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. Cecilia

St. Cecilia

In the fourth century a Greek religious romance on the Loves of Cecilia and Valerian was written in glorification of virginal life with the purpose of taking the place of then-popular ... continue reading | shop


Image of St. Clare

St. Clare

St. Clare of Assisi was born in Assisi on July 16, 1194, as Chiara Offreduccio, the beautiful eldest daughter of Favorino Sciffi, Count of Sasso-Rosso and his wife Ortolana. Tradition says ... continue reading | shop


Image of St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo is the patron of brewers because of his conversion from a former life of loose living, which included parties, entertainment, and worldly ambitions. His complete ... continue reading | shop

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Andrew

St. Andrew

Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a fisherman. He became a disciple of the great St. John the Baptist, but when John pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Andrew understood ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day
November 2015

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 St. Emma

St. Emma

Emma was a relative of Emperor St. Henry II and also known as Hemma. She was raised at Henry's court by St. Cunegund, and according to legend was married to Landgrave William of Friesach. Their two children were murdered during an uprising of mines owned by William. ... 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 Sts. Nereus & Achilleus

Sts. Nereus & Achilleus

So often we hear people or even ourselves excuse an action by saying "I was only following orders." But for Nereus and Achilleus this excuse could not stand in the face of the cross. Everything we know from authority about the two first- century martyrs comes from ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Simon Stock

St. Simon Stock

Although little is known about Simon Stock's early life, legend has it that the name Stock, meaning "tree trunk," derives from the fact that, beginning at age twelve, he lived as a hermit in a hollow tree trunk of an oak tree. It is also believed that, as a young man, ... 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

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Prayer For Courage HD Video
  • St. Andrew: Saint of the Day for Monday, November 30, 2015
  • The Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • GRAPHIC IMAGES: Islamic extremist shown being BLOWN UP while making ...
  • CRYBABY KILLER: Islamist State fighter breaks down in tears after ...
  • MIRACLES DO HAPPEN: Days-old baby girl buried alive pulled to safety ...
  • Daily Readings for Monday, November 30, 2015

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Romans 10:9-18
9 that if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 4:18-22
18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 30th, 2015 Image

St. Andrew
November 30: Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a ... Read More