Media Advisory: Canonization of Two Palestinian Sisters by Pope Francis Vatican – Sunday May 17, 2015

On Sunday May 17. 2015, His Holiness Pope Francis will declare two Nuns from Palestine as Saints. St. Marie Alphonsine Ghattas from Jerusalem and St. Mariam Bawardy from Ibilin village in the Galilee, both of whom lived in the 19th century , will be canonized in a mass celebrated at Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square at 11 AM (Palestine Time).

Blessed Marie Alphonsine Ghattas is the founder of the first congregation of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem, while in Bethlehem Blessed Mariam Bawardy founded the first Carmelite Convent in Palestine.

The Palestinian delegation to the ceremony will be headed by H.E President Mahmoud Abbas as well as Christian Community and Church leaders. Thousands of Palestinian Christians from all over Palestine and the entire world are expected to attend the Canonization Ceremony to celebrate the veneration of the two Palestinian nuns. This significant event represents an important moment for Palestine, the land of sanctity and virtue, and it’s People who are longing for justice, freedom and peace.


Official Delegation of the State of Palestine Attending the Canonization Ceremony


·H.E President Mahmoud Abbas

·Dr. Saeb Erekat (PLO Executive Committee Member)

·Mr. Hanna Amireh ( PLO Executive Committee Member, Chairman of Higher Presidential Committee of Church Affairs)

. Ambassador Issa Qassisiya, State of Palestine’s ambassador to the Vatican

·Mr. Nabil Abu Rudaina (Presidential Advisor, Presidency Official Spokesman)

·Dr. Riad Al-Malki (Minister of Foreign Affairs)

·Mrs. Rula Ma’aya (Minister of Tourism and Antiquities)

·Dr. Shukri Bishara (Minister of Finance)

·Dr. Ramzi Khoury (Director of Palestine National Fund)

·Mr. Ziad Al-Bandak (Presidential advisor on Christian Affairs)

·Dr. Majdi Al-Khaldi (Presidential advisor on Diplomatic Affairs)

.Mrs. Vera Baboun (Head of Bethlehem Municipality)

.Eng. Mousa Hadeed (Head of Ramallah Municipality)


In addition to the Palestinian Ambassadors to the Holy See, Italy, Greece, Germany, Romania, Malta, Hungary and UNESCO.


Officials Available for Interviews in Rome


·Mr. Issa Kassissieh ( Ambassador to the Holy See): 0545 556 369/ English and Arabic

·Mr. Hanna Amireh ( Head of Presidential Committee on Church Affairs)                           0595 018 888/ English and Arabic.

·Mr. Ziad Al-Bandak (Presidential Adviser on Christian Affairs – Head of the Restoration Committee for the Nativity Church) 0568 811 113 / English.

·Ms. Rula Ma’aya (Minister of Tourism and Antiquities) Contact through Jiries Qumsiyeh 0598 940 130/English, French.


Church Officials available for interviews in Rome


·Fr. Jamal Khader (Head of the Latin Patriarchate Seminary): 0599 762 220 /English, Italian and French.

·Mons. Maroun Lahham (Auxiliary Bishop and Patriarchal Vicar in Jordan)

009627 9999 1434/ English, Arabic, Italian and French

·Fr. Firas Aridah( Parish Priest of Ramallah Area): 0599 325 957 /English, Italian and French.

·Fr. Bashar Fawadleh (Head of Christian Youth in Palestine): 0598 304 907/English, Italian and French.

·Fr. Johnny Abu Khalil: (Parish Priest of Nablus and Northern West Bank area): 0597 420 450 /English, Italian, French and Armenian

·Mons. Elias Chacour (Former Greek Catholic/Melkite Archbishop of Akka, Haifa Nazareth and all Galilee )

0547 717 290/ English, Arabic, Italian and French

·Fr. Elias Tabban ( Parish Priest of Jaffa of Nazareth): 0502 050 015/ English, Arabic, Italian and French

·Fr. Aktham Hijazeen (Parish Priest of Beit Jala): 0595 525 880/ English, Arabic, Italian and French

·Fr. Aziz Halaweh (Parish Priest of Taybeh): 0599 624 624/ English, Arabic, Italian, French and Portuguese.

·Fr. Gabriele Romanelli (Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem): 0545 949 073/ Spanish, Italian , French and Arabic.

·Fr. Mamdouh Abou Sa’ada (Greek Catholic/Melkite Priest in Beit Sahour): 0598 916 239/ Arabic

·Fr. Rifa’t Bader ( Official Spokesman of Catholic Church in Jordan) 009627 9755 1190/ English, Arabic, Italian, and French

·Fr. Bernard Poggi (Parish Priest of the Arabic Speaking Community in San Francisco, USA): 001 650 576 4767/ English, Arabic and French.


Church Officials Available for interviews in Palestine


·Fr. Ibrahim Shomali (Beit Jala Parish Priest, Cremisan Case): 0598 903 785/English, Italian and French

·Fr. Faisal Hijazeen ( Heads of Christians Schools in Palestine): 0599 225 122 /English , Arabic, Italian and French.

·Fr. Hanna Salem ( Vice President of Latin Patriarchate Seminary): 0599 050 313/ English, Arabic and Italian


Palestinian Mayors Attending Canonization in Rome


·Mrs. Vera Baboun ( Mayor of Bethlehem): 0597 777 740 /English, French.

·Mr. Musa Hadid ( Mayor of Ramallah): 0599 345 670/ English and Arabic

·Mr. Nicola Khamis (Mayor of Beit Jala)

·Mr. Hani El-Hayek (Mayor of Beit Sahur)


Media Contacts in Rome


Ms. Lara Habash: 00 39 342 5587479


Media Contacts in Palestine


Mr. Xavier Abu Eid: 0598 950 300


Program of Festivities in Palestine and Rome

(Palestine Time/Vatican Time)


Time Difference between Palestine and Rome: Palestine Plus ONE Hour


9 May: Opening prayer in all parishes and convents, preliminary to

canonization (Mass or Adoration or Liturgy of the Word).


16 May: • Prayer Vigil at St. Sabina Basilica (Rome) at 5:30 pm.

• Prayer Vigil at the Rosary Sisters’ Church (Jerusalem)

at 8 pm.

• Prayer Vigil at the Carmelite Convent Church (Bethlehem)

at 8 pm.


17 May: Canonization Mass at St. Peter’s Square at 10 am (Rome Time)


18 May: Thanksgiving Mass at St. Mary Major Basilica (Rome) at 9 am.


31 May: Thanksgiving Mass at the Holy Family Church(Ramallah) at 5 pm.


6 June: Thanksgiving Mass at St. Stephen’s Basilica

(Jerusalem/Dominican) at 5 pm.



12 June: Thanksgiving Mass at the Rosary School compound

(Marj al-Hamam/Amman) at 5 pm.


3 July:   Thanksgiving Mass at the Basilica of the Annunciation

(Nazareth) at 5 pm.


26 August: Thanksgiving Mass at the Carmel of Bethlehem at 5 pm.


17 October: Thanksgiving Mass at St. Elijah’s Cathedral (Haifa) at 10 am.


Source: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem


Bios of the Palestinian Nuns


St. Mariam Haddad of Jesus Crucified Baouardy (1846-1878)

Foundress of the Carmel of Bethlehem


St. Mariam Giries Haddad Baouardy was born on 5 January 1846 in Ibillin village in the Galilee. Her father, Giries, and her mother were Roman Catholics from Tarshiha village. Her twelve brothers and sisters died when they were children, and the birth of Mariam came as God’s response to the prayers of her parents in the Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem. Mariam’s father died when she was three and she was brought up by her uncle. When she was eight, she went to live in Alexandria, Egypt.

At the age of twelve she learned her uncle wanted to give her in marriage but she refused and decided to offer herself to God. Later, she went through dire and compelling circumstances and ended up in cave where she saw sitting near her a woman that resembled the nuns that took to a church and left her there. Mariam said the woman who was sitting beside her in the cave was the Virgin Mary.


In 1865 when St. Mariam was nineteen, she went to Marseille in France where she made the acquaintance of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. However, at the end of the two years of novitiate she was not admitted into the Congregation, and eventually she found her way to the Carmel of Pau in south western France. In 1867 St. Mariam joined the Carmel of Pau and received the religious name of Sister Mariam of Jesus Crucified.


In 1870, St. Mariam went to India with a group of sisters and founded the first Carmelite Convent in Mangalore. After returning to Pau she received a divine message exhorting her to go back to her hometown of Bethlehem and found a Carmelite convent opposite the Church of the Nativity where Jesus Christ was born. She founded the convent in 1875 on the south western part of Bethlehem outside the old city. St. Mariam wanted also to found a convent in Nazareth. In 1878, on her way to Nazareth where she hoped to buy a site to build the convent, God revealed to her a place called Emmaus where Jesus broke bread with His two disciples. St. Mariam purchased the place for the Carmel from Berthe Dartigaux. St. Mariam Baouardy died at the age of thirty-three. She was beautified by Pope John Paul II on 13 November 1983.


St. Sultana Daniel Ghattas “Marie Alphonsine” (1843-1927)

Foundress of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary


Born Sultana on 4 October 1846 to a Palestinian family in Jerusalem, St. Marie Alphonsine Ghattas was known for her piety and love for her Church and land. Her father, Daniel Ghattas, was a carpenter, and her mother, Catherine Youssef, was a dedicated and devout housewife. Sultana went to St. Joseph School in Jerusalem and at seventeen she joined the Congregation of St. Joseph of the Apparition as a postulant and took the religious name of Sister Marie Alphonsine. After taking her first vows, St. Marie was assigned to teach catechism in St. Joseph School in Jerusalem where she also founded the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and the Sisters of Christian Mothers.

Later St. Marie moved from Jerusalem to Bethlehem where she cared for girls and women. One night the Virgin Mary appeared to her, grasped her hand and whispered in her ears, “I want you to start the Congregation of the Holy Rosary.” The Virgin Mary ordered St. Marie to go and see the Patriarch who later consented to her. Hence the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Rosary was founded in 1883 comprising eight novices from Jerusalem. The Congregation grew rapidly and in 1959 the Sisters of the Holy Rosary achieved pontifical status directly following the Holy See of Rome.


St. Marie Alphonsine traveled to different regions including Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, Nablus, Nazareth and Jaffa, teaching and counseling. Her life was full of love, modesty, magnanimity, tranquility and patience. She died in Ein Karem in 1927.

St. Marie Alphonsine Ghattas was known for her love and attachment to her Church and homeland. She gave special attention and care to Arab women and, inspired by the Virgin Mary, founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Rosary. The Virgin Mary appeared to St. Marie in a vision and instructed her to educate Arab women at a time when women were deprived of education and religious teaching.


Today the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Rosary expends tremendous energy and time for the empowerment of Arab Christian and Moslem women. The Rosary Sisters have schools and convents in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, as well as in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East.






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