On November 19, 2020, the Rosary Sisters of Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Mary Alphonsine, the foundress of the Rosary Congregation, during a Holy Mass presided over by H.B. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
The Mass took place at the Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate and was limited to the bishops, priests, seminarians and a few parishioners, abiding by the safety measures due to the ongoing pandemic.
In his homily, Patriarch Pizzaballa greeted the Rosary sisters and their superior general Very Rev. Mother Iness Al-Yaacoub, thanking them for their service in the Church of Jerusalem, its parishes and schools. He underscored their presence as women in the parishes which is a reminder to all and especially parish priests to know realities from a woman’s perspective.
His Beatitude pointed out that those who want to follow in the footsteps of the Virgin Mary must learn how to be daughters of the Church.
“Mary was a bride,” added Patriarch Pizzaballa. “To be a bride of Christ means being able to take care of the house. The house here is the Church”.
The Bishop of Jerusalem said that Mary was also a mother who was able “to generate and give life”. A mother in the Church means to be able to generate new life in the Church.
This year, the Feast of St. Mary Alphonsine was celebrated at the Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate and not in the Rosary Sisters Monastery in Mamilla. The sisters, thereby, wanted to present the Patriarchate with a statue of the saint to be placed in its Co-Cathedral and blessed by its patriarch.
“Today, His Beatitude Patriarch Pizzaballa not only blesses a habit but a statue of the daughter of Jerusalem, St. Marie Alphonsine, and places it in the same Co-Cathedral which carries the fragrance of the past where all the alphabets of the Congregation started,” said Mother Iness Al-Yaacoub highlighting the “the deep connection between the Congregation of the Holy Rosary and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.”
The Superior General also asked the patriarch to take all the measures needed for the beatification of Fr. Yousef Tannous, a Latin Patriarchate priest and the co-founder, with St. Mary Alphonsine, of the Rosary Sisters Congregation. “At our congregation, we are confident that soon we will together joyfully celebrate and raise our praise to Our Lord for the grace of sanctity of many of the founders of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem; patriarchs and priests including Fr. Yousef Tannous,” said Mother Iness.
In preparation for the saint’s feast, the Rosary Sisters organized a novena in the different sanctuaries dedicated to St. Mary Alphonsine in the Holy Land. It included praying the Rosary, Eucharist Adorations, and singing of hymns.
A BRIEFING ON THE LIFE OF ST. MARIE ALPHONSINE
Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas (4 October 1843 –25 March 1927) was a Palestinina Christian nun who founded the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem (the Rosary Sisters), the first Palestinian congregation. She was beatfied by Archbishop Angelo Amato on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.
On 6 December 2014, Pope Framcis recognized a miracle that had been attributed to her intercession which was a requirement for her canonization. The date of her canonization was announced alongside others passed for canonization on 14 February 2015 and she was canonized on 17 May 2015.
In Bethlehem, she had several apparitions of Blessed Mary directing her to found a Palestine congregation known as the "Sisters of the Rosary". In 1880 seven young girls prepared by Joseph Tannous, priest of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, received the religious habit of the new foundation from the hands of Patriarch Bracco. That same year, Ghattas received a dispensation from Rome to leave the community of the Sisters of St. Joseph and entered the new congregation. She received the habit from the hands of Bishop Pascal Appodia, Auxiliary and Patriarchal vicar, on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, 7 October 1883. On 7 March 1885, together with eight other sisters, she professed her final vows in the new order in the presence of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Vincent Bracco.
Ghattas dedicated her life to parish ministry and the care and education of Palestinian girls and the community quickly grew. In 1886 she founded a school for girls in Beit Sahour. Then she was sent to Salt in TransJordan with three sisters, then in Nablus, before returning in Jerusalem because of her health. After having recovered, she went to the house of Zababdeh.
In 1917, she went to Ein Karem to found an orphanage in Ein Karem. She died there on the Feast of the Annunciation 25 March 1927.