St. Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas

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Sultana Danil Ghattas was born to a devout Christian family in Jerusalem. At seventeen, on Mount Golgotha in Jerusalem, she was received into the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition and received the name Marie-Alphonsine. Before long, she began to receive her own apparitions of the Blessed Mother, who instructed her to found a new congregation for Arab girls. Choosing to conceal the source of her inspiration from all but her spiritual director, she endured much criticism for abandoning her congregation. Still, she persisted. As she remarked, “Love is greater than death.” 

Having eventually received permission to leave her congregation, she embarked on establishing her new congregation, the Sisters of the Holy Rosary, receiving her new habit in 1883. She lived a quiet life of prayer and service in the very land where Jesus and his Mother had lived, founding schools and orphanages. When she sensed that death was near, she asked one of her sisters to fetch two notebooks, sealed with red wax, and deliver them to the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem. They described in detail the apparitions she had received many years ago, thus, to the astonishment of her Sisters, revealing the secret origins of their congregation. 

Mother Marie-Alphonsine died on March 25, 1927. She was canonized in 2015. 

“I decided through love to Mary, and in her veneration, to obey her voice and to sacrifice my life in the Congregation of the Rosary, putting my trust in the help which my Mother will bestow on me, believing that she will always walk along with me and will support me.”

—St. Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas 

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.