St. Emily de Vialar
When They Lived
1797 to 1856
Where They Lived
Born in Gaillac, Tarn, France, and later lived in various locations due to her charitable work.
Notable World Events During Their Time
- Industrial Revolution: This era marked significant technological advancements, urbanization, and changes in labor practices.
- Revolutions of 1848: A series of democratic and nationalist revolutions swept through Europe, leading to changes in political landscapes in several countries.
- Publication of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” (1859): A significant scientific milestone that had a profound impact on biology and challenged traditional religious views.
Known as the patron saint of abandoned children, orphans, and the sick. She founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition.
Émilie de Vialar’s life is a fascinating story of devotion and compassion, especially during a time of great social change and upheaval. Her dedication to helping the less fortunate, particularly children, and her contributions to establishing a religious order demonstrate the profound impact individuals can have on society, transcending their historical context.
Emily’s mother taught her how to read at a young age. When she turned just 13 years old, Emily attended the Parisian college of the Abbaye-au-Bois, accompanied by her mother. On this long journey to Paris, Emily’s mother fell extremely ill.
Despite his best efforts, Emily’s father could not help her mother recover. On September 17, 1810, the mother of Emily de Vialar passed away at the age of 35. Her mother’s passing broke Emily’s heart, as she had a closer relationship with her.
At the age of 15, Emily returned to her childhood home to live with her father and two younger brothers. However, her father was overwhelmed with grief and was no longer managing the household. Instead, he handed over management of the household to an autocratic servant.
The Work of Emily de Vialar
Emily devoted her time to helping the poor and often offered them a roof over their heads by offering them a place to stay at her father’s residence. This, understandably, caused much tension in the household among the family. However, this inspired other young women to do the same.
In 1832, the maternal grandfather of Emily de Vialar left her a large sum of money as her inheritance. With this inheritance, Emily purchased a house, and her companions stayed with her to continue helping the poor.
Shortly after the purchase of the house, Emily and her companions, with the help of the bishop of Albi, established a congregation. This congregation was called the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. In 1835, the 18 sisters, including de Vialar, received approval for their congregation.
Furthermore, Emily and her first companions also opened several hospitals and schools in Boufarik. However, this came at a time of tragic cholera outbreaks in the area. Due to this, the Bishop of Alger called for the nuns to return to France in 1843.
Soon after her return to France, Emily left on her own accord. She continued her acts of kindness and service. She left France to open schools in Cyprus, Tripoli, and Beirut. While on her way from Tunisia to Algeria, her ship became shipwrecked for nine days due to a terrible storm. It was here that she opened one of the first schools for Catholic young ladies.
During this time, the local superior in Gaillac had a large amount of unpaid debt. As a result of this, Emily left the congregation and sued him for the return of his dowry. Due to this, Mother de Vialar endured faced slander and creditors, eventually being forced to leave her hometown.
The Death of Emily de Vialar
In 1852, Emily moved to Marseilles. Her inheritance was lost, and she felt hopeless. It was in Marseilles that Emily met Eugene de Mazenod, the founder of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Eugene took Emily under his wing and helped her as much as he could. Emily found great hope and kindness in him. In 1856, Emily passed away peacefully in Marseilles.
On June 24, 1951, Emily was canonized by Pope Pius XII. In the general calendar, her feast day is celebrated on August 24. The Sisters of St.Joseph the Apparition celebrate the life of Emily de Vialar on June 17.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Emily de Vialar
- Emily de Vialar’s father was a doctor.
- Her reliquary can still be seen today in Gaillac.
- She is also known by several other names. These names include Emilie.
de Vialar and Anne Marguerite Adelaide Emilie de Vialar.
- In 1832, Emily de Vialar left her father’s house on Christmas Day.
- Emily was born in the same year that Pope Pius VI was taken prisoner.
by French troops.
Prayer to St. Emily de Vialar
O St. Emilie, you who in the church wanted to continue to manifest the Father’s love, as realized through the Incarnation of the Son, grant us your docility to the Spirit, your audacity, and your apostolic courage. Amen.