Great Ladies
of the
Poor Clares

St. Marie Celine

God's Violet

O God, the exaltation of the lowly, who willed that Blessed Marie-Céline should excel in the beauty of her charity and patience, grant, through her merits and intercession, that, 
carrying our cross each day, we may always persevere 
in love for You.
Through Christ our Lord.
  Amen.

 

      T

        Born Germaine Castang on May 23, 1878 , she was the fifth child of Germain and Marie Castang. These devout French parents passed on to their twelve children two inestimable treasures – their whole-hearted love of God and their open-handed generosity to His poor.

But soon the shadow of the Cross fell across the happy household.  At age four, Germaine contracted a strange infection which left her leg crippled. Her father’s imprudent business ventures brought the family to utter destitution.  Three of her brothers died in an epidemic; a fourth contracted tuberculosis while serving in the army.

While the sorrows mounted, Germaine’s virtue deepened.  She begged for her family’s daily bread, cared for her siblings, comforted her parents.  When at last her father found employment, Germaine was sent to boarding school.  It was there that the seed of a religious vocation began to germinate.  But what community would accept a poor girl with a crippled leg? 

One day, when visiting an extern Sister of the Poor Clare Monastery in Talence, Germaine mentioned her desire to enter religious life.  An interview was arranged, and the abbess recognized the signs of God’s work in this ardent young soul.  Germaine was received to enter, and, from her first day in the monastery, showed herself wholly committed to her vocation.  I do not want to be a religious by halves, she declared.

On November 21, 1896 , Germaine was given the Poor Clare habit and her new name: Sister Marie-Céline of the Presentation.  Then she began to experience a debilitating fatigue, the sign of advanced tuberculosis.  Her illness rapidly progressed and permission was given for the dying novice to pronounce her vows.  She died, radiant in the freshness of her religious consecration, on May 30, 1897 , seven days after her nineteenth birthday.

In heaven I shall forget no one, Sister Marie-Céline assured her Sisters. As the fragrance of her holiness spread so did reports of favors received through her intercession.  Pope Pius XII solemnly proclaimed the heroic virtues of Sister Marie-Céline of the Presentation in 1957, and on September 16, 2007 , God’s violet was beatified in the Cathedral of Bordeaux, France.

 

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