BETHLEHEM - On August 26th of each year, the Carmelites in the Holy Land celebrate the Feast of St. Mary of Jesus Crucified. On Thursday, August 26, 2021, His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, presided over the celebration of the Saint's feast at the Carmel of the Holy Child Jesus in Bethlehem.
H.E. Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo concelebrated the Mass, along with Fr. Tomasz Grysa, First Counsellor at the Apostolic Delegation of the Holy See in Jerusalem, Fr. Abdo Abdo, parish priest of Haifa and National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of the Holy Land, Fr. Bernard Poggi, Rector of the Latin Patriarchal Seminary of Beit Jala, in the presence of Fr. Rami Asakriyeh, parish priest of Bethlehem, several Latin Patriarchal priests and seminarians, as well as Carmelites Brothers and Sisters, Religious Men and Women, and the faithful.
In his homily, the Patriarch spoke of the life of St. Mary of Jesus Crucified who suffered several hardships, yet she accepted them with faith and love for the sake of God, considering them acts of God’s plan in her life. “In our lives, we receive a lot of refusals and face many obstacles. Sometimes, it may be difficult for us to perceive these obstacles as a plan of God. But if we trust and believe in Him, no one can stop this plan”, said Patriarch Pizzaballa.
The celebration was animated by a small choir led by Louay Zaher and Rabab Zaitoun, as well as the Carmelite Sisters, singing words of St. Mary of Jesus Crucified. At the end of the Mass, the faithful lined up to receive the blessing from the relics of St. Mary in the monastery.
After the Mass, Sr. Rafaella, prioress of the Carmelite monastery, thanked everyone present inviting them to participate in a reception in the monastery’s garden. Later, the sisters received Patriarch Pizzaballa, a number of Carmelite Brothers and the patriarchal delegation in the “Tower of David” in the monastery.
St. Mary of Jesus Crucified was born Mariam Bawardy in I’billin village in Galilee on January 5, 1846, to Giries Bawardy and Mariam Chahine. In 1863, Mariam moved to Marseille where she wanted to enter the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. However, the sisters preferred that she joined another congregation due to her contemplative inclination.
St. Mary moved to the Carmelite monastery in Pau (France) in 1867 where she was given the religious name of “Mary of Jesus Crucified”. In 1870, she moved to Mangalore in India to form a new congregation of Religious Women to serve in India, the Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel. In India, she served for two years before returning to France in 1872.
In September 1875, St. Mary helped to found a new monastery in Bethlehem, the first of the Order in the region, where she stayed until her death on August 26, 1878. Today, there are monasteries of Carmelite Brothers and Sisters in the Holy Land in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Haifa, and Nazareth.
On November 13, 1983, St. Mary of Jesus Crucified was beatified by Pope John Paul II, and on May 17, 2015, she was canonized by Pope Francis.