Palestine was a troubled State as different Muslim factions would argue over their religious differences. The land during the 1800's was mainly made up of Muslims and Christians with a very small percentage of Jewish people. It became a part of the Ottoman Empire in 1516 under the occupation of the Ottoman Turks.
Into this troubled land would be born a lily for Palestine, Mariam Baouardy. The birth of Mariam in 1846 came after many tears and much prayer by her parents Giries and Mariam Baouardy. Who had traveled to Bethlehem to pray for the birth of a healthy child after several of their children had died in infancy. The parents were overjoyed when their prayers were answered and Mariam was born to them, they then named her after the Virgin Mary in whom they had a great devotion. A few years later Mariam would be joined by a little brother named Boulos but this joy was to be short-lived as both of little Mariam's parents died.
Upon the tragic death of her parents the siblings found themselves separated as Mariam was adopted by an Uncle and went to live in Ibillin. Mariam grew strong under the care of her benevolent Uncle and though not spoiled she lacked for little. Her great joy as a child was to look after her pet birds which she kept in a cage. One day the little Mariam decided her little birdies needed a bath and through ignorance Mariam accidentally drowned them. The child was inconsolable at the terrible mishap, this little accident was to have a major impact on her life as little Mariam heard a voice within her say, "This is how everything passes. If you will give me your heart, I shall always remain with you." These words were to take root in the young heart of Mariam.
When Mariam was 8 years old her Uncle moved his family to Egypt and once again Mariam was saddened to leave her home which she had come to love. Mariam was quickly learning to understand the transient feeling that happiness was, as shadows seem to chase after her.
The event that would change Mariam's life forever was when she learnt she had been promised in marriage to a man she had never known. It was the custom in those days that the parents would arrange their childs nuptials in this case it was Mariam's uncle who had made the marital arrangement. This arrangement filled Mariams heart with dread as she knew that God did not wish for her to be married but for her to remain a virgin, her uncle did not see things this way and flew into a rage. Mariam spent the night before her wedding in prayer when once again she heard within her this voice, "Everything passes! If you wish to give me your heart, I will remain with you." Mariam was not surprised to hear this voice as she had heard it before once again this voice spoke to her, "Mariam, I am with you; follow the inspiration I shall give you. I will help you."
Upon the morning Mariam informed her Uncle that she would not marry, after trying to reason with her the uncle then beat Mariam and screamed his rage at her insubordination of his order. This did not change Mariams mind as she withstood the beatings and insults hurled at her by her uncle. Mariams heart was saddened that she had upset her uncle but her resolve stood firm for her love for God was greater than anything else. In order to further punish Mariam her uncle then forced her to work as a servant in his house, still Mariam remain unmoved with her decision.
Things became increasingly difficult for Mariam as she sunk into a deep loneliness under the threat of her uncles beatings and mistreatment. Through this ordeal Mariam tried to contact her brother Boulos by giving a letter to one of the Muslim hired help. This young Muslim upon learning of the mistreatment of Mariam at first was angered and then he tried to convert Mariam away from her Christian beliefs and to embrace Islam as her new faith. Once Mariam realized this young man's intentions she said fiercely, "Muslim, no, never! I am a daughter of the Catholic Apostolic Church, and I hope by the grace of God to persevere until death in my religion, which is the only true one."
Things were not easy between the Muslim and Christian Faiths and the words of Mariam incensed the young Muslim who then tried to murder Mariam by slashing her throat with his sword. He then left her body in an alley as he thought her dead.
Mariam upon recovering and determined not to go back to her uncles home began work as a domestic servant in an Arab Christian family. For a few years this made Mariam happy and content, but always there was a stirring in Mariams heart as she remembered what was shared within her heart from that inner voice.
Upon speaking to her Priest Mariam was directed to join the Sisters of St. Joseph. Mariam was happy there for a while until she began experiencing mystical events which upset and frightened the other Sisters. It soon became clear that Mariam was not welcomed in their convent. One of the Sisters took her to a Carmelite convent and upon telling their stories both the Sister, Veronica and Mariam were welcomed into the Convent.
Mariam upon taking her Vows in the year 1871 took the name Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified. A most timely name as Sister Mariam was gifted with the Stigmata during another Mystical event.
Throughout Mariams entire life, she would be touched by the Mystical when as only a child she heard that inner voice. Later she was treated upon have her throat slashed by a lady dressed in blue who helped her recover, she felt herself transported to Heaven where she glimpsed the throne of the Holy Trinity and grew close to the Virgin Mary whom she loved. Upon joining the Carmelites of Pau further Mystical gifts would be given to Sister Mariam as she was gifted with not only the Stigmata but also with the readings of hearts, the ability to levitate while in prayer, transverberations of the heart, prophecies and other Mystical phenomena.
These experiences did not puff up Sister Mariams pride but instead made her deeply aware of her own nothingness as she said many times to her fellow Sisters, "Everything passes here on earth. What are we? Nothing but dust, nothingness, and God is so great, so beautiful, so lovable and He is not loved."
Sister Mariam also had an intense devotion to the Holy Spirit and sent a prayer to Pope Pius IX as she tried to re-ignite a passionate devotion and love for the Holy Spirit. Her prayer was simple in its eloquence, "Holy Spirit, inspire me. Love of God consume me. Along the true road, lead me. Mary, my good mother, look down upon me. With Jesus, bless me. From all evil, all illusion, all danger, preserve me." Many people from all over the world continue to pray this simple prayer daily.
Sister Mariam would also spend some of her short life in India when a Carmelite Convent was founded in Mangalore. She would later return to Pau in order to help begin a new foundation of the Order of Carmel in Palestine. Wherever Sister Mariam traveled news of the her Mystical life preceded her and many curious people came to look at this young Mystic. Sister Mariam would often fall into trances and described it this way to a fellow Sister, "I feel as though my heart is open; as though there is a wound in it; and when I have certain ideas and impressions of God which move me, it feels like someone touched the wound in my heart, and I fall in weakness, I lose myself". Not everything that touched Sister Mariam though was from the Divine. Many times she was often tempted by the evil one to doubt God's Goodness and do disobey her Superiors, but Sister Mariam was always able to differentiate the voices that spoke within her.
Within the Convent walls Sister Mariam suffered an a terrible accident from which she did not recover she died in 1878 while heard whispering over and over, "My Jesus, mercy."
I would encourage all to read more about the life of this remarkable Saint, Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified, known as the 'Little Arab'.