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Who would have thought that walking to school would lead to the discovery of a vocation that shaped the world of the Vincentian Family? Sometimes humble facts are stranger than fiction. The back story of Blessed Rosalie Rendu, Daughter of Charity, mentor to Blessed Frederic Ozanam and the companions who went on to found the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Bl. Rosalie’s Grave today with daily fresh flowers

Jeanne Marie was three years old when the French Revolution broke out. Her parents stood firm in their faith, even giving shelter to priests on the run from the revolutionary government. Jeanne Marie was sent to the Ursuline sisters in Gex to be educated. During her walks in the town she discovered the Daughters of Charity working in a hospital caring for the sick. This inspired Jeanne Marie to join the Daughters of Charity after her mother gave her consent.

On May 25, 1802, Jeanne Marie arrived at the Mother House of the Daughters of Charity, rue du Vieux Colombier, in Paris. The re-opening of the Seminary (suppressed by the Revolution) took place in December 1800.

In 1807 Jeanne Marie made vows for the first time and was given the name Rosalie. A thirst for action, devotion and service that burned within Rosalie could not have found a better place than the Mouffetard District in Paris. This was her first and only mission for over 50 years. This district was famous as the hovel of the poor, and Rosalie threw herself heart and soul into the service of the poor. The sisters with Rosalie assisted the sick and suffering people by opening up a free clinic, a school, an orphanage, a child care centre, a club for young workers, and a home for the elderly. And oh, she is well on her way to be declaared a saint.

Who knew what can happen walking to school?

To learn more visit Feast of Blessed Rosalie Rendcu February 7.