KFIFAN, Lebanon, JUNE 10, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Stephen Nehme (born Joseph), who will be beatified June 27 in Kfifan, Lebanon, was known for his constant awareness of God’s presence in his life.
On Tuesday the Vatican announced that Benedict XVI approved the beatification of this Lebanese professed religious of the Order of Maronites who died Aug. 30, 1938, at the age of 49.
The ceremony will be presided over by the prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, Archbishop Angelo Amato, on behalf of the Pope.
Friar Stephen was known as a man of prayer and was called a “disciple of the land.” He saw this land as a “school of sanctity” and a “source of spirituality.”
Joseph (Yusuf) Nehme was born in March 1889 in the town of Lehfed, in the Jbeil district, as the youngest of seven children.
He studied at Our Lady of Grace School, which was run by the Lebanese Maronite Order.
It is said that one day, Nehme, who was in the fields watching over animals of his father’s farm, saw a small badger enter an underground cave.
After noting the presence of traces of water, he began to dig and saw water spring from inside the cave until it became a fountain. This fountain is currently known as the “badger’s fountain.”
In 1905, two years after his father’s death, Nehme entered the novitiate of the Order of Maronites, in the Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina in Kfifan.
On Aug. 23, 1907, he made his monastic vows, taking the name Stephen after the patron saint of his birthplace.
Having become a friar, Nehme spent his life in different monasteries of the order, working in the fields and gardens, and dedicating himself to carpentry and construction jobs.
Always and everywhere Friar Stephen was known for his ability to transmit the Good News to his brothers. He lived an intense life of prayer, faithful to the order’s constitutions and spirituality.
His generous spirit, his prudent judgment and his compassion for the difficulties of others won him the respect and love of his coworkers.
Friar Stephen’s spirituality was marked by the awareness of the Lord’s constant presence in every instance of his life, which he himself summarized by often repeating: “God sees me.”
Nehme lived through the adversities of World War I, carrying his cross, denying himself and following the Lord with trust and courage.
His whole life can be described as a great act of love, a total gift of his being to God and an uninterrupted pilgrimage to heaven.
Friar Stephen died of natural causes and was buried in the monastery at Kfifan, where his body remains intact.