As a preface to this AsiaNews story, I want to briefly mention something I learned on two different trips to Lebanon, including Pope Benedict XVI’s trip in September 2012 to present the Apostolic Exhortation that was the concluding document of the special 2010 synod of bishops for the Middle East. Muslims, in case you were not aware, have a very great devotion to Mary as the Mother of Jesus who, for Muslims, is a prophet. It seems from today’s story they also have an interest in St. Charbel.

Our Lady of Harissa, just outside of Beirut, is a very popular destination for Muslims who, like their Christian counterparts, have a special place in their hearts for this particular shrine. I was able to visit the shrine on both my 2010 and 2012 trips to Lebanon and I took some splendid photos of the shrine and adjacent area, Here are just a few:

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A view from the top:

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Now here’s a wonderful story: As I was trying to take one photo, bending backward over the railing that circled up and around the stairway to the statue, this young man asked if I needed help. I learned he was sure I was about to fall over the railing and wanted to help! He took the photo for me and the three of us spoke for a few minutes.  He said his name was Fadi and he introduced his mother, mentioning that they were Lebanese Muslims devoted to Mary. It seems that Fadi’s mother, after years of trying without success to have a child, made a journey to Our Lady of Harissa, did some serious praying and found out, four days later that she was pregnant. Fadi and his mother visit this shrine every year on his birthday!

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I first saw an act of Muslim devotion to Mary, if you will, when I was a member of the Holy See delegation to the September 1995 U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing. Some members of the Iranian delegation brought a beautiful poster of Mary to Abp. Renato Martino, adjunct head of delegation, on Our Lady’s September 8th birthday. A lovely gesture that delighted our entire delegation.


(AsiaNews – Beirut) – Milan, a three-year old girl from a Sunni family in Syria, was healed thanks to the intervention of St. Charbel, the Lebanese hermit saint, canonized in 1977 by Pope Paul VI. The family is a family of refugees from Damascus, who arrived in Lebanon after the civil war that has been destroying the country more than four years.

The girl had a tumor and during treatment was also attacked by a very serious virus. Her mother’s  prayer to St. Charbel healed her daughter and now little Milan, seems to have a very special relationship with “Father Charbel.”

The episode occurred two months ago and is documented by the reports of OTV (Orange TV), in Arabic.  Below we publish the literal translation.

Some Christian devotions have spread in many parts of the Muslim world (such as devotion to Mary, Our Lady, and the desire to be freed from the devil.

Click here to see AsiaNews and the video that tells Milan’s story (Translation of Arabic is below):

Speaker: Emigrated from Damascus to Ta’albeya, having fled the terror of Daesh [Arabic acronym for the Islamic State-ed], in search of peace and security she was gripped by a tumor just as she was blowing out the candles of her second year of life:

– (Mother) “Her type of cancer is very difficult, because her tumor, disappears and reappears regularly and each time it returns, it grows stronger threatening to take her away from us. This is due to the fact that following the transplant she was hit by a virus called CNP, a highly dangerous virus, as deadly as her illness. She took really powerful drugs but the disease didn’t go away. Indeed, over time, it worsened dramatically. So, we kind of reached a decision for her own peace of mind to take her out of hospital, placing ourselves in God’s hands, waiting to see what would happen”.

(Soundtrack: The song of Majida El Rumi dedicated to St Charbel: “He drowned in his own pain, light oil lamps“)

Speaker: A lengthy Golgotha ​​for little Milan who suffered so much pain, but the faith of her mother saved her.

(Soundtrack: The song of Majida El Rumi dedicated to St Charbel: “O Charbel Charbel help us oh help us, O Charbel protect us, O Charbel protect all of us”

– (Mother): I brought her here to Zahle [Christian village in the Bekaa Valley that houses a shrine of St. Charbel- ed] on a pilgrimage. The next day, Tuesday, we went to the doctor for another analysis of the virus, and the doctor told me that the test result was negative, all of a sudden there was no trace of the virus. A miracle had eradicated the virus from her body. ”

(Soundtrack: The song of Majida El Rumi dedicated to St Charbel: “You whose gifts give glory to Lebanon!”

Speaker: Charbel took the hand of this Sunni Muslim family to defeat, through his intercession, the disease of their small child, their little girl, through his intercession.

– (Mother): “It was 8 pm, and on the way back home, she had fallen asleep. When Milan woke up she said ‘Today, Father Charbel came to see me’ ”

– (Milan): “Father Charbel told me, I prayed to God to heal you! He gave me water and it was enough ”

(Soundtrack: The song of Majida El Rumi dedicated to St. Charbel, “Leave me like an Oak kneeling in front of  the vine that is pressed but never destroyed”.

Speaker: The relationship that unites the three-year old girl with St. Charbel is an extraordinary relationship, a friend in times of sadness, her refuge to feel less pain, his church is the only place where she feels safe.

– The Mother: “Whenever she feels pain, she goes and takes the holy card of St. Charbel, cries, then starts to talk to him, but I do not know what she says or understand the nature of this relationship that unites them. These things no one knows except the two of them.”

(Soundtrack: The song of Majida El Rumi dedicated to St Charbel: “O Charbel Protect, Protect us!”

Little Milan: “I love you very much St. Charbel!”