Today is the feast of St. Sharbel Makhlouf, or Charbel, monk, priest, and hermit of Lebanon. He joined the Lebanese Maronite Order in 1851, and was granted permission to enter the eremitic life in 1875, in which he stayed until his death on Christmas Eve in 1898. The Maronite Catholic Church began as an ascetic movement, St. Maroun himself having been an open-air hermit, so hermits are very important to it as part of carrying forward its heritage. A few months after his death, there were reports of a bright light shining over his grave, and people have ever since traveled to his grave at Annaya for healing.
A little-known fact: there is a fossil crustacean, Charbelicaris maronites, a probable relative of the modern-day lobster, named after him, due to its discovery in Lebanon.
Feast of St. Sharbel
O Christ our Light, You fill the earth with light;
You choose worthy teachers to teach Your Church,
securing the good of those who love God,
molding Your people into Your image.
You give Your saints the word of life and truth;
as flame to flame they kindle ardent faith,
each a star to show us the path of life.
From Sharbel's hermitage a great light shines:
through his prayers we receive salvation,
through his intercessions, health of spirit.
O Sharbel, you found the pearl of great price,
giving everything that you might have it.
Our Lord Jesus Christ called you to follow,
and without hesitation you followed.
Cedars grow tall on Liban hills,
life rooted deeper than human will;
flame is bright over muddy grave
of a hermit-saint who hid his face;
the heart is kissed by burning light
as cedar soars to sun and sky,
is charged with day without a night,
and burns but is not burned.