Saint Rafqa: Maid in Damascus

Between 1839 and 1842 during the rule of Emir Bashir, a regional war took place in Lebanon. It was a very severe conflict having political and economical impacts, it was also a civil war between Lebanese people of different religions. In 1841 the Egyptian army was driven by force outside Lebanon and Syria, and Emir Bashir was exiled to the island of Malta.

The economic situation became very difficult in Lebanon, especially in the Christian areas of Mount Lebanon, and the Metn area more specifically, areas that came under the ferocious rule of Ibrahim Basha.

In 1843, little Boutrossiyé was eleven years old when her father’s financial situation became so deteriorated that he decided to send her with his friend Assaad El Badwi to Damascus, Syria to work for him in his house as a maid.

An old picture of Al Marjeh square in Damascus, Syria

She stayed for four years, serving her masters with so much devotion and loyalty, living the words of Saint Paul who recommended all servants to be:” a model of loyalty, piety and purity.” Mrs. El Badwi was extremely nice to her and she treated her like a daughter, she gave her maternal tenderness and provided her with an excellent education. Boutrossiyé used to send all of her salary to her father in Lebanon to help him.

During her stay in Damascus, Boutrossiyé learned how to serve others. She earned the trust and respect of all those who knew her. Everybody admired her piety, her many virtues and her intelligence. People were also fascinated by the strong will that she had, and by her love to others and to God.

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