Feast Day: July 24
Canonized: October 9, 1977
Beatified: December 5, 1965
Venerated: July 15, 1965
Youssef (Joseph) Makhlouf was a shepherd in a small Lebanese village. He was raised by an uncle after his father died in 1831 when Youssef was just 3.
Youssef was a faithful disciple of Jesus as a member of the Catholic Maronite Church. Maronites are part of the Eastern Rite, or branch, of the Church. Two of his uncles were Maronite monks. Their example of lifelong prayer inspired Joseph. He, too, wanted to devote his life to God. When he was 23 years old, he walked for 10 hours to the Maronite monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq. He asked permission to join the order.
The monks welcomed Joseph. They gave him a new name as a sign that he had left his old life behind him. His new name was Sharbel, after a famous monk who died as a martyr.
In 1858, when he was 30, Sharbel completed his priestly studies and was ordained. He was happy living in community with his fellow monks. It is said that he had a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Some Maronite priests are called to live apart from the community as hermits so that they can deepen their relationship with God. Sharbel asked permission to become a hermit. At first his request was denied, but eventually his superior felt that he was ready for this strict way of becoming one with the Lord.
Sharbel spent the rest of his life — from 1875 until he died in 1898 — as a hermit, fasting and praying for others. Word of his holiness spread from village to village. People would travel great distances to ask him to pray for their needs. The only time Father Sharbel left the hermitage was to bring Holy Communion to villages without a priest.
He was named a saint in 1977. We celebrate St. Sharbel’s feast day on July 24 each year. His love for the Eucharist reminds us that we are privileged to be able to receive the Body and Blood of Christ every week.
Connecting to Blest Are We® Parish and School
Grade 6, unit 2