Pope canonizes a “working mom”. Squeezed out of the news by all the attention to the Synod of the Family was another “statement” by Pope Francis when he canonized two Canadians after setting aside the usual process.
In doing so he gave expression to some perspective to models of spreading the faith.
Wikipedia tells the story of St.Marie of the Incarnation – a story that echoes both Louise de Marillac and Elizabeth Seton.
She was born Marie Guyart in Tours, the fourth of the eight children of Florent Guyart, a master baker, and his wife, Jeanne Michelet, a member of the minor aristocracy. At her father’s direction, she married Claude Martin, a silk merchant, with whom she had a son, also named Claude, before her husband died, leaving her a widow at the age of 19. Martin left behind a struggling business that Marie was able to make profitable before selling it, and returning to her family home. Free to pursue her religious inclinations, she then took a vow of celibacy, while living with her parents and supporting herself and her son with embroidery. She experienced a mystical vision on 24 March 1620, that set her on a new path of devotional intensity.
After a year with her parents, Guyart acceded to a request by her sister and brother-in-law, Paul Buisson, in the running of a major transport company for the colony. This work had her nursing the employees who were sick and injured, as well as running the large stables and warehouse.
In 1631, after working with a spiritual director for many years, Guyart decided to enter the Ursuline monastery in Tours to try her religious vocation, at which time she received the religious name by which she is now known. Distraught, young Claude tried to storm the monastery with a band of schoolboys. She left him in the care of the Buisson family, but the emotional pain of the separation would remain with them both. Later, when her son had become a Benedictine monk, they corresponded candidly about their spiritual and emotional trials. See the full article in Wikipedia.
During the weekend break of the Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Peter’s Basilica for the recent canonization of two new Canadian saints, St. Francois de Laval and St. Marie of the Incarnation.
Both are cases of what’s known as “equipollent canonization,” which means that Pope Francis set aside the normal sainthood process, including the requirement for miracles, to award them halos.
This exception, which disregards the ordinary judicial process of canonization, is sometimes made when there is strong devotion among the faithful toward holy men and women who have not been canonized.
Francis used this resource more than once in the past 18 months, with Pope John XXIII being the most prominent example.
Founders of Catholicism in Canada, these two new saints left France to be missionaries in the “New France” and are considered by Pope Francis as models of spreading the faith.
“Missionaries have gone out to call everyone, in the highways and byways of the world,” Francis said in his homily. “In this way they have done immense good for the Church, for once the Church stops moving, once she becomes closed in on herself, she falls ill, she can be corrupted, whether by sins or by that false knowledge cut off from God which is worldly secularism.”
The pontiff, who is a Jesuit, a religious order known for its missionary work, had dreams of being a priest in Asia. He said during the Mass that the Church’s mission of evangelization is a proclamation of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.
“Missionaries have served the Church’s mission by breaking the bread of God’s word for the poor and those far off, and by bringing to all the gift of the unfathomable love welling up from the heart of the Savior,” he said.
“Honoring those who endured suffering to bring us the Gospel means being ready ourselves to fight the good fight of faith with humility, meekness, and mercy in our daily lives.”
At a press conference in Rome Saturday, Cynthia Ann Patterson, wife of the Anglican bishop of Quebec, Dennis Drainville, said St. Marie of the Incarnation was “a great role model for women today.”
“She was single working mom,” she said. “She was widowed at a young age (19) and had a little boy. She had to work to support her family, and her letters are rich in the social history of the women at the time as well as her spirituality.”
“She was doing that juggling that we women do,” Patterson said. Thirteen years after the death of her husband, she joined the Ursuline nuns and, in 1642, founded the first school for young women in North America.
The bishop and his wife were present at the press conference because the life and works of both saints are also celebrated by the Anglican Church of Canada.