A Lebanese hermit who live in the last century was proclaimed a saint by Pope Paul at a canonization ceremony at the Vatican on Sunday (9 October).
A Lebanese hermit who live in the last century was proclaimed a saint by Pope Paul at a canonization ceremony at the Vatican on Sunday (9 October). The hermit, Charbel Makhlouf is officially accredited by the Vatican as being the cause of some spectacular miracles. Addressing the huge crowd attending the canonization ceremony, Pope Paul called on the new Saint to help war-torn Lebanon "heal the wounds still open in the country and proceed on the path of hope".
SYNOPSIS: Pope Paul the sixth was brought to the ceremony in the manner reserved for solemn occasions.
Many Maronite Christians were among the congregation, estimated by observers at about 12,00 people. Many others waited outside the Basilica during the ceremony.
Pope Paul led the canonization ceremony and Mass. He was assisted by the Patriarch of the Maronites, Antoine Pierre Khreish. The Vatican changed its canonization procedures four centuries ago, and this ceremony was the first of its kind performed there for a member of an Eastern rite church since then.
The Pope made a concession to the Eastern churches that recognise Papal authority by including in the complex service several phrases in ancient Syrian. The new saint Charbel, Lebanon's first saint, was born in 1828 and spent the last 23 years of his life as a hermit. The Vatican spent 50 years intensively investigating claims of his extraordinary powers.
While the canonization ceremony was under way in Rome, thousands of pilgrims converged on the northern Lebanese hill town of Annaya, blocking roads in the area.
Many pilgrims visited the Saint Peter and Paul Hermitage near Annaya. St. Charbel spent the last years of his life there, living as a hermit, a position reserved for "perfect" monks.
The statue of Charbel, many pilgrims claim, is the means by which they say miracles have occurred. A seamstress had claimed that a teenage boy paralysed by polio "threw down his crutches and walked" after being held up to the statue. Church authorities have credited St. Charbel with numerous miracles.
In Annaya, this marked the climax of the day that Charbel Makhlouf became a saint. Sects throughout Lebanon have acknowledged his canonization.