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16 October

Saint Marguerite d’Youville, SGM

My dear Sisters, be constantly faithful to the duties of the state that you have embraced. Walk always in the path of regularity, obedience, and mortification. But above all, let the most perfect union reign among you.

Saint Marguerite d'Youville, SGM

Born in Varennes (Quebec) on October 15, 1701, from an aristocratic family of New France, Marguerite is sixteen years old when her father dies. After spending two years in the boarding school of the Ursulines in Quebec City, she returns to Varennes to help her mother with the household tasks and trying “to earn enough so that her brothers and sisters could eat”. The arts of sewing and embroidery that she learned at the convent help the family survive.

In 1721 the family moves to Montreal and the following year she marries François Youville de la Découverte. The marriage turns out to be an unhappy one because of the illegal activities of her husband and his death in 1730. Marguerite seeks comfort in her Christian faith and finds in Gabriel du Lescöat, PSS, a spiritual guide who helps her put her trust in God.

In 1727, she joins the Confrérie des Dames de la Sainte-Famille and on December 31, 1737, with a friend and two other companions she pronounces private vows with the intention of consecrating herself forever to the service of the poor. This choice of life is disturbing because according to the social norms of the time women had to marry or enter cloistered life, but many laywomen of all classes join them.  Marguerite is a very active member of the confraternity, holding successively the positions of councillor, superior, and instructor of the new members.

In 1747 the Sulpicians ask Marguerite to take up the administration of the General Hospital for the city’s poor people. Over the following years, she and her companions renovate the building and welcome elderly men and women, the sick, and the mentally handicapped, without distinction of sex, race, or ethnicity. They give shelter to both French and English soldiers who are wounded during the Seven Years’ War.

Marie-Marguerite dies on December 23, 1771, leaving behind the memory of an extraordinary woman guided by a profound spirituality and a great sensitivity to human suffering. In 1959 Pope John XXIII declared Marguerite d’Youville Blessed and conferred on her the title of Mother of Universal Charity, and on December 9, 1990, she was canonized by Pope John Paul II.

LINK: http://www.sgm.qc.ca