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.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 18 -- Feast of Blessed Marie Anne Blondin

Mother Marie Anne
Marie Anne was an illiterate daughter of illiterate farmers, which was hardly unusual in nineteenth century Quebec.  Her family struggled to live in the hinterlands of Montreal, but unlike so many girls of her generation, she did not head south for the mills of New England.  Instead, after a brief stint as a domestic servant, she took a job in the convent of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame.  In order to help out with the school there, she began to learn reading and writing.  An illness forced her to leave the Congregation before she became a sister, but upon recovery, she took a job teaching at a school in Vaudreuil.  

Extreme Close-Up!!!
The British who governed Canada had never been particularly enthusiastic about educating the Quebecois, which was probably all right with les Habs since British education would mean Anglicization.  And in truth, the Quebec Act was intended as a fairly liberal bit of legislation, allowing for local control and French cultural conservation and all that.  The colonial American reaction was embarrassingly bigoted, hysterical, and probably opportunistic (see Declaration of Independence).  Left to their own, les Habs relied on the Church to provide education.  The Church imposed a rule that boys could only be taught by men and girls by women.  In a twisted commitment to gender equality, those parishes which could not afford to maintain two schools generally educated no one. 

Marie Anna Blondin began to advocate education for all the children of Quebec.  In fact, she proposed the radical notion that boys and girls be educated in the same schools; both the government and her Bishop went along with it.  She then founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Anne, which is still active in Canada, the USA, Haiti, Chile, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Go Habs!
The Congregation may have flourished, but Mother Marie Anne sailed into heavy seas.  Father Louis Adolphe Marechal was assigned to be the chaplain for the sisters; he took his role as the villain in the story (type: controlling male) seriously.  He undermined her support from the bishop, got her fired as Mother Superior, transferred, and more or less blackballed from ever holding an abbess' role again.  Like the best nuns, she gave up her tribulations to God, thanking Him for allowing her some small portion of suffering in communion with Christ's Passion.  Humbly, she worked in the laundry and ironing rooms of the convent, declining every time her sisters would re-elect her as Mother Superior. 

Pope John Paul II was partial to beati and beatae of heroic virtue, especially those who practiced humility.  None seems more fitting than Blessed Marie Anne. 

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