On the 22nd of each month, thousands of people from all over the world unite in prayer and fasting.
They celebrate Mass honoring the miraculous healing of Nohad El Shami. Through St. Charbel Makhlouf’s intercession, she was cured in 1993 of hemiplegia in Lebanon.
This Maronite Catholic tradition spreads from east to west.
Many Christians from diverse backgrounds, and even some Muslims from various parts of the world, gather together on this day seeking the powerful intercession of this great monk, hermit, priest, miracle-worker, mystic and saint.
Who is St. Charbel?
Born on May 8, 1828 in Bekaa Kafra, North Lebanon, and orphaned at a young age, Youssef Antoun Makhlouf nevertheless was completely wrapped in God’s love and focused on serving Christ.
St. Charbel lived as a hermit from 1875 until his death in 1898, where he followed the Maronite traditions of the monastic life. There, he prayed, fasted and performed extraordinary acts of penance.
He was deeply devoted to the Eucharist and spent hours in prayer both before and after Mass. To St. Charbel, silence and love was the language of God. He became an instrument of His truth and wisdom by listening to God’s Word.
While celebrating Mass in 1898, St. Charbel suffered a stroke. He died eight days later at age 70.
When monks from the nearby monastery discovered his death, they rushed to see him and to pray beside his body.
His hermitage was extremely cold at 4600 feet above sea level, especially after snowing in the dead of night.
Reflecting on his meekness, self-abandonment and perseverance in the face of immense suffering, one monk said, ‘If we’re suffering so much for only one night, how was Fr. Charbel able to live here for twenty-three years?’
After St. Charbel was buried in the monastery cemetery, many local villagers reported seeing a dazzling white light emanating from his tomb and radiating throughout the monastery.
After four months passed, permission to open his grave was granted and to the astonishment of all present, his body was perfectly preserved.
He was re-clothed and placed in a wooden coffin in the monastery’s chapel. However, liquid exuded from his body’s pores, which was combined of blood and moisture.
St. Charbel’s body remained intact for 67 years. Today, only his bones remain, but reports of hundreds of cures and miracles have emerged from those who visited his tomb.
St. Charbel’s modern-day miracle: Why thousands gather worldwide on the 22nd of each month
One of the many miracles attributed to St Charbel is the healing of Nohad El Shami from Mezarib in Mount Lebanon. At the time of the miracle, Shami was a 55-year-old mother of twelve.
On January 9, 1993, she suffered hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body), due to the obstruction and blockage of portions of both her left and right brain arteries.
Her doctors concluded that recovery was unlikely, as no treatment for her condition existed.
Her eldest son, Saad, visited the Sts. Peter and Paul hermitage in Annaya (where St. Charbel spent most of his days in prayer, silence and solitude), seeking the saint’s powerful intersession.
He brought back consecrated oil and soil from St. Charbel’s tomb to give to his mother.
When Nohad returned home, her health did not improve. She spent several days in constant, agonizing pain. However, one night, she dreamed that St. Charbel gave her Holy Communion while attending Mass in the hermitage in Annaya.
On January 22, 1993, Nohad had another dream. She dreamed of two monks standing beside her bed: one with his hands on her neck as he operated, while the other monk relieved her pain.
When Nohad woke up, she noticed two surgical wounds on her neck, and that she could move her whole body again. She was completely and miraculously cured from hemiplegia!
The following night, St. Charbel again visited her in a dream, saying, “I did the surgery to let people see and return to their faith. I ask you to visit my hermitage in Annaya on the 22nd of every month and attend Mass regularly for the rest of your life.”
All it took was one powerful dream and the miraculous healing of this faith-filled woman to transform the hearts and minds of thousands today.
Here’s a video with Nohad El Shami showing her devotion to St. Charbel:
On the 22nd of every month in Lebanon, so many people flock to pray and celebrate Mass in the hermitage of St. Charbel in Annaya.
Not only has this tradition on the 22nd of each month united many Christians and Muslims in the Middle East, but it has also spread from the small land of Lebanon to other parts of the world.
Below a Muslim mother takes her sick child to St. Charbel’s tomb for healing:
Over the years, St. Charbel’s powerful intercession has resulted in many miracles on this day.
Despite the persecution, bloodshed and martyrdom suffered by so many Christians under the Ottoman Empire, other powerful saints just like St. Charbel have emerged from the ashes of hardship, including St. Rafqa and St. Nimatullah Hardini.
The blood of these brave martyrs and faith of these great saints keep Christianity alive in the land of the cedars to this day, and will do so for generations to come.
Even though many Maronites have fled war-torn Lebanon over the years, seeking refuge in other parts of the world, the Maronite spirit never wavers, for centuries of hardship mold it into one of strength, perseverance, resilience, and fierce loyalty to the truth.
So today, on the 22nd of this month, let us stand united with our Maronite brothers and sisters, and thousands of others worldwide, praying for St Charbel’s intercession.
O Lord Jesus, you inspired the saint, monk and hermit Charbel to live and die in your path and you gave him the strength to detach himself from the world in order to make triumph, in his hermitage, the monastic virtues.
We implore you to bestow upon us the grace to love you and serve you, following his example.
God Almighty, who have manifested the power of St. Charbel’s intercession, by numerous miracles and favors, grant us our petition(s) through his intercession.