January 12

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys might have been born of French descent but sheleft a rather profound impact on the history of Canada.

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys was a French nun and the founder of theCongregation of Notre Dame of Montreal in the colony of New France inCanada. She fought for the success of her uncloistered community,fighting for the sake of the poor and the needy. She was also veryinstrumental in the setting up of a school for Indian girls in Montreal.

The patron saint for poverty, St Marguerite Bourguoys is highly reveredfor her works on religion and her impact on education in New Francewhich is now a part of Quebec, Canada.

Early Life

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys was born in Troyes, France, on the 17th ofApril, 1620. The seventh child in thirteen children born to AbrahamBourgeoys and Guillemette Garnier, Marguerite loved and cared for hersiblings until her death.

Up until the age of 15, Saint Marguerite did not belong to theconfraternity of the Congregation Notre-Dame attached to the town’smonastery. However, between the age of 15 and 16, she made a decision tojoin the sodality associated with the Congregation.

Dedication and Devotion

Saint Marguerite knew she was destined for religious work. This wasfurther confirmed after her divine experience with the Blessed Virgin,after which she saw a marked change in her life.

Paul De Chomedey, the governor of the French settlement at Montreal, NewFrance, and brother to an Augustinian Canoness in Troyes visited Francein 1652. His sister was in charge of the sodality where Margueritebelonged. It was during this visit that he met Marguerite and invitedher back to Canada with him to start a school in Ville-Marie in NewFrance.

By 1653, Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys accepted his invitation and left ona 3 month journey to New France.

Along with the joys of starting to do something with her life, this newland brought along challenges and hardship. Instead of being deterred bythese limitations, however, Saint Marguerite made the most of hersituation.

Saint Marguerite assisted in the building of the institution. After thecompletion of the institution, she gathered a workforce to build thevery first church in Ville-Marie, the Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Chapel orthe Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel. This church would beVille-Marie’s first permanent church.

In 1658, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys convinced the governor to allow her toopen a school in Ville-Marie. In April of the same year, she wasprovided with a vacant stable to be used as the school. This representedthe first marked change of education in New France.


St. Marguerite traveled out of France several times in search of newteacher recruits for her new school. It was during this time that shebecame guardian to Filles du Roi, young orphan girls sent by theMonarch to start new families. She cared for the girls, acted as amatchmaker, and mentored them on their new path.

Through all these, St. Marguerite’s belief in spirituality continued togrow. She worked in preaching throughout the colony as well as educatingthe local children.

Eventually, in 1669, François de Laval, the Apostolic Vicar issued anordinance that allowed the congregation Notre-Dame to preach anywhere onthe Island of Montreal. This enabled Saint Marguerite to widen her reachoutside her community.

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys fought to have her community left uncloisteredand in 1670, she was presented with letter patents from Louis XIV,securing her community.

St. Marguerite continued to provide institutions for the betterment ofthe colony. She established a boarding school for girls and a school forthe training of artisans.

In between 1678 and 1680s, St. Marguerite established institutions inmission villages and Quebec. Her community remained very active andcontinued to grow all over various countries.

On July 1, 1698, the congregation was “canonically constituted acommunity”.

Saint Marguerite was a pioneer of the uncloistered congregation andliberating education. She continued to provide hope, charity, andservice to the people till she passed away.

Death and Canonization

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys spent her last years praying and encouragingher sisters to build a spiritual character. She died in her adoptedhome, Montreal, on 12 January 1700.

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys was canonized by the Catholic Church in theyear 1982, the process taking almost a century. She is celebrated by theCatholic Church and even in death, she is said to be a bearer ofmiracles.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

  1. Did you know that St. Marguerite Bourgeoys is the first female saint
    in Canada?
  2. Did you know that St. Marguerite Bourgeoys was the first teacher in
  3. Did you know that it is said that St. Marguerite gave her life for a
    woman of her community? Numerous stories state that a younger
    woman of the congregation suffered from an illness. St. Marguerite
    Bourgeoys prayed to God to make her suffer in the woman’s place,
    after which she fell ill and died 12 days later.
  4. Did you know that St. Marguerite worked with Jeanne Mance at a
    hospital? After arriving at Ville-Marie, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys
    noticed that very few children survived until school age. She
    worked to help more children survive this tragedy.
  5. Did you know that the clay from Saint Marguerite’s tomb was used to
    heal the sick? On two occasions, men with sicknesses that caused
    their skin to rot applied clay from her tomb to the affected
    limbs, and we’re healed. These miracles were what caused her

Prayers to St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

O, Mother Bourgeoys, you whose compassionate power is ever increasing,show us your way of Truth, Faith, and Holiness.Make us humble enough to abandon ourselves to the will of God andgenerous enough to find in the cross the joy of the Loving Giver.May your Fidelity to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament lead us ever near tothis source of light and peace. May your spirit of openness help us tobe concerned for our brothers and sisters throughout the world.Finally, may our Lady of the Trinity bring us to the unity of eternalGrace which God has called you for all eternity.Amen.