Rosalie Rendu - Liturgical texts

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Sister Rosalie Rendu was born on 9 September 1786 in the village of Confort in the Ain Department of France. From her childhood she was educated in the practice of charity, so the attraction to the service of the poor came naturally to her. At the age of 15 she was allowed to spend some time with the Daughters of Charity in the nearby hospital of Gex; it was the beginning of her vocation. On 25 May 1802, she was received into the novitiate in the Motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. When she fell ill, she was assigned to a house in the Mouffetard district, where she remained for 53 years, until her death on 7 February 1856. She dedicated herself to the works of the Community and began new ones. She was particularly devoted to visiting the poor in their homes. The sisters' house became the refuge of the poorest. Especially memorable is the orientation and help she gave to a group of university students, among them Blessed Frederick Ozanam and Venerable Léon Le Prevost, who began the “Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul.”

From the Common of Holy Women, one who worked for the underprivileged.


(From the “Spiritual Conferences” of St. Vincent de Paul to the Daughters of Charity [Vincent de Paul Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, II Conferences, Volume IX, Conference 51, “The Spirit of the Company”])

To assist the poor corporally and spiritually you even go out to look for them

“Now, for you to understand this [your spirit] clearly, dear Sisters, you must know the difference between your Company and many others that profess to assist poor persons as you do, but not in the same way you are accustomed to do. The spirit of the Company consists in giving yourselves to God to love Our Lord and to serve Him corporally and spiritually in the person of the poor in their homes or elsewhere, to instruct poor young women, children, and all those whom Divine Providence may send you, without distinction of persons. Just imagine, dear Sisters, this Company of Daughters of Charity is composed, for the most part, of poor young women. How excellent is this characteristic of poor young women — poor in their clothing and poor in their food! In fact, people call you poor Daughters of Charity, and you should consider it a great honor to have this title because the Pope himself considers it a great honor to be called the Servant of the Servants of God … You have left your villages, your parents, and your possessions. And why? To love Our Lord and His maxims. You are His daughters and He is your Father. He begot you and gave you His Spirit; for whoever sees the life of Jesus Christ sees beyond all comparison the same thing in the life of a Daughter of Charity.

“And what did He come to do? He came to teach and to enlighten. That is what you are doing. You are continuing what He began; you are His daughters, and you can say: ‘I am the daughter of Our Lord,' and you must resemble Him. “So then, what is the spirit of the Daughters of Charity? It is the love of Our Lord, Sisters. Isn't it natural for daughters to love their father? And in order for you to understand what this love is, you should know that it operates in two different ways: one affective; the other effective.

“Affective love is the tender element of love. You should love Our Lord tenderly and affectionately, like a child who cannot tear herself away from her mother and who cries out ‘Mama' as soon as she tries to move away from her. In the same way, a heart who loves Our Lord cannot endure His absence and must hold fast to Him by this affective love, which produces effective love. For the first does not suffice, Sisters; you must have both. Affective love must pass into effective love, which is the practice of the works of the Charity and the service of poor persons undertaken with joy, courage, fidelity, and love. These two kinds of love are like the life of a Sister who belongs to the Charity, for to be a Daughter of Charity is to love Our Lord tenderly and steadfastly: tenderly, being delighted when you speak or think about Him, and truly filled with consolation when you think: ‘Quoi! My Lord has called me to serve Him in the person of the poor; oh! what a happiness!'

“The love of the Daughters of Charity is not only tender; it's effective because they actually serve persons who are poor corporally and spiritually. It is your duty to teach them how to lead good lives. I repeat, Sisters, to lead good lives; that is what distinguishes you from many nuns … the Daughter of Charity should not only take care to assist the sick poor corporally; unlike so many others, she must instruct the poor. You have to do this more than the nuns … you also have to go to seek out the poor in their homes, which, until now, has never been done, whereas they are content to take in those God sends them. “So then, you should take the sick poor two kinds of food: corporal and spiritual, that is, say a few good words to them from your meditation to instruct them … to prompt them to fulfill their Christian duty or to practice patience. God has reserved this work for you….

“Furthermore, when some disaster occurs in Paris — in wartime for example — people come to the Daughters of Charity for help. I see no one better qualified than you to assist the poor in every way. You would not be Daughters of Charity if you were not always ready to render service to those in need.

“That, in general terms, Sisters, is the essence of affective and effective love: to serve Our Lord in His members spiritually and corporally, in their own homes or wherever Providence sends you.”

Responsory Is 58:7-8

R. Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the homeless: * then your light shall break forth like the dawn, your vindication shall go before you. V. Cloth the naked, do not turn your back on your own: R. then your light shall break forth like the dawn, your vindication shall go before you.


O God, you granted the spirit of your love to the Blessed Rosalie, virgin, so that she might assist the poor and abandoned, grant, we beseech you, that, by her example, we too rejoice to recognize Christ in the poor, and to serve him with tireless charity. Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

[Category:Saints and Blesseds of the Vincentian Family]]