St. Marguerite d’Youville of Canada whose feast day is celebrated on October 16th never had a mental condition. Yet her life was marred with trauma, severe humiliations, and terrible losses. Here are some.
- Her father died when she was seven. Because her mother re-married below her social class Marguerite’s arranged marriage to a kind nobleman was withdrawn. That would have been a great humiliation.
- After marrying Francois d’Youville she discovered he was a boot legging fur trader. He was also rumored to have been adulterous, which during those times would have reflected badly on her as a wife.
- Four of Marguerite’s six children died before the age of one.
- When Francois died he left Marguerite with a large debt, which she had to pay off by opening a small store while raising her two surviving sons.
- She endured scorn for her practice of caring for the poor. It was not becoming of her social class, which was already reduced. The humiliations became more intense when she begged for assistance to bury two hung criminals and took in a blind woman. Take note, she stayed the course of charity in spite of being harassed.
- The term “grey nuns” was given to the members of her religious order as a form of mockery. The word grey or gris means tipsy from alcohol consumption. People would shout in the streets, “here comes the tipsy nuns,” a reference to Marguerite’s late husband’s bootlegging trade. Again take note, Marguerite didn’t try to change that name. She stayed the course and used persistence in charity to transform the name in people’s minds.
- She owned and was director of a hospital that was closed several times for lack of funds and burned down twice. In addition, civil and religious authorities including the bishop of Quebec opposed her work. She was also falsely accused of having a romantic relationship with a priest, resulting in her and her sisters being once refused communion while kneeling at the altar rail. Obviously at some point she was vindicated.
After all these humiliations and traumas, what besides the likelihood of good genes helped St. Marguerite d’Youville resist depression? They are things we all can have and support in each other — a sense of purpose and mission that focuses outside the self, strong community life (no one can be holy in a vacuum), and a focus on the future rather than past hurts.
Below is a biography of St. Marguerite d’Youville. May she be an inspiration for all of us.
Image is public domain, U.S. This post is a revised one from depressedandcatholic.