Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in 1828, in Bekaa Kafra (North Lebanon) to Antoun Zaarour Makhlouf and Brigitta Chidiac, a poor family. They lived in the village of Bekaa Kafra, possibly the highest in the Lebanese mountains. His father, a mule driver, died in August 1831, returning from corvée for the Turkish army, leaving his wife a widow to care for their children. Later she remarried a man who went on to seek Holy Orders and became the parish priest of the village.
From childhood his life revealed a calling to “bear fruit as a noble Cedar of Lebanon.” Charbel “grew in age and wisdom before God and men.” He had a true Christian upbringing, which had given him a passion for prayer. Then he followed his two hermit uncles in the hermitage of the St Antonious Kozhaya monastery and was converted to monastic and hermetical life.
At 23 years old he left his family village and headed to the monastery Our Lady of Maifouk monastery to spend his first monastic year, and then he went to the St Maron monastery in Annaya, where he entered the Maronite Order, carrying the name Charbel, a name of one of the Antioch church martyrs of the second century. After two years of novitiate, in 1853, he was sent to St. Maron monastery where he pronounced the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.Read More »