|St. Marie de l’Incarnation arrived in Quebec City at the age of 40 in 1639 and died at the age of 73.|
On April 3, 2014, Pope Francis created two new Canadian saints, the Most Rev. François de Laval (1623-1708), first Bishop of Quebec City, and Marie de l'Incarnation (1599-1672, born Marie Guyart), the founder of the Ursuline nuns in Canada, who are considered as the founders of the Catholic Church in Canada, many even calling them “the father and mother of the Canadian Church.” Both were beatified in Rome by St. Pope John Paul II on June 22, 1980, but no ceremony had taken place in Rome yet for their canonization, since Pope Francis had decided to declare them saints without the official recognition of any miracle obtained through their intercession.
A Mass of thanksgiving was therefore celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome by Pope Francis on Sunday, October 12, 2014, in the presence of hundreds of Canadian pilgrims, including many bishops, led by Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Quebec City.
Here are excerpts from the homily of the Holy Father, who underlined the decisive role of these two new saints for the Church in Quebec and in Canada. He skilfully alluded to the motto of the Province of Quebec “Je me souviens” (I remember), so that Quebecers may remember their Christian roots, the example of these two new saints, since Quebec had been for a long time a model by sending missionaries all over the world:
“The Church’s mission of evangelization is essentially a proclamation of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, revealed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Missionaries have served the Church’s mission by breaking the bread of God’s word for the poor and those far off, and by bringing to all the gift of the unfathomable love welling up from the heart of the Saviour.
“Such was the case with Saint François de Laval and Saint Marie de l’Incarnation. Dear pilgrims from Canada, today I would like to leave you with two words of advice; they are drawn from the Letter to the Hebrews, but thinking about the missionaries, they will be of great benefit for your communities.
|St. François de Laval arrived in Quebec City at the age of 36, and died at the age of 85.|
“The first is this, this is what the Word of God says: ‘Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith’ (13:7). The memory of the missionaries sustains us at a time when we are experiencing a scarcity of laborers in the service of the Gospel. Their example attracts us, they inspire us to imitate their faith. They are fruitful witnesses who bring forth life!
The second is this: ‘Recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings… Do not therefore abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance…’ (10:32,35-36). Honoring those who endured suffering to bring us the Gospel means being ready ourselves to fight the good fight of faith with humility, meekness, and mercy, in our daily lives. And this bears fruit.
“Remembering those who preceded us, who founded our Church. The Church of Quebec is prolific! Prolific in many missionaries, who went everywhere. The world was filled with Canadian missionaries, like these two. Now the advice: that this memory does not lead us to abandon forthrightness. Do not abandon courage! Perhaps… no, not perhaps. It is true. The devil is envious and does not tolerate a land that is so prolific in missionaries. Our prayer to the Lord is that Quebec returns to this path of fruitfulness, to giving the world many missionaries. And that these two who — so to say — founded the Church in Quebec assist us as intercessors; that the seed which they sowed may grow and give fruit of new men and women with courage, with foresight, with a heart open to the call of the Lord. Today we must ask this for your homeland! And they from heaven will be our intercessors. May Quebec return to being that source of brave and holy missionaries.
“This, then, is the joy and the challenge of this pilgrimage of yours: to commemorate the witnesses, the missionaries of the faith in your country. Their memory sustains us always in our journey towards the future, towards the goal, when ‘the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces…‘. ‘Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation‘ (Is 25:9).”
Even though they lived in the 17th century, Saint François de Laval and Sainte Marie de l'Incarnation can still teach us something today. If one thinks that it is difficult to announce the Gospel to the people of today who are indifferent or even hostile to the Catholic Faith, one must remember that when these two new saints arrived in Quebec City, there was no school, no cathedral; they had to build everything — they even had to learn the languages of the native people to teach them the Faith.
|Robert Roy, an award-winning sculptor of St. Jean Port-Joli, Quebec, and also a Pilgrim of St. Michael for many years, was commissionned by the Ursuline nuns of Quebec City to sculpt a statue of Marie de l’Incarnation, which was to be given to Pope John Paul II during the beatification ceremony in Rome in 1980. Mr. Roy could not make the trip to Rome at that time, but was able to attend the canonization in October 2014 in Rome with his wife (picture on right).|