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The Life of the Venerable Mother Mary of the Incarnation by "A Religious of the Ursuline Community"

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inclined; to embrace with loving resignation all trials from God and from
creatures; to repress every emotion of self-love, and every reflection on
subjects calculated to arouse its sensibilities. These rules, founded on
the maxims of the Gospel, formed the guide of her life.

Her virtues were solid, because her humility, their foundation, was
profound, and because her humility was profound, God exalted her to a
degree of purity of soul, and a consequent height of union with Himself,
rarely attained here below. During the whole of her life in France, she
was accustomed, as we know, to wonderful supernatural communications, but
from the time of her going to Canada, all such favours as could attract
the eyes of men were withdrawn, the Almighty having then intimated His
will that her perfection should henceforth consist in the practices of
ordinary life. But although visible extraordinary favours were suspended,
it was not so with the invisible work of Divine grace; that went on ever
advancing towards its consummation. From the age of twenty, she had
possessed the wondrous privilege of uninterrupted union with God. It was
her habitual permanent condition; neither suffering of mind, nor
infirmity of health, nor pressure of business, nor weight of care could
divert her from it for a moment. Distractions might flit through, and
even trouble her imagination, but they never reached the inner soul,
which through all, maintained an uninterrupted view of the Divine
presence. Her constant application to spiritual things never interfered
with the perfect fulfilment of her external duties, while on the other
hand, the most dissipating exterior occupations never for one instant
disturbed her interior recollection. Never were the spirit of Martha and
of Mary more admirably or more perfectly combined. If prayer is an
elevation of the soul to God, it may be said without any exaggeration,
that her whole life was spent in this heavenly exercise. At the time of
actual prayer, she appeared like a seraph of love, her very aspect
sufficing to excite devotion in the coldest heart. This was an opinion
often expressed by the pupils, who delighted in observing her at prayer,
and sometimes managed even to approach near enough to kiss her feet or
her habit unperceived. It is not given to us to speak of the sublimity of
her prayer, especially towards the end of life. As it became more and
more simplified, it were perhaps best described as one unbroken sigh of
love. "My God! my great God! my Life! my Love! my Glory! This," she
wrote, "is my prayer; these words nourish my soul, not only at the time
of actual prayer, but all through the day, from the moment of rising, to
that of retiring to rest. Imperfect as I am, I feel habitually lost in my
God, to whom I have been so many years united by indescribably intimate
bonds. I see His amiability, His grandeur, His majesty, His power,
without previous reasoning, or research. I can find no words to express
what I would say to Him, yet the silence of simple faith is eloquent. But
although my soul is ever absorbed in my God, it never loses sight of its
own misery; the abyss of His greatness engulphs the abyss of its
nothingness." Not satisfied with all the love of the angels and saints,
she desired that her heart could burn even with infinite love, that so
she might love her God adequately. She prayed our Lord to place her heart
on His, that on that altar of fire it might be made a perfect holocaust
of love. "I ask of Him," she said, "no earthly riches, treasures or joys,
but only that I may die of His love." Under the severest temporal losses,
even in the midst of privations and positive want, she felt, she said, as
if needing nothing, for then especially she belonged to God, and God
belonged to her, and possessing Him, she had nothing to desire. She had
indeed reached that blessed state in which the soul exists more in the
God whom she loves, than in the body which she animates. [Footnote: Words
quoted by Gerson from St. Augustine and St Bernard.] Yet elevated as she
was to sublimest heights of supernatural contemplation, she never failed
carefully to prepare a subject of ordinary meditation, true to the end,
to her love of common practices, and her esteem of common ways, from
which, as we have so often remarked, she never swerved but in obedience
to the irresistible attraction of the Holy Spirit, and she ever
maintained that the most exalted spiritual state is that distinguished,
not by raptures and ecstasies, but by the perfect practice of the maxims
of the Gospel, and the closest interior union with Jesus. Her piety was
solid and practical, and in one of her letters to her son, we find the
remark that she never could content herself with a devotion of mere
sentiment and imagination. Our Lord, she said, assumed our nature, that
He might become our Model. In every condition, we can imitate Him by the
practice of His maxims, which not only discover to us what we have to
retrench and correct in our lives and conduct, but also guide us to the
means of accomplishing that difficult work of self-correction. Devotion
that is not practical, seemed to her, she said, like an edifice built on
moving sand.

She had a lively confidence in the Sacred Heart of our Lord, and always
concluded the spiritual exercises of each day by recommending to the
Eternal Father through Its infinite merits, the Church of Canada, the
preachers of the Gospel, and her friends. Her evening prayers to the
Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, are generally known and widely
circulated not only in Canada, but in many other countries also,
especially among Ursulines. For the benefit of those who may not be
acquainted with them, we shall insert them at the end of the volume. She
had a very particular devotion also to the ever adorable Trinity, and to
the most precious Blood. Of her love for the Blessed Sacrament of the
altar, it would be superfluous to speak. Her sentiments on the holy
Communion may be epitomized in the one word, that "she wished her life
could be one perpetual Communion." She was accustomed to say that she
found in communion strength and support for her soul under all the trials
and difficulties of life, and so sensibly did she experience its blessed
effects, that it almost seemed as if for her the veil of the sacrament
had been removed, and the hidden wonders of the mystery of love made

Among the saints, after their glorious Queen, she honoured St. Joseph and
St. Francis of Paula. St. Joseph she had loved from childhood on account
of his connection with our Lord and His Blessed Mother; her devotion had
received a new impulse from the time when he was shown to her in her
vision as the Patron of Canada. Her veneration for St. Francis of Paula
originated in the family traditions, which told how when the saint came
to France at the prayer of Louis XI, one of his escort from Italy was her
great-grandfather, who in the fervour of his simple faith, frequently
took his children to visit God's servant and receive his blessing. She
loved to allude to the circumstance and no wonder, for there can be no
doubt that a large share of that holy blessing had descended to herself,
and many were the spiritual helps which she received from the saint in
her progress through her pilgrimage. She had also a special devotion to
the holy Angels.

The history of the Venerable Mother Mary of the Incarnation, has spoken
for itself, it is therefore as unnecessary as it would be easy to
multiply testimonies to her merits, both from contemporary and more
recent writers, still, as it would be doing her an injustice to omit them
altogether, we shall insert a very few among the large number at hand.
Bishop Laval who knew her well, writes, "She was adorned with every virtue
in an exalted degree, and eminently endowed in particular, with the gift
of prayer and union with God. She was perfectly dead to self, living and
acting only by the Spirit of Jesus. The Almighty having chosen her for
the great work of founding the Ursuline Order in Canada, He granted her
the plenitude of the spirit of that holy institute. She was an admirable
Superior, an excellent guide for novices, and equally qualified for every
other position in her community. Her life, externally ordinary, was
interiorly divine, so that she was deservedly looked on by her Sisters as
a living rule." The eulogy of Père Charlevoix is equally strong. After
calling her "the Teresa of New France," he says, "History presents few
women who can be compared with her, as none will deny who attentively
study her life and writings. Such," he continues, "was the opinion of the
most enlightened individuals of the age in which she lived; her most
eloquent panegyrists were those who knew her best."

The Mother Cecilia of the Holy Cross, who had never been separated from
her since they left Dieppe together on their way to Canada, declared that
in the thirty-three years of their close companionship, she had never
seen her transgress against meekness, patience, humility, charity,
obedience or poverty, or omit an opportunity of practising these great
religious virtues.

To Dom Claude Martin, Madame de la Peltrie wrote after her return from
her expedition to Montreal, "I esteem myself happy and honoured in the
privilege of living under the roof with the Mother of the Incarnation. If
I survive her, I shall give you many particulars of her life which will
call forth your gratitude to God. She is truly a chosen soul, precious in
the eyes of the Lord. What I particularly admire in her, is her fidelity
to the duties of common life, and the love which she evinces for those
who treat her ill. She lives in great detachment from all but God;
perfect abandonment to Providence; unalterable peace, and a constant
interior recollection truly admirable. How happy I should be if I
possessed the tenth part of her virtues!"

Announcing her decease to the monasteries of the Order in France, her
Superior says, among other things, "Her death was the echo of her holy
life, passed as it was in the continual practice of the most heroic
virtues. Though Superior for eighteen years at different times, she was
the most submissive in the house to the one who occupied the place in the
intervals. Her exactitude to rule was perfect. Her humility persuaded her
that she was unworthy to associate with her Sisters, whose every act of
virtue she observed with admiration. Her zeal for the glory of God, far
from having diminished with time, became at last a consuming fire. Her
patience both in life and death was truly admirable."...

* * * * *

The tradition of her holiness passed from generation to generation, not
only of the inmates of the monastery, but of the inhabitants of Quebec
generally. Years served but to confirm the impression of her merits, and
at last that impression took the form of one earnest, unanimous desire
and prayer, that our holy Mother the Church would deign to gladden the
heart of every Catholic in Canada, by admitting the Mother Mary of the
Incarnation to a share in the public veneration which she allows to her
canonized saints. Numerous postulatory letters to this effect were
addressed to his late Holiness of saintly and venerated memory, Pope Pius
IX, who after the usual delay, permitted the preliminary steps towards
the Beatification. The cause was introduced on the 15th of September,
1877, when the Mother Mary of the Incarnation was honoured with the title
of Venerable, the prelude, as we humbly trust, to one more glorious and
exalted still. Among the postulatory letters is one which cannot be read
without very particular interest. It bears the signature of the Huron
Grand Chief, followed by that of the principal chiefs and warriors of the

"MOST HOLY FATHER,--The greatest of Fathers after Him who is in heaven,
we are the least of your children, but you are the representative of Him
who said, 'Suffer little children to come to me,' so we approach with
confidence to prostrate at your feet.

"Most Holy Father,--We the chiefs and warriors of the Huron tribe, humbly
present you a perfume of rich fragrance, composed of the virtues of the
Reverend Mother Mary of the Incarnation. Deign, Holy Father, to offer it
to God, that passing through your hands, it may more surely find
acceptance in His sight.

"The Mother of the Incarnation called us from our forests, that she might
teach us to know and adore the true Master of life. She took our hearts
in her hand and placed them before the Eternal, as a basket of fruit of
her own culling.

"Through her instructions we have learned meekness; wolves and bears have
fawned on her; the angry roar of fury has been changed into the hymn of

"Our mothers kissed the traces of her footsteps, and then signed our
foreheads with the blessed dust, fruitful for eternity. With her own
hands she impressed the sign of faith on our hearts, and it has never
since been effaced. Thanks to her, we are able to read the books which
recall her benefits. We ourselves could fill many books with testimonies
of our respectful gratitude.

"She loved us with a human as well as a spiritual affection, so she is
twice our mother.

"It is through her teaching, and for her sake, that we have renounced our
native wilds, and come to live among our more civilized brethren. The
Bear, the Wolf, the Goat, the Beaver and the Tortoise [Footnote:
Appellations of the five principal families of the tribe.] will be
henceforth chained to the sanctuary, and their occupation will be to
celebrate the praises of the Master of life.

"Many moons have passed since that first dawning of the true light. Our
once flourishing nation is on the eve of extinction, but,

"Most Holy Father, we beseech you to receive with the last prayer and
last sigh of the Hurons, the assurance of their profound reverence for
the Mother Mary of the Incarnation.

"The bones of our fathers will exult in their tombs, if your voice
proclaims the eternal happiness of the Mother to whom we are indebted for
our faith.

"She found among our women, virgins worthy of admittance to the
sanctuary, and among our warriors, missioners and martyrs who will weave
a crown for her in heaven. There remains to us only one drop of Huron
blood, but if that could enrich the immortal crown of the Mother of the
Incarnation, we would willingly bid it flow.

"Prostrate at your feet, Most Holy Father, we implore your benediction."

Then follow the sixteen signatures of the Grand Chief and his fellow

The day on which the touching appeal of the Hurons shall be responded to,
will gladden many a heart besides theirs.

Meantime, O Mother! we thank the Lord for the magnificent grace bestowed
on thee, and for thy fidelity in corresponding with them. We thank Him
for having given us in thee so glorious a model of religious perfection,
and we pray that thy example may ever guide and thy spirit ever animate
us. We beseech thee to watch from heaven over the Order which on earth
thou didst love so well and adorn so brightly, and to obtain that no
Ursuline may ever show herself unworthy of her exalted and cherished
title of a daughter of St. Angela, and of the Venerable Mother Mary of
the Incarnation.


On the 30th of April, 1833, more than a century and a half after the
saintly death of the Venerable Mother Mary of the Incarnation, her
precious remains were removed with due solemnity from the vault where
they had long lain, to a place of greater honour in the choir of the
Ursuline monastery. On the occasion of this translation, the vault was
discovered to be quite full of water, and when the Venerable Mother's
coffin was opened before being consigned to its new resting-place, it was
seen by many witnesses to be also filled with the same clear crystal
fluid. The circumstance was easily explained by the gradual filtration of
water into the vault, whence it had penetrated into the leaden case
through small openings in the soldering. But although the presence of the
water could be thus simply accounted for, contact with the remains of
God's holy servant had given it a manifest claim to special reverence; it
was therefore cautiously drawn off, and has since been so carefully
preserved, that although very generously shared with numerous petitioners
for it, the supply is not yet quite exhausted. One sealed bottle of this
water is kept for the admiration of posterity. The Almighty has been
pleased to glorify Himself in His faithful servant, by permitting that it
should become the instrument of many wonderful cures. [Footnote: In the
History of the Ursuline Monastery of Quebec, published in 1866, the
writer says: "Some years ago, a woman of the neighbourhood informed me
that her daughter had been cured of a very serious affection of the eyes
at the close of a Novena to the Venerable Mother, on each day of which,
the water of the tomb had been applied to the diseased part. 'I have a
little of the water left,' she added, 'and I would not give it up for any
consideration. I have eight children dependent for support on my work; if
one of them fell sick, what should I do? I could not fee a doctor, so my
only resource is in the water.' Imagining that she attached the idea of
some medicinal property to it, we hastened to assure her that it was only
ordinary water, which derived its efficacy from the prayers of the Mother
of the Incarnation, whom she had so fervently invoked. 'No, no,' she
exclaimed, cutting short the explanation; 'it is not ordinary water; if
it were, it would corrupt and diminish, but instead of that, it seems to
me to increase. It is extraordinary water,' she said; 'it is holy water.'
We left her under her agreeable impression," adds the narrator, "thinking
that the prodigy had perhaps been permitted in recompense of her simple
faith and confidence in our holy Mother."] We are not, however, to
suppose that reliance on the prayers of the Mother of the Incarnation
dates only from its discovery; confidence in her intercession has, on the
contrary, ever kept pace with veneration for her memory, and this, we
know, has never varied except to increase.

No account has reached us of the favours obtained through the mediation
of the Venerable Mother, previous to the discovery of the water: whether
an earlier record may have at one time existed, and been afterwards
destroyed by fire or otherwise, is uncertain. Even of the favours
received since 1833, no regular register was kept until 1867. In that
year, Monseigneur Baillargeon, Archbishop of Quebec, appointed a
commission to examine and test, according to canonical forms, all facts
tending to demonstrate the sanctity of the Mother of the Incarnation. It
then became matter of universal regret that so little publicity had been
given to the prodigies wrought through her intercession: it would seem as
if men's minds had become so familiarized with them from the frequency of
their recurrence, that no one had hitherto thought of attracting general
attention to them. On the occasion alluded to, however, the witnesses of
the most recent were examined, and on their testimony, a considerable
number were proved.

We extract a few from the long catalogue, for the honour of Him who is
glorious in His saints, premising that we do not apply the epithet
"miraculous," in its strict sense, to the occurrences about to be
related, the Church having in her wisdom reserved to herself the right to
pronounce definitively on miracles. We merely state facts certified by
witnesses of unimpeachable character, leaving to the superior tribunal to
decide as to their supernatural origin.

Miss Margaret Mary Gowan had completely lost the use of an arm for nearly
a year previous to the opening of the tomb of the Mother of the
Incarnation in 1833, and was cured after making a Novena to the Venerable
Mother, and using the water of the tomb. She was then a boarder at the
Ursulines, and is now a Sister of Charity in Quebec. This fact, adds the
convent annalist, inspired great confidence in the efficacy of the water
which we had just collected from the tomb with religious veneration.

A child of nine years of age, named Mary Adela Brunette, who had always
been remarkable for delicate health, was seized on the evening of
December 31, 1853, with pain in the eyes so violent as to deprive her of
sleep. A few days later, a film was observed on both eyes, which it
gradually overspread, the pain meantime retaining its first intensity.
The child had not only to be confined to a room whence all light had been
excluded, but moreover to wear a thick bandage across her eyes. So great
were her sufferings, that her father often said he would infinitely
rather see her dead, than witness them. For six months she had the best
medical advice, but remedies seemed only to aggravate pain. To open her
eyes, appeared an impossibility.

Towards the end of July, 1854, a friend proposed to the child's parents
to pray for her cure through the intercession of the Venerable Mother of
the Incarnation. The suggestion was at once adopted, the parents and
several neighbouring families arranging to meet daily at the house of the
little girl's uncle, a man remarkable for piety. The invalid was
conducted thither on the first day with extreme difficulty, precautions
having been taken to render her eyes absolutely inaccessible to the
faintest ray of light. The next day, she asked to walk without support,
taking care, however, to cling closely to her mother's side. Soon she
could endure the light sufficiently to guide herself, was able to
distinguish objects, and expressed surprise at some slight alterations
which had been made in the house during the seven months of her illness.
On the ninth day, one of her eyes was quite clear. Meantime, some of the
water of the tomb had been procured; it was applied during a second
Novena, and the result was the child's perfect restoration. She was not
only free from pain, but able to bear the strongest sun-light.

The above particulars were given at Quebec, on the 3rd of June, 1862, by
the young girl herself, and confirmed by her mother. She had then had no
return of disease of the eyes; her general health was excellent, and her
strength equal to any demand on it. She was so convinced of having been
cured through heavenly intervention, that she preserved as a precious
relic, the empty phial which had once contained the water of the tomb.

* * * * *

On the 22nd of December, 1862, Dr. Landry, an eminent physician residing
at Quebec, gave the following testimony, renewed in presence of several
ecclesiastics, in 1867:--

"In September, 1859, my daughter had an extremely violent attack of tic-
douloureux in the left side of the face. The paroxysms recurred every two
or three days, and lasted sometimes an hour, sometimes two or more. In
November, the malady assumed a still more severe character, the paroxysms
sometimes recurring twice in one day. Towards the end of December, the
disease yielded to persevering medical treatment.

"On the 1st of February, 1860, the child entered the Ursuline Convent at
Quebec, and the next day had a return of the malady, which continued
without notable interruption until March 24th, the eve of the
Annunciation. In this last stage of her illness, the attacks of pain were
very frequent and very violent, numbering as many as four in a day.

"On the 16th of March, nine days before the feast of the Annunciation,
one of the Sisters recommended her to beg the intercession of the Mother
of the Incarnation in a Novena, in which the community and the pupils
would unite. The paroxysms were violent, and of daily occurrence up to
the second last day of the Novena, when the attack was comparatively
light. This proved the last. From that moment she has had no return of
the pain which for the previous six months had made her life a torture.
This wonderful cure which has now lasted eight years, I can attribute
only to the charitable and powerful intercession of the Venerable Mother
Mary of the Incarnation."

* * * * *

Abridged TESTIMONY of the same DR. LANDRY, in 1862, relatively to the
recovery of Mother St. Angela, an Ursuline Religious at Quebec.

"In 1859, my professional services were required by Mother Saint Angela,
whose delicacy had been of long standing. She was suffering from a
complication of diseases, and at the period referred to, was reduced to
extreme exhaustion. The remedies resorted to, produced some slight
improvement, but it proved only temporary, for, from the middle of
February, 1862, her infirmities were so much aggravated, that she was
obliged to keep her bed altogether. I had always looked on her as an
incurable invalid, destined to wear out her life in broken health and
constant suffering.

"At the beginning of May, of the same year, she told me that she felt
better, and a few days later, declared to me by order of her Superior,
that she was restored to health.

"I did not meet my former patient from that time, until the present date,
November, 1862, when wishing to assure myself of her actual condition
before writing the above report, I asked to see her. She had an
appearance of strength which I had never before observed in her, and
although retaining some slight traces of her former maladies, was now
able, she assured me, to fulfil all her duties, and to partake of the
ordinary fare of the community with good appetite. Her movements, once
evincing extreme debility, were marked by the activity and animation of a
healthy young person. Her recovery was too prompt, too complete, and too
permanent, to admit of my attributing it to the remedies which I had

* * * * *

The following is the account of the same wonderful cure given by Mother
St. Anne, Assistant of the monastery, and a person of great experience in
the care of the sick:--

"The ill health of Mother St. Angela was of many years' standing, but
from 1848 to 1862, her sufferings and consequent weakness had so
considerably increased, that she had at last been compelled to give up
all the regular observances of the community, as well as the duties of
her particular charge.

"As that of a confirmed invalid, her case seemed to the chaplain of the
monastery, one peculiarly suited to manifest the power of the prayers of
the Mother of the Incarnation. Accordingly, to the general surprise, he
suggested that a Novena should be offered to the Venerable Mother for the
patient's recovery. The pupils especially were amazed when asked to join.
'Our Mistress general, whom we have not seen for three months!' they
exclaimed; 'as well ask for the resurrection of the dead! Why, she is but
half-alive, and not young either!' To induce them to unite, they had to
be reminded of the omnipotence of the Most High, to whom it is as easy to
repair His works, as it was to create them;--reminded, too, that the
worse the case, the greater would be the wonder of the cure, should it
please God to grant it. Still, several remained incredulous, and though
all prayed, many felt but little confidence.

"On the 22nd of April, a solemn Novena was commenced, and it terminated
on the 30th, the anniversary of the death of the holy Mother. After Mass,
the Mother Superior proceeded to visit the invalid, who had communicated
in bed at an early hour, and unwilling to believe that she had not been
cured, told her to rise. Mother St. Angela attempted to do so, but even
with assistance, could not stand, and had no resource but to return to
bed. 'You see, Mother,' she said, 'our good God wills me to remain in my
present state. I had a great desire that my recovery should redound to
the honour of the Mother of the Incarnation, but God's will be done! Let
us think no more of recovery.' 'That is not my view of the subject,'
replied the Mother Superior, as if suddenly inspired. 'You must begin
another Novena to-morrow, asking our Venerable Mother to obtain for you
at least sufficient health to fulfil the duties of your charge, and at
the close of this Novena, you will _assist at Mass, and communicate in
the choir._' In all simplicity, the invalid commenced a second Novena
on the 1st of May, again joined by all the Sisters and boarders. On the
very first day, she felt well enough to resume the recitation of the
Office. Appetite, sleep and strength rapidly returned; on the seventh
day, she went down to the confessional, and on the ninth, heard Mass, and
received Holy Communion in the choir, as she had been ordered. She
immediately commenced a Novena of thanksgiving at the tomb of the Mother
of the Incarnation, and before its close, had resumed all the regular
observances, including very early rising, the fasts and abstinences
prescribed by rule, and the chanting of the Divine Office. Surprised and
overjoyed, the pupils entoned a triumphant 'Magnificat' for the recovery
of their 'resuscitated Mother,' as they called her." During the two years
which had elapsed since the cure, when the above statement was written,
Mother St. Angela had had no necessity to omit a single community
exercise, from four o'clock in the morning to nine at night. So perfect
was her recovery, that she said her previous illness seemed to her only
like a dream, adding that she felt no inconvenience from duties which had
fatigued her when she was young and healthy, but was on the contrary
ready to recommence them when completed. She called her restoration, a
real resurrection, almost a transformation.

* * * * *

In the summer of 1862, Madame Joseph Latourneau of Quebec, was laid
prostrate by a complication of maladies. Towards the middle of July, the
danger became so imminent, that on taking leave of her one evening, the
physician begged her husband to let him know in the morning whether she
was still alive. There seemed so little hope of her passing the night,
that several friends had assembled to assist, as they supposed, at her
last moments. One of these visitors brought a little of the water of the
tomb, and inquired of the invalid whether she had confidence in it. "Oh,
yes!" she replied; "great confidence! Have I a chance of getting any of
it? I am sure the holy Mother will cure me."--And in afterwards relating
the circumstance, she said, "I began to weep, without knowing why, and
felt an internal conviction, that I should be restored." She derived
immediate benefit from the water, passed a better night, and the next
day, the doctor pronounced her out of danger. During her convalescence,
she kept a picture of the Venerable Mother continually before her,
convinced, as well as the rest of her family, that she owed her
restoration to health to the intercession of this powerful Advocate.

* * * * *

Madame Joseph Bélanger of Quebec gives the following details of a favour
obtained through the same channel:--

A thick eruption had gathered over the upper part of her baby's lace,
spreading gradually to the eyelids and closing the eyes, and still the
physicians feared to venture remedies. Seeing that the disease threatened
the mouth and ears, the mother became greatly alarmed. Her sister who had
received a signal favour from the Venerable Mother, pressed her to use
the water of the tomb with faith, telling her that she still possessed a
few drops of it, and assuring her that the child would thus be restored,
as she had been herself. The water was accordingly applied lightly and
sparingly to the parts affected, and to the joy and admiration of the
spectators, the malady appeared at once to change its character. After
the third or fourth application, all traces of it had vanished, "as if by
magic," said the grateful mother. This event occurred in 1862. When the
above details were furnished, the little girl was about six years of age,
and up to that period had not shown the least tendency to a renewal of
the disease of her infancy.

* * * * *

October 31, 1862.--First Testimony to the cure of Sister Mary of Jesus, a
Sister of Charity residing at Cacouma, one hundred and twenty miles from
Quebec,--addressed to the Mother Superior of the Ursulines at Quebec.

"REVEREND MOTHER,--A thousand thanks for the small phial of water which
you were kind enough to send me. As I wrote you, Sister Mary of Jesus was
extremely ill on Friday; that evening she appeared so near death, that
the prayers of the agonizing were said for her. She was unable to swallow
the water, but no sooner had her lips been moistened with it, than she
seemed to revive. The next day the physician found her out of danger to
his great surprise. Join us in returning thanks to God and His faithful
servant for this great favour.

"Sister MARY DE BON SECOURS, Assistant."

* * * * *

Second Testimony, again addressed to the Mother Superior at Quebec:--

"For the information of all interested in the case, and for the glory of
God in His saints, I declare and certify the following:--

"On the 31st of October, 1862, I administered the last sacraments to
Sister Mary of Jesus, a Sister of Charity near Quebec, first because from
my own observation, I considered her death inevitable, unless averted by
miraculous interposition, and secondly, because the attending physician
had assured me that he saw no chance of saving her life. To my certain
knowledge, the Mother Superior of the convent exhorted Sister Mary of
Jesus to ask for her cure through the intercession of the Mother of the
Incarnation, in whom she had herself great confidence, after which, the
apparently dying sister took a few drops of the water, spent a good
night, and the next day, was so much better, that both, in the house and
in the environs, her recovery was declared a miracle, attributable to the
prayers of the Mother of the Incarnation. In faith of which, I have
signed the present declaration on the 21st of May, 1867.
"J. C. CLOUTIER, P.P. of Cacouma."

* * * * *

Elias Desharnais, a labourer at Stanfold had given himself a severe hurt,
while engaged in mowing; the result was a long fit of illness, followed
by utter incapacity for all laborious exertion. Two years after this
accident, he was thrown from his horse, and so violently trampled, that
he was taken up by the passers-by, senseless and apparently lifeless. For
forty-eight hours, he remained unconscious, and during the seven or eight
succeeding days, frequently relapsed into insensibility. After a time, he
was able to walk, but he gained no strength, and every attempt to resume
his work so aggravated his sufferings, that after each trial he was
constrained to keep his bed for weeks. He had been in this infirm
condition six years, when his sister informed him of a remarkable cure
just wrought at the Ursuline Convent, Quebec, where she was herself a lay
Sister, advising him also to apply for relief to their Benefactress, the
Mother of the Incarnation. A first Novena not having produced any
sensible improvement, the good religious sent him some of the water of
the tomb, urging him to make a second Novena, and to endeavour to
approach the Holy Communion at its conclusion. He made the Novena;
applied the water to the stomach, the seat of suffering, and on the ninth
day approached the holy table. His faith and hope were not frustrated.
From that moment, every trace of his infirmity vanished, he went at once
to his work, and having experienced no inconvenience from his first
efforts, undertook and accomplished in person the heaviest part of the
agricultural labours of the season,--mowing, reaping, saving the hay,
storing the grain, &c. Two of his brothers having removed from home about
this time, a double share of work devolved on him.' He laboured as
vigorously and as unceasingly since, as he had done previously to his
accident. Such is the testimony which he himself gave at the Ursuline
Convent, on the 12th of November, 1866, having travelled from Stanfold to
Quebec, for no other purpose than to make the statement, and declaring
that he looked on the expense and fatigue of the journey as of little
consequence, compared with the happiness of having thus slightly
testified his gratitude to his heavenly Benefactress.

* * * * *

1864.--Madame Elzéar Vincent, a resident in Quebec, aged thirty, had
suffered for seven weeks from pain in the knee. The inflammation
spreading to the thigh, she was compelled to keep her bed and became
quite incapable of moving. Miss Bilodeau, a former pupil of the Laval
Normal school, having procured some of the water of the tomb for the
patient, they both joined in a Novena to the Mother of the Incarnation.
The first application of the water was followed by sensible relief. On
the third day, the invalid was well, and able to resume her household

* * * * *

On the 21st of October, 1867, Madame Chateauvert, of the suburb St.
Louis, Quebec, declared that she believed herself indebted to the
intercession of the Mother of the Incarnation for the preservation of her
little girl, aged six weeks, during three of which she had suffered from
violent convulsions. The same malady had already deprived Madame
Chateauvert of four of her children, and the danger in the present case
seemed all the more imminent, as the convulsions had set in earlier than
with the other little ones. Towards the middle of July, 1867, the attack
was so violent that the infant remained insensible for three hours. The
water of the tomb was then applied to her temples; she immediately
revived and from this first day of the Novena, had no return of the
convulsions, but has enjoyed good health.

* * * * *

On the 20th of February, 1867, Mrs. Isaac Fullerton of Quebec presented
herself at the Ursuline monastery to give the following account of her
wonderful cure. She stated that for seven weeks, she had completely lost
the use of her right hand, which was so swollen, especially in the finger
joints, that she could neither open nor close it. The pain extended
through the arm and shoulder. In addition, she had suffered all through
the winter from an almost intolerable ear ache. Having heard of the water
of the tomb, she sent for some: she also procured, a copy of the prayer
[Footnote: See end of Volume.] "By the Heart of my Jesus," and began a
Novena. At the first application of the water, she found her hand
becoming supple, and made her husband observe the improvement. On the
ninth day of the Novena, her arm and shoulder were perfectly free from
the least pain or stiffness. But the ear ache had not yielded, and on the
9th of February, the day before her deposition, it had been very severe:
a tumour had even formed during the preceding days on the upper part of
the right ear. In the evening, her husband asked her why she did not try
the water of the tomb, which would no doubt prove as efficacious in this
ease, as it had done in the previous. The idea had not occurred to her
before, and finding that a little remained in the phial she applied it to
the ear. A momentary sensation of great heat all through the head was
followed by total relief from suffering. "God be praised!" she exclaimed,
"I am cured; I have no pain!" Her husband echoed her exclamation of
surprise and joy, when on examining the ear, he found that even the
tumour had disappeared. "I am now perfectly well," concluded Mrs.
Fullerton; "entirely free from suffering, and with heartfelt gratitude I
declare that it is to the prayer of the Mother of the Incarnation I am
indebted for my cure."

* * * * *

Miss Bilodeau, a teacher at Rivière Noire in the parish of St. Agapetus,
made the following declaration on the 29th of August, 1867:--

"Towards the end of last May, a child of twelve, named Mary Côté, was
brought to my school, with a request that I would prepare her for first
communion and confirmation. She was conducted by her aunt, and walked
with difficulty; her eyes appeared in a sad condition. I was informed
that she had been blind since an attack of small-pox five years before,
and that during that period she had endured a martyrdom, especially in
winter, when the inflammation increased. Hoping that the disease was not
as inveterate as it appeared, I begged her aunt to take her to the
chapel, and help her to distinguish the altar and tabernacle, that she
might the better understand future instructions on these subject, for I
had been told that she had never even entered a church, her parents
living at a considerable distance from the parish church, and not having
a vehicle. Accordingly, she was led to the church, but on her return, I
was assured she had discerned nothing, not even the conspicuous white
statue of our Blessed Lady. I then examined her eyes more closely. I
found the lids livid and bluish; close to the lashes, red and inflamed.
In the eye itself, pupil, iris and cornea were alike undistinguishable;
all that could be seen was a mass of red, white and black spots,
frightful to behold. Both eyes were in the same condition. Dr. Morin had
declared the case incurable; the parish priest of Gaspé, and two
Trappiste Fathers who happened to pass that way, had expressed the same
opinion, the last observing that only a miracle could restore sight so
thoroughly diseased. 'Well,' I said to the child, 'I know a servant of
God who can obtain this favour, if you pray to her very fervently.' I
gave her a little of the water of the tomb, telling her to put a drop of
it into her eyes every day, and to say daily also, three Paters, Aves,
and Glorias, with the invocation 'Venerable Mother of the Incarnation,
obtain my cure!' The first days of the Novena, her sufferings increased
so much that she could scarcely support them. I told her not to be
discouraged in consequence, for that this increase of pain proved the
intervention of the Venerable Mother, and should only stimulate her to
redouble her prayers, which she did. On the third or fourth day, she was
taken to Mass by her aunt, and although in great pain, prayed with
renewed ardour, asking the Mother of the Incarnation to let her see at
least the statue of our Blessed Lady. Towards the end of Mass, she felt
suddenly inspired to raise her eyes, and saw something white: it was the
statue. As she afterwards said, the longer she looked at it, the clearer
her vision became. In an ecstasy of delight and amazement, she began to
describe to her aunt every thing she saw round the statue and on the
altar. On leaving the church, she was subjected to various tests, which
only resulted in rendering the miracle more manifest. Her eyes were free
from pain and looked perfectly clear, except for a slight discoloration
of the left, which however did not interfere with the vision, and soon
disappeared. This event occurred on the 8th or 9th of June." On the 23rd
of the following August, Miss Bilodeau gave the above details. Dr. Morin,
to whom she presented the child, at once recognised his former patient,
but could not comprehend the wonderful change visible in her. After a
close examination, he declared that only a miracle could have wrought it.
The next day he gave the following testimony: "I the undersigned, can
certify on oath, that five years ago, I examined Mary Côté's eyes, and
found that the small-pox had produced opacity of the cornea of both, or
the disease called _leucoma_. I pronounced the case incurable, and
refused in consequence to prescribe medical treatment. I certify that I
re-examined the same little girl on the 4th of September, 1867, and that
I cannot explain the cure of her eyes by natural causes.

Mary Côté and her mother confirmed the above testimony at a later period.

* * * * *

CURE of MARGARET FOLEY, affected for four years and a half with deafness,
30th of April, 1868.

Margaret Foley was in her fourteenth year, when in September 1867, she
was presented at the Ursuline day school to receive instruction for first
communion. She had already been sent to three other schools for the same
purpose, but her deafness had in each case proved an insuperable obstacle
to the success of her teachers. It soon became apparent to her new
instructresses, that the present trial must end like the preceding in
total failure, therefore they recommended Mrs. Foley to withdraw her

When the immediate preparation for first communion was about to commence
just before the Lent of 1868, some of the pupils mentioned Margaret
Foley, and in the hope that her hearing might have somewhat improved in
the interval, her mistresses sent for her, but unfortunately, they found
no change in her state. Before the loss of her hearing, she had learned
to read imperfectly, consequently she knew something of the text of her
catechism, but nothing more. When the period of first communion drew
near, one of her mistresses, not knowing what to do, proposed a Novena to
the Mother of the Incarnation. Just nine days were to elapse before that
of the first Communion, which by a happy coincidence occurred this year
on the 30th of April, the anniversary of the death of the saintly Mother.
Some of the water of the tomb was given to the little girl, with
directions to put a drop of it every day into her ears. The nuns and
pupils joined in the Novena, and all declared that it would indeed be a
miracle if the poor child should recover her hearing. On Friday, April
24th, the day of the examination of the first communicants, Margaret
prayed with renewed fervour before a picture of the Venerable Mother,
which some one had given her. Her afflicted mother expected only the
usual disappointment, and awaited with a sad heart her return from the
convent. Suddenly she heard her bounding up the stairs; then saw her rush
into the room, kissing her picture in transports of joy which admitted
but of one explanation. She had heard the priest quite distinctly, she
assured her mother, and hoped to be admitted to the heavenly Banquet. The
excitement of her companions, and the gratitude of her teachers can be
better imagined than described. On the 30th of April, the last day of the
Novena, she made her first communion. She was visited by several of the
sisters, those especially who had had personal communication with her
during the period of her infirmity, and all recognised the wonderful
nature of the cure. Mrs. Foley declared that for four years and a half,
she had been able to communicate with her only by signs.

* * * * *

On the 10th of January, 1870, Clément Chaillé of Cap Santé declared that
his mother, aged seventy-three, had in the preceding August been cured of
a cancerous tumour in the nose, which, having resisted all remedies,
disappeared on the application of the water of the tomb.

* * * * *

On the 15th of March, 1877, Miss Fortier, a pupil of the Laval Normal
School, Quebec, deposed that her brother Emilius Fortier, eighteen years
of age, and subject for two years to epileptic fits, had been cured the
preceding September by a Novena to the Venerable Mother, and the use of
the miraculous water. The young man, who had been compelled to give up
his college course on account of his terrible malady, was then so
completely cured, that his father had written to re-engage his place for
the next year.

* * * * *

Our limits will not permit us to dwell at greater length on the bodily
cures effected through the intercession of the Mother of the Incarnation:
the number is so great, that even an imperfect list would fill many
pages. The same may be said of the favours obtained through her prayers
in the spiritual and moral order, on which, in like manner, we shall
touch but lightly. The following are but a few among the many instances
of such, which might be recorded:--

Deploring the decline of practical piety in the parish where she resided,
a school teacher of remarkable virtue determined as the first step to
improvement, to introduce devotion to the Mother of the Incarnation. For
this purpose, she began by circulating copies of the Venerable Mother's
prayers to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, to which we have so often
alluded. She besought the holy Mother to interest herself in the great
work of the reformation of the people, and as a preliminary, to give some
striking manifestation of the power of her intercession with God: The
prayer was heard; the impression produced by a few wonderful cures, led
to conversions, and before long, a missionary bore public testimony to
the marked change which had taken place in the locality since the
introduction of devotion to the Mother of the Incarnation.

* * * * *

A young person charged with a school composed of children of both sexes,
found herself constantly surrounded with difficulties of all kinds, but
it was her invariable habit to place her troubles in the hands of the
Mother of the Incarnation, and she found abundant reason to congratulate
herself on having adopted the plan. Whether she had to contend with
annoyances from parents, and insubordination from pupils, or whether she
had to solve scientific questions beyond her capacity, her powerful
Patroness brought her safely through every embarrassment. She had become
so accustomed to her charitable intervention, that she counted on it as a
matter of course. We shall cite but one instance. A grown lad one day
asked the solution of a very difficult problem in arithmetic, required
for the following day. Now the poor teacher's arithmetic was one of her
weak points; she had never seen the rules on which the given question
bore, and had not the remotest idea how to set about her task, so as
usual, she had recourse to her unfailing refuge, the Mother of the
Incarnation, representing to her that without her assistance, she must
infallibly lose her reputation as a teacher, and as a consequence, her
moral influence over her pupils. Having finished the day's duties, she
retired tranquilly to rest, quite convinced that by some means or
another, her difficulties would be removed. When she awoke on the
following morning, the answer to the problem was as clearly traced on her
mind, as if it had been written on paper before her eyes. She had but to
copy the formula on a slate, as she would have copied from a text book on
the subject, and then she was ready to meet, and to satisfy her

There have been instances of visible protection accorded by the Venerable
Mother to persons wearing her picture or one of her relics;--instances of
the conversion of the victims of intemperance, and of other obdurate
sinners for whom her prayers had been invoked;--instances of disunited
families reconciled, pecuniary embarrassments relieved, and temporal
affairs brought to a happy issue by being recommended to her charity.

Nor is it only in Quebec, or even in the New World, that the fruits of
her intercession have been experienced; on the contrary, wherever
appealed to, the result has been the same.

"Among the great number of applicants to the Mother of the Incarnation,"
says a letter from Three Rivers, "all, it is true, do not obtain the
cures they pray for, but the good Mother never fails to procure them
something better. I do not recollect," continues the writer, "having ever
met a single person who had recourse to her intercession and was not
satisfied with the result. Some come to tell us joyfully, that they have
received the favours they petitioned for; others recognise that it is for
their advantage to suffer, since the Mother has not obtained their
recovery. Those who have received only partial relief, are contented with
it and seem to desire no more."

In whatever other light the preceding facts are viewed, they must at
least be looked on as so many "heavenly messengers" assuring us of the
love and protection of our saintly Mother, and as such, must necessarily
confirm our confidence in her power, and intensify our gratitude for her

"Sing to the lord a new canticle: let His praise be in the church of the
saints."--(Ps. cxlix l.)


By the Heart of my Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, I
approach Thee, O Eternal Father. By this Divine Heart, I adore Thee, for
those who do not adore Thee; I love Thee for all who do not love Thee; I
acknowledge Thee as my God, for all the wilfully blind, who through
contempt refuse to acknowledge Thee. By this Divine Heart, I desire to
pay Thee the homage which all Thy creatures owe Thee. In spirit I go
round the wide world, in search of the souls redeemed by the precious
blood of Jesus. I present them all to Thee through Him, and by His merits
I ask for their conversion. O Eternal Father! wilt Thou permit them to
remain in ignorance of my Jesus? Wilt Thou suffer that they should not
live for Him who died for all? Thou seest, O heavenly Father! that they
live not yet; grant them then life, by this Divine Heart. Through this
adorable Heart, I present Thee all who labour for the extension of the
Gospel, that by its merits, they may be replenished with Thy Holy Spirit.

On it, as on a Divine Altar, I present to Thee especially...........

Thou knowest, O Incarnate Word, my adorable Saviour! that all that I
would ask Thy Father by Thy Divine Heart, by Thy Holy Soul. I ask it of
Thee, when I ask it of Him, because Thou art in Thy Father, and Thy
Father is in Thee. Deign together to hear my prayer, and to make the
souls whom I present to Thee, one with Thee. Amen.


O Divine Spouse of my soul! what return shall I make Thee for Thine
excessive charity towards me? I give Thee thanks through Thy Blessed
Mother. I offer Thee her Immaculate Heart, as I offer Thy Sacred Heart to
Thy Father. Suffer me to love Thee by that holy Heart which loved Thee so
tenderly; to offer Thee that body which served Thee, that virginal
Sanctuary which Thou didst deign to inhabit. I offer it in thanksgiving
for Thy benefits; I offer it for the amendment of my life, for the
sanctification of my soul, and to obtain the grace of final perseverance
in Thy service and love.

(_Name particular intentions. _)

I thank Thee, my Jesus, that Thou wert pleased to choose this most Holy
Virgin for Thy Mother. I thank Thee for having granted her the graces
suited to this great dignity, and for having deigned to give her to us
for our Mother. I adore the instant of Thine Incarnation, and venerate
each moment Thou didst spend as a Wanderer on earth. I thank Thee for the
example of Thy Divine virtues; the merit of Thy labours and the effusion
of Thy precious Blood. I wish to have neither life nor movement but in
union with Thine. Purify my impure and imperfect life, by the purity and
perfection of Thy Divine life, and by the holy life of Thy Immaculate
Mother. Amen.



The Ursuline Convent of Quebec, built two hundred and forty years ago,
and since then, twice rebuilt and vastly enlarged, occupies an area of
six acres in the centre of the Upper Town. It is situated on a commanding
eminence, almost entirely surrounded by gardens; its secluded inhabitants
can, therefore, freely enjoy, from their upper apartments, the views of
unrivalled beauty which encompass the city.

To give the reader some idea of the ever increasing prosperity of this
favoured establishment, we shall here insert the statistics of its
cloistered population within the last eighty years. At the beginning of
the present century, the community was composed of 40 professed members--
27 of the Choir, and l3 Lay Sisters; added to these were 6 or 7 Novices.
The boarders and half-boarders amounted together to upwards of 60, and
were united under the same teachers for the study of both the French and
English languages. This arrangement was, indeed, a matter of necessity,
as there were at the time but two young novices to direct the English
classes, Rev. Mother M. Louise McLoughlin of St. Henry, afterwards one of
the most efficient Superiors of the house, and Rev. Mother M. Doherty of
St. Augustine, who died Mistress of the Novices in 1813.

From the date of the foundation, the day-school pupils had been far more
numerous than the boarders, steadily increasing with the progress of the
city. At the commencement of the century, two hundred children attended,
although no little "Exiles of Erin" had yet augmented their scores. As
the Irish element, however, began to intermingle with the population of
Quebec, very many of these children made their way to the Ursulines for
religious instruction, and soon their numbers increased so amazingly,
that in 1824 a day school was opened for them by their zealous teachers,
under the auspices and with the aid of the great and good Bishop Plessis,
who so dearly loved his adopted Irish flock. From this period especially,
the number of French and Irish day pupils augmented very considerably,
usually amounting to upwards of 350. For their accommodation, the house
formerly occupied by the Foundress was rebuilt and enlarged in 1836.

In 1825 the community was composed of 46 professed Religious, from whom
130 boarders and half-boarders received their education. Here the
progress of the institution continues very striking, for in 1855 the
community included 56 professed Religious, 38 of whom were Choir Sisters,
18 Lay Sisters, and 10 Novices. At the same date the boarding-school
contained 230 pupils, including half-boarders. At the present time,
(June, 1880,) the community numbers 62 professed Choir Nuns and 24 Lay
Sisters, with 6 white-veiled Novices and 5 Postulants--in all, 97
members. During this last mentioned period, the Boarders' Academy has
greatly increased, amounting at times to upwards of 370.

The Normal School Boarders' or Young Teachers' Academy, founded in 1857
by the munificence of the Canadian Government, under the auspices of the
Right Rev. Archbishop and the clergy, included at first but 40 pupils.
These also having increased in due proportion with the rest of the
establishment, now number 60 young students, under the direction of Rev.
P. Lagacé, fourth Principal. They receive instruction from their own
Professors as well as from the Nuns, and constantly attend the day
school, to learn from the Mistresses there engaged the difficult art of

The vast alterations and improvements in the original buildings were
effected at various periods and, necessarily, at great expense. Under the
direction of Rev. Mother St. Henry, twenty-second Superior, the spacious
classes of St. Ursula were erected in 1830. In 1836, under the direction
of Rev. Father Maguire, third Resident Chaplain, the large wing facing
Parlor Street was built to accommodate the increasing number of pupils.
While Mother St. Gabriel, twenty-fifth Superior, held office, the fine
building of Notre Dame de Grace was constructed. A few years later, Rev.
Mother Isabella McDonnell of St. Andrew still further enlarged the
Convent buildings by the addition of another wing containing the
boarders' parlour, reception hall, and music rooms. Later again, in 1873,
Rev. Mother St. Mary, being twenty-seventh Superior, the beautiful north
wing, dedicated to the Venerable Mother of the Incarnation, was built,
and various other improvements also effected with success. Rev. Mother G.
Van Felson of St. George, twenty-eighth Superior, laboured with the skill
of an artist to embellish the chapel and various other departments.

Since the foundation of the house, 29 Superiors have governed it with
wisdom and ability. Of this number, five were French ladies, one English,
one Scotch, and one Irish, the present Superior, Rev. Mother E. Tims of
St. Catherine, being a native of the Isle of Saints; the others were all
natives of Canada.

During the last 240 years, 319 professed Religious have successively
enjoyed in the old cloister the blessings of a life dedicated to the
service of God and the welfare of society. Among these a great many
survived to very old age, a favour which seems also to be granted to the
Resident Chaplains. Rev. Father Lemoine, the present Chaplain, who has
already spent a quarter of a century in the Institution, is, like his
worthy predecessor, Rev. Father Maguire, entitled to all praise and
gratitude for his untiring devotedness lo its prosperity. A lasting proof
of this will be found in the "History of the Ursulines of Quebec,"
published under his direction in the years 1863-66, and in which his
intelligent aid was so generously given to the annalists.


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