Quite a Woman

An interesting if little known figure in Church History is a French Ursuline named Marie of the Incarnation (1599-1672), a mystic and an activist who worked as a missionary in Canada. A widow at an early age, she got interested in the missions after reading about the work of the Jesuits. After raising a son, she decided to become a missionary at a time when most people are retiring. She wasn’t naïve about what lay in store for her: “I visualize the travail, both on the sea and in the country. I visualize what it is to live with Barbarians, the danger of dying there of hunger or cold, the any occasions when one might be seized… and I find no change at all in the disposition of my spirit.

In Canada, Marie taught Native children and studied the Native languages. She learned them well enough to write catechisms in Huron and Algonkian, along with a dictionary and a prayer book. In 1980 Pope John Paul II beatified her. One final quote from her is worth sharing: “I firmly believe that my Divine Jesus will give me all the help necessary, for He is much too kind not to help those who hope in Him.

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