September 19th - St. Émilie de Rodat
Marie Guillemette Émilie de Rodat was born September 6, 1787 at Druelle, Rodez,
France. She was the daughter of a well-to-do family and at the age of 18 months,
she was taken to live with her maternal grandmother Madame de Pomayrols, at
Château Ginals. During her time there, the French Revolution broke out, but the
Château, which was in a very remote area, did not suffer seriously.
Émilie grew up a pious young woman, but not without the usual difficulties. She
tended to be a bit willful and an occasional childhood temper tantrum was not
A story is told of a young cousin trying to kiss her and she
promptly slapped his face. As she grew into her teens, her devotion cooled and
she became immersed in social activities. She would recite her prayers as
quickly as possible. She also sought to change confessors because she felt that
her's was just too strict.
After the Revolution, Madame de Pomayrols retired to Villefranche and Émilie
returned to Ginals. She found her life more austere and monotonous and
experienced a profound spiritual awakening. In 1804 she moved back to
Villefranche and worked with the sisters at Maison Saint-Cyr where she had gone
to school. She subsequently entered three different religious communities, but
didn't find her vocation until she and some companions opened a school for the
poor children of Villefranche in 1815.
Abbé Marty, the spiritual director of Maison Saint-Cyr, encouraged and helped
Émilie. He wrote a rule modeled on that of St. Augustine and helped her to
expand the focus of this new community, known as the Sisters of the Holy Family
of Villefranche. The sisters made their first perpetual professions in 1820 and
were formally approved by the bishop of Rodez in 1832.
Against insurmountable odds Émilie made foundations wherever help was sought.
She had great faith in God's providential care and money and materials seemed to
miraculously appear when needed. She suffered from spiritual dryness
occasionally, but her faith in God helped her to remain cheerful and optimistic
no matter what difficulty presented itself. Even in the face of ridicule and
criticism, she maintained a gentle and compassionate spirit. The community
flourished rapidly and by 1852 there were 32 convents which ran schools, as well
as 5 contemplative communities. The sisters also set up orphanages and did
extensive work with the poor.
Afflicted with cancer she died at the age of 65 on September 19, 1852. She was
canonized in 1950. Émilie is a great example to us of perseverance and trust in
God. She experienced and sometimes gave in to the same temptations we all do as
we grow up. Her adult life was filled with uncertainties, disappointments,
rejections and seeming inadequacies. But, Émilie continued to trust in God's
love and care for her and she was able to be His instrument of blessing to so
many of His people.
"Of how much greater faith and salutary fear are they who . . .
confess their sins to the priests of God in a straightforward manner
and in sorrow, making an open declaration of conscience. . . . I
beseech you, brethren, let everyone who has sinned confess his sin
while he is still in this world, while his confession is still
admissible, while the satisfaction and remission made through the
priests are still pleasing before the Lord" (ibid., 28).
-St Cyprian of Carthage.
Christopher (Topher) Anderson,MWD