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April 30

St Marie de l'Incarnation - April 30

Saint Marie de l’Incarnation

Nun, Foundress 

(1599 – 1672)

“My dearest Jesus, through the holiness of Your actions, sanctify mine. I ardently wish them to depend upon You and to be performed for You alone, O my Jesus.”

Saint Marie de l’Incarnation

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life 

Marie Guyart was born on October 28, 1599 in Tours, France to Florent Guyart, a silk merchant, and his wife, Jeanne Michelete of the illustrious house of Baou de la Bourdaisière. Marie was the fourth of eight children. She grew up strong in faith, adventuresome, confident and full of joy.  From an early age she was drawn to religious liturgy and the sacraments. When Marie was seven years old, she recounted her first mystical encounter with Jesus Christ. In her book Relation, of 1654 she recounted: “…with my eyes toward heaven, I saw our Lord Jesus Christ in human form come forth and move through the air to me. As Jesus in his wondrous majesty was approaching me, I felt my heart enveloped by his love and I began to extend my arms to embrace him. Then he put his arms about me, kissed me lovingly, and said, ‘Do you wish to belong to me?’ I answered, ‘Yes!’ And having received my consent, he ascended back into Heaven.” From that point onward, Marie felt “inclined towards goodness.”

Short Lived Marriage

At the age of 14, Marie confided to her parents her desire to join her cousin in the convent at Beaumont Abbey. Instead, her parents chose to engage Marie to marry Claude Martin, a young manufacturer. In 1617, Marie married Claude, who was an honest man. Marie admitted she was beginning to love him “very much.” The couple soon welcomed a son, named Claude after his father. Their joy as a family came to an end six months later when Marie’s husband Claude died in 1619. So, at age 19, Marie was now a widow with a baby son. With her husband’s death, Marie inherited his failing business, which she then lost. 

Left Her Son and Joined the Convent 

Marie and her son lived for several years in her father’s house. Eventually, she moved to live with her sister and brother-in-law, Paul Buisson, who owned a successful transportation business. Marie proved herself to have a great talent for management. So, she was soon given control over the entire household. By the time Marie reached the age 30, she again felt the urgency of entering the religious life. In consultation with her spiritual advisor, she entered the Ursuline monastery in Tours to answer her call to religious vocation with a desire to teach the young. Her sister took charge of young Claude and raised him as her own son. This decision was not easy for Marie, who was torn by the heartbreaking decision to leave her son. After professing her vows in 1633, she was given the name Marie de l’Incarnacion, which in English translates to Marie of the Incarnation.

Connected with Saint Teresa of Ávila

In 1627, Marie read and found a role model in the autobiographical account, Vida, about the Spanish mystic, Saint Teresa of Ávila. She found many spiritual connections with Saint Teresa. After reading her book, Marie aspired to travel to the New World (Canada) and becoming a martyr there. Fueled by Jesuit teachings and her own visions, Marie became more and more encouraged to travel to New France. In a mystical dream, Marie saw herself walking hand in hand with a fellow laywoman against the backdrop of a foreign landscape, on the roof of a small church in this distant, foggy landscape sat the Virgin Mary and Jesus; she interpreted this as the mother and son discussing her religious calling to the new land. She recounted the vision to her priest at the Order. He informed Marie that the nation she described was Canada. He suggested that she read The Jesuit Relations. From this experience, Marie concluded that her vocation was to help establish the Catholic faith in the New World.

Travelled to Canada

Eight years after her entrance to the Ursuline community, Mère (Mother) Marie of the Incarnation felt the call to serve the young indigenous girls in Canada. The ship “St. Joseph” landed in Québec City, Canada on July 31, 1639. Two other Ursulines made this journey with Mère Marie.  When they began their first work at the foot of the mountain, Quebec was but a name. Hardly six houses stood on the site chosen by Champlain thirty-one years previously. At first, Marie and her companions occupied a little house in the lower town (Basse-Ville). It consisted of two rooms, walls and a leaky roof.

Started First Girl’s School in North America

The routine of everyday life was organized in the little house. Little indigenous girls flocked to the convent in such great numbers that it was thought necessary to build a monastery in 1641. Setbacks could have discouraged this little community, but the management strength of Marie kept the community going. Not only did the sisters teach the young indigenous girls, but they also washed, dressed and fed them free of charge. Slowly but surely, the number of sisters grew as they received new vocations.

In 1642, Marie and the Ursuline nuns moved to a permanent stone building in the upper town. The group managed to found the first school in what would become Canada, as well as the Ursuline Monastery of Quebec, which has been designated one of the National Historic Sites of Canada. This is the first girl’s school in North America.

Her Education Methods

Marie followed a strict orthodox teaching method she had learnt during her time with the Ursulines in Tours. The system was based on basics of faith, French and Latin literature, and civility. The basics of faith included catechism, prayers, and hymns. The main objective of the Ursuline school was to educate young French and native girls to become good Christians. The young French girls paid one hundred and twenty livres to cover both their education and pension fees. At the time, the young native girls did not have to pay for their education. The Ursuline’s encouraged the young Innu, Hurons, and Algonquins to use the seminary as a resource. By educating young girls from different tribes, francization and Christianity was transmitted from daughter to mother. In her writings, Marie emphasized the fact that the native students were treated the same way as the French students at the school. They allowed the girls to sing hymns in both French and their native languages.

Author of Multiple Works

In addition to her religious duties, Marie composed multiple works that reflected her experiences and observations during her time in the New World and the spiritual calling that led her there. In 1647, she wrote the Constitutions and Rule of the Ursulines of Quebec. Marie also wrote two autobiographies, though her second Relation was destroyed in a fire at the convent while still in manuscript. To teach the girls more effectively, Marie learned the Algonquin, Huron and Iroquois languages. She wrote dictionaries and catechisms for her students. Her most significant writings, however, were the 8,000-20,000 letters she wrote to various acquaintances, the majority of which went to her son Claude. These letters constitute one of the sources for the history of the French colony from 1639 to 1671.

St Marie de l'Incarnation Tomb - April 30

Her Death

At the age of 72, Maria died of a liver illness on April 30, 1672, in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. In the necrology report sent to the Ursulines of France, it was written: “The numerous and specific virtues and excellent qualities which shone through this dear deceased, make us firmly believe that she enjoys a high status in God’s glory.”

 

Born:                    October 28, 1599 in Tours, France

Died:                    April 30, 1672 (Feast Day) age 72 in Quebec City,Quebec, Canada

Beatified:            June 22, 1980 by Pope John Paul II

Canonized:         April 3, 2014 by Pope Francis

Feast Day:          April 30

Patron Saint:     Against Loss of Parents; Widows

Sources:

Reflection

Saint Marie de l’Incarnation followed her faith. She sailed to a cold foreign country, Canada. Her work started in small two room with a leaky roof in a village of 6 houses. Saint Marie had to learn the Innu-aimun, Algonquin, Wyandot, and Iroquois languages so she could write dictionaries and catechisms to teach them. A fire destroyed the monastery and in a few hours Saint Marie’s work of nearly ten years was destroyed. But she and the sisters decided to not leave the area and to build again. She wrote, “We are in the dark here, and we must grope around for our way. We consult wise persons, but things do not turn out as foreseen. We roll along, however, and when we think we are at the bottom of the precipice, we find ourselves standing upright.”  Her zeal for the salvation of souls, and especially for the conversion of the native americans was great and so universal that she seemed to carry them all in her heart.

How strong is your zeal for the salvation of souls? What new place can you go to today to help someone in need? Remember that your act of kindness today may be carried back to a completely new unknown network of other people.

Prayers

Saint Marie de l’Incarnation, your tragedies in your life did not stop you from working tirelessly for God creating and building up his Kingdom in Canada through your ministries. May you intercede for us as we pray for the strength to do God’s will in growing his Kingdom on Earth from our own corner of the world that we live and all the people that we encounter.

Saint Marie de l’Incarnation, pray for us. Amen.

Prayer to the Eternal Father by Saint Marie de l’Encarnation

Eternal father, through the divine heart of Jesus, I adore you for all those adore you not; I love you for all those who do not love you.  I go in spirit through the whole world to seek for souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  I embrace them in order to present them to you in his sacred heart, and in union with your merciful heart, I ask for their conversion.

Source: Prayer to the Eternal Father by Blessed Marie de l’Encarnation (catholicnewsagency.com)

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Pope Challenges Quebecers to Honor Missionary Heritage

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 18 April – St Marie of the Incarnation

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops – Saint Marie of the Incarnation (1599-1672)

Catholic Culture –  St. Marie de l’Incarnacion

Catholic Online – Ven. Marie de l’Incarnation

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Marie of the Incarnation Guyart

New Advent – Fournet, P.A. (1910). Ven. Marie de l’Incarnation. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Salt + Light Media – Saint Marie of the Incarnation: she meant business.

The Koala Mom – The Koala Mom – Canadian Catholic Saints: Holy Men & Women of Canada

Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph – Marie of the Incarnation

Ursulines of the Canadian Union – Mary of the Incarnation

Wikipedia – Marie of the Incarnation (Ursuline)

Video Link