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January 12

St Marguerite Bourgeoys - January 12

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys
Sister, Missionary, Foundress
(1620 – 1700)

“It seems to me that we do not pay enough attention to prayer, for unless it arises from the heart which ought to be its center, it is no more than a fruitless dream. Prayer ought to carry over into our thoughts, our words and our actions.”

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys

Her Early Life

Marguerite was born in Troyes, Aube, France on April 17, 1620. She was the daughter of Abraham Bourgeoys, a prolific candle-maker, and Guillemette Garnier, devout parents, and the sixth of their twelve children. Marguerite was baptized on the same day in the church of Saint-Jean located near her home. She was privileged to grow up in an environment that was middle class and thoroughly Christian.

Caretaker and Member of Congregation of Troy

When Marguerite was 19 years old, her mother died. So, Marguerite became the surrogate mother to her younger brothers and sisters. In 1640, through the inspiration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Marguerite consecrated her life to God. She became a member of the extern Congregation of Troy, a group of women who were dedicated to teaching the poor children of the town. While engaged in this apostolate, Marguerite learned about the foundation of Ville Marie (Montreal) in Canada and sensed a call to missionary work.

Missionary Called to New France

In 1652, Monsieur de Maisonneuve, the founder and governor of Fort Ville-Marie (Canada), returned to France and asked Marguerite to volunteer to teach French and Indian children in the new settlement begun in New France. Our Lady told her, “Go, I will not forsake you” which confirmed Marguerite’s call. With this assurance, Marguerite gave away her parent’s inheritance to other family members. Then, in February 1653, Marguerite left Troyes and sailed across the ocean to this new colony.

Built a Church and a School

In November that year, Marguerite arrived in Montreal, Canada. Without delay, she set to work to promote the best interests of the colony. In 1657, Marguerite organized the formation of a work party to build Ville-Marie’s first permanent church – the Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Chapel, known in English as the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel. In She hoped this church would encourage the colonists in expressing their faith.

In April 1658, Marguerite was provided with a vacant stone stable by Monsieur de Maisonneuve, founder of Ville Marie, to serve as a schoolhouse for her students. This was the beginning of public schooling in Montreal, which Marguerite established five years after arrival.

Marguerite also organized an extern Congregation, patterned after the one which she had known in Troyes but adapted to the actual needs. In this way, she could also teach domestic skills and educate the young mothers and girls who were now part of this new society.

“Mother of the Colony”

In 1659, Marguerite returned to France to recruit more teachers to come to Montreal and returned with four. In 1670, she went to France again, and brought back six more. The group of women teachers who associated themselves with Marguerite in her life of prayer, of heroic poverty, and of untiring devotedness to the service of others became the first sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame. They desired to remain uncloistered, the concept of an uncloistered community being an innovation at that time.

The small group of women began to follow a religious way of life, establishing periods of common prayer and meals. The women also worked independently in various villages and towns throughout the colony, teaching the local children. Thus were initiated a school system and a network of social services which gradually extended through the whole country. This led people to refer to Marguerite as “Mother of the Colony”.

Marguerite and her sisters helped people in the colony survive when food was scarce, opened a vocational school, taught young people how to run a home and farm. Marguerite’s congregation grew to 18 sisters, seven of them Canadian. They opened missions and two sisters taught at the Native American mission. Marguerite received the first two Native American women into the congregation.

Her Final Years

In 1693, Mother Marguerite handed over her congregation to her successor, Marie Barbier, the first Canadian to join the order. Marguerite’s religious rule was approved by the Church in 1698. Marguerite spent her last few years praying and writing an autobiography. On the last day of 1699, a young sister lay dying. Mother Marguerite asked the Lord to take her life in exchange. By the morning of January 1, 1700, the sister was completely well. However, Mother Marguerite had a raging fever, suffered 12 days, and died on January 12, 1700 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The day following her death, a priest wrote, “If saints were canonized as in the past by the voice of the people and of the clergy, tomorrow we would be saying the Mass of Saint Marguerite of Canada.” Helene Bernier writes, “Popular admiration had already canonized her 250 years before her beatification.”

The educative and apostolic efforts of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys continue through the commitment of the members of the community that she founded. More than 2,600 Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame work in fields of action according to the needs of time and place – from school to college or university, in the promotion of family, parish and diocesan endeavours. They are on missions in Canada, in the United States, in Japan, in Latin America, in Cameroon, and most recently they have established a house in France.

Born :                   April 17, 1620 in Troyes, Aube, France

Died:                    January 12, 1700 age 79 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Beatified:            November 12, 1950 by Pope Pius XII

Canonized:         October 31, 1982 by Pope John Paul II

Feast Day:           January 12

Patron Saint:     Against Poverty; Loss of Parents; People Rejected by Religious Orders; Poor People



Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys demonstrated adaptability by establishing schools in different settings and responding to the needs of the community demonstrating the transformative power of education. She faced numerous challenges in her educational and spiritual mission, including harsh living conditions and opposition. Despite the challenges she faced, Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys approached her mission with joy and dedication.

How can you find joy today in the midst of your challenges, knowing that your efforts contribute to a greater good demonstrating Jesus’ love to all you encounter?


Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys,

You who dedicated your life to the education of young girls as a servant of God, we turn to you in prayer, seeking your intercession.

Inspire in us a vision for education that empowers and uplifts, that we may recognize the transformative power of knowledge and spiritual wisdom.

Grant us courage in the face of challenges that we may find resilience in our mission to serve others.

Help us to embrace adaptability and flexibility, so that we may respond with grace to the changing needs of our communities.

May we approach our service with joy, knowing that our efforts contribute to the well-being and growth in faith of others.

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Meet Marguerite Bourgeoys, a Canadian saint who zealously worked for the poorest of society

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 12 January – St Marguerite Bourgeoys

Angelus – Saint of the day: Marguerite Bourgeoys

America Needs Fatima – Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys

Catholic Culture – St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

Catholic News Agency – St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Feast day: Jan 12

Catholic Online – St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Marguerite Bourgeoys, Foundress by Katherine I Rabenstein

Daily Prayers – Marguerite Bourgeoys

Franciscan Media – Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys

National Catholic Register – St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, a Visionary Saint for Our Time

RC Spirituality (Uncle Eddy) – St Marguerite Bourgeoys

Saints, Feast, Family – The Story of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

Saint for a Minute – Saint Marguerite Bourgeous

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700)

Saint of the Day – January 12 St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

Saint Resources – Margaret Bourgeoys

Sanctoral – Saint Margaret Bourgeoys Foundress (1620-1700)

uCatholic – Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys

Video Link

Cradio Saint of the Day: Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys – YouTube (CatholicSaints.Info)

Saint of the Day for January 12. Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys – YouTube (Ezer)