The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Marie de Sales Chappuis

[Mother Marie Therese de Sales Chappuis]A strong and godly soul dwelt in the Venerable Marie de Sales Chappuis of the Order of the Visitation. She had the rare distinction of being a co-founder of a Congregation of priests. She was the daughter of a Swiss hotel-keeper of Soyhieres, in the Canton of Berne. The deeply religious spirit of the Chappuis family may be seen from the fact that two of the sons became Jesuits, another died while a student of theology, and four daughters entered Religious Orders. Marie de Sales, when twenty-two years of age, entered the convent of the Nuns of the Visitation at Freiburg, Switzerland, in 1814. She had gone to Freiburg for the same purpose three years before, but separation from her relatives was so hard for her that she soon returned home. The second parting from home again caused her great affliction, but hardly had the gate of the cloister closed behind her when an extraordinary abundance of joy and consolation flooded her soul and removed forever all inordinate attachment to flesh and blood.

With constant and self-sacrificing enthusiasm Sister Marie de Sales entered into her new career. Her superiors were soon able to confide to her the most important offices, and in 1826 she was sent as superior to Troyes to re-establish there the former discipline of the Order. Her prudence and gentleness won for her complete success. Almost continuous re-election to the office of superior in Troyes and in Paris alternately shows how much she was beloved. The repute of her sanctity passed beyond the limits of the cloister and brought many of high rank to the convent gate for the purpose of obtaining the prudent advice and efficacious prayers of Mother Marie de Sales in affairs of importance. The apostolic heart of the mother-superior sympathized with all classes of Christians. Her favorite study was the writing of Saint Francis de Sales, whose ideas she endeavored to spread as much as possible. Conjointly with Bishop Caspar Mermillod of Geneva she founded a Religious Congregation of women, the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales, whose object was to devote themselves to the welfare of women of the working classes. Some years later the Abbe Louis Brisson under her direction organized the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales, for the purpose of giving pastoral care to young workingmen, establishing institutes for boys, and announcing the Gospel to the heathen. At this day both Congregations are in a flourishing condition. 104 Mother Mary de Sales died in Troyes at the venerable age of eighty-two. The numerous and great miracles wrought through her intercession soon led to the introduction of the process of her beatification in 1897.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916