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September 19

St Emilie de Rodat - September 19

Saint Émilie de Rodat

Nun, Virgin, Founder

(1787 – 1852)

“God speaks to His friends whenever He wants, all times and places are suitable for prayer. In the garden as much as in the Church, you can pray, you can unite yourself with Him and hear His voice.”

Saint Emilie de Rodat

 Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life 

Marie Guillemette Émilie de Rodat was born on September 6, 1787, in Rodez, Aveyron, France to a noble family. When she was 18 months old, at the beginning of the French Revolution, Émilie was taken to live with her maternal grandmother in the Château of Ginals outside Villefranche. She was educated at Maison Sain-Cyr, Villefrance, France. 

Life Changing Experience

As a young child, Émilie had shown a great love for God and for the poor. But, during her teenage years, she changed and these things held little meaning for her.   At the age of sixteen, Émilie had an experience of God’s love that was to change her life forever. Emilie wrote: “I was sixteen years of age when I learned to know Our Lord. This experience overwhelmed me and I wanted God and only God.”

A Teacher at 18

At the age of 18, Émilie became a lay teacher at Maison Saint-Cyr, where she had gone to school, for eleven years. She was in charge of the girls’ recreation, taught geography, and prepared them for communion. Émilie realized that many of the children of the poor were not going to school because they could not afford to. She also began to consider religious life, but after entering three or four congregations for a short time, she realized that she was not called to any of the existing orders.

Started New Free School

In 1815, Émilie began tutoring poor children on her own time. By 1816, she had founded a free school with three assistants and 40 students. The house at the Maison Saint-Cyr, which was closing, Émilie was able to purchase with 100 students and eight other sisters. Two years later, Émilie was able to buy better buildings for her school.

New Order

Émilie devoted all of her life to teaching the poor.  To help her cope with the rapidly growing numbers of children in her school, she gathered other young women. These women also gave all their lives to teaching the children. They became the nucleus of the Religious Congregation of the Holy Family of Villefranche. In 1832, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Villefranche was formally approved by the bishop of Rodez. 

Her Congregation

The congregation was devoted to caring for the elderly, prisoners, and orphans, in addition to the schools for the poor. Some of the nuns were also contemplative and spent their time in prayer and adoration.  In 1863, her new order began to visit prisoners, opened orphanages, rescue homes for prostitutes, and a retirement home for “aged religious”. Emilie also founded groups of contemplative nuns to pray for the community’s charitable works. By 1852, there were 32 Villefranche convents that ran schools, and five contemplative communities.

Her Death

At the age of 65, Émilie died of cancer at Villefranche-de-Rouergue, Aveyron, France on September 19, 1852. At the time of her death, Émilie had opened 38 charitable institutions, 25 cloistered communities, and 32 schools with over 5,000 students sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Villefranche in several countries. 

Beatified:             June 9, 1940 by Pope Pius XII

Canonized:         April 23, 1950 by Pope Pius XII

Feast Day:           September 19

Patron Saint:      None



Although each of us bears the image of God, some of us need more help than others do in living as much as possible into the vocation to which God leads us. Saint Émilie de Rodat’s grandmother helped her. Then, Saint Émilie aided others. Blessings, gifts, and talents come packaged with responsibilities toward other people. To whom much is given, much is required. Fulfilling these requirements and responsibilities is something each of us can do only via the combination of our efforts, God’s direct help, and God’s indirect aid via other humans. Saint Émilie did much that was positive, but she needed help to do it. 

While you may do much that is positive, what help fulfilling these responsibilities do you need from God and God’s indirect help via others? Pray for that help you need to carry out God’s will on earth.

Source: Adapted from Feast of St. Emily de Rodat (September 19) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS (


Saint Émilie de Rodat , you were certainly a person of character and strength establishing numerous charitable institutions, cloistered communities, and schools in several countries. Saint Émilie, you cared for elderly, prisoners, and orphans, in addition to the schools for the poor. We are asked to follow in your footsteps and model our commitment to the Christian life based on the example of your life. Just as God did for Saint Émilie, God gives each of us talents for the good of God’s people. Then, God expects that those talents will produce great fruit. 

Saint Émilie de Rodat, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Angelus – Saint of the day: Emily de Rodat

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 19 September – Saint Emilie de Rodat (1787–1852)

Catholic Fire – St. Emily de Rodat

Catholic News Agency – St. Emily de Rodat Feast Day: Sep 19

Catholic Online – St. Emily de Rodat

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Emily de Rodat

Florida Catholic – St. Emily de Rodat

St Emily Catholic Church – Marie Guillemette Émilie de Rodat (St. Emily de Rodat)

Wikipedia – Émilie de Rodat

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