We thank God the Almighty for the blessings He has bestowed on two holy women from Palestine: Mariam Baouardy Haddad from Ibillin village in the Galilee and Marie Alphonsine (Sultana Daniel) Ghattas from Jerusalem.
Our Holy Land has become a bastion of virtue for the entire world, and we are grateful to His Holiness Pope Francis and the Catholic Church for their observance and interest in the seed of virtue that has grown in Palestine. Palestine is not a land of war; it is rather a land of sanctity and virtue as God intended it to be.
St. Mariam Baouardy Haddad was born in 1846 in the Galilee during the Ottoman era and died in Bethlehem in 1878. She lived in Alexandria, Beirut and France. Since her childhood, she was no alien to pain and agony. She sensed the voice of God calling her to a life of spirituality, joined the Carmelite Order in France and dedicated her life to the Lord, who lavished upon her spiritual gifts and blessings. She prayed, interceded and did miracles, and in 1876 established a convent in Bethlehem which still exists until today. Nowadays the convent resonates with prayers for the relief of the suffering of the Palestinian people, Christians and Moslems, alike.
St. Marie Alphonsine was the name given to Sultana Daniel Ghattas after ordination. She was born in Jerusalem in 1843 during the Ottoman era and died in 1927 at the outset of the British Mandate over Palestine. St Marie lived in the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, which still holds the indelible traces of Jesus Christ. Until today Jerusalem is daily witnessing the suffering of the Palestinian people and affecting their human dignity and holy places. St. Marie set up the foundations for a monastic life for the women of Palestine and the Arab world known as the Holy Rosary Sisters dedicated to their education and empowerment. Today the Holy Rosary Sisters have reputable schools in Palestine and in other Arab countries.
Both St. Mariam Baouardy Haddad and St. Marie Alphonsine represent a generation of virtuous and pious women that are capable of confronting challenges and conveying a special message particularly in Palestine and in the Arab countries:
It is an inspirational message which coincides with the commemoration of our people’s Nakbah of 1948, emphasizes our unity, and affirms our determination to build a sovereign, independent and free Palestine based on the principles of equal citizenship and the values of spirituality and sublime humanity. On this holy occasion we would like to express appreciation to our Palestinian Christian brothers for their steadfastness and effective contribution to building the Palestinian nation, and we call upon them to stay with us and not to be easily swept by the tide of migration. We call on Palestinian Christians to stay with us and enjoy the rights of full and equal citizenship, and bear with us the difficulties of life until we achieve liberty, sovereignty and human dignity. Through truth and justice we can decide our own fate, and with the prayers of sincere and faithful believers all our endeavors will be realized.
St. Mariam Baouardy Haddad and St. Marie Alphonsine are two daughters of our people representing a unique and powerful voice that tells us that the power of spirit is in us and guides us toward the State and its capital Jerusalem. A woman from Ibillin village in the Galilee, St. Mariam Baouardy Haddad teaches us that God is for the oppressed because she was oppressed and she faced hardships and suffered from displacement. But later she devoted herself to spiritual life and established the Carmelite Convent in Bethlehem. St. Marie Alphonsine (Sultana Daniel) Ghattas who emerged from the heart of Jerusalem tells us that the city of Jerusalem will always remain the city of God and the city of justice and peace for all believers of all faiths. Jerusalem, St. Marie told us, will remain a spiritual heart for every believer in the world. We say: Based on this spiritual foundation, Jerusalem will be our capital, God willing.
These two Palestinian saints add a very distinctive dimension to our national struggle, namely the moving humanitarian and spiritual principles that our land inspires us with. The land that God has made sacred, the land of dialogue between heaven and earth, God and man, and man and man. These are the uplifting spiritual principles that Christians and Moslems share in our Holy Land, and they are the same principles that we seek to form, the bases for the establishment of our State and for our national and social life.
As we celebrate this holy occasion, we would like to congratulate our brothers and sisters in Ibillin as well as in Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine and the whole world. We reiterate our gratitude to the Papacy of the Catholic Church for the canonization of two nuns from Palestine. We ask God the Almighty to lead us all and guide our steps towards the achievement of justice, peace and tranquility in Palestine and the whole world.
H.E President Abbas is President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
“The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation “