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Vialar, Émilie de, St.


Foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition; b. Gaillac (Tarn), France, Sept. 12, 1797; d. Marseilles, Aug. 24, 1856. Vialar was the daughter of Augustin and Antoinette Émilie (de Portal) de Vialar, who belonged to the petty nobility. She studied at the Abbey-aux-Bois in Paris until her mother's death, after which she returned home to care for the household. Refusing a marriage arranged by her father, Vialar took a private vow of chastity and devoted herself to the sick and the poor. With the fortune inherited from her maternal grandfather, she established a house in Gaillac (Dec. 25, 1832), which marks the foundation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. Archbishop François de Gualy of Albi approved the new institute and received the vows of Vialar and her 17 companions (Dec. 16, 1835). From 1835 to 1840 the sisters labored in Algeria, where they won distinction for their heroic care of the afflicted during a cholera epidemic. When Vialar opposed Bishop Dupuch of Algiers in his attempt to render the congregation totally submissive to his aims, he excommunicated the sisters and dismissed them from his diocese. Rumors of these difficulties caused the congregation to move its headquarters from Gaillac to Toulouse (1847) and then to Marseilles (1852), although gregory xvi had praised their labors. By the time of Vialar's death, however, these losses were offset by the establishment of more than 40 houses in the Near East, Asia, and elsewhere. She was beatified June 18, 1939, and canonized June 24, 1951.

Feast: June 17.

Bibliography: g. bernoville, Émilie de Vialar (Paris 1953). p. delooz, "Sainte Émilie de Vialar," Nouvelle revue théologique 82 (1960) 716717.

[v. a. lapomarda]

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