Blessed Maria Dina Bélanger

photograph of Blessed Maria Dina Bélanger, date and photographer unknown; swiped from Santi e BeatiAlso known as

  • Dina Bélanger
  • Maria Adelaide Dina Bélanger
  • Marie of Saint Cecilia of Rome
  • Marie-Marguerite-Dina-Adélaïde Bélanger
  • The “Little Flower” of Canada

Memorial

Profile

Born to Olivier Octave Bélanger and Séraphia Matte, Dina, as her family called her, was baptized when just a few hours old. Her parents had a little boy, Joseph-Simeon-Gustave, when Dina was 17 months old, but her brother died at three months, the girl grew up an only child. Her family was financially well off, and Dina received a good early education at home; her mother began teaching her the faith, her prayers and the Sign of the Cross when she was just a toddler. Dina was a bit high-strung as a child, sensitive with a tendency to become selfish and combative, but the example of her parents, who distributed alms to the poor, and visited the sick and bereaved, refusing all public recognition for their work, helped change her attitude.

She was educated by the Notre-Dame Sisters at the convent schools of Saint-Roch in 1903, Notre-Dame de Jacques-Cartier beginning in 1909 and the Bellevue boarding school in Québec in the autumn of 1911; in all these places she was noted as an excellent student who shied away from any recognition. She began studying the piano at age 8, and seems to have been a gifted young musician. Dina received Confirmation and made her First Communion on 2 May 1907 at age 10; she later wrote about the day that “Jesus was in me and I in him.” On 20 March 1908, at age 11, she received a vision of Jesus. On the first Friday in October 1911 she dedicated herself to Christ and service to the Church, but did not yet know how she would put it into practice.

Maria Dina graduated from school in 1914 and became a piano teacher. In October 1916, she and two friends, both of whom later also became nuns, moved to New York to study piano, music and composition at the Institute of Musical Art (also known as the Conservatory) there; she was terribly homesick and had to learn English, but persevered and graduated in 1918. Beginning March 1917, Dina went through a period of about six years of the spiritual desert where she would fall into despair, doubted her calling and sometimes doubting her faith. She left the Conservatory, returned to her parent’s home, continued her studies by mail and perform in charity fund-raising concerts; Dina considered herself a mediocre performer, but audiences considered her an excellent musician. She maintained a dedication to the the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, led a very ascetic life, and by 11 August 1921 she had recovered her faith, zeal, and sense of a calling so much that she joined the Congregation of Religious of Jesus and Mary in Québec. She began her novitiate on 15 February 1922 at the convent of Jésus-Marie in Sillery, Québec, taking the name Sister Maria di Santa Cecilia Romana; she made private vows on 25 March 1922 and then public vows on 15 August 1923.

Dina was assigned to teach music at the convents of Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse and Jésus-Marie, but tuberculosis, and a bout of scarlet fever contracted while caring for a sick child, began destroying her health, which led to frequent periods in the infirmary. Her superior at the convent, noting the young nun‘s spirituality, asked her to write an autobiography; as a matter of obedience, she did, and the work is still in print. She composed a series of musical works to express her experience of mystical union with Christ. Though effectively confined to the infirmary by this point, on 15 August 1928 Dina was permitted to make her perpetual vows. She spent her final days praying, writing in her autobiography, composing, transcribing musical scores, and helping to teach music teachers until she finally became too weak to do anything but pray and contemplate the life to come. The Salle Dina-Bélanger, Québec Music Festival Dina Bélanger, and the Collège Dina Bélanger in Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse are named in her honor.

Born

Died

Venerated

  • 13 May 1989 by Pope John Paul II (decree of heroic virtues)
  • her parents were still alive during the investigation, and were interviewed about her life and spirituality

Beatified

Reading

My task throughout eternity, and until the end of the world, is and will be to radiate, through the most Holy Virgin, the Heart of Jesus on all souls. – Blessed Dina Bélanger

She had musical gifts that have undoubtedly prepared the reception of the divine presence and praise that goes beyond words. Pope Saint John Paul II

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Maria Dina Bélanger“. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 September 2017. Web. 18 November 2017. <>