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Australian Maronites celebrate Lebanese monk canonisation

Australia's Maronite community has celebrated yesterday's canonisation of the Lebanese monk Fr Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini, with prayers of thanksgiving and special Masses.

Fr Nimatullah was one of six saints canonised in St Peter's Square yesterday. Among the well-wishers on hand for the ceremony was Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, himself a Maronite Catholic.

Australian Maronite Diocese Bishop Ad Abikaram said the community is overjoyed at the canonisation of Fr Nimatullah, who joins Saints Charbel and Rafqa as the three Saints from Lebanon.

Fr Nimatullah was born in 1810 in Hardine, a Maronite village in the Lebanese mountains and from childhood felt called to monastic life. He was always a man of prayer and led an exemplary monastic life, with a particular devotion to the Eucharist and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

More than 50 miracles have been attributed to Fr Nimatullah from the time he was beatified to the present time. The miracle accepted for the canonisation related to the cure of a blind woman.

Bishop Abikaram said the canonisation was a wonderful occasion for the Maronite community and for all Catholics.

"When people become Saints it is a great encouragement for us all," he said. "These people like Fr Nimatullah help to show us what it is to lead holy lives and how we can relate that to our own life.

"Each Saint has his or her own way of loving God, their own path to holiness which is different to anyone else's and we are inspired and challenged to follow their example of holiness in our own way."

Bishop Abikaram said plans were underway to bring the relics of the three Lebanese saints to Australia next year.

Also canonised in yesterday's ceremony were:
Italian pediatrician Gianna Beretta Molla
Italian priest and founder of the Little Work of Divine Providence and of the Congregation of the Little Sisters, Missionaries of Charity, Luigi Orione
Founder of the Congregation of the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus and of the Religious Daughters of Divine Zeal Hannibal Maria di Francia
Spanish-born founder of the Congregation of the Sons of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the Missionary Daughters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Josep Manyanet y Vives
Italian widow and founder of the Institute of Religious of the Holy Family Paola Elisabetta Cerioli.

Australia's Maronite Community celebrates canonisation of Lebanese Monk (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 16/5/04)
Pope names six new saints (The Age 16/5/04)

Mother who died for her baby made a saint (The Age 17/5/04)
Anti-abortion movement gets its own saint (Sydney Morning Herald 15/5/04)
Pro-life symbol to be made saint by Pope (Reuters 16/5/04)
Pope Names Six New Saints (The Scotsman 16/5/04)
Pope canonises pro-life heroine (BBC 16/5/04)
Pope set to celebrate 84th birthday (AAP/The Age 16/5/04)
Pope set to celebrate 84th birthday (AFP/ninemsn 16/5/04)
Pope names six new saints (Ireland Online 16/5/04)
Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations: Saints and Blessed
Maronite Catholic Church of Australia
The Earthly Life of Blessed Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini
Padre Annibale Canonisation Site

17 May 2004