Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès lived from 1832 to 1914). St. Rafqa, a Lebanese Maronite Saint, was sanctified On June 10th, 2001 at Saint Peter Basilica in Rome. Pope John Paul II declared her: Venerable on February 11, 1982; Beatified on November 17, 1985; a role model in the adoration of the Eucharist during the Jubilee Year 2000.
She is known as the Patron Saint of Sufferers, Against Cancer and for Loss of Parents. There is some discussion of her being called the Patron Saint of those who love to knit! (Not official, but she did love to knit).
St. Rafqa is also known for the unbearable pain that she endured when she asked the Lord to share in his suffering so that she could suffer as he did. She prayed, "Why, O my God, have you distance yourself from me and have abandoned me. You have never visited me with sickness! Have you perhaps abandoned me?"
She fell asleep that same night and told her mother superior that "At the moment of sleeping I felt a most violent pain spreading above my eyes to the point that I reached the state you see me in, blind and paralyzed, and as I myself had asked for sickness I could not allow myself to complain or murmur.”
St. Rafqa (which translates to Rebecca) suffered many years because of her desire to share in the passion of Jesus Christ.
She was born in Himlaya, a small village near Bickfaya (Metn), on June 29, 1832 and was given the name Petronilla as a reminder that she was a daughter of St. Peter, on whose feast day she was born. She lost her mother at age seven.
She entered religious life in 1859 when she entered the Congregation of the Mariamettes. She stayed there until 1871. While there, Rafqa was in charge of kitchen service. She studied Arabic, calligraphy and mathematics. She educated and mentored girls aspiring to join her congregation. In 1860 Rafqa was sent to Deir el-Kamar to teach catechism. There she witnessed, first-hand, the war in Lebanon. On one occasion, she risked her own life by hiding a child under her robe and saving him from death.
She entered the Monastery of St. Simon el-Qarn in Aito in 1971 and remained there until 1897. She received the habit on July 12, 1871 and pronounced her vows on August 25, 1872. She received the name, sister Rafqa, named after her mother.
On the first Sunday of October 1885, she entered the monastery church and began to pray, asking Jesus to permit her to experience some of the suffering He endured during His passion. Her prayer was immediately answered. Unbearable pains began in her head and moved to her eyes.
She has an amazing history. And I will add to it as time progresses. Please add to the discussion!