Previously "venerable" Maronite brother Estephan Nehme was beatified on Sunday morning in Lebanon. The Holy Father remembered Blessed Estephan after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square, entrusting the people of Lebanon to his protection.
Brother Estephan, whose body was discovered uncorrupted in the tomb of the monastery of Kfifane over a decade after his death in 1938, is remembered as a humble, loving and devout monk. The Maronite Voice, a Glen Allen, Virginia-based publication, described him in its most recent edition as "distinguished for his simple and evangelical life," living in service to the Lord and men, loving all without discrimination.
The postulator general of his cause for canonization, Fr. Paolo Azzi, said of him in an interview with L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) that he left "everywhere a witness of loyalty to God's call, ascetic commitment and of continuous prayer. His characteristic was to do everything in the presence of God."
Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said in his letter for the beatification of the Lebanese monk that he was an "angel with a human face."
His beatification ceremony, which took place on Sunday morning at the Monastery of Sts. Cyprien and Justine in Kfifane, Lebanon, was presided over by Archbishop Amato. The Mass which followed was led by His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and concelebrated by patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and other Maronite clergy.
Maronites follow in the footsteps of the spirituality of St. Maron, a 4th century monk who chose to become a hermit in modern-day Syria. Fr. Azzi told LOR that the Maronite Church's "originality" is that is the only Eastern Church that has always been faithful to the Holy See.
The Church celebrates 1,600 years since St. Maron's death this year.
After Sunday's Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI joyfully recalled Brother Estephan's beatification, entrusting the "Lebanese brothers and sisters" to the protection of the blessed Maronite monk.