This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3 -- Feast of Saint Teresa Couderc

 I'll stand by what I wrote, but I shouldn't have trusted Mr. Burns on the date. Well, trust, but verify.  The feast of St. Therese Couderc is September 26. 

Here's a business cycle so common that it is a cliche: a successful cottage industry started by an average person with a good idea has surprising success.  It gets absorbed into a larger enterprise and initially experiences tremendous growth, but run up heavy bills.  The founder is blamed and elbowed aside in favor of experts who promptly make things worse.  The founder is faulted for a bad business model, and only years later credited for a good idea rather than vilified for mismanagement.

Teresa Couderc recognized the dearth of religious instruction following the French Revolution, so she set about teaching French women.  Father Terme, a priest who supported her goal, proposed that they ally to set up a hostel for women near the shrine of Saint John-Francis Regis. At twenty-three, Teresa was the abbess of the Sisters of St. Regis, a small band of nuns who ran a combination hostel and retreat center.  The idea of hosting retreats for women was novel at the time, and potentially quite lucrative.

Everything ran smoothly, though on a small scale, until the death of Father Terme.  He had served as the treasurer of the group, which made his loss tough financially and organizationally as well as spiritually and personally.  The Jesuits took it over (a hostel takeover?)  and separated the hostel operations from the retreat center.  Initially the retreat center flourished, adding a second house, but then the market soured and the bills began accumulating.

Speaking of bills, that nutty Jesuit Father Renault, what a kidder he was!  On Teresa's birthday, he gave her a big bouquet that he made from all the bills that the center had not yet paid.  Always clowning around, that Renault!

She resigned as abbess soon after.  A wealthy aristocratic widow was recruited, referred to as a new foundress of the organization.  She proved equally ineffective and was replaced by yet another aristocratic woman.  The link between financial resources and managerial skill was probably more tenuous then than it is now, but Father Renault was pretty sure the path to success was paved with the francs of widows.  This second manager fired all the original nuns except Teresa (whom she had to keep on because she was part owner of the house).  Following her death, yet another manager came in and the place rebelled, driving out half the sisters.  Teresa brokered a deal for some of them to return, but the rift was too deep to be totally healed.

She never expressed resentment for having the foundation of the Order attributed to someone else.  She was never rancorous when assigned the most menial and strenuous jobs, even with greater frequency than her peers.  She served humbly and diligently, always focused on the mission rather than the prestige.  Saintly stuff indeed.


  1. Her feast day is 26 September

  2. Yeah, that's what most of the sources say. Paul Burns' edition of Butler's Lives of the Saints has her on October 3. I don't know why. It's not the first time one or another version of Butler has disagreed with other sources. Sorry for the confusion. If anyone knows why October 3 might also be a celebration (locally celebrated?), please post.

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