Marie Poussepin, Zélie Martin, Pauline Jaricot, but also, in their own way, Mother Teresa and Thérèse of Avila… These women who became saints ran real businesses. Beautiful models for today’s active women.
If France has many patron saints , the Church has also placed it under triple feminine protection: that of the Mother of God , Saint Joan of Arc and “little Thérèse” . However, for a very long time, three other great saints watched over France.
1 THE VIRGIN MARY, MAIN PATRONESS OF FRANCE
“According to an ancient adage”, recalls Pius XI in his letter Galliam Ecclesiae filiam , the kingdom of France was called the “kingdom of Mary”. This is evidenced by the numerous sanctuaries and churches dedicated to the Virgin. In 1922, the Pope counted no less than 34 cathedrals which “enjoy the title of the Virgin Mother of God ; among which we like to remember as the most famous those which stand in Reims, Paris, Amiens, Chartres, Coutances and Rouen. “Sacred monuments” which “bear witness to the ancient devotion of the people to the Virgin”.
2 JOAN OF ARC, SECONDARY PATRONESS OF FRANCE
It is also the same day that the sovereign pontiff appointed Mary Saint Joan of Arc as secondary patroness of France. At the request of the bishops, clergy and faithful of France, he officially recognized her as “second patroness of the first born Daughter of the Roman Church”.
For Pius XI, it was “under the auspices of the Virgin” that Joan of Arc, celebrated on May 30, “received and fulfilled the mission of saving France”. Not only had she placed herself “under the patronage of Notre-Dame de Bermont, then under that of the Virgin of Orléans, finally of the Virgin of Reims”, but once on the stake, “she flew to heaven » murmuring the names of Jesus and Mary.
3 THÉRÈSE OF LISIEUX, THE “LITTLE WAY” OF FRANCE
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Saint Thérèse of Lisieux enjoys immense popularity in France. Quickly after her death, popular devotion developed and she was able to win hearts with her message, both simple and profound. In May 1944, Pius XII declared her secondary patroness of France, equal to Joan of Arc. According to him, Thérèse of Lisieux, celebrated on October 1, saved France. In November 1944, he wrote to the Carmel of Lisieux on this subject:
“Saint Thérèse responded, in recent weeks, as only great friends of God can do, to the trust we placed in her by attributing to her, in concert with the holy liberator of Domrémy, the patronage of your dear homeland, under the higher aegis of Our Lady, in the mystery of her Assumption.This astonishing deliverance of which France has been the object is, without a doubt, one of those blows from Heaven, such as history has recorded more than once in this nation privileged for its religious glories and its vocation. providential.»
4 RADEGONDE DE POITIERS, FORMER PATRONESS OF FRANCE
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If France today has its three patron saints (the Virgin, Saint Joan of Arc and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux), it has long been patronized by other saints, such as Saint Radegonde of Poitiers, celebrated on August 13. Wife of King Franc Clotaire, she fled her husband and the court to become a nun in Poitiers. She founded the Sainte Croix monastery there , participated in the education of many young girls who became nuns, and devoted her life to prayer and charity. If today she is the patron saint of Poitiers, according to traditions linked to the Franks , she has long been the secondary patron saint of France.
5 PÉTRONILLA, THE SAINT WHO MADE FRANCE THE “ELDEST DAUGHTER OF THE CHURCH”
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Saint Petronilla , little known in France, was nevertheless its first patron saint. She is honored each year on the occasion of her feast day with a special mass for France celebrated on May 31 at the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. It was the Frankish king Pepin the Short himself who asked the Pope that Petronilla’s body be brought to the Vatican , that a sanctuary perpetuate his cult there, and that prayers be offered for the Frankish nation.
Because by defending Pope Stephen II against the Lombards and preventing their king Astolphe from seizing Rome and making it the capital, Pepin had given him a kingdom, “the Papal State”, proclaimed on the day of his (second) coronation by the Pope. It is July 28, 754. Pépin then becomes “Son of the Church”, and Saint Petronilla, “the spiritual daughter” of Saint Peter, quite naturally the “patroness of the francs” which will earn France, by analogy, its title of “Eldest Daughter of the Church”. Pétronille remained the national patroness of France until the 17th century.
6 SAINT CLOTILDE, MOTHER OF CHRISTIAN FRANCE
The wife of Clovis, whom the Roman martyrology celebrates on June 4, is a model of admirable holiness. Even today, Saint Clotilde is a source of inspiration and a model thanks to the faith and determination she exudes. It is certainly because she led her husband Clovis, king of the Franks, to convert to Christianity, that traditions linked to the Franks attribute to her the secondary patronage of France.