Maronite Nun (1832-1914)
+ Born in the village of Himlaya, Lebanon, Petra Ar-Rayes entered the Marianist Sisters in 1853 and received the religious name “Anissa.” After teaching with these sisters for nearly 20 years, she felt drawn to a more contemplative life.
+ She later entered the Maronite Order of St. Anthony, receiving the religious name “Rafqa” (Rebecca) in her new community.
+ In 1885, in answer to her prayer that she might be a victim of Divine Love, she became blind and eventually lost her right eye. Despite pain and hemorrhaging in her eyes, she continued her assigned tasks of washing, baking, and weaving, and she memorized the Psalms so that she could continue to prayer with her sisters in choir.
+ In 1897, she suffered paralysis but faced death with a spirit of joyful surrender. She died on March 23, 1914, and was canonized in 2001.
On this day the Church also remembers Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo. As archbishop of Lima, Peru, he founded the first seminary in the Western hemisphere and confirmed Saint Rose of Lima and Saint Martin de Porres. A friend of the indigenous peoples of Peru and a faithful pastor, he died in 1606. Canonized in 1726, he is honored as patron of Peru.
“May St Rafqa watch over those who know suffering, particularly over the peoples of the Middle East who must face a destructive and sterile spiral of violence. Through her intercession, let us ask the Lord to open hearts to the patient quest for new ways to peace and so hasten the advent of reconciliation and harmony.”—Pope Saint John Paul II
O God, who called your handmaid blessed Rafqa to seek you before all else, grant that, serving you, through her example and intercession, with a pure and humble heart, we may come at last to your eternal glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For a Nun)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.