligent on this plan, for six years. 

   12-He blessed the water jar

  Before the appointment of Fr. Semaan Ehmj to the Order, before 1871, the locusts came to his area. The residents of Ehmj asked Father Sharbel to bless their water, to sparkle it in their vineyards and fields in order to remove the harm of the locusts. After the water was blessed, Fr. Semaan personally carried it, so they sprayed their vineyard near the hermitage   

              13- Alishaa recommended Sharbel ... to be his successor 
                      
        
            After 44 years and a half, in the hermitage of Annaya, Fr. Alishaa died on February 13, 1875 at the age of 76, bearing the last sacraments. He remained conscious till the last moment of his life. He was buried in a wooden coffin on Sunday, February 14 at 8 am and placed in the cemetery of St. Maron monastery. Many people attended his funeral. The following day, the head of the convent, Fr. Elias Meshmesh ordered that Fr. Sharbel officially becoming a hermit together with  Fr.  Libaos Al-Ramaty.  

              14 - Sharbel abandoned the economic method of Alishaa           

 The hermits forbid the cutting of the logs from the hermitage woods because of its nearby to the monastery, preferring to go further in uncontrolled areas; Fr. Sharbel thwarted this custom of predecessors, leaving this issue to the good knowledge and the wisdom of the Superior. Thus, throughout his life, he submitted to the blind obedience. Also on the issue of collecting the vows income and other offerings, they were collected by others, for the benefit of the convent’s properties; Fr. Sharbel delivered them to the servant, then to the Superior to do what is appropriate, without giving any opinion.

              15 - A moon among the stars

  His life in the hermitage wasn’t different from that in the convent, except that he was following the rules of the hermits.  He never failed any duty even the smallest responsibility of the hermit.  He had the opportunity to meet his eager desire to go further in asceticism and mortification as well as having one meal per day.  He even exceeded the rule, by more asceticism and wore sackcloth and a girdle of iron thorny directly on his flesh and skin.  I have never seen in my life, any hermit that can be equalized to him in the virtue and the observance of the rule, even among the most devoted monks. He surpassed all hermits, for he was between them like the moon among the stars. His life was angelic and divine. His personality was embodied by; purity, sincerity, living faith, hope, love for God and neighbor.

               16 - Servant of the hermits (John 13/14)   

              Fr. Makarios Meshmesh entered the hermitage of Annaya on April 25/1880. Fr. Sharbel used to go frequently  to the convent to bring for the two hermits,  Fathers Makarios Meshmesh and Libaos Al-Ramaty their food and drinks for a week; he put the stuff in a bag made of a  goatskin and carried it on his back. He considered himself a servant to his companion, Fr. Makarios Meshmesh, the hermit.

             17 - Come back to the hermitage!                                                

Fr. Sharbel was responsible to watch over the field planted with cucumbers. One morning, Fr. Makarios found that the land was swept by the foxes so he blamed Fr. Sharbel for his negligence, Fr. Sharbel said:"I saw the young foxes were hungry, I felt sorry for them and I let them eat." Fr. Makarios replied angrily: “Go and sleep in the convent". He arrived there so late walked into his cell; there stood the empty lantern, which it hadn't been used for years. He went to the kitchen to fill it with oil, the cook replied:"The dispenser went, and I have no oil". He asked him to give him at least a bit of it. The cook took the lantern, filled it with water instead of oil and gave it back to him, and behold it was burning, even longer than if it had been filled with oil. After two hours of absence the dispenser, Brother Francis Meshmesh came, he entered the cell of Fr. Sharbel to find the lighted lantern, he approached it, examined it and found nothing but water, and he was shocked, and didn't dare to ask him anything. He told his brother, the Superior Elias Meshmesh, he examined the lantern himself and found water in it.  After the miracle of the lamp, the head of the convent ordered Fr. Sharbel to return to the hermitage after he had been expelled by Fr. Makarios.

 
 
 
2   Chapter II: the efforts of life 2

A: A portrait of Fr. Sharbel

  I-Description 

 He was 160 cm tall (5ft-3 ); slim and slender body, straight back,  long and thin fingers, proportional neck and mouth, long refined nose, long hair according to the tradition of the hermits, thin arms  as  a thumb. 

 His face was round and fine, overflowing with bright light, marked by the severity of God, and drew all hearts to it. His forehead was wrinkled, brimming with gaiety, reported by the gentleness, tranquility and serenity of the heart.

 His face reflected the devotion and the love of God at all time, especially during prayer. A heavenly light illuminated his face, because the Lord has become his strength, his wealth and his permanent joy.  His face was pale, light brown, tanned from the sun.  Due to the many mortification and the long vigil nights of prayers, he became very slim, just skin and bones, but he used to walk quickly even in his old age. He was very ardent in all his affairs. 

  His beard was short and thin inclined to be blond in origin, and had Gray hair in the middle and at the top sides; and he rarely washed it, so it became twisted from the lack of washing and care. His hair in his majority kept black, almost until his death.    

 

   II- Stories and Events

            1 - Pale

    When Fr. Moubarak visited Sharbel's hermitage for the first time, he summoned all the hermits; Fr. Sharbel came and sat opposite to him, his eyes downcast, his hands crossed on his knee; he did not raise his eyes to look at him, nor at the brother who accompanied him; he did not speak to them, nor asked any question, but he was answering briefly and meekly to their questions. Six years later when they  came for the  second visit,  he behaved like the first time - in his presence, his attitude, his way to sit down and talk; they noticed no change, only that he was pale. He was so colorless, and if his interlocutor did not notice a twinkle in his eyes, he would believe he was dead. His body melted like a candle in the Love of God, so that he became skinny, thin and pale.   

                         2 - His daily schedule

When the bell rings early in the morning, we see Fr. Sharbel kneeling straight next to the door, behind everyone, he remains in this position, holding his book in his hand; the other hand rests on his chest, and his face turns toward the ground.

    After the early mass, he goes to the field, without a grace of period or distraction, with a rope and a pickax, until sunset. But he doesn’t go due to his own desire but according to the order of his superior or by the order of the landowner. He used to go, walking to his work, in the near or far field, or in the vineyard, carrying his Rosary and praying, looking neither right nor left, speaking with no one. If someone tells him; "Praise be God", he would answer: "God bless you."  When he arrives to the place of his work, he at once, takes his pickax, and begins to work with a big desire and lot of energy, like a wage-earner with a large payment that increases, if he increases his work.  He doesn't care, if the head of the work is a priest, a brother or an employee, they all represent the authority, which comes from God. He works with all his strength, a constant continuous hard work, without taking a break or raising his head from the ground.

He puts all his energy into this work so that the sweat drips from his forehead and from his clothes. He never raises the hood to wipe his sweat but it was always tied.

  Sometimes, he builds partition walls, gathers the stones aside by his hands, cut the grass to isolate the ground in front of the sewer. His hands chunked and became so dry from the hard work.

   In the days of intense heat at the time of harvest, like in the days of winter, he doesn’t raise the hood from his eyes, and when the other brethren were sitting to rest, drinking cold water, and hanging out together, he was sitting aside and alone; he does not speak or drink, as if he was waiting impatiently to return to his job. If it hasn’t been for obedience to the command, he wouldn't have rested.

  When the bell rings for prayers, he retires to a hiding place, kneeling on the stones, arms outstretched in prayer, after this pause, he resumes his job, always in perfect silence.

If the head of the field delayed to invite Fr. Sharbel and the monks to eat at noon, he would not afflict, nor say we are hungry or tired; these words have never come to his mind, he has never uttered them; if the stones in the field and the trees speak, Fr. Sharbel speaks.

 The only sound around him was the sound of the hatchet when they came upon the stones or the echo of the stones that he picked for the construction of the enclosing wall or when he threw a pile of stones. The silence was his closest friend and his intimate companion.

 The monks and the workers revered him and respected his virtues and avoided to talk useless speech with him, no one dared to joke around him, or talked with him about the incidents occurring in the world, as he was not interested in them, nor care for what was happening in the country, or in the matters relating to the Order's management, but his main concern, in all, was only God, leaving everything to the Divine Providence.

 He remains in the field until the sunset, and if the supervisor kept working to a late hour, Fr. Sharbel remains working in the same energy which he began the work, rather his enthusiasm increases with more work. He never pointed out to the field's supervisor that the time is already over; primarily, he never objected anything. 

     In the evening, he was gathering grass and wood to form a large bundle and carries it on his back and returns to the convent bending under the weight, holding the rosary in his hand and praying.  

 The days when it was snowing and raining, and that on Sundays and holidays in the summer, he never leaves the Church or his cell.                                                                        

                       3 - How does he eat?

Fr. Elias Ehmej witnessed: In the evening, at the time of eating, his companion called him, he came, his arms folded, head bowed, eyes lowered to the ground, while his hood was up to his eyes.  He remained upright till his companion told him to sit. So he sat down on the floor after praying, pulled a foot above the other, the hem of his habits covered his feet; still with arms crossed, as mentioned above, waited for his companion to tell him: "Eat."

  Then he put his plate of clay before him, made the sign of Cross carefully and reverently as if he was in the church then he began to eat, silently, quietly and decently. After eating, one of his two companions ordered him to wash the dishes; he rose immediately, prayed and performed the order.

   I have heard that he was drinking the water of the dishes (13) which I haven’t seen it because he didn't make his mortification to show off, but rather he did his best to keep it hidden; but sometimes we maneuvered to steal a glance to some of his gestures... and if it happened that something fell from the dish of a companion inattentively, or few crumbs were on the ground, Sharbel took advantage to pick them up and eat them even with the dust.

(13- He drinks the dish water, as the mother eats after her child!! The era of Sharbel, was the era of poverty, the era of ignorance, regarding our evolving era. The homes were from soil; without bathrooms, no water, no electricity and no gas ... The utensils of the kitchen were from pottery; the plates, the cookers ... while the spoons were from wood ... There were no soap for washing ... the yesterday soap... was the water of ash. Usually, they washed the dishes with clear water; most of the food consisted of grains and vegetables cooked with oil. Cooking was usually in a very big pot and laundry was done on the fire wood...)

                     4 - The secret of the existence of Lebanon 

 Nakhle Shaker Kanaan said on 1897:   I’ve known Fr. Sharbel since the summer of 1897 when I was 24 years old. At that time we used to visit some friends every summer in a region of a high mountain.  There were no big hotels, no cars, and no paved roads. We used horses and donkeys for transportation.  That year, my friend, Shoukri Beik Arqash returned from Paris, after earning a graduate degree in law. With him, I decided to go on excursion to Mayrouba to visit the dignitary Beshara Al-Khazen ... then we headed to the high mountain of Al-Akoura and Laqlouq. While we were at that mountain, we went to see the hermit, who was already famous for his virtues and holiness in the region. We went down to Ouwaïny ... and then we went to the hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul, we paused there to rest under an oak tree. There were already people camped for several days waiting to get the blessing of the hermit. While our muleteer was preparing the meal, a tall, thin monk came from the field, holding a sickle and a load of grass, he greeted us with bowed head, we asked him for permission to sit down and eat, with kindness and joy, he agreed. Then he started to serve us, offering some grapes and water, without keeping our company. We invited him to dine with us, but he excused himself cautiously and discreetly, and he stammered: "Thank you, I already ate at the monastery."  From his conversation with Shoukri Beik, I still remember these words: "It is God, who created us, he takes care of us: God is omnipotent; we live well without any merit from our part.  God be with you".  As we were describing in detail, the beauty of the vast landscapes laying at our feet, from the mountains to the sea, the hermit replied: "This is God's gift to the Lebanese; this site is a heavenly gift, it’s located here so we will be able to praise His Holy name. Everything we possess belongs to God.” He didn't agree to receive from us any gift or present. Sharbel was listening to the speech of Mr. Arqash on the works of hermits and devotees in France, and then he said: "France is the eldest daughter of the Church."

   At this moment the bell of the monastery of Saint Maron rang, announcing the Angelus, I asked him to recite the prayer of the proclamation. He did this, followed by the Litany of the Virgin and the cult of the veneration of Mary. We knelt in reverence, repeating the prayer after him; he sang softly, lowered to the ground, his head wrapped in his hood, and his eyes closed like an angel in human form, transported by the Spirit into the sky...

  When we left the hermitage, he stood up with incomparable modesty and delicacy; his eyes directed to a world beyond the cosmos, hands crossed on his chest, muttering the words:"God be with you."  I remember Shoukri kept talking about the hermit and said: "These pious hermits on the tops of the mountains are the secret of the existence of Lebanon by their purity and their righteousness.

                              5 - Sharbel behaves with simplicity

Moussa Moussa witnessed: One day I accompanied him while he was carrying on his back thorny shrubs to build a fence around the vineyard.  He saw on the ground a small envelope of cigarette paper, with a picture of a knight on it, after a few steps he turned back and pick it up. When he reached the hermitage, he deposited the envelope along with other images and knelt to pray. I told him: "What are you doing ? He replied: "It's St. George, and I am praying before his image." I replied, laughing: "This is an envelope of cigarette paper." He gave it to me, and I threw it away.  


B: Sharbel, the Apost

       1-Definition

     Fr. Sharbel was neither a parish priest nor a missionary, but whenever the opportunity arose to serve souls, he responded joyfully. Sometimes, he heard the confessions of those who asked him, from his fellow monks, priests, or other people; his advices were so useful and extremely salutary. 

 When he was called to visit the sick and the sorrowful, he was doing his best to console them and invite them to surrender to the Will of God; at the same time he was praying for them and for their patients. He was also praying for the benefactors and sinners, and carried their concerns in his masses. He did not preach, but he was ready to lavish his advices and guidelines to those who requested them. If the superior ordered him to go and celebrate the mass for the farmers on Sundays and Holidays, he would obey and the return to the monastery without talking with anyone.  He willingly participated in the funerals, in the neighboring villages, responding to the vow of obedience, he walked directly into the church; but once people noticed his arrival they rushed toward him to bless the water for them; while the superior of the convent and the other priests went first to the house of the deceased, and then returned with the body to church.  After the funeral, he quickly went back to the hermitage.    

             II-Stories and Events

      1 - Joyful serenity

The priest Ramyah witnessed:   One day the hermit, Fr. Makarios, called me and in that time I was still a layman, a resident of Al-Ouwaini near the hermitage. When I arrived, I saw a man from Bqaakafra, the brother of Fr. Sharbel, accompanied by his wife. They came to visit the hermitage and baptize their child. Fr. Sharbel talked for only three minutes with his brother, systematically refusing to communicate with his wife, yet the latter was all content despite the refusal of the hermit, for all relatives of Fr. Sharbel and his family were Holy, sought holiness and followed his example. The child who I was the godfather was baptized by Fr. Makarios in the absence of Fr. Sharbel. After a long period, the woman returned to visit the hermitage, through the road to Al-Ouwaïni she saw me after I have become a priest, and said: "Your godson died, he told me before his death, take me to my uncle, Fr. Sharbel, to see him". When she saw that I was sad and cried over the death of her child, she told me:"He is blessed, he is in heaven." She said this without shedding a tear.    

      2 - He refused to baptize

Eid Nakad witnessed: Once, my mother took my brother Boutros to be baptized by his uncle, the hermit, Sharbel. He didn't meet her face to face; he only said a few words from behind the closed door of the hermitage, while she was standing there, without being able to see him. He also refused to baptize the child, who received his baptism at the hands of another hermit, a companion of Fr. Sharbel. Besides, he didn't allow my mother, the daughter of his brother, to enter the church and attend the holy mass. She followed the Mass then, through an opening in the closed door of the church.   

                     3 - Baptizing them (Mt 28:19)  

 We have only two baptismal certificates from the hands of Sharbel: "I, Fr. Sharbel of Bqaakafra, have baptized Michael, son of Raphael Rizqallah Al-Shababi, on December 8, 1873.  Also Boutros son of Shallita, from Bqaakafra, his godfather is Al-Khoury Michael of Shakhnaya, had received the Holy Baptism from my hands, on September 7, 1887. Written, by Fr. Sharbel, the Hermit.   

        4 - Heal the sick (Mt 10:8)

Once the Patriarch Boulos Massaad gave an order that they should send Fr. Sharbel to Ftouh- Kesserwan, in Ghadress, to pray and bless the sick sons of the dignitary, Salloum Al-Dahdah. This latter, had five boys of which three died of tuberculosis and the two survivors were also afflicted.

The superior, sent Fr. Sharbel to spend some time with them to pray for the children to heal. He went there, accompanied by Abdallah Youssef Aoun. They remained there about a month, until the two patients got healed. Upon his arrival, Fr. Ramyah came to the hermitage, and asked him on purpose: "How are you? What have you seen on the road? "He replied: "I went from here to there and I returned from there to here again." 

          5 - To convert to God (Is. 20:21)

One year, during the Holy Week, Fr. Elias Meshmesh, the superior of the convent of Saint Maron Annaya, sent Fr. Sharbel to Kfarbaal, to the farmer-partners of the convent, to help them fulfill their religious obligations during Lenten season, because their pastor did not have enough theological knowledge. Fr. Sharbel accepted gladly, and spent a whole week with them.  

            6 - He asked us to copy amulets

Youssef Khalifeh witnessed: Fr. Sharbel asked me and my brother Mikhael, who became a priest, to come to the hermitage on Sundays to copy the charms of Saints Anthony and Cyprian to offer them to those who asked him, so they put them at their houses as a blessing. I continued to attend for four years; I was at that time about 18 years old. 

             7 - My food, you do not know (Jn 4:32)

 Once he accompanied the monks to attend a funeral in the village of Meshmesh. After the funeral, the relatives of the deceased invited the fathers for lunch, except Fr. Sharbel, because they knew he would refuse and preferred to go back to the convent.   

                       8 - Young man, arise! (Lk 7:14)

    Fr. Elias Ehmej witnessed: My father was afflicted with typhoid, and was treated by doctors, known by their medical knowledge, but do not have any degree. His illness was so aggravated that they have lost all hope of cure and stopped the treatment; he lost consciousness and entered in agony. His relatives and brothers appealed to the Superior, Fr. Elias Meshmesh, to order Fr. Sharbel to come and pray beside the patient. He responded to the superior and came to our home during the night, many people were already gathered in the house. Once he entered inside, he called three times my father by name saying, "Risha" my father opened his eyes, Fr. Sharbel told him: "Do not be afraid." He loved my father because he was a deacon and sometimes served in his masses. He prayed and blessed the water, and then he sprayed it on my father and gave him to drink. On leaving, he said: "There is nothing more to fear."   In fact, my father regained consciousness, he ate and drank. Shortly afterwards, he had completely recovered and was able to leave his bed.  

        9 - Give him something to eat (Mk 5:43)

Skandar Beik Al-Khoury witnessed: Once, my uncle, the doctor, Najib Beik Al-Khoury, was sick and about to die. My grandfather was also a doctor, and believed that my uncle was in a critical situation and that there would be no chance of recovery. My grandmother then, sent someone to Fr. Sharbel asking him to bless him, hoping he would be healed. Fr. Sharbel told the envoy that he would come at night. The messenger told him that the illness had been very critical and he should come immediately. He then said: "I will go immediately, but I do not want people to see me".  Because of his humility, he didn't want to attract people's attention to him.

   When he arrived to their house, the fever was already very high and the patient lost consciousness, he had the typhoid. After praying Fr. Sharbel took a handkerchief soaked in holy water, and passed it on his forehead. The patient immediately opened his eyes, after several days of unconsciousness, and uttered two words:  "Fr. Sharbel". His mother said:"Kiss Fr. Sharbel's hand", he did.  Fr. Sharbel addressed those present, saying: "Praise God, the patient is cured, give him to eat." They hesitated since the patient was suffering from typhoid, after which people believed that food could cause the patient's death, but Fr. Sharbel insisted to feed him and then he left. They offered him a meal he ate and recovered. A short time later, his father, my grandfather, came back home and they told him what Fr. Sharbel had done. He repeated: "More likely, he has no chance of life, since he ate." But the child was healed, grew up and became a doctor himself, and lived to the age of 85. He had treated Fr. Sharbel several times during his lifetime   

                      10 -Talitha, arise (Mk 5:41)  

       Another time, Fr. Sharbel was summoned to bless Jibrael Gerges, from Ehmej, who was suffering from a serious illness. By the order of the superior, he went to spend a night with him in prayer. God healed the patient through the prayer of Fr. Sharbel.

                        11 -To pray for them (Mk 6:5)

            Once the locusts invaded the region, among other area also it attacked Ehmej. The rural guards came to the convent asking the superior to  send them Fr. Sharbel to pray for locusts to go away. He blessed the water, sprinkled it on the grasshoppers so they retired. At the same time, there were in the village some patients in one house suffering from typhoid fever, they asked Fr. Sharbel to come and bless them, he replied that he couldn't go without the permission of his guardian, because the superior has entrusted him to the guard, the field guard replied: "How can I give you order and you're a monk?" Fr. Sharbel said: "The superior has entrusted me to you and I obey you. I go to places where you lead me." So the guard ordered him to go and pray for the patients. 

                12 - Lazarus is dead! (Jn 11:14)

Skandar Beik Al-Khoury witnessed: my paternal grandfather, who practiced the profession of physician (according to popular treatments without permission), was called to Amshit to treat a patient, who was the only son of a dignitary family of Amshit called Jibrael Sleiman Abbas. My grandfather went to Amshit and spent four  or five days trying to heal the sick, using all means to cure him. As he despaired of his recovery, he sent a messenger to his son, my father, to tell him: "Go to the hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul and ask the hermit, Fr. Sharbel to accompany you to Amshit to pray for the patient.” My father acted immediately and arrived to the hermitage in the afternoon; he asked Fr. Sharbel to go with him to Amshit and explained the mission he had to accomplish. At first he hesitated, then he accepted in one condition that they must take the permission from the superior, who was at that time, Fr. Elias Meshmesh. After the approval of the superior, Fr. Sharbel prepared his lantern to light the way, because he won’t leave his hermitage until nightfall to see no one and is seen by anyone. That was his habit throughout his life as a hermit.  He preferred to walk telling his companions; Fr. Maron Meshmesh, Brother Elias Mahrini and the muleteer: "I can't ride on the donkey, I'm scared to fall, and I am not accustomed to ride on it." After a long journey, he said: "Let us be obedient to the order given."Arriving at a location above Mahrin, Fr. Sharbel stopped and seemed amazed. My father, who rode his horse about twenty meters ahead of him asked: "What's wrong?”Let us hurry!" he answered, and then he added: "Listen! Listen! They said he died!”  My father stopped his horse and said: "With whom are you talking, Fr. Sharbel?" He repeated: "They said he died". My father replied: "Why do you say that? What are you talking about?" At this moment he turned to my father and told him: "Recite the Angelus, let's pray for the man because he died!" and he knelt and prayed. Then my father, disconcerted, made the sign of the cross, dismounted his horse approached Fr. Sharbel, with extreme reverence, and begged him many times to continue his march, after he looked at his watch and marked the time when Sharbel said the words indicated above. He repeated: "It is useless to go there. It is no longer necessary to continue the way because the mission which the superior has ordered is terminated, the patient died".

  But since my grandfather was insisted that the presence of Fr. Sharbel in Amshit was very important and because my father didn't believe that the patient died, so he insisted to continue the way. Then Fr. Maron told Fr. Sharbel: "Let's continue our walk in obedience to the superior orders". After walking about one hour and a half, they heard screams and wailing cries from less than half a mile from the house of the sick person, the patient had actually died. At that moment, my father began to question Fr. Sharbel on his ability to know the patient's death in advance, while they were at least one and at a half hour afar from Amshit, where they could not hear a sound or see the town, but Fr. Sharbel didn't say a word and he continued his prayer. Arrived at home, my father inquired about the time of his death, which coincided with the moment when Fr. Sharbel stopped on his way to say: "They said he died!" Then my father told them what happened on the road and they were astonished and regretted not having called the hermit earlier. This news spread in Amshit and its regions.  Following this event, the people of Houjoula, Bachtilda and Aalmat, all Shiite Muslims, came to Fr. Sharbel to receive his blessing; brought with them their patients, and asked him for healing. As for Fr. Sharbel, I never heard that he mentioned this event or others very similar, that happened through his intercession, and which the people had spread. 

                         13- The patient died!

            Youssef, the son of Elias Antoun, from the village of Meshmesh was suffering from a serious illness. The patient's parents asked the superior of the convent to send Fr. Sharbel to pray for him, he went by the obligation of obedience; arriving in the middle of the road, he paused silently about five minutes, and then he told the messenger:"I am going back to the hermitageit's useless to go to Meshmesh because the patient has just died". Thus, the patient died at the same time when Fr. Sharbel turned back to the hermitage.

              14 - The Shiite Muslims rushed (Jn 4: 39-42)

            Once the locusts invaded the fields of the village of Tourzaya; divided into two parts one inhabited by Christians, the other by Shiite Muslims. The Christians and the farmers of the convent came to Fr. Sharbel and said: "Please, Fr. Sharbel help us." He sent them to the superior who ordered him to accompany the residents. Then he blessed the water and sprinkled it, assisted by another monk. The locust left the lands and property of the Christians and went to the properties of Shiite Muslims, who rushed to Fr. Sharbel asking him to drive away the locusts from their fields. So he continued to spray

their properties with holy water. The grasshoppers abandoned the entire area which was sprinkled with holy water. 


C: Work and Prayer
 

 I-Introduction 

These are some of the monks' regulations, which were followed by Sharbel: The monk must be silent, quiet and dynamic in his work. He does not seek out the easy work and the pleasant things, leaving the less agreeable to others. Rather, he should choose the unpleasant work, leaving the pleasant one to others; this must be done in all humility. Also the monk must subject himself to the lowest jobs in the monastery and its menial needs, to free himself from the egoism, without which hell wouldn’t exist.

 So Sharbel had no ministry in the convent other than the Mass, the prayer and the work in the field. He devoted himself, to pick up stones, to build walls to support plots. Before he entered the hermitage, he helped the goatherd to pasture the goats and take care of them. He also worked earnestly and lovingly, with the brothers and the servants in the field and the vine, as if he was sentenced to forced labor, although he was a righteous priest. He never looked around or took a break unless to make the sign of the Cross repeatedly; while working, he prayed constantly. If he wanted to pass some free time, he would collect stones in the vineyard.

He never apologized from working in the field, neither in cold nor in heat, rather he  remained  in the field till his brother told him to stop working, or till the bell rang for prayer, then he asks permission to leave to church for the Liturgy of the Hours, or he would kneel down on the stones and pray. When they ordered him to carry a load of thorny bushes or other objects, he contributed more than he could, without saying a word about it, whether it would be difficult or easy.

 He never complained or got angry, but he always stayed in the same mood; he never took a break, instead he hated to rest; he didn't like to sleep but loved the mortification and the work. All his monastic life was a constant prayer, work and silence. If the servant of the monastery asked him, for example, to take the plow to another place, he would do it without hesitation.

                        1- He carried it on his back 

            Fr. Hassrouni witnessed:  Sharbel did not come out of the church unless he summoned by his companion Fr. Makarios; either to sleep or to flatten the rooftops and plow them ... And when the snow accumulated the monks went with the workers to cut the branches of the oak from the hermitage's woodland to feed their  goats. After the goats stripped the leaves from the branches the hermits took the ropes and brought the branches into the hermitage and the vineyard; so Fr. Makarios packed the bundle and Fr. Sharbel carried it on his back.  

              2 - He went to church to pray (Mt 14:23)

Semaan Ghana witnessed: In the year 1880, Fr. Elias Meshmesh called me to build a furnace at the convent of Saint Maron Annaya. When I asked him for some workers to help me in the construction, among them he sent Fr. Sharbel, he worked with me for six days, during which he was a model of perfection. At the beginning of the work he asked me: "What should I bring to you, Master?" I replied:  "Stones, small sharpening stones and clay". He started to hand them to me with lot of diligence and energy; thereby lifting the heavy stones on his chest to put them still higher on the scaffold; as for the small sharp stones, he was dragging them by his hands, so that the blood was flowing under his nails. I told him: "No! no! My master, be careful, don't wear yourself out, go slowly." He said nothing to me, but continued his arduous work. At this rate, he spent with me a whole week without uttering a single word, or asking any question-but this: "What can I do for you?" I felt sorry for him and I did my best to facilitate his work. During our breaks, he always ran to church to pray.  

               3 - Straight to church

 As the bread was baked at night, in exchange between the monks, Fr. Sharbel also was doing this service like the other brothers. So he comes from the hermitage to the monastery in the evening, goes straight to church and stays there until midnight till the dough is fermented. Then the brother responsible for baking calls him to help his fellow brothers, and he doesn’t leave them until the bread finished. Then he returns to the hermitage, where he celebrates the Holy Mass.  

                 4 - He didn’t leave any opportunity

He worked with the monks in the fields, before he entered to the hermitage, so when he brought for them the meals from the monastery, he gave the utensils to the cook to fill them, and went to Church to be alone before the Blessed Sacrament; seizing every opportunity to go either before the Blessed Sacrament, or to work.  

             5- He remained silent (Mt 5:11-12 & 41)

Fr. Ephrem Nakad witnessed: Most of the monks in the monastery were from Meshmesh only Fr. Sharbel was from the area of Jebbeh (North). Whatever they gave him to work, he did it quietly and never said no to anybody nor complained; none of them had pity on him, nor he had pity on himself. The chef, Francis, who was the brother of the superior ordered him to do the hard work and abused him. Fr. Sharbel obeyed him as he obeyed his superior, even though Sharbel was a priest and the latter, a deacon.

When he returned from the field, his back curved, often laden with a heavy bundle of wood, Brother Francis ordered him to provide water or to perform some other tasks. Once, he told him to water the plants with a bucket; he carried, the whole day, so much water that the skin of his hands was completely scraped.   

        6 - The stones touched his skin

Fr. Ephrem Nakad witnessed: One day in the field, I was putting a load of stones directly on his back; he wasn't using a protective cloth on his back. He continued his work until his habit and his shirt were torn and that the stones touched his skin. I pitied him especially because he was a priest. He went to the supervisor and told him gently and softly: "Look at my habit". The Superior then ordered for him, a new one.    

      7 - What do you want me to do?

He was a monk of work, prayer and silence; Youssef Suleiman witnessed:  we, the farmer-members who worked with the monks in the field, we don’t remember that we have ever heard him uttered a word except, "What do you want me to do?" He used to say this term, with a soft voice, while standing in front of the headman, arms folded and head bowed. 

       8 - He makes the sign of the Cross 

Fr. Ephrem Nakad witnessed: He went with us, the novices, to the field as one of us; I was cultivating on the ox and he was plowing behind me, stopping from time to time to make the sign of the cross, due to the novice regulation; whenever you start a job, make the sign of the Cross and  offer this work to God, saying:" My Lord and my God, I'm giving you my heart and my soul with this work;  my God give me strength to do it according to Thy Will and to glorify Thy Name."  Maintaining a deep silence; he talked neither to me nor to others; if he is asked about something, he would answer only with yes or no, or with some brief and precise words, as usual. 



D: The poverty of Sharbel (Mk 10:21)

 I-Introduction    

The rule of the monks said: “The monk must have no personal possessions”. So his hands had never kept money like silver or gold; to

observe the vow of poverty, he used the simplest of the things and never threw anything, small or large, even a stem of vegetable; if he saw a grape from a vine or a piece of bread on the road, he would pick them up and put them in the kitchen. He was as poor as a beggar, even a poor man wouldn't have accepted his food, his bed and his clothes; he considered all the things of the world like dust trampled under the feet.

The real poverty, however, was his dispassionate and plain appearance, although he was very wealthy of the divine gifts and of the highest virtues. He as well, was detached from his parents; that he never visited them his whole life; he never spoke or asked about them; when his brother visited him once or twice a year, he met him for a short time and due to the order of his companion. He was divested from his will; not only in matters concerning the rule, but in all things, as if he was stripped of his will. Despite his intelligence he never showed it, neither in words nor in writing; he never uttered with words like; this is for me, this is for us or for the convent.

 He worked with all his strength in every task, and prayed in the church with extreme fervent; when his companion ordered him to leave this work for another one, he directly obeys; as a shadow walking beside his source; and this was the ultimate self-renunciation. Rich with love for God, his heart was not related to anything in this world at all; as though he did not exist in this world, but in the world of God. Due to the monks regulation; he wasted no time in idleness; as often as he could he prayed for the poor and the dead; avoiding laziness for not falling into the traps of the devil. So he was very attentive to the time; and he didn't leave, even the slightest opportunity, without a useful task for the Order and a good profit for eternal life;  knowing for sure that the time was given to us to be holy; when he had no work to do, he devoted himself to prayer and meditation.

II-Stories and Events

1 - Take this!

When he attended a funeral and they gave him money, he handed it to the superior immediately after his arrival to the monastery, saying this quote: "Take this", “this” was either a pound or an Ottoman piaster. In general, the priests were given three Ottoman piaster (=5 pennies), Fr. Sharbel was given a pound (=20to25 pennies), yet he couldn’t distinguish the currency. If he did not find the superior in his room, he would put the money on a tray of pasture under his bed.

 

                        2 - Take this devil away from me!

            Once, Fr. Sharbel accompanied the monks of the convent at a funeral.  Each of them received three Ottoman pilasters. After returning to the monastery, Fr. Sharbel went directly to give them to the superior who told him:" keep them with you, Perhaps you'll need to buy a handkerchief or other things." He obeyed the orders of the superiors. But at night, unable to keep them, he carried them to the superior saying: "Take them; I don't want to keep this devil with me."  

 

                              3 - Give them to Fr. Makarios

Fr. Hassrouni witnessed: I was at the convent of St. Antonios Kozhaya, in July 1898, and Fr. Antonios Alwen, who had pronounced his vows recently, was there in that time.  After I left the convent, I told one of my relatives about the virtues of Fr. Sharbel. The latter, gave me a quarter of Ottoman pound to send it to Fr. Sharbel, to say a Mass for his intention. I took the alms and came to the hermitage, when I met Fr. Sharbel, I said:" Please take this money to say a Mass for Brother Antonios Aito. He said: "Give it to Fr. Makarios.” I replied persistently: "He beseeched me to hand it to you, so I can't give it to another person!" He stretched out his hand, closed his eyes looking at the ground, so I placed the money into the palm of his hand. As soon as it touched his hand, he walked towards Fr. Makarios, called him with the most unusual voice: “Fr. Makarios! Fr. Makarios! Take this money." His hand still stretched away from him, as if he was carrying a scorpion, and he gave him the sum of money without knowing how much it was.   

                                  4 - At dawn

Fr. Ignatius Meshmesh witnessed: Once he came to me in the morning, I was at that time the Superior of the convent, he gave me money and told me that some visitors gave him four Ottoman piaster, and told him :" Buy with this money, your personal necessity."  He told me how the enemy tempted him the whole night and urged him to keep the money for himself and that he had overcome him by the grace of God. I told him: "Do you need anything?" He said: "If you want, I need some tissues to use them as towels." I gave him four black handkerchiefs.

               5 - Don't let me see the money (Mk 10: 23-25)

Hawshab Nakad witnessed: The mother of Wardeh, who is the niece of Fr. Sharbel, owned a silver helmet that women put on their heads for good-looking. After her death, her daughter Wardeh sold it at 300 dollars, the equivalent of two Ottoman piasters gold. She brought the money to her uncle, Fr. Sharbel, asking him to offer Masses for the repose of the soul of her mother. He refused to take the money, addressing his niece from inside the cell, without seeing her face and saying to her: "Give the money to the Father Superior." She replied: "I want to give it to you, so that you offer the masses." He replied: "I mark it in my notebook, and I offer masses, but the money I don't take. Go and give it to the superior and don't let me see it." So she obeyed him.

8 - Put the vow money on the shelf

Fr. Nehemtallah Nehme witnessed: Once two of his secular brothers visited him and offered him some Turkish money, but he refused. After much effort to convince him and after insisting that this money is a vow to the hermitage, he accepted saying: "Put the money on the shelf! Without looking at the money. One day I visited him at the hermitage, he told me: "My two brothers came to visit me and left this sum of money to the hermitage. It is on the shelf, take it." I took it and counted eight Ottoman piasters


        

E: The clothing of Sharbel

 

I-Introduction

The monk's regulation required that: "The clothing, mattress and blanket must be suitable to the monk's vow of poverty." At this level, he dressed as the lowest of the poor and the smallest of the novices. He had never worn a new habit, but he was humbly seeking to use the clothes left behind by his brethren, the cast-off ones. He used to wear a monastic habit, worn, patched, woven from thick threads, faded, reddish since it lost its color. However, it was always clean, because he washed it with his hands; he even patched it without much care, by making every five centimeters a stitch. In the summer and winter he wore the same habit, and kept it until it gets worn, so he was given another one.

   His belt, like other monks, was from leather, but scratched by stones and bushes; his trousers were black, his shirt woven from the calico, his vest cut from an old monk's habit. On the top he put on his monastic habit; he never wore socks, despite the freezing cold. He put the cape in the Church and outside the chapel, and took it off while working...

 He always wore his hood in summer and in winter, day and night, except for the Masses, according to the liturgy; the hood covered his whole head, his eyes as his ears, also a part of the cheeks and neck. His shoes were worn and patched, known as the old monastic shoes. His hand-towels were made from calico, known as napkins.

  

                             II-Stories and Events

                                     1 - No red stripes                   

Fr. Sharbel asked the shoemaker who added red stripes on the shoes, according to the monastic habit at that time, to eliminate them from his shoes.

 

                                      2 - To patch them 

Fr. Francis Al-Sirini witnessed: I had been entrusted the wardrobe for some time in the monastery of Saint Maron, during the triennium of Fr. Ignatius Meshmesh who ordered me to go to the hermitage, to check the clothes of the hermits and see what they need.  I went into the cell of Fr. Sharbel, in which I have found nothing that could be worn, so I ordered him to get rid of these shabby clothes, then I started to tear them in front of him, he asked me to leave them for him so he can patch them and keeps them, as a sign of poverty.

 Then the superior told me to prepare two new clothes for him.; as I gave them to him, he apologized for wearing the new cloak, and asked me to beg the superior to send him an old one, suitable to the nature of his work; also he asked not to send him shirts since he instead wore the Cilice and a vest made from a monastic old habit to hide the Cilice underneath.  

      3 -I put it on the ground under my sleeping mat.

Fr. Hananya Al-Jaji witnessed: I went one day to visit him, and I found him washing his clothes, rubbing them under his feet, seeing the Cilice shirt in the laundry, I told him:" What’s this? "He replied: "I put it on the ground under my sleeping mat", trying to hide his virtue before me.  
 

                        4- Give me the clothes that fit my life!

Once he came to Fr. Rookie Meshmesh wearing very shabby clothes, and said: "Let me live as I dress, or dress me as I live." I think he meant: Either send me to the hermitage which suits the dress I wear, or please give me a better coat to wear when I go with you. The superior entered directly into his cell, took away his habit, and clothed him with it, then he told him: "You can wear it”, but it was large.  

                           5 - Why do you neglect yourself?

Moussa Moussa witnessed: Once, I saw him wearing torn shoes, I told him: "Why do you neglect yourself like that? You must order suitable shoes, because your feet are like those of a camel!" He did not answer.



F: His mat, his sleeping and the furniture of his cell
 

        I-Introduction
 

  1 - The monastic cell of Sharbel

It is located in the western part of the convent; its length from the east corridor to west wall is 325cm; its width from north to south is 225cm; its height is 300cm; the roof is made of simple wood, mixed with logs and soil. It has a window in the west wall, and the ground is covered with stone. The door to the east is overlooking the door and the window of the church and facing the main altar.    

                       2 - His cell at the hermitage

Its length from east to west reaches 3m; its width from north to south is 210cm; its height is 240cm. The window to the south consists of simple wood and two shutters always closed with a black curtain, where nobody could see him from outside, and he couldn't see through it except the mountain of Ehmej and the rugged hills. In the eastern wall, an opening is recessed, resemble to a cabinet where he put his lantern oil.  Its ground is paved with stones from the mountain; its walls are made of stones and plastered inside with clay. The roof is very simply made of wood. The door had a worthless wooden bar, and provided from outside with a handle made of wood.

 His cell was almost empty, always opened, blackened with smoke; and had a bed of wood under which he placed a wicker tray where he deposited his spiritual and theological books; also there was a pitcher of drinking water. No one was allowed to enter his cell except rarely, or secretly without his permission. 

                                      3 - His mat

 His mat was filled with gall and oak leaves and with barks. It was wrapped in a sort of carpet woven from goat hair. The whole thing was covered with an old felting. His pillow was a piece of wood wrapped with a black piece of cloth. At this very hard bed with no soft mattress and no blanket, he slept in  summer and in winter; this shabby bed was laid over two planks, raised two margins above the ground and connected with a piece of blanket. Most often he slept on the ground.    

                                     4 - His Sleeping 

He never stayed up at night with the monks; his sleeping was after the Compline and other prayer, about half past eight; he woke up at midnight for the prayer service, according to the hermit's rule, after which he never went back to sleep, except sometimes to rest for an hour, then resumed the meditation and prayer. He never slept during the day, and never played games (playing card, etc.) in his life.  

 

                                      II-Stories and Events

                     1-Exhausted from sleepiness (Mk 4:38)

Fr. Elias Ehmej witnessed: I realized that he was exhausted by the constant long vigils; sometimes, while he was kneeling upright on the floor, sleep overcame him; he bent his head to one side, his body bent more forward so that it touched the ground. Then suddenly he sat up quickly; overcoming his physical weakness, looking up and sighing from the depths of his heart.  Nobody had ever seen him, resting during the day, closing his eyes on the shadow of a tree.

                           2 - The woolen pillow (Mt 8:20)

 His cell had no lock or key; once, while Fr. Sharbel was working in the field, Brother Boutros Al-Fraidiss took advantage to enter his cell; he took the pillow, consisted from a piece of wood, threw it away and replaced it with a woolen cushion. When Fr. Sharbel came back to his cell and noticed the change in his pillow, he went to Brother Boutros, begging him to take the woolen pillow and bring back his piece of wood; he insisted, until his wish was ulfilled.  


G: Sharbel's food

A-Introduction

1 - In the Convent

 When Fr. Sharbel, was in the monastery, he ate with his brothers in the refectory twice a day; he never complained if the food was delayed, and he never asked the chef for a special meal, or disgusted other food, but rather he requested the waste of the food and the crumbs, because of his humility and his satisfaction from the minimum necessary. His meals consisted from some pieces of burnt and undercooked bread, or the leftovers in a cooking pan. During the meal he ate slowly and carefully; didn't speak to anyone as if he was in the church; lowering his eyes as if he was meditating. He never said:" I do not eat this dish because I'm sick." He never spoke about food or said this is delicious or tasteless, or this is sweet or salty. He often washed the dishes and kitchen utensils, and drank the rinse water. He used clay pots and forks made of wood.  He never ate outside the convent except in the field at the time of work; he used to eat the leftovers of his brothers, as well as the leftovers of the workers who helped the monks in tilling the soil. Moreover, he never ate anything more than the main dish; nor food, or drinks or fruits; he took no alcoholic beverage or coffee, and kept no food with him, in his cell. Therefore, he ate for necessity only, and not for pleasure; he was in this world without belonging to it, detached from everything that exists; all his desires and his feelings were directed toward God.
                                                 2 -In the Hermitage

            He ate only once a day, after the prayer service in the afternoon. His food was consisted from salad with olives and potato skins; which he washed, cooked and then ate. When he came to the monastery to get supplies, he began to choose for himself the moldy bread, that often had being thrown to the dogs, and offered his companion the good bread and the good food; while eating the leftovers from the day before. He never ate meat, his food was always prepared with oil, except during major festivities like Christmas, Resurrection, St. Anthony feast day, Saints Peter and Paul the patrons of the hermitage, then the food was served with butter. The hermitage had a vineyard, where the hermits worked; they picked up fruits, grapes, figs and pears...  then, they conveyed the fruits to the monastery, and offered them to the visitors. Fr. Sharbel assumed most of the work of picking fruit depriving himself from them, refraining from taking refreshment. He didn't eat unless his companion told him to eat; then he ate only what Fr. Makarios offered him.  In addition, he filled the jar for his companions, from the source of Annaya, a half hour away, while he drank from the hermitage's Well, only during his one meal.

                                            II-Stories and events  

     1 - The bread is on the window (Jn 4: 31-34)

Fr. Ephrem Nakad witnessed: When we came back late at night from the field,  Brother Francis gave him for dinner only four slices of bread, which he put under his armpit, entered the church and placed them in front of the window. Then he knelt down to pray and stayed there for a long time, more than one and a half hour and sometimes fell asleep. When we came at midnight, Brother Francis entered the church to ring the bell, announcing the prayer service, he found that the breads were always before the window and brought them back to the pantry. Thus Fr. Sharbel had forgotten his hunger before God. I cannot say if he abandoned the bread on purpose or he forgot it, however he had left it so many times. He often had only one meal per day, despite his exhausting work.  He wasn’t left without work for a minute; they didn’t let him stay in the church, following the desire of his heart to pray there.                                                                            

                                   2- He ate no grapes and drank no water          

            Fr. Ephrem added: At the time of our novitiate we came to the monastery to help with the harvest; thirsty as we were, we set forth on the grapes to quench our thirst; calling, in vain, Fr. Sharbel to join us, he turned his back and went away.

 Fr. Hananya Al-Jaji continued: Sometimes, I was with him in cultivation, he was helping us; he never drank water in spite of the high temperature, while we kept drinking because of the heat and the fatigue, also he never got refreshments in summer.

                                    3 - To visit the Holy Eucharist 

Semaan Gata witnessed: Since I was assigned to work in the pantry, in the convent, the Superior had allowed me to eat in the refectory with the monks. Fr. Sharbel came only once a day to get three thick slices of bread cut them into small pieces and mixed with his food. Once his neighbor had finished his eating, he took his plate to wash it, then he poured the rinsed water into his plate and drank it in order to castigate himself and for mortification. While we had our siesta after lunch, Fr. Sharbel always went to church to pray before the Blessed Sacrament; the same thing he did during the breakfast, as he ate only once a day.     

                            4 - Bulgur with butter

Shibley Shibley witnessed: If by chance, he ate in at the monastery, in winter time, he took the last place at the table. I remember when they wanted to be decent with the Superior in the monastery; they cooked him a dish of crushed wheat with butter. When it happened that Fr. Sharbel was in the convent on a rainy day, the Fr. Superior tried, in vain, to invite him to his table, so he told me: “Take a bit of this dish, of Bulgur to Fr. Sharbel.”  I took it, and put it before him, but he didn’t touch it. 

                                               5 - Without oil

Gerges Sassine witnessed: Once I saw him carrying some edible plants and wild herbs for cattle only, I warned him saying: "Master, these herbs are not edible!"  He replied: "It doesn't matter." Then he chopped it all together, mixed with some salt without oil. Meanwhile, Fr. Makarios arrived and as usual, he began to prepare the meal; he asked Fr. Sharbel: "Have you added any oil?" He replied: "No, it doesn't matter, we can eat without oil." It was during Lent, so he ate the grass that cattle eat.  

                                   6 - Two days without food (Lk 4:4, Mk 8:2)

            Maron Abbud Witnessed: When Fr. Sharbel was in the convent, it happened that I helped the monks in the field, and he was working with us, he ate only when the head of the field told him to eat, applying the law of the novice: “Do not eat every day without the permission of the person in charge, then take what he gives you, withdraw alone and eat.” Fr. Boulos Al-Sebrene added:  Quite often, when Fr. Makarios came to the monastery to meet some of the work by the obligation of obedience, we insisted that he remain with us, however, he replied: "I want to go back to the hermitage to feed Fr. Sharbel." Once I asked him: "He doesn't know how to eat by himself that you have to leave every time to feed him?" He replied: "He won't eat under any circumstances if I do not call him and bring him food by hands", if we leave him two days without calling him to eat, he wouldn't ask for food nor eat by himself.;  Fr. Ignatius Meshmesh confirmed: "This is a well-known incident."   

                                       7 - The burnt bread

 When Fr. Makarios went down to the convent to help in baking bread, he picked up the burnt or undercooked bread, saying: "This is for my Master!" meaning Fr. Sharbel, who himself did the same thing whenever he came to the convent; seeking for mortification. Also Shibley Shibley witnessed: He asked me to gather the burnt bread for him to store them for later.

                             8 –Three grapes 

Brother Francis Kartaba witnessed: I saw him eating purslane salad, contained lot of dried stems, full of seeds, and had only few leaves. He dipped a piece of bread in his wooden plate picked up all the burnt crumbs, before he took another loaf. Once I saw him eating from this salad only, another time he was eating crushed wheat, Bulgur, cooked with tomatoes. In summer, when he finished his food, his companion ordered him to eat grapes; he ate only three or four grapes. 

                    9 - The stems of purslane and parsley

Fr. Alwen said: Once I was with my fellow novices working around the hermitage, we had the idea to prepare "tabboule"; so we plucked the parsley and purslane and threw away the stems. Fr. Sharbel picked them up, chopped and mixed them with oil and salt and began to eat; this happened at my sight.

                                            10 - Willingly

Fr. Makarios told him: "My brother there is no more food for you, except this little bit that I left for the cat on her plate, because I've forgotten you." He replied: "Father, I do not mind. I will willingly eat the portion reserved for the smallest animal."  

                              11 - An oxidized metal box

 Fr. Boulos Al-Sebrene witnessed: Once, I went to the hermitage, I saw Fr. Sharbel after dinner, he got up took the plate of his companions and his old wooden plate, washed them, poured the rinsed water into a small oxidized metal box and carried it to his cell. I asked Fr. Makarios, his companion: "What does Fr. Sharbel do with this dishwater?" He replied: "He will drink it, he always does this." I wondered how he could live in this state and this kind of food.

  12 - Moved to tears

            Fr. Semaan Abi-Beshara witnessed: Once, I sat down at lunch with Fr. Sharbel and his companion Fr. Makarios, the food was consisted of potatoes stew. I saw Fr. Sharbel took the burnt bread, and the crumbs, put them carefully in his wooden bowl. I took pity on him and moved to tears, then I said to myself; while this hermit undergoes arduous austerities, we the monks choose the tasty dishes and the comfortable bed. 

                                         13- He didn't taste a single grape

            Fr. Boulos Al-Sebrene testified: When the Superior of St. Maron monastery, sent me to pick up grapes from the hermitage’s vineyard, Fr. Makarios ordered Fr. Sharbel to accompany me and pick up grapes for me. I never saw him tasted a single grape. When I found him alone in the hermitage, I asked him to help me to pick up some grapes; he gave me no answer and waited for the order of his companion.  

                                          14 - Nobody asked me

While the monks were working in the vineyards, with other workers, they had lunch together and forgot to call Fr. Sharbel, also the next day he ate nothing. Having realized this matter, the Superior called him and said: "Have you eaten today?" He replied: "No". The superior continued: "and yesterday, did you eat?" He replied: "No." He asked him: "Why?" Sharbel said:"Nobody asked me." The Superior ordered to bring him food right away, and asked the monks: “Why haven't you called him to eat?” They answered: “We forgot.”   

 

                                          15-Go and pray

            Fr. Nehemtallah Meshmesh testified: One day I was present at the time of their meal and I asked Fr. Sharbel to eat, he answered: "I do not eat as I wish", he was waiting for the order of his companion. Fr. Boulos Al-Sebrene added: When they finished eating, Fr. Sharbel folded his arms, bowed his head and asked his companion: "Father, what do you want me to do now?" He replied: "Go and pray."

 

                         17 -The provisions abounded (Mk 6:30-44)

Youssef Khalifeh witnessed:  When the provisions of the monastery had gone low, a monk came to inform the Superior about this matter, he called Fr. Sharbel and asked him to spray the storage box with holy water and pray, he obeyed and it overflowed with wheat. In another year, it happened that the provisions were finished, the Superior summoned Fr. Sharbel, the hermit, who prayed, blessed and the provisions increased. This phenomenal event occurred many times; the oil barrels were empty, by the prayers of Sharbel they got filled again


                                                                                      H: The Sobriety of Sharbel

    I-Introduction

He lived soberly in the situation in which he was found, seeking only to please God. Wherever his superiors sent him, he found peace and joy; he didn't mind if he swept, cooked, dug or did other work, if in all these services he could please God.  His companion took care of him spontaneously, and supplied him with the necessary; he gave up even on everyday necessities and ordinary things, accepting the poorest and the most difficult ones. Pure as a child, he fled the snobbery, the disdain and flattery. With his colleagues, he was lenient and righteousness; he was never unjust towards others except himself, applying the arduous austerities. He never boasted of a case and did nothing on his own initiative; neither at work nor in praying for long hours before the Holy Eucharist; returning all these to his vow of obedience.  He was stable in his sobriety, diligent in his mortification; happy to fulfill it until the last breath of his life. He never complained during his life; he was of the utmost modesty in eating, drinking, and in clothing. He interfered with no one and took no initiative in relations with others, except whatever the vow of obedience ordered.

                                                II-Stories and Events

                                                 1-Oh! Superior General

            During his term as Superior General, Fr. Mubarak Al-Matni visited the convent of Annaya. He took the opportunity to have lunch with the monastic students; they prepared the meal for him near the hermitage. Fr. Sharbel, the hermit, came to greet him, so the Superior General told him: "Fr Sharbel, you will be with us today for lunch, we will offer you a very good meal." Fr. Sharbel replied: "We pronounced the vow of obedience in difficult things, and this is very easy! Obedience in this matter is very good." Fr. General believed that Fr. Sharbel is going to eat what will be presented to him at the table.  At lunchtime, the Superior General called Fr. Sharbel; he came with folded arms, so the Superior asked him: "Would you have lunch with us?” Perplexed, the hermit began to rub his hands, and then replied softly with reverence: "Father General! Father General!" On one hand, he didn't want to oppose his order, rather his desire; on the other hand, he didn’t want to eat the food prepared for the Superior General and his companions. The Father General noticed his hesitation and let him have his way, so he came back to his hermitage.

 

             2 -Look what your deacon is giving me!

Shibley Shibley witnessed: Handkerchiefs were presented to the hermitage as votive offerings. Once, Fr. Sharbel brought a lot to the Superior who told him:

"Give them to the deacon.”  He gave them to me, while looking at the Superior and saying: "Master, can you give me a handkerchief, to wipe my hands with it? He replied: "They were all with you, why didn't you take for them? He said: "I do not take anything without your permission." The Superior told me:"Give him one." I chose for him a new one. He smiled and told the superior: "Look what you deacon is giving me!"  He replied: "Choose what you want." He took the most unpretentious ones.


I: The intelligence of Sharbe

  I-Introduction

            He had the appearance of stupidity and naiveness, but in reality, he was perceptive, intelligent and honest, unequivocally and frankly talking; when asked he answered clearly and concisely, pretending to be stupid and apathetic. He never uttered except with the necessary words that could strengthen the brotherhood and serve the salvation the soul.

His conversations always focused on theological subjects; motivating all his works for the eternal salvation; his opinion on theological matters was prudent… He was quick-witted, in spite of his absolute silence.

As for his ingenuity, it was reflected in the precision of his work, putting everything in its proper place; in spite of his excellent understanding and the strength of his knowledge he made himself a slave to all. In his mortification and the mastery of his instincts, he reached a level that is found in the Psalm of the prophet David: “I became as a beast before you, but I am each day with you.”  He was humble, in his heart and his intention, with only one goal: God. He wasn't stupid and dispassionate, but he was gifted with the wisdom of the Saints. He didn't commit a single mistake, that his superiors and his colleagues could blame him for, because he offered no opportunity for them to find any blemish in his behavior. His remarkably accurate attention to the regulations shows that he had perfectly understood their meaning.

   His "Spirit word" was sublime, because he was heading towards perfection by the ideal way from which he never moved away a step. In his lifestyle, he put everything in its proper place, not uttering a single word inadequate. His wisdom protected him from detestable superstition and exaggeration. He was a knowledgeable man, who had completed his studies in Kfifane, even though he was from outer appearance as a naive person. 

As for the frequent and increased austerities and the oppression of his body; they caused him no disease, which proves that they were exercised wisely. He was a serious and discreet person, balanced in his behavior which imposed his respect and his esteem to all those who knew him; he had never been "a stumbling block" for anyone rather they all considered him a Saint and asked for his blessing. He was wise, not by the wisdom of this world, but by a supernatural wisdom... Superiors and monks were often advised to follow his example.   

                                              II-Stories and Events

                             1 - Ask and you will be given (Mt 7:7)

Fr. Youssef Ehmej witnessed: Fr. Sharbel had an inflamed and iron Will that made him the master of his inclinations and his emotions; he told me: "My brother, life is illusory, God knows our whole being, those who ask for his grace with confidence, will not be disappointed. Ask him to give you all what you need."  During the whole time I've spent at Saint Maron, neither I nor the superiors or monks, recognized any mistake in his conduct. He desired to be asked to serve, not only by the superiors and brethren, but also by the workers of the convent and the servants; for example, if someone asked him to convey the plowing machine elsewhere, he would carry it immediately.  I myself witnessed numerous incidents of this kind.  I never heard that anyone had complained about him or accused him for any reason; his superiors and his brethren respected and appreciated him and asked for his prayers in sickness and in sorrow. His piety left a great influence on his fellow man.

                                              2 -We have no thieves

Once, a man came to the convent on Sunday to attend the Mass where the farmer-members and other people gathered all Sundays and holidays; he left his stick near the door and entered the church.  At that time Fr. Sharbel was not yet in the hermitage. After the Mass, the man couldn’t find his stick, he yelled, raising his voice and cursed. Fr. Sharbel left the church and said softly and sweetly: "My brother, my brother no one yells in the convent." The man replied angrily: "They stole my stick, are there thieves in the monastery?”  Smiling, Fr. Sharbel replied calmly: "No my brother, we have no thieves. Look at this basin stone, at the entrance of the monastery, it stands here since it was built, nobody stole it." Ashamed, the man silenced and all those present laughed because the basin was a large stone, weighing over a ton, more than twenty people wouldn't be able to move it. 
 

                                         3 - An ingenious Master   

            It was accustomed among the monks or peasants, when a clumsy or stupid brother helped them, to go and complain to the Superior, saying: "Please, Father Superior, don't send us this or that brother because he is in his work more of a hindrance than useful. As for Sharbel, nobody ever complained about him, or about incompetence in his work; his intelligence was remarkable in all his work; his wisdom was reflected in its greatest splendor, through the transparency of his consciousness that reached the peak of the sublimity in his virtues, leaving no way to be said that he had the slightest hallucination or the minimum illusion. His whole behavior was an expression of wisdom. It is true that he had no professional education, but he was ingenious in spiritual subjects, where the monks of the Order, the most known for their knowledge and experience, were failed.


J: The library and the culture of Sharbel

 I-Introduction

 1 - His books

 He derived his meditations from the following books: "Flash in Mind", Preparing for Death of Saint Alphonsus Ligoury, Confessions of Saint Augustine, The Christian Perfection, Moral theology, Imitation of Christ, a book that he was very passionate of reading it. He also read many other books: The theological books, Monks' Garden, Biography of St. Anthony the Great, The Monastic Lamp, Spiritual interpretation, The Holy Scriptures. There was nothing in his room, except the regular mat, and his prayer and meditations' books.

  Also from the books that he read: the Ladder of virtues, of John Climacus; Anchoritic, of St. Basil, St. Ephrem Memri, Excerpts of St. Isaac the Syriac of Nivine, Memri of spiritual Sage in the monastic life, of John Daliyati; Contempt the vanity of the world, the Master Didoxe Stalleh, from St. Francis Order, and for Fr. John Eusebius Nirmubarak the Jesuit, The Balance of time and the trap for the eternity of man.  Also, The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus   Ligoury, the Martyrology, the novice regulations, Rules and Constitutions of 1732.

  And transcripts found in the library of the monastery Annaya: Part eight of the Science of theology in legislation, the biography of the saints, of Jesus and Mary and the Synod,  Daily practice in the eternal truths, Monastic discussion;  topics came under the form of ask and answer, and sermons about the Virgin Mary, the interpretation of the Breviary,  and untitled book about the explanation in honor of the name of Jesus, and on the cautiousness from the wicked , also mentioned the death, the judgment and purgatory, and the Magnificat of Virgin Mary ,and the Hell and the Confession, and another untitled book , meditation on the passion of Christ, and The spiritual war, and the History of Times or the history of the Muslim by Patriarch Estephen Al-Douaihi, and the Divan of the Maronite Bishop Germanos Farhat Halabi.  

                                              2 - His education

        Fr. Sharbel was a man of pure holiness, we took him as naive, but in the spiritual level, he was expert and well-educated, smart, fluent in moral theology and the principles of the Syriac language, which he translate into Arabic, in addition to his knowledge in Arabic language. He was judicious and convincing in his answers; because in moral theology and spiritual things, he belonged to the school of the famous Fr. Al-Kafri. In the theological discussions with the priests, he spoke voluntarily about spiritual topics, especially regards the soul and the sacrament of reconciliation, in which he talked freely from the fullness of his heart inflamed with spiritual and divine matters. 

                                               II-Stories and Events  

                                               1-Religious discussions

 Fr. Alouan witnessed:  During his presence at the convent, he was helping in the bakery, all day long, while discussing about theological issues that were of great benefit. He was more relevant in his answers than others; where the accuracy of knowledge, breathed with the sweetness of the expression and combined with the virtue of humility. In this also, he did not answer if he hadn't been asked to reply. He exchanged with us, religious discussions that demonstrated the depth of his faith; quoting verses from the Holy Bible and from the Scriptures, asking us to find another verse which must begin with the last letter of his quote, then he explained its meaning.  

                                             2 - Read this chapter 

         Fr. Andari testified: I have personally met Fr. Sharbel in September 1898, in the hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul, on the occasion of my visit to the monastery of Saint Maron Annaya few months after my solemn vows; I was accompanied by Fr. Ibrahim Al-Haqlani "[14]," my classmate, who later died in the reputation of sanctity. Upon our arrival, we entered the chapel of the hermitage, where Fr. Sharbel was kneeling upright on a piece of log, with reverence, without moving. We visited the Holy Sacrament and prayed for a moment, while staring at him, still persisting in the same attitude. Then we went into a narrow hallway that had a simple stone-built oven; there we saw the other hermit Fr. Makarios Sawma from Meshmesh, cooking in a pot made of clay. The hermits ate only once a day, in the afternoon; the dish consisted of a seasoning of lentils, chick peas, beans, cracked wheat, and other grains, a kind of soup called "Makhlouta".

He welcomed us, with a glowing face and a smile that shows his pure heart, like the heart of a child. We sat on two curved stones which were at the bottom of a stony arch; after he chopped the onion, he called Fr. Sharbel, we saluted him he replied in a soft voice, barely audible, looking at the ground, uttering a single word: "Peace." Then, Fr. Makarios gave him a metal pan in which he put a little oil and the chopped onions, saying: "Take and fry the onions." He took them without looking at us. Fr. Makarios brought a tray made of wicker on which he placed two plates, a little bread and purslane, parsley, some bread, known as “the loaves of monks”, some of which were in pieces, others burned, then he told Fr. Sharbel: "pluck off the leaves of purslane."Then, he took the frying pan, poured the contents into the clay pot, and then filled the two plates, while Fr. Sharbel still plucking the purslane, putting the leaves on a plate and the stems in the corner of the tray.

             Fr. Makarios invited us to eat but we apologized and thanked him, he turned to Fr. Sharbel and said: "Eat." Fr. Sharbel prayed and then began to eat carefully, sitting on the floor, legs crossed, looking straight ahead him, in silence. He ate the stems of purslane that others don't eat; he did not eat the leaves seasoned with salt and oil.

             Fr. Makarios went to the vineyard, and brought us grapes of the highest quality. Meanwhile Fr. Sharbel finished his meal, residing in the same position, arms crossed, head bowed, waiting for the order; so his companion told him: "Go, visit the Blessed Sacrament and then come back to do the dishes." At sunset we said goodbye, collected and very excited, we went back to the convent amazed at what we had seen.

            In the summer of 1898, I spent the holiday at the convent of Annaya in the company of the brothers scholastic. One day, around 9:00am, we went to visit the hermits, we found Fr. Sharbel in church, kneeling straight on the same piece of wood, at the same place, as we saw him the first time last year.

While I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, I turned my eyes towards him I saw him motionless as a statue, a rosary in his hand, eyes fixed on the altar, I felt he was in total ecstasy; he didn't even pay attention to us. After we prayed, we looked at him, hoping that he would look back, but he remained motionless and did not look towards us. We then walked into the courtyard of the church on the west side; while we were discussing and yelling. Fr. Sharbel opened the door and stood in silence; watching us, arms crossed, with a smile on his brilliant face, as if he wanted to tell us; do not make noise, not to disturb my prayer in my solitude. We have taken in such veneration, went up to him and asked for his blessing and the kissing of his hand. Whenever someone approached him to greet him, he bent his right knee slightly, bent his body, then he quickly touched with the tip of his fingers each of us, preventing us from kissing his hand. He greeted us with a smile, repeating a single word in a whisper: "Peace". We stood for one minute in front of him, in reverence, he closed the door and returned to his prayer, we withdrew into the woods, west of the hermitage, tiptoeing, whispering, not to disturb his prayer in solitude. We were filled with joy and reverence for seeing him; but then I left my brethren and returned alone to church, to see him again and talk to him, but I didn't find him, I went into the hallway, he was not there, I looked all over the hermitage, I didn't see him. Then I went up to the roof, and saw him sitting on a roller, near the church wall, as if he was avoiding me, holding the biography of Saint Anthony the Great. When I approached him, he handed the book to me saying: "Read this chapter." I read it standing in front of him while he was listening; as soon as I finished reading, he took the book, and without saying a word he disappeared into the church. I thought, he had just given me this passage, in order to avoid a conversation with me.

 

 ( [14]He frequently visited the patients infected with smallpox disease, to console them and give them the sacraments.  He got this contagious disease and died in 1906.)                                

                                         3- Professor in Theology

            He probably founded the school of Annaya, where Fr. Antonius Meshmesh taught. Also Fr. Youssef the son of Fr. Youssef Saad Al-Marouni from Meshmesh, who was born in1876, and was a neighbor of the monastery of Saint Maron Annaya; he studied theology at the hand of  Fr. Antonios Meshmesh in the monastery itself, and pronounced his solemn vows in May 31, 1898. Sharbel, himself, was teaching the priesthood students in the monastery of Saint Maron Annaya.  

                                          4 - Never tired of reading the Bible

"La Croix" newspaper wrote:  Sharbel is a saint according to the Gospel; Christ was his only teacher, Sharbel consulted Him and listened to Him.  He was never tired of reading the Bible and reflecting on the life of Christ. Sharbel is a living example for the Gospel; he followed Jesus Christ and practiced the virtues due to the disciple of Christ as:  obedience, mortification, humility, love and prayer; that grew up by the pure water of the Gospel.  


 K: The Confession of Sharbel

I-Introduction

1 -Revealing thoughts

            Sharbel revealed his thoughts daily in accordance to the law :"Outside the confession, the novice  must reveal his thoughts to his superior or his novice master, every night if possible; he kneels before his spiritual father, with humility and reverence, uncovering his head, kissing the ground... and saying respectfully: Father, my heart is far from God ... I am fully flawed and unworthy servant before God ... then he externalizes his thoughts, both good and bad ... asking his spiritual father his advices and guidelines that he must keep.    

                                            2 - The weekly confession                                                      

 He hated the sin and the causes that lead to it, even he hated to mention it.  All those who knew him, testified that he did not voluntarily committed a venial sin. What was known to all, that in his life he had never thwarted the Ten Commandments and those of the church; rather he suffered when someone trespassed. However, every night he examined his conscience on all the acts of the day, as the wise merchant; to discern whether he was a winner or a loser, in the first case, he gives thanks to God, seeking more graces in order to increase his efforts in work and thereby increase his gain and his merit. In the second case, although the loss was minimal, he takes the resolution to heal the existing weakness. He confessed continuously, once a week, whether in his secular life or in his monastic and priesthood life. He was smart and wise, without being scrupulous, for he knew the true spirit very well and never rejected any good advice throughout his life.

In the convent of Kfifane, he had two spiritual fathers:  Fr. Nehemtallah Al-Kafri, who was later elected as a Superior General, and St. Al-Hardini Nehemtallah, also early in his anchoritic life, Fr. Alishaa was his spiritual father. After the death of Alishaa, Fr. Libaos Al-Ramaty became his companion, later he transferred to the convent of Qattara. Finally, Fr. Makarios Meshmesh accompanied him till he died.

                                   3-Serving the faithful

 He got permission from the Patriarch Boulos Massaad, to practice the sacrament of reconciliation… on February 20, 1863. But he heard only the confession when his superior told him, because he was not appointed for the pastoral ministry.  Those who had come to him in order to confess and to listen to his guideline, they testified and praised his zeal for their own good,  and the effective influence of his advices on their soul;  as it penetrates deep into the heart, and leaves a spiritual influence in the spirit. So they have all praised his insight and his wise advices, for the construction of the others and their progress in their spiritual life; and if necessary, he was not holding, his advices from those who associated with him. 

    He loved a lot the souls, and suffered for the perished ones; so he prayed for the sinners, and gave them wholesome advice at confession, he strongly admonished them for their sins, and gave them a strict penance.  He heard the confessions of women, only when the Superior ordered him.

                                  II-Stories and Events

                           1 - Pour the hope in his heart

His example had a great influence over others, monks and laity: working his best to sow the seeds of hope in their hearts. If a monk fell seriously ill, he would ask the superior to send Fr. Sharbel to provide him with the last rites; confession and holy communion ... to comfort him and pour into his heart the hope and the expectation that he could depart from this world in the hope of the resurrection; so he came and spent the night at the bedside of the patient, sat on a chair, and did not leave him, except to recite the prayer service. When the Superior ordered him to go and pray for a patient, he went willingly and with joy. 

                             2 - Alone among the monks

            According to the calendar of Annaya: Brother Sarkis Ehmej died a natural death, provided with the last rites in the presence of Fr. Youssef Issa and Fr. Sharbel from Bqaakafra, on March 14, 1874.  

                                           3 - A wise counselor

Fr. Youssef Ehmej witnessed: He was smart and wise in his spiritual speech. I remember that he once told me: "Never speak a word that could cause a sin, if it is beneficial say it, or don't." 

 

                    4-I felt a deep reverence after his advice 

            Fr. Tabet Mubarak testified: When Fr. Sharbel left the church to return to his cell, I stopped him, begging him to hear my confession he came back and told me "Follow me." After the confession, I looked over inside the church where I saw cracks in the ceiling and in the walls, that can cause the collapse of the stony roof, so I told him: "Father, you spend all night in this chapel, this hermitage is exposed to lightning, a thunder is sufficient to cause its collapse over you, why don't you renovate it?" He replied: "Don’t care". I said:" I will tell the Father Superior to restore it." He answered: "No! Don’t tell him, my son, where I could find a more sacred place than this altar, to die over it?"

 I felt a deep reverence because of his response, the same feeling I had after listening to his advices during the confession. Then he went back to his cell, and we left.

 

            5 - He met the qualifications of the confessor

      Fr. Ramyah testified: He was intelligent and very competent; he delighted the hearts of those who confessed to him, by his advice and guidance. I myself have been several times in his confessional, and now I wish with all my heart, that I get the chance to find a priest like him to confess to him throughout my life; because Fr. Sharbel had a unique ingenious memory, in which one might think that he had an access even to the invisible world; as he remembered, even after a long time, the situations that were presented to him by his parishioners. 

   Although he was knowledgeable and accurate in guiding the souls, prescribing the medicine according to the disease without mercy; he was capable to attract the heart of the confessor, despite the apparent severity of his exhortations to the sin committed, and the severe compensation he imposed. His personality combined all the qualities of the Confessor; he was very relevant in his advice, his questions and his admonitions; a judge perceiving in his spiritual theology an excellent knowledge; a clever doctor who gave the right treatment; a loving father who opened his arms to the sinner, and gave him the passion for repentance and confession.  

 

                                      6 - Very Impressive

Skandar Beik Khoury witnessed: He listened to the confessions of men, only to those who asked him; he usually sent them to his companion in the hermitage. His instructions were very impressive, to all those who heard him in the confessional, as my father told me; who, himself, in age of twenty-five, had confessed to him, about seven or eight times. 


 

L: Servant for everybody (Mt 20/28)

 

I-Introduction

            The law orders: “The gestures and works of the monks must be low and with degrading, regarding to his brethren." So, when Sharbel obeyed this rule, his surroundings, the secular and especially the monastic order, didn’t understand him;  some people disrespected him for his despicable clothes, and some of the monks  laughed at his naiveté and even some of them used to mock him for his arduous austerities, including the one that put him water in the lantern. They talked with him with anger and scolded him, to the extent that Sharbel who was known by his utmost patience and his ultimate silence, he once said to the hermit Makarios: "If I am stupid, be patient with me, for the sake of Christ."

   He embodied the example of Christian by his humility, trying to conceal his virtues and his good deeds. He felt sad and began to tremble when others praised him. He was the reflection of modesty, held aloof from people and brothers, preferring hiding, isolation and silence; he was human, apparently, living in heaven, actually.

 When he is informed about something even if he wasn't at fault; he would kneel down with folded arms, asking for forgiveness, bowing his head towards the ground, and did not get up till he is ordered, due to the novice's regulation:

" If the novice is admonished, he must Kneel down silently and quickly with folded arms, without trying to justify himself and do not get up until the Superior orders him, so he receives his blessing and goes to work." 

   He was so meek and humble, more humble than a lamb, and more pleasant than a spirit flowing in the body, yet he was the humility itself, never talked about himself, as if he was dead from this world.

   He humbled himself till he faded,  petered out completely if he could; he appeared without a will, and somehow with no mind and no senses; despicable in his clothes, in his food, in his sleep, in his kneeling, in his mat, in his cell,  in his hard work,  totally forgetting himself. 

    He willingly accepted the contempt of others; rather he felt happy if someone insulted him; he wasn't embarrassed from his despicable habit, neither from his poor food, nor from his miserable cell.

  He always looked for the smallest service, the least position. We heard him once saying: I do not deserve to be among my brothers, or to achieve their dignity, because I am inferior to everyone; his words are the evidence of his deep humility. He considered himself entirely lower than all the monks, claiming every pettiness and lowliness for him, forgetting himself totally.  He behaved as if he was a servant for all who worked with him in the field; choosing, willingly, the modest services, such sweeping and washing the dishes; therefore, these services weren't accounted for ordained priests. When the monks tried to kiss hid hands and receive his blessing, he was doing his best to stop them. 

 

                                  II-Stories and Events

                                        1 - Stranger

Fr. Maron Karam explained: The monk of the region, became dependent on his district, and couldn't be transferred without the permission of the superior; so the monk who was outside his region, considered himself a stranger, and some of the monks told the alien one: "What have brought you here?  No bread remained in your country?"  Therefore, Fr. Sharbel was a stranger in the province; he was the only one in the convent, who came from northern Lebanon, from the region of Jebbeh.  Yet he obeyed, in an exemplary manner, all those who lived in the monastery; monks and laymen gave him orders, to make fun of him or to joke, and he never rejected any order. Nobody defended nor respected him, except the Superior who became angry on those who tortured Sharbel or mocked from him. As for Fr. Sharbel, he devoted himself to work, prayer and obedience, without indignation against his mockers, he rarely spoke, only when he answered a question. In this context St. Therese cried out: "What contempt, on the strange shore, didn't you endure for me? I want to disappear from the earth and be the last in everything, for You, O Jesus."

 

                     2 - God give me strength to obey [15]

Hanna Al-Houssaini witnessed: When my uncle, Abdel Ahad Al-Houssaini, was superior of the convent of Kartaba, I was a deacon serving there. One day we came to St. Maron monastery where the monks in Annaya and the workers were busy preparing a furnace. Fr. Sharbel was taking care of the firewood, it was then, when Fr. Hanna Roukoz Meshmesh turned to him and joked in front of all present: "We all decided to throw you into the furnace for the lack of branches, because the human body, fueling more than logs, and his flesh fed well the furnace, so the stone will soon burn." As soon as, Fr. Sharbel heard this, he knelt down and said: God give me strength to obey, which means I am ready to sacrifice my life, to obey. Deeply moved, Fr. Elias Meshmesh, reprimanded him saying: "Shame on you! Why are you joking like that with Fr. Sharbel? Don't you know that the Spirit of God is upon him? May God grant us the blessing of his intercessory prayers." Then Fr. Roukoz asked forgiveness from Fr. Sharbel who replied: God forgives everyone. 

([15] According to the hermit, Fr. Youhanna Al-khawand, this expression means, it is impossible! Used by the monks when they were asked to do something impossible! )  

 

                                              3 - I am a great sinner

            Nobody was aware of his presence, because he was attached to the life of isolation. When the visitors asked for his blessing and his prayers, he gave them his blessing without looking at them, saying: "Ask the Lord to give you according to your faith." If someone told him: You are a saint, he got disturbed and said, "I am a great sinner." At the Hermitage, he performed the lowest and the most humble works. Though he was the Superior in the hermitage, he imposed himself to the obedience of his companion Fr. Makarios, who was younger than him; he was the one who washed the dishes and swept the floor. If it happened that the superior admonished a monk in his presence, or warned him for something, even if he wasn't at fault, he would kneel, according to the monks' custom, seeking forgiveness and never got up until the superior asked him.

 

                                            4 -The cat's leftovers

            Fr. Bernardes Ehmej testified: I am telling you a story that I saw with my own eyes and I was deeply touched; I always remember this scene with great emotion, respect and wonder.  Fr. Sharbel was eating with his companion at my presence; their dish was composed of cracked wheat cooked with chard leaves. After having finished, Fr. Makarios wiped the pan with a piece of bread and threw it for the cat, but the cat wasn't hungry, so she licked the remaining meal without eating the bread. Meanwhile, Fr. Sharbel, who was washing the dishes, came back and found the bread on a floor, he picked it up, passed it over his head and after shaking the dust, he made the sign of the cross and ate it, without noticing my presence, because he never raised his eyes. At that moment, I became aware that he never looked at anyone, because he repeatedly asked, "Who are you?" Although I answered him, he was asking me the same question in the second day, because he never raised his eyes and looked at me. 

                        5 -His homeland is in heaven! (Phil 3/20)

 Fr. Youssef Ehmej witnessed: He liked to be despised by all. Throughout his life, he kept his eyes lowered and he looked neither to his brethren nor to the natural landscape. One day I was with Fr. Nehemtallah Meshmesh, holding binoculars, looking towards Beirut; Fr. Sharbel came along, carrying a rope to tie a load of wood, I told him: Take this telescope you can see Beirut very close to you. He replied; "No, why should I care, about these things?" Then he went to his work.  Fr. Roukouz Meshmesh added, so I told him follow me to the roof of the hermitage, he obeyed.  I gave him the binoculars, to see Beirut, he replied: Watch, by yourself!  and he went back.    

                                   6 - Do not put him to the test

Hanna Al-Houssaini testified: I heard Fr. Elias Meshmesh warning the visitors of the convent not to put Fr. Sharbel to the test, neither verbally nor otherwise, saying: “This is a man of faith, the Spirit of God is upon him, so respect him.”  Fr. Elias liked and esteemed him, for his unique virtues. He once said to me: Many times, I tried to dissuade Fr. Sharbel from practicing the arduous work in the field, and to give him an easier job in the convent, for the rest of his body, but he was immediately finishing the work in the monastery, and going to the field.  

                                      7 - Insults

  1. Blessed are you if they insult you and persecute you (Mt 5:11)
      Once he was reciting the prayer service, when Fr. Ignatius Meshmesh called him and told him rigorously: “Leave the prayer and come here.” He obeyed respectfully. He endured the insults and the ridicules of others, sometimes with humbleness, sometimes with patience and joy. For whoever humbles himself will be exalted, and the humble of heart will find rest for his soul, and he of whom they say all evil against him, his reward will be great in heaven; so Sharbel rejoiced and was glad.
     

  2.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven (Mt 5:11)
     Francis Kartaba witnessed: As we collected the grapes in the vineyard of the hermitage, the superior asked me to fill the jug from the well of the hermitage. When I got there, I quickly tied the rope to the handle of the jug and carelessly threw it into the well, without realizing that Fr. Sharbel was behind me watching me, so he said: "My brother, St. Anthony chose the discernment, and you're throwing the jag quickly, taking a risk to break it, and then it will be against poverty." "I replied emphatically: "Go to your church! You’re living in the hermitage, pretending to be a saint!" He answered politely and gently, head bowed: "Forgive me, my brother, for the sake of Christ." Then he went to church and I went to the vineyard
     

  3. For in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you (Mt 5:11)
    Brother Boutros Meshmesh witnessed: One day, while I was plowing in the vineyards of the hermitage with some other workers, I saw Fr. Sharbel in the process of raising the vines while the cow was crossing; it happened that the cow trampled over the vine and broke it, then, Fr. Makarios told him: “What are you doing?! Here is a broken vine because of your negligence.” Immediately, Fr. Sharbel knelt down, arms folded, and said: Forgive me for the sake of Christ! Praying and asking forgiveness for his sin.

 


        

M: No one could hear his voice (Mt 12,19)
 

I-Introduction

The law requires: "The monk must keep the tranquility." So he spoke very rarely. We didn't hear his voice except in reading the Bible, the words of consecration and in unison prayers.  He embodied the Rule; he didn’t converse with men, women or monks. At work he spoke with no one; he sought no superfluous words with a visitor or a muleteer, nor passed the time gossiping,

or asked about a particular person, but if you asked him, he would answer politely, calmly and briefly. He spent the evening in silent, but he was available to speak when asked about spiritual or theological issue, so there he voluntarily abounded in his answers.

    His life resembled that of cloistered silence; his speech was dedicated to talk with God, and concentrated for silence, isolation and meditation; he was a monk of work, prayer, and contemplative silence that one might think he was from another world. At church as in the hermitage, he was like an angel; no one could hear his voice. 

                                                  II- Stories and events

                                                        1 - If necessary

            Fr. Elias Ehmej testified: Our rule requires mandatory silence after Compline, in the refectory and in the church. During these hours, if the monks talked with Fr. Sharbel, he answered only when necessary. The brethren followed his example, and presented him as an ideal for novices, in his lifetime and after his death. From all the monks, none could match his adherence to the rule.  

                                         2 - I have strayed from the path.

            Fr. Ephrem Nakad witnessed: Once he went to Meshmesh to a funeral and didn’t come back till evening, I asked him why he came so late, he replied: I have strayed from the path, the fog was too dense and I found myself in Houjoula, then I gradually found the way and reached the monastery. I replied: "Haven't you met anybody?" He said: "I met, many." I asked again: "Why didn't you ask for the direction?" He didn't say a word.  In fact, he wouldn't have asked anyone, even if he had lost his way.

   How strange he was in his condition! No anchorite or hermit had lived as he did; neither before nor after him. I haven't met a person like him, among the monks, laity, priests and bishops. God is wonderful in his saints! The case of this monk is very amazing! 

             3 - Do you practice your spiritual obligations?

    Once, his brother came from Bqaakafra to visit him and rang the bell.  Fr .Sharbel came to see who was ringing, the visitor replied: "I am the brother of the hermit, Sharbel." he said: "Just a moment, till I ask the hermit, if he wants to open the door." He went to his companion and told him: "My brother is at the door, do you allow me to open it?" He replied: "Of course, welcome him." During their meeting, he simply repeated the same thing: "How are you?" Is everything all right? Do you practice your spiritual obligations; you and your family? Shortly afterwards, he dismissed him.                     

                                            4 - As Saint Nester

Fr. Ephrem Nakad testified: He was like St. Nester who, when he entered the convent found a donkey near the gate, so he said to himself: "Nester, Nester, you and that donkey are alike, if he can speak, then you can talk in the convent." From my personal experience with Fr. Sharbel, I found him intelligent, knowledgeable in moral theology, passionate for learning. However, he behaved like Saint Nester: a donkey in his silence, a philosopher in his prayer and his lifestyle, a hermit in the convent.    

                       5 - Listening to the Beloved one (Lk10:39)

Although Fr. Sharbel had been neither stupid, nor melancholic, nor from those who hate the contact with people; he promised that his mouth doesn't utter a word, except to praise God in resonant prayer, or to respond to the neighbor in a spiritual matter. Therefore, he spoke very little and rarely took the initiative in conversation, but his speech was almost always an answer. So he was distinguished among the hermits, not only in his observance to the hermit's rules, but also by his constant silence and his continuous work. He seemed like a quiet contemplative monk rather than a Lebanese monk; all other hermits were astonished from his great perpetual silence.  

                              6- He didn't answer me

Moussa Moussa testified: When I helped him to pull the thorny bushes and the tree stumps, he didn’t utter a word and remained silence. When I was bored of silence in the field, I talked to him, but he didn't answer me.
 

                      7-Nothing can entertain him 

Moussa Moussa witnessed: I befriended several monks and hermits, all venerable, but no one was like Fr. Sharbel. The other hermits, the living or the dead, spoke with us when we visited them; seeking entertaining news, and looking at our faces. On the other hand, Fr. Sharbel spoke to no one, sought no distractions, and not even looked at the face of a living creature.

                                  8- The people thought he was dumb

Fr. Sharbel was an angel in human body, a philosopher without a philosophy, an ideal of holiness and perfection. He had a tongue, but people thought he was dumb, as if he is a little child in his mother's arms, with one difference, that we couldn't hear his voice. 

                                                 9- He rarely spoke

Fr. Alouan witnessed: During the period I’ve spent at St. Maron, I saw in him only a silent man, who lived in isolation, not only from people but also from the monks. He didn't talk in front of me, so I can tell you stories about his life, and he never engaged in anything that I could describe how he was dealing with people. He worked four or five hours with the novices and remained silent, while they were talking around him.


 

 N: Rejoice in my sufferings(Col 1,24)

    I-Introduction

 This what the law requires: "The monk must give thanks to God for the disease more than the health, confident that it’s a test from the Lord for his own good." Fr. Sharbel suffered from horrible stomach pains, worsened during the snow season, yet he never complained or asked for treatment. Although he endured this chronic colic, especially in winter, he never told anyone about his condition, nor asked for a doctor neither put heaters in winter, though the cold, in the hermitage of Saint Maron, was severe. He never said I am sick, but endured his sufferings with remarkable patience, imitating the humility and patience of Christ, concealing his troubles from others with discretion; what happened to him either from God or men, he accepted with patience and serenity. He didn't take a medicine or painkiller, even when the pain became unbearable, but he kept repeating: "The will of God be done." He wore the same habit in summer and winter, and did not approach the fire like other hermits; instead, he spent his time praying in the church, mostly kneeling on the bare ground.

 His whole life was molded with mortification, so his pure body got used to it, and it became a shelter for him, where he relaxed after long years of ascetic practice; he always wore the Cilice directly on the flesh and not over a flannel. Boutros Moussa wondered how he could bear it, especially during the summer; he also put a thorny belt of iron applied on the flesh.   

                            II-Stories and Events
 

                       1- He captivated my heart

Fr. Hassrouni testified: Once, while we were plowing the vineyards of the hermitage; me, Brother Elias Al-Mahrini, as the head of the field, the worker Suleiman Al-Manzili, Fr. Sharbel and his companion at the hermitage, Fr. Makarios; I noticed that Fr. Sharbel began to cling onto himself, bending his back, his hands clutching his hips, groaning from a severe pain. I asked Fr. Makarios: "What's wrong with the hermit? I see him in pain!" He replied: "He has a severe renal colic."  I replied: "Then, let him rest, and ask a worker to replace him."  Fr. Makarios replied: "He wants to abuse himself, in such pain and hard work." In the afternoon, Fr. Makarios went to bring the lunch, while Fr. Sharbel kept running behind three pairs of cattle, in spite of his unbearable pain; then, he saw the cattle in front of me, about to trip over the vine, he ran and saved it; his groaning increased which meant he had even more pain. I told him: "Go slowly, Master I can stop the cattle." He replied in a low, intermittent voice that captivated my heart:   "My master, it will be damage, on my conscience, against poverty", and he continued his work all the day despite his pain.

                       2 -My eyes bathed with tears 

Fr. Hassrouni witnessed: In May 1897, we were plowing the vineyard of the hermitage, when we started breakfast, Fr. Sharbel continued to rebuild the walls that surrounded the vine, I asked his companion, Fr. Makarios, to call him for breakfast, he replied: "He eats in the afternoon." At lunchtime, he continued his work on the walls, so I asked Fr. Makarios, out of compassion for his frail health, to order him to come and eat with us, but his companion replied, saying: "He will eat it later."  In the evening, we brought the cattle to graze in the woods, a moment later, I returned to the hermitage to drink, and then I saw Fr. Sharbel eating the stems of purslane that he had picked up from the ground; my eyes bathed with tears from this impressive scene, and I blamed Fr. Makarios, saying: "Have mercy on the hermit; how do you let him eat the stems of purslane after his hard work, and his painful illness." He replied: "He is happy with what he eats, leave him alone."  Then I told myself: "How far we are from the virtues of this father? He really embodied all the virtues of the hermits in Sketis (upper of Egypt) and far exceeds what is written in the book "Garden of the monks" and the book "The Christian Perfection".  

                          3 - I was deeply moved by compassion.

        Fr. Hassrouni witnessed: I saw him once, transporting woods on his back from the depths of the forest to the vineyard; he was carrying a very heavy bundle and ascending to the hermitage, I was deeply moved to pity, for this old man who was over sixty-five. I blamed his companion, Fr. Makarios, who rapidly disposed of it, saying: "He wants to subdue himself." 

                          4 - Rice and butter in the hermitage! 

    Once Fr. Makarios said: "You endure a pain in the kidneys let me prepare a rice soup with butter for you; he replied in a low voice: "Rice and butter in the hermitage?  No, thanks"

 

                           5 -For the sake of Jesus Passion

            Moussa Moussa witnessed: When I asked him why he had a small branch of the vine tied around his head and a goat skin around his wrist, he sometimes replied:" I have a headache; I put them for the sake of Jesus Passion!"   

                  6 - No one was aware of his suffering

 The hermits were prepared a meal from wild legumes, it seemed that one of these herbs was harmful; Fr. Sharbel ate and fell sick without complaining, and nobody was aware of his sickness and his pain.  

                    7 - He stepped on the thorny bushes barefooted

            Moussa Moussa testified: When he was in the hermitage, I saw him in torn clothes, carrying a burden of thorny shrubs, stepping on it bare feet when he tied it with a rope, so his feet bled because of the thorns.

                                8 - The wool socks

Once, the Superior gave him the instruction to wear socks, knitted on our country with thick wool threads, to protect his feet from moisture, because he was suffering from stomach pains. He wore them only a single time, out of obedience, then he never put them during his lifelong. 

 

                   9 - He warmed up for a short time

When it was very cold in winter, Fr. Makarios called him to come to the kitchen to warm himself. Fr. Sharbel obeyed and went there for a short time, and then he retired to sleep in his cell; while his companion was sleeping beside the fire, because of the bitter cold inside the hermitage.

 

                        11-I shouldn't savor the sweets

 Once, Fr. Makarios proposed to make him a hot drink with bitter herbs, as a sedative for the pain he endured, he agreed in one condition, that he didn't put sugar. Fr. Makarios replied: "But the herbs are very bitter, and it's impossible to drink it!" Fr. Sharbel answered:"I shouldn’t savor the sweets, and my Lord Jesus drank vinegar on the cross, when he was at the peak of his thirst and suffering.


 

O: Everlasting peace (Jn14:27)
 

 I-Introduction

His courage was exceptional because it came from heaven and not from earth; in all time we could see him amiable and cheerful, as if everything was going well. He never grumbled about someone, or complained about a work, in summer or winter. When lightning struck the rod of the hermitage, he wasn't moving from his spot in the church where he was praying. He endured all the difficulties, putting in front of him his supernatural goal. He was suffering from colic, that sometimes assaulted him during the hours of manual labor, but he never groaned rather he was repeating; O Jesus! O Blessed Virgin! When his companion, Fr. Makarios told him to go to rest and pray before the Blessed Sacrament, he always obeyed. If he was called, he stood and saluted with the usual greeting: Praised be God; he stayed upright, arms crossed, till they order him to sit. He was serene, serious, good-tempered, and gentle as a dove, rather he was the docility, the kindness and the tenderness; anyone who looked at him, spontaneously would love him; if someone annoyed him, he bore it with patience and kindness.

                                            II- Stories and events

             1- His heart and his mind are in heaven (Mt 6/19-21) 

He did not speak of earthly things, nor asked about the income of the hermitage from the vows offerings, or wished that the monastery will be richer, nor he was proud of the richness of the convent in its territories or otherwise. He spoke neither about family nor relatives or cared about their loss or wealth, he never asked about them or about money, or livelihood. He underwent no work for the sake of gratitude, and didn’t expect any help from anyone. He never looked for compensation from the part of the superiors if he had been asked to provide a service; his relationship with them was brief; if commanded he obeyed without the slightest hesitation. He wasn't to be carried away by emotions of sadness, or happiness; if a disaster happened to the convent, or to one of his fellow he didn't grieve; nor he rejoiced if one of his brethren got a rank in the priesthood, or any other gratifying things; he always kept the same mood in all situations, confident in God, repeating the phrase: God provides, this is the Will of God. He prayed for a plenty harvest season, but he showed no affection for a good or bad one, saying: The Divine Providence provides. He always said: Thy Will be done, what we have in this world? We are but pilgrims to Eternity. In a word, his heart and his thoughts were directed towards heaven.

                                                    2 - Pray for him

 He showed a strong faith in God; so when the parent of a sick person came to beg him, asking him to pray for the healing of their patient, he sometimes replies: Your patient is in a good health, pray for him, as if the will of God inspired him to say these words of consolation. Other time, he replies: Plead and pray for him, and he prays with them and urges them to trust in God. On other occasion, he consoles them by advising them to have patience and surrender to God's Divine will.  Each time they mentioned to him about a patient, or needy or a person in difficulty, he says: God provides, let's depend on Him, and if someone asked him for a help, he would convince him to turn to God and plead Him for the grace desired.

 

                                6 - The scattering of ashes

The hermits celebrated their masses separately, so Fr. Sharbel served the masses of his companions, Fr. Makarios Meshmesh and Fr. Semaan Ehmej; however each undertook to serve his mass every other day, because of to the bitter cold in winter. Once, it was very cold and the snow accumulated very thick, Fr. Sharbel served the two masses of his two companions, then they went after the masses to warm up near the fire, while Fr. Sharbel was preparing to celebrate his mass. The two hermits, after getting warm, surrendered to sleep, and suddenly the stove bumped against the wall, leaving the embers and ashes scattered over them so they woke up frightened, went directly to church, found Fr. Sharbel already dressed for mass, standing before the altar, waiting that someone would come to serve his mass. Upon their arrival, he showed no disappointment, nor said a word; they considered that the incident of embers was a warning for them to go and serve the Mass. 

                         4- He worked for the monks’ comfort  

            He was concerned only about the comfort of the monks and the welfare of the convent; for he was convinced that with this contribute; he praises God and works for the salvation of his soul. If he felt that one of his brothers, who had been ordered to perform a job as baking bread, was tired and he needed to rest or he should do other duty, Fr. Sharbel would ask permission from his companion to replace him and did the job with pleasure even until midnight. He never left his brethren till the mission is accomplished. To anyone who asked him for a service, he replied:  I am at your service, my brother.


P: No one could take away his joy (Jn 16,22)

 I-Introduction

He was always gentle and cheerful, happy in God, pleased in his condition, he neither grumbled nor complained about anything, sober, patient, joyful; he knew nor boredom neither weariness, nor sadness neither anxiety or fear; he practiced the austerities, spontaneously, easily and happily, until the last day of his life. He was joyful in all his work and always happy; practicing it constantly and persistently; neither he hesitated on doing it nor grumbled.

He considered himself a servant for all others; obeying with joy and lot of energy not only what his superiors ordered, but also what the others asked him, including novices and servants. He considered himself lucky, for each service he could provide for others; he served with content the laborers who worked in the field of the monastery, or in the vineyard of the hermitage. He completely accomplished all services required from him, and was pleased to take over a brother in a hard work.

When the superior ordered him to go and pray for the patients, he went willingly and with joy, and prayed for them asking God for their recovery and health. He had a zeal for the salvation of souls, receiving kindly those who wanted to confess, doing his best to bring them to conversion. If he was told about an unusual or funny event, he would reply only briefly and with an amiable smile.

When he was lecturing about theological subjects, he spoke in a friendly way, pursuant the rule: "the novice should speak with kindness to all people.”

His gaiety transferred to his surrounding; Bro. Boutros Meshmesh witnessed: "I felt great pleasure when I was serving his Mass." Bro. Elias Al-Mahrini affirmed:  I participated with him in reciting the rosary; he was kneeling and praying with enjoyment and warmth; which radiating from him and filling me. Fr. Hassrouni added: in reciting the rosary with him, I felt when I was close to him, with an unusual ardor invaded my soul, and with unknown pleasure, and Fr. Nehemtallah Meshmesh explained: Silent as he was, he urged everyone to be silence, imposing decency in the speech; everyone was happy to work with him. He put no value to any interest that distracted him, or interfered in his love for God, joyfully fulfilling all his obligations. He found no pleasure, or comfort or gaiety, except in the mass and in prayer; in them he found full satisfaction.

                      II-Stories and Events

                      1 - More pleasant than the pleasure itself

            Al-Tannouri witnessed: After my arrival to the hermitage, I showed Fr. Sharbel the permission, sent to him, from the Superior General, to lecture me the retreat that was to precede my priestly ordination, he told me: :" You are a master of Israel,(Jn3/9)  and you need someone like Fr. Sharbel to lecture you in your spiritual retreat? But I am at your disposal in anything you want." When the retreat came to an end, I hoped that it lasted more than one week. When I heard his words, I felt as if I tasted a very delicious food and honey, because his words pierced the rocks, and relented the iron, they were more pleasant than the pleasure itself! That's why I decided to spend my vacation every year with him in the hermitage until the end of his life. So I spent four years in a row with him, and each time he welcomed me with an angelic smile.

                       2 - He replied smiling

Fr. Alouan testified: Quite often, he accompanied us in the sowing of wheat, at the request of the head of the field, and the approval of the superior of the convent. One day, everyone, novices and laborers, after finished seeding a field above the fountain, we had to go to another one, and then we had to move all equipment and items necessary; me and the laborers, we were dealing with oxen and ploughs, while the other novices, with Fr. Sharbel and the remaining workers had to carry other cultivation equipment. Since we knew how obedient Fr. Sharbel was, we decided to put his virtue to test; so we gathered the entire field's utensils that we had; the hoes, the water jar, the jug, the seed's basket and the food's bucket.

 For fun, I asked Fr. Sharbel to carry all these objects, he replied: "I am at your disposal." I began to put the objects in his back, piece after piece, waiting for him to say, that's enough, but he hadn’t shown neither reluctance nor he complained; accepting all of these willingly. He put the picks on one shoulder, hung the basket on the other one, the water jar in one hand and the bucket on his elbow; the jug remained, so I told him: Carry it. He replied, "How I carry it?" I told him: hang it on your finger, he obeyed.  Few other items remained on the ground that he couldn't carry, so he told me: put over my body, put more. The novices laughed, seeing us laughing, he looked at us and said smilingly: "Woe to those who overwhelmed people with heavy burdens, while not bothering themselves, to move one of their fingers." Then he left with his burden satisfied and happy, and we took the other utensils.

                         3 - With joy and pleasure

Fr. Sharbel had given up his own will completely, even he abandoned it   with disregard, pursuant to Christ's words: “He who doesn't forsake everything and deny himself for my sake, doesn't deserve to be my disciple." This means a true and total obedience; that's why his obedience was blind; as a little child obeys his parents; he always rushed to accomplish the order without questioning or denial, rather with joy and gaiety. When he finished a work he stood up, arms crossed and said: My father or my brother, my work is done, what do you want me to do now? 

                                         4- He used to say in jest                                 

 "La Croix" newspaper wrote: Sharbel requested the hard work, from his superior; he transported the stones and plowed the fallow land without the help of an animal. His hourly rate wasn't less than ten hours a day, bearing the summer heat and the winter cold. His hands became chapped, his ankles and his armpits were ripped by the thorns, and he used to say in jest: I must become tough....


 

Q: Amazing love (Jn 1,13)

I-Introduction   

            He expressed what he had in his heart, saying: My God, my heart belongs to you; he offered this heart for Him entirely without ever being touched one day by an earthly love; his soul kindled with the fire of God’s love ... The time he had spent before the Blessed Sacrament was the best time for him; no wonder, because the lover has a passion to be with his beloved and cherished in his attendance; for the heart of man is where his treasure lies; that's what the book of Proverbs mentioned.

He chose the love for God over his body, sacrificing everything for God's Love; that love drove him to a point that he liked to be despised and treated as if he was nothing. Throughout his life he was never interested in acquiring the satisfaction of a superior or the friendship of a fellow brother; he did nothing for his own sake, but he offered himself entirely to God.

 He served his neighbor through his prayers, without ever being concerned to be praised; he never complained to the superior about one of his brethren or about a worker, but he was kind with everybody; he replaced his brethren in the hard work to allow them to rest, performing the most menial jobs and carrying wood without being in charge by the superior order, but driven by his love for them.

Pursuant the novice's regulation: "He came to love God and the neighbor and not to hate them; he came to suffer and be despised, not to be praised and to rest; he came to serve not to be served." He prayed for the conversion of sinners and the return of the perishable ones to the right path. Sometimes, especially on Sundays and holidays, he was delaying his Mass, so the shepherds who came from far away, could participate in the Eucharist.   

                                       II-Stories and Events  

              1 - The family of Sharbel (Mt 12:46-50)

            Once, his brother and his sister came to visit him at the hermitage; his companion, Fr. Makarios, told him about their arrival, he replied: You are my brother and my sister, offer them food and drinks, then dismiss them to return to the village, and tell them that I am praying for them to be Saved and to be delivered from the snares of this world. He didn't meet them.  

                 2 - Do you want to have lunch?

            Fr. Mubarak Massaad came to visit the hermitage at lunchtime, so Fr. Sharbel and his companion asked him: Do you want to have lunch? He agreed, but the meal was just enough for two persons. Thus Fr. Sharbel discreetly withdrew, leaving for the visitor his portion. He ate the leftovers in the bottom of the pot, though the hermits eat only one meal per day. 

 

   3 - Work for food that endures to eternal life (Jn 6, 27)

            Fr. Sharbel prayed a lot for the conversion of sinners, and for the sick; giving beneficial advices depending on the circumstances. I still remember the words he once told me:  Do not worry about the things of this world, but about the eternal life and the Doomsday, for the one who will judge us, knows everything and doesn't need anyone to tell him.  He had a great compassion for the souls in purgatory, especially those who have nobody to pray for them, he prayed for them and invited others to pray for them.  

                              4 - Out of pity for her

Fr. Elias Ehmej testified: Once during my childhood, I accompanied my mother, in November to attend the Mass at the hermitage. On our way, it rained incessantly that we were all soaked in water. When we reached the hermitage, I entered and prepared the supplies for the Liturgy to serve the Mass for Fr. Sharbel. He looked at me and saw me drenched with water from head to toe so he asked me to go to the kitchen to dry my clothes, I didn't accepted, he took pity on me, and brought me a pair of his shoes but I didn't use it because it was large. At the beginning of the Mass he turned to us with the incense, so he saw my mother standing at the door outside and participating in the Mass, bathed in water; he took pity on her, and asked me to bring her inside to continue her mass at the back of the church; I called her and she came in. This was strange because he had never allowed women to enter the church, but he had compassion on her because of the bitter cold and the stormy wind and he let her enter. 

                                    5 - His love towards his brethren

            One of his most unique virtues was his love for his brethren, he denigrated no person, but he performed his duties devoutly. He was strict on himself mild with others; he spent a long period of his monastic life at St. Maron monastery in Annaya, loved by all the monastic folk with all its diversity and variety; he was remarkable for his impartiality and discreetness with others, and his rashness for help in every unfinished work at the convent. The superior of the convent at that time, Fr. Antonios Meshmesh said: "I have in the convent two excellent monks, not only the best in our Order, but also in all the existing orders in the Church, and they are: Fr. Sharbel and brother Elias Al-Mahrini."

 

     7 - Like a mother who cares for her baby

            Fr. Ephrem Nakad witnessed: In the past it was accustomed that when a monk was getting old or sick and he had a monk at the monastery from his relatives or from his village, the latter undertook to serve him.  In the monastery of Saint Maron there were many monks, and if one of them got sick or aged and he had a monk to take care of him, Fr. Sharbel would only visit him as the other monks.

As a mother who takes care for her child, he devoted himself, day and night to serve the sick and elderly, with no relatives or friends from their village. I remember there was at St. Maron monastery a monk named Moussa Ehmej, who was sick, old and disabled, and he had nobody from his village except Fr. Alishaa; already old and senile. Since Fr. Moussa got sick, Fr. Sharbel was responsible for his service, and was sleeping on the floor beside him, in the night. One day he came out of the cell of the patient and went directly to church to celebrate the Holy Mass; I noticed that his habit was covered with spit on his back. I called him saying: "It is shameful to celebrate mass with this habit", so he changed it. Indeed, the patient was spitting all night without noticing that Fr. Sharbel was sleeping on the floor beside him.

 

            7- Sharbel "the passionate lover"

His heart was in love with Jesus and felt no attraction to live without him, so he kept repeating: "God is my love, and that's enough for me." He felt neither pleasure nor joy or rest except in the church before the Blessed Sacrament. In the days of snow and cold, when it was impossible to work outside and there was nothing to do inside the convent; he spent his time conversing with God in his prolonged visits to the Blessed Sacrament. He, who loves, always thinks of his beloved and would like to extend his presence with him. Fr. Sharbel liked to stay so long meditating in the Eucharist; rather all his life was absorbed by God, because he was always thinking of Him. When someone spoke with him, he was like awakened from a deep sleep, because even in his hard manual work, he was always immersed in meditation in God.  

                             8- Unlimited love 

            Fr. Ephrem Nakad witnessed: He showed us, me and the novices from his village, no special affection and refrained to contact us. Once the superior of the convent, Fr. Elias Meshmesh asked him: "Fr. Sharbel, don't you feel more affection to the novices who are from your hometown, than others, because it is a natural inclination in men." He replied softly as usual: I don’t incline to them, neither inward nor outward, because all the brothers are equal to me.

 

                        9- He didn't concern about us

Fr. Raphael Nakad witnessed: I went with Fr. Ephrem, both from Bqaakafra, to the convent of Annaya to make our entry into the Order, believing that we'll be happy and lucky to have Fr. Sharbel with us, so he would look after us, and be a good company for us. Yet the opposite happened: he didn't concern about us nor communicated with us;  he showed us no particular affection, even though we came from his hometown. 

 

                 10- He wept over a Shiite (Lk 19:41)

Once Fr. Youssef Beiruty, entered the hermitage and found Fr. Sharbel crying bitterly, striking his head with his hands with great regret, he asked him why he is weeping, but he didn't answer; he insisted in asking him second and third time, then he said: "I'll tell you, but it must remain confidential, you don't tell anyone until after my death.” Today a man from Almatte (Shiite) died, his soul went to hell. A moment later a gunshot was heard from Almatte, and news of the death of a rich man who was in America, was spread.  

                                          14 - Even animals 

                      -They will pick up snakes with their hands (Mk 16:18)

            Antonios Nehme testified: During the period of cultivation and pruning the vineyards, I went with all the monastic folk, monks and workers, to the hermitage to work in its vineyards. Suddenly, we saw a fearsome snake, we rushed to kill it but we couldn't; the viper applied on the ground, uttering a terrible and awful hissing; ones raising its head, other time its tail; unable to find a way out, and overwhelmed with fear, I shouted: "Where is Fr. Sharbel? Call him." We couldn't see him, because he was working alone in a slope of the vineyard; as soon as he heard he came; when he stood in front of it, the snake froze in its place, he said:  Don't touch it;  each one had something in his hand: one stone, the other a pickax, a third a sting ... holding out his hand, he turned to the viper and said: "Go out of here", so it crept in front of him, and he kept  waving  his hand until it disappeared,  then he returned to work.  We thanked God for saving us from this danger. Fr. Sharbel was used not to killing any animal, nor a poisonous insect, not an ant or a scorpion; because of his sensitive heart, and because he believed they are creatures of God and that God alone could have their lives.

                              -The child plays with the viper (Isa 11:8)

Gerges Sassine witnessed: Once we were plowing a vineyard near the hermitage at dinner time, we called Fr. Sharbel to eat with the hermits; a large snake appeared and glided into the wall, we rushed ready to demolish the wall to kill it: he stopped us, saying: I don't allow you to kill it, all creations venomous or not, were created by God for a useful purpose; so we mustn't kill it. Then he called out saying: Go out! O blessed! It emerged from the wall, passed us and went through the door of the vineyard; we were about eight workers, together with the hermits.  

         - The wolf lives with the lamb (Isa 11:16)

            Fr. Semaan Abi Beshara witnessed: when I was a student, I spent a summer at the monastery of "Our Lady of Maifouq" where I had to share the room with Brother Bartholomew of Aito; I saw on the mattress and the bed lot of bugs, thin and lean, they walked on my face and hands but did not bite me; I was surprised and I asked brother Bartholomew about this strange phenomenon, he replied: "Don't you see water in that bottle, Fr. Sharbel had blessed it ? Since I sprayed my room with the water, the bedbugs have become thinner and unable to sting.” 

                        - Poor thing!

            Fr. Gerges Sassine witnessed: There was a hive of bees near the hermitage, some of them fell into a basin which was designed for watering; Fr. Sharbel arrived and began to remove the bees, one by one with his fingertips and put them in the sun to dry. One of them stung him, he pulled out the bee stinger from his finger, then put the bee in the sun to dry and fly away, I told him: "My master, the bee will die without its sting." he replied: "It's true, poor thing." Then he went to church.


R: The freedom of Sharbel and his audacity
 

 I-Introduction

            He wasn't interested in anything in this world, or concerned about the specific matters; rather he applied with care to fulfill his obligations, and never sought to gain the consent of anyone in particular. In the observance of the divine truth, he was of extraordinary boldness, without fear or favor, vis-à-vis to others. He recognized no value to the dignity; but he was pleased with the insults, indifferent to be praised or be despised, and famous in saying these words: "The gifted person, is not the one who praises

himself, or who is praised by people, but the one to whom the Lord gives his grace." If a bishop or a dignitary visited the monastery, he wouldn't come to meet them. In fact, he lived on earth, but his thoughts and his heart were in heaven; inattentive to what was happening around him, as if he lived in exile on earth; knowing that he belonged to the heavenly homeland.   

                              II-Stories and Events
 

                 1 - He wasn’t attached to anything

 His heart wasn’t attached to anything; not even to his personal devotions or spiritual obligations; following the command of obedience, he would abandon his prayer services or any spiritual exercise, and maybe with joy. I remember for example; one night, while he was praying with his companion in the church of the hermitage, a messenger came and told him: "The superior is looking for you." He did not hesitate at all; he stopped his prayer in unison, and went to the convent at night. The superior asked him to bless the water and sprinkle it in the goats, because they were diagnosed with gallbladder. Once the herd sprinkled with holy water, they recovered.  Then he went back to the hermitage, after he took permission from the superior, because the latter, insisted on him to stay overnight at the convent.  

      2 - From where the sin can enter your soul?

            He worked silently in baking while the others sometimes joked; despise his continuous silence, he didn't let any adequate opportunity passed without giving a spiritual lesson, sealed with a profound wisdom not to hurt his neighbor; his responses were unique, though insightful in understanding, not only in the Order's situations but also elsewhere. 

            Once in winter, while he was helping the monks in the bakery, the pastor Youhanna Shehade from Meshmesh, came to the convent; he was the patriarchal vicar of the region of Jbeil,  an honorable person from a dignified family, very rich, famous for his relationships with major people of his country, proud of himself, fat, leading an easy life, not fully applicable with the simplicity of those days, and the situation of the priesthood; his position was taken into consideration in all the region of Kesserwan, Jbeil and Batroun.

When he came to the convent, he was wearing over his cassock, a thick fur coat worn only by the princes and the nobles; he walked into the bakery, talked with the monks; a conversation took place about the sin and its causes; he congratulated the monks because they were far from the motives of the sin. Meanwhile, Fr. Sharbel remained silent, as usual,  listening to the dialogue, his hands bore witness of his hard work, and his muteness pronounced the  the most expressive advices and preaching.  Suddenly all turned to Fr. Sharbel, because they heard him talking, not according to his custom, glancing over the priest Youhanna, and a small smile on his lips: And you! From where the sin can enter your soul? It couldn't reach you with this thick fur! All laughed, exchanging winks, because they saw in those words, a significant moral, and a subtle, wise lesson to the mentioned priest.  Also, this meeting was a proof that Fr. Sharbel in his retirement from the world, his silence and his abstention from any conversation beyond the monastic matters; he had understood from just a hint, or from a small word, what was happening among his contemporaries; as if he wasn't satisfied with the priest opulence, that was clear in wearing the fur, so he gave him this hint.   

 

   3-This is to be announced where the day is a holiday    

The debt was accumulated on the monastery of Annaya, when Fr. Roukoz Meshmesh was the superior (1865-1871), so they made the novices and the farmer-members work on Sundays and holidays to support the monastery's economy. Once, the superior, Fr. Roukoz Meshmesh, asked Fr. Sharbel to celebrated the solemn Mass, he obeyed immediately; he is well- known in obeying in everything but sin; in this mass he should announce, that a holy day of obligation, is coming next week; but, he ended his mass without announcing the holiday. At the end of the mass the superior told him: "You haven't announced the Ascension for next Thursday! Don't you know that it's a holiday? Announce it tomorrow", since the farmers were coming to the Mass. Fr. Sharbel replied kindly and humbly: "My master, somewhere else is a holiday, those who do not take off on Sundays or holidays, the feast do not be announced for them, this is done where the day is a holiday." He was referring to the decision of the Superior, who made the novices work on Sundays and holidays so that they could fulfill the various tasks in the monastery, because this year the economy was bad. Fr. Sharbel didn't take part in this work, yet no one dared to call him to work during these holy days, out of respect for his virtue and his holiness. Therefore, he replied with this speech in the church to defend the canon and the divine law, without being afraid of anyone; thus the superior had grasped the intention of Fr. Sharbel and realized his mistake; his words reported in a very gentle way, were considered a critical sermon to the superior, who understood the meaning very well, after which he declined to make the novices and the laborers work on Sundays and holidays. The monastic folk considered that this observation was from God's voice, and rejoiced in it.


S: A rightful worshiper 

    I-Introduction

 - Toward his Lord: He practiced to perfection the rites of worship, required from a creature to the Creator; he was profoundly committed to God's commandments. His heart and his hands were always lifted up to God and testified the adequate reverence, with perseverance unto death.  

 - Towards his fellow men: He hurt no one, neither violated the right of a person, nor bothered anyone; rather he considered himself a servant to all, and a faithful servant to His Lord. He carefully watched his solemn vows, which imposed the respect of all his brethren. When he descended from the hermitage to the monastery, and they gathered to greet him, and kissed his hand, he treated them courteously; he venerated them with great kindness. He never hurt anyone; neither face to face nor from a distance, neither in their properties nor in their reputation.  

                                          II-Stories and Events

                             1 - At church until everyone left

After Compline, he entered his cell, pretending to sleep when the monks slept, but in reality he slept very little; as many testified, his room was lighted, while he was sitting or kneeling praying in his books. He spent most of his night in prayer, and was often seen at church, during the night, while all the monks slept. He was entrusted to ring the midnight bell for prayer, so he came before the monks to church; after praying the monks went back to sleep until the bell rang for Lauds. Having completed the night prayer, Fr. Sharbel  withheld from sleeping, like the rest of his fellow monks; but he continued to pray with the light of the Eucharist in the church, immersed in meditation, till dawn appeared and the monks gathered for Lauds, then he stayed in the church until everyone left. 

                             2- Pray for the novices 

In 1888, the superior of the convent of the novices in Naama, visited the hermits, in the hermitage of Saint Maron, included Fr. Sharbel who was sitting with his companions to eat. When he returned to Naama, he said that he asked the hermit to pray for the novices. 

  

     3- When I was ordained I died from this world (Mt 6:24)

            Alishaa Nakad witnessed: When my grandfather, Hanna Zaarour, the brother of Fr. Sharbel, passed away in January/25/1898; since he had no children except my mother and the girl wasn't allowed to inherit from her father, except half of his legacy, so the relatives of her father claimed that the second half is theirs, considering that the brother of the deceased, is a monk and a hermit, who under the Order's Law, does not inherit nor give inheritance. My mother said: Indeed, my uncle Fr. Sharbel is the one who inherit the second half; so she came to the monastery of Saint Maron Annaya, to tell him about the death of her father, and ask him to give her a cession of the legacy of his brother and her father. I accompanied her during spring, as we reached the hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul, Fr. Sharbel was told that my mother came to meet him, he didn't accept to see her, but he entered the church and closed the door. My mother stood at the door of the church from outside, while he was inside the church near the locked door, and he asked her, what does she want from him? She told him about the death of her father, and asked him to give her a cession of his share. She recounted to him that her father's relatives claimed half of the inheritance. He told her in my hearing: "O my niece! I have no concern left for this world! My brother died few months ago, but I have been died from this world, since I have pronounced my solemn vows in the monastery of Saint Maron Annaya forty-five years ago, and the dead person, do not inherit or give inheritance! And this is the case of each monk, so you don't have any business with me. I cannot give up on something I do not own." So we went back with no result. Fr. Skandar Beik Khoury commented on this incident: This phrase became a verse in that region, ran through the town, as a sign of Fr. Sharbel’s impartiality, his justice and his sincere priesthood spirit.  

 

                    4- He prayed for the souls in Purgatory

 Brother Elias Al-Mahrini witnessed: Fr. Sharbel was multiplying the signs of the Cross ...so I asked him: "My master, Fr. Sharbel, why do you multiply the signs of the cross today, unlike your habit? Is it derives great benefit in doing so? With beaming face, he replied: "Today is the Holy Souls’ Friday; the sign of the cross holds a great treasure of indulgences that could be transferred to help the poor suffering souls in purgatory, precisely those to whom nobody remembers; every time you make the sign of the cross with faith and you are in the state of grace, you obtain an indulgence. When you walk into or out the church, anointing your forehead with holy water, making the sign of the cross and you are in the state of grace, you obtain for every time an indulgence. Every time you say, "O Mary!" you also obtain an indulgence.  If, for example, you make the sign of the cross twenty times a day, you obtain many indulgences; if you offer these indulgences for the repose of one or more souls suffering in Purgatory,  you will profoundly relieve their pain, and you will obtain abundant compensations for your deed!  Does it cost you any fatigue or effort?  Of course not! 

The man works in his property, irrigates it from the sweats of his hard work, and waits a year or more to get some harvest, if the harvest is plentiful, he will be overjoyed; It's better for him to invoke the Virgin name, calling her with reverence: "O Mary!" hundred times a day, so he will obtain many indulgences, without tiring, without disturbance, and then he can continue his usual work. He even gets profit from it and derives benefit for the repose of the souls in purgatory and shortens the time of their suffering. He also finds behind this great name, a barrier against any satanic temptation. If the man get used to make the sign of the cross and to call the Virgin name, he would decline any sort of temptation, because the sign of the cross is a way to expel the demons, and the name of the Virgin to subjugate and defeat them into the abyss of their destruction.

 If you see me grasping a permanent devotion for the souls in purgatory, that's because in doing so, as if I owe God, for the Bible says who gives to the poor, lends to God; who does not neglect a reward for a glass of cold water given in his name, how could He neglect the reward of a benefactor to a beloved soul who suffers;, and thus you shorten the days of its expiation in purgatory, then its salvation is guaranteed


        

T: A loyalty to the Beloved One
 

I-Introduction  

            Fr. Sharbel had an angelic chastity as shown through his mortification and his disinterestedness in regard of eating, drinking and clothing; as for his threadbare habit, it's a striking testimony that spoke of his chastity; he even hated every comfort in life. He practiced the asceticism to the point that he became like a shadow, skinny and thin, nothing left in his body more than skin and bones, so many people said; this is not the life of a human being, rather it's the life of an earthly angel, who mortified his human nature.

 He hadn’t  raised his eyes toward a person, whoever the person might be, but he always kept his eyes lowered to the ground, avoiding any contact with people, devoting himself fully to the Creator; if he had to speak with a man, it was only for few minutes, though he lowered his eyes, even if the man was a monk. He looked down in an attitude of meditation inside and outside the church; he didn't look at a woman, pursuant the rule: "The monk must completely suppresses his senses"; there were no women in the hermitage or its surroundings at all; he stayed away from them, despite the decency and simplicity of their clothes, especially at that time; if he met some women on the main road, when he was heading to the field or the vineyard, or carrying water from the fountain to the convent; he would immediately change his way, and this became very well-known in the neighborhood, even the women when they saw him from afar they changed their way, out of respect for him 

                                       II-Stories and Events
 

                                       1- The Sunday Mass 

            He never allowed the women to enter the church of the hermitage, unless he knew that they couldn't attend Sunday Mass anywhere else, then he allowed them to access to the corridor beside the church. On the other hand, when some visitors came to the church of the hermitage, in the company of women, he withdrew into his cell and didn't leave it until all had gone. 

                                    2- Use of masculine gender

            Maron Abbud witnessed: I know that when some women came to ask for holy water, or other services, he called them from the window of his cell by the masculine gender: "What do you want?  After knowing the reason for the visit, he sent them to his companion. Gerges Sassine added: Once I went to the hermitage where I saw a woman standing outside the fence, I asked her: "Who are you?" She replied: "A woman from Bqaakafra, the sister of Fr. Sharbel, please tell him I want to see him." I went in and told him, he replied: "Go and tell Fr. Makarios", so he ordered him to meet her. He stood behind the closed door and said: "How are you?" Then he retired to church, but I didn't understand why he addressed her in the masculine gender. 

                               3- Where is the Bey's daughter?

            My mother, whose father Mr. Rashid Beik Al-Khoury was the prefect of that region, told me that she once went with her friends, relatives to us, to visit the hermitage, and Fr. Sharbel knew about them from his companion. After visiting the church, they went to the square in front of the hermitage to rest and have lunch, and then they heard knocking from inside the closed door and calling: "Where is the Bey’s daughter?" My mother replied: "It's me, what do you want?”  He opened a small window in the middle of the door, stretched out his hand outside the window, without seeing her and gave her a plate of honey; this was the only time that she heard the voice of Fr. Sharbel, despite her frequent visits to the hermitage.  

                                    4- He blessed them 

            Once I was in the hermitage where a group of men and women were in church, Fr. Makarios came and asked the women to leave because Fr. Sharbel wanted to celebrate the Eucharist. On leaving, the ladies asked for the blessing of Fr. Sharbel, they stood outside the church, bowed their heads, covered with a sheet, the hermit stretched his hand out the window and blessed them, then he celebrated the Holy Mass.   

                                5- The body is like a donkey

            The monks heard him always repeating these words: "This body is like a donkey; if you satiate him, he will become ungrateful, and if you starve him, he will be humble. 

                            6- Put the bottle down and walk away

When women came to the hermitage asking for holy water, and Fr. Sharbel was alone at the hermitage, he talked with them from inside, saying: Put the bottle down and walk away. Then he took the bottle and filled it with holy water, put it back in its place and disappeared. When a woman unexpectedly encountered him on the way, he drew back and took a different path, wandering among the thorns.   

                                        7- Until he is gone

            Fr. Hassrouni witnessed: The women felt a great esteem toward Fr. Sharbel, so that when they knew, in advance, that they were in a place where he might pass, they retreated until he is gone; I saw this with my own eyes. I remember one time I was plowing, with the head of the field Brother Elias Al-Mahrini, and the worker Suleiman Al-Manzili, south-west of the convent, when we saw some women returning from the convent after Mass, and then they quickly ran away to hide behind rocks and trees; I asked Brother Elias why they ran away, he replied: "Maybe they saw Fr. Sharbel coming from the hermitage to the convent." I asked: "Why they feared him?" He replied: "The ladies knew that the hermit avoids seeing women so they hide, out of respect for him."  Indeed, a moment later, we saw Fr. Sharbel approached the convent, after he disappeared, the women continued their way to their houses. 

                            8- A temptation had harassed me

            Once, Fr. Sharbel stayed in the convent of Annaya-Laqlouq to celebrate the Mass, for the head of the fieldwork, Brother Boulos Meshmesh; while this brother was plowing the ground he heard Fr. Sharbel, who was a little further, screaming and asking for help like a little child; he left his work, ran to see what happened to him, found him safe, so he asked him: "What's wrong?" He replied: "Nothing." As soon as the brother resumed his work, he heard him screaming again, he approached him and said: "Are you crazy?" Why are you screaming? Tell me! How can I help you!? What's going on?”  He answered calmly and in a low voice: "A temptation had harassed me, forgive me, and pray for me."

                               9 - Why this "crank"?

            Fr. Elias Ehmej testified: His love for God had wiped out from his heart any other earthly love, even the love of the parents; he belonged to the Almighty and devoted himself for His love, so he emptied his heart from the love of his relatives. As I passed the Summer at St. Maron monastery in Annaya, with my master Fr. Nehemtallah Al-Kafri; once I went to visit the hermits, arriving near the shrine, I found a number of women waiting, they greeted me and told me: "We have been waiting here for a long time, we came from Bqaakafra, which is a day walk from here, to see Fr. Sharbel who refused to meet us." I replied: "Who are you?" They said: "This is his sister, and we accompany her. We beg you to persuade him to allow his sister, to kiss his hand, because since so long she hasn't seen him, and she misses him so much." I was very touched so I hastened the pace to Fr. Sharbel who was in church; I begged him to have mercy on his poor sister, who came from afar, to quench her affection, even with a single glance, to her brother. He replied: "No, I don’t go out"; then, I came back saying: "Your sister is asking you, to stretch out your hand from the window, so she will kiss it, after that she promised to leave." He said: "I don't stretch out my hand from the window"; a third time, I told him: "Your sister asks you to hold this handkerchief in your hand and pass it on the image of Saints Peter and Paul, so it will be a blessing and a remembrance for her." He replied: "Do it yourself and give her the handkerchief." I continued:  “Why this "crank"?  why this strange behavior?” He didn't answer; so I put the handkerchief on the end of a long stick, passing it over the portrait, placed very high, and gave it to his sister, who returned to her town Bqaakafra, sad with tears in her eyes. I myself was very surprised by this harsh behavior and did not understand its meaning. After he left the church, I argued with him, saying: "You shouldn't have sent your poor sister inconsolable, where is the tenderness, where is the compassion?" He gave me no answer. As I understood from his silence, that he had no place in his heart for earthly love, his heart beat only for the Love of God.

 

                                      10- Even his niece

            Eid Nakad witnessed: When I was ten years old, I accompanied my mother Wardeh, the niece of Fr. Sharbel, to visit the hermitage, and I was sick; he took me by the hand and led me inside the hermitage; he didn't meet my mother and her sick friend, who came to be healed; rather he talked to them from behind the door. Another time my mother went to the hermitage to visit her uncle, the hermit, he spoke briefly with her from inside the hermitage and didn't see her. She insisted to participate in his Mass, he allowed her to attend the mass through an opening in the church's door; Wardeh said that when he raised the cup for blessing, he lifted his eyes up to avoid seeing her.


                                                                                                  U: Prisoner [15] of the Beloved

            I-Introduction

      
He did nothing on his own initiative, but in obedience to the authority that represents God, and to deserve the reward entitled for the obedient person, pursuant the law: "The monk must consider his superior as Christ." Therefore his obedience was strangely astonishing, taking a practice not to start a work before receiving an order; this obedience was literally blind; as the stick obeys the blind. If the supervisor called him for any matter, he would instantly abandon his work and obey without delay for a moment. I do not remember ever having seen Fr. Sharbel showing any aversion or anxiety when he received an unusual order, rather he was always in the same condition. He never apologized, neither for healthy reason nor for other reason, even in matters in which was clear to everyone that he should be absolved from doing them. He did not submit by stupidity or habit, but by the spirit of devotion and virtue. The vow of obedience was embodied in front of him, in all his life, practicing it as a vow and a virtue; as if it had been his dearest wish to submit even his blood pressure to the obligation of obedience; he excelled to his respect for God, whatever happened in the church, he wouldn't turn right or left. As for his respect for the authority, it was one of his ultimate goals; he was careful in preserving the ritual of the Church, and its Sacraments; in a daily basis, he celebrated, with his companion in the hermitage, all the religious processions.

 ([15] The basis motive for the life of Sharbel is love. He obeyed his Beloved Jesus, and all who represented Him, so he was captured by His Love. He had a deaf ear, and a mute tongue to the world, he listened only to the Beloved one. He lived away from women ... and from the beauty of the nature, to be faithful to his lover.)

 

                                             II-Stories and Events

                                       1 - Well done 

            Fr. Ignatius Meshmesh witnessed: Once he put his dalmatic and began the Mass, and because all fathers had already celebrated their masses, the superior stopped him, saying: "Wait, because some people are on their way to participate in the Eucharist." He complied, and remained standing at the altar about an hour, and then he called me to serve the mass, and asked me if the people who would participate in the Eucharist have already arrived, I replied: "Allow me to notify the superior and ask his permission." He replied: "Well done." He stood up until the superior came and told him to continue the Holy Mass.

                                  2 – Ask Fr. Makarios

            Fr. Nehemtallah Meshmesh witnessed: When we asked him for a meal, he replied: "I don't know, go and ask Fr. Makarios". If we wanted to eat grapes, he also sent us to his companion; if a worker asked him for a bunch of grapes, he would reply "I don't know, ask Fr. Makarios."  He never gave even a grape leaf from the convent's property of his own accord, and never asked permission from his superior to give something to someone.                                      

                                3 - He kept lifting his pick

            Tannouri witnessed: Before my ordination, I made a retreat in the monastery of Saint Maron in Annaya. Once, while I was standing at the edge of the hermitage, I saw Fr. Sharbel plowing in the vineyard, I felt sorry for him, and  

asked  Fr. Makarios, who was preparing lunch near me, to call him to rest and eat. When the food got ready, his companion called him: "Fr. Sharbel", but he didn't respond, so he called him a second time, this time louder; when he heard he was lifting up his pick, so he kept on lifting it waiting for the order; then when he asked him again to come for lunch, he put down his pick and came. 

                                 4- He obeyed even the novices

While the novices were working and the bell rang for prayer, they stopped and prayed without calling Fr. Sharbel who continued his work; they asked him why he didn't pray with them, he replied: "You didn't order me." They thought he was making fun of them and got angry. The second day, they didn't call him to pray, so he continued his work, then they realized that Fr. Sharbel doesn't do anything without being ordered. In fact, the third day, when they ordered him to participate in prayer, he left his work and obeyed.

                                                    5- As a joke

            One day, Fr. Sharbel told his companion, Fr. Makarios: "In the convent, they need wood, and here we have no more, where should I go to get wood?" He replied angrily for the purpose of kidding with him; go to the forest of "Mihal", which take three hours walking from the hermitage. Fr. Sharbel then went to the hill above, cut woods and carried them to the hermitage; he reached in the evening exhausted, bathed in sweat and the burden on his back, so Fr. Makarios asked him: "From where did you get the wood? Why are you so late, and very tired?" He answered him:" From the mountain of Mihal, as you commanded me." Fr. Makarios replied:" Why have you gone there, and the hermitage is surrounded by wood." He answered: "Haven't you asked me to go to Mihal? You commanded and I obeyed."  Fr. Makarios was very surprised at the trouble he bore!

                        6- He doesn’t ask about the purpose

Mr. Rashid Al-Khoury, the prefect of the region, requested Fr. Sharbel to come to Ehmej to bless the water and sprinkle the places where locusts, at that time, were intensely spread, because the hermit was well-known that, with his prayers, he could drive away the grasshoppers. On this, the superior ordered him to go; without knowing the purpose of this order and with no objection, he

headed toward Ehmej; once he reached there, Mr. Rashid Beik asked him to bless the water, with the attendance of all the villagers; he blessed it and turned back to the hermitage. At the harvest time, as many as hundred people from the village of Ehmj mowed the crops of the monastery, free of charge, out of gratitude for Fr. Sharbel. 


 

V: His hope is a yearning for the Beloved One


I-Introduction

His hope in God was firm, he looked at life in all its dimensions as scarp, and his only concern was Christ.  When changes occurred in the Order he expressed neither joy nor disorder, nor he asked if an acquaintance in the priesthood, was ranked in his position so he can depend on him.;  he didn't distress because of the changes in the hierarchy of superiors and  officials, or the removal of those who showed kindness toward him; whatever was happening in the Order, didn't affect in his spiritual life or in his services;  he was interested in the affairs of the monastery, only as much as the vows of obedience ordered him to do so; he showed no joy for material progress in the convent, or sadness for a loss.

He lived in the monastery and the hermitage as if he did not exist; all his thoughts were turned to God; all his interests were devoted for the salvation of souls and his own salvation; his only concern was to please God; for the sake of this goal, he endured all the difficulties and the hardships, and bore the extreme severity which he imposed upon himself.

                         II-Stories and Events

                  1 - More competent than me

He never counted on men... I remember once he was surprised at a remark that the consultant wanted to appoint him for the superiority, he said: "In the Order many are more qualified and suitable than me. It's a noble gesture from the Order to accept a lazy one like me."

                    2 - Work for the glory of God

Fr. Alouan witnessed: He performed his work to glorify God and obtain eternal happiness; he kept saying: "Work for the glory of God, and your reward will be eternal happiness."  This hope, led him to despise the things of this mortal life and practice mortification and asceticism; also he kept repeating this sentence: This life is perishable, it cannot offer anything.

 

    3 - The lights of heaven are more beautiful 

One evening a monk told him: "Look at the city of Beirut, how it shines with lights." Without turning around, he answered: "The lights of heaven are better and more beautiful." Then he returned to his cell. 

              4 - Such things I do not know.

Once, his brother visited him to tell him about the situation in their home and how was the harvest in this year, Fr. Sharbel replied: "These things I do not know and I do not want to hear about it." After these words he took his ax and went towards the vineyard. He was a man who lived only physically in this world, and because his heart and his mind were in heaven, he wasn't influenced by joy or by sadness.


W: A refuge for the faithful and the poor (Lk18:3)

 I-Introduction  

People were flocking to him, leading their children bottles of water at hands, to pray for the kids, and bless the water so they could take it home; to heal their sick, keep away disasters from them, protect their livestock and their properties from diseases and epidemics, increase production and fertility in their crops, and to sprinkle it in their houses. He welcomed them with tenderness, compassion and sympathy, moved by their plight and prayed for them; when he blessed the water, a strange power was emanating from it; he never took any reward for it, nor accepted any offering, but he was doing all that for the love of God.

The sick, disabled, afflicted, suffering flooded from all sides, seeking the grace of God by his intercession, because they believed in his goodness and his powerful prayer. Many Muslim women, from the vicinity of the monastery, put their children at the door of Sharbel's hermitage asking for healing and blessing; he never let down those who were seeking spiritual help; if someone visited him in the hermitage, he would leave it astonished by his holiness, influenced by his piety, comforted and happy by meeting him.   

 

                                II-Stories and Events

                                       1 - Silently

            Youssef Suleiman witnessed: We all believe that he is a saint to whom we take refuge in case of illness and distress; there are many who bear his name, as we call after the name of Saints. I personally believe that Sharbel is a great saint in heaven; he intercedes for us silently without realizing his blessings, just as he did when he was still alive.  

                      2 - All represent the image of Christ

            Fr. Sharbel didn't deal with people, but his love for them was known from his prayers for the sick, travelers and the needy, and for all who asked for his prayer. His heart was touched by pity and he interceded fervently to the Lord to have compassion on his sick servants. As for his relations with his brethren in the convent, in the hermitage, and with his acquaintance, it was clear for all that his heart embraced all of them, equally without distinction; all represent the image of Christ, so he respected them all.

 

                     3 - He offered him something to eat 

            He was compassionate and kind to the poor, the sick and those who are suffering; when they came to the hermitage, in cold days of winter, he brought them close to the fire to get dry; he loved all people, rich and poor. Even though, he didn't deal with the visitors except in spiritual matters, because such responsibilities were entrusted to his companions; if it happened that someone, poor or hungry, visited him in the absence of his companion, he would give him his own small portion of food, while he remains without food. This compassion towards the poor was within the limits of his capabilities; so if a poor man came to the hermitage, he would ask his companion to offer him something to eat. In winter when it was cold, he allowed the men to enter the hermitage so they could warm themselves by the fire.

 

                           4 - I'm just a sinful man

For the people who asked for his prayer, he was replying: I'm but a sinful man, may the prayers of the saints meet your demands." When someone asked him for a spiritual grace, he always answered: "I am the least of people, just a sinful man." When someone told him, you are a saint, he didn't answer, but he trembled, shacked his head and frowned; he considered himself the least of people and the greatest sinner. 

  

                            5- Have faith in God

            When he was asked for prayer, he said quietly: "The prayer of the saints is with you depend on God and he will take care of you", then he walked away from them. When visitors asked him for his prayers and his blessing, he did so, without looking at them and said: "Ask the Lord to give you according to your faith." 

                                   6- "You can be a saint!" 

            When someone asked him to pray for him, he replied:" You also pray, what is the difference between you and me? God listens to you as much as he listens to me." When someone told him you are a saint, he replied:" We are alike, what prevent you from being a saint?” 

                                    7 - He heals by his prayer

            Whenever Mr. Rashid Al-Khoury, prefect of Ehmej, fell ill, he called Fr. Sharbel to pray for his recovery because he believed in his holiness; and this was the case for all the inhabitants of the surroundings who solicited his prayers in case of illness and distress. His devotion exerted a great influence on everyone; he healed from all sickness by his prayer. Usually, when someone fell sick in Ehmej, people hurried to Fr. Sharbel requesting holy water from him. Many were asking of his prayers; and by his prayers the diseases and the misfortunes disappear. Patients who couldn't go to the hermitage, they procured holy water from him, and obtained recovery; every patient sprinkles or drinks from this holy water, recovers from his illness.


X: His passion for prayer 

I-Introduction

1 - In confidential conversation with the Beloved

            The law orders: "He must go before the brothers to church and be the last one to leave it." So when he wakes up, he immediately runs to church where he stays for about five hour, kneeling  straight until his knees got numb, not getting tired, neither leaning , nor turning left or right. He prayed around the lectern with his brethren, and participated, on time, in all the unison prayers in the complete breviary; he recited it very carefully as if he stood in the presence of a King, and in full ecstasy.

He could be seen in sensory eyes, but he was absent from the senses; sharing all the prayers in repeated prostrations and sometimes in mental meditation; his verbal prayers had a special practice, spending in reciting them, three hours a day; completing half of them in the daytime and the other half in the night; he pronounced all his prayers, carefully, word by word.

 During the day he was reciting fervently his offices, always kneeling; and if there was nobody in the church during the choir prayer, he would say it alone in a loud voice; as for the midnight prayer he always recited it without tardiness. 

     He sublimated in piety and holiness so he became an intimate friend for God and a companion for the angels; his whole life was a life of contemplation, prayer and liturgy; he did this with zeal and non-routine, with heartfelt love for God, so that he was always united to Him in his thoughts and his heart; God abode in his mind in his prayer, in his work, in his eating, in his sleeping. In short, he no longer lived for himself but for God, no longer spoke about earthly things, but about spiritual matters.

             2 - He loved the Mystery of Love  

            If you love a person or a thing, you think of them, often speak of them and what they do, and if you can frequently visit them and be with them you won't delay. So it was with Fr. Sharbel, he was always silent, his thoughts always turned to God, his Beloved; in his heart, there was no room except for God.  He outpaced other hermits by his nocturnal visits to the Blessed Sacrament; every time we lost Fr. Sharbel, we found him in the church. Sometimes he was seen before the Blessed Sacrament in complete Ecstasy:  he sent out of his heart deep sighing, showing his extreme love for the Lord, who is concealed in the sacrament of the Eucharist. You could hear constantly, his sighs, his nostalgia and his spiritual hum; his features soften the rocks, and infuse on the onlookers the reverence and the veneration; his face always overflows with a divine light. 

          3 - Beloved of the Rosary

 He was praying the Rosary kneeling upright motionless, his hands outstretched on his chest, kneeling on a tray woven by his hands from the rough rods, covered by a piece of black cloak. He persisted in this attitude, throughout the duration of the Holy Rosary. 

                      II-Stories and Events

   1 - The Scapular of Our Lady of Carmelite

Once, Fr. Sharbel reported to me his desire to send him a triangular scapular representing Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the Immaculate Conception and the Passion of Christ, to hang it around his neck. I fabricated it and sent it to him with a man from Arbet-Kozhaya, who was passing by the monastery of Saint Maron Annaya; I requested him to ask Fr. Sharbel to mention three names of his relatives in Bqaakafra, to ensure that he received the scapular; I also expressed my desire to the messenger to bring me from Fr. Sharbel a blessing or a relic. Returning from the trip, the man gave me a small paper folded without an envelope, and said: "The hermit didn't send you except this paper."  I opened the paper and read these words written by his hand: Father Sharbel a hermit of St. Maron Annaya, a monk of Kozhaya; you are asking for a blessing or a relic. May the blessing of Saints Peter and Paul bestow upon you. That was all he had sent to me and I was very pleased with this paper, which was written by the hand of the hermit. The words were written in Arabic but the handwriting wasn't so good. My superior, at that time, Mother Zeyarah of Ghosta advised me to keep this paper, saying: "This paper is written by the hand of the hermit, it's a relic, keep it with you." I rolled the paper into a small fabric; I sewed it and hung it around my neck; later I gave it to my sister before her trip to America so that it protects her from the dangers of the journey. 

                         2 - It is I (Mk 6:50)

            Fr. Ignatius Meshmesh witnessed: Before I became a monk in the convent, I was a deacon and a sacristan. One night I went to church at midnight to check whether the pilot was still lit, I found it off and I began to grope in the darkness to light it again, I bumped into someone and got scared, he said: "Do not be afraid, it's I." I recognized his voice; this was Fr Sharbel kneeling in the church, meditating at midnight.  

           3 - What was happening around him?!

Brother Boutros Meshmesh witnessed: He was always absorbed by his mental meditation, contemplating and immersing into heaven, especially during the Eucharistic celebration. Anyone who saw him would realize that all his feelings, his whole body, all his ideas were with God, so that he neglected every earthly thing; because his mind was so focused on God, he forgot himself, as if he no longer existed, in this world. He always maintained the silence and stillness, so that he did not perceive what was happening around him. The question he asked me while we were working in the vineyard, is an eloquent witness to this: "How many pairs of oxen are plowing in the vineyards?" I answered: "Three. You have been working all day with us and you don't notice how many oxen in the vineyard?” He didn't utter a word.  

           4 - He spoke with the angels to God

            Tannouri witnessed: I watched him during his prayer, as if he was out of his senses, rapt in God, oblivious to everything around him, people and things, so he didn't realize there was someone who accompanied him in his prayer; when it was my turn to answer, he continued the prayer alone...

 I visualized him in  heaven; as if he was talking with God face to face, mouth to ear and heart to heart; as if his body wasn't on this earth; however, his soul, I had the impression that, it was united with the Angels, praising and glorifying God with them. 

 

                         5 -The Holy Week

            If the superior or the dispenser called him to help in the bakery, or to participate in the joint Liturgy of the Hours in the Holy week, because he had a good pronunciation and read fluently, he hurried to perform his work.

                        6 - Surrender to God

            Youssef Abbud witnessed: One day, my son, Gerges was seriously ill, so I went to the hermitage, and asked Fr. Sharbel to give me holy water, he said :"Sit down now, may God help you." I repeated my request, he replied: "Calm down, submit yourself to God, he will help you", and he didn't give me holy water. So I went back sad and surprised by his refusal to provide me with holy water, contrary to his habit. As I approached the village, I heard cries and lamentations coming out of my house, and then I realized that my son was already died. I remembered the words of Fr. Sharbel; "Sit down now and God will compensate" and I knew why he refused to give me holy water; as if he was inspired by the Spirit about the death of my son, and he didn't want to inform me.

 

                       7- Noah's Ark (Jn 17:15)  

            One year, the locusts invaded the region in large numbers, and swept everything. The superior of the convent, Fr. Elias Meshmesh, ordered Fr. Sharbel to spray the boundaries of the monastery to prevent the locusts from entering; Fr. Sharbel obeyed, but he forgot a lot, situated among the properties of Shiites. The locusts entered the region, and devoured the green and the dry, and spared only the properties of the convent, except that small piece of land which was razed by locusts. In fact everyone, including the Shiites, kept repeating this event; for they were amazed that all the plains, peaks and hills were completely stripped except the land of the convent which remained green and saved from damage; like Noah's Ark in the midst of absolute devastation.  

 

              8- The parish of Ehmej’s vine (Jn 15/5)

Ouwaini witnessed: My father sent my brother Boutros, begging Fr. Sharbel to come, to bless the water and spray the vine of the church which was entrusted to him. The vineyard and the crops which were sprinkled with the holy water were spared from the locusts’ damage, although the locusts razed everything in that year. Then the inhabitants of Ehmej came to see this vineyard, and among those who visited it, the Rev. Elias Meshmesh the superior of the convent.


Y: The Faith of Sharbel 

I-Introduction

  The faith of Sharbel was reflected through:

-His mass: he celebrated the mass as if he saw Christ behind the outward forms, addressed him heart to heart; saying it carefully with extreme reverence and respect, as if he stood before God.

- In the rumination in his prayers and the reflection in his meditation: he said his prayer services word by word in a soft and gentle voice. If someone talked to him, he would need some time to return to reality and hear the speaker; as if he was totally absorbed in God. When he committed in a spiritual conversation, he inflamed with zeal, speaking from the abundance of his heart and the fervor of his faith. He never showed in all his life a sign of boredom, fatigue or resignation, when it came to spiritual matters, but he indulged them fervently, as if he was enjoying the things that his heart desired.  

-In his obedience to his superior or who represent him; this is clear evidence that he saw God in his superior, without considering whether this one was worthy or not. 

-In his work; he did nothing on his own, for he firmly believed that the voice of the authority is the only voice of God. All his actions were carefully crafted and expressed with warmth and authenticity of his fervent faith. God has bestowed upon him the gift of precognition, because of his living faith; therefore, he was a burning flame of faith.

 

                         II-Stories and Events

                               1-A lightning

 Shibley Shibley witnessed: One day, in 1888, Fr. Sharbel was kneeling upright in the church, absorbed in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, when a violent lightning fell on the hermitage, burning a new jumper, embroidered with silver, placed on the altar. The lightning crisscrossed the middle of the church, passed him and set fire on the edge of his habit without injuring him. I hastened with the monks of the monastery to see what happened, we found that the lightning fell on the south side of the hermitage, demolishing the stone retaining  the walls’ plots of the vines, and then entered the church, setting fire on the altar cloths and vestments, throwing the cup to another place, damaging some images, opening the doors, giving off a smell that caused dizziness to the two companions of Fr. Sharbel whom we found in the kitchen almost fainted, where they were  warming themselves by the fire. When they returned to themselves, they believed that Fr. Sharbel was killed and they rushed to church, they found him praying, as if nothing had happened; the superior, Fr. Immanuel Al- Jaji, asked him::  "Fr. Sharbel, couldn't you extinguish the fire at least from the table cloths and the vestments?! "He replied: "My brother, what could I extinguish? It started fast, and ended so fast." That is to say that everything happened at the speed of lightning and he couldn't do anything, so he remained in his place. 

 

  2 - The silkworm's harvest of the convent remained intact

Fr. Nehemtallah Nehme witnessed: At the time of my mandate in the monastery of Saint Serge in Kartaba, drought had already been damaging the silkworm harvest since eight years. The silkworm only reached the fourth phase, and nine days, and then died. So I sent one of the monks to the hermit Fr. Sharbel in the hermitage of Annaya; he brought me holy water, we sprinkled it on the silkworms and they recovered. Thus, the harvest was saved during my entire three-year term and also in subsequent years.

             3 - My crop was plentiful this year

Youssef Abbud witnessed: Once the epidemic attacked the silkworms in my house, because the leaves of mulberry were sick; the caterpillars became yellow and fell over the edges of the boxes on the ground. I rushed to the hermitage, and brought from there consecrated water from Fr. Sharbel, then I sprinkled the caterpillars; they recovered immediately crawled back into their crates and began to eat again. That year my harvest was plentiful, because of Fr. Sharbel.

 

             4 - Don't talk at all about this (Mk 1:44)

Saba Obeid said that one year; mice proliferated in his house and devoured the silkworms, to the point of wiping out all of them. He brought blessed water from Fr. Sharbel and sprinkled the silkworms. The next day he came to see the boxes, and found that the mice were dead. Someone went to tell this event to Fr. Sharbel, who said: "Don't talk at all about this."

 

                      5- The mule of the Convent

            Once the mule of the convent had colic and he fell on the ground wide-eyed, and about to die; the monks and the mule driver tried many treatments to save him, to no avail.  Finally they called Fr. Sharbel who stood next to his head and prayed, as soon as he finished his prayer, the mule jumped up and stood on to his feet.

                  6- Am I God to prevent death? (Mk10:18)

            A man from the family of Shmouty from Batroun owned a flock of sheep, which was attacked by a deadly epidemic disease, so he had lost most of his sheep. Having heard of the reputation of Fr. Sharbel, he came to ask him for holy water, explaining the disease of the sheep, the hermit said: "Am I God to prevent death?" the man turned back to go, but he told him: "Do you have a container to fill it with water?" Then he blessed the water and gave it to him. The man sprinkled the herd and it recovered. Later he noticed that his silkworms were diminished more and more as if the insects were eating them; he returned to Fr. Sharbel, to bless the water for him, then he sprinkled it on the silkworms; later he found lot of insects, mice, hedgehogs and a large snake all dead.

 

                          7- The possibilities of Saints

Fr. Hassrouni witnessed: At the time of my novitiate, I read the biographies of saints, especially the book of Christian Perfection of Fr. Rodriguez, the Jesuit. I doubted some facts and virtues attributed to the hermits and saints, believing that they were exaggerating, and that these things exceed the human possibility. But after I got to know Fr. Sharbel personally, and experienced his virtues closely, I was certain that the Divine grace does wonders in the souls; everything that was said and written in the biographies of saints, still less than what I had seen with my own eyes in this mighty man, who is Fr. Sharbel.


Z: His Mass is the highlight of his love 


 I-Introduction

1 - In the Convent

            The novitiate's regulation explains: "The priest in the Mass is the Vicar of Christ; the offering is surely the body and blood of Jesus Christ... During the Mass we have 3 worships: contemplation on the Passion of Christ; the offering to God the Father; act of spiritual communion... The communion has six parts: The pure confession; act of Faith, I hope that all the sins of the world will disappear by a drop of your blood; act of Love; act of Contrition; I am unworthy ... thanks after the spiritual communion. 

Because of the importance of the Mass: he participated on all the masses of his fellow priests, and after they finished he stared his mass. He celebrated his mass; sometimes on the altar of St. George on the south side, sometimes on the altar of Our Lady on the north side and sometimes, when the superior ordered him, on the high altar. He said his Mass with reverence and deliberate; his Mass lasted an hour and sometimes longer, in an intimate devotion with the Almighty. Despite the length of his mass, no one was getting bored; he was saying it meticulously, making understandable the gospel, reading it word by word, in a soft voice; however, some of the altar services were avoiding serving his mass because of its long duration. After the mass he took his place behind the door, kneeling straight for about two hours on the ground in summer and in winter.

                                            2 - In the hermitage 

      He was kneeling upright before the mass near the door; on a wicker tray to prevent the moisture, in winter, and on the ground in summer. He celebrated the mass in the morning on the days of work, and two hours before noon on Sundays and holidays; a large number of faithful came to attend his mass and bear his blessing; the people were astonished by his presence and the respect which he exuded; saying the Liturgy with a soft voice and reverence. After the Mass, he kneels upright in the church absorbed in thanksgiving, and then he goes out to the work in the vineyard; all his life was a preparation for the Mass and thanksgiving.

                       3- Face to face

            He was always in ecstasy, especially during the invocation of the Holy Spirit; after the words of consecration, he looked at the Blessed Sacrament in a reverential aspect, as if he saw with the naked eyes the hidden and incarnated God; addressing a very powerful person. When he raised the Holy Sacrament by his hands reciting "Father of Truth" he seemed to be rejoiced by the Spirit of God, as he was seeing God face to face.

                                                4- The cleanliness

 He was clean, especially during the celebration of the mass; he kept a coat and a pair of shoes that fit well for the Eucharist, then he immediately took them off after the mass; the towel and the soap, which he used during the sacred service, he didn't use on other occasion in respect to the Divine Liturgy; also he washed his hands in an unusual way before the mass; he gave an outstanding attention on cleaning the objects of the church.

                       II-Stories and Events

                         1 - Like a magnet

    Miriam Shamoun witnessed:  When I was young, I came with my parents from Ehmej to the hermitage to participate at the Mass on Sundays and holidays; quite often we attended the Mass of Fr. Sharbel, and I never saw him except during the mass. My family said a brother of our family had founded the hermitage, so we have a special penchant towards the hermitage; rather a passion because it reminds us of our uncle. We used to spend our summers in Ouwaïni, near the hermitage, a village where there was no church. In addition, the holiness of Fr. Sharbel attracted the souls like a magnet, so the hermitage was always filled by many visitors on Sundays and holidays and all those attending the Mass of Fr. Sharbel, were deeply touched, and didn't want to leave the church anymore, especially when he pronounced the words of consecration, we felt moved by his reverent and his sad voice (intermittent because of his crying).

                                     2 - Do you eat some grain soup?

Once a priest came to the hermitage to say the mass, and he was in a hurry, Fr. Sharbel approached him at the end of the Liturgy saying: "Why are you in a hurry? Do you eat some grain soup "Makhlouta"?

           3 -Receive the Holy Communion (Mk14:22)

            Alishaa Nakad witnessed: I went to the hermitage with my mother Wardeh to see Fr. Sharbel, he refused to meet her and when she expressed her desire to kiss his hands, he replied from inside the locked door at the church: Receive the Holy Communion at Mass, and you'll have in your mouth and your heart the Son of God himself and he is sufficient for you. When the Son of God is in your heart, no use from kissing my hand?!  

                 4 –The tears flowed from his eyes

            His love was a burning fire; in the alter, he often seemed as if a hot flame ignited in his chest,  his eyes sparkled, his tears ran down,  his cheeks reddened, his sighs heaved deeply from his chest like a flaming vapor, as if he saw Christ with  his own eyes, hence he was shedding his tears abundantly. Ouwaini added:  When he uttered the words of consecration: This is my body! This is my blood! I saw the tears flowed from his eyes, twice. Once, a tear fell on the corporal; after consuming the body and blood and washed his hands, he saw the trace of tears, he was confused because he thought it was a drop of blood fell on it, I told him: "What's the matter? This is a trace of a tear fell from your eye after the words of consecration."  Yet he remained concerned, carried the corporal and showed it to the superior to calm down his soul and his mind.

                       5 - He bit the cup with his teeth 

            He started his prayers in church, addressing God as a man deeply in love with the Lord; this passionate appeared in the mass through his tears, in particular when he drank the blood and ate the body, he seemed as someone who takes the finest bread in the world, and drinks a Divine drink. At the end of his life, while he was drinking the blood, he bit the cup and kept it in his mouth for a long time, to the point that the imprint of his teeth was left on it.

 
 
 
3   Chapter III: Toward Heaven 3

A: He bore our sufferings (Mt 8,17)

 1 - Healing the brother of Boutros Jawad Meshmesh

    I suffered a sore chest and stomach ache for over two years and I have had breathing difficulties similar to those of asthma, to the point that I needed to stop two times if I want to say the "Hail Mary".  I was under treatment, but without result, and I was feeling tired day and night until Fr. Sharbel blessed me, so I immediately healed and never felt any pain again. I have continued my heavy manual work and I am now sixty years old. 

     2 - He saved a girl from the death (Lk 7:11-17)

    Youssef Abbud witnessed: While my sister was pulling the grass from the top of a rocky slope called “the slope of the church of Ehmej”, she stumbled and fell, from the top of a twenty-meter-high cliff, then hit the ground unconscious and motionless. Her body covered with bruises, her face streaked with injuries and became cold and yellowish, and her pulse stagnant. The villagers laid her on a mattress and carried her home, thinking she was already dead. When I heard about the accident, I hastened to the hermitage of St. Maron Annaya, very disturbed. I told Fr. Sharbel about the accident, asking him to intercede for her to God and bless the holy water for me. When he saw me very troubled, he said: "Your sister is still alive and she will be healed, take the holy water and sprinkle it on her." When I went back home, I found her unconscious and people were moving around her and weeping. I sprinkled her with the holy water, the temperature went back to her body, and she opened her eyes and spoke. Two days later, she left her bed fully recovered. 

3 - The healing of a dumb man (Mk 7:32-37)

     Brother Francis Qartaba testified: I have a brother called Asaad Hanna Salem, who suddenly fell ill; for two months he could no longer speak. My parents sent me a letter to the convent of Annaya, and then the superior gave me permission to go and visit him. In my village, Qartaba, people thought he was crazy, and advised me to take him to the convent of Kozhaya where they exorcise for haunted people. Instead I drove my brother to the hermitage, and asked Fr. Sharbel to pray on his head, begging him to tell me whether he is going to be cured or not, he replied: Get him into church; I brought him and made him kneel on a bench in the choir; then Fr. Sharbel came the Gospel in his hand, the stole around his neck; he put the Bible on his head and read from it about three minutes; then he poured some holy water in his hand and let my brother drink, saying: "Do not be afraid he will recover." We left to our village; me, Saba Tannous Moussa and my dumb brother, after ten minutes of walking, my brother shouted loudly calling me "my brother" and then at a distance from us, some monks were heading towards the shrine, he began to call them: "O brother Boutros Maifouq, O brother ...." Thus, he spent all day singing and rejoicing until he arrived to his house at Qartaba. 

4- Another dumb

   Moussa Moussa witnessed: My son Tannous is a monk at the monastery of Maifouq, later he took the name of Boutros when he entered the Order; he was mute from the birth till eight years old, although he could hear. We were very sad because of his silence; one day I took him to the hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul, and asked Fr. Sharbel to pray for him; from that time, the child gradually began to talk and now he speaks like you and me.

5 - The crazy of Ehmej (Mk 5:1-20)

Boutros Moussa witnessed: I lived with a man named Jibrael Youssef Saba from Ehmej, who was suffering from insanity after his marriage to a girl from

village above mentioned, despite the objection of her parents. He tore his clothes, uttered insults, ran naked through the fields; one day I saw him naked from a distance; carrying a pistol in his hand aimed it to his chest, the ball came out but missed him; I ran behind him to his house and found him in the process of breaking the rosary beads of his wife and cursing. Since I am his best man, I advised his parents to take him to visit Fr. Sharbel; they initially thought to lead him to the grotto of St. Anthony in Kozhaya, as it was accustomed in those days to take the crazy ones there to be cured. Pursuant my advice, Jibrael was led naked to the hermitage; reaching it he refused to go in, we tried, in vain, to bring him inside. One of the hermits, Fr. Libaos, tried to force him but he sulked. I told Fr. Sharbel about his case, he went out and ordered him saying: "Enter the church." He obeyed without the slightest opposition, and sat improperly, the hermit said: "Kneel upright”, he knelt, arms folded like an angel; so the hermit read the gospel and prayed on his head, he got healed immediately; with tears in his eyes, he looked at his parents and told them: "Give me my clothes." .Then he left the church healthy and completely normal. At present he is in the United States.6 - He saved many children from the dead Fr. Boulos Makhlouf witnessed: My father, Nuha, went to visit his brother, Fr. Sharbel in Annaya's hermitage; the hermit gave him an amulet of St. Anthony to hang it around my neck; but his cousin Ibrahim Hanna Makhlouf knew about the gift from the hermit, and asked my father to give him the amulet to hang it around the neck of his son Nehemtallah; the story of this man is that he had experienced the death of three sons who died a year after their birth;  he was always worried about the possible death of his son Nehemtallah; so he suspended the amulet around his neck, because it was from Fr. Sharbel; the child survived and he is in the United States; Ibrahim kept the amulet and passed it down from one child to another and all have been saved. 

7 - Your son is alive (Jn 4:50)

    Youssef Antoun Jibrael, from Kfarbaal, was sick and had high fever since twenty days to the point that he fell unconscious. So Boutros Gerges, the muleteer of the convent, and the cousin of the patient mentioned above, ran to the hermitage to ask Fr. Sharbel for holy water and for his prayer; before talking with the hermit, Fr. Sharbel met him at the door, saying: Slowly, when you go back home, you will find your sick relative healthy, having regained consciousness and sitting in his bed. And so it was; the muleteer was surprised how Fr. Sharbel had known the purpose of his visit, before he asked him anything, and how he knew about the healing of the patient.

8 - Your son is well! (Mt 15:25)

     Maron Abi Ramia from Tourzaya came to Fr. Sharbel to the hermitage, to ask him for holy water and to pray for his son who was seriously ill and unconscious; after seeing the hermit, and receiving the holy water he retraced the path in a hurry; when Fr. Sharbel saw him rushed eagerly concerned and worried, he took pity on him, and told his companion: Call him and tell him to go slowly, because his son is all right. When the man arrived home he found his son conscious and well; after the doctor Wakim Beik from Jbeil, had given up all hope of his recovery.

9 - A barren woman conceived (Mk 7:24-30)

    Nehme Mdawar testified: I went to the hermitage of Annaya, three months before the death of Fr. Sharbel, with the hope that my barren wife Zarifeh, would conceive by the intercession of Fr. Sharbel; before returning, Fr. Makarios, his companion, gave me a blessing from the hermit Fr. Sharbel; four months later my wife became pregnant; she gave birth to a baby girl, followed by three more girls then a boy. 

 

10 - The healing of Ouwaini's daughter (Mk 7:24-30)

    Ouwaini witnessed: My wife gave birth to a daughter who suffered from complications in the bile, so that she couldn't breastfeed; when Fr. Sharbel recited a prayer over her head, she recovered and resumed breastfeeding.

 

11 - Who touched me? (Mk 5:30)

    Fr. Gibrael Gibrael witnessed: Mariam, the widow of Mikhael Nehmeh, from Ehmej, was bleeding for over three months. She had been treated by the doctors Najib Beik Khoury from Ehmej, Wakim Nakhle from Jbeil and Gergi Baz from Jbeil with no result. So she gave me a Turkish rial to take it, as an offering, to Fr. Sharbel, and bring a consecrated belt from him. He gave me a scarf, which he took from the image of Our Lady of the Rosary, placed in the chapel of the hermitage, saying that she should encircle herself with it and she'll be cured. As for the rial, he didn't accept it, but he said: Put it on the altar until Fr. Makarios arrives and receives it. As for the woman,  she was surrounded by the scarf, and was immediately healed.

12 - Holy water in the medicine

    Saba Ouwaini took blessed water from the Fr. Sharbel, and mixed it with the medicine that he gave for his patients; the patients benefited a lot. 

13 - His elder brother

    Wardeh Makhlouf the niece of Sharbel witnessed: Personally, I had never known the uncle of my mother, Fr. Sharbel, because he did not come to the village from the time he was a monk at the monastery and later as a hermit, and I had never visited him; but being an orphan, my grandfather Hanna Zaarour, brother of the hermit, took me into his home to take care of me, so I had heard him talking about Fr. Sharbel; at the carnival, my grandfather remembered him, and he said, weeping: "We eat meat, but my poor brother, never eats meat." In summer, he repeated with deep emotion: "We eat grapes, while my brother who is caring for a vineyard whose grapes could fill big bags does not eat at all." Once we sat down to eat row meat "kebbeh", looking at the dish he cried, saying: "How can I eat meat while the monk didn't eat?" Saying this, he refused to take a single bite. In his old age, he often wept, saying: "I cannot go anymore to visit my brother, Fr. Sharbel." When he was about to die, the relatives gathered around him, and I was with them, he looked at us and said: "I'm sick and I will die; it consoles me to see you all at my side; but when the monk will die, who will be at his bedside?" We answered him: "God won't leave him!" He died on January, 25 on the day of the Conversion of St. Paul, eleven months before the death of Fr. Sharbel and was buried beside the church of St. Saba in Bqaakafra. 


B: The Last Mass

 

1 - A sudden illness

    Kafa the wife of Ouwaini testified: One Sunday I went with a group of people to participate in the Eucharist in the hermitage of Saint Maron-Annaya; Fr. Sharbel began the Mass, but when he had finished the words of consecration, a sudden illness attacked him; Fr. Makarios, his companion, hastily, helped him to kneel; then he got better and continued the mass, when he lifted the Blessed Sacrament he stiffened; his companion remarked that he unusually raised the host for a long time, he approached him, found him in full pain; he pulled gently the host from his hand, placed it on the paten, and assisted by Brother Boutros the servant of the  hermitage, made him sit on a chair near the altar; half an hour after the crisis passed, he completed the Holy Sacrifice, despite his illness.

2 - Do not leave

    Kafa continued: The following Sunday, I returned with some women to attend the Mass in the hermitage; when we entered the church, we found Fr. Sharbel kneeling, absorbed in prayer. At our request, one man inquired about the time of the Mass because it was very cold and we couldn't wait longer, he told us: "Don’t leave; it's Fr. Sharbel who will celebrate the Mass soon, wait for him."  Shortly afterwards, the hermit put on his chasuble and began the Mass; prior to the Words of consecration, the same symptoms began again; they took off his vestments, and he remained in the church. When we decided to go back home Fr. Makarios stopped us and said, "Do not go, Fr. Sharbel has a pain in his heart, when he gets better he will resume the mass." Then, the hermit got up and continued the Holy Sacrifice. 

3 - How beautiful is this child!

After the Words of Consecration Rachelle the young daughter of Youssef Saba, saw a beautiful child instead of the host, when the hermit raised it; she cried out turning to her aunt: "Look my aunt, how beautiful is this child!"  Her aunt silenced her, putting her hand on her mouth, not to make noise and disturb the hermits.  

 

4 - O Father of Truth!

    Arrived at the lifting of the chalice and the host during which the priest recites the prayer that begins: "O Father of Truth, the crisis attacked him strongly again, he remained motionless for a few minutes while raising up the cut and the Host; Fr. Makarios noticed that he became pale, his feet remained in the same position; he put his stole, came trembling and said: "Let down the cup and the Host." But the hands of Fr. Sharbel clung firmly on them, and he stood motionless like a rock; Fr. Makarios told him a second time: "Let go of the cup, Fr. Sharbel, give me the body of Christ, do not be afraid, leave it."  Fr. Makarios snatched the cup and the Host, while Fr. Sharbel opened his hands with great difficulty, then he sat him down. After this incidence, we looked at Fr. Makarios and saw him blushed and trembled from fear, after a rest, he resumed the Eucharist

5 - The hermit cut the child

    While he broke the bread, Rachelle sobbed, her aunt asked her: "Why are you sobbing?!" She replied:" Don't you see that the hermit is dividing the child into two? Again, she silenced her, while Fr. Sharbel continued his mass, till he felt chills and pain in his heart. So Brother Boutros Jawad Meshmesh called, his companion, Fr. Makarios, who came towards him took off his chasuble and sat him down; after a long rest, Kafa came up and asked Fr. Makarios, if Fr. Sharbel can still continue the Mass, he replied: "I don't think so", then she walked away. Having rested for the third time, he resumed his mass. 

6 - He drank the blood of Christ

    Brother Boutros Meshmesh witnessed: The crisis attacked him again, while he was about to drink the Blood, so it prevented him from receiving it; with all his strength he held the cup, embraced it with his lips and his teeth, and remained like that motionless, till Fr. Makarios came and tried to take the cup from him; he hardly snatched it, after Fr. Sharbel had already managed to consume the blood of Christ.

                                  7 - I want to celebrate the Mass

    They took off his vestments and carried him to the kitchen; he was unconscious yet he kept repeating: O Father of Truth. O Jesus, O Mary, O Joseph. His companion put him on a rug made from the goat's hair to warm him, because of  the bitter cold and the snow that already had piled up to a height of over one meter. When they covered him, he threw away the blanket. Sometimes he came to himself and said: "I want to say the Mass, prepare the altar for me." He also said in Syriac: “Praise the Lord from heaven, praise him in the highest."  And: "Lord have mercy on me." He kept repeating these words during the last six days of his life.



C: His Last Days

 

1 - A piece of bread dipped in water

    Brother Francis Kartaba witnessed: I was appointed to his service during his last illness until his death. The most he ate, after insistence, a piece of bread dipped in water or some vegetable soup, and he systematically refused milk, yogurt and meat. During all the period of his illness, he hadn't been removed the hood, or the habit or the sackcloth or the thorny belt; he was stable in one case, lying on a rug of goatskin, without agitation or crying; we hadn't heard from him except these words: "Oh ... Oh God!" he also mumbled some words (in Syriac) that I couldn't understand. When I noticed he had a natural need (to go to the restroom) I brought the chamber's pot but when it came to raising his coat, he struggled, raising his voice, waving his healthy hand and saying: no... no... no... I replied: "I am your brother do not be afraid, then he remained silent and let me do it.

2 -He blessed... despite his severe pain 

    With his hand, he blessed everyone who entered and asked for his intercession. He was quiet and placid; nothing was heard from him neither groaning nor restlessness; rather he bore his illness with amazing patience, despite his agonizing pain; enduring his suffering with total abandon to the Divine Will; invoking Saints Peter and Paul the Patrons saints of the hermitage's church, until his illness had reached its peak, then he lost consciousness.

3 - Simon of Cyrene (Lk 23:26)

 Ouwaini witnessed: When they called me to visit and treat him medically, he had already lost consciousness. From time to time, I noticed he let slip some words invoking the names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In his last hours, I was accompanied by Fr. Mikhael Abi Ramia, who I summoned to assist him spiritually and have his blessing... we stayed at his bedside most of the night of December 24, 1898; then in the morning we returned home, to come back to the hermitage around noon. 

4 - His ardent love!

    Fr. Ramya witnessed: With his ardent love he repeated throughout the period I had spent with him: O Father of Truth, the names of Jesus, Mary and St. Peter and a prayer for Saint Jacob that he recited most of it, several times, and I read him the agony prayers.

 

5 - Wine mixed with myrrh (Mk 15:23)

The law orders: "If the disease persists on the hermit; or he is to be brought back to the convent, or he must abstain from eating meat, accepting death as a true hermit." So when the doctor Najib Al-Khoury instructed that they should give him a fatty soup to sustain his physical weakness; when he smelled the odor, he stirred and muttered, refusing to eat; but when they showed him that this was the order of the superior, Fr. Antonios Meshmesh, he obeyed and took a little bit.

 

6 - They read him the spiritual books

    Then he asked them to send his companion Fr. Makarios; who he asked for the last absolution; he received the last sacraments with great devotion and reverence, from his companion's hand and the abbot Mikhael Abi Ramia from Ehmej; who both alternately served him, and read him the spiritual books, pursuant the law: If the hermit is sick, his brother addresses him with words of consolation to lessen his boredom; his words must be useful to heal the suffering of the soul and to revive the Divine Love.

7 - The last blessing

Brother Boutros Meshmesh witnessed: When the agony started, I went to the hermitage where I saw him lying on a mat, outside his cell, surrounded by monks and laity; we heard him saying repeatedly: O Jesus, O Mary; when it was very difficult for him to articulate his words, he pronounced the two names intermittently. I sat next to him and asked for his blessing; he raised his hand to bless me, then looked at me keeping his hands up, cutting off the sign of the cross; I repeated my request with no result for three minutes; he continued looking at me putting his hand on his head, but nobody understood the meaning of his sign; then Fr. Ramya thought he might be pointed to my hood slightly raised above my head, that the tips of my blond hair was visible; he whispered in my ear to cover my head with the hood properly; as I pulled it down over my eyes, he smiled and blessed me, we were all surprised; in fact, he didn't allow that a monk lifted his hood even a little! When he was in agony, being beside him, he put his hand on me subconsciously, when he regained consciousness, he trembled and laid it away from me.  

8- He fainted from crying (Mt 26:75)

When he was about to pass away, Ouwaini cried out asking Fr. Makarios: "Raise your hand and give him the absolution." He couldn't because he was crying bitterly; he went out sobbing, refusing to approach him, then he fainted from crying. So Fr. Ramya replaced him as required by the duty of charity towards the dying; he was delighted by this unique opportunity to have served the agony of this Saint, and he gave him the last absolution.

 

9 - Into Thy hands I commit my spirit (Lk 23:46)

    In the last hour of his agony, those were present; the priest Mikhael Abi Ramia, the vicar Fr. Maron Meshmesh, Saba Tannous Moussa , Bro. Francis Kartaba, and Bro. Boutros Jawad from Meshmesh. Fr. Maron asked him: "Shall we call the doctor from Jbeil?" He replied with a shake of his head that means no; then by opening and closing his mouth, he bowed his head and died quietly and peacefully, saying: Lord, into Thy hands I commit my spirit. It was a virtuous and honorable death, after a life full of goodness, after six days of agony.

10 - Hemiplegia

    The cause of his death was the hemiplegia, coinciding with the death of Patriarch Youhanna Al-Hajj, on Saturday, December 24 the vigil of Christmas, at the age of sixty-five. Ouwaini said: After his death, I prayed the Litany of the Virgin Mary with Fr. Mikhael, Fr. Makarios and Bro. Boutros, his companion at the hermitage; after sending a messenger to the monastery to inform them of the death of Sharbel, I went home accompanied by Fr. Mikhael.



D: To the tomb


1 - They divided my garments
 (Jn 19:24)

    Bro. Francis Kartaba witnessed: Wanting to change his clothes, Fr. Mikhael Meshmesh objected saying: "My brother, put it back until the superior comes, lest they say, those who changed his clothes took what he had." I replied: "He is a hermit, what can he have?" By taking off his habit, we saw below it his cilice: a hair-shirt, covering his hands and his chest, falling to his thighs; he added an extension cloth taken from an old coat, from the elbow to the wrist, to hide it from the eyes of others; the cilice was stuck to his skin, when we took it out, it scattered and shattered from the sweating and the long time of using it (17) ;  later Fr. Makarios took it, then he left it to Bro. Boutros Jawad Meshmesh. We also could see that his hood, which he had not taken off even during his illness, was tied to his neck with a thread-hair; the white extension, that falls to the back under the habit, to keep the hood on the head, it wasn't there anymore because it had been worn out with time and sweat; it was replaced by a piece of folded cloth, stuffed with something thick and heavy, so we said: "This is the money of the hermit!" We opened it and found that the hermit put pebbles inside it, to maintain by its weight the hood in his head and to cause him trouble by pricking him when sleeping and when moving, we were deeply touched when we saw this. His body was frail bearing a scar caused by the iron belt around his waist with a width of three fingers. Bro. Boutros Jawad Meshmesh removed from his neck a chain with a cross and a medallion.  

[17] a person is rarely bathe, in the era of Sharbel ... Once a year, and sometimes in all his life ... In the house, the family lives in one room ... Near the ass (the family car) and the cow and chicken (the source of the family to eat). From here we understand why the plague had spread in Europe in the Middle Ages ... And other diseases especially skin diseases ... lice, bugs and insects were prevalent in cattle and men as well ... with the absence of modern pesticides .


2 - The last night

    They closed his eyes and mouth, and put his hands on his chest with the Holy Cross, the companion of his life and his struggle, and they were repeating: The Saint died! Congratulation to him! May God give us a death like his! May God have mercy on us through his intercession! His body was taken to the church of the hermitage, and then placed before the alter, on a mat made from the hair of goats, while his face turned towards the west, facing people. So Fr. Sharbel spent the Christmas Eve of 1898 in the church, as his devotional custom; but that night he was sleeping in death while his soul was awaken in eternity... Those watching over his body were: Fr. Makarios, his companion, Bro. Boutros Jawad Meshmesh, Bro. Francis Kartaba and a group of monks from the monastery of Saint Maron who rushed to the church of the hermitage to kiss his hands. They'd spent part of the night kneeling beside him praying; the watchmen were saying: "If we are constrained to spend one night here, in this terrible winter, how did he manage to live in this hermitage for twenty-three years? Blessed is he! Now he is before God, and he is rewarded for his amazing and perpetual martyrdom." 

 

3 - Christmas of 1898

    The snow that reached the height of one meter, and in some places two meters, blocked the roads; the monks were confused and saying: Can we, tomorrow, transfer the body of Fr. Sharbel to the convent's tomb, in this hard weather and dense snow? Will we be able to mourn him and distribute the death shares in the neighborhood? As if, the angels of God, who had announced in that night the Birth of the Savior, to the shepherds of Bethlehem, those same angels also proclaimed in the nearby villages of Annaya that Fr. Sharbel was born in heaven. 

    The monks of the monastery of St. Maron, the peasants, the villagers of nearby villages, they all woke up in the early morning and saw the snow still falling down; they believed that they would not be able to reach the hermitage, to participate with the release of the body to the monastery of Saint Maron; and they thought that those who were in the hermitage, would be obliged to bury him in the yard of the hermitage's church.

     Some farmer-members put on their winter clothes, wrapped their heads in turbans that showed only their eyes; put on their boots that reached to their knees; shovels in their hands, they began to clear the path with a great courage, to reach to their saint and carry him to the monastery. At eight o'clock, a group of youths gathered in the hermitage; at nine they brought a stretcher covered with a cloth made from the goat-hair. Fr. Makarios came with the brothers and the monks, carried the body and put it on the stretcher; then they lifted it with young people on their shoulders; they were all  ready for the descent from the hermitage to the monastery of Saint Maron, walking by a rough path that young people had cleared, but the snow continued to fall with a risk to block it again; all feared of a possible tilting of the stretcher with the body of Fr. Sharbel as the path was so difficult to spot because of the snow; so the hermit Fr. Makarios said: Walk and trust in God! Does not worry, Fr. Sharbel will facilitate the path for us!  

4 - The transfer of the body to the convent

    When they carried him out of the hermitage, the clouds dispersed and the sun appeared before them, while behind them the snow was falling! The procession progressed without fatigue or difficulty, as if walking through a path covered with "ostrich feathers", all said: "This is one of the miracles of Fr. Sharbel!" They took him to the convent, put him in the church in a coffin according to the monks' custom; the superior was absent.

5 - The funeral prayer

    At three o'clock in the afternoon the funeral was held at the convent, with the presence of the monks and the farmer-partners only, because of the density of the snow, in addition to Shiites Hjoula and its surrounding; the countenance of grief and depression were on their faces. They came to venerate him and have his blessing; they knelt before him, kissed his hands, took a piece of his clothes, or his beard to take it with them as a blessing. The funeral was simple but very impressive; the attendance was repeating the words from the Scripture: Precious before the Lord is the death of his Just. They didn't say a eulogy, as if Fr. Sharbel had intended to die in silence, as an accomplishment to his humble life. 

6 - The cemetery

    The cemetery is located east of the church, with a length of six feet, and a width of three meters.  Its west wall is adjacent to the east wall of the church. It is divided into two tombs separated by a stone wall from east to west, and its roof is made from soil; each one of the tomb has a door in the east wall, blocked with soil. Fr. Sharbel was buried in the south tomb.

7 - The funeral

    The monks witnessed: Some monks wished to bury him in a place specially prepared for him because the cemetery of the monks was bathed in rainwater and to them he was worthy of putting in a private tomb because he is a Saint; so they insisted to put him in a coffin to keep his relics. While the other monks, including the vice-superior, they wanted to bury him in the cemetery of the monks, according to the rule, and the vice-superior said: "If he is a Saint, he will preserve his body." We went down to the cemetery, just two steps, and we dug at the door, because the ground outside the door titled on a strong decline; we sunk in mud and water and the dripping water from the roof; the water penetrated inside the tomb from all sides, because its land was very low compared with the outer surface of the Earth around it, and still submerged with mud and water most of the months of the year. We entered there one by one; the cornice inside was elevated, about thirty centimeter above the ground, on which there were no bones or skulls; all the bones quoted and gathered at the corner of the cemetery; we put stones on which we placed two planks covered with a piece of goat-hair carpet; we did so for the Fr. Sharbel, for the high spiritual position he had  in the heart of everyone, and for the risk of being flooded with water, and mud due to the high land around the cemetery.

    We buried the body wrapped with his habit, according to the custom of the monks, without ever thinking that he would stay incorrupt; his mouth was closed with a scarf tied around the head, but a layman took it away leaving the mouth open; so we said: we are dust, and to dust we return; all present at the funeral said:  Blessed is he, he is a saint, he went directly to heaven.

8 – We forgot the shovel

    After closing the door with a large slab, blocking it with earth and snow and reciting the last prayer, someone said: Too bad! We forgot the shovel in the cemetery! A secular man replied: That's OK, the companions of Fr. Sharbel in the field, used to leave for him at the end of the day shovels, hoes and plows to transport all of them to the convent.

9 - The prayer for the dead, masses and rosaries

    The law orders: When a monk died in a convent, his supervisor should write to the Superior General and other superiors of convents, informing them of the death without delay, so that they offer him masses and prayers, according to the custom. Pursuant to Rule we read that many monks, according to the testimonies, had stated that they did their duty, and it was recorded in the book of the Masses in Annaya: ten Masses were celebrated for the repose of the soul of Fr. Sharbel of Bqaakafra.

10 - Weeping bitterly

            Fr. Makarios had mourned him bitterly; because after his departure, he lost a merciful father, a brother, a compassionate friend and an obedient servant; enjoying his intimacy and feeling lonely far from him. He was very distressed by the absence of this heavenly angel, he remembered him and longed for him; because of his deep sadness he saw him in a dream, in a state of bliss in heaven. This venerable Fr. Makarios said: "I am not worthy to be in this hermitage, where the Holy Fr. Sharbel lived." Eid Nakad said: Once, I saw my mother weeping bitterly, I asked her about the reason, she replied: My uncle, Fr. Sharbel died during Christmas Lent, in the time of cold and snow." Tannouri added: "How great was my grief when I informed about his dead! I had shed abundant tears, for a long time.

11 - Blessed are you, Father Sharbel

Fr. Al-Andari witnessed: I remember that when the obituary of Fr, Sharbel arrived, to Fr. Nehemtallah Al-Quaddoum Kafri, and he was the Superior General of the Order, famous for his knowledge and his virtues; residing at the convent of Kfifane; he told the superior of the convent and the principal of his school, while I was near them: "Blessed are you, Fr. Sharbel, you have obtained the heaven.


E: The light of the Resurrection

1- The wonderful light

Some of the farmer-members witnessed: After the first night of his funeral, we started to see from our houses, opposite the convent at a distance of ten minute walk from the South side, a bright light, different from the regular light, like an electric light, it appears and disappears, keeping the same pace as long as we look at it, so some people said: Initially, it may be a lightning!*In this light, we saw the dome and the east wall of the church adjoining the cemetery, better than during the day; we came to the monastery, and told the monks, but they didn't believe us, they didn't pay any attention to us! When we informed the Superior he expressed his disbelief, saying: "When you see the light let someone tell me or else send me a signal." The signal was to shoot when we see the light. Every time, the superior heard a shooting, he went out the convent with his monks, but few of them had seen something; so the Superior Fr. Antonios Meshmesh went to the house of Tannous Shehade, opposite the south side o the convent, and had seen the light. We kept on seeing this strange light, whenever we visited our friends whose houses are opposite the cemetery; all those who spent the evening over there saw it; this hearsay was multiplied, and this phenomenon was repeated every night for a month and a half. 

    Once this news had spread around, the residents of Meshmesh, Ehmej, Kfarbaal, and the Shiite villages like: Hejoula, Rass Osta, Mazraat Al-Ain and others ... many had come to see the light; they actually saw it and confirmed this phenomenon to the monks and to others. Those farmer-partners also saw it: Tannous Shehade, Elias Abi Suleiman, Magames from Kfoun; and Raja had seen the lights from Meshmesh itself, though her house was on the summit, overlooking the monastery of Saint Maron Annaya.

2 - The diary of Annaya

    During the illness and death of Fr. Sharbel, the Superior was absent; when he returned to the monastery a week later... he knelt in the mud on the south side of the cemetery, where Fr. Sharbel was buried, then began to pray; the monks also knelt behind him... then he stood up and said: "With the loss of Fr. Sharbel, we lost the lightning rod that drove away the wrath from the Order and from the Community and Lebanon!" He took the diary of the convent and wrote:  On December 24, 1898, the hermit, Fr. Sharbel of Bqaakafra, died after hemiplegia, provided with the last rites; he was buried in the cemetery of the convent at the age of sixty- eight, in the triennium of Fr. Antonios Meshmesh. What he made after his death, is enough to show his good conduct, especially his loyalty to his vocations so that we may say: his obedience was angelic and not human. 

3 - Some monks hadn't seen

    Some of the monks in the convent witnessed: We heard that some farmer-associates, whose houses were opposite to the convent, saw the light after his death, and they informed us that they saw a bright light above his grave several times; we heard that bright flames appeared from the cemetery during the night, but we didn't see anything. People flocked there because they believed in his holiness during his lifetime, at first they were coming from the neighboring villages, because the news of the light emanating from the tomb had spread.  

4 - Fr. Sharbel has dazzled me

    One night, at the end of the evening, the superior, Fr. Antonios Meshmesh ordered Bro. Boutros Meshmesh, to fetch drinking water from a fountain, situated above the cemetery; he took a little jar with a lantern and went out. He was late more than twenty minutes, while the distance can be traversed in five minutes, so they opened the East Room, which overlooks the fountain and called him, he replied from near the cemetery, saying: "Fr. Sharbel appeared to me like a star, that's why I couldn't come back, and the lantern is extinguished.” They brought with them a lantern and found him sitting at the gate of the cemetery shivering, his clothes soiled by mud and the jar was intact in his hand. He told them that while he was descending from the fountain, he saw a bright colorful flame in the shape of a star, it dazzled him and he fell on the ground.

5 - Fr. Sharbel is...stupid!

Tannous Shehade from Ehmej, a farmer and worker in the convent, was suffering from a pain in his throat, hips and shoulders; he had been treated from Ouwaini and others for seven years, with no result. One day some visitors from Kartaba came to visit the tomb of Fr. Sharbel, seeking healing, approached him he mocked them; Bro. Elias Al-Mahrini and some farmers who were with him replied: "Do not say that!" he repeated his words: "You are people with little understanding! When Fr. Sharbel has become a Saint?"

When visitors who came to ask his intercession, had become numerous, some of them told him: "Pray for Fr. Sharbel, he will cure you." He replied: "I ask healing from this stupid, I do not believe in his holiness; rather I would seek healing from our ass and not from him!" His wife insulted him by saying: "You are a renegade." Then after his return from the field, and feeding the cows, he thought he saw a ghost before him, he approached him, and saw the hermit with a stole around his neck, a frown on his face, a crutch in his hand, he told him: "What did you say about me, today on the

field?" He put his hand on his neck; he replied perplexed: I didn't say anything, I was just kidding, but I beg you, heal me!"  He leaned before him, crying: "My Father, I beg you."  He gave him, a blow on the chest, with his crutch, in the place where he had a pain in his hip, chest and shoulders, saying: "Fr Sharbel is stupid." then he disappeared; at once he healed.

6 - And... They became friends

    A year later, one night Tannous felt a dangerous attack, and thought he was about to die he called the monks but nobody answered him; so he asked help from Fr. Sharbel; he appeared to him, and touched his cheek, saying: Stand up, do not be afraid. At that moment, he stood up healthy. 

                                   6 - Mahmud Hamada or Abu Sabta

    On February eight at the vigil of St. Maron, the patron saint of the convent, the prefect of the region of Al-Mounaitra in Tourzaya, Sheikh Mahmud Hamada, a Shiite  from Aalmat, came escorted by several policemen in pursuit of some of the outlaws from Houjoula; among the members of the escort, there was also a Christian, Executive Secretary, called Abdallah Mouawad; believing that the robbers were lying in the woods surrounding the monastery; they tied their horses in Al-Ouwaini and headed towards the convent during the night; arriving to a place near the convent, in a gloomy and rainy night, they couldn't continue to Houjoula so they returned to the convent area; before arriving there, they saw from afar  a light which appeared at first low, and then glittered and shone like a star near the door, east of the convent's church, sparkling high in circular form and then disappeared.

    They believed that the bandits were hiding there, and communicating by signals, so the prefect hoped to catch them in the convent; when he reached there, the light disappeared! They had already surrounded the monastery, so they hurried to the spot of the light and found nothing; they knocked at the door, Bro. Boutros Mayfouk replied from inside: "The portal is closed, it is late, the monks are already asleep; this is not the time of hospitality." They replied: "Open for us, when you know us, you no longer dispute!" When he opened for them, they questioned and searched, without finding anybody except those who inhabit the convent.

    The farmer-members heard knocking at the convent's gate, late at night, they came to see what was going on; they saw Abu Sabta, a Shiite, the prefect of the region, Sheikh Mahmud Hamada, accompanied by five policemen; they all gathered in the office of the assistant-superior Fr. Maron Meshmesh, then the prefect asked: "Why didn't you open for us, right away?"  They answered: "Because we were asleep." He replied: "How were you asleep? While I with my men, we saw the light on the east side, near the portal appearing and disappearing; it is a proof that there was someone awaken in the convent." They said: "Where you saw the light, there lies the cemetery where the hermit, Fr. Sharbel was buried; several nights, the farmer-members and many other people saw a light above the cemetery; Sheikh Mahmud replied:" I swear! At the first opportunity, I will tell the Patriarch about this issue, and I will publish the news in the newspapers! I, myself have been known the death of bishops and patriarchs, I went through lot of graves, but I have never seen such a scene that dazzles our eyes!"  Then he wrote a verbatim record of what he saw and sent it, to His Beatitude Patriarch Elias Al-Howayek. He made sure the light didn't originate from a lantern or a fire flame but it came from the tomb of Fr. Sharbel.


 

 F: Thy just will not see decay (Ps 16:10)


1 - An adventure on the Feast of St. Maron in 1898

    Some of the monks witnessed: The day after the passing of Mahmud Hamada by the convent, I went (me Fr. Alouan) to the tomb with the company of Bro. Elias Al-Mahrini, Saba Al-Ouwaini and the muleteer of the convent, in the absence of the superior who was in Jbeil. We opened the tomb, it was full of water to the level of the board that was supported by two stones, where the body of Fr. Sharbel was laid; the land was very muddy; the body was wrapped in a monastic tattered tunic, and covered with worms from the neck to the feet; we gave thanks to God who has preserved the body of Fr. Sharbel, despite the worms that covered it. He seemed a monk lying on his back, his hands folded on his chest; his body was in a good condition but the drip fell on his face from the roof of the tomb, from the sewer of the church and from the roof of the convent ; which affected his beard, his nose and lips; uprooted a part of the hair and pierced the flesh; his right eye was slightly whitened, and hollowed somewhat from the other eye and damaged; Saba Ouwaini took a small board with which he cleaned the coat of Fr. Sharbel from worms; then we closed the door with stones. The assistant-superior informed the superior about what happened; the prefect of Shiite told him as well, of the light he saw in the convent with his men, at night. 

2 - Attempts to kidnap it... 

    When rumors about the appearance of the light multiplied, visitors with their patients flocked from neighboring villages; some tried to open the door of the tomb by force, at the end they succeeded in opening it; they examined the body, plucking hairs from his beard, taking pieces from his fingernails, and his habit or some from the soil of the cemetery, as a blessing. Therefore, the monks asked the superior to open the grave; he responded to their request. 

 

3 - In the presence of the Superior

    Some of the monks witnessed: So we opened the tomb and found the body stayed incorruptible; his clothes were well preserved, despite the mold that covered them and his whole body because of the water, the drainage, and the moisture. We were all astonished. Bro. Boutros Meshmesh entered accompanied by Bro. Gibrael Meshmesh, Saba Tannous Moussa, Bro. Boutros Mayfouk, Bro. Gibrael Mayfouk and many others. We found the body of Fr. Sharbel as we had put it the day of his funeral, his clothes were dry. We uncovered his chest and examined his body and saw that the mold covered it, and the bottom of his feet that were callused during his lifetime because of the hard work and lack of care, lost the calluses which fell under the feet that became very soft like the feet of the babies. Bro. Elias Al-Mahrini picked up the two calluses. His body and his muscle were soft and flexible as he was alive. The superior said: Hold the body through the toe of the feet, if it detaches from the body, leave it. Two of them hold him, one by his hands and the other by his feet, and they moved him to see if he was disjointed; they found him intact and safe as if he is still alive; then the superior ordered us to go out and close the grave.  

4 - I was surprised

    Bro. Boutros Mayfouk witnessed:  We found the shovel that we had forgotten in the cemetery during his funeral, its stick was rotten; while the body of Fr. Sharbel stayed the same. I remember well the fact that his trousers were dry but stained with blood from his body! Bro. Boutros Meshmesh added: We were all surprised how the body and clothes remained free of corruption in the midst of the mud; while the wooden stick was ruined, from the water and the moisture! 

5 - The recovery of Ouwaini

    I was suffering from a pain in my back as a result of a lightning that stroke my house two years ago; I unsuccessfully followed many treatments; I became a little humpbacked, and the pain never left me; if I walked two hours, I should rest for two days. When I heard that His Beatitude gave permission to open the tomb, I hurried there, hoping to be healed because of my full confidence in his Holiness. I passed my hand on his back and his chest, and then rubbed my back saying: "Now it's your turn." Wanting to tell him that now it's your time to act, you died in my hands, without asking anything from you, now I ask you to heal me. After that, I accompanied the monks to Ehmej to attend the funeral of Daoud Youssef Saad, walking back and forth about two hours. When I returned home, my wife told me: "I see that you are alright, you're not tired as usual, did Fr. Sharbel heal you?" Became aware, like someone awakened from inattentiveness, I touched the painful area in my body, then I got up, sat down, turned left and right; I felt no pain at all. 

6 - Flattening the terrace

    The monks went back to the Superior insisting on him to allow them to remove the body from the water and bury it near the church, in a dry place to protect it from moisture and corruption, but he refused. He sent the request to his Eminence the Patriarch, requesting him to report what should be done; he told him also about the phenomenon of the lights and other issues; and that he was no longer able to prevent the visitors from coming to the tomb.  The Patriarch, ordered to leave the body in its place, to remove the water, raise the body from the ground and take all measures to prevent water from penetration inside the tomb. So the tomb was opened, the monks got in, they evacuated the water, then lifted the body on two boards laid on wooden tripods, spread the soil on the terrace, flattened it by a cylinder stone to prevent dripping.  

7 - What should I do?

    The Superior of the convent of Annaya wrote again to the Patriarch: On December, 24, last year, your son Fr. Sharbel from Bqaakafra, hermit at the hermitage of your monastery in Annaya died. Since then, every night, the light shines from his tomb; many saw it emanating as a lighthouse; if it shines from this side, the other side remains dark; the people from the surrounding area and the monks do not doubt that this light is caused by a divine intervention; because of the kindness of the deceased and of the miracles he performed in his lifetime; especially after the audit made four days ago, which showed that the body remained incorruptible in contrast to other decaying corpses. Since the place is so humid, I suggest to put the body in a coffin covered with asphalt; if your Beatitude would allow us to put him in a hiding place into the wall of the church, where there is no moisture, it would be more suitable to protect the body. Anyway, the decision is up to your Beatitude. 


G: Outside the cemetery

1 - The transfer of the body

    His Beatitude ordered to remove the body from the cemetery, and put in an isolated place where nobody at all was allowed to visit it. So the cemetery was opened, the body removed before: Fr. Maron Meshmesh, the assistant superior, Fr. Antoun Meshmesh, Fr. Youssef Meshmesh, Fr. Makarios, his companion at the hermitage, Bro. Boutros Meshmesh, Bro. Elias Meshmesh and Fr. Youssef Ehmej. The body was placed in the nave of the church, on the ground; till they prepare for it, a special place out of sight. The monks asked the permission to change the clothes which remained the same since his death and to clean up the mold from the body, but the assistant-superior Fr. Maron refused their request and the body was left in the church until morning.  

2 - A light around the body

    Fr. Francis Al- Sebrene witnessed: At midnight, as usual, Bro. Elias Al-Mahrini made his visit to the Holy Sacrament; after reciting the rosary and the evening prayers, he came running to me, woke me and said, trembling: "I saw something strange, I have never seen like it in my life, come and see; for it is a light streaming from the tabernacle, bypassing the body of Fr. Sharbel, arising on the chandelier and then returning to the tabernacle." I hurried with him to church, I saw nothing, I argued with him, but he confirmed and pointed with his finger as if he was seeing something substantiated in front of his eyes. Many confirmed that the light no longer appeared in the tomb, since the body of Fr. Sharbel had been transferred from the cemetery.  

3 - The body was bathed with water

    Ouwaini witnessed: When I arrived at the convent, the monastic folk met me saying: Today Fr. Sharbel drove away the assistant-superior and prevented him from saying the Mass in the church; he came early to celebrate the Holy Eucharist but the stench of mold bothered him so much. We went into the church and found the body bathed with water and the smell of mildew spread strongly; we carried the body and laid it in the cloister of the convent on a goatskin mat; we removed the clothes and wiped the mold with a cotton quilt from the monastery that I kept with me in my house. At first, it smelled of mold, but then a pleasant smell emanated from it; I kept it as a precious treasure; many asked me for a piece of it as a blessing and I gave them. Unfortunately, a month later, someone stole it from my house. 

4 - The condition of the body

    We found the body intact in every limb, from up till down, flexible, fresh, soft as if his soul is still in it; his eyebrows; blackish in color, thin belly and it had a scar on the hip where he put the metal thorny belt, but there were no wounds on it; his eyebrows, his hair, his beard and his hairy chest were preserved, and tended to be gray; the hands and the face bore traces of mold, dazzling white as the cotton. After cleaning up the mold from the body, the face and hands seemed to belong to a living sleeping  person, with no trace of corruption, but it emanated a bad smell; we took off the clothes but we didn't need to tear them, because the limbs were flexible as those of a living person; when we washed the body from the mud, we found that it was in a good condition and had a fine normal color;  his knees were calloused, but once the mud was removed, the calluses disappeared; showing tender and soft knees; we dressed him in new clothes after having exposed him naked on the roof throughout the day to drive out the moisture.  

5 - Blood and water gushed forth (Jn 19:34)

Ouwaini witnessed: I learned that the monks had decided to bring out the body and expose it to the sunlight on the roof of the convent, and then put it back in the tomb; because the water was dripping from it and gave an unpleasant smell. I came to the monastery, after a short time, I do not remember exactly when, all the monastic folk was present with Boutros Saba Al-Khoury from Ehmej, who practiced the old medical treatment; the body was  transported to the roof of the convent and placed on a straw mat, after it was stripped, then exposed to sun and wind.

    Deeply touched, I told the monks: Why do you expose the body like that? Write to His Beatitude the Patriarch, and he will decide what is appropriate; because the idea of the physician Boutros Saba to expose the body to the sun and wipe it with alcohol, is unnecessary as long as it doesn't show any decay. You see all the parts are intact, even his sexual organ; then I began to turn his body under their eyes and found no trace of corruption.

    Fr. Francis Al-Sebrene added: Ouwaini stabbed him in his hip with a surgery knife, instantly the blood gushed forth from it, he took a large bottle and filled it with the blood and kept it with him; the blood was dark red. The monks reprimanded the mentioned Ouwaini, wiped the blood with cotton, and bandaged the wound so the blood ceased to flow. 

6- I knew who healed them

    Ouwaini continued: I took the bottle with me to my house and stored it for about a year. Whenever I was given a treatment for the patient, I dipped a straw in this bottle, and mixed my treatment with it, with my belief that it was the best remedy for healing, because I definitively believed in the holiness of Fr. Sharbel to the point that healing is inevitable by his intercession. Many of those returned to me expressing their gratitude for their healing; basically in my thoughts, I knew who healed them. It happened that my brother, Fr. Youssef Ehmej, fell ill, he followed many treatments by the best doctors, but he obtained no results; he asked me for the bottle hoping that through it he would get healed, I gave it to him and he didn't bring it back to me.


H: In the "exhumation" room


1 - In the sun

    The monks witnessed: Before we put the body in the "exhumation" room in a small attic, we carried it to the roof of the church where we placed it in a coffin exposed to the sun; because when we took it out of the tomb it was entirely humid, thinking that the body would get dry in the heat, especially in that day it was very hot. In the evening he was already a bit dry, so we changed his clothes; and then we put him repeatedly on the roof in the sun, and yet his body continued to drench. Bro. Boulos Lehfed added: Once, I saw the body exposed to the sun on the roof of the convent, at that time I was a boy looking after the Cattle of the convent in the nearby field, I didn't know why they put him that day on the roof, and because I was so young, I didn't care about this issue.   

2 - In fear that his fans would steal him  

    Above his monastic clothes, he was dressed in a white robe and was placed in a simple wooden coffin without a lid and then put into a small spot located at the top of the northern wall of the church, between the vault and the upper steps of the outer wall, in a small room booked to put coals and old vestments; this place is called "exhumation"; the access was blocked with a stone covered with clay, so that visitors and viewers couldn't reach him; for fear that the fans of his virtues and his holy life, would steal him; and in order not to confuse his body with the rest of the bodies so it would remain knowable.

    People flocked from all sides and from Kartaba, visiting Fr. Sharbel whom they called the Saint. The monks prevented them from going to the little room where he was laid; the body remained in the "exhumation" about two years, then it transferred to an isolated room, near the gate of the monastery. 

3 - The healing of a dumb child (Mk 7:31-44)

    Once, a man came with his mute child, from the town of Foutouh; after his persistence and his solicitation, the monk took him to where the body was laid, the man and his child knelt, prayed then kissed the hand of the Saint, and they went back; while they were going down the dark stairs, the mute child cried to his father: "Father, I beg you, hold me." The father called out: "Thank you Fr. Sharbel!" 

                               5 - Oozing out of the "exhumation"

    Blood and water, were oozing out of the body; a combination of red and white blood, but the white overcame the red; ran down the stairs and overspread in the church, emanating the smell of blood which bothered the monks; it wasn't emitting any odor, till after it got out.


I: In the hands of Fr. Youssef Kfouri

1 - On the roof of the convent

Fr. Youssef Kfouri witnessed: Two days after my arrival, the superior asked me to take care of the body; I opened the coffin which was not properly closed, I saw Fr. Sharbel in his monastic clothes, and felt a smell that wasn't bad, but also unpleasant; I found the body in a good condition as if it was for a monk, who died an hour ago. Three days later, I put it in a room on the northwest side, from there I was carrying it at night with the help of Bro. Egidious Tannouri, and laid it naked on the monastery roof; exposing it to the wind, so that the blood that dripped in abundance from his back and his hips, would get dry; this blood was very abundant; I put below the body two white sheets that I changed every day, because I found them too wet with water and blood, the blood was more common than water; I rarely let the sheets two days without changing them; the sweat was leaking viciously from every pore of the body. I kept on exposing the body on the air in the night about four months; the dry east wind that dried up the land and sometimes affected the living trees, didn't affect the body, but it remained intact; the monks sometimes tripped over it and were scared.

    I was doing all of these in my own initiative because the superior had work in the properties of the convent situated between mountains and coast. Having found that the blood still oozing profusely from his chest for four months, from late spring until late summer, I thought to extract the intestines of the body, hoping to stop the leakage of the blood; which made me work every day in changing the sheets; the idea was that the stomach had absorbed lot of water when the body was buried in the cemetery  

2 - They wanted to stop the oozing by any means necessary!

Ouwaini witnessed:  When the body of Fr. Sharbel was removed from the tomb, it was oozing plenty of copious red water like the one of reddish meat, spreading an unpleasant smell; the monks wanted by any means necessary to stop this leakage, I don't know why? So they asked Boutros Saba, an uncertified doctor to see the body; he examined it and advised to put it under the sun to dry out; they exposed it for a period to the heat, and I wiped it with alcohol, as recommended by the mentioned doctor; then they put it back in the old coffin without a lid in a room on the ground floor; but it continued to ooze more than before. 

3- For the reburial of the body

    Fr. Youssef Kfoury witnessed: The visitors were numerous and they complained from the smell that emanated from the body; even I smelled it, so sometimes I sprinkled the floor and around the coffin with some perfume, I used about three bottles. Fr. Elias Meshmesh proposed the reburial of the body, but the monks opposed this suggestion; so I sought advice from the superior, Fr. Mikhael Tannouri, who suggested to put the body back into the grave; I replied: It's not good for our reputation to return it to the cemetery, after taking it out from there is well-known now,  and the miracles he is performing; however  I see that we should take out the intestines, perhaps it would get dry and there would be no seepage or odor. I think he told me: "Do what you want." 

4- The surgery!

    Fr. Youssef Kfouri added: I consulted Ouwaini who was living near the convent, he replied: "I don't dare to touch the body of Fr. Sharbel, because he performed miracles during his lifetime, I fear that would cause me the death of my children." I replied: "We have no intention to offend him by extracting his stomach, but to stop the oozing of the blood." he obeyed. We agreed to keep the matter secret. I went along with Saba during the day, I cannot remember the hour. With a lancet he opened the hip, below the ribs, entered his hand, and extracted the stomach and the intestines; we found them so fresh, like the ones of a sheep that had been slaughtered an hour ago, without any trace of corruption or worms. The smell was the same as the odor of the blood effluent from a corpse, but I don't remember that I smelled any unpleasant odor; I put the internal organs in a regular metallic container; it didn't bleed from the part of the body that we opened, and I don't remember if the blood and water came out from the stomach and intestines. The heart, lungs, liver and gall bladder were intact such as the ones of a recently slaughtered sheep. The water was stained with blood and flowed abundantly; we carried them to an old part of the church, with no roof  called "Saint Georges"; here we dug in a corner and buried them, it was already night. I told myself: if the body will transfer to Rome to justify that Sharbel is a Saint, at least we kept something from it; I buried the metal container closed. After a while I asked Bro. Egidious Tannouri, who accompanied me, to examine that stomach and intestines, he checked saying that he found the bottle empty. I informed the Superior, when he came back, about what I did. 

5- Ouwaini distributed blessings to his patients

    Later Ouwaini went alone; he dug and took the stomach! This is what Bro. Tanios Al-Qady told us, that Saba put the guts in a pot and boiled them, and then he distributed them as a blessing to his patients, this was obvious from the question asked by the commission of inquiry: It's well-known that you had used the blood of this body, in order to treat the patients, and that they were cured because of this blood! The quantity you took must be great!

    Ouwaini said he felt deep regret in his heart and added: I remember I grabbed the liver and the heart; the heart was red, oozing blood mixed with water; it didn't have any smell at all; since then my act was constantly present in my mind; I blamed myself because I didn't keep it in my house as a precious treasure; I asked him earnestly to let me have the heart or a part of what I had removed, but he didn't allow me. 

                                             6- He continued to ooze                                   

Fr. Youssef Kfouri witnessed: the surgery was unnecessary because the body continued to ooze; the smell didn't emanate from the body but from the seepage; I didn't know where the liquid and that smell came from! The body was reduced to skin and bones! This is a sufficient proof that we are dealing with a strange and amazing fact; that we and the laity deeply believe in the sanctity of Fr. Sharbel; the visitors came from all over seeking his intercession. I felt a strong odor before changing the wet and stained clothes; and then after changing and replacing them with clean ones, the smell reduced, and remained strong on the exchanged ones. The lawyer for the beatification process brought an alb, which had been laid for a week on the body and then removed yesterday for examination and evidence. Fr. Kfouri smelled the scent and said: this is the same strong smell that I tried my best to take it away, and the yellowish-red spots on this alb are the same as before, but the leakage was more abundant.  

7- Extraction of the brain

    The medical examination showed that the skull was opened to the occiput, the bone was pierced by a very sharp instrument and the brain was extracted. Fr. Youssef Kfoury witnessed: I believe that this act was done by one of the visitors, in order to take it as a blessing; during the period of two years and eight months where I assumed the responsibility of the body; If I had not been so keen to keep it, the visitors would have snatched it pieces for the blessings; especially after his miracles became well-known and after the seepage of blood and water, particularly the miracle of Tabarja's paralytic. Most visitors had known him during his lifetime, because he performed miracles with them; so they tried to have a souvenir from him to ask for his intercession through it, whenever they were in difficulty. 

    It seemed to me that Saba Ouwaini did this extraction, because of his firm belief in the sanctity of Fr. Sharbel and to use it as a medicine to cure his patients;  my hypothesis based, that Saba was very attached to Fr. Sharbel; deeply respecting his virtues; he had known him a real knowledge and believed in his ability to perform miracles; after the death of Fr. Sharbel Saba used to pray one "Our Father" and a" Hail Mary" before preparing the medication, seeking his intercession for the healing of the sick;  he also asked me to wipe the body of Fr. Sharbel, with some towels, to keep them in his house; so I thought that maybe after I left the convent, Saba removed the brain;  the lawyer of beatification process supposed, that  for the lack of belief by doctors, they extracted his brain secretly. 

8- Restoration of the eye and the nose tip

    Fr. Youssef Kfouri witnessed: I put a little plasters or similar material in his left eye and nose, because when he was buried in the tomb, the roof was dripping constantly, especially on his eye and nose, causing a slight distortion on them; this intervention almost gave them back their normal appearance, and indeed they showed no deterioration. Ever since I've cared about the body, after his transfer until I was relieved from this responsibility, he remained in the same physical condition as far as the flexibility of the skin, either before or after the extraction;  I have noticed no difference, and this was an amazing mystery for us. 

9- Lack of discernment

    The monks laid the corpse only in places that could corrupt it quickly; either in the grave or in the small room on the ground floor; and I, who consider myself among those who are wise, I have acceded to the deformation of the body with my carelessness and naiveté; either by my procedure to expose the body to the wind for four months on the roof at night, or by the extraction of the womb.   

10 - He drove away the locusts (Lk 5:4-7)

     Locusts suddenly invaded the land of the convent from all sides, two hours before sunset; although monks and farmer-members had made every effort to stop them; the locusts covered the crops and the trees. The superior, Mikhael Tannouri, called Fr.  Makarios, the hermit and said: "Fr. Sharbel, in his lifetime, expelled the locusts from the vicinity of the monastery. Go now take a container full of water, wash his hands, and then sprinkle by this water the seeds, the mulberry trees and the crops of the convent, as much as possible."  Fr. Makarios obeyed; in the morning the locusts fled. One thing caught our attention; while the hermit sprinkled the seeds, it happened that the farmer-partner in the convent, Saba Zahra said to the hermit: I protect my land, don't trample on the seeds. While the locusts were leaving, some fell in that land and devoured everything. He tried in vain to protect it with the firing of his gun and the burning of thorny bushes, while all around the land had been saved. The locusts devoured the wild herbs even the barks of the wild trees; thus the locusts were useful to the properties of the convent. 

                          11 - Recovering from total paralysis (Mt 9:1-8)

    Maryam Zuwain witnessed: Following the birth of my eldest daughter, Abla, I was suffering from a disease on the hands and feet and the rest of my body for over six months; as a result of this disease, I was unable to move and I became like a piece of wood;  my pain was unbearable, my stepmother Jalileh, served me; I remember, when my daughter was crying and no one was there , I bent over her, raised her by my teeth and laid her on my chest to breastfeed her, because I was unable to hold her by my hands. Once, she fell from my chest and clung on a hot stove; in vain I tried to save her; I felt like I was in a dream in which I tried to walk but I couldn't move; I tried three times to get up , for my only daughter was threatened to be burnt; but I couldn't move, so I shouted with all my strength for help; a man named Fares Lahoud, who was flatten the roof in the rain, ran and snatched her. 

 My disease is not the type of depression that can be cured by emotional stimuli, what could be more emotional than seeing my little girl fell into a charcoal stove to stimulate my nerves and my maternal feelings and to forget my pain and prompt me to save her, yet I remained defaulting, and this weakness worsened my condition. This paralysis wasn't only on my hands and my feet but on  my whole body, including my lower jaw, so I couldn't eat for three months except for milk; I followed multiple treatments from many doctors with no result; so I surrendered to sadness and tears, and despaired from healing.

    One day a Shiite woman from the village of Ferret came into my house asking for alms, she asked me: "What's wrong with you?" Crying, I told her about my illness, she replied: "Not far from here there is a Saint, he is performing miracles, his name is Saint Sharbel in the Monastery of St. Maron, go there and you will be cured from your illness."  Fr. Roukoz Meshmesh was in our village at that time, I called him and asked if it was true what the Shiite woman told me, he replied: "Yes, it's true." He encouraged me to go and visit Saint Sharbel. I decided to make this visit to the tomb of Saint Sharbel and I made a vow for him; then I told my husband about my vow and my persistence to visit the tomb. He rushed and called a mule driver who took me to Annaya, with my aunt Wardeh; I suffered a lot from this trip, the carrier supported me from one side, and my aunt with another woman, from the other side all the way long. In my sickness I wasn't able to change my clothes or eat by myself, but my stepmother was taken care of everything.

 Arriving at the convent, they took me to the tomb; I was crying from pain and fatigue because I had spent five hours on the back of the mule from my village Yahchouch to the convent; I was praying fervently and asking Saint Sharbel to heal me and let me go back walking; then they took me to the cemetery where the body of the Saint was laid at first. The superior, Fr. Mikhael Tannouri came and was very touched by my situation; he encouraged me and told me: Be strong in your faith, you will be healed, today; he brought me water from the washing hands of the Saint, and towels that were soaked by the blood exuded from his body; my aunt and the woman with her, Karimeh Azar Karam from Yahshoush, wiped with this water and towels my body, my hands and my feet; at once I felt strength in my right hand, while I was in the cemetery; I started moving my fingers and supporting myself by my hand; my left hand, which was more deficient  and more paralysis and pain, I felt the pain was leaving it gradually; while I was at the cemetery, I felt that my whole body strengthened and I realized that I am on the way of recovery through the intercession of St. Sharbel;  I  left the cemetery by myself, and went up on the back of the mule to go back home; without eating anything because I made a vow not to eat or drink before my healing; my food was prayer and crying; the superior constantly encouraged me and strengthened my faith;  when I got up  on the mule, I needed no help; I felt that my left hand was tingling only;  arriving at the village of Sannour, I had absolutely no pain; I was sure of my recovery, I moved my hands and my feet normally; exalted with joy I got down from the back of the mule, and walked about fifteen minutes, on our way back; I arrived home at the same day completely cured through the intercession of Saint Sharbel; and since then I pray to St. Sharbel daily;  my relatives rejoiced; and that was a day of joy and pleasure for all of us. 

12 - Tabarja paralytic (Mk 2:1-12)

    Jerges Sassine witnessed: I saw the paralytic of Tabarja named Beshara Antoun Azzi, when he was brought to the tomb of St. Sharbel, transported on a mule; he was carried down, in my presence, at the gate of the convent, unable to move his hands and feet; we took him into the room where the body was laid on the north-west. His companions explained to me that he was afflicted with stroke since infancy, in the age of fifteen he was seriously ill and became disable; shortly thereafter they brought him back to the portal; he began to move his hands and feet easily, stretching them back and forth, and then they turned back to his village.

    In spring, I saw him coming to the monastery walking, I asked him: “Are you Beshara Azzi, who came last summer to this convent?”He replied: "Yes, I am the one who has been cured of his illness, and now I'm visiting St. Sharbel to thank him, without him, I will never have walked in my entire life."  In fact every year, he comes twice, in summer and spring, carrying votive offerings for St. Sharbel, and then returning home without eating anything, I asked him: "Why don't you eat in the convent?” He replied: "I have vowed not to eat anything!"

     Bro. Francis Kartaba added: When I was appointed to serve the guests in the convent, Beshara Azzi of Tabarja came to me, carrying a basket containing grains, nuts and other gifts, he gave it to me saying:" I have collected these offerings for the convent, in gratitude to St. Sharbel." Each time, the superior told him: "My son, take back home what you have collected, because you're poor."

    Eid Nakad said: Beshara asked us to show him the house in which the Fr. Sharbel was born and brought up, when we asked about the purpose of his visit, he told us, he was paralyzed and Fr. Sharbel cured him; so he traversed each year the Lebanese villages; expressing his gratitude to Fr. Sharbel, collecting alms; we celebrated with him, especially my mother. He continued to come to Bqaakafra, for three years, for this purpose.


J: The Lodging

1 - The women at a separate location

The feeling of faith prompted the pilgrims to go walking to the monastery of Annaya; traversing distances of more than fifty kilometers, including: women, children, poor and sick, who were unable to ensure transport on the back of pack animals, but they came walking because of their poverty; some walked barefoot asking God to have mercy on them and gratify them the cure of their patients from incurable disease, or a chronic infirmity as the limp, the deaf, or the paralysis. The pilgrims arrived to the convent, exhausted after two or three days walking, and didn't find a place to shelter them because the monastery is in the wilderness; in addition, women were forbidden to enter to the monastery, even to church. There was no room to accommodate people except in a dark basement to the right of the entrance which was called the lodging or the accommodation. The visitors were staying in this lodging; the men entered to the church of the convent, while the women remained in the lodging and attended Mass, standing near the window of the church on the south side, just like the women of the farmer-members in Annaya.

 2 - The insistence of visitors

    The men insisted to see the body of Fr. Sharbel on the first step of the "exhumation" room near the north wall inside the church, they knelt praying and imploring; while the women knelt outside the convent, near the north wall; there in the open air they were crying, begging for help, praying, kissing the wall, holding a handful of earth to take it home for their patients. The monks took pity on the visitors, especially Fr. Youssef Kfoury, so he allowed the men to access to the small room to see Saint Sharbel in his modest coffin; the visitor who could see Fr. Sharbel, was comforted by the sight of his preserved body; he returned home happy and told the people that he had seen Fr. Sharbel sleeping like a living human being! The women were very disappointed to be deprived of seeing the body of Fr. Sharbel so they asked the monks with abundant tears to allow them to see it. 

3 - The lodging is converted into a chapel

Two years passed, and the number of visitors multiplied and their insistence to allow them to see the body of Fr. Sharbel increased. Fr. Youssef Kfoury suggested, at a local council, to transform the lodging into a chapel, which will enable women to participate in the Mass; and to put the body there, in a glass-fronted cabinet so that visitors can see him; and he will be responsible to prevent any veneration, forbidden by the church. The proposal was raised to the Superior General, who demanded the authorization of the Patriarch. So the lodging was transformed into a chapel for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days. The monks put the body in a room outside of the right portal of the convent; in 1901, they placed, by the superior-order, a portable altar to celebrate Mass for the female visitors, because the women, in the days of the cold, were unable to hear the mass through the outside window of the Church; and were unable to enter the church because of the ban.  

4 - Description of the Body

    Wardeh Makhlouf witnessed: Two years after the death of Fr. Sharbel, I came with my aunt and other women from Bqaakafra to visit his tomb. They opened it for us; I reached out my hand and held his hand; it was very soft like velvet; his body appeared normal, his beard as it was always, his face pinky, his neck was sweating, I passed my hand over his hair and his neck.

    Ouwaini added: His holy body oozed the same way in all seasons, I saw his clothes wet as those of sweaty people, and had the same smell; from time to time they changed his clothes for washing as they wash the ones of a living person.

    Bro. Boutros Lyan explained: I was changing his clothes, in different times, sometimes every week, sometimes every two weeks, or month. In summer, I had to change it more frequently because the seepage was more abundant. What I know, that the body is still healthy and sweating; people visit his tomb, and they believe that it is preserved by a miracle, because Fr. Sharbel is a Saint; this is not just the Maronite belief, but also the neighboring Shiites and other Muslims.   

5 - The body is standing

Fr. Youssef Kfoury prepared a glass-fronted cabinet; he laid the body upright supported by two crutches under both armpits; it was always oozing, and from time to time its clothes were changing; they were consisted from the regular monastic habit and a stole around his neck. The upper cabinet was glazed in wooden frame that opened in two parts as the shutters.

    Fr. Moubarak Tabet witnessed: I saw a coffin of wood leaning against the wall, the body of Fr. Sharbel stood up on his feet; his whole body was like he was still alive; his eyes closed; wearing a white alb; wetting with sweat and blood. I took his hand to kiss it, I found it more supple than mine, his skin was soft and of natural color, but yellowed by the death. The joy of the faithful, to see the body upright, was great, because they wished him standing among them; in contrary, most of the monks were dissatisfied with this position, because it was just like a childish idea that could despise the body Fr. Sharbel.  

6 - The Healing of a girl and the raising of a dead child (Jn 11:1-44)

    Maryam Shamoun witnessed: My little girl, named Esther, suffered from the age of three, epileptic seizures and fainting; I brought her to Saba, a healer who had no medical training, with no result. I made a vow to Saint Sharbel, she got healed. Then I gave birth to a boy who died on April 17, 1901. My third child at the age of one year, suffered from epilepsy as his brother, for more than eight days; and since he was a child we didn't understand his illness; his case became worse gradually; in the first days of his illness, he woke up and nursed very little bit, then he never nursed and lost consciousness. When I lost hope of seeing him cured, and it was clear that he's going to die like his brother, I was so desperate; so I decided to take him to the tomb of Saint Sharbel; I used to attend his Mass during his lifetime, in the hermitage of St. Peter, his mass cheered me up, impressed me and made me feel a deep reverence.  So I carried my child alone and walked, I didn't want anyone to assist me; may God have mercy on my fatigue and save him. In route, I met a woman, she took pity on me and she held him; then we met another woman, who looked at the child and said: "Where do you take the child? Do not wear yourself out! The child is dead!" I started screaming and crying as I saw my baby dead between my hands. The two women pinched the child, and shook him, but he showed no sign of life; I was about to go back, weeping over my dead child and seeing it was useless to continue; they encouraged me and we continued walking, hoping that the Fr. Sharbel will cure him;  this happened in Farshaa, a farm belonging to Meshmesh, about an hour away from the convent, I said to the woman carrying my child: "Let's depend on God, and go to Fr. Sharbel."  Upon our arrival to the convent, I called my cousin, Fr. Elias Ehmej; he went down into the room where the body was laid, he saw me kneeling by the coffin with tears, accompanied by two women standing near the door; on the step of the altar, I put my dead child wrapping with his clothes; he turned to me and said: "Are you crazy? How did you bring this funeral here?" He hurt me by these words but I didn't answer; the two women told him: "Your cousin came seeking the intercession of Fr. Sharbel to heal her sick son." He went in and found the child dead, mouth shut; he turned him several times, he opened his mouth; but he felt in him no sign of life!

 I said to my companion: “Put the child on the ground as the deceased should be placed, his face toward the sea, near the coffin of the Saint, before the altar, and if Fr. Sharbel is a Saint he will raise him up." Then Fr. Elias opened the coffin, washed the hands of Fr. Sharbel with water, opened the mouth of the child, with a spoon of incense he poured water into the mouth of the child, first, second, and third time, the child swallowed the water, and started breathing. I sighed deeply and we were very amazed;  he put a candle in his hand, then gave him back to me; I breastfed him and he sucked; I began to weep from joy; I returned home happy, along with the woman who helped me. My son is already a young man full of life and health. 

7 - A mysterious hand

Rev. Ibrahim Haqlani was flattened the roof of his bedroom, located on the south side of the convent of Annaya, using a cylinder stone; reaching the edge of the roof, a violent storm arose, and he felt down with the cylinder stone from a height of four meters. His brothers the monks hastened to help him; they were amazed since they found him running toward the gate of the convent, unharmed. When they asked what happened with him?! He replied: When I slipped down with the cylinder stone, I screamed: Fr. Sharbel, help me! I felt as if a hand was carrying me and then putting me down gently on the ground, after taking the cylinder stone away from me.



K: In the Chapel  

1 - Transfer of the body

Dr. Georges Shekralah made a coffin of walnut wood, worthy of Fr. Sharbel; and Boutros Daher carried it on the back of a mule from Beirut, in the autumn of 1909; he asked the monks to put it in a proper place; the body was transferred to a larger room, located south of the first one, in the basement at the southeast corner of the convent left the gate. The ground is paved with stones, and the room is arched with stones as well; the coffin was placed horizontally on a corner and it was closed. Lot of people from the neighborhood and the farmer-members came to attend the handover ceremony of the body; no epitaph has been placed on the tomb of Fr. Sharbel, neither during his funeral, nor after his transfer. Fr. Boutros Damien witnessed: I was present when the body was moved into the chapel; we dressed him in an alb, but the body still oozing a special liquid that soaked the alb and the other clothes; so we had to change them every few days. The people were flocking to visit him, kissing his hand, soliciting his blessing to cure their diseases and asking for the blessing of God through him.   

2 - The healing of a kidney

Hawshab Nakad witnesses: After the First World War, I felt an unbearable pain in my hip, I entered the American Hospital in Beirut, where I spent forty days during which I made a surgery of extraction of a calculus from the kidney; the operation was successful. A year later, I felt the same pain in the same position.  My mother and my sister Ghalia went to the convent of St. Maron Annaya; there they visited the tomb of Fr. Sharbel; they prayed fervently, asking for my healing. My mother asked one of the monks to give her an amulet that was touched the body of Fr. Sharbel to put it on my neck; the monk replied that he would give her something more valuable: he presented a cloth that was placed under the neck of Fr. Sharbel; and then he washed the hands of Fr. Sharbel after he raised it from the coffin; he put the water in a small bottle and gave it to her. When my mother returned, I put the cloth around my neck and drank the water. Three days later I dreamt that I was transported to the house of Fr. Sharbel, where I saw a monk who didn't talk with me a single word; in the morning, I eliminated, a kidney stone, as big as a bean. Since then I have no pain. 

3 - A barren gives birth

            Hawshab continued: When my mother visited the monastery of Saint Maron Annaya, a man called Nehmeh Youssef Nehmeh, who was married since twenty-seven years and yet he had no children, asked her to bring him a blessing from Fr. Sharbel, hoping to have a child; he gave her some money as offering for the convent. When my mother came back, she gave Nehmeh and his wife Hanneh a blessing, the same as mine. In less than one year they had their only child, called Tanios. 

4 -Visiting the tomb

    The visitors were many and from all sides, all nations and all races. They were pleading for his intercession as asking from the Saints, because they believed in his holiness and goodness. Those who owned livestock, they offered some of them to the convent. Many people of Christian communities and non-Christians flocked to visit him to cure them from their illness. Many of them, when they reached the monastery ground, they continued their walk using their hands and feet, to show respect. 

5 - I have little children

     Mary, the wife of Boutros Abi Musa from Shkania, was sick with epilepsy; Dr. George Shekrallah was treating her and bringing her medicine from Europe for a long time; but she hadn't derived any benefit. Her husband came to visit Fr. Sharbel, and told him: I beg you, heal my wife, because we have little children who need their mother to take care of them; and I am ready to pave the ground of the chapel (where the body of Sharbel), then he returned to his home. At night, he dreamt about three monks on the road, one of them was walking in the center, a stole in his neck, he ran towards him saying: Please, Fr. Sharbel heal my wife, he answered: She has been already recovered. The woman was healed instantly and completely.   

6 - I took his hand and put it in my sick eye

Akel Hayek witnessed: a neurological disease affected my right eyes in 6/8/1903, my eye was twitching continuously, the doctors of Beirut were unable to cure it; I heard about St. Sharbel, so I went to visit him; I found him laid in a coffin in a room of the monastery; I took his hand and put it in my sick eye; after a short period the pain disappeared and it got back to normal.    

7 - Better than the doctors of Beirut

Tanios Moussa from Ehmej witnessed: I had a very severe pain in my shoulder which continued for a while in this case; I used many treatments with no result. Finally, I decided to go to Beirut accompanied by my uncle Saba; on the way we passed to visit my uncle Fr. Youssef in the monastery of Annaya; I told him that I am going to Beirut to see the doctors there to cure the pain on my shoulder; my uncle said: We have here a doctor who is more important than all the doctors of Beirut, Fr. Sharbel! Go and visit him, and take a blessing and you will be healed. I went to the chapel, where the body was placed, and prayed. Bro. Boutros Meshmesh gave me a waistband after he put it on the body of Fr. Sharbel; I wore it and didn't go to Beirut. The second day I got up totally cured, and resumed my work as usual.    

8 - Maryam opened her eyes

Rahmeh the wife of Moussa from Ehmj witnessed: My granddaughter Maryam fell ill with high fever, the disease worsened and she lost consciousness. Her grandfather, Saba treated her, but she hadn't benefited; in the end she became like a dead person. We made a vow to lit an oil lamp in front of the body of Fr. Sharbel for her healing; when we turned on the lamp in front of his body, Maryam opened her eyes and asked for food; instantly the fever got to normal and she recovered.


 

L: He healed all the sick (Mt 8,6)

1 - The healing of Bro. Youssef Maifouq

Fr. Youssef Ehmej testified: While Bro. Youssef Maifouq was eating, a bone stuck in his throat: he suffered for a week, so we called the doctor, Najib Beik Khoury who found no trace for the bone, but the brother still suffering. One night he came to me and shouted: "Please, I was about to die from pain." I answered: "My brother, how can I help you? Take the oil lamp and light it in front of the coffin of St. Sharbel, I hope he will heal you." He went right away, lit the lamp, and knelt down, his hands resting on the coffin. Then he spat, the bones came out of his throat; he came to show it to me; a bone in the length of a needle, fine as a thread, I kept it for a while in my home.  

2 - The healing of Fr. Elias Ehmej

One time I felt a sharp pain during the night on my right side so that I could no longer walk without crutches. I looked at the painful spot and saw that my flesh was swollen as if it was pierced with a nail. I got up slowly limping, and went to the grave of Fr. Sharbel, it was at that time on the chapel, I poured water on his hand and then rubbed the painful area; I immediately recovered and went back to my room without crutches. 

3-Recovering from the typhoid fever (Mk 1: 29-31)

Fr. Alouan witnessed: When I came back from Annaya to Kozhaya, I found Bro. Bartholomew suffering from typhoid fever and was on his deathbed. I told him about Fr. Sharbel and gave him a piece of his hood, which I took as a blessing from the tomb; he put it on his head in good faith and prayed, the next day he recovered.  

4 - A cure from paralysis

 Shibley Shibley witnessed: I had a rheumatic disease on the knee; the disease worsened to the point of paralysis. Several doctors treated me, as Dr. Ounaissi from Jajj, Dr. Najem from Lehfed, with no result. So I asked for the intercession of Fr. Sharbel; I took holy water and a piece of cloth that had been placed over his body; I drank the water and put the cloth over my knees, God has healed me. 

5 - The healing of Saba Ouwaini

    In May 1925, I felt a sharp pain in my stomach; Dr. Gergi Shekrallah had treated me once, twice and three times with no success; and then he suggested that I accompany him to Beirut for an X-ray, for he was afraid as I did, it might be a cancer. I told him: "Let us reconsider it until tomorrow!" I left him, and prayed fervently to Fr. Sharbel, to heal me; I promised to donate to the monastery two piastres as a vow. In the night I saw Fr. Sharbel in a dream; he burnt a piece of his habit, took the ashes, poured them into the water and gave me to drink. I woke up at dawn and I was in a great pain; I left my bed and met my brother, Fr. Youssef Ehmej, who was preparing for the mass;  I wanted to attend the mass and then visit the grave of Fr. Sharbel; the pain, however, didn't allow me to stay to the end of the mass; so I hurried towards the tomb, my wife, my children and my niece joined me there; after praying and giving the offering; I took from the brother in charge of watching over the body, a piece of cloth from the habit of Fr. Sharbel, burnt it in a can, mixed the ashes with water, as I saw in my dream and then I drank the water. On the way back I felt less pain; I stopped to rest at my daughter's house, Maryam the wife of Tanios Boutros Moussa; she offered me to eat something, because for seventeen days I hadn't eaten except little bit; I agreed, she gave me stuffed zucchini; I ate a loaf of bread and two zucchini. Then I continued my way home, I felt the pain was gradually decreased until the evening. At home I ate well and felt no more pain.  

6 - The healing of Fr. Youssef Ehmej

    For more than three years I had constant throat pain. I was treated by doctors Gergi Shekrallah, Najib Beik Khoury and Jibrael Tawily. Meanwhile I had some rest, but the pain always came back. One day I took a piece from the habit of Fr. Sharbel and wrapped it around my neck. For years now I have no more pain and I still wear it around my neck.  

7 - Healing from eye disease (Jn 9)

    Youssef Nassif testified: I had a severe pain in my eyes accompanied with redness. When I awoke, my eyes were glued with eye mucus glands and only opened after having washed with water; however, my vision wasn't affected. The disease was lessened in winter, but increased in early spring to late autumn and lasted for three years. In vain I consulted Dr. Najib Beik Khoury;

   So I made a vow for Fr. Sharbel, that if he cures me, I would donate fifty Syrian lire; also I would help out each year a day on the estates of the monastery, free of charge, and I would testify before the Congregation of my healing. Then I made my visit to the grave, dipped his hand into the water, I brought the water home and washed my eyes for ten days, the rheum disappeared and the pain vanished;  for more than one and a half month now (1926) I have no more pain, but some redness remains. 

8 - Healing from Hemiplegia

Moussa Moussa witnessed: My cousin called Gerges Risha from Ehmej had suffered from hemiplegia; despite seven months of medical treatment, he could no longer walk. He asked for a piece of cloth from St. Sharbel's clothes and rolled it around his waist. He immediately felt an improvement and was gradually recovered, and now he is completely healthy. 

9 - The Healing of the brother of Boutros Jawad Meshmesh

     I got cramps in my shoulders, so that I couldn't move my hands. I went to the tomb of the man of God Fr. Sharbel, I opened the coffin and laid a piece of cloth over his sacred hand, and then I rubbed my shoulder and felt no more pain at all.  

10 - Healing of the wife of Youssef Khoury from Amshit

     Fr. Youssef Ehmej testified: The wife of Youssef Khoury from Amshit suffered from a hardening and spasms in the joints. They took her two or three times to Beirut; a group of medical doctors discussed the case, but in vain. When I visited her once, she told me about her situation,  I answered: "I will send you a piece from the alb of Fr. Sharbel and I hope you will recover." She and her parents told me that the piece of cloth was the right treatment for her. 

11 - In New York

    Boutrosieh, the wife of Nassif Saade from Hsarat-Jbeil, was afflicted with kidney disease for seven months in the United States, and entered to the hospital of Virgin Mary in the city of Nathan Matt in New York; she stayed there for a period with no avail. The best doctors in the hospital lost hope from her recovery. One day, while she was suffering, she thought to make a vow to St. Sharbel, perhaps he will heal her from her severe illness. Once, she made this vow she felt totally comfortable and recovered. This was in 11/20/1920. 

12 - His neck was curved

 Foula the widow of Nehmeh Deeb from Gouma witnessed in 08/15/1925: In 1902, at the age of four, my son Nehmeh, who is now in America, was unable to walk because of the laxity of his nerves; his neck was curved to the left side and he wasn't able to turn it around; he was treated from several doctors, including Dr. Anton Beik Khairalah Gran, Dr. Amin Effendi Thoma Batroun, but he remained in this state without any benefit for about five months. One night, in my dream, I heard a voice saying to me: Offer a quarter piaster for the convent and I will heal your son, or he wouldn't recover! When I woke up in the morning, I told Fr. Boulos Khoury Fares from Gouma about the dream; he said to me: "There is a Saint in the monastery of Annaya, pray for him, he will heal your child." I vowed to offer a quarter piaster and asked him to heal my son; he cured immediately; his neck straightened; his nerves intensified and he walked for the first time; I took him to the monastery of Annaya to visit St. Sharbel and offered the vow. 

                                13 - He refreshed and started breastfeeding

     The widow of Boutros Ghobary from Ehmj witnessed in 09/10/1925: I lived in the house of the priest Hanna Shehadeh from Meshmesh, nursing his nephew. One day we came to the hermitage of Annaya to baptize him in its church; accompanied with his mother, his father, his grandfather and his uncle Fr. Hanna; after the baptismal ceremony, we went down from the hermitage to the monastery to be blessed from the body of Fr. Sharbel, who was recently removed from the grave; when we opened his coffin an unpleasant smell emanated from the body. After this visit, we headed to Meshmesh, as we got far from the monastery, the child suddenly froze his eyes, started groaning and refrained from breastfeeding; so we were very worried about him;  his uncle the priest said to his grandmother: "What happened to the child, it's because of you, it is the result of your lack of faith in the holiness of Fr. Sharbel and because you have said the smell from his body is unpleasant... believe and ask him to heal the child." When his grandmother heard these words she knelt on the ground, praying and asking Fr. Sharbel, tears falling from her eyes, to heal the child.

 The parents of the child made a vow to Fr. Sharbel, begging him to heal their child; one of us went back to the monastery, offered the vow and brought a blessing from the body of Fr. Sharbel; once we put this blessing on the child, he refreshed, started breastfeeding as usual and recovered. 

                              14 - He granted her three boys and a girl

   Youssef Abbud from Ehmj witnessed in 09/10/1925: after the body of Sharbel was removed from the cemetery, I went with my wife to visit him, she asked God to give her a child; God granted her through the intercession of St. Sharbel three boys and a girl.   

15 - He refrained from eating

    Hanna Hussaini witnessed in 11/19/1925: My grandson, Assad, suffered from a pain in his stomach at the age of eight; he became pale, very thin and refrained from eating; he remained in this state, about nine months. His mother took him to Ehmj, so Saba Ouwaini could treat him but we didn't find him, she said: "I don't want any more to take him to doctors; I am determined to ask St. Sharbel to heal him."  We went to the monastery of Annaya and visited the body of St. Sharbel; we offered a vow for the recovering of the child and then we came back to Bejjeh, after few days the child recovered from the pain of the stomach and he started to eat as usual. 

16 - On foot

     Tannous Lteif from Fatqa Fettouh Kesserwan witnessed in 07/01/1926: As my son Elias had the yellow fever and was suffering from a stomach pain; his last physician was Dr. Khalil Karam, from Ghazir; but he did not benefit anything from the treatments and we were very concerned about his situation. On January 15, I was asleep, almost at midnight, and then I was inspired that the healing of my son is related to a visit to St. Sharbel; I got out of my bed and immediately vowed to take my son on the first day of July to Annaya on foot, seeking a blessing from the body of Sharbel. I told my son what had happened with me and announced his soon recovery; thus, he was recovered immediately and the disease disappeared completely. To fulfill my votive I went with him on the appointed time to the monastery of Annaya.

17 - She went deaf in one ear

Moussa Ghanem from Lehfed, the director of the district of Gezzin witnessed in 09/29/1926 : Around the year 1900 my sister Marta, at the age of eight, had a shock in one of her ears and because of this she lost hearing completely; she was treated by some of the physicians but she didn't benefit from the treatments. My sister asked me to send her to visit St. Sharbel. Upon her arrival to the place where the body of St. Sharbel was laid she felt a strong ringing in her infected ear and at once she recovered.  

18 - He granted him a boy

     Fr. Boutros Zahra witnessed in 10/09/1926: Youssef Boutros Abi-Nassif from Mayfouq hadn't had children for thirteen years after his marriage. He made a votive for St. Sharbel and he granted him a baby boy, called Naim and in baptism Sharbel.

19 - After fifteen minutes

    Maryam Barakat from Yahshoush witnessed in 10/17/1926: My son Wadih had an abscess in his neck at the age of two and a half, so I took him to the monastery of Annaya to visit Fr. Sharbel. After my arrival with my mother-in-law one of the monks took my child and wiped his neck with a blessing from St. Sharbel; after fifteen minutes he came back healthy, I didn't even know where the abscess was.

20 - My parents were concerned for my life

    Deebeh the wife of Nehemtallah Ibrahim from Lehfed witnessed: I got sick after I gave birth to my son Estephen in 1926, with puerperal fever disease accompanied with cough and chest congestion that I could no longer breathe; I remained like that about a month, my parents were concerned for my life, they gave me many treatments with no result. Finally, I made a vow for Fr. Sharbel and stopped the medication, I felt better, and in less than a week, I resumed my housework. I visited St. Sharbel crawling on hands and feet, I fulfilled my votive and thanked God.


 

M: Sharbel's objects


1 - The haircloth and the holy water of Sharbel

    Bro. Boutros Meshmesh witnessed: I took the haircloth he had worn in the hermitage, and distributed it pieces as blessings by which many were cured form various diseases! Eid Nakad confirmed:  We have water which was blessed in his life time, it is still preserved as a precious treasure in Bqaakafra.

                                                         2 - Over negligence!

Fr.Youssef Ehmej witnessed: There is nothing left from his shabby clothes or the mat on which he slept; these were all his vestiges and his fortune in this world. His cell in the convent, that some monks may recall it was dedicated to him, is now abandoned; they put inside it wood and old stuff, a stable is cleaner than it. I think if you enter it, you will laugh at us because of our indifference to the remembrance of St. Sharbel; as for his cell in the hermitage, I don't think it is in a better condition.  

Bro. Boutros Mayfouk added: We found there is no mention of his name, not a souvenir from his habit -either in a monastery or in the hermitage; nobody can tell if he had lived in the convent, except the monks, his contemporaries or those who have

heard of him; in these places, his name did not exist, and his body, which is preserved here is unrecognizable, except from those who knew him during his lifetime or after his death.

     Fr. Nehemtallah Meshmesh confirmed:  If it weren't for the Shiites, the monks were probably not given sufficient attention for him; the majority of them are naive; we all haven't done our duty towards Fr. Sharbel especially me, because we have been delayed to consider the sublime of his virtues and his famous miracles. The evidence of our over negligence, that we haven’t retained anything of his clothes, or any of his belongings.  

3 – Blessings

Visitors had distorted parts of his hands and nails, as they pulled out some pieces to take them as blessing; nothing remained from his hair and his beard except very few; because the pilgrims had taken them; whoever came to visit him, pulled some hair as a blessing! Dr. Georges Shekrallah said: I asked the monks for a blessing from this Saint, because so great is my respect for him, they gave me a piece of clothing that was touched his body in the coffin, the traces of the leaked fluid were still visible in it. Visitors who requested a blessing received after much insistence:  a piece of this clothing that monks had to change at least every week; or some pieces of cloth that passed over his body, or a little bit of water from his hand washing, or some incense from the church.

4 - The visitors

When apostolic visitors came here, they were astonished and said they had never seen like this corpse before, they knelt by the coffin and prayed; other visitors also knelt by his coffin and prayed. Sometimes the monks were irritated by visitors, because they had to take care of them and of their hospitality in this remote convent, which cost them efforts and expenses.


N: Dr. George Shekrallah

1 - I was amazed

     When I saw him for the first time I was stunned, because as a physician I have never seen or heard or read in medical books, a similar case. I examined it from a purely scientific interest and wanted to fathom the mystery of this body. After a general examination of the whole body, I found it incorruptible, some of his muscles remained flexible and a part of his joints were folding, some of his hair and beard still persisted despite the pull applied by the visitors, who took them as relics; the rest of his organs have not suffered damage, with the exception of his eye which was affected by the water dripping when he was buried in the tomb, rather it was deformed. As for his belly, I found it like those of other bodies, without any apparent of damage, and I did not notice it had been opened, unless it was slightly dry by time.  

2 - The plasma or suppurating wounds (Lk 22:44)

The strangest phenomenon that had confused me was that I saw with my own eyes the stains on his white clothes, emanated from a viscous substance from his pores that match the color and density of normal plasma which exudes from living bodies riddled with sores. 

    As for the smell, it resembled to the smell of protoplasmic substances that are excreted from the body in case of sickness; the smell wasn't unpleasant, rather it was moldy. The body was soft as it was in the time of his death; it was sweating so we were wiping it with tissues, and kept them as blessings. Ouwaini filled a bottle from this fluid so people when they knew that this bottle had a blessing from the body of Fr. Sharbel, they took from it to use it in case of sickness.

3 - The mystery of the body!

    The attorney in the canonization process, asked him: Is it possible to natural circumstances such as freezing cold, plenty of water; or reasons prior to death such as abstaining from meat, low food intake, mortification of the body and the vegetarian diet, to cause the preservation of the body after death? "

    He replied: I have never experienced, or read that such circumstances could cause such symptoms;  after examining the body, I referred to competent physicians in Beirut and  in Europe, where I have traveled several times, nobody was able to benefit me in this matter; the case of this body is unique and no doctor had ever seen like it; nobody could tell me if such a case had been reported in medical history; I constantly seek to achieve whether there was a similar case in the world, by which a body has been preserved under such circumstances.

                                                                  4 - Impossible!

    Then he asked him: "Do you think the status of this body is natural or supernatural? Or, do you think a clever monk managed to discover a drug that can preserve the body? 

     He replied: My personal conviction is based on the study and experience, after having examined the body two or three times a year, for seventeen years now (1909), I would say that this body is preserved by a supernatural force; if we assumed  that a monk would have discovered a drug that can keep it so, I present the following:

     First: If this proves true, the inventor of this amazing discovery should earn the admiration and esteem of the scientific community, and he would exceeded, the great scientist, Louis Pasteur. Because, the medical scientists are making every effort, to discover a drug that could preserve the corpse and they haven't come to protect it properly without smell more than two weeks. As for the seepage in this body, it never would have come to the mind of medical scientists to consider it; as well as that such discovery, is impossible with the continuous seepage. It is well known, that the healthy body of a living man contains an average of five liters of blood with only three liters of plasma that could be secreted, at a rate of sixty percent; while the remaining forty percent contain salt, blood cells, and solids. If the body secretes after the death the remaining of natural plasma; and if the pores secrete a gram or two each day; it follows that the quantity of secreted plasma exceeded the stored ones in his body at the time of his death; in addition the amount of plasma must be finished after eight years of his death; if we consider that the secretion was fully preserved and didn't lose some amount due to evaporation; and what I've noticed that the body is oozing over one gram per day, because the rate of secretion would not be plentiful if the body of Fr. Sharbel secretes only one gram daily. 

    Secondly: You know better than me the inadequate education of the monks on the medical field, especially those of this convent who spend their day in the field and don't know except for prayer and manual labor. I believe that the simplicity of the monks, their negligence and their failure to take care of the body, were sufficient to adhere to the corruption of the body, unless a supernatural force has protected it.

    I also said: During the war, I saw people die of hunger after having spent long days without food, their stomachs were empty and dry, and their bodies deteriorated after seven hours of their death; also the typhoid patients who survive about twenty-five days, drinking only water, and the water secretes from the body, but few hours after death, their bodies began to decompose; in addition, cold, humidity and heat help to decompose the body, all these factors are not protective elements, but rather destructive for the body, yet all these phenomena have been exposed to the body of Fr. Sharbel; assuming that the monks had discovered the ancient Egyptian method of mummification, how could they stimulate the body to exude fluid.

    In a word the body of Fr. Sharbel is preserved by a supernatural force, and I am ready to pay the sum of ten-thousand francs as an award- a high sum for me to afford- to the one who can keep a corpse in the same case.

 

5 - This is medically impossible!

    The attorney in the canonization process, asked him: Couldn't this secretion be a result from an injection of plasma into the body through a syringe?

    He replied: It is medically impossible, because this plasma is found in the body of man and it isn't a pharmaceutical product; I studied pharmaceutical before medicine, and I had practiced it for some time, I have my legal degrees from the School of Lyon. Who can donate blood for twenty-seven years to get it then injected into the body of Fr. Sharbel; moreover, the operation of the extraction of plasma from the blood can only be made by specialists, equipped with all necessary instruments for the preparation of this work; if possible, it wouldn't remain a secret. Who among the monks, who are renowned for their simplicity, would be able, if he obtained the plasma, to use it; let's assume all this was available, it would be impossible to inject the corpse after twenty-seven years from the death rather it becomes impossible after a month of death, because the veins and arteries through which must pass the plasma dry up shortly after the death, even the pores of the body are blocked which prevent any seepage.

6 - It only delays the corruption!

     He also asked him: "Could the extraction of the heart and liver result to such a case, or what could it result for?" He replied: "The pull out of the heart and liver, doesn't result for anything of this kind; while the extraction of the stomach, where the corruption starts, could delay the decay for a certaint



O: Other examinations

1 - Burning quicklime

     Before 1910, Dr. Najib Beik Khoury had summoned to examine the body; after the examination, he ordered to be placed under the feet, burning quicklime in order to absorb the blood and plasma and dry the body, as it was laid upright in a cupboard.  After some time, the doctor who was only nominally Maronite, found the body as it was; so he asked to remove the quicklime which had been put under the feet, and said: I put the quicklime believing that it would deteriorate the body, but I see this body is preserved, with a force which eludes the scientific knowledge, without doubt it is due to the holiness of Fr. Sharbel.

2 - It doesn't exist in the medical field

     Fr. Youssef Ehmej witnessed: In 1901 I was appointed a superior of the convent of St. Maron Annaya; the body was laying in his coffin at the corner of the church. As the secretion of fluid continued, I called the doctors: Georges Shekrallah, a friend of mine and my father's neighbor, Najib Beik Khoury from Ehmej, Wakim Nakhleh from Jbeil, and another Armenian doctor, they are all dead now. After their arrival, they transferred the body into a room in the convent near the church; they  put it on a sheet over a table, and each one examined it separately; I was with them with Saba in the room; they opened the body from the lower chest to the belly to discover the cause of the secretion of fluid and after a meticulous examination of the interior, they put back his clothes; leaving, I heard them talking  about the secreting from his body;  Dr. Shekrallah said: "I paid fifty pounds Ottoman for the one who can explain what's this substance? And what's the cause of the secretion?" Dr. Najib Beik Khoury said: "I do not know." The Armenian physician answered the same. To my question, they said this situation isn't normal, so we couldn't give a technical answer about it; Dr. Shekrallah said: "Do not ask us heavenly issues that do not exist in earthly medical field.

3- Dr. Elias Anaissi

    I saw in the convent of Saint Maron Annaya the body of Fr. Sharbel; when I approached from the coffin, I smelt an indescribable odor from the body it was similar to every odor emanating from the living bodies; after I had examined it and focused on it, I saw a substance oozing from the pores; a strange and scientifically inexplicable phenomenon in an inert body for many years; I repeated the examination on the body several times in different periods, it remained as it was.

 Signed, on 10/16/1926.

                                                                     4 - Examinations of 1927

    The body was examined and found; that the color in the total body is yellowish red, the skin is mostly dry but still soft on the hands and the back; the muscles were absorbed, and the absorption is particularly evident under the skin; the skin though dried, it is exuding a sticky substance, that has the color of the solid plasma, and smell like the scent of the decaying plasma, as if this substance is decomposed, as soon as it emerges from the invisible pores.

     A significant amount of hair still exists in the chest, chin, head, hands, and also in all sections which the hair grows, and the hair that was in his lifetime; this hair still held well as in a living body. The neck shows sections from the bones, cartilage and skin, as in dead bodies before the corruption. The eyes and nose are a little deformed because of the dripping of water from the roof of the tomb where he was first buried; the bones are well preserved even the nails. The joints are still moving and folding, when moved and turned. The chest and back still have the same appearance of a body after death; the belly is thinned; we see a twenty cm long scar, from the lower sternum to the left thigh, arising from a human surgery; in the stomach appear the traces of an iron like color, more salient than the body color, perhaps this is an indication that Fr. Sharbel was wearing an iron belt; the sexual organs are still visible; the knees bore the marks of callosity, indicating to his long kneeling; the soles of the feet, and the hands especially the left one, the most exposed to the sight and touch, showed scratches caused by human hands, the flesh visible beneath the skin is reddish-white; below the skull there is an opening, about four cm length and one cm wide, slashed by a knife; all the deformations on the body are caused by human hands, except for the eyes and nose, which have been deformed by the instillation of water. After Dr. George Shekrallah, opened the abdomen from left to right, and the middle of the chest, the abdomen was reopened where there still very little guts: the intestines, the stomach and the liver were extracted; as for the skin and its layers, they were flexible and preserved; they opened the skin layers, before the committee, the layers were still intact and uncorrupted, like those of an animal slaughtered two days ago.


P: Till the year 1950

1 - The transfer of the body

     In 1927 the body of Fr. Sharbel was laid in the tomb by the order of the  Holy See; after the four walls were coated with sand molded with lime and covered with a layer of cement;  the same layer of plaster covered the ground, then the walls and ceiling bleached with lime; that tomb was in the wall inside the convent, on the ground floor, near the south gate, formerly used as a hen-house; this basement became a new tomb for Fr. Sharbel;  he remained there from 1927 until April 1950. On the epitaph, it was written only the following expression: This is the tomb of Fr. Sharbel.

2- Saint Veronica's Veil

    The Superior General ordered, to open the door of the church and allowing women to pass through it -because it was forbidden for women to enter the church.  At the same time, the visitors observed some moisture in the bottom of the wall where the coffin was placed, so they informed the superior of the monastery; this latter and the monks suspected that the rain might had been infiltrated inside the tomb and affected the body; the superior came accompanied by Immanuel Immanuel at ten o'clock p.m. and started digging, Immanuel asked the superior: What do you think, if I dig and see what's under the Saint? He replied:  Do what you want.

    Immanuel witnessed: the Superior Fr. Boutros Abi Younes asked me in early February 1950 to execute the order, and begin the excavation work. I began to remove the stones; initially we started this project to see if the moisture had damaged the grave and the body; I opened the tomb and went down, lantern in my hand, I found it dry from all sides; but I saw the water dripping from the coffin and turned into a puddle, and found the body and the clothes were all wet; the seepage of liquid was from the body and was stored in the coffin, which was rusted by the zinc and made a hole so the water slopped outside and infiltrated from the wall, and the people saw it; then I asked the superior to bring me the baptismal vessel from the church with some towels. 

    Before me laid a man! Yes, a man! A dead man! His hand was soft, so I dared to kiss it! His hands were seeping water as if he was a living man who was sweating; the more I wiped his sweat the more he oozed profusely! I cut out of his flesh a piece of twenty cm length, five cm width, then I took another piece smaller than the first, and put it in my pocket. I also pulled up two canines and a tooth. The superior came and wiped the face and the hands of Fr. Sharbel with a white cloth; his image imprinted on it, and then we closed the tomb.  

   The next day we went to Beirut and informed the Superior-General Andari about what we did; he blamed the Superior of the monastery for having taken this decision without seeking the authority approval; this latter apologized saying: he only sought to know the source of the water, because he feared it would penetrate from outside and corrupt the body; then the Superior-General informed the Commission of investigation, including the lawyer of faith Fr. Mansour Awad, about what had happened. The next day, people overflowed by thousands to Annaya to visit the tomb of St. Sharbel, we didn't know how they knew about what had happened;  many miracles and healing took place through His intercession, which also reported to the press and listed in the records of the monastery. Whoever enters the monastery now, could see near the gate, a room full of crutches left behind by those who have obtained the healing through the intercession of Fr. Sharbel, a sign for their gratitude. 

3 - Shroud of Jesus Christ

     Abbot Andari explained: Then a petition was presented to the Patriarch, to appoint a committee of doctors to examine the body. The appointed doctors were: Youssef Hitti, Shikri Milane, Teophile Maron. On April twenty-two the same year 1950, the Committee, the General Orders, the prelates, Bishop Aql, the vicar of the patriarch, the attorney for the canonization process Fr. Mansour Awad. and innumerable crowds -without knowing how they were informed about the event- they all gathered, and the tomb was opened, the coffin was placed in the church and the doctors opened it before all the above-mentioned; they found the clothes, the mat, the pillows, the dalmatic all wet;  they are all now preserved in the convent of Saint Maron. The doctors testified that the water didn't come from outside but from the body of Fr. Sharbel; they took a small sample from the body to examine it in the laboratory; they wrote a detailed report about everything they saw and examined; having raised the body, which was placed naked on the sheet to be tested, the features of the body of St. Sharbel was found imprinted on the sheet, as the image of Christ was imprinted on the Shroud on the moment of Resurrection.

  4 - What was found in the tomb and in the coffin?

    The body was found sweating; red blood was accumulated on the body itself, and on the priesthood clothes; the white blood was accumulated in the coffin till it covered the body and the clothes, and filled the coffin until the shoulder of the body; a part of the dalmatic got worn-out; the tube which they put inside it the two reports was rusted;  the bottom of the coffin was frayed and cracked under the legs of the body so the white blood gushed forth from it on the stone which is under the feet on the west side, and on the terrace of the tomb to the west, and gathered on the western wall and from there it leaked to the outside; the black blood accrued on the skin of the body; the body is still soft from inside, the hands and the feet are still able to be folded.

5 - Examination of the body and the closure of the tomb

     After the examining of the body, they dressed it with new clothes and new chasuble, and put it back into the same coffin then into the tomb; the access was locked by stones and cement, after the coffin had been sealed with red wax.

The changed-clothes were entrusted to the prosecutor of faith, with a quantity of soil that mixed with some plasma secreted from the body.

    In August 1950, they reopened the tomb, and the examination took place before a clerical committee, consisted from Bishop Boulos Aql, the prosecutor of faith, Fr. Mansour Awad, Bishop Abdallah Njeim, the superior general Fr Andari, the council, and many priests and monks. Also a Committee of doctors was present consisting of; the doctors from the previous Commission, with Dr. Mershed Khater, the dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Damascus, an Armenian doctor who came especially from Egypt to examine the body, Dr. Elias Al-Khoury, who was the Minister of Health, and other doctors. Also the Mayor of Kesrwan Toufiq Haidar was present, with the representative of the former President Mansour Lahhoud, and the wife of the ex-president Mrs. Laure Khoury and many others. After the committee members had taken the oath in the chapel, they opened the tomb before the whole assembly and took out the coffin. Then the doctors entered the grave, before them Dr. Mourshed Khater; they examined the walls, which proved to be dry and there was no way that water could enter to the tomb through them; but they found burgundy-color secretion under the coffin toward the feet; they opened the coffin and saw the chasuble, the mat and the pillows, all wet with the fluid which was oozing from his body; in the hood you could see mold; the body was still intact in the same condition. Dr. Theophile Maron cut off from his chest a little piece and put it in a glass vial; the members of the Committee and all those assembled saw the plasma oozing from the sides of the cut. Then they changed his clothes and the chasuble, the mat and pillows. They sealed the coffin, put it back into the grave, and closed it as before. A detailed report describing the entire examination was written, and signed by the doctors and the clerical committee, a copy was placed in the coffin, and another delivered to the lawyer of the canonization process. When the coffin was opened on twenty-three April 1950, they found the metal container which they put the report inside it  at the time of burial in 1927, was riddled; while the report itself was still intact, except for the edges that were stained with maroon-color  due to the sweating.

6 - Exposition of the Body and visits

    When the body was transferred for the last time, they gave permission to expose it, by the order of ecclesiastical decree. The following people came to visit the body: the Syriac Catholic Patriarch, Cardinal Tabbouni and Cardinal Aghajanian and a large group of their clergy; with many bishops, as Bishops Njeim and Aql and other Maronite bishops.  Patriarch Antoun Arida celebrated the Mass in the hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul in their feast day.

    People flocked to visit his tomb; from all levels of society, young and old, illiterate and educated, Christians and non-Christians from Lebanon and the Arab countries, from Europe, United States and from all the world. Most of these visitors were suffering from various illnesses, disabilities and problems, which need the help and the divine assistance. Among the visitors the President Beshara Al-Khoury, ministers, deputies, statesmen; the groups continue to flock to his tomb, in particular, on Sundays and holidays, driven by their belief in the sanctity of Fr. Sharbel, and the efficacy of his intercession.


Q: Sharbel's Image

1 - A monk with a transparent body!
 

Bro. Elias Nohra witnessed: On Monday, May 8, 1950, the day of the feast of St. John the Evangelist, patron of our Missionaries Congregation, I headed, under the order of the Principal of the Apostles' School in Jounieh, Fr. Youssef Merhi, ( later bishop) to visit the monastery of Saint Maron Annaya with Fr. Boutros Shalhoub, Fr. Sassine Zaidan, professed brothers, novices, scholastic and servants, we were about forty people in the school bus. Arriving at noon, we visited the church, the tomb of Saint Sharbel and the convent, the crowd was immense, the number of patients afflicted with disabilities was great; the prayers in the church were continuous, and the public in the midst were participating in prayers with faith and fervor; we celebrated the ceremony of Saint Maron, then the Blessed Sacrament.
 
Sharbel's Image    >>>   

    After that a part of our team  ascended to the hermitage of Saints Peter and Paul, where I really wanted to take a picture with some brothers who were with me; the novice Youssef Antoun from Ebrine; on his right the student Hanna Ghosn from Dar-Baashtar; behind him a tree adjacent to the hermitage; to his right a young man who was visiting the shrine called Youssef Tannous from Hawqa; on his right Bro. Boulos Yazbek from Kartaba; seated before him Fr. Elias Abi Ramia from Ehmej, the head of the hermitage. The photo was taken with a camera "Kodak Broni". On May 9, we developed the film; and behold, before the young man from Hawka, was the image of a venerable monk; where we saw his face, his white beard, his hood on his head  and his right hand fingers blackened like a mummy. His body was transparent, dressed in a black habit like all Lebanese monastic monks; behind him appeared through his body, the stones and the herbs on the ground, as if the monk was from transparent glass; the figure of the monk appeared clearly, while kneeling, and it seemed closer to the camera from the other two young men standing behind him; his hood too was transparent. 

2 - I want to take a picture with you!

Youssef Tannous witnessed: I visited the hermitage of Sharbel on May 8, 1950. Some visitors from the Monastic of Kreim, came to me saying, would you like to take a picture with us? I replied, that's OK, and I stood up arms crossed. Then suddenly a monk appeared before me, saying: "I want to take a picture with you and sit in front of you."  Bro. Nohra Elias shot, suddenly the monk disappeared. After the development of the film, the monk who I only had seen, reappeared in the picture, those who knew him said that he was Saint Sharbel.  

3-This is the picture of Fr. Sharbel!

The attorney in the canonization process Fr. Mansour Awad, in cooperation with the Presidency of the Lebanese Order, in particularly the Abbot John Andari, showed this picture to the following: Alishaa Nakad who is the son of Wardeh, daughter of Hanna the brother of Fr. Sharbel; Bro. Gerges Nehemeh Lehfed; Fr. Elias Meshmesh; Fr. Youssef Ehmej; Fr Boutros Khalifa Maifouq; Fr Boulos Younan Meshmesh; Fr. Antonios Nehmeh; Fr. Youssef Saad Khoury from Meshmesh. They all knew Fr. Sharbel in his lifetime and testified under oath, that this is the image of the Fr. Sharbel, represented him suffering at the time of his agony; also his hand resembles to the one on the corpse of Fr. Sharbel. Mrs. Nouhad Shamy said: This is the photo of Fr. Sharbel.

4-The Superior General Ighnatios Al-Tannoury

    "The way of holiness" magazine wrote: We have enlarged the picture of Fr. Sharbel and collected about thirty pictures of the old fathers of the Order and then we went to Al-Tannoura asking him to recognize each of the fathers represented in the pictures; as a trick to know if he could recognize the image of Fr. Sharbel. Gradually, he gave us the name of the fathers on the photos; when he arrived to the photo of Fr. Sharbel, he took it stared at it, looked at it closely, no longer till the tears flowed from his eyes, then he kissed it, bathed it with his tears; we knew well that it was the miraculous image of Fr. Sharbel that appeared in the shooting of the photographer. We asked him: "Father, is this picture to one of your relatives or your loved ones, that it has touched you so deeply." He replied, sobbing like a child: "No, this is the picture of Fr. Sharbel, from where did you bring it? He never took a picture in his lifetime! 

5 - The distinguishable mark!

      Abbot Andari explains: This image has a distinguishable mark, well-known to all who were witnesses on April 22, 1950 upon the disclosure of the body of Sharbel in the monastery of Saint Maron Annaya; this mark is, the fingers on the right hand of the corpse that is unharmed; it appeared in the image as it is currently in his coffin; as if it was taken directly from it.


R: I will overflow of my Spiri (Ac 2,17)

1- the curing of a handycaped and a paralysed

Al-Inda