emily.jpg

Born: Sept. 12th, 1797
Died: Aug. 24th, 1856
FEast: June 17th
Patron of:  
anti-colonization, single women

Emily de Vialar.jpg

St. Emily
de Vialar

Bio

 

 Emily was born to a wealthy family in France only 3 years after the Reign of Terror had reached it's peak. Since her mother was Catholic, she was secretly baptized and instructed about the faith only at home. She went to school in Paris at the age of 7 until she was 15 when she came home after her mother's death. She did not want to leave school but was now forced to take care of her father and two younger brothers at his estate where he had been unable to manage alone due to his grief at the loss of her mother. He wanted Emily to be married, but she refused. She had other plans.

When she was 35, Emily had finally had enough of her arguments with her father, and, having received a large inheritance from her grandfather, gathered three other women who together founded an order. She used the money to buy a house in town that they used to educate and house children, as well as aiding those who had been neglected by their families.

After more women had joined the order and it had been made official, she traveled to Algeria where one of her brothers now lived to open a hospital to aid in the crisis of a Cholera epidemic. It was a country that badly needed help - France's colonization of it had displaced the people who lived there, causing uprisings, invasions, and poor living conditions. As in the case of all colonization, the French had taken everything from the Algerians. These dire conditions  inspired her to want to travel and work to help people in these situations,  so she and the sisters traveled to set up more schools and hospitals in Tripoli, Beirut, and Cyprus, noting the need for health and education most of all.

In her life, she established a total of 40 houses and sent the sisters wherever in the world they were needed. By 1851, however, her financial advisor had mismanaged her inheritance so badly that she went bankrupt, and this tarnished the sisters' reputation. Her sisters became so poor, giving all they had to others, of course, that sometimes they were forced to go to soup kitchens run by other sisters. Eventually, Emily was able to move the group to Marseilles where other leaders in Catholic religious life aided her in building the group back up. Her sisters had been so sure of Emily's vision and they had trusted her so much, however, that they had not left when they had nothing and believed in her to the end. She passed away in 1856, not long after the move, and was mourned by many.

Prayer

 

Struggling with  both pleasing and taking care of your parents  led to you desiring to help children neglected by their own. your unexpected gift of a home from a relative inspired you to give a home to others. Show us also how to use both our struggles and our gifts for others. 
Amen.

Art Reflection

 

Most of all, I wanted Emily to look determined in her abilities and mission while at the same time saddened at the effects of colonization. That life-changing experience created the rest of her life's mission for her, and she has her sweatshirt on, ready to do the dirty work. Her earrings are anchors for a story in which, on one of her travels, her ship almost sank until she prayed to st. Paul. They landed on malta, where he had also shipwrecked, and dedicated a school she built there to him.

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