Oct 14, 2016 / 12:02 am
Mother Marie Adele Garnier led no ordinary life.
Marked with spiritual and physical suffering, visions of Christ, political upheaval, and a dramatically thwarted engagement early in her life, she eventually became the foundress of an order of sisters based in London that has now spread throughout the world.
Due to her remarkable life and virtue, Mother Marie Adele Garnier, founder of the Benedictine Tyburn Convent in London, has now been given the title “Servant of God” by the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, the title given to individuals whose cause has officially opened – the first step to canonization.
Her sisters have been trying to open her cause for 20 years, but lack of funds prevented them – vow of poverty, and all.
“But, in more recent times, on account of the increasing widespread fame of her holiness and her powerful intercession in obtaining both spiritual and temporal favours in response to prayers through her intercession, we firmly believe that the time has come to go forward with her Cause for Canonisation,” the order explains on their website.
Mother Garnier was born Marie Adele Garnier on August 15, 1838 in Grancey-le-Château, in the Diocese of Dijon, one of five children. For a long time she felt a desire to be close to Christ, but she did not always know her vocation was to be a nun.
At the age of six, Adele’s mother had passed away. Two years later, Adele was sent to boarding school, where she would complete her education at age 16.
Shortly after she returned home from school, a young man asked for her hand in marriage, and Marie accepted.
But it didn’t last long.
According to a recollection of her life by a Benedictine monastery in France, Adele once overheard her fiancee joking with a friend that he would “get rid” of Adele’s piety once they were married.
Adele couldn’t stand it, and she stormed down the stairs and hurled back: “Sir, you will not have to take the trouble – I will never be your wife!”
An argument ensued, and in a dramatic display of despair, the young man plunged a pair of scissors into his chest. It wasn’t a fatal injury, but suffice it to say that the two never married. (Eventually the young man married someone else.)
For years after the incident, Adele worked as a beloved governess for a French family at chateau of Aulne. During her time there, she enjoyed serving as the chateau’s sacristan. It was there that a vision of Christ appeared to her on her Host, which would eventually be the image on her order’s medals.
Soon after this vision, France was in the throes of the Franco-Prussian War, which resulted in the end of France’s Second Empire. On December 12, 1871, Adele wrote in her diary: “For France: to pray, expiate, suffer, love!”
The political upheaval of her country caused Adele great spiritual suffering and desolation, which her spiritual director ordered her to take to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. After a time of prayer, she was struck “wild with a joy that stripped me of reason, I felt as though struck by lightning, and remained in the grip of a rapture I cannot describe.”
Soon after this experience, and after the war had ended, Adele read an article in 1872 of a devout couple planning to build a church in honor of the revelations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary.
She heard Christ calling her to be at this particular church, and over the next several years she consulted with her spiritual director and with the archbishop to establish perpetual adoration there, which has now been happening nonstop at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmarte since August 1, 1885.
Adele longed to establish a community of sisters devoted to perpetual adoration at Montmarte, but her health and other logistical issues prevented her for several more years.
Finally, in March 1897, Adele and two other sisters set up residence in an apartment in Montmartre, dedicating their lives to prayer and apostolate work and wearing white scapulars under their secular clothing.
On March 4, 1898, Cardinal Francois-Marie-Benjamin Richard de la Vergne of Paris authorized the establishment of the new order, and the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre were founded.
A few years later though, in 1901, the anti-clerical French government passed the Law of Associations, which greatly expanded the state’s authority over religious orders and regulated their educational work. As a result, the sisters went into exile in London, where they were able to freely wear a habit for the first time. …
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