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 Because her mother re-married below her social class Marguerite’s arranged marriage to a kind nobleman was withdrawn.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.
- 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.
- 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.
After all these things, what besides the likelihood of good genes helped St. Marguerite d’Youville resist depression? They are things we all can provide and support in each other — a dogged sense of purpose and mission, strong community life, and a focus on the future rather than past hurts.
Below is a link to a terrific biography and description of the legacy of St. Marguerite d’Youville. May she be an inspiration for all of us.