Mother Marie De Villeneuve

Mother Marie died two years after Libermann on October 2, 1854. Pope Francis canonized her in 2015 according to her baptismal name, St. Jeanne-Émilie de Villeneuve.

The Duquesne Collection provides the translation of 19 spiritual letters by Libermann to this saint written from 1842 to 1847.

Facing many trials in the establishment of her community St. Émilie sought encouragement that Fr. Libermann could provide. "As a rule God's works unfold and develop gradually, little by little. You have started the building. It does not belong to us, weak creatures, to finish it, but to Our Lord. He has placed you there as the first stone and it is possible that you may not know exactly what He has in store for you. This is God's way, usually..."

  • Fr. Libermann advises that the language of Jesus is acquired through silence. He advises against adopting too many devotions though they are holy in themselves. Silence is the preferred language of God. "If we want to speak the language of grace well, we must forget the language of our fallen nature."
  • Fr. Libermann speaks of Mother Marie's role as superior. "One all-embracing rule is that we did not come to be served but to serve. You are the first servant of your community. ... Mildness and humility should therefore be the characteristics of your rule. ... You are a domestic servant in the house of Jesus Christ, and are charged with seeing that the children carry out His will."
  • Fr. Libermann counsels patience with those who are weak and a willingness to admit to mistakes. "Do not be so unbending. ... We should humble ourselves and remain in our nothingness before God,... for the sake of serving the spiritual good of those whom we ought to love and treat more tenderly than others." He chastises himself for his harshness towards those struggling in the way of Christian holiness and warns, "When we devour sick sheep, because we are seeking our own advantage, we are truly wolves."
  • Mother Marie sought Fr. Libermann's advice in directing her sisters. He urges her to distrust her own opinion in some measure. If he were guiding one particular sister, "I would try to forget what you have told me and I should distrust everybody no matter how wise, for I feel certain that prejudices greatly influence us either for or against a person ... It is so easy and comfortable to reach to other and to urge them to do what we ourselves fail to do."
  • Fr. Libermann and Mother Marie were in regular correspondence, with the last recorded letter written to her on November 19, 1851. Libermann died the following February. Mother Marie mourned his passing in a letter to his successor, Fr. Schwindenhammer, "I have not been less sensitive to the news of the death of him whom we also regard as our father. He was so good for our congregation! It is to him that we owe our dear missions; the lights that God has given us; and the spirit he asks of us. Also, I feel, as one of you, the sacrifice that God has just asked of you."