St. Marie Magdalen Postel

My first saint, on the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is St. Marie Magdalen Postel (1746-1846).

What did I know about this saint before today?

Nothing. I'd never heard about this saint.

Why did I choose this saint?

I'm interested in saints that experienced the French Revolution. Somehow, it's easier to relate to them, since the French Revolution seems the very fountainhead of modern secularization and even the modern world. Very often, as with St. Postel, they were heroically loyal to the Church through the religious persecution of the Revolution. Also, I like French saints.

What did I learn about this saint? 

There's a fair amount about her on the internet. She was born in Normandy to a rope-maker; I guess that was a respectable but not genteel occupation. She took a private vow of virginity as a girl. I'm fascinated by private vows of virginity. Do they still happen? The last such vow I've heard of was Ronald Knox, the brilliant Anglican priest who converted to Catholicism in the early twentieth century.

She was running a girls school when the Revolution broke out. The girls school was closed and St. Marie took an active part helping priests who would not swear a vow of loyalty to the Revolution (a practice that the Vatican forbade), and who had to go into hiding. She was permitted to carry the Blessed Sacrament and even to administer it to the dying, in cases of emergency. Since Mass had to be celebrated in secret at this time, a small chapel was created underneath St. Marie's stairs.

She founded a religious community with two others in Cherbourg (NW France) in 1805. Two  years later, two others had joined them and they all took their vows. They called themselves the Poor Daughters of Mercy (later Sisters of Mercy of the Christian Schools) and ran schools for girls. The community encountered various problems, having to relocate on several different occasions over thirty years. She died aged ninety. After her death, her congregation spread to several other countries, but I can't work out if it still exists today. She was beatified in 1908 and she was canonized in 1925.

Thoughts in Conclusion

I must admit, I rather avoid reading about saints who founded religious congregations, because there are so many of them. They seem a bit "samey", very often. (Obviously, there are exceptions.) 

The most interesting thing about St. Postel, for me, is her loyalty to the Faith during a time of persecution.


  1. Founders of the post French Revolution era are something unique, though when you consider all the religious houses that were destroyed or nationalised/secularized . We can't comprehend in our own day how much catholic society depended on the work of Orders. It was really a phoenix -like resurgence from the ashes

    1. I didn't realize that-- thank you. I don't know a huge amount about the period.


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