Palestine in Rome

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My wife and I joined dozens of other Palestinians – from many countries – to witness the canonization of the two Palestinian saints, Sr Miriam Bardawy and Sr Mary Alfonsine, in Rome by Pope St Francis, Sunday May 17.” AEI co-founder and co-president Elias Abu Akleh looks back to his visit to Rome.

“Sr Miriam is in fact my neighbor. In the 19th century she established the monumental Carmel convent in Bethlehem which is next to my home.

Upon our arrival to the St. Sabine chapel in Rome for the opening ceremony, I personally felt incredibly special and grateful seeing my countrymen and -women surrounding each other, hugging, kissing and talking to each other as if we had not seen each other for a long time. I felt at home! Though Palestine is my home, it is fragmented, and we all try to survive and cope with life. In normal daily life we often barely notice one another outside our family and work.

However, here in Rome we felt as if a spiritual Palestine was alive. We felt no fragmentation, no separation, but people connected by a deep, spiritual bond. Delegates from all over the world came to celebrate the canonization, like us. The Palestinian priests, the bishops, the people, the officials were all there. Everyone was holding a Palestinian flag, wearing a cap and a T-shirt with Palestinian symbols while waiting for the great moment of celebration. Standing in a queue we were shouting, crying, clapping and singing together for St.Mary and St Miriam. It was a unique, historical celebration for all those attending.

Such an event deepens your faith and strengthens your belief in God and people, and - despite all what is going on – it strengthens belief in Palestine as well.”


Elias Abu Akleh


May 29, 2015

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