Mariam Baouardy was born at Abellin in Galilee on 5th January 1846 to very poor parents who were good living and devoted Greek-rite Catholics. She was left an orphan after the death of her parents at only three years of age when, together with her brother Paul, she was entrusted to the care of an uncle, who had moved to Alexandria in Egypt a few years earlier. She never received any formal education and remained unable to read. At thirteen years of age, wanting to give herself only to God, she firmly refused the marriage which her uncle, according to the Eastern custom, had arranged for her. The next few years, she worked as a domestic in Alexandria, Jerusalem, Beirut and Marseilles. At the beginning of Lent in 1865, she joined the Sisters of Compassion, but falling ill, she was forced to leave after a couple of months. Then she was received into the Institute of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition but, after two years as a postulant, she was judged not to be suited for the cloistered life. Finally, on 14th June 1867, she entered the Carmel in Pau. On 21st August 1870, whilst still a novice, she left for India to join a new Carmel to be founded at Mangalore. On 21st November 1871, she made her religious profession there. One year later, she was recalled to Pau, from where she left as part of a new foundation, the first Carmel in Palestine. She died on 26th August 1878 at Bethlehem from a cancer which she had contracted after a fracture caused by a fall. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 13th November 1983. She was canonized by Pope Francis in Rome on 17 May 2015. In the calendar of the universal Church is commemorated on August 26, while in the Carmelite Order her liturgical memory falls on August 25 . Her tomb, a place of pilgrimage by Christians and Muslims, is located in Carmel’s church in Bethlehem.
Picture credit: betharram.net