Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

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.


More about St. Rafqa from Wikipedia

St. Rafqa Comments



More Saints






Browse Saints by Category


Popular Saints

Rank

Saint

29.

Image of St. Raphael

St. Raphael

St. Raphael is one of the seven Archangels who stand before the throne of the Lord, and one of the only three mentioned by name in the Bible. He appears, by name, only in the Book of Tobit. ... continue reading | shop

30.

Image of St. Gerard Majella

St. Gerard Majella

St. Gerard Majella is the patron of expectant mothers. He was born in 1726 in Muro, Italy to a family of seven. Majella grew up in a poverty with a great respect for the poor. As he was ... continue reading | shop

31.

Image of St. Dymphna

St. Dymphna

Dymphna was born in Ireland sometime in the seventh century to a pagan father and devout Christian mother. When she was fourteen, she consecrated herself to Christ and took a vow of ... continue reading

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Juan Diego

St. Juan Diego

Saint Juan Diego was born in 1474 as Cuauhtlatoatzin, a native to Mexico. He became the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas. Following the early death of his father, Juan Diego ... 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. Catherine of Bologna

St. Catherine of Bologna

St. Catherine of Bologna, Virgin (Patroness of Artists) Feast - March 9th Born in 1413, Catherine de Vigri was the daughter of a diplomatic agent of the Marquis of Ferrara. At the age of eleven, she was appointed maid of honor to the daughter of the Marquis and shared ... 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



Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Apollonius the Apologist

St. Apollonius the Apologist

Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered one of the most priceless documents of the early Church. Apollonius was a Roman senator who was denounced as a Christian by one of his slaves. The Praetorian Prefect, Sextus Tigidius Perennis, arrested him, ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Ava

St. Ava

Ava was the daughter of King Pepin. She was cured of blindness by St. Rainfredis, became a Benedictine nun at Dinart, Hainault, and later was elected Abbess. Her feast day is April 29th. continue reading



Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of Let us remember to give thanks for this day the Lord has made.

Quotes of the Saints - Five saints have a message for you on this Thanksgiving holiday

By Marshall Connolly, (California Network)

If you are an American, today is Thanksgiving. Hopefully today you have made a point to attend Mass and to give thanks to God for all His blessings. If you are not American, today's holiday is a reminder that God deserves thanks from all His creation. We pray you will ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel