On May 13, 2015, the Vatican officially recognized Palestine’s statehood. This recognition, in the form of a treaty between the Holy See and Palestine, came just four days before Pope Francis is set to canonize two Palestinian nuns: Miriam Bawardy, Order of Discalced Carmelites, nun, and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, a co-founder of Jerusalem’s Rosary Sisters.

In Catholic tradition, an individual must have fulfilled a number of requirements to become a Saint. This includes the performance of miracles through the Holy Spirit. It is hard not to see the Vatican/Palestine treaty as another miracle to attribute to both Palestinian nuns on their road to sainthood. “But the diplomatic surprise is likely not to be the work of the new saints, but rather yet another dramatic gesture from Pope Francis, demonstrating his care for a grossly abused and neglected people, whom the world’s powers, and particularly the United States, have repeatedly failed,” wrote Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J., HCEF Board Member and Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Global Human Development at Georgetown University. 

His Holiness, Pope Francis 

As an organization focused on the plight of Palestinian Christians, HCEF is deeply invested in these back to back historical developments in Palestine’s religious and political narratives. Sir Rateb Rabie, HCEF’s President/CEO, and his wife, Lady Rocio Rabie, HCEF’s Public Relations Officer, are on their way Rome to represent HCEF in the Holy See for Sunday’s Canonization.



Sir Rabie is deeply moved and inspired by the Canonization: “The recognition of these Palestinian Nuns as saints reveals to the world an unfamiliar but crucial message about the Palestinian people as a whole. Palestinians are bound by deep traditions that they have helped preserve, they remain true to the faith born in their land, and, above all – according to the tenets of that faith – they promote peace on earth. All Palestinians are honored by the canonization of these two nuns, including myself. We are a people dedicated to the divine principles of peace, justice, and servanthood for all humankind. I am glad the world is finally recognizing this.”