Beirut (AsiaNews) – Lebanon, Annaya convent and the village of Bkaa-Kafra (northern Lebanon) celebrated the 40th anniversary of the canonization on 9 October 1977 of Saint Charbel Makhlouf (May 8, 1828 – December 24, 1898 ).
It was a moving moment for Lebanon, emerging from two years of violence that broke out on 13 April 1975. A war destined to resume and lead Lebanon to the bottom of the abyss, estimated to have killed 6% of the active population, forcing 700,000 to 3 million Lebanese to (provisionally or definitively) leave for other horizons. Lebanon struck and then fell into an irreversible economic disaster, accumulating a $ 70 billion debt. During Mass for the canonization of Saint Charbel, Pope Paul VI had defined the canonization as a “great joy” for the “whole Church, from East to West”.
Even today, Saint Charbel, who continues the founding experience of Saint Maron, is a sign of unity for Lebanese. According to Father Louis Matar, an economist at the convent of Annaya, the healings that happen through his intercession do not know “geographical or religious boundaries”.
“Everyone who invokes him collects the fruits of his holiness, both in the form of healing and consolation from suffering … The Lord refuses nothing, because Charbel has not rejected him, and nothing is impossible for God.”
Fr. Matar points out that nearly 10% of the cases of miraculous healing recorded in Annaya since July 2017 concern non-Christians. He also claims to have received a few weeks ago the visit of Hassan Ali Fakih, a Lebanese Shiite native to Roub Talatine (Marjayoun), an inhabitant of Hay el-Sellom whom the saint had miraculously healed from crushed nerve to his left heel, due to a bone that was incorrectly set.
In this 40th anniversary of Charbel’s canonization, the “deep wrinkles” etched by the war on Lebanon’s face have not yet completely disappeared, but with healing and consolation, the hermit from Annaya does his best to help men to awaken to “God-with-them” who “will wipe every tear from their eyes” on the day that “there will be no more death” (Revelation 21).