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BEIRUT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Maronite Catholic priest has taken to the skies with the Blessed Sacrament to "bless and protect" his homeland as the coronavirus spreads across Lebanon.
With his monstrance, crucifix and and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Fr. Majdi Allawi Haqq Qurban hired a private plane and flew over Beirut and other parts of Lebanon last Saturday "pleading with the Lord to protect Lebanon" from the virus.
The French and Arabic speaking priest, who spoke briefly to Church Militant from Armenia, said that the purpose of flying over Lebanon with the Real Presence of Jesus was to "bless the country, protect the homeland and heal those who have been infected by the virus."
The flight, led by Captain Khalil El-Khoury and student pilot Joseph El-Masry from the Beirut Wings flying school, took over two hours as Lebanon's Health Ministry reported that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had risen to 77 with three fatalities.
"We fear the coronavirus but we are not afraid of God," Fr. Allawi warned on Facebook. "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."
Explaining from the words of St. Paul how "nature itself was convulsing on creation" the priest warned: "This is a chance to repent and return to God ... It's time to wake up. It's time to amaze the Lord by our faith. It's time to ask God's mercy for all the humanity."
In the video above, Fr. Allawi can be heard praying in Arabic: "We ask God to help us today and keep all sickness and epidemics away and to heal all those who are infected by the coronavirus and to bless the country and save it and most importantly to be with us."
Catholics on social media responded ecstatically to the priest's demonstration of faith in the Blessed Sacrament. "We're going to bless all the atheists and there's nothing they can do about it," a Catholic ordinand tweeted.
Thousands responded in Arabic with comments of praise and thanksgiving to Fr. Allawi's post on Facebook describing his flight with the Blessed Sacrament.
Father Allawi converted from Shia Islam to Catholicism when he was 11 years old. Widely known and much loved for his work with the poorest, Allawi founded the Bonheur du Ciel (Heaven's Joy) association to help young drug addicts in Lebanon.
Bonheur du Ciel also has apostolates caring for battered women, orphan boys, homeless people, teenagers, abandoned elderly men and provides clothing, food, shelter and even the free services of a hair-cutting salon to those in dire need.
"We believe that Christ is the greatest healer, that's why we use 'Christotherapy,'" Fr. Allawi remarks, testifying how he was miraculously healed.
"On the first day of Lent 2014, I wanted to donate one of my kidneys so that anyone waiting for a transplant could benefit. But medical examinations revealed a stomach problem due to a very severe virus," he reveals.
For over six months he was transferred from one hospital to another. The doctors decided he needed artificial intestines to support his failed digestive system. "I ate nothing more than Holy Communion," he says.
"In early August 2014, I was hospitalized for severe inflammation, fever and severe pain. My family was sorry to learn that I could not finally be operated on. My 10-year-old son, named Christ, then went to the tomb of St. Charbel in Annaya and prayed for me," he adds.
Fr. Allawi describes how he left the hospital on Aug. 5, the Feast of the Transfiguration, to attend Mass. In a month's time, by the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary he "was able to eat without pain and without making me vomit." The next day medical reports confirmed his healing.
"On Aug. 15, 1981, I was born for the first time in the spirit as a Christian. It was the day of my baptism. On Aug. 15, 2014, I was born again, by the gift of healing that St. Charbel granted me," the priest testifies.
Lebanese Christians have been delivering a mixture of holy water and soil from the grave of St. Charbel Makhlouf to the Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut where dozens of patients infected by coronavirus are being treated.
Saint Charbel is widely believed by both Christians and Muslims to have miraculous healing properties for those who visit his tomb.
Most of Lebanon's cases have been linked to Iran, which is the epicenter of the outbreak in the Middle East.
The Maronite Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the pope and the worldwide Catholic Church.