At the age of 23, he entered the Monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq (north of Byblos). After two-years as novice, he was sent to St. Maron monastery where he took the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience taking the name 'Charbel' in honor of a second-century martyr.
He was taught by Father Nimatullah (who later became Saint Hardini) in the Seminary of Kfifan between 1853 and 1856, where he studied philosophy and theology.
He was ordained a priest in Bkerky, the Maronite Patriarchate, on July 23rd, 1859.
For 16 years he lived in the St Maron's monastery – Annaya. Entering on February 15th, 1875, the Sts Peter & Paul hermitage, which belongs to that monastery. As a hermit, he spent his time in prayer and worship. He rarely had he left the hermitage where he followed the way of the saintly hermits in prayer, life and practice.
On December 16th, 1898 he was struck with an illness while performing the Sacrafice of the Holy Mass. He died on Christmas' eve, December 24th, 1898, and was buried in the St Maron monastery cemetery in Annaya. He had lived as a hermit for 23 years.
We may never have heard of this Holy Hermit had it not been for dazzling lights were seen around the grave. His mortal body which had been secreting sweat and blood, was transferred into a special coffin. Hordes of pilgrims started swarming the place to get his intercession, and through his intercession, God has blessed many people with recovery and especially spiritual graces.
In 1925, Carbel's beatification and canonization were proposed by Pope Pius XI himself.
Chaplet of St Charbel
In 1954, Pope Pius XII signed a decree accepting a proposal for the beatification. On December 5, 1965, Pope Paul VI officiated at the ceremony of the beatification of Father Charbel during the closing of the Second Vatican Council. In 1976, Pope Paul VI signed the decree of canonization. The canonization took place in the Vatican on October 9, 1977.
Among the many miracles related to Saint Charbel the Church chose two of them to declare the beatification, and a third for his canonization. These miracles are:
...The healing of Sister Mary Abel Kamari of the Two Sacred Hearts
...The healing of Iskandar Naim Obeid from Baabdat
...The healing of Mariam Awad from Hammana.
A great number of miracles have been attributed to Saint Charbel since his death. The most famous one is that of Nohad El Shami, a 55-year old woman at the time of the miracle who was healed from a partial paralysis. She tells that on the night of January 22, 1993, she saw in her dream two Maronite monks standing next to her bed. One of them put his hands on her neck and operated on her, relieving her from her pain while the other held a pillow behind her back.
When she woke up, Nohad discovered two wounds in her neck, one on each side. She was completely healed and recovered her ability to walk. She believed that it was Saint Charbel who healed her but did not recognize the other monk. Next night, she again saw Saint Charbel in her dream. He said to her: "I did the surgery to let people see and return to faith. I ask you to visit the hermitage on the 22nd of every month, and attend Mass regularly for the rest of your life”. People now gather on the 22nd of each month to pray and celebrate the Mass in the hermitage of Saint Charbel in Annaya.
Prayer for Intersession.
Lord, infinitely Holy and Glorified in Your Saints, You have inspired Charbel, the saint monk, to lead the perfect life of a hermit. We thank You for granting him the blessing and the strength to detach himself from the world so that the heroism of the monastic virtues of poverty, obedience, and chastity, could triumph in his hermitage.
We beseech You to grant us the grace of loving and serving You, following his example. Almighty God, Who has manifested the power of St. Charbel’s intercession through his countless miracles and favours, grant... my friend Sarah, peace, happiness, and to walk always in the holiness of your sight beside you forever. Through his intercession I pray.