Pope Francis to Canonize First ‘Palestinian Saints’

May 7, 2015  

Pope Francis is set to canonize two Arab nuns who lived in Israel during the Ottoman empire as Catholic saints, making them the first “Palestinian saints.”

According to a report on Wednesday by the Lebanese LBCI News, the Marie Alphonsine Ghattas of Jerusalem and Mariam Bawardy of the Galilee will be canonized at the Vatican on May 17.

The two lived during the 19th century CE, when Israel was under Ottoman Turkish rule and was considered part of greater Syria by the empire. Despite claims to the contrary, historical records definitively show that a state of “Palestine” never existed in the region, the name being applied later in the British Mandate when the Ottoman rule was overthrown in World War One.

The Lebanese news channel showed footage of an announcement regarding the canonization later this month being made at the Christian Media Center based in Jerusalem. 

According to Catholicism, canonizing a person as a saint means recognizing them as being a righteous person who is believed to be in Heaven, although there are cases where the term applies to living persons as well.

Pope Francis’s recognition of “Palestinian” saints is not the first time he has stirred controversy regarding Israel.

During a visit last May, he called the Palestinian Authority (PA) the “state of Palestine.”

Later in the visit he made an unexpected stop at the security barrier between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in Judea to pray at a section with “Pope we need to see someone to speak about justice. Bethlehem look (sic) like Warsaw ghetto. Free Palestine” spray-painted on it.

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