Born Joseph Zaroun Makluf in 1828, St. Sharbel Makhluf was a Lebanese monk orphaned at age 3. He left his mountain village in 1851 to join Our Lady of Maifouk monastery. Then, he entered the Monastery of St. Maron where he took the name Sharbel to honor the 2nd Century martyr.
Sharbel was ordained a priest in 1859, spending 16 years, in all, at St. Maron in Annaya. He joined St. Peter and Paul Hermitage in 1875 where he lived for 23 years. Although he lived most of his life as a hermit, he was well known for his holiness and people would find him to ask for a blessing or to be remembered in prayer. An illness contracted while performing mass struck on Dec. 16, 1898. He died on Christmas eve and was buried at the monastery.
Dazzling lights appeared at his grave before his body was transferred to a special coffin. Pilgrims flocked to the site. Pope Pius XI first proposed canonization. Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1965 and canonized him in 1977. His feast day is December 24.