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OUR FOUNDRESS

A Brief Biography of Marie Rivier
Foundress of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary


Blessed Marie Rivier
1768-1838
Beatified May23, 1982

Marie Rivier, fondly known as Marinette, was born December 19, 1768 in Montpezat, France. At the end of April, 1770, Marinette, then sixteen months old, had a bad fall which left her severely handicapped. Her mother, a woman of great faith, carried her  each day to the statue of the Pieta in a nearby chapel.

Soon the little girl, who watched her mother pray, was certain: "The Blessed Virgin will cure me!"  Left alone at the feet of Mary holding her dead Son in her arms, Marie meditated. This mystery of passionate love filled her heart. Finally, on September 8, 1774, Marinette began to walk! These four years of "schooling" with Mary marked Marie Rivier's life forever—she obtained every thing through Mary's intercession.
 

When the French Revolution broke out any religious action was suspicious so Marie Rivier held Sunday assemblies in secret.  She was cautious but remained an apostle with a heart of fire!  In 1794, the village of Thueyts beckoned her and she willingly responded.  Soon four young women joined her and allowed themselves to be set afire by the Gospel.  At a time when all the convents were being closed, Marie Rivier opened hers.  On November 21, 1796, feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, Marie and her four companions consecrated themselves to God.  The new community grew very quickly despite the poverty it experienced.


For Marie Rivier and her daughters, Christian education of youth was and will remain a priority.  However, religious education extended to adults as well.  The poor also held a special place in Marie's heart and she opened her first orphanage in 1814.   Even if the community was poor, welcoming the most destitute was sacred.


Nothing would stop Marie's apostolic ardor.  Priests asked her to speak to their parishioners, to assemble the women and girls of their parish, to rekindle fervor.   Marie spoke with a clarity, an energy, and a gentleness that touched every heart.   An inner strength gave her support and caused her to cry out: "Either make Jesus Christ known or die!"  When she died on February 3, 1838 at the age of 69, this Woman-Apostle with a heart of fire had founded 141 houses and had received more than 350 Sisters to continue her mission.  Marie Rivier, "a prophet for our time," was beatified in Rome by Pope John Paul II, on May 23, 1982.

"My daughters will one day cross the seas!"  This prediction came true in 1853 when six Sisters arrived in Canada.   Today, the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary serve in eighteen countries of the world:  France, Switzerland, Canada, United States, England, Spain, Italy, Madeira, Portugal, Mozambique, Japan, Philippines, Senegal, Gambia, Ireland, Peru, Brazil, Cameroon, Ecuador.  Our Generalate is presently located at Castelgandolfo (Rome), Italy.