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      The Life of Marie Thérèse de Lamourous

The Life of Marie Thérèse de Lamourous

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  • 23 October 2013
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Marie-Thérèse de Lamourous was born at Barsac on November 1, 1754, of an old Bordeaux family on her father’s side; her mother belonged to the very distinguished nobility. She was the eldest of 6 children.

Starting in 1789 Bordeaux suffered the “fanaticism” of the Révolution and the Catholic resistance. In the religious history of this time, Marie Thérèse de Lamourous occupies an important place.

Thirty-five years old at the time, matured by trials, moved by a great interior force, gifted with an open and well-developed intelligence, her great dynamism would enable her to master difficult situations. On very good terms with the elite of the Bordeaux clergy, she placed herself at the service of the rebel priests.
A decree of April 16, 1794obliged nobles toleave fortified towns and seaports.

Marie-Thérèse and her father went to live at Pian Médoc. The Hermitage estate covers numerous acres of woods, prairies, and vineyards… in the middle of which one can still visit “The Shepherd’s House.

The Revolution was hardly over, when Mlle de Lamourous, on the advice of Father Chaminade, her spiritual director since 1784, devoted herself to the moral recovery and the social reintegration of women whom misery had forced into prostitution in order to survive.

A friend of Mlle de Lamourous, Jeanne Pichon de Longueville had opened a refuge for women moved by repentance, who wished to escape from an “evil milieu”!

Marie-Thérèse had such repugnance for these women, that she would make long detours not to meet them. However, she quieted her sentiments and agreed to go and see these poor women. As soon as she was among them, her repugnance for them disappeared: a torrent of peace flooded her soul.

Mlle de Lamourous shook hands with them, and this familiar act won the esteem of these “repentant women” who exclaimed : "Ah ! Here is someone who can handle us!”

… she still hesitated and returned to her Hermitage. Her Spiritual Director left her free. A dream helped her decide: she saw the last judgment where these “repentant women,” before falling into the abyss, shouted reproaches at her: “If you had come, we would have been saved”…

Although she was sick, Marie-Thérèse, left at once. Unable to go on foot, she rode a donkey to reach Bordeaux. Would a simple visit be enough? She feared… and also desired to perform an heroic act.

In Bordeaux, with Father Chaminade, Marie Thérèse again visited the “repentant women.”

When it was time to leave, she took the candle, showed her friends to the door and there, as if playing a joke on them, said simply:
“GOOD NIGHT, I AM STAYING”
… and the “Miséricorde” was born!

The beginning of the work was difficult. Putting all her confidence in Providence, Marie-Thérèse did not turn away any person asking for refuge. Mlle de Lamourous was able to share the secret of her work founded on this Word of the Gospel:

“SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE GIVEN YOU BESIDES.” (Mt 6: 33)

Mlle de Lamourous became the foundress of a religious Congregation at the request of her collaborators. There were fourteen religious at her death in 1836, and the house had 190 “penitents.” With the years, the acceptance of prostitutes widened to include young women in very serious personal or family difficulties.

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