Saint Raphaela Mary must have been very happy to see her beloved sisters preparing her Feast with great joy and gratitude, taking care of every small thing. It was a very special occasion for the Tertians, who celebrated her Feast Day for the first time closing to her with great enthusiasm. We remember her words in our hearts “All united as the fingers of the hand”.

For me, it was an incredible and special opportunity to take part in the decoration of her chapel. I felt very fortunate to be able to connect heart to heart, alone with her, while she was arranging the flowers. She spoke to me with her smile and her affection, I looked at her and was taken by her simplicity and her love.

The first vespers were celebrated in the chapel of the community, a 5 year old boy carried a lighted candle accompanied by his mother and happily placed it beside the statue of the saint to begin the prayer, while the sisters sang the hymn dedicated to her.

On May 18, at Lauds, we all prayed with our Saint in front of her body. We wanted to share our joy with her through the prayers and songs. Afterwards, we continued with the adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament, which was exposed on the altar that I had prepared with flowers. It was very special to see Saint Raphaela Mary with the Blessed Sacrament so close to her. I was in awe as I contemplated her body being offered as a precious altar for Jesus. I saw many people who came to visit her and to give thanks for the example of her extraordinary life.

We shared the joy of the Feast of St. Raphaela Mary with the immigrants and refugees in the Caritas Canteen. Sister Millet, who accompanies us in the apostolate, introduced the reason for our Feast and led the prayer with the volunteers. We also shared sweets to all the people who ate there, and even to the volunteers, along with some stampitas with the prayer of Saint Raphaela Mary. It was a very meaningful way of transmitting our joy.

Adoration in the afternoon began at four o’clock and continued until before the Eucharist at 6:30. Many well-known people arrived very early, creating a festive atmosphere. We celebrated a beautiful Eucharist, with the participation of different groups of the ACI family, beloved friends of our Sisters, the community of Torricella, Castelverde and some others who were circumstantially in Rome on this day. A Filipino group played the guitar and sang the Gloria, in a spectacular way, in Tagalog; there were other songs in Spanish, English and Italian; a special offertory, prepared by the Sisters of the Infirmary and a ritual from India called “Aarti”. Thus, we could feel “a universal heart” beating in our church and embodying one big family.

After the Eucharist, we all gathered in a big dining hall where we continued celebrating with food and drink. The hall was filled with friendly and joyful conversations, we toasted gratefully to Saint Raphaela Mary, who unites us in her Feast. We followed her path with the universal heart, from which hope continues to spring. The heart of Jesus, in which Saint Raphaela Mary blindly trusted.

Saint Raphaela Mary, pray for us.

Anna Thanh Thao, ACI