Jerusalem, Holy Land 13.05.2015
On Sunday Pope Francis will canonise two Palestinians. Jerusalem’s Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali regards them as intercessors for the World Church.
Jerusalem/Königstein, 13.05.2015. “The canonisation of the Palestinian Blessed Marie Alphonsine Ghattas and Blessed Mariam Baouardi on Sunday in Rome gives hope to Christians in the Holy Land.”These were the words of the Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali, responsible in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem for the Palestinian territories, when talking recently to the Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need in Jerusalem. “Sanctity is evident in the new Saints from Palestine. Saint Marie Alphonsine was very humble. Saint Mariam led an intense life of prayer and piety. When we read the life of the new Saints, we are encouraged to emulate them. It is indeed a great source of encouragement for our Christians here. It also enhances the image of our people that it can produce saints and not only terrorists.”
According to Bishop Shomali, more than 2000 pilgrims from Israel, Palestine and Lebanon will be taking part in the ceremony in Rome with Pope Francis. In view of the fact that the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be taking part, Shomali said: “The canonisation is first and foremost a spiritual event. But when our President heard of the canonisation of two Palestinian women, he expressed the wish to travel to Rome. He is a friend of Pope Francis. He will take part with a delegation. This also has a political dimension. The name of Palestine will appear in the media. Some people will carry the flag. We have no objection to this. But we cannot reduce the event to its political significance. It is first and foremost a spiritual happening.”
Bishop Shomali went on to stress that it was important that the two Saints came from the Middle East. “Many Saints come from Europe and America. We have not had so many coming from the Middle East in recent times. But these two come from the Holy Land, which is revered by Christians from across the globe. With their graves there are now two more holy sites in the Holy Land.”
The Auxiliary Bishop set great store by the significance of the canonisations in terms of the Universal Church. “The two Saints from Palestine belong to the whole Church. One of the healing miracles that led to the canonisation of the Blessed Mariam took place in Syracuse in Sicily. After a novena a child was completely delivered from a heart condition in an inexplicable way. The child will take part in the Holy Mass. This shows that the new Saints are intercessors not only for the Holy Land, but also for the World Church as a whole.”
Bishop Shomali expressed his hope that the canonisations were a sign of a better year for the Holy Land. “It is my hope that, not least due to the canonisations, 2015 will be a better year than 2014 with the war in Gaza and the unrest in Jerusalem. But we shouldn’t see everything in black and white. There were also positive events last year. The Holy Father visited the Holy Land. In 2014 Egypt’s President el-Sisiwon the elections. The Copts were happy about this. The anti-ISIS coalition was also established, even if it has not enjoyed any major victory to date. But perhaps the bad has outweighed the good. We hope that the reverse will be the case this year. We pray for this. Inparticular for Syria and Iraq. The Lord is the master of history. He can change its course.”
Oliver Maksan, email@example.com