The Life of the Venerable Mother Mary of the Incarnation
"A Religious of the Ursuline Community"

Part 4 out of 5

hearing herself called by the name of her aunt, she might be perpetually
stimulated to imitate her virtues. She had the advantage of a constant
correspondence with Her, and after a most holy life, went to rejoin her
in the blessed home to which the saintly Mother had long preceded her. In
a letter of October, 1671, we meet the following words, the last ever
addressed by the Venerable Mother to the beloved niece whom she had been
the first to offer to God at her birth, and for whose salvation she had
endured so much:--"Oh! how ardently I desire that you may become a saint,
at the cost of any suffering or sacrifice to myself! As my farewell,
permit me to say to you in the words of our Lord, 'He that humbleth
himself shall be exalted.'"

After having borne her heavy interior crosses for seven years, with only
partial and temporary alleviation, the Mother of the Incarnation was
inspired to apply for relief to the Blessed Virgin. It was on the Feast
of the Assumption, 1647. Hardly had the petition been presented, when it
was granted. Suddenly she felt, she says, as if divested of a leaden
garment, which had long oppressed her with its crushing weight, and on
the arrival of the next vessel from Europe, she learned that the period
of her emancipation from suffering exactly coincided with that of her
niece's clothing in the convent at Tours. Her soul, she writes,
overflowed with a peace which it would be impossible to describe in human
language. Capable of understanding the advantages of tribulation, she
blessed God with the Psalmist, that He had humbled her; that He had led
her through the thorny ways of the cross, to a higher experimental
knowledge of the sacred maxims of the Gospel, in which she found strength
and support for her soul, not only under the pressure of spiritual trial,
but amidst the multiplied difficulties and embarrassments which her
arduous external duties entailed.

In order not to interrupt the history of the conversion of her niece,
chronological order has been slightly anticipated. Retracing our steps a
short distance, we meet some new names intermingled with those already so
well known to us. The evergrowing eagerness both of French and Indians
for instruction, and the continual increase in the number of applicants
for it, had rendered more help indispensable. The harvest was greater
than the few labourers could reap, so they appealed once more to France,
which sent them Mother Anne of the Seraphim, from Ploermel in Brittany,
in 1643, and the Mothers Anne of St. Cecilia, and Anne of our Lady from
Tours, the year following. The two first returned to France, the one
after thirteen, the other after eleven years in Canada.

In 1645, we find the Venerable Mother relieved from the burden of
Superiority, which consistently with the Constitutions of the Ursuline
Order cannot be borne by the same individual for more than six
consecutive years. This high position had been a heavy cross to her, not
only on account of the responsibilities which it entailed, but also
because its arduous duties left her comparatively little time for the
occupation which she prized beyond all others, the instruction of the
Indians. She was succeeded by Mother St. Athanasius, the two continuing
alternately to govern the community until death deprived them of the
Venerable Mother.

The same year, according to the example of St. Teresa, she made a vow
allowable only under very exceptional circumstances, to do, say, and
think in all things whatever she considered most perfect, and most
conducive to the glory of God, and so naturalized had she become by long
habit to the practice of every virtue, that this vow never caused her an
uneasiness. "Although I am but a poor sinful creature," she said, "God
assists me to avoid every voluntary imperfection inconsistent with my
promise. If involuntary faults mingle with the observance of it, I trust
in His goodness to forgive them." She had at this time acquired that high
degree of the habit of virtue, in which its acts are performed not only
without pain, but with pleasure.

The first novice professed in Quebec was Charlotte Barré of St. Ignatius,
the former companion of Madame de la Peltrie. She made her solemn vows on
the 21st of November, 1648, and a few days after, her example was
followed by Sister Catherine of St. Ursula, the first Canadian lay
sister. Henceforth the little community continued gradually but steadily
to increase in numbers.

From the first opening of the schools, the advantages of education had
been extended to the French as well as to the Indians. Even in the small
tenement which had served as a temporary convent, there were two French
boarders; at the period now under consideration the number had increased
to eighteen or twenty. That of the seminarists had amounted to eighty.

The year 1649 at which we have arrived, brings us to a tear-stained page
in the annals of the infant Church of Canada. By a reference to the
introductory chapter, it will be seen that this was the date of the
massacre of the concerted Hurons and their saintly pastors, by the savage
Iroquois. The sad event afflicted every heart in the colony, but perhaps
most of all, the hearts of the Venerable Mother and of the Mother St.
Joseph. The survivors, who numbered only four or five hundred, took
refuge in Quebec, where they were received with extreme kindness. Some
were located on a portion of the Isle of Orleans belonging to the
Ursulines, and generously transferred by them to the unhappy fugitives.
To relieve their distress, the religious deprived themselves of a good
part of the food and clothing which they could very badly spare. The
Mother of the Incarnation admitted many of their daughters into the
seminary, and undertook, though in her fiftieth year, to learn the Huron
tongue, that she might be enabled to impart the blessing of spiritual
instruction to the exiles. Her teacher was Father Bressani, who had
almost miraculously escaped from the hands of the Iroquois, after having
undergone the ordinary course of torture prescribed by savage cruelty.
She and the Mother St. Joseph divided the charge of teaching these new
pupils, who besides ample instruction, received also generous alms. It
was at this time that bread was first seen to multiply in the hands of
the Venerable Mother: with only two or three loaves to divide among fifty
or sixty persons, it was found that every one had a sufficient share. She
perceived the prodigy herself and said quite simply, as she went on
dividing the loaves, "I think our good God is multiplying this bread for
His poor necessitous creatures." Even before this special demand on her
charity, she had arranged that whatever might be their own distress, no
Indian should ever be refused an alms at the monastery, and for this
purpose, a supply of Indian meal porridge was always kept in readiness.
Once, when she was Superior, a poor woman not satisfied with all she had
already got, represented her great want of a pair of shoes in addition.
Without the least discomposure at the unreasonable importunity, the
charitable Mother took off her own and presented them to her, reserving
for herself a very poor, slight pair, quite insufficient to protect her
from the cold. The time was fast approaching, when she who had been ever
ready to give her strength and life, and all else that she possessed for
the relief of others, was to be reduced to the last degree of want, and
left without even a shelter for her head!



The Ursulines had inhabited their new monastery seven years before it
could be considered finished, a delay easily explained by their great
poverty. They were absolutely dependent for their support on remittances
from France, and these, besides being sent only once a year, were liable
to many casualties on the way. When the annual arrival of the vessels was
unusually retarded, the inconveniences to the colony in general, and to
the Nuns in particular, can be better imagined than described. What then
must have been the distress of the Sisters, when as happened more than
once, a ship was wrecked, or seized by pirates, so that they were obliged
to wait another year for the very necessaries of life! Then, when the
remittances did arrive, charity had so many claims on them, and so many
good reasons to urge in support of those claims, that but little remained
to carry on the building.

At the cost of many and many a sacrifice, it had been completed at last,
when on the memorable evening of December the 29th, 1650, the lay Sister
in charge of the bakery, fearing that the bitter frost would injure her
carefully prepared dough, thought to make all safe by placing a pan of
hot coals in the bread trough, which she then carefully closed. To
complete her imprudence, she forgot to remove the live coals as she had
intended, before retiring to rest. The consequences may be anticipated.
Towards midnight, the kneading trough ignited; the fire spread from the
bakery to the cellars in which the year's provisions were stored, and
thence along the whole lower story. The crackling of the flames, and the
suffocation of the smoke providentially gave the alarm in time to save
the lives, but the lives alone of all the inmates. Amidst the general
terror and confusion, the Mother of the Incarnation retained her usual
calm presence of mind. Seeing that any attempt to preserve the house
would be vain, she directed her efforts to collect a few articles of
clothing, but finding even this useless, she satisfied herself with
securing some papers of great importance to the community. While engaged
in the hazardous service, she was literally surrounded by flames. The
fire raged fiercely in the story under her; it ran with fearful rapidity
along the roof above her; the church bell under which she had to pass was
pouring down a stream of melted metal, and still she escaped unhurt,
though nearly suffocated.

Meantime, the rescued household were assembled under the ash tree, so
closely connected by tradition with her loved and venerated memory. All
were there except one, but that one was the most precious o any. Had she
perished,--she, the soul, the living model, the cherished Mother of the
community? Each longed, but none dared to ask the question. Almost
breathless from anxiety, yet hoping against hope, the little crowd stood
silently awaiting the issue. Happily their fears were soon dissipated;
good angels had folded their wings round the venerated Mother and
screened her from the flames. Yes, it was she whom they saw advancing.
Even if she had not been distinctly visible in the strong, clear light of
the blazing house, they would have recognised her by that air of quiet
self-possession which nothing could disturb; that sweet serenity which
nothing could ruffle. But what a sight for the tender-hearted Mother! All
the children both French and Indian were standing on the snow,
barefooted, very scantily clad, shivering and trembling, and pressed
close together for greater warmth. Madame de la Peltrie, so frail; so
delicately nurtured, so sensitive to cold, sharing their sufferings;
worst of all, the Mother Sister Joseph in her failing health, pierced
through by the biting air, and looking as if she would expire
momentarily. It was a scene well calculated to display the virtue of the
Mother of the Incarnation, which never shone out more brightly. The
heroism of her resignation seemed even to pass into the hearts of her
companions in affliction, who falling on their knees, returned thanks to
God in the spirit of the martyrs for having been thought worthy of so
bitter a trial. The spectators wondered, but the Mother afterwards
explained the mystery; "He," she said, "who tried, strengthened and
consoled us too." The night was calm, but intensely cold; the sky
brilliantly studded with stars. Showers of sparks poured from the burning
building on the neighbouring forest, on the fort, and on the adjoining
houses, menacing the town with destruction. But for a light breeze which
providentially arose at the moment, and turned the course of the flames,
it must have been consumed. Every effort had been made to arrest the
conflagration; the Jesuit Fathers in particular, bad been vigorous and
untiring, but when discovered, the fire had progressed too far to be
checked. At imminent peril, the Blessed Sacrament and some of the sacred
vestments were saved. In less than two hours, nothing remained of the
monastery but the blackened walls. Clothing, provisions, furniture, all
the earthly possessions of the Ursulines were gone.

With great kindness, the principal citizens offered hospitality to the
children, while the Superior of the Jesuits conducted the Nuns to the
convent of the Hospital Sisters, who opened not alone their doors, but
their hearts to their desolate visitors, clothing them from their own
wardrobes, placing the whole house at their disposal, and retaining them
for over three weeks as their prized and honoured guests. The day after
the calamity, the Governor came to offer his condolence; but sweeter than
all to the hearts of the sufferers, was a deputation, and an address of
sympathy from the Hurons. Time was, when to use their own expression, the
grateful chiefs would have covered the ashes of the monastery with
presents, but alas! of their vanished glory nought remained but two
wampum belts. [Footnote: Wampum. Small shells of various colours formerly
used by the North American Indiana as money, and strung like beads into
broad ornamental belts.] Such as they were, it was decided in solemn
council that they should be presented to the bereaved Sisters.
Accordingly the deputation arrived, and the Grand Chief delivered the
oration, too long to be entirely inserted, but too beautiful in its
simple language and genuine feeling, to be entirely omitted. "Holy
Virgins," he said; "you see before you the miserable remnant of a once
flourishing, now extinct nation. The little left to us, we owe to you.
Alas! the misfortune which has befallen you, renews our own woes, and re-
opens the source of our only partially dried tears. When we saw the
beautiful house of Jesus consumed in a moment before our eyes, the sad
sight reminded us of the day when our own homes and hamlets were
delivered up a prey to the flames, and our country reduced to a heap of
ruins. Holy Virgins, you are then sharers in the misery of the poor
Hurons, for whose melancholy fate you showed such tender pity. You too
are left without house, home, provisions or help, except the help of that
heaven to which your eyes are ever turned. If you belonged to our people,
we should try to console you by two presents, one intended to dry your
tears, the other to add new strength to your fortitude; but we have not
seen you shed one tear over your misfortune; neither we know have you
buried your courage under the wreck of your fallen house. Surely it must
be that your hearts are too fixed on the treasures of heaven, to value
those of earth."

"One thing we fear, that when your friends in France hear of your
distress, they will pray you so earnestly to return to them, that you
will be unable to resist their entreaties, so we shall be in danger of
losing you, and with you, the chance of instruction for our children.
Have courage, holy Virgins, and prove that your love for the poor Indians
is a heavenly love, stronger than that which binds you to your relatives.
We offer you these two wampum belts, the one to attach you inviolably to
our country; the other to found anew a house for Jesus, where you can
pray, and teach our children to do so too."

"We know you could not die happily, if at the last hour you had to
reproach yourselves with having loved your friends so much as to give up
for their sakes the souls once dear to you in God, and destined to be
your eternal crown in heaven."

It cannot be doubted that the sympathy of the Hurons must have been very
gratifying to the Mothers, and have tended to cement the already strong
tie which bound them to Canada. But the tie was a Divine one, formed by,
and wholly dependent on the will of God. "If the Almighty decreed that we
should return to France," the Mother of the Incarnation wrote to her son,
"I should go back with the same tranquillity as I came out. To go, or to
stay, is a matter of indifference, provided only God be glorified." In
describing the events of the terrible night of the 29th December, she
tells him that looking on the disaster as the punishment of her sins, she
accepted it with perfect equanimity, only wishing that the chastisement
were confined to herself, since she alone deserved it, and beseeching God
to spare her innocent Sisters. She says that amidst the horrors of the
conflagration, she enjoyed most profound interior peace, undisturbed by a
single emotion of regret, sadness, or uneasiness. That closely united in
heart with the will of Him who had permitted the blow, she desired that
it might be accepted by all in the spirit of the saints both of the Old
and New law, who with humble and contrite hearts blessed God under the
heaviest afflictions and severest temporal losses.

This imperturbable tranquillity was founded on her perfect confidence in
God. Tracing all human events to His ordinance or permission, she
sometimes wondered how it was that men should try to reject His hand when
it sends adversity, and submit to it willingly only when it bestows
prosperity, both being equally His gifts. The calmness of soul thus
solidly grounded, must necessarily have been very steady but in addition,
the Mother of the Incarnation had, as we know, received from God Himself
a special gift of His own Divine peace.

Unwilling to burden the charitable Hospital-Sisters longer, the Ursulines
resolved at the end of three weeks, to take up their abode in a small
house which Madame de la Peltrie had built for herself within their
enclosure, and afterwards generously given them as a school for the
Indians. Its dimensions were thirty feet by twenty, and it contained two
rooms. Here, it was decided that thirteen Sisters and some boarders
should live as best they could, and as the exclusion of converts seeking
instruction was not to be dreamt or, the house was made to contain a
grated parlour in addition to a chapel, school, refectory, kitchen and
dormitory. It had need of an infirmary too, for in that abode of poverty,
a well-beloved Sister was slowly wearing her life away, amidst
inconceivable sufferings and privations. It was then only the end of
January, so that many months were still to elapse before help should come
from France, but far from losing courage, the heroic Mothers rejoiced at
finding themselves reduced to such utter indigence, as to be compelled to
accept alms even from the poor, and so it happened that notwithstanding
their own want, the poorest of their neighbours would bring them
presents, one of a hen, another of a few eggs, a third of some trifling
article of clothing. In their generous charity, the people, not only
shared with them all they could spare conveniently, but moreover
encroached on absolute necessaries. To complete the distress of the
Sisters, the vessels were delayed, and when they did come, they brought
but the usual supplies of provisions and clothing, the news of the
disaster not having reached in time to secure an additional quantity. But
God had not abandoned His own. The Ursulines possessed a small farm,
which from want of cultivation, had hitherto yielded them no profit.
Deeply touched by their extreme poverty, their chaplain, Rev. M. Vignal,
resolved to take it in hands, and not satisfied with merely
superintending, he worked, with the labourers, and more actively than
any. The Almighty blessed the charity, and the land produced an abundant
crop of wheat, barley and peas, which proved a valuable resource to the
Sisters. This good priest was massacred by the Iroquois in 1661.

Meantime it had become evident to all interested in the success of the
Nuns, that if they were to remain in Canada, they would have to rebuild
the convent. They had originally been of opinion, that with some
additions, Madame de la Peltrie's house might be made to afford them
sufficient accommodation, but on mature consideration, they determined to
adopt the advice of their friends, and to trust to Providence for the
means of carrying it out. They were offered a loan free of interest for
six years, by the principal citizens headed by the Jesuits of the colony
and the Governor, M. d'Ailleboust. The good Fathers who had already
assisted them most liberally, promised the services of their lay brothers
and workmen to help on the building. All this was encouraging. The snow
had hardly melted away when the Nuns began to clear the rubbish from the
foundations, and on the 19th of May, 1651, Madame de la Peltrie laid the
first stone of the second monastery precisely on the site previously
occupied by the first. The burden of care and responsibility again fell
on the Venerable Mother, who as before, was charged with the
superintendence of the work. While we wait for the completion of the new
building, let us see how the Mothers contrived to carry on school work in
the interim. The glance will show us a pretty picture traced by the pen
of one of their present descendants at the convent of Quebec, in her
interesting History of the Monastery.

The number of pupils instead of diminishing, has increased, however in-
door accommodation is scant as ever, so if we would assist at a lesson,
we must be content with an academy of a primitive kind, and yet, after
all, it is one which may well satisfy the most fastidious taste. For
roof, it has the canopy of deep blue heaven; for study halls, the lordly
forest; for carpet, a fairy web of wild flowers. Here and there, the sun
is glancing through the dense foliage, and tinging his resting spots with
gold. The ancient trees are looking glorious in their bright, spring
clothing; the soft breeze is singing its gentlest notes among the leaves;
all looks so fresh, so peaceful and so attractive in the sweet, cool
shade, that we do not wonder to hear of numerous candidates for admission
to the extemporized academy. In after times, traditionary honours will
attach to some of those venerable trees; one in particular will be so
often commemorated, that people will learn at last to look on it in the
light of an old friend. Here it is; the well-known ash tree, [Footnote:
This veteran of the wilderness remained standing until the 19th of June,
1850, when bending under age and honours, it fell to the ground. The wood
has been carefully preserved for the sake of dear and old associations,
and is used in making ornamental crosses, and similar small devotional
articles, as memorials of the Mother Mary of the Incarnation.] under
which, whenever she can quit her more pressing duties, we are sure to
find the Mother Mary of the Incarnation surrounded by her dear Indian
children, to whom she speaks with heavenly unction of "Him who made all
things." How their dark eyes glisten, and their little hearts swell,
while they catch each word of life as it falls from her lips to find an
echo in their souls! A few steps farther is the famous walnut tree, and
here we meet a group of French pupils receiving the lessons of Mother St.
Athanasius. At a future day, many of these will be found in the ranks of
the Ursuline or Hospital-Sisters; many more faithfully discharging their
responsible duties as heads of families, presiding over Christian
households, and training their children to virtue by word and example.
Farther still, in the shadow of some ancient monarch of the woods, are
bark huts occupied by the Neophytes, whom we find participating not only
in the heavenly bread of God's word, but also in the small resources of
their impoverished teachers. Many of these too, will do the work of
apostles in a humble way among their own tribes. To crown the scene of
beauty, the walls of the new monastery are visible in the distance, and
like the olive branch in the deluge, they speak o£ hope.

Happily the hope was realized, and far more speedily too, than humanly
speaking could have been anticipated. Exactly one year after the first
stone had been laid, the new monastery was ready to receive its inmates.
So triumphantly successful a termination to the arduous work, was due in
great part to the extraordinary natural energy of the Mother of the
Incarnation, but still more, to the intervention of her celestial
Assistant, the Help of Christians and Queen of heaven. On the 8th of the
September preceding the destruction of the first monastery, the community
had formally placed itself under the immediate patronage of that glorious
Queen, choosing her with solemn ceremonial for its first and chief
Superior. That she had graciously condescended to accept the charge, was
clearly manifested by the fidelity with which she discharged the trust
attaching to it. The marvellous rapidity which marked the erection of the
new building, the preservation of the workmen from the slightest accident
during its progress, and the almost total freedom of the community from
debt at its completion, form a series of favours unhesitatingly ascribed
by the Venerable Mother and the Sisters to the manifest protection of
their "First Superior," the "Virgin most powerful, most merciful and most

The personal devotion of the Mother of the Incarnation to our Blessed
Lady, dating from her earliest years, had grown with her growth, and
strengthened with her strength. Her childhood's prayer had been that,
even in this life, she might be permitted to see her dear Heavenly
Mother, and, if the petition was not granted literally, it may at least
be said to have been at this time answered substantially. She did not see
the Blessed Virgin, she says, with her corporal eyes, but, from the
commencement to the completion of the building, she had her as constantly
and as vividly present to mind and heart, as if she did. She felt her
ever by her side, and in her company encountered hardships and dangers
without fear. Long accustomed to recur to her in the emergencies of life,
she transferred to her, if we may say so, the whole responsibility of the
present undertaking, referring to her and consulting her as its first and
chief Directress. No wonder, then, that it should have been crowned with
extraordinary success. "It was never known in any age, that those who had
recourse to Mary were abandoned by her" (St. Bernard). The Venerable
Mother, who from the dawn of reason had loved her and trusted in her,
could not surely be the one to inaugurate a new experience! So far from
it, that some years after the present date, we find her writing, in
allusion to the favours of her heavenly Protectress, "Our Blessed Mother
assists us in all our wants, and guards us as the apple of her eye. In
her own sweet way, she watches over our interests, and relieves us in our
embarrassments. We are indebted to her for having many times passed
safely through overwhelming difficulties, and, among other benefits, for
the rebuilding of our monastery after it had been totally destroyed by
fire. What can I fear while shielded by protection at once so loving and
so powerful?"

On the 19th of May, 1652, the Ursulines took possession of their second
monastery. The great reputation which their schools enjoyed rendered the
event one of general interest to all classes. Pleased at the opportunity
of testifying their respect for the devoted Mothers, the inhabitants of
Quebec determined to make the occasion one of great solemnity.
Accordingly, the whole population, ecclesiastic and lay, assembled near
the house of Madame de la Peltrie; and thence accompanied the Nuns to
their new residence. The Most Adorable Sacrament was borne at the head of
the long procession to the convent chapel; the Forty Hours' prayer was at
once commenced, and on each of the three days of its continuance,
processions again went out from each of the churches in Quebec to the
Ursuline chapel, the chant of the Litanies resounding all along the way.
Well might the Mother of the Incarnation say that Divine Providence shows
itself a good Mother to those who place their whole reliance on its aid.

About thirty years later, the second monastery, like the first, was
consumed by fire, yet not wholly destroyed. The walls raised by the
Mother of the Incarnation under the protection of the Queen of Heaven,
withstood the flames, and after the lapse of more than two centuries,
they are still standing. They form the central portion of the edifice yet
known at this remote day as the Ursuline Convent of Quebec.



In the procession to the new convent, one familiar face was missing:
Mother St. Joseph, the first companion of the Mother of the Incarnation,
was also the first of the little band called home to heaven. Her death
and life were so consistent, that the one who knew her best, summed up
her panegyric in two words--"She lived a saint, and she died one." She
seemed, indeed, to have been specially privileged by Divine grace from
her very infancy, manifesting in early childhood an instinctive love of
the beautiful virtue of the angels, and a singular attraction to the poor
and afflicted. When only nine years of age she was sent, at her own
request, to the Ursuline Convent at Tours, where she made her first
Communion with extraordinary fervour. From the period of His first
sacramental visit to her soul, our Blessed Lord continued to draw her
irresistibly to Himself. Docile to His Divine call, she obtained the
reluctant permission of her fond parents to consecrate herself wholly to
Him, and at the early age of fourteen, exchanged her brilliant prospects
as heiress of two noble houses, for the poverty, seclusion, and
mortification of the religious life. Her choice fell on the monastery
where she had been educated, and here it was her happiness to be placed
under the guidance of the Mother of the Incarnation, at that time in
charge of the novices. After the usual probation, she received the habit,
and with it the name of St. Bernard, and in due time completed her first
sacrifice by holy profession. She continued to edify her sisters by the
example of virtues suited rather to a soul far advanced in religious
perfection, than to one just touching the mysterious threshold; and, as
hers was one of those gifted natures pleasing both to God and man, she
charmed and delighted her companions by her amiability and cheerfulness,
as much as she edified them by her sanctity. Her great fear was, lest the
attention and consideration by which she was surrounded, should prove any
obstacle to her progress in perfection.

Some time after her profession she had a mysterious vision, in which the
world was represented to her under the symbol of a vast enclosure,
abounding in all the delights which here below are wont to fascinate and
captivate the hearts of men. She noticed that all who permitted
themselves to be attracted too closely by the false glare were at once
hopelessly entangled, as if a net had been cast around them, and among
the unhappy victims she even recognised an acquaintance of her own. What
terrified her most was, that having herself taken a few steps forward,
and then, in great alarm, attempted to retreat, she found all means of
egress closed, so that there appeared no alternative but to advance. As
she was on the point of giving herself up for lost, she was attracted by
the sight of a band of young persons arrayed in the costume of Canadian
savages, the foremost of whom bore a banner inscribed with unknown
characters, and she seemed to hear them say, "Fear not, Mary, for through
us you will be saved." Then they formed into two lines, leaving a passage
between them, through which she effected her escape in safety. It was not
until her subsequent appointment to the Canadian Mission, that she
understood the connection between this supernatural warning and her own
destiny; but, although the vision remained for a time unexplained, it
served as a strong stimulus to her already ardent zeal for the salvation
of souls, especially those of the savages. We have already noticed how
manifest was the hand of God in her appointment as the companion of the
Mother of the Incarnation to Canada, and we are, therefore, quite
prepared to hear of great fruit from her labours in that country. The
Almighty seemed, indeed, to have endowed her with some singular
attraction for the Indians, young and old. So great was their veneration
for her, and, in consequence, so irresistible her influence over them,
that the name of "Mary Joseph, the Holy Virgin," soon became a household
word among the Hurons and Algonquins. Charity rendered her an eloquent
pleader, and many and generous were the donations which at her prayer
found their way from her old home in France, to the wigwams of her dear
savages. To the end of life, her greatest earthly joy was to find herself
surrounded by her beloved converts, forty or fifty of whom--men, women,
and children--might constantly be seen gathered round her, listening to
her words with rapt attention. If subsequent exhaustion had not revealed
how much the effort had cost her, it might have been thought, when her
sufferings became acute towards the end of life, that she had forgotten
them in the pleasure of instructing her poor people. When the destruction
of the monastery had reduced the inmates to utter destitution, her
parents employed every argument to induce her to return to France. The
Mothers at Tours joined in the request, but her invariable answer was,
that she would rather share the coarse, scanty fare of the savages to the
end of her life, or even die a thousand deaths, if that could be, than
prove herself thus unfaithful to her vocation and ungenerous to her God.

Fidelity to her calling had been the watchword of her existence, and now
that her time of merit had nearly run, no close observer could fail to
see that this undeviating fidelity had produced rich fruits. To analyse
her character as a religious, would be simply to attribute to her every
virtue which, belongs to a perfect one. Our Lord once showed her her soul
under the figure of a very beautiful and strongly-fortified castle, and
He warned her to watch cautiously over its external approaches, promising
that He would guard the interior of the edifice. In compliance with this
direction, she resolved to surround the mystic castle with the deep
trenches of humility, and so well did she succeed, that unfeigned
contempt of self breathed at last in every act and thought of her life,
inspiring a love and desire of humiliation which secured for those who
tried her, the warmest gratitude of her heart, and the most devoted of
her services. Not satisfied with mediocrity in any virtue, she carried
mortification to an absorbing love of the cross; charity, to the
sacrifice of every natural feeling; obedience, to child-like submission,
spiritualized by faith; reverence for the rule, to most minute observance
of its least prescription. She also attained an eminent degree of prayer
and union with God.

For more than four years before her happy death, she had to endure the
two-fold martyrdom of anguish of soul and great physical suffering. Yet
while the wearing fever of prolonged consumption slowly undermined her
life, so wonderfully did her great courage sustain her, that she seldom
kept her bed, or relinquished her work. If sometimes compelled to yield
to exhaustion and pain, she received the attention of her Sisters with so
much humility and gratitude, that all felt it a happiness to render her
any service. Far from complaining, she was confused when others showed
compassion for her, and in return for their offers of kind offices, was
always ready to remark that they themselves required indulgence more than
she did. She learned at last to rejoice in the sufferings which she
looked on as precious pledges of the love of her Divine Spouse, and that
she should lose no part of her treasure, she desired to suffer without
consolation or relief, indemnifying herself by practices of voluntary
mortification for the occasional alleviations forced on her by charity.
Towards the end, dropsy was added to her complicated maladies, and so,
for the last two months, she was compelled to yield to the claims of
utterly worn-out nature. Let us visit her in the humble lodging where
those two closing months of life were passed, and we shall feel
constrained to own, that the scene before us is one very grand and
beautiful in the eyes of faith, whatever may be its aspect in those of
the world.

She whose still young life is thus gradually ebbing away, might be now
enjoying in her luxurious home all the comforts which wealth can
purchase, but because she preferred the poverty of Jesus Christ to the
treasures of earth, she is surrounded in lieu of them by unmistakable
traces of abject indigence. Her bed of death is formed of one of the
narrow wooden shelves which run in tiers all round the small apartment as
a substitute for bedsteads, the highest reached by a ladder. Adjoining
this common dormitory is the chapel, and as the one serves as a passage
to the other, she is perpetually disturbed by the noise of the heavy
wooden shoes, which since the conflagration, the whole family have been
obliged to adopt for want of leather. Her wearying cough is irritated by
the constant smoke of the ill-contrived chimney; her oppressed breathing
additionally impeded by the closeness of the overcrowded room; her rest
interrupted by the voices of the pupils, the ringing of the bells, the
chanting of the Office, and the various other sounds inevitable under
existing circumstances. Far from murmuring, she will assure us that she
is amused rather than inconvenienced by these unwanted surroundings of a
sick room, and that she considers herself specially favoured in the
opportunity which her position affords of assisting at the holy Mass,
joining in the Office, hearing the sermons, and thus in some manner
keeping up to the end the observances of common life.

For her final and more entire purification from the dross of earth, her
all-merciful Father permitted that she should be afflicted with
desolation of soul, such as with all her experience of it, she had never
known before. To interior anguish was added the intensity of bodily pain,
yet in her sharpest pangs, even when the surgeon's knife gashed her
flesh, piercing to the bone, no sound betrayed her agonies, save once, a
gentle invocation of the name of Jesus: for this impulse of nature as she
considered it, she reproached herself as for a want of patience, and
begged pardon as if it were a cause of disedification. Her sufferings
reached their height in Holy week, and this coincidence she looked on as
a particular privilege, thanking our Lord for thus associating her to His
cross. To her visitors, she spoke only of the happiness of heaven, the
riches of religious poverty, and the fidelity with which those who have
embraced it, should cling to it for ever. "Tell all our friends in
France," she said to her Sisters, "that I rejoice in death at having left
them for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, and assure them that I feel
myself infinitely privileged in having been called to this savage land."
Our Lord did not permit His faithful servant to die in utter bereavement
of spirit. For the three days before her end, she enjoyed a foretaste of
paradise; her interior pains vanished; her physical tortures were
alleviated. "I know," she said to her director, Father Lalemant, "that
our good God has promised a hundred-fold in this world, and eternal bliss
in the next to those who renounce all things for His love. As to the
hundred-fold, I have had it; eternal happiness I hope through His
infinite mercy soon to enjoy." She renewed her vows, asked pardon of the
assistants, and returned thanks to the Rev. Father Ragueneau, Superior of
the Missions, for his charity to their community especially since the
conflagration. She also expressed her gratitude to the physician, for
whom she promised to pray in heaven, and most of all to the Mother of the
Incarnation, who had watched and tended her night and day with untiring
care and love. She retained perfect consciousness during her long agony
of twenty-four hours, and about eight o'clock on the evening of the
Thursday in Easter week, April the 4th, 1652, her happy soul returned to
the God who all through life had been the only Object of her love. The
Mother of the Incarnation remarks, that the beauty of her countenance
after death, appeared to her Sisters like a reflection of the glory of
which she was already in possession; while the heavenly peace and unction
which at the same time filled their own hearts, seemed to say, that over
those remains no tears should be shed, but tears of holy joy and
gratitude. The impulse of each was to invoke her intercession, of which
all very quickly experienced the power and efficacy. She was but thirty-
six years of age, yet considering the frailty of her health, the wonder
was that she had been able so long to resist the rigour of the climate
and the privations attending the foundation of the monastery. Her remains
were followed by the whole population both French and Indian, to their
temporary resting-place in the garden of the convent, whence twelve years
later they were transferred to the vault in the new church, which by that
time was ready to receive the precious and venerated deposit.

As a mark of their respect and affection, the Hurons residing on the Isle
of Orleans had a solemn service celebrated for her on the morning, of her
interment. The tradition of Quebec speaks touchingly of the gratitude of
these poor children of the wilderness towards their dear Mother St.
Joseph, recording that they continually came to inquire for her in her
illness, and brought her presents of every thing delicate which they
could procure by the chase. "Here, Mother," they would say to the Mother
of the Incarnation, "give these birds to Mary the holy virgin, that she
may eat, and live to instruct us again."

The Almighty was pleased quickly to reveal the glory of His servant, as
many trustworthy witnesses bore evidence. Among the first of these was a
lay Sister at Tours, named Elizabeth, from whom Mother St Joseph had
received maternal care in her childhood. Almost at the hour of her
decease, the Mother appeared to this Sister, bidding her prepare for the
great journey to eternity, on which she would soon be called to enter.
Without the loss of a moment, the Sister informed the Superior that the
Mother St. Joseph was dead, and had come to forewarn her of her own
approaching end. In effect, she was summoned away in a few days, and
later accounts from Canada fully corroborated the truth of the Sister's

The Rev. Father Paul Ragueneau, Superior of the Missions at Quebec,
testifies that about an hour after her venerated remains had been laid in
the grave, Mother St. Joseph appeared in vision to a person bound on some
errand of charity. Her air, he says, was full of majesty; her countenance
resplendent with glory; rays of light seemed to pass from her eyes to his
heart, as if she would thus have shown her desire to impart a share of
her happiness to him. The effect of the vision was to fill his soul with
Divine love and heavenly consolation in such abundance, that he felt as
if without supernatural support, he must have died. On his return from
his journey of charity, the Mother appeared to him again in the same
glory as before, and revealed to him admirable secrets, which the Mother
of the Incarnation who records the above fact, has not seen fit to
disclose. Of the veracity of this witness also, there can be no doubt.

The same person having the next day to cross the frozen river, and not
knowing that the ice was too thin to bear his weight, walked on for some
distance unconscious of danger. Suddenly he heard a warning voice bidding
him stop; then he looked round only to see himself surrounded on all
sides by water. The slight sheet of ice on which he stood, had no depth
or solidity; it was a mere superficial crust floating on the surface of
the terrible abyss. In an agony of terror, he recommended himself to the
care of her who had arrested him on the way to destruction, then retraced
his steps, and on reaching the river bank, perceived that he had actually
walked for a considerable distance on water, as if it had been dry land.
His first act was to relate the wonder to the Mother of the Incarnation,
assuring her that he attributed his marvellous escape to the charity of
Mother St. Joseph.

The love which this good Mother while on earth had shown for her
neighbour, was assuredly not diminished in heaven, where charity is made
perfect. That it survived the grave, was manifested in at least one
singular instance, which occurred some years after the present date of
our history. Among the captives whom Governor Tracy compelled the
Iroquois to set free in 1666, was a young French girl named Anne
Baillargeon, who had been made prisoner at the age of nine. So
naturalized had she become to life in the woods, that when her companions
in misfortune were about to return to their families she refused to
accompany them, and lest she should be constrained to do so, she
concealed herself in the forest at the moment of their departure. Just as
she was exulting at the supposed success of her stratagem, a lady wearing
the religious dress suddenly stood before her, and in a tone which
admitted of no reply, commanded her to rejoin the French, threatening her
at the same time with punishment if she hesitated. Having no other
alternative, she reluctantly obeyed. When she arrived in Quebec, the
Governor confided her to the care of the Ursulines. The moment she
entered the house and saw the portrait of Mother St. Joseph, she
exclaimed, "Ah, there she is! There is the person who spoke to me in the
woods, even the dress is exactly the same." The exclamation convinced the
witnesses of the strange scene that it was indeed Mother St. Joseph who
had acted the part of guardian angel to the truant, and conducted her to
the haven of safety.



In eighteen months after the destruction of the first monastery, the
Ursulines were enabled to re-open schools for the French, and a seminary
for the Indians, and so great was the increase of applicants for
admission, especially to the latter, that the Mother of the Incarnation
tells us she was obliged to her great regret to refuse many, who went
away with tears in their eyes, leaving her, as she beautifully expresses
it, with tears in her heart. The children who could not be accommodated
in the school, were taught in the parlour, and a little later, bark
cabins were again constructed in the neighbourhood of the old ash tree
for the reception of the Huron girls, eighty of whom at a time might
daily be seen receiving not only spiritual instruction, but also a
plentiful meal of the never-failing Indian meal porridge. The seminarists
resumed possession of the now vacant house of Madame de la Peltrie.

The progress of God's work was partially checked about this time by the
growing passion of the Indians for intoxicating drinks, and their
increased facility for procuring them. The sad example of the parents was
beginning to react on the children, and when the religious attempted to
remonstrate with such of these as came only for occasional instruction,
the refractory young ones took to flight "It is their nature," the Mother
of the Incarnation says, "to be easily led away by bad example, unless
thoroughly confirmed in habits of virtue." The awful calamities which we
shall meet later, led to a much-needed reformation. Among the resident
Indian pupils, happily removed from the contagion of evil example, the
labours of the zealous Mothers continued as ever to produce abundant
fruit. Of the large number instructed by the Ursulines, it is true that
only a comparatively small proportion were formed to European habits. "A
Frenchman would more easily become a savage," remarks the Mother of the
Incarnation, "than a savage a Frenchman." None of the Canadian tribes
ever advanced beyond a sort of semi-civilization, and almost all passed
away without attaining even this. But they made good Christians none the
less--perhaps all the more--for if life in the woods debarred them from
the advantages of civilized society, it secured them also from the
dangers of its corrupting influence.

Among the contrasts which the seminary of this period presented were a
widow advanced in years, and a little child only seven. Geneviève, the
widow, was an Algonquin by birth, and though certainly not a candidate
for school, she had so effectually worked on the charity of the Mothers,
that they found it impossible to refuse her request for admittance. Her
fervour was most remarkable. She followed the nuns to every choir
observance of the day, spending the time in reciting rosary after rosary
for various, intentions, among others, the conversion of the Algonquins.
She was never tired of praying, or of listening to instructions on the
mysteries of our holy faith. She was especially delighted with the choir
ceremonies, of which she asked minute explanations, giving it as her
opinion that they must be representations of what the angels and saints
are doing in heaven. Her life-long grief was that her children had died
without baptism. In the end, she left Quebec for Three Rivers, where an
opportunity offered of doing practical good among the female converts of
her own nation. Her little contemporary went to join the angels, and pray
for her benefactresses in heaven. "Catherine is going to see Jesus and
her Mother Mary," she would smilingly say to her companions when they
came to visit her; "she is very happy, and she will pray for you." And so
she was inconceivably happy to die in the house of Jesus and Mary, and in
the arms of Madame de la Peltrie, who watched her with a mother's love,
and charged her with many a message for the angels, those especially of
the Mothers and the Indians. Her sufferings were very great, but her
patience was equal to them. After death, she was attired in white and
laid in the church, where the savages came in crowds to pray around her
bier. She was the last pupil to whom the venerated Foundress rendered the
final services.

No Bishop had yet been appointed to govern the Church of Canada, ardently
as it desired, and frequently as it had implored the blessing. At last,
in 1659, the privilege was granted, to the universal joy of the colony.
The first ruler of the infant Church was Monseigneur de Laval, who bore
at first the title of Vicar Apostolic only. Of him it may, in truth, be
said, that he was a man according to God's own heart, insensible to human
respect, indefatigable in labour, detached from the world, dead to self,
poor in spirit, a model of humility, and a consoling angel of charity.
One of his first acts on the day of landing was to stand sponsor for a
Huron infant; another, to administer the last sacred rites to a dying
youth of the same nation. This was a worthy commencement of an episcopate
destined to prove so fruitful in works of holiness and of general
utility. The arrival of a vessel infected with fever, soon afforded him
ample opportunity of signalizing his love for his neighbour. Of the two
hundred persons whom it contained, nearly all had been attacked by the
malady; eight had died on the passage; many more had been carried off
after landing. The contagion spread through the town, and the hospital
was quickly filled. The good Pastor was at all times to be found in the
midst of his suffering people, ministering not only to their spiritual,
but even to their corporal necessities. He who could trace his pedigree
through a line of ancestors of the noble house of Montmorency, deemed it
not a degradation, but an honour, to make the beds of the poor patients
in the plague-stricken hospital at Quebec. No argument could induce him
to think of his own safety, for he had learned from the lessons and the
example of his Divine Master, that the good shepherd must be ready to lay
down his life, if needful, for his flock. In his establishment, and in
his personal habits, he was a model of evangelical poverty, but where the
rights of the Church and the dignity of his charge were concerned, he
understood perfectly how to maintain both, and his desire and aim were
ever to surround the ceremonial of religion with all the pomp and majesty
attainable in a country only as yet in its infancy.

The late panic had scarcely subsided, when it was succeeded by another
yet more terrible. In the spring of 1660, the inhabitants of the town
were one day dispersed through the adjoining fields, peacefully engaged
in agricultural pursuits, when suddenly the thrilling news arrived that
twelve hundred Iroquois had assembled in the neighbourhood of Montreal,
with the intention of utterly annihilating the colony. Their plan, it was
said, was to begin with the capital, as the residence of the Governor,
for they argued that the head once destroyed, the members would soon
follow. It would be vain to attempt a description of the universal
consternation occasioned by this intelligence. The first impulse of the
trembling people was to try to propitiate heaven by public prayer;
accordingly, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, and devotions in honour
of the Blessed Virgin were commenced. The Bishop, alarmed for the safety
of the Nuns, removed the two communities from their own homes to lodgings
near the Jesuits. The remaining inhabitants either fortified their
dwellings or abandoned them for others more securely located. Meantime
the monastery was placed in a state of siege; redoubts were raised; the
windows walled half-way, and well supplied with loop-holes. Every
aperture was carefully closed, and no entrance to the monastery left open
except one narrow door, through which only a single person could pass at
a time. Twenty-four men were placed on guard in the house, and, more
formidable to the enemy than any soldiers, twelve enormous dogs were
stationed on the outside. Woe to the Iroquois who should glide serpent-
like through the tall grass, or lie in ambush in the shade of the
brushwood! The sagacious animals would quickly detect his place of
concealment, fly at him in a bound, and tear him to pieces without
ceremony, a fact so well known to the hostile savages, that they feared
the dogs of the French more than their warriors or their cannon.

Undismayed by the danger, the Mother of the Incarnation obtained
permission to remain in the monastery with three other Sisters, to
prevent disorder and see that the soldiers wanted for nothing. The first
night passed over in safety, but to the inhabitants in general, it was
one of mortal agony. The next morning after Mass, seeing that all was
quiet, the Ursulines and their pupils returned to the convent. In the
evening, they again sought their refuge of the night before, and so
things went on for some weeks. It was a time of cruel suspense. Every
sound was transformed by over-heated imagination into a signal of attack;
every shadow into the form of some stealthy Iroquois; every breath of the
night breeze into the echo of an enemy's approaching step. The vast,
silent solitudes surrounding the town in every direction, the wild aspect
of the unreclaimed land, the gloomy appearance of the thickly wooded
forest seemingly formed expressly to conceal a foe, all combined to
impress the mind with that painful suspicion of unseen danger, which to
many is more torturing than actual peril. Through all the agitation and
alarm, the Mother of the Incarnation retained her accustomed self-
possession, and by the calmness of her demeanour, encouraged the timid
and desponding. During the five weeks' general excitement, she says that
she experienced no fear, though she owns that she endured extreme
fatigue. Sleep, either by day or night, was indeed a stranger to Quebec
for the whole of that most trying period. As time passed on, and no enemy
appeared, courage began to revive, but the dream of hope was soon
dispelled. Once more the people were startled by the dread announcement,
"The Iroquois are coming! They are close at hand!" While the imminence of
the danger froze the life-blood in many a heart, it seemed, however, only
to nerve the arms of the defenders of the town. In a half-an-hour every
man was at his post, prepared to defend it to the last, and surrender it
only with life. Some were even heard to wish in their enthusiasm, that
the alarm might this time prove well founded. Notwithstanding the panic,
confidence in God's providence had not deserted the inhabitants.
"Mother," said one of the workmen to the Mother of the Incarnation, "do
not imagine that the Almighty will permit the enemy to surprise us. No;
He will hear the powerful prayers of the Blessed Virgin on our behalf,
and send some friendly Huron to put us on our guard in time. The Mother
of God has never refused us this favour, nor will she now." The very next
day proved the accuracy of the prediction. Two Huron prisoners who had
miraculously escaped from the hands of the Iroquois, brought the almost
incredible news that the enemy had precipitately retreated, humbled and
confounded at the unexpected resistance which they had encountered. It
was indeed true that the colony was saved, but equally so, that its
Safety had been dearly purchased.

The continual ravages of the Iroquois had hitherto been a standing
obstacle to the progress of the young nation. Wherever they appeared,
utter devastation followed, and as no precaution could prevent, and no
foresight anticipate their incursions, life itself was felt by the
inhabitants to hang merely on a thread. At length, sixteen of the
colonists headed by an officer named Daulac, [Footnote: Sometimes written
Dolard, and Daulard.] resolved to confront the long dreaded foe, and
conquer or die in the cause of faith and country, The determination was a
bold one, and it was carried out with an unflinching spirit. Before
setting out on their expedition, the Christian warriors approached the
sacraments, and in presence of the holy altar promised never to
surrender, and never to desert each other. They took leave of their
friends as if assured of not meeting them on earth again, and having been
joined by forty Hurons and six Algonquins with their respective Chiefs,
they intrenched themselves on the first of May behind a half-ruined
palisade at Saut-des-Chaudières, on the Ottawa river. There for eight
days they resisted an army of seven hundred Iroquois, enduring meantime
the aggravating tortures of hunger, want of sleep, and worst of all,
consuming thirst. Through, the loop-holes of their little fort, they
fired with unerring precision at the Iroquois, decimating them rapidly,
while sustaining but trifling loss themselves. Even after the defection
of twenty-four of the Hurons who were lured over to the enemy by
deceitful promises, the small garrison still counted thirty-five
undaunted hearts, and but for a sad accident, might have maintained its
ground much longer. When the Iroquois bad advanced sufficiently near the
fort to render the attempt practicable, Daulac determined to attach a
fuse to a barrel of gunpowder, and fling it into the midst of them.
Unfortunately the missile caught in a branch, and was thrown back into
the fort, exploding with disastrous consequences to the besieged. The
savages taking advantage of the confusion, forced their way into the
fort;--one more desperate struggle,--then all was over. Only four
Frenchmen and four Hurons fell alive into the bands of the Iroquois, who,
terrified at a victory which had cost them so dearly, returned to their
villages as fast as possible, not daring to carry out the projected
invasion of a country of heroes such as these. Of the prisoners, some
were put to a cruel death; two of the Hurons escaped as we have noticed,
and were the first to bring to Quebec and Montreal the news of the death
of Daulac and his brave companions.

In 1663, on his return from his first voyage to France, Monseigneur de
Laval founded the seminary of Quebec, which he named the Holy Family of
the Foreign Missions. Like all great works, the beginnings of the
institution were small, yet it was destined to exercise a vast and
salutary influence over Canada, and at a later day to acquire wide renown
as the famed Laval University.



If association with Europeans had been in some respects a blessing to the
Indians, it must be owned that in others it had proved very much the
reverse. Among the numerous emigrants to Canada, were necessarily a large
proportion of self-interested fortune seekers, who in order to secure a
lucrative traffic with the natives, availed largely of their well-known
propensity for strong drinks. The severest regulations, and the utmost
vigilance of the authorities, though successful for a time, were
powerless to repress the destructive trade permanently. After a short
interruption, it was renewed, now clandestinely, now more openly, but as
it seemed irrepressibly.

The savage in a state of intoxication becomes an ungovernable maniac, who
in the violence of his fury will rush into any excess and commit any
crime. At the epoch which our history has now reached, the terrible vice
threatened to demoralize the entire country, and to destroy the fruit of
all the efforts made to convert the savages. Writing to her son on the
subject, the Mother of the Incarnation says, "We have at present to
contend with an evil far more calamitous in its results, than even the
hostility of the Iroquois. It is unhappily but too true, that this
country now harbours Frenchmen, who for their own selfish ends
deliberately risk the spiritual ruin of the Indians, giving them in
exchange for their beaver skins, those intoxicating liquors which are the
absolute destruction of men, women, and even children." "To satisfy this
insane craving for drink," Father Lalemant adds, "the savage will reduce
himself to beggary; nay, will sell his own children. My ink is not dark
enough," he continues, "to describe in their true colours, the calamities
thus entailed on this infant church; the gall of the dragon would be more
appropriate for the purpose. Suffice it to say, that in one month, we
lose the fruit of our labours of ten or twenty years."

After every means of persuasion had been exhausted, a sentence of
excommunication was at last pronounced against all who persevered in
trading in the prohibited article, but not even the thunders of the
Church could intimidate the hardened transgressors, and so the evil
continued undiminished. Profoundly afflicted at so daring an insult to
the Most High, and so fatal an interruption to the work of grace among
the Indians, all the servants of God in Canada united in earnest prayer
for the repentance of the sinful, but from no heart did the petition for
mercy ascend more fervently or more continuously, than from that of the
Mother of the Incarnation, who not content with simply imploring the
conversion of the people, offered herself as a victim for their
transgressions, consenting to assume the responsibility of their crimes,
and to endure the punishment which they merited. The prayer of charity
was heard, but if the Almighty condescended to arouse His people to a
sense of their iniquity, it was not without a very awful manifestation of
His power.

During the autumn of 1662, such extraordinary signs had from time to time
been seen in the air, that the more thoughtful were impressed with a
vague fear of impending calamities, while even the least serious were not
altogether unmoved. These horrors, however, were but faint foreshadowings
of those to come. The evening of Shrove Monday, February the 5th, 1663,
was calm and serene; no eye however keen, no ear however sensitive could
have detected sight or sound indicative of the approaching catastrophe.
Forgetful of past warnings, and undisturbed by present misgivings, the
unreflecting crowd plunged into the exciting pleasures of gay carnival.
About half-past five o'clock, the town was alarmed by a distant rumbling,
such as might be produced by the rapid passage of a number of carriages
over a stone pavement. This unnatural sound was followed by another, and
a louder, which seemed to combine the crackling of flames, the rattling
of hailstones, the muttering of thunder and the dashing of the waves on
the sea shore. Clouds of thick dust obscured the air; the earth trembled,
rose, fell, undulated like the billows of the ocean, and burst open in
innumerable places. The trees of the old forest swayed back and forwards
like reeds in a hurricane, and were uprooted by hundreds. Entire forests
were in some instances swallowed by the yawning abyss, so that only the
tops of a few trees could be seen. Mountains were torn from their beds;
rocks were rent, and enormous blocks of stone rolled into the valleys,
crushing all before them. The houses were shaken to the foundation, and
tottered as though they would have fallen; the walls were split asunder,
the floors gave way, the doors opened or closed violently, without being
touched. The church bells, set in motion by the swaying of the belfries,
tolled mournfully to the accompaniment of the wild cries of terrified
animals and the shrill screams of equally frightened children. The
convulsion of the water was not less fearful than that of the land. The
ice, five or six feet in depth, burst with a crash like the roar of
cannon; huge blocks were shot up into the air, and fell again to the
earth, shivered into powder, while from the openings, clouds of smoke or
jets of mud and sand were projected to a great height. The fish darted in
terror from the turbulent waters, and it was noticed that one species,
abandoning its usual haunts, made its way to a lake where it had never
been seen before. The springs were either choked, or impregnated with
sulphur. The waters of some of the rivers became red, others yellow; the
St. Lawrence as far as Tadoussac appeared white.

Stunned by the suddenness of the calamity, and utterly unable to
comprehend it, some thought that a fire had broken out, and ran for help;
others that the Indians had made an incursion, and flew to arms, but soon
the momentarily increasing violence of the shocks led to the universal
conclusion that the end of the world had come. The consternation both of
French and Indians can hardly be imagined. The general impulse was to
hasten to the churches, and prepare to appear before the judgment seat of
God, and truly wonderful were the conversions which ensued: a missioner
afterwards told the Mother of the Incarnation, that he had himself heard
eight hundred general confessions at that period of panic. After a half-
an-hour, the oscillations of the earth became fainter, without however
wholly ceasing, but about eight o'clock there was a second shock so
severe, that the Sisters who were at the time standing in their stalls
chanting the Office, were all thrown to the ground. The earthquake
continued at intervals for a full year, the first five months in its
original force, the remainder of the period with less violence. Sometimes
the motion of the earth was like the pitching of a large vessel dragging
heavily at its anchors; at others, it was hurried and irregular, creating
sudden, and occasionally very violent jerks, but in general it was merely
tremulous. During all that time, men lived in constant dread of immediate
death, and actually withered away from fear. The Lent was spent by the
Sisters in redoubled austerities, and increasing prayers to appease the
anger of God. "Every evening," the Mother of the Incarnation wrote to her
son, "we disposed ourselves to be engulphed in the yawning earth before
morning, and when a new day dawned, we prepared to stand in God's
presence before its close."

After the fearful convulsion of nature had at last ceased, its terrible
traces were but too distinctly visible over the entire country. In some
parts, mountains had disappeared, swallowed by the gaping earth, or
precipitated into adjacent rivers, leaving vast chasms in the places
which they had occupied; in others, new ones had suddenly arisen. Lakes
were to be seen in localities previously occupied by forests. A new
island had sprung up in the St. Lawrence; volcanic craters had burst
open; some rivers had been turned from, their course, others totally
lost. A rocky mountainous district of three hundred miles in extent, had
been levelled as if some mighty harrow had passed over it. The earthquake
seems to have extended more than six hundred miles in length, and about
three hundred in breadth; thus one hundred and eighty thousand square
miles of land were convulsed at the same moment. A most singular
circumstance connected with the awful visitation is, that not a single
individual perished, or was even slightly injured.

At last, Almighty wrath was appeased; salutary fear of the Divine
judgments had done its work, and so the avenging angel was permitted to
sheathe his fiery sword. The restored serenity of nature seemed
emblematic of the recovered peace of the people, who, in their
reconciliation with God, and their resolution of amendment, had adopted
the most effectual security against a repetition of the late disasters.
Their return to duty seemed the signal of a new era of benediction.

In 1663, the Marquis of Tracy was nominated Viceroy, and as no
arrangement could possibly have been more advantageous to Canada at that
particular crisis, the news of his appointment was received with an
enthusiasm equalled only by that which at a later period greeted his
arrival. He had for many years occupied a very high position in the
French army, and had been equally distinguished through life for courage
in danger, and prudence in negotiation. His commission obliging him in
the first place to re-establish the authority of France in Cayenne, which
had leagued with the Dutch, and then, to restore order in the French
Antilles, he did not land at Quebec until the 30th of June, 1665. If he
had chosen the season expressly with a view to first favourable
impressions, the selection could not have been more judicious. Nature was
then looking her loveliest. On the old time-honoured rock stood the
little capital, in the first flush of its youth, like clinging childhood
beside protecting age. Scattered over the height were the houses of the
French, intermingled with religious edifices of sufficiently imposing
appearance, the whole crowned by the romantically-situated Castle of St.
Louis. Here and there a solitary Indian wigwam nestled among the trees;
the glorious river, flashed and sparkled in the morning light; the grand
old woods towered in the background, looking like links between the past,
with its solemn memories, and the present, with its hopes so bright and
fair. With all its variety of picturesque contrasts, Quebec must
certainly have presented a striking scene on that lovely summer's day
when the Marquis of Tracy saw it for the first time.

Charmed with the country, and profoundly interested in the inhabitants,
he entered on his functions with an ardour and energy which augured well
for his success. His sole ambition from the very first was to promote the
happiness of the people over whom he was called to rule, and whom he
loved with the tenderness of a father. The poorest savages were as much
the objects of his paternal solicitude, as the highest dignitaries among
the French. He listened to their harangues with the kindest interest, and
accepted their little presents with the most amiable condescension. The
King had assigned four companies of the regiment of Carignan for his
bodyguard, and, to the colonists unaccustomed to the sight of regular
troops, they formed a splendid spectacle. As to the Indians, they had
never even imagined anything so grand.

One of the first objects of the Viceroy was the effectual repression of
the audacious Iroquois, who, though sorely humbled by the glorious feat
of the heroes of Ville Marie, continued to disturb the colony to the
utmost extent of their power, and still proved an insuperable obstacle to
its steady progress. The. harvest could not be gathered in safety; life
was yet insecure, and there were times of particular alarm, when the more
timid entertained serious notions of returning permanently to France.
There was, however, strong reason to hope that as consternation had once
been created in the ranks of the savages by a mere handful of resolute
champions, they would now be thoroughly and effectually intimidated by a
force comprising not only all the brave spirits of the colony, but also
the brilliant guard of the Marquis of Tracy. A resolution was accordingly
taken to proceed from defensive to aggressive measures, and attack the
enemy in the heart of his own territory. The expedition was unavoidably
delayed until September, 1666. The pious commander chose the feast of the
Exaltation of the Holy Cross for the day of its departure, and the brave
warriors secured the protection of the God of Armies by approaching the
Holy Sacraments. Although advanced in years, the Viceroy would take the
personal direction of his troops in this most perilous and arduous
journey of four hundred and fifty miles, carrying on his shoulders, like
the meanest soldier, his arms, provisions, and baggage. The savages were
panic-stricken at the sight of so large an army; the brilliant uniforms,
the colours, the martial music, above all the rolling of the drums,
inspired them with such extreme terror that they fled without striking a
blow. Their four large villages at once fell a prey to the invaders, who
reduced them to ashes, in order to compel the owners to sue for peace.
The enormous quantity of Indian meal found in these hamlets would have
sufficed to support the colony for two years if it could have been
removed. Besides abundance of provisions, the cabins contained a variety
of articles of furniture scarcely to have been looked for, in the huts of
savages. The next day, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered on the
spot in thanksgiving for the bloodless victory, the ceremonial closing by
a solemn, _Te Deum_. From the departure of the army until the news
of its triumph, the Forty Hours' prayer had been continued without
intermission at the Ursuline monastery, and in private families as well
as in the public churches, unceasing supplications had been offered to
God for the success of the French arms. Dreading the annihilation of
their tribe, the Iroquois were only too happy to sue for peace, and
willingly gave up several of their families as hostages. [Footnote: The
restoration of Anne Baillargeon, already noticed in our little sketch of
Mother St. Joseph, belongs to this period.] At their own request, three
Jesuits were sent to reside among them, and then each day witnessed some
new conversions. Their famous chief, Garakontié, was baptized and
confirmed in the cathedral of Quebec by Monseigneur Laval, whom he humbly
thanked after the ceremony for having opened to him the doors of the
Church and of Paradise. Finding the surroundings of their pagan homes a
great obstacle to the practice of their holy faith, the new Christians
determined to establish themselves among the French, where they could
serve God in peace. To meet their wishes, the Jesuits prepared a
residence for them on the rich prairie of the Madeleine, situated on the
south bank of the St. Lawrence, nearly opposite Montreal. The
indispensable condition of admission was a solemn promise to avoid
intemperance. This mission of St. Francis Xavier-du-Sault was afterwards
celebrated for the number and fervour of its converts, and became the
nucleus of the Iroquois colony, destined later on to play an important
part in the affairs of the Canadian nation.

After having given a decided and permanent impulse to the prosperity of
the country, and in all respects faithfully fulfilled his mission, the
Marquis of Tracy was honourably recalled to France, but he never lost his
interest in the welfare of Canada. His departure was regretted by all
parties in the colony, and not least by the Ursulines, to whom he had
shown himself a devoted and efficient friend. "This young church will
sustain an indescribable loss in him," wrote the Mother of the
Incarnation. "Had it nothing else to be grateful for, his example alone
was a priceless blessing. He has been seen to spend six consecutive hours
in the church, where his very appearance was in itself a striking lesson.
He is truly a model of piety and virtue, and so greatly is he beloved
that his influence is irresistible." Fortunately for Canada, he left
after him two men thoroughly imbued with his own spirit--Monsieur de
Courcelles, the Governor, and the celebrated Intendant, Talon, under
whose joint administration the country made more progress than since its
first colonization. Thus it happened that from. its founder, Champlain,
onwards, Canada had hitherto been greatly blessed in its rulers.

Before we close this chapter, we shall take a glance at Quebec as it was
in 1670, three years after the departure of the Marquis of Tracy, when we
shall find it much altered since we saw it first at the arrival of the
Mother of the Incarnation. Its scanty population has swelled to upwards
of four thousand. The scattered huts which constituted the town, have
been replaced by comfortable dwellings. Churches and convents have sprung
up. Manufactures of serge and of hempen cloth have been introduced. A
market, a brewery, and a tannery have been opened. The ground has been
considerably cleared, and the agricultural resources of the country have
been developed; three-fourths of the inhabitants can now live on the
produce of the land, merely at the cost of their own labour. Commercial
relations have been, established with France and the West Indian islands.
The cod fishery of Newfoundland promises to become a source of immense
revenue. Mines of lead, slate, and coal have been discovered near
Montreal. Money, once so so scarce, has become abundant since the arrival
of the Marquis of Tracy and his suite. [Footnote: It is interesting to
renew the glance something about two hundred years later, and note time's
work. The Quebec of today consists of an upper and a lower town. The
former, standing on that side of Cape Diamond which slopes towards the
river St. Charles, contains the principal public buildings, the dwellings
of the wealthy, and the best shops; the latter, extending for two or
three miles on a narrow strip of land between the St. Lawrence and the
cliffs, is densely crowded with stores, merchants' offices, warehouses
and inns. The communication between the two is by a winding street and
steep flights of steps, at the top of which is a fortified gate. No scene
can be more imposing than Quebec and its surroundings, as it first breaks
on a traveller sailing up the river. Nothing of the city is visible until
the spectator has reached a line between the west coast of the Isle of
Orleans and Point Levi, and then all the beauties of the magnificent
scene burst suddenly on his view. The Isle of Orleans is fertile, well
cultivated, and in the centre well wooded. Point Levi is a large,
picturesque village, with brightly-painted cottages, and a romantic
little church. From these, the eye turns to the abrupt promontory, three
hundred and fifty feet in height, crested by the city and battlements of
Quebec. The impregnable citadel, the dense mass of buildings, the bright
tinned steeples o£ the churches and roofs of the houses, the fleets of
ships at the quays, the vessels on the stocks or being launched, the
steamers plying in every direction, the multitude of boats of every
shape, the Indian wigwams at Point Levi, the vast rafts floating down the
St. Lawrence with their cargo of timber from the forests of the Ottawa;
farther on, the cataract of Montmorenci tumbling into the St. Lawrence
over a ledge of rock two hundred and twenty feet in height; the houses,
churches and woods of Beauport and Charlesbourg; the high grounds, spire,
and homesteads of St. Joseph; the miles of richly cultivated country,
terminating in a ridge of mountains--all form a picture which once seen
can never be forgotten. The vast, grand landscape is, in fact, one of the
most striking in the Old World or the New.--_Chiefly from Martin's
British Colonies_.] "Merchants will now find this country a high road
to fortune," says the Mother of the Incarnation, from whose letters we
have borrowed the above details. "As for us," adds the saintly Mother,
"_our fortune is made_; we are the portion of Jesus Christ, and
Jesus Christ is ours; the only wealth we covet is the possession of
Himself, and this we can secure by observing our holy rule, and
faithfully accomplishing His blessed will. Ask His Divine Majesty to give
us grace to do so."

Cheering as was the Venerable Mother's account of Canada, all, however,
was not sunshine. At one time we hear of a fearful storm, attended by
immense loss of property; at another, of a pestilential fever brought to
the town by foreign vessels. One winter was so rigorous, that many of the
Sisters made up their minds to be frozen; a later one was, if possible,
still more severe. "During the last thirty-one years," remarks the
Mother, "we certainly have had time to forget the comforts of our old
homes in France." She might have added, with perfect truth, that their
generous spirits were as indifferent to the privations of the new home,
as they were detached from the luxuries of the old.

It was in the year of which we write, 1670, that Quebec was elevated to
the dignity of a Bishopric.



In 1670, the original little community of three, had multiplied to
twenty, but if its numbers had increased, so had its work. Once more,
then, it became necessary to call on France for help, and once more the
appeal was cordially responded to by two Sisters from the convent at
Paris, and two from that of Bourges, who arrived in the spring of the
next year. Of the three first pillars of the edifice, one had
disappeared; the two remaining were, alas! soon to follow. Dom Claude
Martin prefaces his notice of the long illness which preceded the death
of his saintly Mother by the remark, that no cross is more holy or more
meritorious than that which God Himself imposes. Crosses of our own
choice he says, are, no doubt, agreeable to Him, when borne with love and
patience, but there is danger that self-will may mingle with them and
diminish their value; and again, they are not likely to be always
judiciously chosen. But there is nothing to fear in crosses of
Providence; they bear the stamp of the will of God alone; and, as He
never permits His creatures to be tempted beyond their strength, He
either sends light trials suitable to their weakness, or with the,
heavier ones, strength in proportion. Sickness being among the precious
crosses of Providence, it was not to be expected that the Mother of the
Incarnation should have been exempted from it, and thus deprived of the
opportunity of increasing her patience and fortifying her other virtues.
As far back as 1664, she had received her remote summons to her eternal
home. A complication of violent maladies then brought her apparently so
near death, that she received the last sacraments amidst the sighs and
tears of her loving children. The news of her illness plunged the whole
city into mourning; each family felt as if it were about to lose a
mother, and day and night heaven was besieged by one uninterrupted
supplication that she might be spared yet longer. Finding that remedies
only aggravated her excruciating sufferings, the physicians determined at
last to leave her in the hands of God, whose will it seemed to be that
the remainder of her life should be passed on the cross. That life of
crucifixion was destined to endure eight weary years, from the first date
of her illness, before the dawn of the eternal day should at last dispel
the long night of pain and sorrow. "I cannot shake off the effects of my
severe sickness," she wrote to Her son, "and I still find them very
trying, although nature has now become familiarized with suffering. But I
am happy under my cross, because the cross was the chosen portion of
Jesus. Viewed in the light of God, my trials are so welcome, that my only
apprehension, is lest I should constrain our Lord to chastise my
infidelities by removing, or at least, diminishing them. Some say that it
is excess of work which has undermined my health, but I maintain with
more truth, that my illness is a precious pledge of the love of my God,
for which I heartily thank Him." She was perfectly indifferent as to the
result of her malady, desiring, as she said, neither life nor death, but
only the God of life and death. During six of these years of lingering
malady, she bore the weight of authority for the third time, her
Director, who understood the blessing of her government to the community,
having opposed her request for permission to resign it. That she could
even exist in the state of exhaustion and emaciation to which she was
reduced, seemed a miracle, yet she fulfilled all the duties of each day
most punctually; she allowed herself no additional rest, rising as usual
summer and winter at four o'clock; she assisted at all the observances,
applied unremittingly to the functions of her charge; wrote an amazing
number of letters, and when fatigue or weakness incapacitated her from
more laborious business, she occupied her leisure in painting or
embroidery, for both of which she had an exquisite taste. The fruit of
her beautiful work in this way went to adorn altars and churches. Burning
with zeal for the salvation of the Indians, and wishing in a manner to
prolong her apostolate among them after death, she devoted herself
untiringly to the preparation of the younger Sisters destined to succeed
her in the charge of instructing them. In the winter mornings, she
assembled them round her to teach them the Indian dialects, and knowing
from experience the difficulty of committing the vocabularies to memory,
she determined to leave them as much help from manuscripts as possible.
Accordingly, between the commencement of the Lent of 1668, and the feast
of the following Ascension, she accomplished the writing of a large
volume of sacred history in Algonquin, and a dictionary and catechism in
Iroquois. The preceding year she had written a voluminous Algonquin

Four or five years before her end, she wrote to her son, "When you
receive the news of my demise, I beg you to get as many Masses as
possible said for me by the Reverend Fathers of your holy Congregation.
To all appearance, I have not, it is true, any immediate prospect of
death, but at my age, the end cannot be far off. My infirmities, too, are
a perpetual warning to keep myself ever prepared to render an account of
my life, especially of the misuse of great graces, for which I shall
suffer long in the fire of Purgatory, unless powerfully succoured by the
suffrages of the Church. I am very fortunate in being able to calculate
on your help and that of your good Fathers, hoping that through your
united sacrifices I shall the sooner behold Him whom my heart and soul
long to bless and praise for ever. Oh! how happy shall we be when this
has become our sole employment! It is now forty years since by an immense
favour God called me to praise Him on earth, as the angels and saints
praise Him in heaven. This favour has been the source of great and
magnificent graces to my soul, but there can be no doubt that, owing to
my imperfections and distractions, something of my own spirit has mingled
with those Divine praises, hence I continually say, "Who can understand
sin? From my secret sins, cleanse me, O Lord" (Ps. xviii 13). I have not
only numerous external defects, but a vast number besides of hidden and
internal, for all of which I shall be rigorously punished, unless you
obtain my pardon through the Holy Sacrifice. The purity which God
requires of a soul elevated to a close and constant union with his
Adorable Majesty, is infinitely precious, and it is the high standard at
which I estimate it, which renders me fearful, but underlying the fear is
a peace profound beyond words to describe. Pray that this peace may be
solid, because in the spiritual life, there is much false peace. I have
boundless confidence in the adorable Blood of our Divine Saviour,
bequeathed by Him as a rich and permanent legacy to His Church."

But after all, the Mother of the Incarnation was not to be the next of
the three foundation-stones removed to the Heavenly Jerusalem. In the
designs of God, Madame de la Peltrie was to precede her; the interval
between both deaths, however, was to be very short, so that the hearts
united in life, should not be long divided after its close. Five months
only before the Mother of the Incarnation, the gentle, pious Foundress
was called away, after a violent and short attack of pleurisy. The main
points of her history, both before and after her vocation to the foreign
mission, are already known to us; the hidden virtues of her obscure life
in Canada are less easily discerned. Humility and zeal for God's glory
seem to have been the characteristics of her sanctity. The meanest
offices were those for which alone she felt herself qualified, and which,
therefore, she was not only ever ready to embrace, but to plead for.
During eighteen years, she had charge of the general clothing, and the
only drawback to her enjoyment of the duty was that the articles she
could provide were not as good as she would have wished. For herself were
reserved the old patched garments too bad for anyone else. The last place
in the choir and refectory was the one which she selected. She could not
bear to be addressed as the Foundress, saying that she was a worthless
creature who did nothing but offend God. Never was she heard to speak of
herself, except to depreciate her own merit. She followed the common rule
with regard to food and rising, except, indeed, that she often
anticipated the hour of the latter, early as it was. Although she had
received the gift of uninterrupted prayer, and could speak admirably to
seculars who applied to her for advice, among the religious she never
touched on spiritual subjects, fearing to appear better than she believed
herself to be. Frail and weakly as her health was, she practised
austerities which would have tried persons of robust constitution,
redoubling them whenever she heard that some particular soul was in
unusual danger, and therefore required unusual help. Honouring our Lord
in the indigent, she was never so pleased as when she could clothe and
console the poor. Of her love for the Indian pupils, we have more than
once had occasion to speak, but it would be difficult to do it justice.
She seemed to feel that she never could do enough not only to serve, but
even to please and gratify her dear children. It was her delight to see
herself surrounded by them, to receive and return their caresses, to head
their processions, lead them on pious pilgrimages, and even give them
little excursions for amusement. The means of carrying out her projects
of charity often failed, but the charity never, so it was often said that
if her pecuniary resources were only as large as her heart, all the
Indian children, and their parents too, would be well provided for.
Inseparably united in heart to Jesus in His most adorable Sacrament, she
found her sweetest earthly happiness in Holy Communion, and made it her
practice to procure as many Masses as possible for the convent, assisting
at them all with the respect and fervour of an angel. Her great devotion
to the Blessed Sacrament inspired her with a desire to build a church
adjoining the monastery, in which she happily succeeded. The foundation-
stone was laid in 1656, and two years and a half later the sacred edifice
was completed.

Her death sickness lasted but seven days, yet short as was the interval,
it sufficed to exhibit her virtues in all their lustre. In death, even
more if possible than in life, she showed herself humble, affable,
patient, obedient, mortified, united to God, and resigned to His holy
will. In death too, she clung with all her old love to the evangelical
poverty which had long had irresistible charms for her, for the sake of
Him who became poor, that we might be enriched. Seeing near her bed a few
delicacies which the hand of affection had provided, she had them
immediately removed, saying that dainties were inconsistent with poverty.
It would indeed have been difficult to detect anything incompatible with
poverty in the humble room, where lay expiring the once envied heiress of
large possessions. A poor bed, two straw chairs and a wooden table
constituted all the furniture; a picture of the Crucifixion, the only
ornament. When asked if she regretted life, she answered that the day of
her death was more precious to her than all the years of her existence
united. The day which proved her last, happened to be Wednesday, a
coincidence which filled her heart with joy. "Oh! how happy I should be,"
she said, "if God called me on this day, dedicated to St. Joseph!" Every
hour seemed to her like a year, so vehement was her desire to be
dissolved and to be with Christ. She continually asked how soon she might
expect the blissful moment which would unite her to her Sovereign Good
for ever, and she begged the loving Sisters who surrounded her bed,
constantly to whisper to her the words of the Psalmist, "I rejoiced at
the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord."
(Ps. cxxi.1.) She gently expired at eight o'clock on the evening of
November the 12th, 1671, aged sixty-eight years, thirty-two of which she
had passed in Canada. Her interment was attended by all persons of
position in the city and its environs. Considering herself unworthy to
inhabit the monastery which she had founded, she had begged as an alms a
last resting-place in the vault destined for the religious. Contrary to
her intentions, her remains were inclosed in a leaden coffin. By her own
directions, her heart was buried under the altar step of the Jesuits'
Church, that it might crumble into its original dust at the feet of the
God of the Tabernacle, a holocaust of His love.



In the middle of the January following the death of the venerated
Foundress, the Mother of the Incarnation relapsed into violent illness.
Her previous symptoms re-appeared, with the addition of indescribably
painful tumors in both sides. Unable to rest in any position, consumed
with fever, tortured in every nerve, not a sigh, or moan, or movement
betrayed her agonies, and yet, at that moment, the hand of God pressed
heavily on her soul as well as on her body. That she might resemble Him
to the end, her crucified Lord presented her once more with the bitter
cup of interior dereliction which she had so often before shared with
Him, again despoiling the inferior part of the soul of those heavenly
consolations which would so greatly have lightened the pressure of
physical suffering. "It is hard," the "Imitation of Christ" says, "to
want all comfort, human and Divine," but the Venerable Mother was well
familiarized with the privation, of both. In the purity of her love, she
sought only the accomplishment of the will of her God. "With Christ I am
nailed to the cross," she said in a holy transport, and none understood
better than she, that it is good to be with Christ even on the cross. The
physicians having declared the malady hopeless on the fifth day; she
received the last sacraments, made her profession of faith, and then
asked pardon, first of the Father Superior and of her director, then of
the Mother Superior and community, thanking them for their charity and
expressing her regret at the trouble which her long illness had
occasioned them. Hearing shortly after, that the grand-daughter of an
Algonquin Chief had just joined the seminary, she expressed a wish to see
the child, and after affectionately caressing her, she once more
impressively exhorted her dear Sisters ever cordially to cherish her
"joys," as she called the Indians. All the pupils, both French and
savage, were repeatedly brought to receive her blessing.

Overwhelmed with the deepest grief, the religious redoubled their prayers
and mortifications, beseeching that their precious Mother might be left
to them even a little longer. She could not understand their desire to
prolong a life which she deemed useless, but her director, Father
Lalemant, comprehending her value to the community far better than she
did herself, and compassionating the affliction of her children,
commanded her to join in their prayers for her restoration. The order
startled her, but at once raising her eyes and hands to heaven, she said,
"I think I shall die of this illness, however if God wills that I should
live longer, I am resigned." "That is all well, Mother," replied the
inexorable Father, "but it is not enough; you must take our side of the
question, and do your best to preserve yourself to the community, which
still has need of you." The direction was too explicit to admit of
appeal; preferring obedience to sacrifice, as had even been her practice,
she said, almost in the words of her own St. Martin of Tours, "My Lord
and my God! if Thou seest that I am still necessary to this little
community, I refuse not pain or labour: may Thy will be done!" A change
for the better was at once apparent, and so wonderfully rapid was the
improvement, that at his next visit, the physician who had pronounced her
recovery hopeless, declared her out of danger. She assisted at the solemn
Te Deum which was offered in the choir in thanksgiving for her
restoration, and with her usual sweet affability received the
congratulations of her now happy daughters, as well as of her numerous
friends Presents of the most delicate food were sent from every quarter
to tempt her appetite; she tried to partake of it through condescension,
but since the commencement of her illness eight years before, her palate
had retained a bitterness which imparted the flavour of gall to every
species of nourishment, and necessarily created a loathing for it.

Her convalescence continued during the Lent; she was able to join in the
ceremonies of Palm Sunday, and on Good Friday, to assist at the Passion
and the Adoration of the Cross, but that evening, she felt compelled to
tell the Mother Superior that she was suffering excessively from the
tumors in both sides. They proved to be abscesses, which on the next day
had to be laid open to the bone. She bore this, and subsequent torturing
operations as if she had been deprived of all sense of feeling. Once she
slightly shuddered, and then she accused herself of impatience, and asked
forgiveness. The humility, meekness, and charity always so striking in
her seemed to have gained an increase under this new test, but it was
because she had laid up an abundant store of them in the days of her
strength, that they did not fail in the hour of nature's weakness, when,
above all, is proved the truth of the maxim, that it is the moment of
trial which shows what we really are. When, long years before, she had
offered herself to God as His Victim, it was with the full comprehension
that the title implied a life of suffering and sacrifice; now that the
hour of immolation had come, she renewed the oblation, content to bear
her excruciating pains to the day of judgment, if only God could be thus
honoured, and the salvation of souls promoted. Some of the Sisters having
asked her to share her merits with them, she replied with a smile, "All
belongs to the savages; I have no longer anything of my own." The holy
Communion, which she received every alternate day, continued to be her
support in death, as it had been in life. By the end of the week, it was
apparent that her strength was declining, and her life fast passing away.
When informed that all chance of recovery was at an end, her countenance
beamed with celestial joy, and from that moment until her last, her
existence was one almost uninterrupted ecstasy. Although constantly
absorbed in God, she replied sweetly and amiably to all who spoke to her,
but at the same time in as few words as possible. The Mother St.
Athanasius, who never left her, asked if she had any commission for her
son. She seemed affected at the question, and begged the Mother to let
him know that she would bear him to heaven in her heart and pray for his
perfect sanctification. On the morning of the 30th of April, feeling that
the last hour was near, she wished to bid a final adieu to her dear
little Indians. She blessed them with all the love of her great heart,
and then spoke a few impressive words to them in their own language on
the beauty of our holy mysteries and the happiness of serving God. At
mid-day, she entered into her agony, if that could be called an agony,
where there was no struggle. Although she lost her speech and hearing, it
was easy to see that her soul was intimately united to God. Her trembling
hand still tried to lift the crucifix to her lips, and when her confessor
would have rendered her this service, he found it so impossible to
disengage the beloved image from her grasp, that he had to substitute
another. A few minutes before six in the evening, she opened her eyes and
looked at her dear Sisters, as if to take a last farewell of them, then
closed them for ever to earth. At six o'clock, two faint sighs were
heard,--so faint, that but for the breathless stillness of the room they
must have been inaudible, but the hearing of affection is acute, and
every heart present caught the feeble echo, and interpreted it correctly.
Death had come at last, but death in a form so fair, that even angels
might have envied it, if angels could die. In its flight to God, her pure
soul seemed to have left a lingering ray of glory flitting round the
calm, still features, which shone as if illumined with heaven's own
light, and almost dazzled the beholders by their seraphic beauty. All the
Sisters witnessed and attested the prodigy; tradition has faithfully
handed it down even to our own day, and still, as each revolving year
brings round the 30th of April, a solemn Te Deum resounds through the
Ursuline Church at Quebec, as a thanksgiving to God for the exceptional
privileges attending the blessed death of the Mother Mary of the

To say that grief for her loss was universal, would be more than
superfluous. Throughout the country, she had for many a year been known,
consulted, prized, revered, beloved: now that the Mother was taken from
amidst her children, no wonder that the children were lonely and that
they mourned their desolation. It would be impossible to describe the
feelings of the savages; as soon as the news of her death reached Sillery
and Loretto, they came crowding round the monastery to pray for her whom
they had loved so well and with so much reason. "Our Mother is dead !" It
was all they said, and all they had to say. Sorrow like theirs was too
deep for words, and to show that they felt it so, they followed up the
pathetic exclamation by a gesture indicating that they would speak no
more. The Sisters, overcome by their child-like grief, tried to
administer to them the comfort of which they were themselves so much in
need, and then both went their respective ways to await in prayers and
tears the sad, solemn hour which was to hide from them for ever, the
object of their reverence and love.

From early dawn on the day of the interment, the convent church was
filled to overflowing with a reverential crowd, all eager to pay the last
honours to the venerated servant of God. Bishop Laval being then in
France, the obsequies were performed by Monsieur de Bernières, Vicar-
General of the diocese, Father Superior of the monastery, and nephew to
the kind friend of the same name who had so efficiently promoted the
success of the Ursuline foundation at Quebec. The funeral oration was
preached by Father Lalemant, who better than any one else could do
justice to his subject, and then the cherished and revered Mother of
Canada was laid to her rest, in the vault destined as the place of
sepulture of the community.

Unwilling to lose all trace of her dear familiar features, the
authorities both civil and religious joined in requesting that while
there was yet time, her likeness might be secured. Accordingly, the day
after the interment the coffin was uncovered, and an artist sent by the
Governor succeeded in taking a remarkably correct one. This portrait was
unfortunately consumed in the second conflagration of the monastery in
1686. That which now hangs in the community room of the Ursuline convent,
Quebec, was sent from France.

The Mother of the Incarnation was tall, and the dignity of her deportment
was so striking, that while she was in the world, persons were often seen
to stand and look at her as she proceeded unconsciously through the
streets on her missions of devotion or charity. The gravity of her
demeanour was tempered by the modesty of her address, and the courteous
affability of her manner. Her features were regular, but their chief
attraction lay in their expression, which seemed like a revelation of the
invisible beauty of her soul. The irresistible sweetness of her glance
appeared to leave a trace of heaven wherever it fell, and although her
habitual interior union with God communicated something of an unearthly
air to her exterior, no one ever felt restrained or ill at ease in her
company. Her constitution was strong, and thereby fitted for the life of
unceasing labour to which God called her. She possessed mental qualities
of a high order, had great natural abilities, and was what the world
would call a clever woman of business, but best of all, she was a saint.
From the hour, when at seven years of age she consecrated her young soul
to God, until that when at seventy-two, she surrendered it into His
hands, her one sole aim had been to adorn it with every virtue, so that
it might become ever more and more pleasing in the eyes of His Divine
Majesty, and so well did she succeed in this her holy object, that the
history of her life, is in fact the history of her virtues; in studying
the one, we have at the same time been making acquaintance with the
other. Much however as we have learned of those resplendent virtues, we
fain would pause a moment longer on them before relinquishing her sweet
company, just as we love to linger over a beautiful sunset, and even
after the great orb has disappeared, still to watch the traces of his
departing glory resting on the golden clouds.

As the virtues of the Mother of the Incarnation have passed in review
before us in the course of her history, the same thought may perhaps have
occurred to us, as to her son, Dom Claude Martin, that where all were so
admirable, it would be difficult to say which was the most worthy of
special notice. She was raised up, we know, to glorify God both in her
own person and in that of her neighbour; in her own, by her individual
sanctification,--in that of her neighbour by leading many souls to
heaven. For the fulfilment of this two-fold destiny, it is evident that
she had need of a deep ground-work of humility, with a vast fund of
charity and self-abnegation; accordingly we find her possessed of these
virtues in such perfection, that remarkable as she was for every other,
we may perhaps consider her greatest of all in these. In the exalted
degree of union with Himself by which the Almighty recompensed her
generosity, we adore His own immense, gratuitous liberality;--in the
heroism with which, aided by Divine grace, she died to every human
feeling, we admire the grandeur of her own utter detachment from self,
and the beauty of her thoroughly spiritualized nature.

Her humility, she had early established on the fundamental principles,
that God is all, and the creature nothing. From these two truths, as from
two great fountain heads, came the one absorbing desire of her life, that
the All should engulph the nothing; that God should be exalted and she
herself annihilated; hence, there was no height to which she would not
have soared to promote honour to God, and no depth to which she would not
have descended to procure her own abasement. The generosity of her
humility inspired her equally to undertake great things for her Divine
Master, when His service required them, and to remain contentedly in
inaction when this was more agreeable to Him. Far from attaching any
importance to the benefits which she had conferred on the monastery, she
looked on herself as useless, sincerely believing that she was tolerated
in the house of God only through charity. "I know nothing," she wrote; "I
do nothing in comparison with my Sisters; although I teach others, I am
the most ignorant of all." That these were no mere empty words was proved
by her insatiable thirst for humiliation, to which her humble soul was
drawn by the consideration of God's greatness and her own nothingness, as
a stone to its centre by its natural weight. In reading of the success
which crowned her labours, and the universal love and reverence which her
great qualities inspired, we are tempted to imagine, that whatever may
have been her interior crosses, she must at least have been a stranger to
the mortifications which come to us from others. But it was not so. She
loved humiliation in her heart of hearts, as the appropriate homage of
the nothing to the All, and God loved her too much to spare it, therefore
all through life, in youth as in mature age, in Canada as in France, in
religion as in the world, it followed her like a shadow. "I am destined
for the cross," she wrote to one of the Mothers at Tours; "trials are my
lot, and in them is my peace; help me to return thanks to Him who
provides for me so generously." She was contradicted and slighted; she
was suspected, misjudged and misrepresented, sometimes to test her
virtue, sometimes from more questionable motives, but the possibility
that she could he wronged or unjustly depreciated, never for a moment
seemed to occur to her. Considering herself the last, the lowest, the
most sinful of God's creatures, she confessed that any amount of
humiliation was inadequate to her deserts, while at the same time firmly
impressed that the unfavourable opinions expressed of her were the
correct ones, she was incapable of resentment. The Sisters who knew how
discourteously she was often treated, once asked her how she bad been
able to restrain her irritation under some particular insult; "I have
guarded against that," she replied, "by forgetting all about it." "You
admired our Mother's humility under her last annoyance," one Sister
remarked to another; "yet this was a trivial one compared with those to
which she is accustomed; still nobody ever hears her speak of them."
Nevertheless she owned that the persecutions which she endured thus
silently, were more trying than even her terrible temptations, for that
while the one caused her only personal suffering, the other checked the
work of God. Her imperturbable equanimity under humiliations sometimes
led to a doubt of her having noticed them at all; she had, and that very
clearly too, but because she loved the contempt which she believed her
due, she received each new evidence of it with an interior joy, and an
exterior calmness, which deceived superficial observers. While incapable
of taking offence herself, if she thought that she had inadvertently
given even apparent cause of it to others, she never hesitated to ask
pardon in the most humble manner even of the youngest Sister. No trace of
self-reliance or self-esteem was ever seen in her. She was always ready
to receive the suggestions and profit of the opinions even of those far
inferior to her in every respect. It is recorded that when, consummated
in virtue and experience, she was nearing the end of life, a novice who
was at work with her, took the liberty of remarking that she was doing
hers wrong. "Show me, my child, how it should be done," the humble Mother
gently answered, and while the novice had the simplicity to teach her
mistress, the mistress had the humility to take the directions, although
she knew them to be incorrect, saying that it matters little whether a
piece of work be done in one way or in another, but very much that we
practise child-like humility, so as to deserve a place among the little
ones of whom our Lord declared is the kingdom of heaven. Sinking ever
lower and deeper into her nothingness, she found there a resting-place
for her soul, a security against illusion, a safeguard for her virtue,
and an antidote for self-complacent thoughts, if by a rare chance,
imagination ever suggested one.

The extraordinary graces with which God favoured her, far from exalting,
served only to lower her in her own estimation. She fully recognised the
magnificence of those graces, but wholly separating the great Giver from
the lowly recipient, she viewed them in Him, not in herself; they were
His always, hers never, and provided they redounded to His glory, she
asked no more. "I am overwhelmed with astonishment," she writes, "that a
God who is loved purely by myriads of millions of souls, should cast His
eyes on me, the last of His creatures, and condescend to grant me a share
in His love." And again, "If a soul is beautiful, good, or holy, it is
with the beauty, the goodness and the holiness of God. Knowing that these
attributes belong wholly to Him, she desires that He alone should have
the honour of them, wishing no honour or praise for herself from any
creature. Her only fear is lest vain complacency should open the door of
the inner temple to the enemy, who would soon despoil her of her gifts."
"Tremble for me," she said to her son, "when you hear of the favours
which the Almighty has conferred on me, for He has placed His treasures
in the very frailest of earthen vessels: the vessel may at any moment be
broken and the contents lost." This humble distrust of human weakness
never left her heart. "O my great God!" she would say, "grant me
humility, and help me to serve Thee as Thou commandest, in fear and
trembling." "I am now near my end," she wrote two years before her death,
"and I have yet done nothing worthy of a soul soon to appear before God.
Our Lord has ever led me by the spirit of love and confidence, never by
that of fear, but when I consider that through the frailty of my fallen
nature, I may at any moment lose the Divine friendship, I am seized with
dread, and overwhelmed with humiliation. I could not exist if I retained
this apprehension of separation from God,--that all-good God from whom I
have received more graces and favours than there are grains of sand in
the ocean bed. But my firm confidence in His mercy dispels alarm, and
rejecting doubts and fears, I cast myself trustingly into His arms, there
to repose in peace." Her superior intelligence and eminent virtue would
have rendered her a very desirable acquisition to the Jansenists, who
used their best efforts to allure her to their ranks, but her humility
was her safeguard, and to manifest her horror of their innovations, she
would not even reply to their letters.

Flowing from her humility was her spirit of obedience, a virtue of which
she so clearly recognised the imperative necessity for all who aim at
perfection, that she would do nothing but under its guidance. Even the
revelations with which God had favoured her, she never thought of acting
on, until she had submitted them to the examination of her director, and
so persuaded was she that this course was in accordance with the
established order of Providence, that she would have thought herself
deluded had she acted otherwise. She was perfectly free from the least
attachment to her own lights, natural and supernatural, and never had a
difficulty in subjecting her conduct and judgment to the guidance of
superiors; this she esteemed a most special grace. It may be remembered
that in the years of her servitude in her brother-in-law's house, she
made a vow of obedience to him and her sister. Knowing nothing of it,
they were lost in astonishment at her wonderful submission, which they
could only attribute to her affection for themselves, and consequent zeal
for their interests. After she entered religion, obedience was still
among her favourite virtues; she almost flew to execute the most trivial
order of superiors, or rather she recognised none as trivial, viewing all
as emanating from God. In the position of Superior which she held for
eighteen years, she still found means of exercising her beloved virtue,
and when in the intervals, she resumed her place among the Sisters, her
submission to the new Superior was that of a simple child. Obedience had
become so natural to her from habit, that she was a stranger even to a
repugnance to obey. She strongly inculcated the importance of obedience
to spiritual direction, saying that it is the source of that true
simplicity which forms the saints.

A soul so humble could not but be meek, and so it was notorious, that
although while she was engaged in the world her business had been of a
most harassing kind, and that in Canada her varied duties brought her
into continual contact with persons of all classes and all humours, she
was never seen out of patience. Even when most severely pressed at the
time of her great interior trials by temptations to antipathy and
irritability, the closest observer could scarcely ever have detected that
vanquished nature had made an effort to rebel. If perchance an almost
imperceptible reflection of her pains of soul ever passed over her
accustomed sweetness of demeanour, she reproached herself for it as for a
fault. After her death, when her virtues formed the favourite topic of
conversation in her bereaved community, one who had known her for thirty
years, observed that "the Mother of the Incarnation always showed the
courage of the lion in confronting difficulties and dangers, and the
gentleness of the lamb in her intercourse with her neighbour." And this
latter remark applied not only to the meekness which is easily maintained
because it is not tried, but much more to that which bears the test of
sharp and continuous contradictions, and is never found to fail. A person
who had occasioned her very great annoyance, finally pronounced as his
conclusive opinion, that her patience was made of iron. She was, indeed,
so thoroughly inured to mortifications, that injuries had ceased to be
injuries, and enemies were enemies no more. Those who had treated her
worst, might, for that reason, count securely on special evidences of her
sweetness and kindness. For the sake of peace, she was ever ready to
yield her judgment, when this could be doue without compromise of duty.

It once happened that in an important matter submitted to the decision of
the community, she held a different opinion from most of the Sisters.
Finding herself in the minority, she at once yielded the point without a
remonstrance or even a remark. A Sister who took her view of the case, a
little disappointed at such ready acquiescence, observed, "Well, Mother,
one would thank that you had made a vow to obey those people, and do just
as they wish." "No," replied the Mother, with her own gentle smile, "I
have not vowed to obey them or consult their wishes, but I have promised
to please God, and for His love to do all in my power to maintain peace
with my neighbour." Perfect, however, as was the meekness of the
Venerable Mother, her firmness could equal it when occasion required, and
never, perhaps, were the two qualities more admirably balanced in any
character than in hers.

Compassion for all in want or trouble seemed like an instinct of her
nature. It showed itself, as we have seen, from her earliest childhood,
and gained strength with every breath of her life. To see her fellow-
creatures in distress, and not make an effort to relieve them, was at all
times an impossibility to her kind heart. Known in the world as the
mother and advocate of the poor, in religion she maintained, and, if
possible, strengthened her claim to the beautiful title. She would have
considered that a lost day on which she had not exercised the works of
mercy, so during her prolonged tenure of authority as Superior, it was
remarked that she never passed one without giving alms of one kind or
another. Among the distressed French families whom she thus relieved were
persons of respectable condition, who she knew would have shrunk from
manifesting their poverty, therefore she took care to spare them the
necessity of an appeal for charity, managing also to have her gifts
conveyed so cautiously, that they should be unable to trace them to their
source, or to consider them in the light of alms. When nothing more
remained to her for the destitute, she called on the resources of the
rich, and when these, too, were exhausted, she had recourse to God, who
never failed to send her help in her emergencies.

If she was the refuge of the French in their wants, still more was she
the resource of the Indians, to whom her generous heart and her
hospitable monastery were ever open. Vain would be the attempt to tell of
all she did and all she endured to procure means of providing for them in
their necessities, and helping them through their difficulties. But if
their temporal welfare was a subject of deepest concern to her,
infinitely more lively was her zeal for their spiritual interests; to
these she had devoted her labours; to these she had consecrated her
energies and her life; for these were her first, her last, her ceaseless
prayers. So well did she succeed in communicating her own ardour to the
rest of the community, that from the very commencement of the house the
Sisters bound themselves to receive the Holy Communion and recite the
Rosary once every month in honour of the Immaculate Conception of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, observing a fast on the eve of the festival, all in
order to obtain the conversion of the savages. This beautiful devotion is
perpetuated in the monastery to the present day.

Another practice of the first Mothers was to draw by lot the names of the
different Indian tribes, each offering her prayers, labours, and merits
for the conversion of that which had fallen to her. The Venerable Mother
had her particular nation like the rest, but her great heart embraced all
others at the same time, for nothing less than all could satisfy zeal
which, like hers, embraced the universe. As her history has shown us, her
whole life in Canada was but one prolonged act of charity to the forlorn
race, and when that life was about to close, she bequeathed her love for
them to her community, as the most precious legacy she had to bestow.

As well-ordered charity begins at home, her Sisters were naturally the
first objects of hers. From the commencement of her religious career, her
delight had been to oblige and serve them at the cost of any amount of
personal fatigue or inconvenience, and, when Superior, it was her
practice to do a considerable portion of their work in addition to her
own, thus to procure them a little more rest. That all might be enabled
to retire sooner after their weary day, she took for her especial charge
to remain up the last at night, and see all the fires extinguished--no
easy task when wood was the only fuel, the huge, red-hot logs requiring
much time and caution in the cooling. She has been known to leave herself
without bed-clothes in the intense cold of winter nights, that she might
add a little to the comfort of her shivering novices, her own chilled
frame meantime depending for warmth, as Père Charlevoix remarks, "only on
the fire of her love;" and this was but one small instance of the
compassionate charity which she was ever practising.

She had peculiar tact in reconciling enemies, and a wondrous gift for
consoling the afflicted, especially those tried by temptations and
interior pains. Many were the sufferers who came to her sorrowful and
discouraged, and left her presence consoled and strengthened. Once a
person under great trial sought her help, but experienced insuperable
difficulty in communicating the subject of her pains. "Let us pray, my
child," the Mother said, "that God may enlighten me." Leaning her head on
her hand, she prayed for the space of a _Pater_ and _Ave_; then
looking up gently, she asked, "What hesitation could you have had in
telling me such and such a thing?"--specifying the causes of trouble.
"Should you not have known me better?" Having directed the person what
course to pursue, and exhorted her to courage, fidelity, and abandonment
to God, she foretold her that her troubles were not at an end, but
consoled her by the assurance that they would tend to the Divine honour.
The wise counsels not only imparted immediate peace to the suffering
soul, but, moreover, helped to sustain her through the remainder of the
conflict, which, as the event proved, was not yet over. The good Mother
was ever at the command of all who sought her help, ready at all times to
lay aside her most pressing occupations the moment any one expressed a
desire to speak to her, giving her visitors ample opportunity of
unburdening their minds fully, and dismissing all satisfied and consoled.
She could not endure to hear an unkind remark, and so perfect was her own
practice of charity in speech, that she was never known to utter a word
to the disadvantage of any one, even those who had treated her worst.
Such was the tenderness of her compassion for the erring, that, as she
was accustomed to say, she would have wished to hide them in her heart.

She was so easily pleased, that the charge of assisting her in her
different occupations, was quite an envied post. A Sister, who for
several years had had the care of preparing her colors for her paintings,
and her materials for gilding and similar works, declared that during all
that time she had never heard a word from her lips but of encouragement,
gentleness, and affection. The kind Mother took delight in teaching her
what she knew, and then, with the liveliest interest, would show the
Sister's attempts to all who entered, remarking how good they were, and
how sure the pupil would be to advance if she only had courage. "How can
you praise such work, dear Mother?" somebody one day asked in reference
to another's Sister's production; "you who are so good a judge, and,
therefore, must have seen its defects." "It was done to the best of the
Sister's ability," the Mother answered, "so it was well done for her, and
in that sense deserving of praise." Although always recollected in God,
she liked to see her Sisters gay at recreation, and that she might be no
restraint on their innocent mirth, was herself invariably cheerful. The
instances on record of her charity to her neighbour, both before and
after she entered religion, are much too numerous for insertion in these
pages, but we cannot have perused her history, without discerning that
the beautiful spirit of fraternal love influenced her whole life,
manifesting itself in a ceaseless effort to relieve the wants, console
the sorrows, promote the temporal happiness, and, above all, advance the
spiritual interests of all within her reach, as well as by her prayers
and desires, of those beyond it.

Charity and patience like those of the Mother Mary of the Incarnation can
flourish only in souls whence inordinate self-love has been banished;
detachment from self is, in fact, their essence and their life. It was
because that of the Venerable Mother was so deeply grounded, that her
love of her neighbour was proof against all trials. Disengagement from
self is synonymous with sacrifice of self, and of this she was unsparing.
For her greater merit, and our instruction and encouragement, the
Almighty permitted that during several successive years she should feel
the revolt of her passions, and experience all that is painful to nature
in the effort to subdue them. The perfect control over them which
resulted in her admirable meekness and forbearance was the reward of her
fidelity in the hour of the conflict. If her passions were brought so
thoroughly under subjection to reason and faith, that they seemed at last
to have lost their power, the grand conquest was the work of
mortification. Knowing that Christ would live in her in the plenitude of
His Spirit, only when her natural life had been destroyed, she sought
opportunities of self-crucifixion, as men in general seek chances of
gratification and enjoyment. Every feeling, every faculty, every sense,
was fastened to the cross. To her interior mortification there was no
limit; to her exterior, only that imposed by obedience, and as long as
her austerities involved no singularity, obedience imposed but little
restraint on them.

While apparently leading an ordinary life, she contrived that no part of
her frame should be without its particular suffering, managing to
transform into new acts of penance, the very refreshment of food and
sleep. Her joy was in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which not
only the external, but also the inner world was crucified to her. At any
moment of her existence, as well as on her dying bed, she might have
truly said, "With Christ I am nailed to the cross;" and with equal truth
she might have added, "God forbid that I should glory save in that
precious and well-loved cross."

The earnestness with which she sought the entire crucifixion of nature,
appears in the rules which she laid down for her particular guidance
after having made her vow to do in all things what she believed most
perfect. By these she bound herself to make no excuse when unjustly
accused; to watch so carefully over mind and heart, that no complaint
should escape her under any provocation; never to speak a word to her own
advantage, and to be always ready to applaud what was commendable in
others; to show special sweetness to those for whom nature felt least


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