The dawn of this third millennium saw the canonization
of Saint Rafca, the first woman from the Middle East
to be canonized in recent times, one who came from
the sanctified land of Lebanon, where holiness flourishes
to be fulfilled in Paradise, the celestial kingdom
we all aspire to.
Here are extracts from a long poem dedicated
to Rafca, which flowed from the pen of the poet Joseph
Gentle like the air, celestial and luminous,
Small jewel lost in the meadows
Midst multi-hued flowers...
Seven springtimes scarcely passed
When for one last time
Your good mother plaited your braids.
Then motherless we see you
Following Paul on the Damscus road.
...Then from Himlaya to Deir El Kamar,
Still ruling the Lebanese Mountain,
To Bikfaya, Ghazir, Jbail and Mëad,
To Aïto and Jribta your wanderings led you
And there they ceased.
...This was the place where Christ called you,
And here there came flocking to you
Young men and maidens alike...
...Raphaca, with the smile of an angel
And the eyes of a gazelle,
With the voice of a charmer
And appeal of a lamb,
Lover of Christ, our Communion and food.
...The Lord planted you here
To grow with his spirit,
To be culled in Paradise,
His kingdom of light and of life.
Happy were they who prayed with you
And chanted a hymn to Joy...
You were for your sisters the Lord's apostle,
For your soul was filled with fiery love
For Jesus who lay in your heart.
You asked to suffer for him and with him
And the trial you bore to the end,
Pressing harder little by little,
Crowning you with thorns
On your head and your eyes.
Six wounds there were,
For one on your shoulder
Was that of Jesus carrying his cross...
...A model for your sisters,
So afflicted for you
And yet by you consoled!!!