Christians and Muslims trust the saint to be spared from illnesses. Devotees have been taking the earth that covers his ancient sepulchre. A young woman claims that he appeared to her in a dream and entrusted her with a mission. Thanks to her, people hospitalised in Beirut will be able to receive an unusual remedy. “Some will laugh at it; others will put God to the and say, let's see; and a few will finally receive it in faith and heal. They are the winners,” priest says.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Father Louis Matar, the bursar of the Monastery of Saint-Maron in Annaya, guardian of the tomb of Saint Charbel, did not know how right he was when he said that “In a month, there will be no more earth left in the vault of Saint Charbel.”
Using knives and spoons, believers have been fervently digging and collecting, for a week, a few spoonsful of the earth that covers the primitive vault where the body of Saint Charbel was laid to rest at his death (1898), at the entrance of the monastery, in the hope that it will protect them against the coronavirus.
Unexplained lights, considered supernatural by ordinary people, appeared four months after his death above what is today a mound covered with earth above which hangs a large portrait of Saint Charbel. This led to the reopening of the vault, from which the saint's body was removed, uncorrupted, to be placed in a coffin inside the monastery.
“The earth covering the vault is still infused with the light that appeared on the tomb," said Fr Louis Matar, who writes down the statements of people who tell him of their miraculous healing at the saint’s intercession.
Speaking on the OTV channel, Fr Matar said a week ago that a young woman from Annaya reported that Saint Charbel, to whom she is greatly devoted, visited her in a dream and asked her to boil a little earth taken from the earthy crust of the vault before putting it through industrial filtering. The saint, still in the dream, is said to have told the young woman to go the Rafic Hariri hospital, claiming that the liquid thus obtained would cure patients suffering from coronavirus.
We know that a whole wing of the Rafic Hariri University Hospital in Beirut has been set aside for quarantined coronavirus patients. One dedicated floor has about a hundred beds.
Fr Matar's predictions are coming to pass. The monk said that he expects all the earth in the vault would be gone before the 22nd of the month, the day of a monthly procession conducted in honour of the saint and which draws several thousands of people. “We will bring fresh earth and cover it with grass," he said when asked what the monastery plans to do. Meanwhile, the usually large crowd is getting bigger. “It took 3 and a half hours for pilgrims from Jbeil to reach Annaya,” said the clergyman. On Sunday, the monastery gate did not close before 1am.
Following the instructions received in her dream, the young woman, 25, who asked her name not be used, went to the government hospital a first time only to be turned away by the doctor in charge. The latter asked her to leave the bottle with the therapeutic liquid, but she refused, fearing it might end up thrown away. However, patients who had heard about it protested against the ban and asked that heaven be given a chance.
Accompanied by an OTV cameraman and journalist, the young woman, whose face was blurred, presented herself yesterday to the director of the government hospital, Dr Firas el-Abiad, to whom she handed over the bottle, in the presence of Dr Mahmoud Hassoun, the doctor responsible for the hospital’s coronavirus ward. The young woman recognised Dr Hassoun as the doctor to whom, in her dream, she had returned the boiled and filtered water. The latter in turn entrusted the bottle to Dr Pierre Abi Hanna. This unusual remedy will be offered today to patients who request it, knowing that eleven people diagnosed yesterday will be admitted today at the Rafic Hariri hospital, bringing to 41 the number of sick or quarantined people in the facility.
Her mission accomplished, the young woman went to Annaya yesterday to give thanks and see the renewed fervour that her action has sparked. "One doesn’t need a baptismal certificate to go to Annaya," said Lazarist Fadi Bassil, a former parish priest in charge of the Bechouat shrine, re-assigned by his order to the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal, rue du Bac, in Paris. He welcomed the fact that "Saint Charbel brings Christians and Muslims together, who see him as a ‘wali,’ a holy person endowed with wisdom and healing power.”
"Faith is something that God finds on the lips of the simple," he said. This "does not contradict science, but sometimes asks hard questions". For example, “In the Bible, one can read the story of a great army general with leprosy, who went to the Prophet Elisha for healing. The latter recommended he =immerse himself seven times in the water of the Jordan River and then turned his back on him. Offended, the general was about to go home when one of his servants told him: ‘If this prophet had asked you for something hard, would you not have done it? That is even truer if he asks you to wash yourself in water.’ The general obeyed and his skin became as clean as that of a child.
“Whether this young woman had a real revelation or not, it is ultimately faith that counts, faith in the power of God present in this sip of filtered water that we shall receive. Some will laugh at it; others will test God and say, let's see; a few will finally receive it in faith and heal. They are the winners.”