St. Emily de Vialar, Virgin, Foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph "of the Apparition"
Anne Marguerite Adelaide Emily de Vialar was the eldest child and only daughter of Baron James Augustine de Vialar and his wife Antoinette, daughter of that Baron de Portal who was physician-in-ordinary to Louis XVIII and Charles X of France. She was born at Gaillac in Languedoc in 1797. At the age of fifteen she was removed from school in Paris to be companion to her father, now a widower, at Gaillac; but unhappily, differences arose between them because of Emily's refusal to consider a suitable marriage.
For fifteen years, Emily was the good angel of Gaillac, devoting herself to the care of children neglected by their parents and to the help of the poor generally. In 1832, her maternal grandfather died, leaving her a share of his estate which was a quite considerable fortune. She bought a large house at Gaillac and took possession of it with three companions. Others joined them and three months later, the archbishop authorized the Abbe to clothe twelve postulants with the religious habit. They called themselves the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. Their work was to be the care of the needy, especially the sick, and the education of children. In 1835, she made her profession with seventeen other sisters, and received formal approval for the rule of the Congregation.
The foundress, in the course of twenty-two years, saw her Congregation grow from one to some forty houses, many of which she had founded in person. The physical energy and achievements of St. Emily de Vialar are the more remarkable in that from her youth she was troubled by hernia, contracted characteristically in doing a deed of charity. From 1850 this became more and more serious, and it hastened her end, which came on August 24, 1856. The burden of her last testament to her daughters was "Love one another". Her canonization took place in 1951; her feast is June 17th.
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By Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.
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