Marie-Marguerite d'Youville

Saint Marguerite d'Youville (October 15, 1701 – December 23, 1771) was a French Canadian widow who founded the Order of Sisters of Charity of Montreal, commonly known as the Grey Nuns of Montreal. She was canonized by Pope John-Paul II of the Roman Catholic Church in 1990, the first native-born Canadian to be declared a saint.

Saint Marie-Marguerite d'Youville
James Duncan Marguerite d Youville
Painting of Marguerite d'Youville
Mother of Universal Charity
BornOctober 15, 1701
Varennes, Quebec
DiedDecember 23, 1771 (aged 70)
Montreal, Quebec
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Beatified1959 by Pope John XXIII
CanonizedDecember 9, 1990, Vatican Basilica, by Pope John Paul II
FeastOctober 16
Patronagewidows, difficult marriages, death of young children

Early life and marriage

She was born Marie-Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais in 1701 at Varennes, Quebec, oldest daughter of Christophe du Frost, Sieur de la Gesmerays (1661–1708) and Marie-Renée Gaultier de Varennes. (Pursuant to Quebec naming conventions, she would have always been known as Marguerite, not Marie.) Her father died when she was a young girl. Despite her family's poverty, at age 11 she was able to attend the Ursuline convent in Quebec City for two years before returning home to teach her younger brothers and sisters.[1] Marguerite's impending marriage to a scion of Varennes society was foiled by her mother's marriage below her class to Timothy Sullivan, an Irish doctor who was seen by the townspeople as a disreputable foreigner.[2] On August 12, 1722, at Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, she married François d'Youville, a bootlegger who sold liquor illegally to Indigenous Peoples in exchange for furs and who frequently left home for long periods for parts unknown. Despite this, the couple eventually had six children before François died in 1730. By age 30 she had suffered the loss of her father, husband and four of her six children, who died in infancy. Marguerite experienced a religious renewal during her marriage. "In all these sufferings Marguerite grew in her belief of God's presence in her life and His tender love for every human person. She, in turn, wanted to make known His compassionate love to all. She undertook many charitable works with complete trust in God, whom she loved as a Father."[1]

Grey Nuns of Montreal

Sanctuaire Marguerite d'Youville
Marguerite d'Youville Sanctuary in Varennes

Marguerite and three other women founded in 1737 a religious association to provide a home for the poor in Montreal. At first the home only housed four or five members, but it grew as the women raised funds. As their actions went against the social conventions of the day, d'Youville and her colleagues were mocked by their friends and relatives and even by the poor they helped. Some called them "les grises", which can mean "the grey women" but which also means "the drunken women",[3] in reference to d'Youville's late husband. By 1744 the association had become a Catholic religious order with a rule and a formal community. In 1747 they were granted a charter to operate the General Hospital of Montreal, which by that time was in ruins and heavily in debt. d'Youville and her fellow workers brought the hospital back into financial security,[4] but the hospital was destroyed by fire in 1765.[1] The order rebuilt the hospital soon after. By this time, the order was commonly known as the "Grey Nuns of Montreal" after the nickname given to the nuns in ridicule years earlier. Years later, as the order expanded to other cities, the order became known simply as the "Grey Nuns".

Slave owner

d'Youville has been described as "one of Montreal's more prominent slaveholders".[5] d'Youville and the Grey Nuns used enslaved labourers in their hospital, and purchased and sold both Indian slaves and British prisoners.[6]


Marguerite d'Youville died in 1771 at the General Hospital. In 1959, she was beatified by Pope John XXIII, who called her "Mother of Universal Charity", and was canonized in 1990 by Pope John Paul II. She is the first native-born Canadian to be elevated to sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church. Her feast day is October 16. In 1961, a shrine was built in her birthplace of Varennes. Today, it is the site of a permanent exhibit about the life and works of Marguerite.[7] The review process included a medically inexplicable cure of acute myeloid leukemia after relapse. The woman is the only known long-term survivor in the world, having lived more than 40 years from a condition that typically kills people in 18 months.[8]

A large number of Roman Catholic churches, schools, women's shelters, charity shops, and other institutions in Canada and worldwide are named after St. Marguerite d'Youville. Most notably, the renowned academic institution of higher learning, D'Youville College in Buffalo, NY, is named after her.[9] The D'Youville Academy at Plattsburgh, New York was founded in 1860.[10]

Sir Louis-Amable Jetté’s wife, Lady Jetté, wrote a biography of Saint Marie-Marguerite d'Youville.[11]

Final resting place

In 2010, Mother Marie-Marguerite d'Youville's remains were removed from Grey Nuns Motherhouse and relocated to her birthplace of Varennes.


On September 21, 1978, Canada Post issued 'Marguerite d'Youville' based on a design by Antoine Dumas. The 14¢ stamps are perforated 13.5 and were printed by Canadian Bank Note Company, Limited.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Marie Marguerite d'Youville (1701-1771)", Vatican Archived August 27, 2006, at the Wayback Machine Accessed August 27, 2008.
  2. ^ Biography of St. Marguerite d'Youville from the Grey Nuns of Montreal. Accessed August 27, 2008. Archived June 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Many references give the translation as a genteel "tipsy", but the actual phrase is much more blunt and would best be translated as "filthy drunk".
  4. ^ University of Saskatchewan Herstory of Marguerite d'Youville. Accessed August 27, 2008.
  5. ^ Walker, James W. St. G. (2006). "Race," Rights and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada: Historical Case Studies. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 137.
  6. ^ Foster, William Henry (2003). The Captors' Narrative: Catholic Women and Their Puritan Men on the Early American Frontier. Cornell University Press. pp. 104, 105.
  7. ^ Saint Marguerite d'Youville Shrine in Varennes Archived March 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Duffin, Jacalyn (2016-09-05). "Pondering Miracles, Medical and Religious". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  9. ^ "D'Youville College | Buffalo New York | D'Youville College". Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  10. ^ C.D. DeRoche and Russell Bordeau (September 1978). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: S. F. Vilas Home for Aged & Infirmed Ladies". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  11. ^ Morgan, Henry James, ed. (1903). Types of Canadian Women and of Women who are or have been Connected with Canada. Toronto: Williams Briggs. p. 178.
  12. ^ Canada Post stamp


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Marie-Marguérite d'Youville" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

External links

1701 in Canada

Events from the year 1701 in Canada.



was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1771st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 771st year of the 2nd millennium, the 71st year of the 18th century, and the 2nd year of the 1770s decade. As of the start of 1771, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1771 in Canada

Events from the year 1771 in Canada.

Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame is a Canadian charitable organization, founded in 1994, that honours Canadians who have contributed to the understanding of disease and improving the health of people. It has a museum in London, Ontario, and has an annual induction ceremony.

D'Youville Academy

D'Youville Academy is a historic school building and nunnery in Plattsburgh in Clinton County, New York. It was built about 1878 and is a ​2 1⁄2-story, cruciform plan brick structure on a raised stone foundation. The facade features a rounded 2-story bay, a five-gable roof dormer, and Mansard roof. The Academy was founded in 1860 and operated by the Gray Nuns of Ottawa, founded by Saint Marie-Marguerite d'Youville (1701-1771). The Academy has since been folded into the Seton Catholic Central High School, and the building has since been converted into apartments.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Grey Nuns Motherhouse

Grey Nuns Motherhouse, now known as the Grey Nuns Building, is a former motherhouse of the Grey Nuns located at 1190 Guy Street, in the Borough of Ville-Marie, Montréal, Quebec, Canada. It is also named Grey Nuns Hospital of Montréal (not to be confused with Grey Nuns' Hospital located south of Place d'Youville). The building was completed in 1871.In 2007, it was bought by Concordia University and refurbished. It now serves as co-ed housing for 598 undergraduate students on the Sir George Williams Campus within the neighbourhood redevelopment project Quartier Concordia.A crypt containing the graves of 276 nuns and other individuals is located in the basement. Among them was Mother Marie-Marguerite d'Youville, the first native-born Canadian to be declared a saint. In 2010 her remains were removed and relocated to her 1701 birthplace of Varennes, a community on the South Shore.In 2011, it was designated one of the National Historic Sites of Canada.

Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception

The Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception is a congregation of Roman Catholic sisters founded in 1926 in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada. It is dedicated to following the tradition of St. Marie-Marguerite d'Youville, and has established a number of international ministries that offer services in the areas of health, education, pastoral care, and social and environmental advocacy.The first international ministry established by the Grey Sisters was founded in China in 1929, working closely with the Canadian missionaries of the Scarboro Foreign Mission Society. In 1951, ministries were established in Japan and the Dominican Republic. In 1960, they founded a ministry in the Bahamas, and most recently in Ireland and Thailand in 1998.

Jacalyn Duffin

Jacalyn M. Duffin (born 1950) is a Canadian medical historian and hematologist. She held the Hannah Chair, History of Medicine at Queen's University from 1988 until 2017. Formerly, she was President of the American Association for the History of Medicine and Canadian Society for the History of Medicine. From 1993-1995 she was Associate Dean Undergraduate Studies and Education at Queen's University. She is most well known for her testimony which led to the canonization of Marie-Marguerite d'Youville. As of 2010, she has published eight books (as author and editor) on the history of medicine and has written numerous articles on various subjects relating to the history of medicine, miracles, and hematology.

List of museums in Montreal

This is a list of museums in Montreal, in the province of Quebec, Canada. Also included are non-profit art galleries and university art galleries. Museums that exist only in cyberspace (i.e., virtual museums) are not included.

See also List of museums in Quebec for museums in the rest of the province.

List of people beatified by Pope John XXIII

This is a list of all the individuals that had been beatified by Pope John XXIII (r. 1958-1963) in his pontificate. The pope beatified 5 individuals.

Louis-Amable Jetté

Sir Louis-Amable Jetté, (French pronunciation: ​[lwi amabl ʒɛte]; 15 January 1836 – 5 May 1920) was a Canadian lawyer, politician, judge, professor, and the eighth Lieutenant Governor of Quebec. He was born in L'Assomption, Lower Canada (now Quebec) in 1836.

In 1872, he was elected to the House of Commons of Canada representing the riding of Montreal East. A Liberal, he was re-elected in 1874.

Jetté was chief justice of the Court of King’s Bench.

From 1898 to 1908 he was the lieutenant governor of Quebec. He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) during the visit to Quebec of TRH the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V and Queen Mary) in October 1901.


Marguerite-D'Youville is a former provincial electoral district in the Montérégie region of Quebec, Canada that elected members to the National Assembly of Quebec. As of its final election, it consisted of the cities of Boucherville and Sainte-Julie.

It was created for the 1994 election from Bertrand and named after Saint Marie-Marguerite d'Youville, founder of the Order of Sisters of Charity of the Hôpital Général of Montreal. Its final election was in 2008. It disappeared in the 2012 election and the successor electoral district was Montarville.In the 1995 Quebec referendum it voted 59% for Quebec to separate.

Marguerite-Thérèse Lemoine Despins

Marguerite-Thérèse Lemoine Despins (March 23, 1722 – June 6, 1792) was a mother superior of the Sisters of Charity of the Hôpital Général of Montreal.

Marguerite-Thérèse Lemoine Despins's upbringing shaped her future. Her mother had died and, at her own request, she was placed in the care of Marie-Marguerite d'Youville. She was placed by Marguerite d'Youville in the Sisters of Charity's house as a boarder in 1739. This allowed her to grow up within the religious community and observe the charitable work. Both of these would be key to her life's work.

Place D'Youville (Quebec)

Place D’Youville, also referred to as carré D'Youville, is a public square in the core of Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. It is situated on rue Saint-Jean, one of the oldest roads in Quebec City. It marks the boundary between the Quebec Parliament Hill and Old Quebec. The square is named in honour of Marie-Marguerite d'Youville, a French Canadian widow who founded the religious order known as the Grey Nuns of Montreal.In addition to the square itself, Place D'Youville is also used to refer to the area surrounding the bus terminal for the Réseau de transport de la Capitale (Quebec City's transit system), the Palais Montcalm, and the Théâtre Capitole de Québec.

Part of the square is transformed into a skating rink during winter months, and to its west is the sculpture "The Muses" by Alfred Laliberté, donated by the Government of Quebec for the 375th anniversary of the city in 1983.

Place d'Youville

The Place d'Youville in Old Montreal is a historical square in Montreal, named after Marguerite d'Youville. The roads from the Place Royale and McGill Street meet at this point. The square is notable as the site of St. Anne's Market, a market building that once housed the Legislative Council and Assembly of Canada between 1844 and 1849, when it was burned down on April 25, 1849.

Ursulines of Quebec

The Ursuline Monastery of Quebec City, (French: Monastère des Ursulines de Québec), was founded by a missionary group of Ursuline nuns in 1639 under the leadership of Mother Marie of the Incarnation, O.S.U. It is the oldest institution of learning for women in North America. Today, the monastery serves as the General Motherhouse of the Ursuline Sisters of the Canadian Union. The community there also operates an historical museum and continues to serve as a teaching centre.The complex was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1972.

Varennes, Quebec

Varennes is an off-island suburb of Montreal, in southwestern Quebec, Canada, on the Saint Lawrence River in the Marguerite-D'Youville Regional County Municipality. The city is approximately 24 kilometres (15 mi) from Downtown Montreal. The population as of the Canada 2011 Census was 20,994. In 2015, the population is listed at 24,000.

Étienne-Michel Faillon

Étienne-Michel Faillon (3 January 1800 – 25 October 1870) was a Catholic historian.

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