Sister Mariam Baouardy was canonized today in Rome, Italy by Pope Francis. She was a victim of Muslim violence. When she refused marriage and conversion to Islam by her Islamic suitor he flew into a rage and slit her throat.
A nun dressed in blue picked her up and stitched her wounds.
Mariam Baouardy experienced the stigmata during her lifetime.
Mariam Baouardy was born on January 5, 1846 (the eve of Epiphany) in the village of I’billin, the region of Southern Syria in the Ottoman Empire.
Mariam was their 13th child and first daughter, none of her preceding brothers had survived infancy. She was born after a trip the couple made a pilgrimage on foot to Bethlehem, some 70 miles away, out of desperation after the loss of their children. When they were later blessed with the birth of a daughter, they named her after the Virgin Mary, out of gratitude. She was joined by a new brother, Boulos, two years later.
Baouardy’s parents both died from an illness in 1848, only a few days apart. The siblings were then each taken in by relatives on different sides of her family living in different villages, she being taken in by her father’s brother who lived in the same village. The brother and sister would never see one another again. She was raised in a loving home in comfortable circumstances.
When Baouardy was eight, her uncle and his wife moved to Alexandria, Egypt, to improve their situation. Five years later, in 1858 when she was aged 13, in keeping with tradition, she was engaged by her uncle to his wife’s brother, who lived in Cairo. The night before the wedding, she had a religious experience in which she felt called not to marry and to offer her life to God. Upon being told this the following morning, her uncle flew into a rage and beat her severely. Despite this, and the subsequent ill treatment she began to experience from her uncle, she stayed firm in her decision.
Nonetheless, Baouardy felt depressed and alone. She wrote her brother, then living in Nazareth, asking him to visit her. The young male servant she asked to deliver the letter drew out of her the cause for her sadness. Upon learning of this, he attempted to woo her for himself, inviting her to convert to Islam. She rejected his proposal, which caused the young man to fly into a rage, in which he drew a knife and cut her throat. He then dumped her body in a nearby alley.
Baouardy then experienced what she was convinced was a miracle. As she related later, a “nun dressed in blue” picked up her body and stitched her wounds, caring for her in some grotto which she could never identify. Her voice was effected for the rest of her life as a result of the cut, which a French doctor later measured as being 10 cm. (nearly 4 inches) wide. After being cared for by this mysterious figure for a month, she recovered enough to leave and find work as a domestic servant in the home of an Arab Christian family in the city. She would give most of the little money she earned to the poor on the streets — Wikipedia.
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