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Rodat, Émilie de, St.


Foundress of the Sisters of the holy family of villefranche; b. Druelle, near Rodez (Aveyron), France, Sept. 6, 1787; d. Villefranche-de-Rouergue (Aveyron), Sept. 19, 1852. Émilie's parents, who belonged to the upper class, entrusted their daughter, at the age of 18 months, to the care of her maternal grandmother Mme. de Pomayrols, who lived in her chateau at Ginals. During the next 15 years, under her grandmother's direction, Émilie developed into a pious girl devoted to daily prayer and visits to the poor. In 1803 Mme. de Pomayrols retired to a house in Villefranche-de-Rouergue established by Mother Saint-Cyr, an Ursuline, for religious women who had been dispossessed during the french revolution. Émilie returned to Druelle until 1804 when she rejoined her grandmother at Villefranche. There she became acquainted with Abbé Antoine Marty (17571835), a former professor of philosophy in Paris who had suffered exile rather than subscribe to the civil constitution of the clergy. Under his spiritual guidance Émilie aided the poor and taught catechism classes. In 1809 she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction of Nevers, but soon left.

In search of her vocation, she joined for a time the Picpus Sisters, then the Sisters of Mercy of Moissac. To satisfy the complaints of many persons who bemoaned the disappearance of the schools formerly run by the Ursulines, Émilie gathered three companions and in 1815 opened a school for poor children in Villefranche. From this humble beginning developed her religious congregation, whose purpose was the education of girls, the care of the sick, and other charitable works. Abbé Marty, who collaborated in the founding of the institute, composed the rule, modeled on that of St. Augustine, and approved by the bishop of Rodez (1832).

Émilie and her first companions pronounced perpetual vows in 1820. As superior general, Émilie was instrumental in the rapid growth of the congregation, which by 1852 had five cloistered convents, 32 houses connected with schools, and many orphanages. During these years Émilie was afflicted with many spiritual trials because of severe temptations to abandon faith and hope. She was beatified Jan. 9, 1940, and canonized April 23, 1950.

Feast: Sept. 19.

Bibliography: l. aubineau, Vie de la révérende Mère Émilie (Paris 1855; 6th ed. Lyons 1891). É. barthe, L'Ésprit de la révérende Mère Émilie de Rodat, 2 v. (3d ed. Paris 1897). r. plus, Sainte Émilie de Rodat (Toulouse 1950). g. bernoville, La Sainte de Rouergue: Émilie de Rodat (Paris 1959). h. delattre, Dictionnaire de spiritualité et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 4:610614.

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