A History of Saints

A true communion of Saints within the male and female Founders of the Canadian Church

They had different vocations and missions, ages and journeys, but a same communion of souls towards the love of God and of others. The lives of the male and female Founders of the Canadian Church were linked by various circumstances, both spiritual and temporal. Here are some examples.

Marie de l’Incarnation and Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin

Marie de l’Incarnation arrived in Canada in 1639, while Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin arrived nine years later, in 1648. Because of the cloister, the two women had never met until a great fire engulfs the monastery on December 30th, 1650. The Augustinian nuns then welcome their “homeless” sisters for three weeks, where they lived all together in the same community life.

This event allowed Marie de l’Incarnation, mother superior of the Ursuline nuns, to live with the young Hospitaller nun, then still only Marie-Catherine, who was only 18 years old, and to known better her inner life and her strength.

Marie de l’Incarnation was herself a wise woman with a deep spiritual and mystical life. Therefore, at the death of Marie-Catherine, at the age of 36, she could give her testimony on the particular grace that had accompanied her during her life. She wrote to her son:

“There are many stories that we keep secret for a time and that we say are detailed enough to fill a book. Those are extraordinary things, of which I will tell you nothing, but I will tell you willingly of her virtues, which I will praise more than miracles and prodigies. She served the poor with admirable strength and vigor.  She was the most charitable girl in the world towards the sick and for her charity she was singularly loved by everyone, as well as for her sweetness, her fervor, her patience, her perseverance, having had a fever for eight years without staying in bed, without complaining, without withdrawing from her obligations, without failing in her duties, either those of presbytery, offices, or community. My dearest son, virtues of this kind are to be valued more than miracles. And what makes it more excellent is that when she had died, no-one in the community, not even her Mother superior, knew that there had been anything extraordinary in her life. Only Msgr. the bishop knew, and her director. Pray Our divine Savior that he may grant me a life and death as holy as he did this good girl. She was only 16 when she came to this country, having made her vows on the way here.”

From Quebec City, this 7th September 1668.

Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin and François de Laval

François de Laval arrived in Canada in 1659 as the country’s first bishop. Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin had not yet received the sacrament of confirmation, because she had been too young when her bishop had been to her city in France. Therefore, she received it from Msgr. de Laval on August 24th, 1659.

Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin had a spiritual director, Jesuit Father Paul Ragueneau. She only revealed the graces of her mystical life and the journey of her soul to him alone, though he kept the bishop informed. This is how the bishop knew of the holiness of her soul. After her death, he said of her :


“(…) we must greatly praise God for His conduct with our Sister Catherine de Saint-Augustin. She had a soul to which Had chosen to give very particular graces. Her holiness will be better known in Heaven than it had been on Earth, for she is assuredly extraordinary. She has suffered a lot from an inviolable fidelity and a courage apt to embrace everything, no matter how difficult. I do not need the extraordinary things than happened inside her to be convinced of her holiness: her true virtues make it perfectly know to me.

God has graced in a particular way the Hospitaller nuns in Quebec, and even all of Canada, when he sent this soul that was so precious to Him.”

In Quebec City, 10th October, 1669

François de Laval and Marie de l’Incarnation

When François de Laval arrived in Quebec City, he was accommodated at the Augustinian nun’s monastery for the first three months; then, in September, he lodged in a separated house of the Ursuline’s convent in which the boarders lived.

Here is how Marie de l’Incarnation wrote to her son about the bishop’s choice of their community:

“I told you that we were not expecting a bishop this year. Therefore, he found not lodging ready to receive him when he arrived. We lent him our seminary, which is at the limit of our cloister and near the parish (…) We will be inconvenienced by this, because we must lodge our boarders in our appartements; but the prelate deserves it and we will bear this inconvenience with pleasure until the bishopric is built.” In Quebec City, September-October 1659


François de Laval suggested to Marie de l’Incarnation to modify the Ursuline community’s constitutions, rules her sisters, their chaplain and herself had taken years to write. This proposition was firmly but tactfully turned down. In a letter to the Mother superior of Tours, she wrote:

“My dearest Mother, the matter has been thought through and our decision has been taken: we will not accept it, if only by the very limits of obedience. However, we shall not speak of it as to not turn things sour (…).”

In Quebec City, 13th September, 1661

Jean de Brébeuf and Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin

Although these two have never known each other personally during their lives, their souls were linked by a common cause.

Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin arrived in Canada on August 19th, 1648, barely seven months before Jean de Brébeuf’s death on March 16th, 1649. He was also very far from Quebec City, where Marie-Catherine resided. Therefore she never met him in person, but she was informed of his death as a martyr of the faith. She greatly admired his soul in Heaven.

During the last six years of her life, from 1662 to 1668, when her spiritual director, Father Paul Ragueneau, had been obliged to return to France, Marie-Catherine was accompanied and guided by Jean de Brébeuf’s soul though her spiritual journey. He was her “celestial spiritual director”.


Marie de l’Incarnation and the Saint Canadian Martyrs

Marie de l’Incarnation wrote in detail about the Saint Martyrs’ deaths. In this letter, she tells her son of her admiration for these witnesses to the love of Jesus, the Embodied Verb.

“The most precious gift is the spirit of the Embodied Verb, when it is given to a sublime degree, as He has given it to a few souls of this new Church of which I know and as He as given it to our Saint Martyrs, the Most Reverend Fathers de Brébeuf, Daniel, Jogues and Lalemant, who have demonstrated through their generous courage just how much their hearts was filled with this spirit and the love of the cross of their good Master. It is this spirit that makes workers of the Gospel flock by land and sea and that makes them living Martyrs even before the iron and the fire consumes them. The inconceivable works they must endure are miracles even greater than the resurrection of dead people.”

In Quebec City, October 22nd, 1649