Marie de Sales Chappuis
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Marie de Sales Chappuis, VHM
|Religious Nun, Foundress, Mystic|
16 June 1793
Soyhières, Canton of Jura, Switzerland
|Died||7 October 1875
Troyes, Aube, France
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
Venerable Marie de Sales Chappuis (16 June 1793 in Soyhières, Canton of Jura, Switzerland – 7 October 1875 in Troyes, Aube, France) was a Roman Catholic nun and a spiritual leader in the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary. She also co-founded the congregation of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales along with Blessed Father Louis Brisson.
Marie-Thérèse Chappuis was born in Soyhières, at that time in the Département du Mont-Terrible in France, on 16 June 1793, to innkeepers, Pierre-Joseph Chappuis (1752–1822) and Marie-Catherine Fleury (died 1837). Her father served in the Cent-Suisses, corps d'infanterie Suisse, attached to the personal guard of the king of France. Her mother was the daughter of François Fleury, Mayor of Soyhières and innkeeper of the village. She was also the niece of Joseph Fleury (1723–1812), the Curé de Soyhières. Out of eleven children born of this union, seven entered religion life. Marie-Thérèse received her sacrament of First Communion in 1802. At the age of twelve years, she entered as an intern pupil in the Visitation Convent at Fribourg, where she remained three years.
In June 1811, she returned to the convent as a postulant, but left it again in three months. Three years later she came back and received the religious habit on 3 June 1815. It was during her novitiate year that Marie-Thérèse, who had taken the name of Marie-Françoise de Sales at her profession on 9 June 1816, experienced in her prayer life extraordinary insights into her relationship with God and the plans that he had in store for her. She steeped herself in the writings of St. Francis de Sales and later exclaimed that she found everything she needed and wanted in his writings and did not bother to read other spiritual books. A year after taking her vows she was sent to Metz, but reasons of health compelled her to return to Fribourg.
In 1826, she was elected superior of the monastery at Troyes, and in 1833, she spent six months in the second monastery in Paris, where she was superior (1838–44). The greater part of her life was spent at Troyes, where she was elected superior eleven times, and where she celebrated, in 1866, the golden anniversary of her religious profession. Her last illness attacked her in September 1875. She died in the odor of sanctity at the monastery of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Troyes on 7 October 1875.
Mother Marie de Sales is celebrated chiefly for her zeal in spreading a certain kind of spirituality which she called "The Way" (La Voie). Her principal biographer, Father Louis Brisson, who had been for thirty years confessor to the Visitandines of Troyes, and was her spiritual director, writes that by this expression - La Voie - "she understood a state of soul which consisted in depending upon the actual will of God, relishing whatever was His good pleasure, and imitating the life of the Saviour externally" (Vie de la Vénérée Mère, Marie-de-Sales Chappuis, Paris, 1886, p. 591). The English edition of her life (London, 1900), in translating this sentence, overlooks the word actuelle (actual): "What did the good Mother mean by this Word, 'The Way'? She meant a state of soul which consists in an entire dependence on the Will of God, by an interior consent to all that is according to His good pleasure, and an exterior imitation of our Saviour" (p. 261). It adds: "Chosen by God to propagate and spread abroad this Way, the good Mother consecrated her whole life to it" (p. 262).
Mother Marie de Sales was highly influential in the spiritual guidance of Leonie Aviat, a boarder at the Visitation School in Troyes. To spread this Way, she along with Father Brisson, founded the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. - "It was in order to extend this Way that she made choice of others like herself, whom she might inspire with zeal, and point out the means, for attaining the desired end. She solemnly asserted that they would participate in the grace which she had herself received from God, by which they would understand how to deal with souls, and how to lead them to a love of this resemblance to their Saviour. This, she said, would be the characteristic work of their apostleship" (ibid.). She and her disciples proclaimed the marvelous efficacity of "The Way". "She added that this Divine action would not be confined merely to a certain number of privileged souls, but that it would be brought within the reach of the most abandoned. Nor would it be confined to souls who dwell under the light and influence of the Gospel, but would reach those who are the farthest from it, and penetrate even to the uttermost parts of the world" (p. 263). "'Wishing to save the world over again,' says one of the leading oblates, Father Rollin, in giving the ideas of the Good Mother, 'Our Lord had to use means until then unknown' ..." (Brisson, op. cit., p. 661). The English "Life" (p. 275) attenuates this passage: "In His insatiable desire to save the world, He willed to employ a means hitherto unknown; a means by which all the glory would redound unto Himself alone, since, being merely His agents, man would claim no part therein ...".
It was during her novitiate year that Marie-Thérèse, who had taken the name of Marie de Sales at her profession, experienced in her prayer life extraordinary insights into her relationship with God and the plans that he had in store for her. She steeped herself in the writings of St. Francis de Sales and later exclaimed that she found everything she needed and wanted in his writings and did not bother to read other spiritual books.
- This is a reference to Christ's statement (John 14:6): "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me."
- Abrégé de la vie et des vertus de notre très-honorée et vénérée Mère Marie de Sales Chappuis (Paris, S. d.)[page needed][author missing];
- BRISSON, Vie de la vénérée mère Marie de Sales Chappuis (Paris, 1891)[page needed];
- Life of the Venerable Mother Mary de Sales Chappuis (London, 1900)[page needed][author missing];
- Annales salésiennes (Paris), passim[full citation needed];
- Positia super introductione causœ beatificationis servœ Dei Mariœ Franciscœ Salesiœ Chappuis (Rome, 1897)[author missing];
- Positio super fama in genere (Rome, 1902)[page needed][author missing].
- Pensées de la ven. Mère Marie de Sales (Paris, 1897);
- FRAGNIÈRE, La Voie: sermon preached at Fribourg, 19 November 1897 (Paris, 1898);
- WATRIGANT, Une nouvelle école de spiritualité in Etudes religieuses (Paris, June, 1899);
- FRAGNIÈRE, Réponse au Rd. Watrigant et justification de la voie de charité de la vénérée Mère Marie de Sales Chappuis (Fribourg, 1900);
- WATRIGANT, Les deux méthodes de spiritualité (Lille, 1900);
- HAGEN, Die ehw. Mutter Marie von Sales Chappuis in Sendbote des gottlichen Herzens Jesu (Cincinnati, 1900); Méthodes de spiritualité in Ami du clergé (6 February 1902);
- GORTET, Lettre sur les vies de la V. Mère Chappuis (12 January 1887), see Revue des sciences ecclésiastigues (Lille, September, 1900), 260;
- CHOLLET, La cause de béatification de la Mère Marie de Sales Chappuis (on the decision concerning the Writings of the venerable mother) in the same review (July, 1902);
- WATRIGANT, L'Ecole de la spiritualité simplifiée (Lille, 1903);
- Il modernismo ascetico in Civiltà Cattolica (8 May 1908);
- CHOLLET, L'ascétique moderniste in Questions ecclesiastigues (Lille, June, July, August, 1909).