Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church




Saint Rafqa
The Lebanese Maronite Nun
(1832 - 1914)

RAFQA IN HIMLAYA (1832 - 1859)

1832 On June 29, Rafqa was born in Himlaya, on the day of Saints Peter and Paul. Her father is Mourad Saber from El-Khoury family known in Himlaya as El-Choboq family, descendant from El-Rayess family in Bikfaya. Her mother is Rafqa El-Gemayel from Bikfaya.

1832 On July 7, the priest Hanna El-Rayess baptized her in St. George's church in Himlaya, and was named Boutrousieh.

1839 Rafqa's mother died, when she was only 7 years old.

1843 She went to Damascus, and lived in Assaad Badawi's house (from Baabda), for four years. She helped his wife, Helen, in the chores. They treated her as one of their children. She was pious, honest, and pure.

1847 Rafqa came back home. Her father had remarried and had two daughters: Mary and Shmouni.

RAFQA IN THE CONGREGATION OF ST MARY (1859 - 1871)

1859 On May 4, she entered into the congregation of St Mary, which was established by the priest Youssef Gemayel (1824 - 1892), in cooperation with the Jesuits, in Our Lady of Delivrance's monastery in Bikfaya.

1860 She went to Deir El-Kamar to help the sisters of Saint Mary in teaching, and to help the Jesuits in Service and Mission. There, she hid a child under her robe and saved him from death, during the events of 1860.

1861 On March 19, she wore the Novice Robe.

1862 On March 19, on St Joseph's day, Rafqa pronounced the monastic vows in the monastery of Ghazir: obedience, chastity, poverty, and mission, according to the regulations of the congregation of St Mary.

1863 The superiors of the monastic Order sent her to a school related to the congregation in Byblos.

1864 She was transferred to Maad's village, upon the request of the great benevolent Mr. Antoun Issa, where she spent seven years in teaching and educating young girls.

1871 In Early July, she decided to leave the congregation of St Mary, after several efforts, to unite the latter and the congregation of the Sacred Heart in Zahleh, into one congregation named "The Congregation of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary". The two congregations were united in 1875.

RAFQA IN THE LEBANESE MARONITE ORDER (1871 - 1914)
In Saint Simon monastery El-Qarn, Aito (1871 - 1897)

1871 In Early July, she entered Saint Simon El-Qarn monastery in Aito, with Antoun Issa, with the authorization of the superior, Abbot Afram Geagea from Bcharreh.

1872 On August 25, she pronounced the monastic vows: obedience, chastity, poverty, and modesty.

1877 She suffered unbearable pain from an abscess in her stomach.

1885

On the Sunday of the Great Rosary, she asked God to let her participate in the Passion of His beloved Son. The pain began in her head, then extended to her eyes and all over her body.

1889 She underwent treatments of doctors, throughout the year, in different places: -She lived for two months in El-Mina, Tripoli, in the Ountouch of Antonine monks. The doctor pierced her neck to lessen the swelling in her right eye; he, therefore, caused her bleeding which left a pus on her neck. -She went to Sereel and stayed for a week in the house of priest Mikhael Maroun who treated her, but she returned to the monastery without any result. -She went by Saint John-Marcus's Ountouch in Byblos on her way to Beirut; there, an American doctor deracinated her right eye, accidentally, while performing a surgery. He caused her severe bleeding. -She continued her way to Beirut and lived in the monastery of Lazarist Sisters for two months. There, the doctors were able to stop the bleeding in her eye. She went back to the monastery of St Simon, suffering a lot, yet she remained patient and joyous repeating: "In participation with Jesus' Passion."

In Saint Joseph's monastery Al-Dahr, Jrabta (1897 - 1914)

1897 On November 3, the Monastic Authority transferred her with five nuns from St Simon monastery to the monastery of St Joseph in Jrabta. Rafqa was one of the main founders of the monastery.

1899 Rafqa became blind. She suffered bleeding in her nose. She lost lots of weight.

1906 - 1911 The bones of Rafqa were dislocated. She suffered pain in her sides and toes. Her sides were dislocated, they entered into her body: the bone in her right shoulder pierced the skin and touched the neck; her vertebrae became so apparent, and she became a pile of bones. The Divine Providence spared her hands so she could knit; her mind so she could contemplate; her ears so she could listen; her tongue so she could chant and her stomach so she could eat.

1914 On March 20, her agony began, she was unable to talk, she looked with her heart and mind to the sky murmuring: "Oh! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I give you my heart and myself; take my soul."

1914 On March 23, at dawn, it was Ash Monday, Rafqa rested in peace, after bidding the sisters farewell and acquiring the Blessed Sacrament. She earned her wreath of glory in heaven, after 29 years of bearing severe pain patiently and joyfully, participating in Christ's Passion with love, joy, and prayers.

1914 On March 24, around noon, after a humble funeral, she was buried in the cemetery of the nuns in the monastery of St Joseph, Jrabta.

1982 On February 11, the excellence of her virtues was declared and she was proved Venerable.

1985 On November 17, Pope John Paul II declared her Blessed.

2001 On June 10, Sunday of the Holy Trinity, Pope John Paul II declared her Saint for the whole church.



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