Today at the hospital. I anointed a couple who were from Bethlehem. I mentioned my devotion to the newly canonized saint Marian the Little Arab. Pope Francis canonized her last Pentecost Sunday. Little Mariam told priests in her writing if they would celebrate one mass a month for the intentions of the Holy Spirit they would soon be raising the dead.
The wife went to the school in Bethlehem that was founded by Mariam. She was telling me of a priest back home. Recently they opened the tomb where Mariam was buried. The priest was given a piece of her habit, and told that she would protect him. The priest always carried this piece of her habit in his pocket.
The priest was recently captured by ISIS. ISIS was beheading many people. A Muslim man had a sword ready to cut the head off the priest. But something strange happened. The Muslim man couldn’t move the sword towards the priest head. He asked the priest ‘Why can’t I move my sword?’ The priest went into his pocket and took out the piece of cloth of little Mariam habit and told the man ‘Mariam is protecting me.’ At this the Muslim man let the priest go.
After the couple told me this story. I related to them this story from the life of Mariam the little Arab.
Her martyrdom and miraculous cure through the Blessed Virgin Mary
In her isolation from her uncle’s family, she turned to a Muslim servant to have him deliver her letter to Nazareth. For his part, the young man encouraged Mariam to reveal her personal troubles. He became outraged at her uncle’s treatment of her and played upon the mind and feelings of the young girl. He introduced conversion to Islam as a remedy to Mariam’s problems. His words and actions focused young Mariam directly upon her Christianity. However, she soon realized the young man’s true intentions, and this caused her to draw back. She denied his advances and loudly proclaimed her faith in the Church of Jesus. “Muslim, no, never! I am a daughter of the Catholic Church, and I hope by the grace of God to persevere until death in my religion, which is the only true one.”
Her so-called protector, furious at being rejected by this young Christian, became violent. Eyes flashing with hatred he lost control and kicked her to the floor. He then drew his sword and slashed her throat. Thinking her dead, he dumped her bloody body in a nearby dark alley. It was the feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, September 8,1858. What followed was a strange and beautifully moving story, told years later by Mariam to her Mistress of Novices at Marseilles, France:
“A nun dressed in blue picked me up and stitched my throat wound. This happened in a grotto somewhere. I then found myself in heaven with the Blessed Virgin, the angels and the saints. They treated me with great kindness. In their company were my parents. I saw the brilliant throne of the Most Holy Trinity and Jesus Christ in His humanity. There was no sun, no lamp, but everything was bright with light. Someone spoke to me. They said that I was a virgin, but that my book was not finished. ”
She then found herself once again in the grotto with the “nun dressed in blue”. How long did Mariam remain in this secret shelter? She later spoke of one month, but she was not sure. One day, the unknown nurse prepared some soup for her that was so delicious that she greedily asked for more, and all her life she was to remember the taste of this heavenly soup. On her death bed she was heard to say tenderly, “She made me some soup! Oh, such good soup! There I was a long time, looking, and never ate soup like that. I have the taste in my mouth. She promised me that at my last hour, she will give me a little spoonful of it.”
It seems to me that there is a connection between these two events. As Mariam had her head chopped off. Mary healed her and she came back to life. In the same light, Mariam protected this priest from getting his head chopped off.