JERUSALEM – On Monday, November 19, 2018, the faithful gathered from all parts of Palestine to celebrate the Feast of Mary Alphonsine Ghattas, the foundress of the Rosary congregation in our Lady of the Rosary Church in Mamilla, Jerusalem. The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem, and con-celebrated by Bishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald, Apostolic Nuncio Emeritus of Egypt, Fr. Yacoub Rafidi, rector of the Latin Patriarchal Seminary in Beit Jala, and Fr. Ibrahim Shomali, Chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate.
The Mass was attended by hundreds of the Rosary Sisters, priests, and faithful, during which they celebrated the life and the miracles of Mary Alphonsine.
The Path to Holiness
‘Sultanah’ was born in the Old City of Jerusalem, on October 4, 1838, to a religious family who was keen that their daughter received the best Catholic education. They enrolled her at St. Joseph of the Apparition for Girls in Jerusalem, where she received the Sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation in its church.
On the Mountain of Golgotha, Mary Alphonsine presented her vows for the Order of St. Joseph the Apparition in 1860. Ever since, she was showered with an abundance of graces. She founded two Legio Marie groups; Immaculate Conception and the Christian mothers in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. From 1874 – 1879, Mary Alphonsine started witnessing apparitions of the Virgin Mary, during which the Mother of God directed her to establish the Rosary congregation.
Moreover, St. Mary Alphonsine served in various parishes, such as Jaffa of Nazareth, Beit Sahour, Nablus, Zababdeh, and Sult, after she joined the congregation that she founded and decided to keep her name.
Miracles that change the path of life
In 1994, Pope John Paul II agreed to declare her Venerable, basing his decision on her memoirs and the motherly relationship between Alphonsine and Virgin Mary, as well as her desire to establish a Rosary Congregation and her commandments of reciting the Rosary. She was beatified in 2009.
The first miracle performed by Alphonsine prior to her beatification took place in Jerusalem, with the family of Nathalie Zananiri. One day, Nathalie was celebrating her birthday with her friends in the garden outside of their neighbor’s house Khalid Amro. After singing, Nathalie said: “I feel the earth moving under our feet”. Her friends made fun of her and started jumping over the earth. Suddenly the earth opened up beneath them and they all fell into a 4 meters deep sewage ditch. Mr. Amro testified that the ditch was 3.70 m of wastewater, and the number of people falling to it was 11 and they stayed inside for about 7 minutes before they were rescued, and Nathalie was the last to be rescued. Her mother described this incident to be a miracle, she explained that she read about the life of Mary Alphonsine and the miracles she made just a week before the accident, and she prayed the Rosary for Mary Alphonsine to protect her children as she did with the girls in Jaffa of Nazareth.
The second miracle took place in Kafr Kana two days before the celebration of the beatification of Mother Marie-Alphonsine in Nazareth in 2009. The miracle occurred this time to someone called Emile Elias. Mr. Elias is an engineer, who worked in drawing roadmaps. One day he wanted to remove something which he used on a site and which, unknowingly, was connected to electric power. He was hit by a power of 30 to 40 thousand volts. The shock was very violent and mortal, and Emile fell on the ground, motionless. According to the doctor’s report, he had a heart arrest when he reached the hospital and his body was almost entirely dark blue, in a sign of death. He remained in sort of a coma for a couple of days.
The accident happened two days before the beatification of Mary Alphonsine, and during his coma, his family prayed continuously for her, asking her for a miracle to bring their son back to life, after they lost hope seeing the signs of death all over his blue body. Two days later, Mr. Emile opened his eyes, moved his body, talked to his family, and thanked Mary Alphonsine for bringing him back to life after the doctors had confirmed that what happened with him was miraculous. Accordingly, Pope Francis approved the miracle and canonized her on May 17, 2015, in Rome, alongside with a number of Saints, one of which was Mariam Baouardy from Ibillin.