A brief introduction to Marie Madeleine de Bonnault d’Houët will testify to her qualities as a woman of remarkable character and inspiration. Before she was the Founder of the Society of Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus, she was also a daughter, sister, friend, wife, widow, mother and eventually Religious sister. This makes her an excellent role model, not only for young women of faith, but for all people from all walks of life be they single, married, lay, professed, etc.
The following excerpt is from a reflection written on the 40th Anniversary of the Declaration of her Heroic Virtue:
So the story of Marie Madeleine Victoire de Bengy begins in 1781, during a tumultuous time in France for both the Church and the State. The French Revolution had profound effects on her upbringing, but Marie Madeleine was nonetheless a happy and vivacious daughter, a devoted and caring sister to her siblings, often taking great pride and seriousness in helping her mother look after them. She was amicable, enjoyed a thriving social life and in 1804, married Antoine Joseph, son of the Viscount François de Bonnault d’Houët. Tragically, Joseph died within a year of their marriage, leaving Marie Madeleine pregnant, and soon to be a single mother at the age of 24. Despite the turmoil of her early life, Marie Madeleine managed to raise her son, ensuring he was well educated under the tutorage of the Jesuits.
It was her encounters with the Society of Jesus that would inspire her later vocation. After much tribulation, the call to religious life was confirmed, and in 1820 she founded the Society of the Faithful Companions of Jesus, opening the first house in Amiens.
The next three decades saw the Society spread over Europe, crossing many boundaries, always in the footsteps of Christ, the first Jesuit and her Companion. By the time Marie Madeleine died in 1858, the Society had grown even more, eventually arriving in Australia in 1882.
Marie Madeleine in Pictures
An extract of the life of Ven. Marie Madeleine, as interpreted by students of Genazzano FCJ College. All illustrations are by Prep to Year 4 students (2011), as part of the College’s Marie Madeleine D’Houet Prize for Drawing.
Prayer for the Cause for Canonization
More details about the Cause for the Canonization of Marie Madeleine can be found on the Society’s web site.