Originally published: Father José Ramón García Gallardo
The Greek-Catholic marriage of Yeries (George) Baouardy and his wife, Mariam Chahine, had given birth to twelve sons, but tragedy weighed on them as all of them died within a few months of birth or within a few days of being born. Yeries and Mariam, who lived in Galilee -then politically controlled by the Turks-, decided to make a pilgrimage on foot to Bethlehem, almost 200 km from their home, to ask God for a daughter, promising to name her Mariam in honor of the Blessed Virgin. God heard their prayers and after nine months, on the 5th of February, 1846, they were blessed with the birth of their daughter, the thirteenth of their descendants – the first to live. They kept their promise and named the child Mariam. One year later they had a son (Paul). Mariam’s first childhood had not yet ended when both her parents died within a few days of each other. Mariam always remembered that just before he died, her father took her in his arms and lifted her up to an image of St. Joseph: “Great Saint, protect my little girl. The Virgin is her Mother, you are her Father! Watch over her!”
Following the Eastern custom, the relatives divided the orphans, who never saw each other again. Paul went to his maternal uncles. Mariam was taken in by her paternal uncles, who brought her to live in Alexandria. At the age of five, she began fasting on Saturdays in honor of the Virgin Mary. She intended to live for God. On her twelfth birthday, her uncle announced her engagement to his wife’s brother. The engagement was made without her knowledge and the wedding was already prepared. Mariam refused to marry. The local bishop was called in to explain her duty of obedience, but on the day of the wedding, instead of coming out of her room ready for the wedding and wearing her best clothes, she came out with her hair cut off on a tray next to the jewels she was supposed to wear. Her uncle started to mistreat her, gave her slavish work, and her confessor understood nothing and refused her absolution and communion. A Mahomedan servant began to court her, asking her to become a Mahomedan. Mariam refused him: “Me, a Muslim? Never! I am a daughter of the Catholic Church and I hope to remain so for the rest of my life”. The man took out a knife, slit her throat and threw her corpse into a nearby alley. All Mariam remembered of those days was seeing her father and mother, the Virgin, the saints, and the Holy Trinity. She heard a voice telling her: “Your book is not finished. A woman dressed in blue healed her wounds for a month in a cave. When she recovered, the woman in blue took her to the Franciscan church. She always had a scar on her neck 10 cm long and 1 cm wide . She sought work with a Christian Arab family, which she soon left because she traveled to Palestine to try to be reunited with her younger brother. At the Holy Sepulchre she made a vow of virginity. After a short stay in Beirut, and without having found her brother’s whereabouts, she ended up as a cook for a Christian Arab family in Marseille, France.
She felt called to enter a religious congregation and spent two years in postulancy with the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. On Thursdays and Fridays, she would receive bleeding stigmata on her hands and feet, and later a wound would open up on her side. Because of this, she had to modify her work schedule a couple of days a week, which led to her being rejected by the community, accused of not keeping to the schedule and thus disrupting community life. On the recommendation of her novice mistress, she was admitted to the Carmelite Convent in the city of Pau. There she received the Carmelite habit and the name of Mary of Jesus Crucified. Together with other nuns she was sent to found a new Carmelite convent in Mangalore, India, and after a few years she returned to Pau. During this time she came into contact with Maria Lasserre, the housekeeper of the ducal family of Parma. In 1871 she made her solemn vows and, by the express decision of Pope Pius IX, was sent to found the Carmelite convent in Bethlehem. There she died in 1878 of a gangrenous wound.
Mary of Jesus Crucified – whose holiness is a well-known fact, verified by many witnesses during her life – never learned to read or write and lacked an academic education. In the convent she devoted herself only to the hard tasks proper to “converted sisters” -she spent almost all her time in the kitchen or in the laundry- but God granted her numerous mystical graces, private revelations and ecstasies. She seemed to know the dangers that beset Pope Pius IX, and in Rome they paid much attention to her messages, after they had ignored her first warning that a military post near the Vatican had been mined: on October 22, 1867, the Serristori de Borgo Vecchio post exploded in broad daylight. We also know the situation of the village of Emmaus thanks to a private revelation. Her novice mistress said that she was “a miracle of God’s grace” and Leon Bloy and Julien Green, among other admirers of the Arab Carmelite, agreed with this opinion. There are those who have asked that she be proclaimed patroness of Catholic intellectuals, because when science began to take shape as a pseudo-religion, the life of Mary of Jesus Crucified challenged the world by reminding it that God is the Lord of His creation and works miracles when He wants to.
 An atheist physician who examined her years later, when she was living in France, found that she was missing a couple of rings in her trachea and exclaimed: ” God must exist, for no one in the world could survive such a wound without a miracle!”
Father José Ramón García Gallardo, Counselor of the Traditionalist Youth
Translation by the San Jerónimo Guild