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Lives of the Saints:

How They Changed the World

Saint Marie de L’Incarnation, OSU (1599–1672)

Saint Marie de L’Incarnation, OSU (1599–1672)

Feast day: April 30




Marie de L’Incarnation was born Marie Guyart in France in 1599. She was drawn to religious life from a young age. Though she desired to enter a convent as a teen, her parents refused and she was instead married at age seventeen. Her marriage was brief, as her husband died shortly after the birth of their only son. A widow at age nineteen, Marie did not have many options. She moved back in with her parents and then with her sister and brother-in-law. Yet even as she managed their household, she was constantly drawn to religious life. She eventually left their home and entered the Ursuline convent in 1631. She left her son with her sister and brother-in-law, and began her journey to “New France” in Canada. She is most well-known for her missionary efforts there in the education of the native people. Her tireless efforts at educating the indigenous girls ensured the success of the Ursuline school. Marie learned at least four indigenous languages and wrote dictionaries and catechisms for each. Her voluminous personal letters were circulated throughout France and published by her son after her death. These letters are one of the main sources of information on French colonization in the 1600s and were deeply helpful in understanding the reconstruction of New France (modern-day Canada) during that time. Saint Marie was canonized in 2014. [Image Public Domain-US, Creative Commons]