Sainte Marie-Euphasie Pelletier


The church of Noirmoutier

At the 1986 Pelletier Family Reunion Mass on the flats of St. David, Main, the celebrant. Father Gerard Pelletier, spoke of St. Euphrasia Pelletier (1796-1868). To many of us, it was the first time that we were aware she had been elevated to sainthood. Like Brother Didace (Claude) Pelletier (1656-1699) she has brought honor to the noble Pelletier name. It is only fit­ting that we remember her in volume 3 of Heritage Pelletier Heritage.

Victim of the French Revolution, the family of Dr. Julian Pelletier was forced to flee to the Island of Noinnoutier, off the coast of France. It was here, that Rose Virginia Pelletier was born July 31, 1796. At an early age she lost both her parents and three younger sisters. Her older sister and brother-in-law placed her in a boarding school, a convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepard in Tours, France. The pious, intelligent, lively, and industrious Rose-Virginia was headstrong and often found herself in trouble. The nuns wondered about her future and told her that she would be either an angel or a demon. She replied, "I am going to be a nun!"

A born leader, she often took the responsibilities that belonged to orthers.

Across the street from the convent was a "Refuge", an institution for girls in trouble. One day, she and a friend without permission, decided to pay a visit to the "Refuge" and applied to become nuns serving the destitute living there. When the visit was brought to the attention of her supervisors. Rose was forbidden to go there again. Her guardian was notified and he also forbade her to visit or apply for entrance. Saddened and frustrated, she graduated and returned to live with her sister's family. She pleaded to return to the convent and was given consent only under the condition that she promised not to make her final vows until she was twenty-one years of age. At the age of eighteen, October 1814, she entered the "Refuge" as a postulate. A year later she received the habit and select­ed a new name, Theresa, but her superior said she was over-reaching herself, seeking so brilliant a patroness. She finally took the name of the unknown Saint Euphrasia.

Her life as a novice was happy. She brought love, kindness, and gaity to the delinquents that inspired them to change their way of life.  On September 19, 1817, at the age of twenty-one, she took her final vows and was made the first mistress of the penitents and Magdalens. Eight years later, with special dispensation, she was made Superior of the house "Refuge" at Tours.

Under the spiritual direction of Mother Euphrasia, many of the trou­bled girls wished to remain at the "Refuge" under vows. Changes had to be made to accommodate them. She formed a special group within the convent, clothed the Magdalens in the habit of the Sisters of Cannel, gave them the Carmelite rules, and modified constitutions to live by. This worked very well and attracted many of the girls to a religious life. Other "Refuges had to be opened and expanded to include quarters for Magdalens and orphans.

After many difficulties and accusa­tions directed toward the hard woking and dedicated Mother-General of the Good Shepard, her efforts to establish a central government and a Motherhouse for the Order of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepard at Angers, France, were successful.

For 33 years she served as the guiding light and founder of convents all over the world. At her death on April 29, 1868, she left 2067 professed sisters, 384   novices,   309   touriere Sisters(Domestics), 962 Magdalens, 6372 Penitents and 8483 children of various classes. Under Mother Euphrasia 110 convents were found­ed, sixteen provinces were estab­lished: France, Belgium, Holland, Rome, Italy, Germany, Austria, England, Scotland, Ireland, Asia, Africa, United States and Chili.

The cause for the beatification of Mother Euphrasia was inscribed on November 17th 1886. The preliminary examination was completed in 1890. On December 11, 1987, Leon XIII declared her "Venerable". Finally, on April 30, 1933, Pope Pius XI declared her "Blessed" and on May 2, 1940, Pope Pius XII solemn­ly declared Mother Euphrasia Pelletier, Saint Mary Euphrasia.

Although her convents and charitable works are well known all over the world, her name is not.

We thank Father General Pelletier for having called to our attention the deeds and honor this vibrant orphan girl has contributed to L'Heritage PELLETIER Heritage.

By Geraldine Pelletier Chasse


Sainte Marie-Euphrasia Pelletier


Author : Geraldine Pelletier Chasse
Published on page 5 of La Pelleterie, volume 7, no 3 - été 1994. 

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