Saint Rafqa/Rebecca

St. Rafqa / Rafka (Arabic for Rebecca) (1832–1914) was born in Himlaya, a Maronite village in the Lebanese mountains. She was an only child, and her mother died when she was seven. After her father's remarriage there was much family discord as to whom Rafqa should marry. Not wanting to wed any of the men in question, she turned to God and entered religious life at the age of 21. She had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary which she learned from her mother. She studied and served as a teacher for many years, but, after witnessing and surviving a massacre of Christians, she decided at the age of 39 to become a cloistered contemplative nun living under a strict rule in a monastery. Here, Rafqa prayed earnestly that she might share in the sufferings of Christ. Her prayers were heard almost immediately. She became blind and paralyzed, and over the course of 30 years she struggled with deteriorating health and incredible pain. All of her sufferings she united to the sufferings of Christ without complaint. Under obedience to her superior she worked on an autobiography near the end of her life. She died at the age of 82, and her grave is credited with many miracles. St. Rafqa is a Catholic Maronite saint canonized by Pope St. John Paul II in 2001. She is the patron of sick people, bodily ills, and loss of parents. Her feast day is March 23rd.

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