Kassab, Nimatullah Al-Hardini Yousef, Bl.

views updated


Baptized Youssef Girgis (Joseph George) Kassab, scholar, priest of the Maronite Rite; b. 1808 at Hardine, Caza de Batroun, northern Lebanon; d. Dec. 14, 1858, at Kfifan Monastery, Lebanon.

Son of Girgis Kassab and Maryam Raad, Youssef attended the monastery school of Saint Antony Abbot at Houb (181622). On Nov. 1, 1828, he joined the Lebanese Maronite Order of Monks at Saint Antony at Qozhaya. He took the name, Brother Nimatullah ("Grace from God"). Following a two-year probation and profession at Qozhaya (Nov. 14, 1830), he studied theology at the Monastery of Keprianos and Yustina in Kfifane.

From the time of his ordination by Bishop Semaan Zouein (Christmas Day 1835) until his death, Nimatullah was involved in the formation of new priests as director of the scholasticate (193845) and a professor of moral theology at Bharsof (184750) and Kfifan (183538, 185356), where one of his students was Sharbel Maklouf (canonized by Pope Paul VI, Oct. 9, 1977). Nimatullah served as administrator of the monastery of Our Lady of Tamiche (184750) and as assistant general for three terms (184548, 185053, 185658). He refused appointment to the office of abbot general, although he was the recognized master of spirituality in the order. Despite suffering through two civil wars (1840 and 1845), Nimatullah remained unshaken in faith and invariably charitable in his interactions with others until his death from pleurisy aggravated by the cold. Saint Sharbel Makhlouf was among the brothers who attended his deathbed.

Nimatullah's body was reburied in his monastery church at Kfifan (May 18, 1996), where many miracles occurred. He was declared venerable by John Paul II on Sept. 7, 1989, and beatified by John Paul II, May 10, 1998.

Feast: Dec. 14 (Maronites).

Bibliography: d. attwater, Saints of the East (New York 1963) 18084. o. elias, The Blessed Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini (Beirut 1998). Acta Apostolicae Sedis 12 (1998) 599.

[k. i. rabenstein]