MARGUERITE D’YOUVILLE, A WOMAN OF FAITH WITH A HEART THAT KNEW NO BOUNDS
Sainte Marguerite d’Youville left an indelible mark on the development of health institutions in Quebec, Manitoba and elsewhere in North America. She was rightly inducted into The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2003.
Marguerite was born at Varennes on October 15, 1701. From a well-to-do family, she was widowed at 29, in debt, with two children. She paid her debts and turned to a life of prayer and service to the sick and poor, whom she welcomed into her own home to start with.
In 1737, with three companions, she took private vows and laid the foundation for the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Montréal, known as the Grey Nuns. Marguerite faced hostility from polite society, including members of her own family. In 1747, she took over management of the General Hospital of Montréal, which was falling into ruin. She renovated it to care for the poor and for foundling children. She managed it until her death in 1771. Six religious congregations followed in the steps of the “Mother of Universal Charity,” who was beatified in 1959 and canonized in 1990. A phrase used by the people of her time applies to the continuation of her work even today: “Go to the Grey Nuns; they never turn anyone away.”