Skip to content
Catholic Online SHopping 20% off RE-Grand Opening SALE

RE-Grand Opening
FREE Shipping over $49 (lower 48)

St. Rafqa

Short Cuts

Author and Publisher - Catholic Online

Image of St. Rafqa

Facts

Feastday: March 23
Birth: 1832
Death: 1914
Beatified By: November 16, 1985 by Pope John Paul II
Canonized By: June 10, 2001, Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy by Pope John Paul II

Saint Rafqa was born in Hemlaya, Lebanon on June 29, 1832. She was the only child of her parents, Saber El-Choboq El-Rayess and Rafqa Gemayel. She was baptized on July 7, 1832 and named Boutroussieh.

Her parents were devout Christians and taught her daily prayers. By all accounts, her childhood was happy and simple, until she was just 7 years old and her mother, Rafqa (for whom she was named) died.

The death of her mother started a period of tribulation for Rafqa and her father, who soon experienced financial difficulties. Rafqa was sent to work as a domestic servant for four years to help support the family. During that period, she worked in Damascus, away from her father.

In 1847, she returned to find that her father had remarried and his new wife desired that Rafqa marry her brother. At the same time, an aunt wanted to arrange a marriage between Rafqa and her cousin.

Rafqa was left to decide what to do with herself, split between two potential suitors and under pressure from family to make two different choices. She turned to prayer and asked God to guide her. Her answer surprised everyone. Rafqa would marry neither man, but instead would devote her life to Jesus and become a nun.

Rafqa traveled to the convent of Our Lady of Deliverance in Bikfaya. She joined the Mariamettes, founded by Fr. Jospeh Gemayel.

According to legend, when she entered the convent and gazed upon the icon of Our Lady of Deliverance, she heard the voice of God tell her "You will become a nun."

The Mother Superior of the convent accepted her immediately, without question. Shortly thereafter, her father and his new wife arrived to try to dissuade Rafqa from her God-chosen path. She refused to leave and remained devoted to her vocation.

She was sent to Deir El Qamar to teach catechism. The town became the site of civil unrest and on one occasions he reportedly saved a child from murder by hiding him under her robes.

She served in Deir El Qamar for a year.

In 1861, she returned to her congregation and become a novice. On March 19, 1862, she took her temporary vows and was assigned to kitchen service in a seminary.

Rafqa spent her free time learning Arabic, writing, and arithmetic. She also helped convince other girls to join the congregation. In 1863, she continued working as a teacher, first at a school belonging to her congregation in Byblos, then Maad village where she and a fellow sister established a new school for girls.

Following this early period, Rafqa repeatedly heard messages from heaven. When her order faced a crisis, god told her "You will remain a nun." And she heard the voices of saints directing her to enter the Lebanese Maronite Order. She obeyed.

Sister Rafqa took her solemn vows in the new order on Augist 25, 1872.

During her time, she was known to be quiet and contemplative. She was devoted to prayer and spoke little. She commonly made sacrifices and lived in great austerity.

In October 1885, Sister Rafqa made an unusual request of Jesus, asking to share in his suffering. She immediately began to experience pain in her head, which moved to her eyes. Her superior was concerned about Rafqa's pain and ordered that she be examined by doctors and sent to Beirut for treatment.

As she passed through the nearby church in Byblos, the congregation made note that an American doctor was in the area. The located the doctor who recommended immediate surgery for Sister Rafqa.

During the surgery, she refused anesthesia, and the doctor made a mistake which caused her eye to emerge from its socket and fall to the floor. Sister Rafqa, instead of panicking, blessed the doctor, saying "For Christ's passion, god bless your hands and may God repay you."

The surgery did not succeed. Shortly thereafter, pain entered her left eye.

For the next 12 years, she experienced pain in her remaining eye and headaches. At no point did she reverse her wish to share in Christ's suffering. Instead, she remained joyful in prayer and patient in her suffering. She remained quiet for long periods, speaking infrequently, but always joyously.

In 1887, Sister Rafqa was sent with five other sisters to found a new monastery in Jrabta, Batroun in Lebanon. She did as she was asked, working patiently and diligently as she was able despite her suffering. In 1899, she became blind and paralysis set in.

Eventually she was confined to bed, mostly paralyzed and only able to lie on her right side. Her body withered, but her hands remained capable, and she used them to knit socks. A wound developed in left shoulder, which she referred to as "the wound in the shoulder of Jesus." This continued for seven years.

On March 23, 1914, she received her last communion and called upon Jesus and the Holy Family, then went to her reward in Heaven.

After she was buried in the monastery cemetery, a light appeared on her grave for three consecutive light and was witnessed by many.

In 1925, a case for her beatification was opened in the Vatican and the investigation into her life began in the year following.

In 1927, her grave was exhumed and she was reburied in the monastery church.

Pope John Paul declared her venerable on Feb. 11, 1982, and she was beatified on Nov. 17, 1985. She was finally recognized as a saint on July 10, 2001.


St. Rafqa Comments


More Saints






Browse Saints by Category


Popular Saints

Rank

Saint

79.

Image of St. Gianna Beretta Molla

St. Gianna Beretta Molla

St. Gianna Beretta Molla was an Italian pediatrician born in Magenta in the Kingdom of Italy on October 4, 1922. She was the tenth of thirteen children in her family. At three-years-old, ... continue reading

80.

Image of St. Mark

St. Mark

Much of what we know about St. Mark, the author of the Second Gospel, comes largely from the New Testament and early Christian traditions. Mark the Evangelist is believed to be the 'John ... continue reading

81.

Image of St. Veronica

St. Veronica

Saint Veronica is known as the woman who offered a cloth to Jesus so He could wipe His face on the way to His crucifixion. The cloth is believed to exist today in the Vatican and is ... continue reading

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Bernard of Clairvaux

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church St. Bernard was born of noble parentage in Burgundy, France, in the castle of Fontaines near Dijon. Under the care of his pious parents he was sent at an ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Required


Female Saints

Image of St. Edith Stein

St. Edith Stein

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)Virgin and Martyr Edith Stein, born in 1891 in Breslau, Poland, was the youngest child of a large Jewish family. She was an outstanding student and was well versed in philosophy with a particular interest in ... continue reading

More Female Saints



Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts

Angels

Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but rather he is an angel, and the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title "Archangel" means, that he is above all the others in rank. St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, as we ... continue reading


Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel is an angel who serves as a messenger for God to certain people. He is one of the three archangels. Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. First, in the Old Testament, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his ... continue reading



Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Gregory the Great

St. Gregory the Great

Pope Saint Gregory I, also known as the Great, was the Pope of the Catholic Church between 590 and 604 AD. Gregory was born around 540 in Rome. The exact date of his birth is unknown. Although the Western Roman Empire had collapsed long before his birth, many ancient ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Henry

St. Henry

St. Henry, son of Henry, Duke of Bavaria, and of Gisella, daughter of Conrad, King of Burgundy, was born in 972. He received an excellent education under the care of St. Wolfgang, Bishop of Ratisbon. In 995, St. Henry succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria, and in ... continue reading



Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of

The Assumption of Mary

By Deacon Frederick Bartels

Why is the Assumption important? First, lets look at what this dogma is all about. On 1 November, 1950, Pope Pius XII issued the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus in which he proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption: "Mary, the immaculate perpetually Virgin ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.