Sunday, January 29, 2006

Mere D'Youville (Marguerite D'Youville) 1701-1771


My great aunt called me this afternoon to come to the Mother House to see and enter into the rooms that now house the furniture and the personal items of Mere D'Youville. They are stored beneath the house in the crypt where the grey nuns are buried. The two crypts that held the body of Mere D'Youville are both located downstairs, one crypt that she was kept in prior to the opening of her beatification trial - and the second, where she was kept during the years during her beatification process.

Mere D'Youville was beatified by John XXIII in 1959. John XXIII recognized that she loved Jesus Christ and the poor to a heroic degree, and gave her the title: "Mother of Universal Charity," thereby acknowledging that her love for others was inclusive and unconditional. On December 9th 1990, she was declared the First Canadian-Born saint by Pope John Paul II. (foreward to Mother - D'Youville, First Canadian Foundress, by Albertine Ferland-Angers, 2000).


I had seen these rooms from outside for the longest time when visiting the crypt. Today was the last day they would be kept in this location. Tomorrow they will be moved to Chateauguay where the Grey nuns maintain a retreat and residence home. Out for display for the first time was Mere D'Youvilles Cedar Casket, which even the grey nuns of today (that remain) had never seen before.

My relic pack that I carry around with me disappeared over the holidays, I have no idea what happened to it and I would be remiss to say that I have had some incredible separation anxiety knowing that the pack is nowhere in this house. Mere D'Youville would change that in spades today.

I was taken into the crypt alone to spend some time with these items and I also was given permission to take cedar shards from the inside of her casket. These (relics) are blessed and holy. It is said that "Relics" have holy power and have been collected in the past to give to pilgrims and visitors to the house.

I have a special devotion to Mere D'Youville because she is in the family. It was quite exciting to get to walk through the rooms and open drawers and cabinets in furniture that have not been touched in many years. Not many people get up close and personal access to things in the house like I do. I have always had access to the crypt, and to rooms that are not accessible to the public at any time.


Down in the Crypt:

Stepping into these rooms is like stepping back into the 1700 and 1800's. Before we left the rooms I was able to kneel and pray on the same (kneeler) that Mere D'Youville knelt on herself and prayed when she was alive. That was hundreds of years ago. It is quite a rush, to have an opportunity to share in these mysteries of faith - in the real lived experience of Mere D'Youville. I take this as a great blessing and honor to be included in events like this.

This story is told that during the years my Memere lived here in Montreal, she spent time at the mother house and at one point she had a tumerous growth on her hand, of which she prayed to Mere D'Youville in an ante-room in the chapel area. It is the main room that my grandmother spent the most time in, which now houses a marble and glass display case where it is said that Mere D'Youville was kept for some time after her death. Anyways, my grandmother prayed, and the tumor disappeared. Voila miracle ??? Mere D'Youville is now interred beneath the main altar of the chapel. In 2011 - Mere D'Youville will be moved to
Chateauguay when Concordia takes over that portion of the house. (Concordia has purchased the Mother House as of a couple of years ago, hence the mother house is being moved).

I find it auspicious that today happened, because last night, while writing my paper for Donald's class on John Paul II, I wrote about Mere D'Youville in great detail. And today I get this call to come to the mother house. Mere D'Youville is strange in that way. As it always happens every time I spend any great time working on her life in my writing, she invites me to the house to see something that I have never seen before. My great aunt says that Mere D'Youville is watching out for me. I happen to agree.

In observing the casket it is not that long in length, nor is is wide like a regular casket. Within the casket was her "crutch" which is said to have been used by Marguerite during her infirmity prior to her death. Her bed is located in one of the rooms that she slept in for the last two years of her life. I was able to hold this relic in my hands and it was as if she was standing behind me looking over my shoulder. I could feel a sense of "presence" while we were in the crypt.

We stood there and I surveyed the casket and mused about what it meant to be up close and personal with such an items such as these. There is healing power in the life and items of Mere D'Youville. I have always maintained that she prays for me in heaven and blesses my life as I live it.

The furniture from this period of time is very well built and it is very beautiful and simple. Each piece of furniture has a story that was written down on paper that was worn with the passing of a centuries. That's right a "century" or more now.

It is strange that I get called to the mother house now infrequently. It seems that Mere D'Youville and the nuns are somewhat on the same page. My great aunt tells me that last night she was visited by my grandmother and thought that I should be part of this event, hence my invitation today.

What a day it's been...

2 Comments:

Blogger Echo Mouse said...

WOW. That's incredible. What an experience to have.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

What a great story..gave me a goosebump or two...

1:30 PM  

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