Saint Mary Euphrasia’s Childhood
Saint Mary Euphrasia was born on 31 July 1796 on the island of Noirmoutier, off the west coast of France.
She was the 8th child of her father, Dr Julian Pelletier and her mother, Anne. They gave her the name, Rose Virginie Pelletier. Her name “Rose” signifies love and “Virginie” is purity.
She learnt compassion from her parents as the Pelletier family often took in hungry children, sick people and refugees. Even as a child, she valued everyone as unique individuals.
Sadly, she did not attend school when she was growing up as there were not a single girls’ school at Noirmoutier at that time. Later, a school was set up and she was one of the first few pupils to enrol at the age of 12 years old.
Her father died when she was 10 years old and her mother fell ill when she was 14 years old. She was sent to a boarding school and was 17 years old when her mother died.
Driven by her understanding of what it meant to grief for your loved ones and experiencing loneliness, she was driven to help others in need as she could empathize with them. She did this with love and determination.
Near her boarding school was a convent. On special occasions, pupils visited the convent to serve meals. The convent was run by the Sisters of our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, founded by St John Eudes.
Rose Virginie had a great passion to lead a life of selflessness and in the service of God. On her 18th birthday, she entered the convent as a postulant (trainee nun).
She became a full-fledged nun at the age of 19.
Sister Mary Euphrasia left the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge.
She found a new congregation to do more work in different parts of France and throughout the world. In Angers, she met Count Augustine de Neuville. He was devoted to Christ the Good Shepherd and Our Lady. He worked with Sister Mary Euphrasia to build a school for girls, homes for the sisters and orphans, and a chapel for 200 nuns.
The new congregation is: Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd of Angers (Good Shepherd Sisters) She became the first Superior General of the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1835.
Sister Mary Euphrasia established 110 new convents in 6 continents before her death on 24 April 1868 at the age of 72.
She believed that we should “Do all for love. Do as I did. I was not possessed of great talents. I did nothing great… I only loved… but I loved with all the strength of my soul… Nothing is impossible to one who loves.”
She was canonised by Pope Pius XII in 1940 and known as Saint Mary Euphrasia.
Her dying words:
“Say to my dear children that I tenderly bless them, that no one has been forgotten. I died a daughter of the holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”