Marie Clotilde (d. 1794)

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Marie Clotilde (d. 1794)

Saint . Died in 1794; her feast day is October 23.

Caught in the upheaval of the French Revolution, Marie Clotilde, mother superior of an Ursuline convent at Valenciennes, became a political and religious martyr, as did the 32 sisters under her supervision. In August 1792, the Ursulines were ordered by municipal officials to vacate their convent, at which time they were also deprived of their teaching rights. By September 17 of that year, all but five of the sisters (left behind due to illness) were furnished with passports and taken to the Belgian city of Mons by carriage. They remained there until November of the following year when they returned to Valenciennes, now occupied by the Austrians. Permitted back into the convent, with their teaching rights restored, the order flourished for a short time, even taking in three dispossessed nuns—two Brigittines and a Poor Clare. However, when the French liberated Valenciennes in August 1794, the nuns were numbered among those suspected of sympathizing with the former regime and were imprisoned in their convent. While two-thirds escaped, 11 others, including Marie Clotilde and three who also became saints, Marie Claire, Marie Anne , and Marie Rose , were sentenced to die by hanging. They were executed in the marketplace in two groups, on October 17 and 23, 1794. All mounted the scaffold with the courage of the faithful, declaring that they were happy to have returned to Valenciennes "to teach the Catholic, apostolic, and Roman religion."

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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