By ADAM SCHRADER
Published in The Dallas Morning News on Nov. 29, 2015
Relics of St. Charbel, the patron saint of Lebanon, will be on display at a Lewisville church Monday and Tuesday.
The relics, which include part of the saint’s skeleton, are visiting Maronite Catholic churches throughout the United States. All are invited to see the relics of the 19th-century monk at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church, 719 University Place in Lewisville.
St. Charbel has been credited with miracles worldwide.
Parishioner Nada ElGhreichy said her brother was injured during the Lebanese civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990.
“He got a bullet in his head and was in a coma for two months. Doctors said if he survived, it would be as a vegetable,” ElGhreichy said. “He said Saint Charbel appeared to him seven times. Now my brother is alive, married and lives in Frisco.”
ElGhreichy said she expects people to come from across North Texas to see the relics, particularly to pray after recent terrorist attacks in Beirut.
“I have many friends that are not Maronite or Lebanese, but they pray for Lebanon,” she said. “We have some members of the church drive from Mesquite, Fort Worth and farther to attend Mass.”
ElGhreichy said she returns to Lebanon every year. It has become tradition to go visit the monastery where St. Charbel lived.
“Many people are healed through their visits and they leave there crutches there,” she said.
Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in Beka-Kafra, Lebanon, in 1828. He joined the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, when he was 23 and took the name Charbel. Charbel became a monk in 1853 and was ordained a priest in 1859, spending most of his religious life at the Annaya monastery. He died of a stroke during Christmas Eve Mass in 1898.
Pope Pious XI proposed Charbel’s beatification and canonization in 1925. Miracles attributed to him multiplied after his grave was opened for inspection in the canonization process in 1950. Followers from different religions started making the pilgrimage to the Annaya monastery.
Pope Paul VI canonized him in 1977. St. Charbel was the first Maronite saint formally canonized in Rome.
The Rev. Assaad ElBasha, a priest at Our Lady of Lebanon, said St. Charbel is revered worldwide among all Catholics.
Maronites, unlike churches in the Roman Catholic rite, are governed by a Roman Catholic diocese and a Maronite Catholic eparchy. The Roman Catholic diocese overseeing Our Lady of Lebanon is in Fort Worth. The eparchy, led by A. Elias Zaidan, is in St. Louis.
Our Lady of Lebanon parishioners were excited Sunday as they prepared to welcome Bishop Michael Olson of the Fort Worth diocese to their Monday night Mass.
Mattye Thompson, parish secretary of Our Lady of Lebanon, said visitors may touch rosaries to the handcarved reliquary, which would transform it into a third-degree relic of St. Charbel, meaning it touched a second-degree relic and would be considered blessed.
“It’s incredible we get the relics at the church,” she said. “I didn’t feel worthy to touch it.”
On Monday, a veneration of the relics will begin at 3 p.m., a liturgy of the hour will start at 6 p.m. and Mass will be at 7. Rosary will follow at 8 p.m. On Tuesday, there will be a rosary at 8:30 a.m., a Mass at 9 and veneration from 10 to noon.
These are the second relics to draw worshippers to a Catholic church this month. The body of St. Maria Goretti, of the Roman Catholic rite, was displayed in a glass coffin at Dallas’ St. Monica Catholic Church in early November.
“It’s incredible we get the relics at the church,” says Mattye Thompson, parish secretary of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church.