“Bust of Marie Alphonse Ratisbonne at St. Pierre de Sion, Ratisbonne Monastery 1874, Jerusalem”

” Fr. Marie did more for the good of Jerusalem in a few years than others have done in two hundred years!”

-Cardinal Simeoni
Prefect of the Propogation of the Faith
6th May 1884
St. John de Montana, Ein Kerem

The events of the month of May in Alphonse’s life:
May 6th marks, in a way, the end of a chapter begun on January 20th, 1842, therefore 182
years ago. Today we commemorate the death of Alphonse Marie Ratisbonne who died on that
day 140 years ago, at the age of 70, in 1884. From January 20th to May 6th is our entire
foundation, it is a complete journey of the cycle of the foundation of Sion dear to God. From
the 20th of January 1842, the two brothers were attuned around the same objective and with
the death of Théodore in January (10th) and of Alphonse on the 6th of the same year, 1884,
this personal circle was completed from the point of historical view of our foundation with
the presence of the two founders.

On the day of his death, the 6th of May, it was unusually rainy and cold (the 6 days that preceded were exceptionally rainy and cold). It is usually not normal to be cold or raining at this time of year in Israel. The days before his death, as is well known, Alphonse Marie went, on the 30th of April, from St. Pierre de Sion, Ratisbonne Monastery to St. John de Montana, Ein Karem, to prepare the celebrations for the beginning of the month of Mary, and on the 1st of May, very early in the morning, he was preparing to celebrate mass, he was seized with a great shiver of cold, followed by a strong fever and was unable to celebrate. He went to his house a few meters away from the Chapel where he was supposed to celebrate and then he didn’t recover until the 6th day of his death, as a result of a strong pneumonia. As said before, all those days were rainy and cold days that year.

He was born on the 1st of May and when he turned 70 years old, Alphonse fell ill and did not
recover from this illness. I quote the words of Fr. Estrate: “But for him, son of Mary, born on
the first of May – he could not die in another month. He died in this house, opposite the
Visitation, in this rocky terrain that he transformed into a true earthly paradise. He often said:
“I will die in the month of Mary, I am not a child like the others”.

It is also worth mentioning another detail about the year in which we started our activities
here in Jerusalem: Alphonse arrived here on September 12, 1855 and after a certain time,
overcoming the possible and the impossible, it began with the arrival of 4 sisters of Sion.
They arrived here, in the port of Jaffa, on the 4th of May, 1856, Alphonse went to meet them
in the port, he being with a strong fever, the result of the broken arm that had been the cause
of his stay here and of our foundation. They spent the night there and on the 5th set out on the
backs of animals. That day they stayed overnight in Ramleh and the next day, that is, on the
6th of May, they arrived in Jerusalem. Contrary to the 6th of May of Alphonse’s death and
today, in 1856 it was very hot and Alphonse describes this trip from Jaffa to Jerusalem with
martyrdom because of the heat. Once again today is also the day of the installation of Sion, as
a community, to Jerusalem. Therefore, we celebrate the 140th anniversary of the death of
Alphonse Marie and 168 years of our definitive installation in this Land of Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob, Jesus, Mary, Alphonse Marie, our Land and Land of the people of Israel.

“Jerusalem is the heart of the Congregation.”
-Fr. Alphonse Marie Ratisbonne, 9th Nov. 1858

Bro. Elio Passeto, Nds
6th May 2024
Feast of the Founder
St. Pierre de Sion, Ratisbonne Monastery 1874
Community of Notre Dame de Sion (Religious of Our Lady of Sion), Israel-Jerusalem



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