Blessed Catherine was born on May 3, 1632, in a little village in France. She was baptized the same day. Catherine came from a religious family. Her grandparents set a wonderful example for her, especially because of their genuine care for the poor. Catherine watched wide–eyed as her grandmother invited a handicapped beggar into her home. She offered him a bath, clean clothes, and a delicious meal. As Catherine and her grandparents sat around the fire that night, they prayed the Our Father out loud. They thanked God for his blessings.


Because there was no hospital in their small town, the sick were nursed back to health in the home of Catherine’s grandparents. Catherine was just a little girl but she prayed to ask Jesus to make people suffer less.


When she was still quite young, Catherine joined a new order called the Sisters of Saint Augustine. They took care of the sick in hospitals. Catherine received the religious habit on October 24, 1646. Her older sister pronounced her vows the same day. 

In 1648, Catherine listened to the missionary priests begging sisters to come to Canada, which was mission territory at that time. Catherine’s sister was chosen to be one of the first sisters of their order to go as a missionary to Canada. Sister Catherine begged to be chosen too. 

She pronounced her vows on May 4, 1648. She sailed for Canada the very next day. It was the day before her sixteenth birthday.


Life was hard in Quebec, Canada. But Sister Catherine loved the people. The native people were so grateful for her cheerful ways. She cooked and cared for the sick in the order’s simple hospital building. But Sister Catherine learned about fear, too. The Iroquois were killing people and burning villages. She prayed to St. John Brebeuf, one of the Jesuit priests who had recently been killed by the Iroquois in 1649. She asked him to help her be true to her calling. She heard him speaking in her heart, telling her to remain in Canada. 


Food became scarce, and the winters were terribly cold. Some of the sisters could not take the harsh life and constant fear of death. Sadly, they returned to France. Sister Catherine was afraid, too. She found it hard to pray. And while she smiled at all her patients at the hospital, she felt sad inside. It was then, when things were darkest for her, that Sister Catherine made a vow to remain in Canada, performing works of charity for the rest of her life. She was just twenty–two years old.

Despite the hard pioneer life of the French colony, more people came. The Church grew. God blessed the new land with more missionaries. In 1665, Sister Catherine became the novice directress of her community. She kept up her life of prayer and hospital ministry until her death.

Sister Marie Catherine of Saint Augustine died on May 8, 1668. She was thirty–six years old.





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