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Vatican Biography & Canonisation Homily of Claudine Thévenet (1774-1837) virgin, Foundress of the

Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary

Canonized during the Pontificate of His Holiness John Paul II

21 MARCH 1993, Vatican Basilica

CLAUDINE THÉVENET was born in Lyon on 30th March 1774, the second of a family of seven children. "Glady"
as she was affectionately known had a strong influence on her brothers and sisters, thanks to her goodness,
gentleness and self-forgetfulness in the desire to make others happy.

The French Revolution broke out when she was fifteen. In 1793, she experienced the tragic hours of the siege
of Lyons by the government army and she witnessed the execution in revenge of her two brothers after the
city fell in January 1794. Their last words, "Forgive, Glady, as we forgive" remained deep in her heart and her
mind and were to change the course of her life. From now onwards she would dedicate herself to the relief of
the great suffering caused by the Revolution. For her a main source of distress was the people's ignorance of
God and thus was born in her the great desire to make Him known to every one, but it was to be the children
and the young people who would be the main object of her zeal and her desire to make Jesus and Mary
known and loved.

Her encounter with a holy priest, Father André Coindre, would help her to discover more clearly what God was
asking of her and would be decisive in the orientation of her life. When Father Coindre found two little
shivering children abandoned on the steps of the church of St. Nizier, he took them to Claudine who did not
hesitate to take them into her care.

Her compassion and love for destitute children is, therefore, at the origin of the "Providence" of St. Bruno in
Lyon (1815). Companions soon joined Claudine and they formed an association, the Association of the Sacred
Heart of which Claudine was immediately elected president. On July 31st 1818, the call of the Lord was heard
through the voice of Father Coindre who told some members of the Association to form a community without
hesitation. "God has chosen you", he said to Claudine. And so the foundation of the Congregation of the
Religious of Jesus and Mary at Pierres Plantees on the hill of the Croix Rousse took place on October 6th 1818.
In 1820 the new Congregation moved to Fourvière, in front of the famous shrine, to some land bought from
the Jaricot family where it received canonical approval from the Diocese of Puy in 1823 and that of Lyon in
The first aim of the young Institute had been to receive poor children and care for them until they were
twenty, giving them working skills and elementary education, as well as a solid religious and moral formation.
But Claudine and her sisters wanted to do more and so with the foundation of a boarding school their hearts
and their arms were opened to young girls of richer families. The apostolic aim of the Congregation was
therefore the Christian education of all social classes, with a preference for children and young girls and
among them the poor.

These two activities developed simultaneously in spite of the difficulties that the Foundress was to encounter
during the last twelve years of her life: the suffering caused by the deaths of Father Coindre (1826) and the
first sisters (1828); the struggle to prevent the fusion of her Congregation with another; the revolutionary
upheavals of Lyon in 1831 and 1834, with all their consequences for those who lived on the hill of Fourvière,
forming, as it did, a strategic area between the two warring parties.

The undaunted courage of the Foundress was never to be overcome by adversity; she bravely undertook new
constructions, including that of the chapel of the Mother House, and at the same time, with great care and
dedication, began to draw up the Constitutions of the Congregation. She was about to complete this when
death overtook her on February 3rd 1837, when she was sixty three.

"To do everything in order to please God" seems to have been the goal of her life. This constant search for
God's will in order "to a lead a life worthy of Him and to please Him in everything" was to give her that deep
spiritual insight which would enable her to read the signs of the times and there discern God's plan, in order to
give a full and complete response to His call; such was the life which was to make her worthy "to join the
saints and with them to inherit the light" (Col 1: 10, 11).

"To see God in all things and all things in God" is also to live in a spirit of constant praise. In a world in which
hope is all too often absent, the rediscovery of God's goodness, both in His creation and in people, restores
purpose to life and leads to thanksgiving. Claudine made of her religious and apostolic life an act of praise of
God's glory; her last words "How good God is" expressed her conviction that God is good, something that she
had come to know, even in the most painful moments of her life.

Her Congregation was to be profoundly influenced by her strong personality. Gifted with an unusual "force
dame", intelligent, a perfect organizer, she was above all kind-hearted and wanted her daughters to be true
mothers to the children confided to their care: "Be mothers to these children", she would say, "yes, true
mothers of both body and soul". She would tolerate no preferences, no partialities: "The only preferences I
will permit are for the most poor, the most miserable, those who have most defects; those you will love a
great deal".

The strength of a building is revealed only with the passage of time. Barely five years after the death of
Mother Claudine, her daughters set out for India (1842). In 1850, they opened their first house in Spain and in
1855, they established themselves in the New World, in Canada.

One hundred and seventy five years after the foundation of the Congregation, there are now more than one
thousand eight hundred religious of Jesus and Mary in one hundred and eighty communities across the five
continents. With joy and gratitude, they welcome the canonization of the humble and generous daughter of
France whom the Lord chose to be their Foundress.

Text below is translated from Italian to English using online translation tool – I welcome anyone who can provide me with a more
definitive translation to contact me so that the necessary corrections can be made.


Sunday, March 21, 1993

1. "I am the light of the world" (Jn 8, 12). Today's Sunday, the fourth of Lent, could be rightly called the day of
light. On the way, in fact, that catechumens preparing for baptism, in the early centuries of Christianity, they
pregustavano, in the liturgy of this day imbued with many references to biblical theme of light, when the eyes
of their soul would be opened by baptismal waters in the light of faith, thus entering a part of the community
of the Church. The Sacrament of Baptism marks the passage from death to life, thanks to participation in the
mystery of Christ crucified and risen. Christ is life and life "is the light of the world." The Word which came
into the world, the Son consubstantial with the Father, is himself "Light from Light." Those who welcome,
welcome the light. They open their eyes; opens the view of the interior to see "the great works of God"
(magnalia Dei) (Acts 2, 11). Narrating the healing of blind, the Gospel the fourth Sunday of Lent shows the
path that leads not easy to discover this light: the discovery of Christ. In how many different ways the event,
narrated by the Evangelist John is renewed in existence in human beings of every age! The methods are
different, but the conclusion is the same: the light shines in darkness interior and exterior. The man sees.
Moreover, the man becomes a witness to the truth that comes from God.

2. "I am the light of the world; who follows me ... will have the light of life "(Jn 8, 12). The Apostle writes: "...
you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light "(Eph 5, 8). Today the Church wishes to pronounce the
words of Saint Paul, riferendole especially to his two daughters, become "light in the Lord": Mary of St.
Ignatius (Claudine Thévenet) and Teresa de los Andes "(Giovanna Fernandez Solar). These daughters of light
"are distinct as witnesses of Christ in the world. In the "old" Europe Thévenet, in the "New World" Fernandez
Solar. While still celebrate the five hundredth anniversary of evangelization of the great American continent,
we collect a beautiful flower aroused by Good News and by the grace of Baptism between the peoples of that
"new Earth."

3. This baptism, they were both in the Church which gave rise to life of God. For his childhood Christian
Claudine Thévenet was prepared to overcome the great test of his youth, the execution of his two brothers by
guillotine. In crossing the "ravine of darkness", she was able to recover fully to God. Its mission has its origins
in this injury. Forgiveness heroic, inspired by his own brothers, has pushed for a hand to turn with faith and
love to those she saw around her wounded by life. Given the miseries arising from upheavals and wars of his
time, she has wanted to give the response of love. Who needed to be surrounded, supported, assisted in
these troubled times, if not those that their weakness might deprive them of everything, abandoned children,
destitute, delivered to any form of exploitation?

We heard the speech addressed to the prophet Samuel: "The man looks appearance, God looks at the heart."
In the weakness of a child, Claudine Thévenet discernait the power of God the Creator, in his misery, the glory
of Everything Mighty which continues to call and call us to share the life he has fully, in its abandonment,
Christ crucified and risen who remains ever present at his brothers men in the smallest. That is why the Holy
Lyon wanted to devote his life to reintegrate children and young people at heart of social life in a healthy and

Giving a Christian education for girls of all conditions, as was his mission, as is his message.
His conception of education combines the sense of human realities and the realities divine. The houses it
builds for the poorest are not named "Providences"? It is, indeed, teach young people to organize the proper
management of a home, making the smallest things with as much care and love that big. An ardent charity
begins at the service of young people with respect and affection for allowing everyone to give the best of
himself. The book and one of the secrets of his action. "The best chef, she says, is not the person who
inflicted the most punishment, but whoever has the talent to avoid more mistakes." She repeatedly invoked
God's goodness.

4. To carry out its mission, Claudine Thévenet hosts a group of young girls full of enthusiasm which, like her,
draw their energies to the source of Heart of Christ and the Heart of His Mother. Thanks to a very strong unity
among the constant attention to God, the love of Jesus and Mary and fidelity obedient to the Church, Mother
Mary of St. Ignatius founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary which allows him to give his work growing in
magnitude. Through the generous action of her companions, are "manifested the works of God" as the Lord
himself when he wants to cure the blind-born. The holiness of Claudine will be fruitful in the lives of his sisters
and the dynamism of the missionary congregation. Our joy is great to be able to glorify yesterday one of
them, Blessed Dina Belanger.

However, each person lives or can live a blind man cured of his blindness and called to receive the light of the
Saviour. We need guides, we need doctors, requires educators to help young people worldwide to receive this
light. Sainte Claudine Thévenet shows how a child deserves to be loved. It repeated its Sisters: "What is love
and cherish your eyes." Yes, look at the child should see in him a promise, an expectation, an epiphany of
divine presence, an act of God which man living remains the "glory".

5. Light of Christ for the whole Church is Chilean Sister Teresa de los Andes ", Teresa of Jesus, Carmelite scalza
and the first fruits of holiness of Teresian Caramel in Latin America, which today is one in the number of saints
of the universal Church. Just as in the first reading we heard from the Book of Samuel, the figure of Teresa
deviates not for "his appearance nor for the majesty of his stature." He tells us the Holy Scriptures "... because
I do not watch what looks man. The man looks appearance, the Lord looks at the heart "(1 Sam 16, 7). For
this reason, in his young life of just over nineteen years, in his eleven months as a Carmelite, God did shine in
it admirably in the light of His Son Jesus Christ, so that was a beacon and a guide for a world that seems
accecarsi with the splendor of the divine. In a secularized society, who lives turning their backs on God, this
Carmelite Chilean, who with great joy port as a model for the youth of the Gospel, offers a clear testimony of a
proclaims that men and women of today that nell'amare , Worship and serve God reside the greatness and
joy, freedom and full realization of human creature. The life of Blessed Teresa cries sommessamente the
cloister: "Only God enough." And the cries especially to young people hungry for truth and looking for a light
that gives meaning to their lives. A youth sought by the continuing messages and encouragement of a culture
erotizzata, and a society that confuses true love, which is donation, with the use of the hedonistic, this young
virgin of the Andes proclaims the beauty and happiness that emanates by pure hearts.

6. In his tender love for Christ Teresa is the essence of the Christian message: love, suffering, pray, serve. In
the hearth of his family learned to love God above all things. And feeling of belonging exclusively to his
Creator, his love for the next became even more intense and final. So says one of his letters: "When love is
forever. A Carmelite never forgets. From his tiny cell accompanying soul who loved the world "(Letter, August
1919). His fervent love Teresa port to be desired to suffer with Jesus and how Jesus: "Soffrire and love, as the
lamb of God who takes upon himself the sins of the world," he says. It wants to be un'ostia immaculate
offered in sacrifice constant and silent for sinners. "We are corredentrici the world - will say later - and the
redemption of souls not fulfilled without the Cross" (Letter, September 1919). The young Chilean Santa was
predominantly contemplative soul. For long hours near the front of the tabernacle and cross that sovrastava
his cell, pray and worship, prayer and espia for the redemption of the world, animating with the strength of
the Spirit apostolate of the missionaries, especially those of priests. "The Carmelite - will tell us - is the sister
of the priest" (1919). However, be contemplative as Mary of Bethany Teresa does not exempt from serving as
Martha. In a world where struggle without courage to emerge, to possess and dominate, it teaches us that
happiness is in being the last and servant of all, following the example of Jesus, who came not to be served But
to serve and to give his life for the redemption of many (cf. Mk 10, 45). Now, from all Santa Teresa de los
Andes continues to intercede as protector of an infinite number of brothers and sisters. She who found his
heaven on earth Jesus marrying, the contemplates hours without veils or shadows, and its immediate vicinity
intercedes for those who seek the light of Christ.

7. "The Lord is my shepherd" (Ps 23, 1). Entire generations of disciples, faithful and followers of Christ in the
"old" and "new" world, from north to south, turn to the One who is the Good Shepherd. The pastor of souls.
A One who has redeemed through the blood of his cross, to the One who is "the light of the world." Here, on
behalf of all those generations speak to us today, these two holy: Maria Teresa of St. Ignatius de los Andes
"Rendono thanks to Father for" any goodness, justice and truth "(Eph 5, 9), which are the result the "light" of
Christ. Yes, give thanks. And, at the same time, their voices beyond the darkness, who ceaselessly invoked
light. Proclamano to every man threatened from the darkness: "Wake up ... destati Christ from the dead and
give you light "(Eph 5, 14).

Here is the Lenten message of today's canonization: Christ is the light of the world!

Who follows him "will have the light of life".