Published On: Tue, May 19th, 2015

The Pope Makes 2 Nuns who Lived in 19th Century Palestine Saints

But can these women really be called "Palestinian?"

Vatican Pope

Pope Francis canonized two Palestinian nuns. He declared Marie Alphonsine Ghattas and Mariam Bawardy to be saints.

The two nuns lived in the 19th Century in what is now Israel. Bawardy was beatified for her claims of having stigmata. She also founded a Carmelite Monastery in Bethlehem which still exists today.

Ghattas founded a number of girls’ schools and promoted female illiteracy. She also co-founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas attended the ceremony along with some 2, 000 Palestinian pilgrims.

While seemingly not a political move, to some this appears to be part of the Pope’s new diplomatic initiative with the Palestinian Authority. He recently entered into a new treaty between the Vatican and the PA which formally recognized a State of Palestine.

But the two nuns lived long before there was ever such a thing as a Palestinian and for the PA to co-opt them as its own would not be unlike its declaring Maimonides a Palestinian because he died in Israel.

“Sister Mariam Baouardy experienced this in an outstanding way. Poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of her constant converse with the Holy Spirit. Her docility to the Spirit also made her a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world, ” the Pope said.

“So, too, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas came to understand clearly what it means to radiate the love of God … and to be a witness to meekness and unity. She shows us the importance of becoming responsible for one another, of living lives of service one to another, ” he said.

Father Jamal Khader, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, said, “As Christians, this is a sign of hope, this is a light in the tunnel. Especially now in the Middle East, with all the events, with all the violence. We are celebrating the lives of two saints who worked humbly for everyone and who proved to be true followers of Jesus Christ.”

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