BETHLEHEM / NAZARETH – On Saturday, August 26, two Masses were simultaneously celebrated at the Carmelite Sisters in Bethlehem and Nazareth for the feast of Saint Mariam Baouardy, who founded the Carmelite convents in the two cities. She was canonized by Pope Francis on May 17, 2015. The celebration in Bethlehem was presided by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, while Bishop Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem celebrated Mass in Nazareth. Both of the special celebrations were attended by many priests, religious and faithful .
The saint, orphaned at the age of three, became a martyr ten years later. She was seriously injured by a neighbor whom she refused to marry and convert to Islam because she had wished to consecrate her life to God. The man abandoned her in an alley believing she was dead. She was taken by a mysterious beautiful lady who looked like a nun. She woke up on September 8 in a cave. She led a life of a servant in a household until she was 19 years old, then entered the Monastery of St. Joseph of the Apparition in Marseilles. Two years later, she became a Carmelite in Pau taking the name of Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified. In 1870, she founded the first Carmel in Mangalore, India, where she professed her perpetual vows one year later. After returning to Pau in 1875, she founded the Carmel of Bethlehem where she died at 33 years of age on August 26, 1878 as a result of a wound sustained when she fell while carrying water to the workers who were building Carmel.
During the celebration in Nazareth, the Bishop asked during his homily: “why and how Mariam Baouardy, an illiterate girl from an unknown Galilee village, receive so many natural, supernatural and preternatural gifts of God? He replied to this question in two phases: “First, because she has completely abandoned herself to the action of the Holy Spirit, of which her famous prayer is the most obvious expression. […] Then, because from a very early age she was inhabited by a strong sense of precariousness of human life and vulnerability, an almost tragic aspect due to the emptiness of existence.”
The feast of Saint Mariam Baouardy was also celebrated on the same day at Carmel in Bethlehem with Mass presided by Archbishop Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, attended by many priests, religious men and women and seminarians and local faithful.