Ste. Marguerite d’Youville, Universal Model of Holiness- Reflection for Mass of October 16, 2009

16 Oct

Friday, October 16, 2009
Memorial of Ste. Marguerite d’Youville
Readings: 1 Corinthians 13:4-13; Psalm 146:2-10; Matthew 25:31-40

Less than three weeks ago, the memorial of eight Jesuit “Canadian Martyrs” was celebrated in Canada. Those men gave their lives courageously to the service and spread of the word of God to the Native peoples of North America, and are therefore rightly honoured. In three days, the anniversary of the death of one of the eight “North American Martyrs,” St. Isaac Jogues, who died near present-day Albany, New York, will be commemorated in the United States. (1)

Today, in between the two great feast days of the Jesuit martyrs, the Canadian Church remembers the life of a more obscure saint, Marguerite d’Youville. I have long had an appreciation of Canadian history, particularly that of the Francophones of our nation. But I gained an even deeper perspective of French roots in my Anglophone-dominated native province of Alberta when I took a “Franco-Albertan” history course in my next-to-last year of undergraduate studies. (2) Also, I would often drive past the Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton, named after the Order founded by Ste. Marguerite and surrounded by the aptly-named road, Youville Drive.  

Born in Varennes, Québec in 1701, Ste. Marguerite lived most of her life in poverty. Her father died when she was young. After two years of education under the Ursulines in Québec, she returned home to teach her five younger siblings. She married François You de la Découverte in 1722. François was abusive toward Marguerite and toward himself, and he bootlegged liquor to the Indian peoples. He died young, leaving Marguerite destitute with two boys who went on to become priests. Marguerite founded a home for poor women in Montréal in 1737, and ten years later she and her companions saved the General Hospital of New France from financial collapse. Another eight years passed before the rule of the Sisters of Charity of Montréal- the Grey Nuns– was approved. (3)

In 1990, Marguerite d’Youville became the first Canadian-born person to be canonized. (4) She is a saint not only because she was humble and poor, or because she founded a religious order, or because she was faithful to an abusive husband for eight years, while also losing four of six children in their infancy. Ste. Marguerite is the ideal religious, a Canadian and universal model of holiness.

In the words of St. Paul, “faith, hope and love” found their home in Ste. Marguerite. (5) Her love and kindness was directed toward the least of our brothers and sisters. (6) The Kingdom of Heaven (7) welcomes those like Ste. Marguerite d’Youville and those among us who strive after her example.



One Response to “Ste. Marguerite d’Youville, Universal Model of Holiness- Reflection for Mass of October 16, 2009”

  1. canadiancatholicblog October 14, 2009 at 11:52 pm #


    (1) The memorial of the Canadian Martyrs, as the eight Jesuits, six priests and two donnés, are known in Canada, is celebrated on September 26. St. Isaac Jogues died on October 18, 1646 (see the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Isaac Jogues at In the United States the memorial of all eight North American Martyrs is celebrated on October 19, since three of the eight, Sts. Isaac Jogues, René Goupil, and Jean de la Lande, died on what is now U.S. soil. For a more complete story of the Canadian or North American Martyrs, see my series of three articles on this blog:

    Part 1- A Holy and Sacred Temple,

    Part 2- No Reward but Paradise,

    Part 3- Washed in the Blood of the Lamb,
    (2) The course was officially entitled “Thèmes d’histoire du Canada français au XXe siècle” (“Topics in the History of French Canada in the Twentieth Century”), offered at the then-Faculté Saint-Jean, now Campus Saint-Jean, of the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. See
    (3) cf. Marie Marguerite d’Youville, Foundress of the Sisters of Charity,
    (4) cf. On This day- December 9, 1990- CBC Archives, “First Canadian-born saint is canonized,”
    (5) 1 Corinthians 13:13
    (6) cf. Matthew 25:40
    (7) cf. Matthew 25:34


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: