U.S. Catholics Learning of Lebanese Hermit Saint
Relics Make Stop at Holy Cross in Batavia During Tour
By Pat Szpekowski, Observer Correspondent
August 17, 2017

BATAVIA—The relics of St. Sharbel Makhlouf from Lebanon were on display at Holy Cross Parish, here, on Aug. 5 and remained in the church for nearly 24 hours.

The relics were honored with prayer by those who venerate this saint and others who have now become more aware of St. Sharbel — also known as St. Charbel — and his humility, powerful miracles and relevance in today’s world.

The relics, which contained a small bone fragment, blood, and a piece of his garments, arrived at Holy Cross at 2:30 p.m. from Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Lombard.

More than 125 people took part in a relic procession led by Father James Parker, pastor, and Deacon Larry Motyka.

Participants sang “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” and lightly tossed rose petals onto the reliquary as it was raised and carried by four parishioners into the church.

The first prayers before the relic were the rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and vespers according to the Maronite Catholic Rite.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and veneration of the relics were held later in the evening.

“We are more than blessed to have this grace-filled visit of the relics of a saint who is incorrupt,” said Simone Romanos.

She and her husband, George, and three children, Joseph, Sharbel, and Marie Therese, have been members of Holy Cross since 2010.

“St. Sharbel is amazingly active in the Church today with hundreds of miracles every year, very extraordinary healings, and innumerable conversions,” she said.

Romanos, who was instrumental in bringing the relics to her parish, was born in Lebanon and emigrated to the United States 30 years ago. She was raised in the Catholic faith of the Maronite Antiochan Church.

The legend and powerful stories of St. Sharbel in her home country have deeply touched her.

Romanos has participated in the Mass, rosary and prayers that are held on the 22nd of each month in Annaya, Lebanon with Nohad El Shami.

El Shami was paralyzed due to a stroke and attributes her 1993 healing, which left her with two scars, to prayers asking St. Sharbel to intercede.

Since then, tens of thousands of people gather on this anniversary day each month when her wounds open and bleed as a reminder of God’s power and glory.

The miracle is little known in the U.S., but word of it spreads more as devotion to St. Sharbel spreads..
“In a time of violence and confusion about the Middle East, St. Sharbel comes to bring us a message of peace and God’s love,” adds Romanos.

“Yes, the Church has saints in the Middle East, and St. Sharbel is celebrated in both the Maronite Antiochian Church and in the Roman Latin Church,” she adds. “He is the bridge between the east and the west and very generous with miracles all over the world.”

Among the participants were Alane Kleinschmidt, a member of St. Patrick Parish in St. Charles, and her granddaughter Brooke Graham from Sheridan.

“I felt it was very important to bring Brooke with me today and teach her about her faith,” said Kleinschmidt.

Graham read briefly about St. Sharbel and exclaimed she was surprised to learn he was a priest, a monk, and a hermit.

“Priests are everywhere helping others and a hermit is just alone,” she said.

After leaving Holy Cross, the relics were returned to Lombard until Aug. 22. St. Sharbel’s relics will then be taken to Our Lady of Mt. Lebanon-St. Peter Cathedral in Los Angeles, Calif.,, for permanent display and veneration in the United States.