Thursday, February 27, 2020
Blessed Mary of the Passion: Founder of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary

Blessed Mary of the Passion was born in Nantes, France on May 21, 1839 and lived until November 15, 1904.

At the age of 17, she attended a spiritual retreat after experiencing the death of two of her sisters and her cousin. She resolved at the retreat to enter religious life but shortly after her mother died and Blessed Mary was required to undertake the household responsibilities.

A few years later she entered the local monastery of the Poor Clares. She shortly after feel ill and had to leave the monastery, despite stating she had a profound experience of God inviting her to offer herself as a victim for the Church.

In 1864, after recovering in health, she entered the monastery of the Sistesr of Mary Reparatrix which had opened a house in Toulouse in 1860. On August 15th of that year, on our Lady's Assumption, she took the name Mary of the Passion and received the religious habit.

She was assigned to  accompany a group of the Sisters to the Vicariate Apostolic of Madurai in India. On May 3, 1866, she made her first religious vows while she was in India.

Blessed Mary was quickly thereafter, because of her many talents, named the Superior of the community. In 1876, however, due to several tensions that arose among the communities in Madurai, she and twenty other sisters left the congregation. She traveled to Rome and with the permission of Pope Pius IX set up a new community under the name: Missionaries of Mary.

Mother Mary's vision was to maintain their commitment to a life in which the Sisters combined contemplative prayer with their service. One characteristic which the new congregation adopted, which distinguished it from their previous one, was the provision of medical care to the local people. This was especially true for the women of India, who were strictly segregated from men in the traditional system. Mother Mary had seen the need for this and, as women themselves, the Sisters began to visit homes where they could enter the parts restricted to females.

Mother Mary opened a novitiate for the new congregation in Saint-Brieuc, in her native region of Brittany in France. The response was great and soon many young women entered the congregation for service overseas.

She returned to Rome in 1880 to resolve some legal matters of the congregation and returned again to Rome in 1882. Such travels were long and arduous.

On August 12, 1885, the order received official recognition from the Holy See. At this time they adopted the Rule of the Franciscan Third Order Regular. And their name was changed to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

In 1900, Mother Mary had the experience of losing the community of Sisters in Taiyuan, China, who were executed during the Boxer Rebellion. These martyrs, who heroically sung the Te Deum as they were executed, were canonization in 2000.

At the age of 65, worn out from all of her labors, Blessed Mary of the Passion died. At the time of her death, there were 2,000 members of her order in over 86 communities spread across four continents. She is buried in Rome.

Currently there are about 6,700 Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, citizens of 80 nations, serving in 76 countries around the globe.

Application To Us

During the Season of Lent in particular we should call to mind the example of so many martyrs and missionaries who gave up their families, their possessions, their careers and ambitions, and sometimes even their lives to reach people in far away lands. And many of these people sought to kill them for spreading or speaking the Faith. And yet, they still went and still spoke out because they knew that to save one soul from eternal death through Baptism and the Holy Faith was worth the price of torture and earthly death here. We should frequently pray for the Missions.

This Lent, let us invoke Blessed Mary of the Passion to intercede for so many traditional priests who labor in Asia and other far away missions. These missionaries are poor and risk their lives and safety to spread the Faith and serve very few souls in otherwise atheistic, Islamic, or pagan countries.

As part of our Lenten alsmgiving, please consider donating to a Traditional Catholic charity, in particular the SSPX Foreign Missions, the Institute of Christ the King Foreign Missions, the FSSP missions, and the independent priests who labor in the 3rd world need our prayers and our financial support. See: 10 Traditional Catholic Charities: Almsgiving for Traditional Catholics

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