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As I was looking ahead at the liturgical calendar this morning, my eye fell on an unfamiliar name for the “Saint of the Day.” The name was Saint Charbel Makhlouf and he was a Maronite monk, a priest from Lebanon. I will leave you to look up his biography which gets quite intriguing after his death. Suffice it to say that Makhlouf was raised in a pious home and was drawn to the hermit life. He was born on May 8, 1828 and died on December 24, 1898 after living 23 years as a solitary hermit. The story gets interesting from there…Check it out!

Being a “cradle Catholic” and having lived in religious life for 55 years, one would think I have at least heard of all the saints, especially the ones whose biographies included some miraculous moments. Not so in this case, however! My knowledge of the saints does not stretch past the Middle Ages, it seems, except when it comes to very popular and/or extraordinary people from the Western world, like St. Theresa of Lisieux, (the Little Flower) or Pope St. John XXIII, remembered for the Second Vatican Council that renewed the Western Church in the 1960s.

I know now, after this morning’s foray into the lives of the saints, that I have much to learn. Have you heard of St. Andre Bessette, St. Josephine Bakhita, St. Damien de Veuster of Moloka’i, St. Charles Lwanga, St. Augustine Zhao Rong, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Isaac Jogues, St. Andrew Dung-Lac or St. Sabas? They are all accessible on the internet and their biographies provide some interesting reading.

The world is large and needs to go beyond our own backyards. Why not take a trip today to some unknown “Holy Land” and treat yourself to a new acquaintance or two?