Born in Lebanon, Sharbel Makhlouf was brought up in a tight knit village community high up in the mountains by an uncle who didn’t approve of his love of prayer and solitude and had other plans for him. Sharbel broke from family and village to enter the monastery of St. Maron where he became a monk and then a priest.
Then, following the example of the desert saints, Sharbel became a hermit, distancing himself further for the next 23 years from the society he lived in.
But like the desert saints– like St. Anthony of Egypt who attracted others into the desert by his life of prayer and solitude– Sharbel became a trusted guide and friend to those who came to the small rooms he provided in his hermitage for those seeking his wisdom.
They found him free from the lure of success, the love of money, the demands of society and family expectations. He reminded them of what’s above all: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.
Many miracles occurred after his death. Pope Paul VI said of him at his canonization in 1988: ” May he make us understand, in a world largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God.”