Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier
(Extract from the article entitled, "Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd"
The Institute of the Good Shepherd is a branch of "Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge", founded by Blessed John Eudes, at Caen, France, in 1641, and approved by Alexander VII, 2 January, 1666, its constitutions being approved by Benedict XIV, in 1741. The order as primitively organized by blessed John Eudes still exists in a flourishing state, under the first title of "Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge", and counts about thirty-nine houses and about 1893 sisters. The distinction between the primitive order and its branch, the Institute of "Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd", consists mainly in the administration. According to the custom of his time, the Blessed John Eudes ordained that "Our Lady of the Refuge" should have no mother-house, but that every house founded by this order should be a distinct community, having its own administration, and being united to the other houses only by bonds of fraternal charity.
Among the noble women who entered the ranks of the Sisters of the refuge in the nineteenth century was one whose name will be long remembered, Mother Mary Euphrasia Pelletier. She was born in the island of Noirmoutier of pious parents, on 31 July 1796, and received in baptism the name of Rose virginia. She entered the community of "The Refuge" of Tours, in 1814, and made her profession in 1816, taking the name of Mary St. Euphrasia. She became first mistress of the penitents, a short time after her profession, and about eight years later was made superioress of the house of Tours. Desirous of extending the benefits of her order to the very extremities of the earth, she clearly saw that a central government, a mother-house, should be established.
The house of Angers, which she had founded, seemed destined by God for grand designs. He would decide, by the voice of His pontiff. Like many of God's elect, she was treated by her adversaries as an innovator, an ambitious person, impatient of authority. Only after incessant labours and formidable opposition did her cause triumph. The Brief in approval of the mother-house at Angers was signed 3 April, 1835, and published by Gregory XVI. The official title of the institute was henceforth "Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd of Angers". It is directly subject to the Holy See, and Cardinal Odescalchi was its first cardinal-protector. Angers is authorized to send its sisters to the extremities of the earth. Mother Euphrasia heartily devoted herself to the work entrusted to her. She had been accused of ambition, of innovation, and of disobedience. Her sole ambition was to extend God's kingdom, and to offer the benefits of her institute to the whole world. Her innovations, in harmony with the spirit of the Gospel, with the fourth vow of her order, were approved by the Church, and gave in thirty-three years one hundred and ten soul-saving institutions to the Church and to society. Her institutions were all founded in obedience to the requests of ecclesiastical authorities in every part of the world. Thirty-three years she was mother-general of the Good Shepherd, and at her death 29 April 1868, she left 2067 professed sisters, 384 novices, 309 Touriere sisters, 962 "Magdalens", 6372 "penitents", and 8483 children of various classes. Angers had seen great changes since 1829, when Mother Euphrasia had come with five sisters to found the house. Within thirty-three years one hundred and ten convents had been founded, sixteen provinces established, in France, Belgium, Holland, Rome, Italy, Germany, Austria, England, Scotland, Ireland. Asia, Africa, the United States and Chili. Under her successor, Mother Mary St. Peter Coudenhove, in twenty-four years, eighty-five houses were founded, and thirteen new provinces established, making eleven in Europe, two in Africa, nine in North America, five in South America and one in the Oceania.
The cause of the beatification of Mother Euphrasia was inscribed by the postulator of the cause, 17 Nov., 1886. The preliminary examination terminated in 1890. Leo XIII received supplications from numerous cardinals, archbishops, bishops, several cathedral chapters, rectors of colleges, and universities, hundreds of priests, and many noble families, begging him to dispense from ordinary ten years' interval required before the continuation of the cause. On 11 Dec., 1897, Leo XIII declared her "Venerable", to the great joy of the whole world, and to the honour and glory of all the convents of the Good Shepherd.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VI
Nihil Obstat, September 1, 1909, Remy Lafort, Censor
Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York