Feast of the Palestinian Saint Mary-Alphonsine

By: Miral Atik, photos: Nicolawos Hazboun/ lpj.org - Published: November 19 Sat, 2022

Feast of the Palestinian Saint Mary-Alphonsine Available in the following languages:

HOLY LAND – On the weekend of November 18th & 19th, 2022, the faithful attended Mass to celebrate the Palestinian Saint Marie-Alphonsine Ghattas, who founded the congregation of the Rosary Sisters. Mgr William Shomali, General Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, presided over the two Masses held respectively in the Church of our Lady of Fatima in Beit Sahour, and in Our Lady of the Rosary in Mamilla, Jerusalem.

On Friday, November 18th, Palestinians from the region of Bethlehem gathered together for the first time at the church of Our Lady of Fatima to celebrate the feast of Saint Marie-Alphonsine. “Truly, she is a humble Saint. She served our community with love and faithfulness in the Holy Land; she taught Christianity in schools in the Arabic language, and she was the first to do so,” says a local from Beit Sahour. “We are honored to live on the land that this Saint grew up on,” she added.  

In Jerusalem, where the Saint was born, the faithful celebrated the Saint, through whom Mother Mary founded this Holy congregation. With the sisters, they expressed their gratitude about what God has accomplished through her. “Humility, silence and reverence towards both the Mother of God and Jesus is what the life of Marie-Alphonsine taught me, strengthening me in my Christian faith… And because she was born here in Jerusalem, I feel close to her,” said Doris, who attended the second Mass celebrated in honor of the Saint on November 19th, in Mamilla  

In his homily, Mgr Shomali compared God’s definition of greatness to the world’s definition, saying: “The rich, celebrities and politicians are praised by the world, but in God’s eyes it's those who are meek and humble, who serve Him and commune with Him in prayer, and most importantly who love their neighbors like themselves who should be praised.” The two greatest commandments God gave us is to love our neighbor like ourself, and to love God with all our hearts (Matthew 22:37-39). “This is how our Saint Mary-Alphonsine lived, in service to God and the people of this Holy land, serving in different cities for 35 years. She is our daughter, the daughter of Jerusalem,” Mgr Shomali added while emphasizing the footprints she left on this land. “She lived what she taught and taught what she lived”.  

Facts about Saint Marie-Alphonsine:

  • Born on October 4th, 1843, her parents named her ‘Soultanah’, Queen in Arabic, after the name Of Our lady, Queen of Heaven and Earth. 
  • The same year, on November 19th, aged one month and a half, she received her baptismal name, Marie. 
  • Five years later, Soultanah began attending school with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition.
  • In 1860, after a two-year postulancy with the sisters of St. Joseph, she received, at the age of seventeen, the religious habit along with her new name, Alphonsine, which means ready for battle.
  • After her professions of vows in 1863, she was assigned to teach at a public school in Jerusalem.
  • Between 1874 and 1879, she started witnessing four apparitions of the Virgin Mary, during which the Mother of God asked her to establish the Rosary congregation. 
  • She established an orphanage in Ain Karem and she created the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception and the Confraternity of Christian Mothers.
  • Towards the end of her life, her health began to fail. She died on March 25th, 1927, during the feast of the Annunciation.
  • She was beatified in 2009, and canonized by Pope Francis on May 17th, 2015. 

To see all the pictures of the celebration, click here.