the Carmel

GUERIN Marie-Louise

Also known as: Sister Marie-Dosithee

Marie-Louise Guérin was born in Saint Denis-sur-Sarthon, a small town in Normandy not far from Alençon. Very active and lively, little Louise was soon the eldest of three children. Madame Guérin placed the little girl at Alencon in a small secular boarding house, where the child studied with ardor; but she withdrew her from it after a few months, preferring to entrust her, as well as her little sister Zélie, to the direction of the Religious of Perpetual Adoration until she was 15 years old. She then returns home to serve as maid, mother and teacher to little Isidore at the same time - a role she assumed for a long time: you have to read the letters she writes to Isidore when he is in Paris!

But over the years a taste for religious life developed in her, a desire so strong that she felt ready to run away, like Teresa of Avila as a child, to enter the Poor Clares. But Marie-Louise's mother had instead decided that her daughters would learn needlework, and she was actively pushing them. Zélie took a liking to it and told her mother that she wanted to open a lace workshop. The point of Alençon then occupied many of the young girls of the town; it was the industrial wealth of the country. Madame Guérin approved the project, but on the condition that Marie-Louise take responsibility for the business. And here the ladies Guérin set up their small business: choose their workers, put them to work, and soon learn to sell an important job. The sale: there was the difficulty in a small provincial town where few fortunes are considerable enough to buy high-priced lace. Marie-Louise courageously decided to leave for Paris, in order to propose to some trading house to buy her lace. It was difficult, but soon after, a large house in Paris agreed to deal regularly with the Guérin ladies.

But now a first bout of tuberculosis pushes Marie-Louise away from the company: she prays and promises God to become a nun if the cure happens. Perfectly recovered, she entered the Visitation of Le Mans at the age of 29 on April 7, 1858, declaring: “I come here to be a Saint! She felt comfortable there, despite the fears of her family, who suspected the opposite. After a week, Madame Guérin, worried, comes to the Visitation to bring her daughter back at all costs. But the energetic Sister Louise, affirming that her foot will never cross the closing gate, puts an end to the maternal fight. The happy postulant continued her trial in peace. There followed many fruitful years in religious life, in good relations with his family. As we read in her correspondence, she watches over the couples of her brother Isidore and her Sister Zélie, getting involved in many things with conviction. She also closely followed the education of her three nieces from 1868, first Marie and Pauline, then Léonie. 

Tuberculosis remains at work, in the shadows. Each winter sees the reappearance in Sister Marie-Dosithée of an obstinate cough, often accompanied by fever and spitting of blood. The last year, after a few months in the infirmary, she died on February 24, 1877.

We learn a lot by reading her correspondence, but it is in her circular that we discover rich information, both about her and about her sister Zélie, because half of the text is devoted to her life before entering the convent. . The circular was intended primarily for the other monasteries of the Visitation; was it also sent to the family? If so, have the Martin girls read it?
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