The name is of Syriac origin and means the plain,
stretch of land or plateau. At an altitude of between
1600 and 1800 meters, it is the highest village
in Lebanon. It resembles no other, perched above
the clouds and overlooking the valley of Kadisha,
Valley of the Saints. This collection of houses
dates back to the time of the Muqaddim, the Governors,
and now after nine centuries it still keeps a traditional
Christian appearance, for everything in the village
is ancient, its buildings, its shops and its alleyways.
The European institution Mémoire des maisons
has adopted this typical little old township.
place is unique and has received a favor from on
high. It is the birthplace of the holy monk and
hermit Sharbel Makhlouf, a model of sanctity who
shed his light over the whole twentieth century.
The anchorite was a saint for Lebanon and for the
whole world, with his miracles and with the legends
and stories that surround him and the fascination
he exerted on people.
is in the sub-prefecture or caza of Bsharre in North
Lebanon and 102 km from Beirut. From the coast one
has to continue climbing up and up in order to reach
this Eden-like fortress. Here there is prayer and
an odor of incense that embalms the air. Here is
religious tourism in the true meaning of the word.
As soon as one reaches the village square one has
to get out of one’s car and continue the journey
on foot along a celestial road. We begin with the
venerable church of Saint Houshab (Usapius), more
than seven hundred years old.
the churches of Our Lady and of Saint Saba, there
is a thousand-year-old monastery named after Saint
Usapius, to which is attached the village school
where Saint Sharbel received his early instruction.
very beautiful two-storeyed, vaulted church is the
parish church where St. Sharbel was baptized. Surrounded
by the houses of its faithful, it contains a baptistry
and an icon of the Virgin. One can see the house
where on May 8th 1828 Joseph, later the monk Sharbel,
was born, one that is at least five hundred years
in 1950 Sharbel, later to be canonized saint, began
to be known for his miracles, his family house attracted
the attention of the Maronite Lebanese Monks, who
decided to restore it as part of the heritage. It
was repaired and adapted to receive thousands of
visitors daily, being now cared for by some welcoming
Grotto of St. Sharbel is the property of his family;
it was there that the young Sharbel made his hermitage,
where he stayed alone to pray to God and to the
Holy Virgin, lighting candles on an improvised altar.
Lights are said to appear in this grotto and we
are told that when some workmen engaged in its restoration
wanted water to slake their thirst suddenly a spring
came up from the rock, one that still exists, so
many believers and sick people come here to ask
the saint for a blessing and graces.
should also note Mar Saba Church with the village
square and the St. Sharbel Square as well.
site and its surroundings are most agreeable, and
there is a so-called bridge where there are several
springs of water and caves in the mountainside,
some of which run very deep.
religious feast-days are celebrated during the course
of each year, including the week-long celebration
of Saint Sharbel on the third Sunday of July. On
May 8th the birth of Saint Sharbel is commemorated
and on August 15 the Dormition of Our Lady, with
great pomp. Saint Houshab (Usapius) is celebrated
on October 5th and Saint Saba on December 5th.
Sharbel we have a saint who is the expression not
only of his village but also of all the Maronite
community, as a light who guides souls drawn by
love, mysticism and holiness.