The life of Marie Rivier
A short biography of Marie Rivier
Foundress of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary
Marie Rivier, Marinette for her close friends, was born December 19th 1768 inMontpezat,France. Near the end of April in 1770, Marinette, then 16 months old, fell from her bed and remained crippled. Mrs. Rivier, a woman of great faith, would bring Marinette every day in front of the statue of Our Lady of Mercy in a chapel close by.
Soon, the little girl who watched her mother pray, was filled with unshakeable faith: The Blessed Virgin will heal me ! Often left alone at the feet of Mary holding her dead Son in her arms, Marinette contemplates. Secretly, this mystery of infinite love is engraved in her heart. Finally, on the 8th of September, 1774, Marinette suddenly started walking! The four years of “schooling” at the feet of Mary will forever be imprinted in the life of Marie Rivier. She obtains everything from the Blessed Virgin Mary.
When the French Revolution breaks out, any religious act becomes suspect. Marie Rivier secretly gathers the faithful for Sunday Assemblies. She is very prudent, but is most of all an apostle with a burning heart. In 1794, the small town ofThueytscalls her. She leaves her home as a true missionary. Soon, four young women join her and are set afire with the flame of the Gospel. At the very time when most convents are closed, Marie Rivier will open hers. On November 21, 1796, the feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, Marie and her four companions consecrate themselves to God. In spite of great poverty, the new community multiplies rapidly.
For Marie Rivier and her daughters, Christian education of youth is and will always remain a top priority. However, the education of the faith also extends to adults. The poor are always privileged; the first orphanage opens on November 21, 1814. Even if the community is poor, welcoming and helping the poor is a sacred duty.
Nothing stops the apostolic ardor of Marie Rivier. Sometimes, the pastors ask her to preach to their parishioners, to gather the women and the young girls. Marie speaks with such clarity, such energy, such eloquence that she reaches their heart. An interior strength sustains her and makes her cry out: “Either make Jesus Christ known and loved, or die!” When she dies on February 3, 1838, at the age of 69, this apostle with a heart of fire has opened 141 convents and received more that 350 Sisters to continue her work. Marie Rivier, “prophet for our times” was beatified inRome by Pope John Paul II on May 23rd, 1982.
"My daughters will one day cross the seas!” This prediction became reality in 1853 when six Sisters arrive in Canada. Today, the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary are present in twenty countries around the world: France, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, England, Spain, Italy, Madeira, Portugal, Mozambique, Japan, the Philippines, Burkina Faso, Senegal, the Gambia, Ireland, Peru, Brazil, Cameroon and Ghana. Our General House is presently in Castelgandolfo, Italy