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Marie Madeleine 

Marie Madeleine Victoire de Bengy de Bonnault d'Houët

Marie-Madeleine was born in 1781, as Marie-Madeleine-Victoire de Bengy in Châteauroux, in the Province of Berry in the Kingdom of France (Department of Indre). She was the second of five children.

 

In 1800 her family moved to Issoudun, after her father Monsieur de Bengy was freed from the imprisonment he was condemned for being Catholic, when the French Revolution broke. In this new locations, Marie-Madeleine continued to provide help to the poor and sick, volunteering at the local Hospice of St. Roch.

In 1804 she married Joseph de Bonnault d’Houët. They had a happy life and together they would visit the sick. Unfortunately, Joseph died less than a year after the wedding as the result of having contracted typhoid fever during these visits. Her son Eugene was born three months after this sad event.

 

Marie-Madeleine's desire to dedicate her whole life to God and to the service of others. She kept growing spiritually and finds she was being called to live in the greater trust of God. ​​In 1809, when she was back in Bourges, Marie-Madeleine began to accompany a group of Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in visiting the same Spanish prisoners whom her late husband had cared for. She contracted typhoid fever but survived, unlike her late husband.

She became convinced that God was calling her to found an order of apostolic women who would take their inspiration from Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the holy women of the gospels. She was determined that the society would take the name of Jesus and follow the Constitutions of the Jesuits. With two companions she began her work at Amiens in northern France in 1820. During the next ten years the apostolate expanded - other women joined her and further foundations were established in France.

 

Marie-Madeleine had traveled to Rome in 1826 to seek the approval of Pope Leo XII for her order, which he duly gave. The Decree of Approbation was granted by Pope Gregory XVI the following year.

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