Sunday, 29 July 2012

Mother Mary Jean of the Cross, O.SS.R. Foundress of the Monastery of Dublin (1826 – 1902)

Foundation of the Monastery of Dublin

The Last Trials – The Last Years

The spiritual edifice and the material edifice were therefore raised up, and God's eyes dwelt upon them with pleasure. But the Lord has said: “Your ways are not My ways, your thoughts are not My thoughts.” To perfect the courageous soul that had brought so great a work to such a good end, God sent her the cross. “For great souls”, it has been justly said, “Tabor is Calvary”. Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross had her Calvary: her resignation to the will of God and her lively faith made a Tabor of it.

It is indeed a very mysterious thing, this suffering given as a reward for good actions and we cannot assign a better reason for it than the will of God. God wants all His elect to resemble the divine model, Jesus crucified in some way; for His elect of predilection, He wants this resemblance to be more striking. Named Assistant after having been Superior for long years, Mother Mary-Jean showed herself as submissive a daughter as she had been devoted as a Mother; but this change was of small account beside her interior pains and desolations. An illuminated director then wrote to this Mother in terms that we wish to quote: “Jesus is calling you to follow Him in the way strewn with thorns that He walked while on earth when His life was a continual cross. Have confidence: the Master will sustain you. Oh! how consoling it is to think that every test is a mark of love on the part of God, that He has weighed it before imposing the burden of it upon us, and that graces, strength and help are always granted to us in the measure of the sacrifice! Nature may tremble, and you may perhaps say like Jesus in the Garden of the Olives: Father, may this chalice pass far from me! but love must very quickly make you add with your Heart submitted to Our Lord: Not my will, my God, but yours! –Then, when tribulation has purified your soul, it will be free and happy and sing the hymn of its deliverance. May these thoughts of faith sustain you!”

Never were opinions given more opportunely. They were received with gratitude and observed submissively. And then, when some unexpected circumstances determined Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross to leave Ireland, she left (1894) with the same submissiveness to the will of God that she had had in 1845, at the time of her entry into the Order. In fact, a precious friendship asked her to found a new monastery of Redemptoristines in France: the good Mother believed she had to accept. So we can understand with what sadness of heart she departed from the dear monastery of Dublin to which she had given the best part of her life; but if the sacrifice was great, the devotion to God's glory was greater still. Mother Mary-Jean was going to live for a while in the Redemptoristine Convent of Saint-Amand-Les-Eaux, where Mother Marie-Joseph of the Child Jesus was the Superior. It was this worthy nun who had formed the project of which we have spoken, and her great heart thus wished to propagate her Order in this same France that one day was to exile her. Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross responded to her desire, and put all her activity into procuring the realization of it. But God did not permit the success of this attempt. The event proved clearly that Providence itself conducts all affairs. The new foundation was to be only a new prey prepared for the greed of the revolutionary treasury, and it was to sink into the abyss with so many others in the wonderful times that we had to live through. The good Superior of Saint-Amand had the sorrow of seeing her own convent sold at public auction, and be obliged to go into exile with her daughters as a stranger on earth; but God, by a just return, granted her to die on the hospitable soil of Belgium where she had, long years before, begun her religious life; and her supreme consolation was to have assured the future of her daughters. As for Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross, she retired in 1895 to this dear monastery of Velp, whose furnishing she had prepared so well in 1858; and there, in company of beloved Sisters who surrounded her with their affection and respect, with a good Irish converse Sister beside her, who had come into exile with her, she spent her last years in peace and holiness.

Before her death, God reserved her a touching consolation. Called to Tournai in 1893 by the ecclesiastical tribunal collecting information regarding the life and reputation for holiness of the Most Rev. Fr. Joseph Passerat (today Venerable), she made as deep an impression on the judges by the superiority of her spirit, her character and her virtues, as by the importance of her deposition. It was the Ven. Fr. Passerat, it may be remembered, who in 1845 had opened the doors of the Monastery of Bruges to her. It was probably very pleasant for the Reverend Mother to tell everything she knew about the life and virtues of this Servant of God, and she also testified that she herself had felt the effect of his intercession with God. One day she was nearly choked by a big piece of fishbone, so she rubbed her throat with a picture of Fr. Passerat and the bone immediately detached itself, and she was able to remove it.

June 15, 1902 saw the end of the beautiful life whose sketch we have just drawn. For seven years, by her fervour, this good Mother had edified the dear monastery that had offered her such cordial hospitality. Her death was sweet and peaceful. After receiving the last sacraments, for one last time she remembered that dear convent of Dublin that she had loved so much. Her eyes thanked the good Superior of Velp, the Sisters that surrounded her and good Sister Aloysia her inseparable companion and then she returned her beautiful soul to God. She was 77 years of age. Her funeral ceremony was both touching and splendid. Several members of the family of the venerable deceased made it their duty to accompany her mortal remains right to her tomb, and it was in the midst of the general emotion that the body of Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross was confided to the earth.

The Redemptoristine convents, notably those of Dublin and Clapham (London) mixed their regrets with their tributes. The Monastery of Dublin wished to dedicate a very special memorial to their pious foundress. They erected a monument to her in the Sisters’ cemetery, and a beautiful inscription, engraved on white marble, recalls her good work there forever.

Let us not finish these pages without saying some words about the high esteem that some very distinguished personages had for Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross. His Eminence Cardinal Cullen looked upon her as a person who was both pious and intelligent, and ensured that the Holy See confirmed her for many years in her position as Superior. – Cardinal MacCabe, his successor in the seat of Dublin, had the same esteem for her and professed the same admiration for her good character. The Venerable successor of these two Prelates paid an outstanding tribute to this good Mother when he said of her: “Look at her soul. No matter what side you turn it, you will always see it as clear a diamond.”

The Most Rev. Fr. Mauron, the Superior General of the Community of the Most Holy Redeemer, helped Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross with his advice. You could fill a great volume with his correspondence with this servant of God. –The Rev. Fr. Coffin, the Redemptorist who died as the Bishop of Southwark, Rev. Fr. Bridgett and Rev. Fr. Harbison all shared the same sentiments. And finally there were also men of the world who paid homage to her perfect understanding of even temporal matters. The notary Rouch said one day: “Madame the Superior is the equal of everyone by her intelligence, knowledge and prudence and it is with a consummate wisdom that she manages the temporal affairs of her community.”

The Most Rev. Fr. Raus, the Redemptorist Superior General, had the opportunity, in 1904, of visiting the monastery and church of the Sisters of Dublin. After examining everything in detail, he did not hesitate to say these beautiful words: “I already had the highest esteem for Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross; now I esteem her even more."

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Mother Mary Jean of the Cross, O.SS.R. Foundress of the Monastery of Dublin (1826 – 1902)

Foundation of the Monastery of Dublin

CHAPTER II. The Monastery and the
church of the Redemptoristines of Dublin.

Virtues of the good Mother

Twelve years had passed since the entry of the Redemptoristines in Dublin, and they still occupied only a provisional home. In 1871, the moment seemed to have come for Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross to build a definitive Monastery. For this purpose, the Most Rev. Fr. Nicolas Mauron, Rector Major of the Community of the Most Holy Redeemer, wrote to her on 1st January 1872: “I am most happy to bless the enterprise to which, after so many years of waiting, you believe you can now put your hand. You have done well to be patient during so long a time; because, in this kind of business, urgency does not attract God's blessings. For the same reason, you have also done well not to bind yourself too early to begin a foundation in England, especially in a locality that would seem not very desirable. It is important for you to establish yourself well in Dublin, and consolidate yourself well there before beginning any new foundation, of which it would be prudent to dream only when you in fact have a superfluity of good subjects. I would like to hope that this delay according to God's spirit will not be an obstacle to the vocation of the lady you have mentioned to me. A well-established Monastery is worth two which are suffering from the lack of personnel, and which almost always means the decline of observance and the loss of its spirit.”

These beautiful words encouraged the good Superior. The Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin, Mons. Cullen, approved the choice of land, the plan of the monastery and the chapel, drawn up by a famous architect, Mr. Ashlin, and on 18th July 1893, he solemnly laid the first stone of the new convent. A gracious detail: the builder had had the measurements taken of the land that the new monastery and the church would occupy, and the Sisters had pegged them out with long sticks painted white, on each of which they had written an invocation from the Litanies of the Most Holy Virgin. The Most Rev. Fr. Coffin, Provincial of the Redemptorists of England, and Fathers. Bridgett and Harbisons were present, as well as a numerous clergy and a considerable crowd. Once the first stone had been laid, Father Bridgett gave a magnificent speech about the role of the contemplative Orders in the world.

Thanks to the builder’s activity, constantly stimulated by the zeal of the Mother Superior, the work was rapidly brought to a good end. On 30th June 1875, at five o'clock in the morning, the Redemptoristines left their temporary home and went there in procession, led by two eminent members of the clergy, to take possession of their new Monastery. The holy Mass was celebrated, the nuns received communion, and until 2nd July, the convent was open to the crowd avid to visit it. On that day, the Cardinal established the enclosure, and the Sisters, to their greatest joy, withdrew forever into their pious solitude. With what gratitude their hearts now turned towards her who had prepared them a retreat so well adapted to their life of prayer! With what rejoicing they began the Divine Office henceforth in this chapel, a real jewel of art, where their prayers were to attract upon Ireland and the world most abundant favours!

The church merits us spending some moments upon it, for it cost so much work for Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross! She elicited the grants of so many generous souls! She received the visit of so many pious souls, so many hearts that suffered and so many artists anxious to contemplate a masterpiece!

It is dedicated to Saint Alphonsus, and the long street that leads to the Monastery has received the name of Saint Alphonsus Road. The church is indeed worthy of the holy Doctor by its rich ornamentation and the piety that it inspires, for devotion to the Most Holy Sacrament, the Most Holy Virgin, Saint Joseph, the holy Doctor and Saint Gerard Majella seem to have established their home there. The main altar is richly sculptured in white marble; on the front, the Last Supper is engraved in bas-relief and decorated with precious marble. The whole of it is the homage of a pious person totally devoted to Saint Alphonsus.

Around the sanctuary, great pictures represent the holy Doctor preaching to the shepherds and the highlanders of Scala; the Bishop of Saint-Agatha praying before the Blessed Sacrament; and Saint Alphonsus rapt in ecstasy before the picture of the Most Holy Virgin. Above the high altar, Saint Alphonsus is represented glorious in Heaven: he is praying to the Divine Redeemer and pointing with his finger to the Most Holy Virgin who is in an attitude of supplication. At the bottom of the picture, an angel is holding the Rules of the Institute of the Most Holy Redeemer in his hands.

In front of the nuns’ grille, a beautiful painting attracts attention: it is Saint Alphonsus giving the Rule to the Redemptoristine Nuns. The life of the divine Saviour is carved in bas-relief right around the church and below it are the stations of the Way of the Cross. On the window arcades are busts of the twelve apostles, in medallions; then, back to back on columns of marble, the wooden statues of Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Teresa, Saint Francis de Sales and the Irish Saint Bridget, sculptured and ornamented in Munich.

Above the tabernacle rises a dome supported by four columns of red marble: two angels on their knees adore the Blessed Sacrament exposed. The door of the tabernacle is surmounted by a cross decorated with precious stones; inside the door, on a silver plaque, the Sacred Heart of Our Lord is engraved, and it is surrounded with as much hearts as the community possesses members.

A beautiful altar dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is also the offering of a pious soul. The white marble of which it is made, the mosaics with which it is decorated, the ex-votos of gold and silver that surround it, offer an enchanting vision. Finally the altar of Saint Joseph, also in white marble, completes this beautiful whole.

This is but a feeble and incomplete description: however, it will suffice, we hope, to give an idea of the zeal deployed by Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross, for the beauty of the house of the Lord.

Now let us speak of virtues of the good Superior.

* * * * *

Benefactors are not to be forgotten in a religious Order, and so Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross carefully cultivated this beautiful virtue of gratitude which is so pleasing to both God and men. She prayed and had others pray for all the people who had contributed by their offerings to the building of the monastery and the church, and to its embellishment. The generous O'Brien family was in the first rank and then a noble lady, Mrs. Ainsworth, who was to enter the Monastery later as a nun. Let us speak now of this Sister Mary-Anne Liguori of Jesus Crucified, to whom we shall later dedicate a special note. She entered the Monastery of Dublin, and for five years, gave the example of the most beautiful virtues there. She had the happiness of being attended at her death by her worthy Superior, whose most maternal zeal for the sick and the agonizing we have already praised. Let us listen to Mrs. Ainsworth’s historian on this point. “The maternal love and the assiduous care of the good Superior”, he says, “redoubled when one of her daughters was about to die. She would then install herself in a little room next to the infirmary so as to be close to the dear departing. In spite of her sorrow, in spite of her fatigue, she knew how to remain strong and admirable in this supreme moment. When Sister Mary-Anne Liguori had arrived at her last moments, Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross spoke these sublime words to her: “Finally, my dear Sister, the happy moment has come, and Jesus Himself is coming to find you. The Most Holy Virgin, Saint Joseph and Saint Alphonsus are going to present you to Him. Take your Crucifix that you have loved so much, take your Rosary: these are your passports to eternity.” Then she herself put the blessed candle into the hands of the dying Sister and recited the prayers of the agonising in a gentle and firm voice.”

“A Prioress”, wrote Saint Alphonsus, “must also be a Prioress in love, which means the first in loving God; and this is the ruling that I am giving you.” [1]

Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross was indeed the first to love God while observing her Rule. The beauty of God's house doubtless concerned her to the highest degree, and no one could say what vigilance she exercised so that all was worthy there of the divine Host in the tabernacle and so that the Divine Office would be recited there with piety; but the beauty of the interior house, that is to say the kingdom of God's love in her and in her daughters excited her solicitude even more still. Her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was exquisite: once she was at the foot of the tabernacle, we may say that no one knew how to draw her away from it. On Holy Thursday, it was with fiery words that she reminded her Sisters of the institution of the Blessed Eucharist; on Good Friday, the Way of the Cross inspired from her the accents of the most tender love towards the divine Master crucified for love of us; in a word, by her words, by her examples and by the good order she established, she preached always and everywhere of this divine love which is sufficient for all and which is perfection itself. And so she spread a delightful peace around herself, and the most tender charity united all hearts to her. The Most Rev. Fr. Mauron congratulated her about it one day in these terms: “I rejoice that all the Sisters are very fervent and united to each other by the spirit of charity; and in a word, occupied in their Monastery by rendering the spiritual edifice ever more perfect by their sanctification, and by knowing and appropriating the spirit of Saint Alphonsus more and more.”

Love of the poor was also a distinctive feature of the worthy Superior. She always took keenly to heart the interests of the poor Irish people, greatly admiring their faith, their respect in God's house, and their patience in their hard privations, and so in winter she distributed many clothes to the poor wretches who implored her charity; and her daughters continued after her this noble exercise in generosity towards Christ's suffering members.

An admirable thing! The worries and the expenses of all kind that the building of her convent imposed on her did not stop her from helping the Redemptoristines of Italy, robbed by the Italian government. The Most Rev. Fr. Mauron congratulated her more than once on this. He wrote to her one day: “I have just received the small sum you are sending to your poor Sisters in Vibonati. Knowing that you have to cope with your building expenses at the moment, I would not have dared to ask or hope for generosity on your part. When I will make known to your Sisters in Vibonati the position in which you find yourself, they will be even more grateful to you because of it.” Another day, he also told her: “I shall send the sum in question to the Superior of Saint-Agatha without delay. It is a great act of charity that you have shown towards this community: it is most pleasing to God and to Saint Alphonsus, and they will certainly bless it. It was thanks to this Monastery, founded and maintained by Saint Alphonsus with so much solicitude, that the Order of the Redemptoristines crossed the mountains and was propagated as far as Dublin. Scala was its cradle, and Saint-Agatha the propagator.”

We have already said how much Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross inspired the love of the Church in her community. Love of the Pope was inseparable from it, and so devotion to the Pope (to use Father Faber’s expression) was fully alive in the monastery. Pius IX, for his part, deigned one day to reply to her in a charming manner. This was in 1867 and the victory of Mentana had just rewarded the bravery of the pontifical warriors. No doubt the good Superior had sent the Sovereign Pontiff the expression of the filial devotion of her community; because the Most Rev. Fr. Mauron wrote to her on the 17th December: “Yesterday I had the honour of being admitted an audience with His Holiness. I then told him, for his consolation, how the Redemptoristines had been praying with fervour and constancy for his sacred person and for the Church, and I asked him for an abundant and special blessing for your community. His Holiness was most happy to oblige. Finally, following your request, I presented him with the enclosed portrait, while asking it to write down some words on it. Immediately, with this very paternal grace that characterizes him, the Holy Father wrote on the back of the picture: Die 16 decemb. 1867. Quocumque tendit Jesus, virgines sequuntur, that is to say: Everywhere Jesus goes, the virgins follow Him. – I do not doubt that these beautiful words that the Holy Father addresses to you directly, will be a fertile topic of meditations for you. Perhaps it will not be indifferent to you to know that the Holy Father looked attentively at the photograph and told me that he thought it was a good one.” [2]

Great was the joy of the community of Dublin when it had the honour of receiving the visit of some delegate of the Holy See. This is how in 1875, on the occasion of the centenary of O'Connell, when Cardinal Franchi was sent by Pius IX to represent him at the splendid feasts celebrating this occasion, it was an indescribable happiness for the community to see this eminent Cardinal coming to speak with a very paternal goodness about the troubles of the Church and the beloved Pontiff. He recommended all the Sisters to pray with ardour for these sacred interests and show themselves, in this as in all the rest, the true daughters of Saint Alphonsus. Then, blessing them as he departed, His Eminence congratulated the Superior for having raised to the glory of God so beautiful a church, and gave her a magnificent cross in memory of his visit.

[1] Letters of St. Alphonsus, Vol. I, p. 421
[2] Le Révérendissime Père Nicolas Mauron, chapitre XX

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Mother Mary Jean of the Cross, O.SS.R. Foundress of the Monastery of Dublin (1826 – 1902)

Foundation of the Monastery of Dublin

She enters the convent of the Redemptoristines at Bruges

She was indeed a charming child, this little Julie Verhelst who, in 1830, when she was scarcely four years old, was brought to the church on Christmas day at the very moment when the great bell announced the midnight Mass. She knelt down on the pavement, as if totally penetrated already by the grandeur of the mystery that was being celebrated, and prayed fervently. A little later, endowed as she was with a rare intelligence, an admirable uprightness of heart, and a profound piety, she watched so well over her two young brothers and her four sisters that when she was present, they did not dare permit themselves the smallest lie or the least evasion. It was indeed one of the characteristic features of her life. Her soul was always as pure as crystal, and the truth shone forth in all her actions.

Julie Verhelst was born in Courtrai in 1826, of well respected and perfect Christian parents. Through her agreeable nature, her charming pleasantries, and the happy company in her of the rarest qualities of mind and spirit, she was soon the delight of her parents and family. But the Spouse of Virgins was very soon to reserve this chosen soul for Himself. From her first communion in 1837, the sweet child felt a keen attraction to the religious life. The excellent education she received confirmed her in this thought; and when Father Paul Reyners, Redemptorist, made her aware, in the course of a retreat, of the existence of the Order of the Redemptoristines, she felt God calling her to be one of the daughters of Saint Alphonsus. The religious who was then governing the Redemptoristine Convent of Bruges was called Sister Marie-Alphonse of the Will of God. It was she who welcomed the young lady’s first overtures. And she in turn was greatly impressed by this interview. “I believed I was in the presence of Saint Teresa”, she told her mother, “so struck was I by the greatness of her soul and the profound faith with which she spoke of the greatness of the religious vocation.” Mother Marie-Alphonse promised the postulant she would receive her as soon as the will of God became manifest and certain obstacles overcome. Providence did not delay in opening the way.

On 2nd July of the year 1845, on the feast of the Visitation of the Most Holy Virgin, Julie-Marie-Josephine Verhelst, in company of four other young ladies of good family, trampled with their feet on the greatness of the world with its deceptive charms, and took this first step in one day becoming the brides of Christ, their only love. This was at the monastery of Bruges. After greeting them, the Venerable Fr. Joseph Passerat spoke to them in detail; then he led the postulants to the door of the enclosure, took it upon himself to knock on it for them, and when Mother Marie-Alphonse had made the customary demands, he introduced them into the monastery to the chant of In exitu Israel de Aegypto [On the exit of Israel from Egypt].

The ceremony for the taking of the habit took place for the five candidates one year later, that is, on 22nd July 1846: all of them had given brilliant proof of their virtue, but she who was later to be called Sister Mary-Jean of the Cross stood out from all the others by her blind obedience, her spirit of sacrifice, and a piety so full of grace and unction that one could not help feeling attracted to her. The Bishop of Bruges was the celebrant, and after a special sermon given by Fr. Joseph Reyners, he blessed the white veils and the holy habit, and presented them to the novices by saying: “May the Passion of Our Lord Christ be stamped on your heart and in all your senses.”

The generous Novice then saw the path of the actual novitiate open up before her. Under the guidance of Mother Marie-Philomène, she made new and rapid progress in the practice of solid virtue. The Rule of the Redemptoristines requires them to imitate the virtues of the Most Holy Redeemer, reproduce His hidden life in Nazareth as much as possible in themselves, and participate by their prayers and their sacrifices in His apostolic life, for the great work of the salvation of the souls.

As humble as she was courageous, Sister Mary-Jean of the Cross did not place any limits to her ardour. Accustomed to doing nothing by halves, she continued to follow the royal path of complete devotion to her heavenly Spouse, and she always had a horror of the narrow calculations of a shared life, and a heart that is not all for God. “Virtue”, said Saint Mary-Magdalen of Pazzi, “has nothing feminine but the name, and taken in the sense of religious perfection, this word means heroism and complete immolation of self to be united to the divine model, Jesus crucified.”

This is indeed what our Novice had understood, so she was amply rewarded when, on 15th October 1847, she was permitted to pronounce the holy vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and perpetual enclosure.

* * * * *

The obedience of the newly professed soon had occasion to be tested.

One day she went to ask Mother Marie-Alphonse for a book of spiritual reading, and received this reply from her Superior: “Certainly, but before I do so, you must learn the first eight chapters of Spiritual Combat by heart, and recite them to me”. Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross bowed her head, learned the eight chapters by heart, recited them, and then received a book of readings.

A more important occasion presented itself: it was about the tasks to be done. As Saint Alphonsus says, it is often something that causes the greatest problems to Superiors, because they do not always find obedient souls. The young professed did not seek anything and did not refuse anything, and when she was named assistant-bursar and portress, she fulfilled these functions with tact and a remarkable ability. The converse Sisters greatly liked and respected Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross, and they gave her all their confidence. This good Mother in fact regulated their different tasks so that they would all help each other with a quite fraternal charity. She herself would procure for each one of them what was necessary for her task, gladly took upon herself the writing of their letters, gave them their spiritual readings, and marvellously possessed the precious talent of restoring their spirits by one of those words that go straight to the heart. And so none of them ever recoiled before works most painful to nature, and their hearts rose effortlessly to God to offer Him lovingly the tribute of their obedience.

After one responsibility came another. The task of Housekeeper later on called forth the qualities of the Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross and that of Mistress of Novices showed she had a rare dexterity in the government of souls. “All the good of a convent”, said Saint Alphonsus, “depends on the education of the Novices, who eventually will have to govern it”. The good examples of the devout Mistress, her impartiality and her constancy in firmly instilling knowledge and observance of the Rule promptly won her the confidence and affection of her daughters. For in fact they were so, as their Mistress showed herself a vigilant and tender mother in regard to them, forming them little by little to solid virtue, and endeavouring to dilate and rejoice their hearts and make the yoke of the Lord seem sweet and soft to them. Thus the Monastery of Bruges had the happiness of possessing a number of fervid souls, delicious fruits, worthy of the tree that had born them.

The foundation of the Convent of Brussels-Malines took place in 1855. It was from Bruges, to the number of fourteen, that came the Redemptoristines who established it. Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross had no part in it; but in 1858, when it was proposed to open a new monastery at Velp, in Holland, it was she who was assigned to prepare it. Assisted by two converse Sisters, she set to work with her usual activity, and only a few weeks were sufficient for her to put the house in state to receive the Superior and the four Sisters designated for the foundation. When they arrived, they found the cells all ready, the chapel well prepared, the kitchen in order and the cellar itself abounding with provisions, but the Sister Procurator’s purse no longer contained even a cent, so much had she wanted to do everything well!

But there was now a new foundation that would require the care of Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross. This time, it is as Superior that she will appear to us. The tasks exercised by her up till now were all to prepare her for a more difficult and meritorious life still.

* * * * *

It was to Dublin, the capital of the island of the Saints, that the good Mother would be going to found a monastery of Rédemptoristines there. God wanted Ireland, this country so devoted to the Most Holy Redeemer and to His Most Holy Mother, to have its own Virgins consecrated to none other than the imitation of these two admirable models.

Recommended to Cardinal Cullen by the illustrious Mons. Malou, Bishop of Bruges, Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross departed from Bruges under the guidance of Reverend Mother Marie-Philomène, her Superior, with four Sisters intended to be the core of the nascent community. On 25th March 1859, on the feast of the Annunciation, the new arrivals were solemnly installed in their provisional home. Cardinal Archbishop, the Most Rev. Fr. de Held, Provincial of the Belgian Redemptorists, the Rev. Fr. de Buggenoms, Rector of Limerick, numerous priests and all the notabilities of Dublin, enhanced the ceremony by their presence. An eloquent sermon by Father de Buggenoms reviewed the merits of the contemplative life, and showed the happy fruits that it produces in the Church.

It was a great joy for the Sisters to see their number soon increasing. Fine vocations were declared straight away, including that of the eldest daughter of Mr. O'Brien. Her family was one of the most illustrious and revered in Ireland: it recalled the heroic times when the Catholics of this country had, at the cost of a thousand sacrifices, defended their faith and their priests against the most atrocious persecutions. Several others, in whose the veins the blood of the martyrs also flowed, joined themselves to her, and Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross soon understood that Heaven was for it, in the midst of the unavoidable contradictions that it had to undergo. Did she not know indeed, that in the cross is life, salvation, and resurrection? Saint Joseph, to whom she prayed with ardour, had he not sent her some unexpected help? Finally, in the very house where she lived, a good servant of God had once predicted that some cloistered nuns, dressed in red and blue, would come there to live one day.

These divine favours encouraged the Mother Superior, and thanks to her example and thanks to her exhortations, the new Monastery was soon established on the basis of the most perfect regularity. With her firm but gentle authority, she captivated all hearts, and knew, by a thousand means that only virtue knows, how to prepare them for the most generous sacrifices. Her attention to giving pleasure had the secrets and resources that a mother's heart alone can imagine. If a sister was sick, she did not leave her side and the physician could not give an order whose execution she did not supervise. If the illness was prolonged, she would ensure that the patient was not deprived of Holy Communion, and finally, when the death came to take away one of her daughters, she did not abandon her! Her faith and love followed the soul unto eternity, and she assured her of prompt and numerous suffrages.

The tender solicitude of Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross was given without distinction to all her Sisters. She sometimes even appeared to give a certain preference to the converse Sisters, placed great value on their work, praised their devotion, and most of all, never permitted them to be deprived of their spiritual exercises. “God”, she said, “must be served with great fidelity to everything that the Rule prescribes for the Converse as well as for the choir Sisters.” Thus she conformed herself to the recommendation so often made by Saint Alphonsus and so she maintained in her community the spirit of fervour, of mutual charity, and of the common imitation of the virtues of the Most Holy Redeemer.

The love of prayer and love of the Church soon became the soul of the new Monastery. It was the result of the example and exhortations of the good Superior. As a worthy daughter of the Doctor of prayer, she gave to this holy exercise every moment which she was able to find, and there was the secret of her power over God's heart and her influence over the hearts of those she governed. But her prayer was never a selfish prayer, either for herself, or for her daughters. Without forgetting the interests of their souls, these daughters learnt from their pious Mother to pray a great deal for the Church. With what care, for example, did they dedicate the prayers and good works of every day of the week to a completely apostolic intention! With what ardour did Mother Mary-Jean of the Cross remind them of these sublime intentions!

Let us permit ourselves to mention them here, as they show us what prayer is in contemplative monasteries, and the beauty of this life consecrated entirely to the good of others.

“On Sundays, all prayers, communions, penances and works will be offered for the Sovereign Pontiff, the exaltation of the holy Church, the Sacred College of Cardinals, all Prelates, the diocesan bishop, and all Christian Princes.

“On Mondays, for all sinners, heretics, Jews and pagans, so that they may attain the light of the true faith.

“On Tuesdays, for all Orders of religious men and women, so that the Lord may give them the spirit of their vocation.

“On Wednesdays, for all evangelical workers and for all fathers and mothers of a family.

“On Thursdays, for the four states of souls: for those who are in purgatory, for the innocents, for the agonising; for the children who are to be born, while asking for them to receive the grace of holy Baptism.

“On Fridays, for the perfection of our own community, and for the growth of the spirit of the Order and all its subjects.

“On Saturdays, for all the relatives of the Sisters, for our spiritual and temporal benefactors, and for all those who are devoted to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.”

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

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