Eyes of the Heart Studio

Lily of Lebanon

St. Rafqa of Lebanon, holding a Lily.

Medium: Craft Acrylics on Crepe

St. Rafqa was a Maronite religious of Lebanon. Beautiful and healthy, tender and serene, she spent her first several years of religious life as a teacher. She was exemplary in her devotion and observance of the rule.

In October 1885, Rafqa begged Jesus for a share in His Passion. She prayed, “O my God, why are you distant from me and have abandoned me? You don’t visit me with sickness. Have you perhaps abandoned me?” Her prayer was answered at once: she was struck with unbearable pains in her head, moving to her eyes. The rest of her lifetime would be spent with Jesus on the Cross.

Rafqa was sent to Beirut for treatment, where she suffered an eye operation that accidentally removed her right eye. The blotched operation was performed, at her request, without anesthetic. For the next twelve years, she continued to experience intense pain in her head, which she united to the pains caused by the crown of thorns. Rafqa bore everything peacefully and without complaint, thanking Jesus for the gift of sharing in His suffering.

In 1899, her suffering reached a new height. Rafqa lost sight in her remaining eye and became completely bedridden. Paralysis set in, and she became as a rack of bones, several of which became dislocated. Her face was spared, remaining radiant to the end. Her hands also remained intact, allowing her to knit and made clothing amidst her pains.

In the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope St. John Paul II declared St. Rafqa a role model in the adoration of the Eucharist. Once, on the feast of Corpus Christi, she dragged herself into the monastery chapel, to the astonishment of her sisters. Burning with desire to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, she besought the Lord to help her get there. Then she slipped out of bed miraculously, and He enabled her to crawl to the chapel.

Prayer

St. Rafqa, Lily of Lebanon, obtain for us the grace to bear the sufferings of this life with a joyful heart. Please help us to love in our suffering, that we might have peace of heart. Be a friend to us in our afflictions and illnesses, that we might use them, like you, to be a consolation to Jesus in His Passion. Amen.