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Eugénie de Gramont

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Religious of the Society of the Sacred Heart ; b. at Versailles, 17 September, 1788; d. at Paris, 19 November, 1846. Her father, the Count de Gramont d'Aster, was attached to the Court of Louis XVI; he had married a daughter of the Count de Boisgelin, maid of honour to Queen Marie Antoinette. The family was driven into exile by the fall of the monarchy and, after travelling in Germany and Italy, settled at Richmond in England. After the death of the Count de Gramont d'Aster his widow was for a time in straitened circumstances, and maintained herself and her child by teaching. She soon returned to France, where Eugénie learnt, at Amiens, to know the new Society of the Sacred Heart, of which she became a member in 1806. Her mother also joined it a few years afterwards, and made her novitiate under the guidance of her own daughter. In 1815, notwithstanding her youth and the drawback of a slight physical deformity, Mother de Gramont was placed in charge of the first school of the Sacred Heart, opened in Paris, Rue des Postes, afterwards transferred to the Rue de Varenne. The school flourished under her care and, after a short interruption of her work by the revolution of 1830, she was sent back to govern the house as superioress and continued to do so until her death in 1846. Mother de Gramont's remarkable intelligence and influence were of great value in the important work entrusted to her, and she established the school in the Rue de Varenne so firmly in its position that the only anxiety of the foundress of the society concerning it was the success, almost too brilliant for her love of hiddenness and simplicity, which attended the work. She knew the weak side of Mother de Gramont's character as well as her great gifts, and she was not deceived as to the dangers of a mind which was too receptive of strong influences and very difficult to disillusion. In a time of trial, during the first year of her religious life at Amiens, when the existence of the Society of the Sacred Heart was in great danger, Mother de Gramont was one of those who were misled by the action of M. de St. Esteve; and again, in another critical moment in 1839, she took a line of conduct in opposition to the foundress which she afterwards recognized and deplored to the end of her life; her sorrow for her error, it is said, hastened her death. She died in the most perfect union of affection with the foundress, Blessed Madeleine Sophie Barat, asking pardon of her and of the whole society for the errors of judgment into which she had been led — her personal devotedness to the mother general had never wavered.

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