Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620–1700)

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620–1700)

Patron saint against the death of parents, against poverty, of the poor, and of people rejected by religious orders

Feast day: January 12

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys was the sixth of twelve children born to her religious parents. When Marguerite was 19 years old her mother passed away, leaving Marguerite to look after her family and household. When her brothers and sisters were grown and her father had passed away,

Marguerite began to pray for guidance about the next step she should take in her life. The answer to her prayers came when the governor of Montreal asked her to travel from France to Canada and be a teacher. Marguerite agreed, gave her share of her inheritance to her family members, and set sail. Once she landed in Canada, she built a chapel honoring Our Lady of Good Help and opened her first school. She made the voyage back to France twice to recruit more teachers to assist her.

She and her fellow teachers became the Congregation of Notre Dame. Marguerite and her sisters taught their students, many of them young girls from France sent to be brides for French Canadian settlers, how to manage a home and farm.

The Congregation of Notre Dame continued to grow to include sisters of Canadian and Native American descent. Marguerite used her last few years to pray and to pen her autobiography. In her old age, Marguerite saw one of her young sisters dying. Marguerite prayed to the Lord, asking him to take her life instead of her young sister’s. By morning, the young sister was completely cured and Marguerite was in bed with a violent fever. She suffered for twelve days before being called to her heavenly home.

Marguerite Bourgeoys was canonized in 1982. 

(Image in public domain)