Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Saint Marguerite d'Youville



The sixteenth century was a decisive one for Canada, in that the war between Britain and France, also affected many of the States within Canadian borders. As each State fought for its own equality amidst a vast landscape of natural beauty and splendour.

But before Canada became its own Sovereign Nation, it began as a fledgling group of Provinces with their own trade networks which were used by its neighbouring country America, the British and the French which made for a volatile cocktail, as many made much money and few of the native Canadians benefited.

But it was in the year 1763 after bitter contention between Nations that the Treaty of Paris was signed which gave most of the territories within Canada to be maintained by the British under the Monarchy. An agreement that did not suit all Canadian people most especially those Provinces dominated by the French.

But it is in the year 1701 that Canada would be blessed with the birth of Marguerite Lajemmerais, which brought much joy to her parents, Christophe and Marie Renee. Marguerite would be joined by a further 5 siblings but tragedy would strike the Lajemmerais family early when her father died, leaving the entire family in poverty and dependant upon kind relatives.

It was her Great Grandfather who helped the family financially and enabled the young Marguerite to attend Boarding School with the Ursulines. Unfortunately for Marguerite, she had to once again return home after only two years of schooling in order for her to help her mother, who found it difficult to cope.

And the young Marguerite was an invaluable help to her poor mother who tried her utmost to provide for her large family. Therefore Marguerite took it upon herself to teach her siblings what she herself had learnt under the Ursulines.

But Marguerite also longed for personal happiness and though she was a steadfast helper to her mother and also tried to instil into her brothers and sisters a deep love for God and the Church, love was to call Marguerite from her loving family.

Marguerite married Francois d'Youville in 1722, but though this lovely woman had married for love her husband was not as principled. It was not long before Marguerite would be disappointed in her husband and the pain of his many dalliances caused her much anguish which was not helped by her mother -in- laws interjections.

These were very difficult years for the young Marguerite who also shared her residence with her embittered mother-in-law. Though Marguerite was long suffering still her heart ached at her husbands duplicity most especially with his business associates and underhand business dealings with those of Indian heritage by selling them liquor.

But despite this sadness Marguerite would bear her husband six children, as she continued to pray for her husband and her Mother in Law. She also instructed her children with a deep love for the Faith and for God. But due to the times, four of her children never lived to be adults and had died at very young ages, this was heartbreaking for Marguerite especially as her husband failed to comfort her in her loss and grief!

Francois d'Youville died in 1730, during his illness his devoted wife, Marguerite cared for him till the end. Through all these ordeals which was thrust upon Marguerite she never lost her Faith but instead clung even more strongly to God and the Church. And even though she had suffered much at the hands of her husband and cruel mother-in-law, Marguerite continued to offer up prayers for them and also practiced the corporal works of mercy, which was a great and noble example to set for her surviving children.

Marguerite was a loving and earnest mother who taught her children the fundamentals of their Faith and encouraged them to also practice mercy and kind acts to all those they met. She was able to provide a good education for her children and two sons would eventually become Priests, which was a proud moment indeed for Marguerite.

During all the hardships of her life, Marguerite fostered a deep and abiding love for our Heavenly Father and sought to express this love by helping the poor find food to eat, clothes to wear and also to try and pay for the funerals of prisoners who died in jail.

Upon taking in a poor woman who was blind into her own home and still practicing charity to all those in need in her neighbouring streets, was to annoy some but also brought admiration from others. Marguerite would later also take in three other ladies who like herself wished to devote the rest of their lives to alleviating the sufferings of the poor. This would cause much consternation to her neighbours who did not wish to see the poor and dispossessed land on their door steps but it did not stop the erstwhile Marguerite, and her small group of ladies.

It was on a cold December day in 1737, that Marguerite along with her ladies made their Consecration to God and promised to help the poor in whatever capacity they could. This would be the humble beginnings of the 'Grey Nuns'. Through the struggles of life that Marguerite had endured surely tempered her patience and understanding of those who also had endured much suffering in their lives. This gave Marguerite a great respect and admiration for those who did wish to rise above their circumstances and also to comfort those who were near their end.

So through criticisms from her neighbours, deaths and fire Marguerites persevering spirit remained intact. For in all things whether good or bad Marguerite recognised the Hand of God and gave Him all honour and glory, she also encouraged her ladies to have this same confidence even when their hospital burnt down. Marguerite encouraged her fellow sisters to rebuild the hospital and to at all times maintain their confidence in a loving God.

But age was creeping up on Marguerite and though her spirit was strong still her body weakened under such a work load.

Marguerite d'Youville died in 1771.

Saint Marguerite d'Youville was canonized in 1990 by Pope John Paul ll.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

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