JERUSALEM, SEPT. 10, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Holy Land Christians are rejoicing over the forthcoming beatification, the first to take place in their country, of Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas, which is planned for Nov. 22 in Nazareth.
Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, affirmed this Wednesday, the day after the Holy See publicized the place and date of the beatification.
The Vatican communiqué reported that “Mother Ghattas,” born Soultaneh Maria, co- founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem, will be beatified on the solemnity of Christ the King in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
Father Pizzaballa told the Italian agency Sir that this celebration will be “an important event, which will bring the Palestinian Christian community together again after Benedict XVI’s visit.”
He explained, “This beatification gives local Christians a symbol and spiritual example at a difficult time, in which their number is diminishing, with so many challenges such as secularization, formation and the political problems that continue unresolved.”
Mother Ghattas’ spiritual daughters, the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary, were very enthusiastic when the news was made public. Sister Ildefonsa, secretary general of the congregation, explained to Sir that not only her congregation but the whole Christian community, especially in Galilee have been preparing for a long time.
She stated, “We have sent a letter from the congregation to all the convents spread across the Middle East, so that they will pray and fast faced to the beatification.”
The beatification “will be, for our Christian communities, an invitation to courage, to stay despite the difficulties,” the nun added. “On our part we intend to give them education and instruction.”
Daughter of Palestine
Ghattas was born on October 4, 1843 in Jerusalem. She entered religious life at age 14, with the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition, taking the name Alfonsina.
She had visions of the Virgin Mary, who requested that she found a congregation dedicated to the Holy Rosary. In 1880, together with Father Joseph Tannous, she initiated the new religious community, which soon spread all over the Holy Land.
The Custos of the Holy Land stated that Mother Ghattas was “a daughter of Palestine who lived in the Holy Land and who understood the importance of instruction and formation to give Christian witness in this tormented region of the world.”