Modern Day Saints
Saints Mariam Baouardy and Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas
On May 17, 2015 the Catholic Church’s celebrated the canonization of two new women saints from Palestine.
Sister Mariam Baouardy (1846-1878) was born to Greek Catholic parents from Syria and Lebanon. She was known for her service to the poor while refusing forced conversion to Islam. She became a Discalced Carmelite nun of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and eventually a Christian mystic who suffered the stigmata. She was also known as Mary Jesus Crucified.
She was a Palestinian and foundress of the Discalced Carmelites of Bethlehem. She spent time in France and India before helping to found the Carmelite congregation in Bethlehem in 1875.
Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas (1843-1927. Born in Palestine, she spent much of her life in Bethlehem and the surrounding area, where she helped the poor and established schools and orphanages. In Bethlehem, she claimed several apparitions of Mary directing her to found a Palestinian congregation known as the "Sisters of the Rosary".
In 1880 seven young girls prepared by Fr. Joseph Tannous, priest of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, received the religious habit of the new foundation. Saint Marie Alphonsine called for prayer of the Rosary for peace and tranquility in the Holy Land.
Pope Francis presided over the canonizations and Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, before a congregation of tens of thousands of people.
Father Rifat Bader, general director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Amman, Jordan, stated, “The canonization of these two women saints is a good example for all the citizens: Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. The canonizations show that the woman can do positive and good things in her society. It’s very important issue to talk about the mission, or the role, of women in our Arab countries.” Fr. Bader explained the role of a woman within society and within her own family is not always recognized for its importance. He feels when we now talk about these two examples, of saints; women from the Holy Land, it gives encouragement for the woman to go ahead and to go forward.
As Fr. Bader observed, the region is not unknown for its saints. The Virgin Mary, herself, was living in the Holy Land. Also from the region were all the companions of Jesus Christ, including Saint Peter who was buried at the very basilica where the canonizations took place.
The Palestinian women were canonized alongside two others: Saint Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve (1811-1854) and Saint Maria Cristina Brando (1856-1906), from France and Italy, respectively.
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