Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Short Cuts

Image of Bl. Marie Poussepin


Feastday: October 14

Birth: 1653

Death: 1744

Beatified By: Pope John Paul II

Mary Poussepin was born in the diocese of Versailles in 1653. Her well to do family had a reputation for both sanctity and sound business. She was a gay hearted and generous girl, well liked by all her friends. Her gifts of mind and judgment were far beyond her years. She might have entered religion earlier, but the illness of her mother required her constant care. When Mary was twenty two, her mother died, and the girl took over the management of the house. She had the consoling thought that as soon as the shock of her mother's death had worn off, she would approach her father on the question of becoming a cloistered nun. In the meantime, she busied herself with the care of her young brother, and all the pious works she could do in a day. It soon became apparent that her plans for contemplative life would have to be revised, for her father fell ill, and she was needed to care for him.

Since her home was situated conveniently between the hospital of the Sisters of Charity and the church where the Dominican Third Order regularly met, Mary Poussepin soon found herself involved in the charities of the one and the spiritual life of the other. She became a Tertiary, and she placed herself under the guidance of a Dominican confessor, who was to watch over her for nearly half a century. Working with the Sisters of Charity, she was constantly aware of the needs of the sick and the unfortunate, and she began to dream of a Dominican community in which these works could become a part of the apostolate. Not until after her father's death could she set about making this dream a reality, but, from the records of those intervening years, it is clear that she lost neither time nor opportunity in either charitable works or spirituality.

Mary Poussepin was thirty years old when at last she was free to follow her heart and begin the institute that she had so long dreamed of. It is a little hard for us to see why she should have had such difficulty in making the ideas attractive to higher authorities, for in America we have a proud tradition of Dominican sisters doing the various works of charity which she espoused. At that time and place, however, it was evidently a novelty for Dominican sisters to care for the orphans or the poor, the insane or the wayward. Reading between the lines, moreover, one is quite certain that the bishop with whom most of her negotiations had to be made was a man who heartily disliked Dominicans. It is impossible now to know with certainty the reasons for the things that occurred. We can only record the facts, and presume that the reasons at the time were ample.

Mary Poussepin began her institute of the Dominican Sisters of Charity in Angerville. She started with high hopes and one companion, and postulants soon came to fill the ranks. The sisters wore the colors of the Order quite probably they were not permitted the same form of religious habit as that worn by the regular communities of Dominicans. They had a Dominican director, and everyone agrees the Dominican spirit. But when it came to obtaining affiliation with the Order, they were blocked by the bishop's refusal and probably in view of this by the reluctance of the Order to force their claims. The people of the town called the sisters "Jacobines," an allusion to the Dominican fathers; but, for nearly two hundred years, that was as near as they came to regular affiliation.

After several false starts, which necessitated moving and beginning again, the community prospered. It cared for schools, hospitals, kindergartens, and homes for the aged, the insane, and the delinquent. Their houses spread over France and were recognized, both civilly and ecclesiastically, as a religious institute with all the rights and privileges except the one for which the foundress had struggled for a lifetime: official acceptance into the . Dominican family. At the age of ninety, as she lay on her deathbed, her hopes seemed ruined forever when she received word that all affiliations with the Order even the solemnizing of the feast of St. Dominic must be abandoned if she did not wish the rights of her institute taken away completely. All that she had striven to establish had come to nothing. Accepting the will of God, she commanded her sisters to remain spiritually close to the great Order she loved, and she died with no assurance that they would ever realize her desire.

Half a century after the death of Mary Poussepin, the French Revolution broke upon the country. Dispersed, and wearing secular clothes, hiding and working in dangerous places, the sisters took advantage of the occasion to resume the first habit and all the customs from the primitive days. A few years later, more Dominican privileges were granted, and the sisters pressed the question of affiliation. Not until 1897, two full centuries after the foundress first began her project, was her community allowed to use the full tide "Dominican Sisters of Charity of the Presentation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary."

Sisters of Mother Poussepin's foundation have been in Near East missions, Mesopotamia, and Kurdistan, as well as France, Spain, and Italy, for the past century. They also have missions in South America, and they have been in the United States, in Fall River, Massachusetts, since 1906.

Biography Provided By: Order of Preachers

Bl. Marie Poussepin Comments

More Saints

Browse Saints by Category

Popular Saints




Image of St. Barbara

St. Barbara

Barbara lived in the 4th century and brought up as a heathen. A tyrannical father, Dioscorus, had kept her jealously secluded in a lonely tower which he had built for that purpose. Here, in ... continue reading


Image of St. Angela Merici

St. Angela Merici

When she was 56, Angela Merici said "No" to the Pope. She was aware that Clement VII was offering her a great honor and a great opportunity to serve when he asked her to take charge of a ... continue reading


Image of St. Bridget

St. Bridget

St. Bridget arrived in Ireland a few years after St. Patrick. Her father was an Irish lord named Duptace. As Bridget grew up, she became holier and more pious each day. She loved the ... continue reading

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Artaldus

St. Artaldus

Artaldus (also called Arthaud) was born in the castle of Sothonod in Savoy. At the age of eighteen, he went to the court of Duke Amadeus III, but a year or two after, he became a Carthusian at ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Female Saints

Image of Sts. Joachim and Anne

Sts. Joachim and Anne

By tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. We have no historical evidence, however, of any elements of their lives, including their names. Any stories about Mary's father and mother come to us through legend ... continue reading

More Female Saints

Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts


Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief ... continue reading

Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. John of Sahagun

St. John of Sahagun

John Gonzales de Castrillo was born at Sahagun, Leon Spain. He was educated by the Benedictine monks of Fagondez monastery there and when twenty, received a canonry from the bishop of Burgos, though ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Bernardine of Siena

St. Bernardine of Siena

In the year 1400, a young man came to the door of the largest hospital in Siena. A plague was raging through the city so horrible that as many as twenty people died each day just in the hospital ... continue reading

Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of St. Therese of Lisieux

Jennifer Hartline: Trying to Learn Humility From St. Therese

By Jennifer Hartline

St. Therese helps me understand: "the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy.if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 4:1-11
1 This made Jonah very indignant; he fell into a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 86:3-4, 5-6, 9-10
3 take pity on me, Lord, for to you I cry all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:1-4
1 Now it happened that he was in a certain place ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 7th, 2015 Image

St. Artaldus
October 7: Artaldus (also called Arthaud) was born in the castle of ... Read More