Pope Francis has set Adèle Garnier, a French foundress who established her order in England, on the road to sainthood, after being lobbied to open her beatification cause by Bishop Joseph de Metz-Noblat of Langres. (The Langres Diocese includes the village where Garnier grew up.)
Mother Xavier McMonagle of the Tyburn Nuns said the nuns had sought the opening of the cause for 20 years.
“It has been a long time, but that’s not such a bad thing,” she said. “It has given us time to research her writings.”
“But, in more recent times, on account of the increasing, widespread fame of her holiness and her powerful intercession in obtaining both spiritual and temporal favors … the time has come to go forward with her cause for canonization,” the order explains on its website.
Garnier was born on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Aug. 15, 1838, in the town of Grancey-le-Château, 30 miles north of Dijon, in northeastern France. There, she lived with her parents and four siblings until she was 8 years old, when her mother died.
Her father then sent her to be raised and educated at a boarding school run by Celestine nuns in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne (110 miles from Grancey-le-Château).
Although smart and reasonably pious, Adèle wasn’t perfect. She later wrote she became difficult and undisciplined in this period, and she put this admission in the context of her being unhappy.
Of course, she was a child who had lost her mother and had been removed from the comforts of home. It would have been a remarkable child who behaved differently.
At age 16, she finished school and met a young man, and the couple became engaged (hers was a normal age for young women to marry back then). But the boy’s impiety led her to break off the engagement.
God not only gave her the grace to endure this difficult period. He gave her numerous other blessings, as well.
For instance, in 1862, when she was 24, she had a vision of the Child Jesus at midnight Mass. This led her to believe God had a religious vocation for her. Poor health, however, prevented her from following this path.
In May 1868, she became governess for a family who owned a chateau, and she stayed there for eight years. The chateau had a chapel, and once during Mass, when the priest held up the Eucharist, she saw the Host turn to flesh. This vision of the Host would later appear on her order’s medals.
However, despite receiving such gifts, like many of us, she often became distracted at Mass. But she used these times to have greater fervency and devotion to the Eucharist.
The late 19th century was a tumultuous time for Western Europe. The Papal States were dissolved in 1870, and popes became “prisoners of the Vatican” until 1929. Her nation lost the Franco-Prussian War and became increasingly godless, with great sacrileges committed within her country’s borders. These events corresponded with a spiritual aridity for Adèle, which lasted nearly a year and a half.
But Jesus left neither her nor France alone. Not long thereafter, construction began on the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris’ Montmartre section, as a means of rekindling fervor toward Christ.
Observing all of this, and with the help of her spiritual director, Adèle discerned Our Lord wanted her at Montmartre to establish perpetual adoration of the Eucharist there.
Through her persistence, this was established at the basilica on Aug. 1, 1885. It has not stopped since.
Previously, around Advent 1875, Adèle had written Paris’ archbishop — Cardinal Joseph-Hippolyte Guibert — requesting permission to found a religious order whose charism was perpetual adoration. While awaiting his answer, she rented an apartment in Montmartre the following spring, but her health failed not long thereafter. She believed this was a sign from God to temporarily return home.
More than a decade later, on Nov. 14, 1887, as she received Communion, she heard Jesus say, “This is the wedding!”
She recounted, “I told the Lord, ‘My God, what is happening? What are you doing?’” The Divine response was: “I am taking possession of you; you are mine. You are my spouse.”
By the 1890s, however, she still had not realized her long-held dream of founding the order. Then, in 1896, when she was 58, she met a 23-year-old woman named Alice Andrade, who felt called to perpetually pray for her nation and the Church.
The two consecrated themselves to this purpose. The next year, two other women joined them, and so they established a residence in Montmartre, where they lived a life in common, praying the office and spending time in adoration. On June 29, 1897, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, in Sacred Heart Basilica’s crypt, they consecrated themselves to Peter and his successors. They took as their motto, “Glory to God through the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
The following March 4, the new archbishop — the now-Servant of God Cardinal François-Marie-Benjamin Richard — authorized the establishment of the nascent order, which took the name Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre.
In 1901, though, the anti-Catholic French government passed the Law of Associations, which allowed for the persecution and outlawing of religious orders. This caused the sisters to flee to England. Eventually, they obtained a large property just feet from where the Tyburn gallows had stood and where 105 Catholic martyrs had lost their lives in the Protestant Revolt.
Adèle continued to experience terrible health, in particular devastating migraines. Despite this, she was unfailingly kind.
In October 1922, Jesus told her that her final agony was near. She died on June 17, 1924. Today, the Servant of God Mother Marie Adèle Garnier of St. Peter is famed for favors regarding babies, families, property, financial matters, priests and spiritual needs.
Brian O’Neel writes from