A Crazy Priest

From Al Hardini the Monk and the Priest.

When Father Al Hardini used to celebrate the Holy mass, he impressed the attendance with his faith and extreme piety, even the children were attracted to him and often talked about him as being a Saint.

On one occasion, a lady called Mariam had a son called Salim, she was Sheikh Abdallah Bleibel’s wife and was known as “Em Salim Bleibel”, she was told that her son Salim was escaping from school at the Monastery of Saint Michael, so she came personally to check. She was very arrogant and had sophisticated manners, as she originated from “the city” and her husband was very wealthy and has donated many lands to the Maronite Order, and the Order owed him a lot. When Em Salim arrived, everybody was at church and Father Al Hardini was celebrating the Holy mass.

Monastery of Saint Michael (Mar Mkhayel) Bhersaf

She entered the church and wanted to ask about her son in the middle of the Holy mass, she approached the altar and knelt down in the men’s section where usually women are not allowed (as men and women used to split and occupy separate areas in the church at that time) and she waited till the end of the mass to ask Al Hardini about her son. But Al Hardini asked her through the servant of the mass and without looking at her face to return and go back to the women’s section, but she wouldn’t accept, then he covered his face and gave her a sign with his hand asking her to go back. But she lost her temper and started yelling and shouting loudly in the church, swearing at him saying:”They bring us crazy monks from the farthest places on earth to give us orders, and this monastery and this Wakf belong to us! You come from the end of the world to prohibit us and get us out of it? They allowed in someone crazy to be a monk, an insane!”.

When people who were outside the church heard the shouting they rushed in and asked what was going on, they were told that Em Salim Bleibel was very angry because Father Nehmetallah offended her in the church. Then everybody left the church and they were blaming her for daring to address someone like Al Hardini in such a way and having said about him:”he is a crazy priest he's always covering his face”.

After the incident with Em Salim, Al Hardini asked his Superior to transfer him to a fenced monastery away from noise and from people and where the monastic rules are strictly observed, so he sent him to the Monastery of Al Kattara. He kept going frequently to the Monastery of Kfifane to teach Theology and to work in archiving.

Later on in 1869, Em Salim’s daughter-in-law Taj went to visit Al Hardini’s tomb, as Em Salim was very ill she asked Taj to kiss Al Hardini’s hand for her and to ask for his forgiveness.

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