Category Archives: Feast Days

Feast of St. Joseph

(portions of the text below are based on research by Sr. Betty Ann McNeil, D.C.)

March 19 marks the feast of Saint Joseph, a saint who was especially dear to the heart of Elizabeth Ann Seton.

During her year in Baltimore, Elizabeth discovered the significance of Saint Joseph. The Sulpicians obtained the first statue of Joseph for their newly dedicated chapel at Saint Mary’s Seminary (Paca Street). Saint Joseph was also gaining prominence on the liturgical calendar. No doubt his guardianship of the Child Jesus must have been consoling to Mrs. Seton as a widow and sole parent of five young children. According to tradition, Mother Seton named the area where she settled Saint Joseph’s Valley, and the area is still informally known by that name.

Mother Seton originally planned to name her community Sisters of Saint Joseph. After arriving in Emmitsburg she chose the title Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph’s. This legal name was used by the Province of Emmitsburg until 2011 when it combined with three other former provinces to create today’s Province of St. Louise.

The building known today as the White House was built by Mother Seton in 1810 and originally known as Saint Joseph’s House. It was the Mother House for her community until ca. 1845. Saint Joseph’s Central House, headquarters from 1845-1964, is now the site of the National Emergency Training Center, part of FEMA. Headquarters for the Emmitsburg Province from 1964 to 2011 was St. Joseph’s Provincial House, the building we occupy today. The building, known today as St. Joseph House, houses the Provincial Archives, the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, active communities of Daughters of Charity, retirement facilities for Daughters and lay people. The life of Saint Joseph is depicted in stained glass windows located in the foyer of the Basilica at the Seton Shrine.

Mother Seton instructed Saint Joseph’s Class, comprising pupils from the Emmitsburg area. Her school, founded 1810, became Saint Joseph’s Academy. The current Mother Seton School traces its roots to her establishment. Developing from Saint Joseph’s Academy, Saint Joseph College was a liberal arts college for women which chartered in 1902 and served until 1973. The college grounds are now part of the National Emergency Training Center.

On the feast of St. Joseph in 1885, a fire broke out at St. Joseph’s Central House. Seminarians from Mount St. Mary’s, along with townspeople and fire companies, worked together to put out the fire. Since then, seminarians from the Mount have been invited to a special dinner on the campus on St. Joseph’s feast day in gratitude for their help in putting out the 1885 fire. Learn more about the 1885 fire

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Feast of Louise de Marillac

Louise de Marillac

Louise de Marillac (image used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

Today, we mark the feast day of St. Louise de Marillac, who died March 15, 1660.

“In the name of God, my dear Sister, reflect often that it is not enough to have good intentions or for our wills to be inclined to do good solely for the love of God because, when we received the commandment to love God with all our heart, we also received a second commandment which is to love our neighbor.”

(Louise de Marillac to Anne Hardemont, November 13, 1653. L.383 – Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac: Correspondence and Thoughts, edited and translated by Sr. Louise Sullivan, p. 434-435)

Links to related content on our blog:
Louise’s first letter to Vincent de Paul

Louise’s Pentecost Experience

Series of posts from 2013 with accounts of Louise’s canonization in 1934

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Feast of Rosalie Rendu

Rosalie Rendu

Blessed Sister Rosalie Rendu, D.C. (used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

February 7 marks the feast day of Blessed Sister Rosalie Rendu. The text below is taken from the Vatican’s website.

Jeanne Marie Rendu was born in 1786 and entered the Daughters of Charity in 1802. She was sent to the house of the Daughters of Charity in the Mouffetard District, where she remained for the next 54 years. At the time, it was the most impoverished district of the quickly expanding capital. Jeanne Marie, who received the name Sr. Rosalie, made her accompanied Sisters visiting the sick and the poor and taught catechism and reading to little girls accepted at the free school. In 1807, Sr. Rosalie made vows for the first time.

In 1815 Sr. Rosalie became Superior of the her local community. To assist all the suffering, she opened a free clinic, a pharmacy, a school, an orphanage, a child‑care center, a youth club for young workers and a home for the elderly without resources. Soon a whole network of charitable services was established to counter poverty.

Superiors sent her postulants and young Sisters to be formed. They put in her house, for a period of time, Sisters who were somewhat difficult or fragile. To one of her Sisters in crisis, she gave this advice one day, which is the secret of her life: “If you want someone to love you, you must be the first to love; and if you have nothing to give, give yourself.” As the number of Sisters increased, the charity office became a house of charity, with a clinic and a school.

Her reputation quickly grew in all the districts of the capital and also beyond to the towns in the region. Sr. Rosalie knew how to surround herself with many efficient and dedicated collaborators. Students of law, medicine, science, technology, engineering, teacher‑training, and all the other important schools came seeking from Sr. Rosalie information and recommendations. Or, before performing a good work, they asked her at which door they should knock. Among these, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, cofounder of the “Society of St. Vincent de Paul,” and the Venerable Jean Léon Le Prevost, future founder of the Religious of St. Vincent de Paul, knew well the road to her office. They came, with their other friends, to Sr. Rosalie seeking advice for undertaking their projects. She was the center of a charitable movement that characterized Paris and France in the first half of the 19th century. Sr. Rosalie’s experience was priceless for these young people. She directed their apostolate, guided their coming and going in the suburbs, and gave them addresses of families in need, choosing them with care.

Hardships were not lacking in the Mouffetard District. Epidemics of cholera followed one after another. Lack of hygiene and poverty fostered its virulence. Most particularly in 1832 and 1846, the dedication shown and risks taken by Sr. Rosalie and her Sisters were beyond imagination. She herself was seen picking up dead bodies in the streets. During the uprisings of July 1830 and February 1848, barricades and bloody battles were the marks of the opposition of the working class stirred up against the powerful. Archbishop Affre, Archbishop of Paris, was killed trying to intervene between the fighting factions. Sr. Rosalie was deeply grieved. She herself climbed the barricades to try and help the wounded fighters irrespective of the side they were fighting on. Without any fear, she risked her life in these confrontations. Her courage and sense of freedom commanded the admiration of all.

In 1852, Napoleon III decided to give her the Cross of the Legion of Honor. She was ready to refuse this individual honor but Fr. Jean-Baptiste Étienne, Superior General of the Priests of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity, prevailed up her to accept it.

She died on 7 February 1856 after a brief acute illness.

The official newspaper of the Empire, le Moniteur, praised the kindly actions of this Sister: “Funeral honors were given to Sr. Rosalie with unusual splendor. For more than fifty years this holy woman was a friend to others in a district where there are many unfortunate people to care for and all these grateful people accompanied her remains to the church and to the cemetery. A guard of honor was part of the cortege.”

Numerous visitors flocked to the Montparnasse Cemetery. They went to meditate at the tomb of the one who was their salvation. But it was difficult to find the gravesite reserved for the Daughters of Charity. The body was then moved to a more accessible site, close to the entrance of the cemetery. On the simple tomb surmounted by a large Cross are engraved these words: “To Sister Rosalie, from her grateful friends, the rich and the poor.” Anonymous hands brought flowers and continue to bring flowers to this gravesite: a lasting yet discreet homage to this humble Daughter of St. Vincent de Paul.

Sister Rosalie Rendu was beatified in 2003.

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