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Life of Saint Charbel Also Read The Call of the Desert
 
From the Church of the Hermitage to the Church of the Monastery
From the book, Three Lights From the East, by Father Mansour Awad.

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The Opening of the Tomb by Patriarchal Decree

After the appearance and reappearance of the bright light on the cemetery and around the monastery, since the death of Father Charbel Makhlouf, and in order to satisfy the wishes of the faithful in the neighborhood who wanted to know the secret of the apparition of that brilliant light, together with the insistences of the monks that the tomb be opened to visitors, Fr. Anthony Mishmshany finally agreed and opened the tomb with the help of the monks to inspect the condition of the body. He detailed to the late Patriarch Elias Peter Howayek all that took place around the tomb since the death and burial of the hermit. He described the condition of the body and asked for permission to transfer it to another location in the monastery. The Patriarch, at first, did not agree to transferring the body from the tomb. Instead, he gave orders to keep the body there and to take measures to protect it by stopping the water from reaching the tomb and eliminating the dampness from it. The monks acquiesced to the order of the Beatitude. However, the Patriarch himself later became aware of the possibility of visitors entering the tomb furtively and mutilating the body by taking a relic from it. He then authorized the Superior of the monastery, in an exceptional way, to open the tomb and take the body from it, despite the fact that only a few months had elapsed since the death and burial of Charbel. (The body had not been embalmed.) The Patriarch also instructed the monks to keep the body of the hermit in a special coffin and to hide it somewhere in the church where the faithful would not be able to prematurely give him the honor and veneration due only to saints as this would be contrary to Canon Law and the monks would be held responsible. The Superior and the monks obeyed the orders of the Patriarch; they opened the tomb, removed the body and put it in a poor wooden coffin, without a cover, then placed it in the middle of the church. They kept it there for one night. The following day, they exposed the body to the sunlight in the corridor of the monastery, removed the soiled clothing and replaced them with clean garments. They covered the coffin and carried it to a place inaccessible to visitors, inside the north wall of the church, in the upper part called "al-manbash."

The Circumstances of the Tomb When Opened and the Condition of the Body Inside

Twelve monks were present when the tomb was opened the first and second time. Some had participated in the burial of Father Charbel on December 25, 1898. Now some of these monks, in April of 1899, opened the coffin, inspected the body of Charbel, dressed him in new clothing and hid his body in the "manbash."

There were other witnesses, monks and people from the neighborhood, who were also present. All these eyewitnesses, and others who were present at the time of the burial and had entered the tomb, testified before the tribunal that the tomb at the time of Father Charbel's burial, was empty except for some bones gathered in one corner. They testified that the center of the tomb was filled with mud and water and that water was seeping from the well and from the roof.

Most of these people also testified that the body of Father Charbel had been placed in the mud and water and that two planks of wood had been placed under it upon two stones, only when the Patriarch gave orders to do so in 1899.

All these witnesses who entered the tomb when the body was taken out in April of 1899 certified again that the tomb was a puddle of water and mud and gravel. They said that the body was immersed in water coming from the ceiling and the rain pipes on the roof of the church with the water pouring over the face of Charbel.

The body and clothing of the hermit were untouched by corruption. Despite all the terrible circumstances, the condition in which the body was found was exactly as it was when he died on the evening of December 24, 1898. His body was tender, his members were flexible, his muscles soft; there was no dryness in his skin and flesh; his beard was present in its entirety, the hair on his scalp was the same, and the monastic crown on his head was preserved as it had been at the moment of his death.

How amazing! Death and the sign of death could not prevail over the body of Charbel! His soul separated from the body, but many of the properties of a living remained intact for all these fifty-four years. (Fr. Mansour's book was printed in 1952, Fr. Charbel died in 1898. That is why we state fifty-four years).

The following are testimonies of venerable and respectable monks who knew the truth. They testified as to what they had seen with their own eyes, without adding or diminishing anything of what they remembered. Here also are the testimonies of the lay people, neighbors of the monastery, told with the simplicity of little children.

First, the testimony of Sab Bou-Moussey, concerning the time the tomb was first opened. He was among the first who placed the body of Father Charbel in his grave and the last to bid him farewell. He was the first to run to the grave to see him and verify if death had returned the body to the dust from which was taken. He said,

> Yes, I was present when the tomb was opened. The reason I was present was that I had a pain in my back as the result of an injury when lightning hit my house two years ago. I had tried all kinds of treatments, to no avail. I was bent forward and in continuous pain. If I walked a few hours, I had to rest for two days. Therefore, when I heard that the Patriarch had ordered the Superior of the monastery to open the tomb and to check the body, I went to the grave with the hope of being cured because I was sure Charbel was a saint. I asked the Superior to allow me to be the first to enter the tomb and he gave me his permission. I entered bending down because the entrance was low and narrow. I felt a severe pain in my back; my feet were immersed in mud about two inches deep. I found the body of Father Charbel exactly as we had placed it on the day of his burial; his clothes were dry. I uncovered his chest and the rest of his body and found it covered with mold of a blue color.

Then, Brother Elias Bmahreeney asked the Father Superior to enter the tomb after me. He did and removed two pieces of flesh that had fallen from the heels of the hermit's feet. I, however, wiped my hand over his back and his chest and rubbed my back with the blue mold that had stuck to my hand from his body, saying to Charbel "Now is your turn! You died in my hands and I did not ask you for anything. Cure me now." His body, all his muscles were soft, flexible, as they were when he was alive. I remember very well that his thumb and the finger of his hand, which I lifted up for the Superior to see, had no mold on them. The Superior then asked us to come out of the grave and gave orders to close it. <

The first miracle is summed up with Saba Bou-Moussey statement "After the closing of the grave, I went with the monks to Ehmej to attend the funeral of David Joseph Saad. I walked both ways, which took me two hours. When I came back home, my wife said to me," 'I see that you're not tired as usual. Did Father Charbel cure you?' I then came to the realization of the change concerning myself. I felt the spot on my body that had caused me so much pain and the hump on my back. I stood up and sat down. I bent to the right and to the left. I felt no pain at all!"


Sections: 1  2  3  4  5  6   |   << Previous :: Next >>

From the Church of the Hermitage to the Church of the Monastery
From the book, Three Lights From the East, by Father Mansour Awad.
 
Also Read The Call of the Desert
+  Charbel.org  Home + Life + Miracles + Photos + Links  + Hardini.org + Rafca.org + Maroun.org +

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