Religious Sister and Founder (1825-1871)
+ Eugénie Smet—who has known in religious life as Sister Mary of Providence—was born in Lille, France. As a child, she developed a tender love and sense of compassion for the souls in purgatory. As a student, she showed herself a leader among her peers, but the thoughts of the souls in purgatory continued to haunt her and she dreamed of dedicated her life to helping ease their sufferings.
+ In 1842, Eugénie took part in a retreat led by a Jesuit priest and this marked a turning point in her life. At the time the Church in France was still recovering from the devastation caused by the French Revolution, but industrial towns—including the town where he family lived—were a veritable “purgatory” for the workers who slaved away in mills, suffering from hunger, disease, and a lack of basic human necessities. Eugénie threw herself into a variety of charitable works and collected money for the foreign missions.
+ Hoping to dedicate her life to Christ, she made a vow of virginity in 1850 and she became increasingly convinced that the Church needed a new religious order dedicated to relieving the suffering of the souls in purgatory, and she received encouragement for this from Saint John Vianney.
+ After facing numerous difficulties in her first efforts, Eugénie eventually formed this new community, known as the Society of Helpers of the Holy Souls. In time, the work of the community came to include all manner of charitable works for the sake of those most in need.
+ Blessed Eugénie Smet died on February 7, 1871, and was beatified in 1957.
“If one of our friends was imprisoned in a house of fire, how we should rush to her help. Then think how we should try to deliver the souls in Purgatory.” Blessed Eugénie Smet
O God, who called blessed Eugénie to seek your Kingdom in this world through the pursuit of perfect charity, grant, we pray, through her intercession that we may advance with joyful spirit along the way of love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For a Religious)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.