Our own St Charbel took his name from an earlier St Charbel. On 5 September we commemorate St Charbel of Edessa and his sister Babai.
Mar Charbel was the chief of the pagan priests who used to offer sacrifices to the gods of Edessa. He converted to Christianity together with his sister Babai and was tortured under the Roman emperor Decius (236-250 A.D.) He then had his head cut off. His sister Babai, who was present at his execution, then took up some of his blood in her robe, saying, “May my spirit be united with yours in the presence of Christ, whom you have known and in whom you have believed.” She in turn suffered martyrdom at the very same spot where she had soaked up her brother’s blood.
The church was originally the site of a pagan temple. The current Church is built on the older remains. This was not uncommon as communities converted to Christianity. A Byzantine church was built on the ruins during the 5th or 6th century, however it was destroyed a little before the year 800. The Church was rebuilt under the Crusaders in the 12th or 13th century and ruined again in 1615 A.D. under the Ottomans. It was rebuilt again by a Maronite priest and the people of Maad in 1723.
These lands and there Churches have been persecuted throughout history, but they have always been rebuilt. Let us not despair at the chaos we now see in the Middle East, instead let us live in faith, hope and prayer.
St Charbel of Edessa, pray for us always.
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