19 May

“…St Marie of the Incarnation [was] an Ursuline nun who founded the oldest educational institution for women in North America. St Marie was born in Tours, France, in 1599, the fourth of eight children. At her father’s direction, St Marie married and had a child but her husband died, leaving her a widow at the age of 19. St Marie was then free to follow her religious inclinations, taking a vow of celibacy she went back with her son to live with her parents.

St Marie experienced a mystical vision on 24 March 1620 that set her on a path of devotional intensity. St Marie worked with the sick and injured and then, after a period of discernment with her spiritual director, she decided to enter the Ursuline monastery in Tours. She left her son in the care of the Buisson Family, but the emotional pain of separation stayed with both of them. Later the son became a Benedictine monk and mother and son would communicate about their spiritual and emotional trials.


After reading ‘The Jesuit Relations’ and reflecting on her visions, St Marie concluded that her vocation was to make the difficult and dangerous journey to what is today Canada. Permission to go was given in 1639 and after the long journey St Marie found herself in Quebec City, which was then a very small place. St Marie and the other nuns had to learn the local native languages of Huron, Algonquin, Montagnais and Iroquois. They founded a monastery and a school. They were then able to teach the native American children and tell them the good news of Jesus. One of the books that Sr Marie wrote was a catechism of the Catholic Church in the Iroquois language.

St Marie developed a liver disease, which would trouble her for the rest of her life. Nevertheless, she led the school, taught the children, guided the other nuns and worked hard to find the money to keep everything going. St Marie died in her monastery in 1672 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980. [In April 2014] she has been declared a Saint by Pope Francis.

St Marie is regarded as one of the Founders of Canada and her statue stands in front of the Parliament Building in Quebec. During her lifetime St Marie suffered many hardships and one of her sayings was, ‘If God strikes you with one hand He consoles you with another.’ This is something we can all remember when we face hardships in our own lives.”
– From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”


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