Jounieh (Agenzia Fides) - Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai in recent days paid a visit to the convent of Our Lady of Tamiche, between Beirut and Jounieh, to meet with Maronite Bishop Charbel Merhi, who now lives in a hermitage, and gave him a rosary and a copy of Misericordiae Vultus, the bull of Indiction of the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, sent to the "hermit bishop" by Pope Francis.
The Argentine Pope - reports the Lebanese media - had met Charbel Merhi during the 23 years he spent in Buenos Aires as Bishop of the Diocese of St. Charbel of the Maronites. In the last meeting with Patriarch Rai, Pope Francis asked about Bishop Merhi, and wanted to send him the rosary and the Misericordiae Vultus bull, along with the request to ask him to pray for him in his cell. "That of the 'hermit Bishops', explains to Agenzia Fides Bishop Francois Eid, Patriarchal Maronite Procurator to the Holy See - is a popular tradition in the Maronite Church, following the example of St. Maron, our father in faith. When they end their long years of pastoral ministry, many Bishops withdraw to a hermitage, to be alone with God. Charbel Merhi had this desire in his heart since his youth. He belongs to the patriarchal congregation of Lebanese Missionaries, who do not contemplate such hermitage retreat. When he finished his pastoral ministry, Merhi returned from Argentina to Lebanon, he asked to live as a hermit and the Lebanese Maronite Order secured him a hermitage, with the blessing of the Patriarch. He eats once a day, lives in solitude and prayer, but continues to have contact with his spiritual children through internet. He is therefore experiencing a form of hermit life which is quite original". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 18/02/2016)