Massabki Brothers, Pray for Us
By Tracy Doueiry
Louis Ragy first heard about the story of the three Blessed Massabki Brothers in 2006 after becoming a Board member of the NAM (National Apostolate of Maronites), the official lay apostolate of the Maronite Church in the United States. After being asked to lead a NAM follow-up project on their story, Ragy traveled to Lebanon and met with Bishop Guy Noujaim, who is in charge of the Brothers’ canonization. He also met with other Maronite figures and informed them of the NAM project to spread the Bl. Massabki Brother’s story.
Before returning to his home in Atlanta, Ragy visited his family’s gravesite in Lebanon to pray. “As I was leaving the place, my eyes caught the gravesite of the Massabki family along with statues of the three brothers directly facing my grandparents’ grave. I was filled with shock and happiness; I took it as a sign from God,” Ragy said.
Ragy currently leads a NAM project to spread the story of the Bl. Massabki Brothers throughout the Maronite churches in the United States by publishing a book and prayer cards on their life and martyrdom.
Three devout Maronite brothers, Francis, Abdel Mohti and Rafael Massabki, lived in Damascus, Syria during the nineteenth century. Born of a family known for its piety, nobility and generosity, the Massabki brothers lived a life impregnated with a deep Maronite faith and love of God.
In 1860, fear roamed the streets of Damascus as the men of Ahmed Pasha, the ruler of Syria, marked out crosses and falsely accused the “children of the Christians” with the act. As Muslims grew distasteful, they demanded their ruler to restore public peace and put an end to the chaos. Pasha gave orders to spread fire in Christian communities and imprison Christian men. As fire spread, his men rampaged between houses, massacring Christians and stealing their goods.
Fearing the furor and ferocity of the massacres, the three Massabki brothers headed to the Franciscan convent to take refuge. As Francis kneeled before the statue of the Sorrowful Mother and prayed, Pasha’s men infiltrated the scene and recognized him alone in the church. They advanced towards him and said, “We have come to save you, your brothers and your family on the condition that you deny your faith and convert to Islam.” Francis responded saying, “I do not fear those who can kill the body and no one can make me deny my Christian faith. I am a Maronite Christian and on the faith of Christ, I will die.” Francis began reciting a prayer and at that moment, they massacred him with their swords and hatchets.
Abdel Mohti ran to take refuge near his brother, Raphael, but was seized at the church’s door and asked to deny his faith as well. He proclaimed, “I am a Christian. Kill me, I am ready.” He was immediately martyred the same way as his brother, Francis.
Once Pasha’s men found Raphael hiding in a corner at the church, they also propositioned him with their demand. Raphael fell to his knees and began appealing to the Virgin Mary. He was beheaded and trampled in the church.
Preferring death over denying their faith in Christ, the three Massabki brothers were crowned martyrs and beatified October 7, 1926 by Pope Pius XI. Their feast day is celebrated on July 10.
“We ask everyone to help us spread the Bl. Massabki Brothers’ story and join us in prayer so a miracle will take place through their intercession, allowing us to move a step forward on the road to their Sainthood,” Ragy petitioned.
Pictured: Sr. Marla Marie, Bishop Guy Noujaim, Louis Ragy