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Charbel's devotion in Russia and Mexico

Saint Charbel

CHARBEL'S DEVOTION IN RUSSIA AND MEXICO



Anatoly Bayukansky, editor-in-chief of the Russian monthly magazine Lekar (Physician), first learned about St. Charbel upon reading an article in the Belarus monthly Odkryvtsa.
He learned that the Lebanese saint cured numerous illnesses and helped people to discover and embrace the treasure of the Christian faith. In 1997 Anatoly decided to run an article about St. Charbel (including his picture) in his magazine. The response was overwhelming. Over 5000 letters flowed into his editorial office from Russia and Belarus with personal accounts of miraculous healings and favors attributed to the intercession of St. Charbel.

He found this all the more amazing since, after so many years of Communist-enforced atheism, the Russian people are not inclined to believe in miraculous cures, especially those attributed to a Catholic saint. In five subsequent publications of Lekar, Anatoly published photographs of St. Charbel, along with numerous testimonies of cures ascribed to his intercession. Readers wrote of being healed of every kind of incurable sickness: advanced cancers, paralyses, gangrene, unconsciousness, comas, as well as other, lesser, afflictions. Alas, Anatolyís articles and books on St. Charbel were not well received by many orthodox priests and Russian journalists. He was severely criticized for propagating the cult of a Catholic saint, and some orthodox priests called on their parishioners to burn images of St. Charbel.

Anatoly Bayukansky made a pilgrimage to St. Charbelís tomb. He took with him the letters sent to him by his readers, to place them on the holy hermitís tomb. The pilgrimage greatly strengthened his faith. Since many of his incurably sick readers had received the grace of a total healing, he felt palpably close to St. Charbel and his miraculous intercession with God. Anatoly became convinced that everything is possible for those who truly believe and trust in God, and pray for the intercession of the Saints.

St Charbel is equally revered in Mexico. Embedded in its vast population is a small community of Lebanese Maronite immigrants. They brought with them their devotion to St Charbel, and this is why virtually every Mexican church has a picture or a statue of the saint, which is the focus of much devotion.

St Charbel deserves attention, not simply because of his reputation as a miracle worker, but because he is a fine example of prayer. In his picture his eyes are always cast down, and for the last decades of his life he practised strict custody of the eyes, only raising them to look at the Tabernacle and the Eucharist.

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