Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 24 September |
The Blessed Virgin Mary—Our Lady of Walsingham
home iconChurch
line break icon

Widowed with 11 children, she began taking in unwed pregnant girls: Meet Sister Marie of the Nativity

Venerable Marie of the Nativity

Public Domain

Larry Peterson - published on 01/03/20

During an era when unwed mothers were rejected by society, she took them into her home.

Rosalie Cadron was born on January 27, 1794, in Quebec, Canada. She was the oldest of two daughters born to a farmer by the name of Antoine Cadron and his wife, Rosalie Roy, who was a midwife in their town. Shortly after her birth, Rosalie was baptized in the local church. She would receive her First Holy Communion when she 12.

Rosalie’s early life consisted mostly of work. She attended a boarding convent that was nearby, but was so lonely there that she returned home after only two weeks. She didn’t learn to read until later in life and never was taught how to write. Instead, she was instructed in housekeeping, sewing, and craftwork, and worked at the farm and in her home.

When Rosalie was 17, she married Jean-Marie Jette. They had 11 children, some of whom died very young. They moved to Montreal and settled there in 1827. Sadly, in 1832, Jean-Marie died from cholera.

Despite her full hands, Rosalie began looking after unwed mothers, even though at the time, unwed mothers and those that helped and associated with them were despised and most of the citizenry viewed them with contempt. 

Rosalie helped these young moms quietly in her home for the next five years. She wanted to respect all people, no matter their station or plight in life.

When Bishop Ignace Bourget heard about the Catholic widow who was reaching out to the unwed mothers in his diocese, he met her, talked to her, and became her spiritual director. Now it was time to seek her help.

Bishop Bourget was aware of the rapidly growing population of Montreal and the growing need to help the unwed mothers who were held in such contempt by the society of the day. He believed that the church was called to reach out to all, and thought maybe it was time to create new religious communities that could meet the unique needs of society.

Rosalie Cadron-Jette was foremost in the bishop’s mind as the woman to approach with his plan. He thought she was the perfect choice to begin the task of leading women who would be devoted to extending the temporal and spiritual works of mercy to the unwed mothers in the diocese and beyond. 

Starting in 1840, he began to seek out Rosalie’s help in caring for unmarried mothers who had come to him for help, often in the confessional. Since their “sin” was socially repugnant and placed the women in danger of even physical harm, the bishop wanted a “kind and prayerful woman” to take charge of this work. 

Between 1840 and 1845, Rosalie helped 25 women during their pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery. After each birth, Rosalie would take the mom and the newborn to Montreal’s Notre Dame Church and stand as godmother as the child was baptized.

On May 1, 1845, with the support of Bishop Bourget, Rosalie Jette and one of the women she had helped moved into a small house given to them by one of Bishop Bourget’s supporters. It was the start of a new religious community. The fledgling community grew and on January 16, 1848, the founder, Rosalie Cadron-Jette, and her followers took their vows before Bishop Bourget.  From that time on Rosalie would be known as Sister Marie of the Nativity. 




Read more:
Saint Andre Bessette: The miracle man of Montreal

Sister Marie of the Nativity refused to accept any position of authority in the new order. However, working in the background, she shared in all the activities of the order, which was called the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy aka Misericordia Sisters. The Misericordia Sisters took the traditional vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and also took a fourth vow, that (in the phrasing of the time) “they would assist in their labor fallen girls and women.”

Sister Marie of the Nativity passed away on April 5, 1864. Bishop Ignace Bourget had administered Last Rites a few hours earlier on April 4. Pope Francis has declared Sister Marie a woman of “heroic virtue,” so she is recognized as Venerable.  

The Misericordia Sisters are still active in several countries around the world, including the United States and Canada. 

Venerable Marie of the Nativity, pray for us.

Tags:
Saints
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
SLEEPING
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
2
OUR LADY
Philip Kosloski
An alternative Hail Mary to Our Lady of Sorrows
3
Our Lady of La Salette
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady of La Salette can give us hope in darkness
4
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
Pray this Psalm when you successfully recover from an illness
5
Tolkien
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
6
ANMOL RODRIGUEZ
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
7
CHILDREN, PRAY, ROSARY
Aid to the Church in Need
What happens when a million children pray the Rosary?
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.