Two Palestinian nuns canonised
T-shirt with the picture of the two Palestinian nuns who will be canonised by Pope Francis.Reuters

Four new saints are to be canonised at a ceremony in the Vatican by Pope Francis, including two Palestinian nuns, Marie Alphonsine Ghattas and Mariam Bawardy.

One of the Palestinian nuns honoured, Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, co-founded the Congregation of the Rosary Sisters, which runs many kindergartens and schools in Palestine.

She was born in Jerusalem in 1893 and during her life, she saw many apparitions of the Virgin Mary. She also saved a young girl from drowning by throwing in a rosary into the tank of water the girl had fell in. The child said that she was transfixed by a great light and saw a ladder in the shape of a rosary which enabled her to climb out of the well.

Ghattas is also said to have been afflicted with stigmata – bleeding wounds, similar to those of Jesus Christ when he was crucified, which appear and disappear on a person's body.

Mariam Bawardy, also known as Mary of Jesus Crucified, was born to Greek Catholic parents from Syria and Lebanon. She also saw visions, including St Joseph and experienced stigmata.

The memoirs of Mother Veronica, a contemporary of Bawardy describe the stigmata: "At about nine o'clock blood flowed from the crown of thorns all around her head. I can solemnly attest that I saw blood coming from the holes of the thorns, one of which, in the center of her forehead, opened before me, and blood gushed from it."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be present at the ceremony.

Pope Francis called the politician "an angel of peace" upon meeting him at the Vatican on Saturday (16 May).

In a statement, Abbas praised the two new saints as inspirational models for today's Palestinians.

"We call on Palestinian Christians to stay with us and enjoy the rights of full and equal citizenship, and bear with us the difficulties of life until we achieve liberty, sovereignty and human dignity," he said.

The Vatican has formally recognised Palestinian statehood in a treaty which states that the Holy See favours a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel and allows the Vatican to oversee Roman Catholic matters in the areas that President Abbas controls.

Israel expressed disappointment with the treaty, which uses the term "Palestinian state".

The two other people who will become saints at the ceremony are Émilie de Villeneuve, who founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, and the Italian Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception Brando, founder of the Oblation Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.