On this occasion, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Monsignor Peter Azar (Rector of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Seminary). “The Family of Saint Sharbel” participated in the celebration along with the Lebanese community in the area, as well as other pilgrims.
After the Holy Gospel, Monsignor Azar said in his Homily that three years ago he was privileged to preside and preach at the special liturgy consecrating and dedicating the Statue of Saint Sharbel; it is with deep joy that he join with all of us, people of good will in this wonderful celebration of the third anniversary of the dedication, in this Holy location honoring a star of the East, from Lebanon, Saint Sharbel Makhlouf.
Monsignor Azar added that it is a historic gathering that we give thanks to God for the deep fidelity of the Maronites to their rich heritage and their Catholic faith and as we ask Saint Sharbel and Our Lady of Lebanon to continue to give guidance and protection to those who seek it. Many details to share surrounding the miraculous works of God through the intercession of Saint Sharbel, but the most profound miracle of all is the restored faith of the people who are learning again to give thanks to God.
Monsignor Azar also added about the Lebanese faithful that they rekindled a brave and courageous faith which would face many persecutions; and many regimes attempted without success to stomp out that deep faith which was restored in Jesus Christ and in the Catholic Church.
Monsignor Azar concluded his Homily by saying: "May God through the intercession of Saint Sharbel grant us to have deep faith to stand firm especially in this difficult time of persecution of Catholicism and of the pain and the suffering of those who stand firm protecting the faith in Jesus Christ and dying for it, we all heard what happened in Iraq, what happens in all the world when you profess Jesus Christ as your Lord, you may die, but death my brothers and sisters is not the end; it is the beginning of the new life with God almighty. Amen.”
After the Mass, Fr. Azar led a procession with the relic of Saint Sharbel (placed in a cedar-shape reliquary) while the faithful followed singing Maronite hymns. At the shrine, they gathered for the final blessing with the relic. In conclusion of the celebration, the faithful approached to venerate Saint Charbel’s relic placed in front of the statue.
The miraculous healing of Miriam Awad from throat cancer in 1967 was accepted as the official miracle for canonization.
The doctor X-Rayed her whole mouth and took a sample for biopsy. He didn’t prescribe any treatment for this last disease. In this case, Mariam was doubtful of the nature of the disease. Since then, Mariam had started to pray to St Charbel.
The two tonsils were struck with cancer, which resulted in unbearable pain and difficulty in swallowing. In addition to this, her voice started to weaken. There was also redness in the tonsils, which grew to the size of walnuts. Mariam refused any treatment, including radiotherapy. Instead, she always asked St Charbel for either the cure for what she had been suffering from or the power to bear this disease. One day, while sitting in her bed, she prayed the following to St Charbel: “Provide me with the cure to this disease. You are the great saint who has cured the blind and the lame. When I recover from this illness, I’ll go to thank you in your shrine.” She asked for recovery in the evening and before retiring to bed. Next day, she was completely cured. When the lump started to disappear completely on the fourth day she was astonished with St Charbel. Not to mention the growths on her neck. The affected parts of her body no longer suffered pain. She became fully strong and sound. Then, Mariam came to pay her vow in the St Maron monastery, the tomb of St Charbel, thanking him for the cure he blessed her with.
The Tomb of saint Sharbel in Annaya-Lebanon. Image by Naanouh Productions
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