Périer, Marguerite (c. 1645–?)

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Périer, Marguerite (c. 1645–?)

French writer, niece and biographer of Blaise Pascal, whose miraculous cure inspired his religious conversion. Name variations: Margot Perier. Born in 1645 or 1646; death date unknown; daughter of Florin Périer and Gilberte Pascal Périer (sister of Blaise Pascal);had at least two sisters and one brother; educated at Port Royal; had miraculous recovery from an ulcerated eye on March 24, 1656.

Works:

Life of Pascal.

Marguerite Périer was the niece and god-daughter of the great French mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal (1623–1662). Her miraculous cure from a serious illness at the age of ten greatly inspired him. Périer had had an ulcerated eye for two years, causing the area from her eye to her throat to be swollen and sensitive. On March 24, 1656, during a communion service involving a relic believed to be from Christ's crown of thorns (a fragment of a thorn encased in a gold enamel sun), Périer touched the relic to her face at the bidding of one of the nuns at the Abbey of Port Royal. During that day the ulcer disappeared, and the surgery (a cauterization) which the family had been considering was canceled. As well, the severe migraines from which the little girl had suffered never recurred.

The miracle was disputed, particularly by the Roman Catholic Jesuits, as it supported the views of their rivals the Jansenists, but it was officially recognized on October 22. (It now might be explained in terms of natural causes.) Marguerite's cure drew more visitors to Port Royal, which already attracted religious pilgrims, and the relic is said to have continued to provide miraculous cures, although it was ineffective outside of the town.

According to Périer's biography of her uncle Blaise, A Life of Pascal, he was converted to Christianity two years earlier, from listening to a sermon by M. Singlin on December 8, 1654. It was the cure of Marguerite, however, which confirmed him in the Jansenist approach. (See also Port Royal des Champs, Abbesses of.)

sources:

Mortimer, Ernest. Blaise Pascal. London: Methuen, 1959.

St. Cyres, Viscount. Pascal. London: John Murray, 1909.

Steinmann, Jean. Pascal. Trans. by Martin Turnell. London: Burns & Oates, 1965.

Catherine Hundleby , M.A. Philosophy, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

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Périer, Marguerite (c. 1645–?)

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