Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 26, 2006
Aurelie followed Christ's vision
The village girl lived her faith and founded the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood
Mother Catherine Aurelie – July 6
By TED FITZGERALD
- WCR photo by Ted Fitzgerald
The 1877 Monastère du Précieux-Sang is situated in the thriving city of Saint-Hyacinth, Que.
Residents of this Quebec hub of some 52,000 people will tell visitors that it is a city of saints, particularly evidenced by the many religious institutions along the old town's rue Girouard Ouest.
In a distance of about six blocks, a cathedral, a parish church and several convents grace the attractive thoroughfare.
Prominent along the saint's street is the brilliantly coloured red brick motherhouse of the religious order, Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood which contains a shrine at the tomb of the congregations' founder, Mother Catherine Aurelia.
Aurelie Caouette was born in 1833, seventh in a family of nine in the small Quebec village of St-Hyacinthe.
Raised by devout parents, she displayed a surprising level of spirituality from an early age and a religious future was predicted for her by the parish priest.
At school, Aurelie was noted for her talent, kindness and piety.
And while attending boarding school for five years with the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, her devotion to Christ's passion greatly increased.
After 1850, she experienced 11 formative years of great peace, but also significant physical and moral suffering.
The young woman began to experience the stigmata and visions of Our Lady and at times was transported at night to nearby Notre-Dame du Rosaire Church.
A vision in which Christ requested devotion to his Precious Blood caused her to commit herself to a life dedicated to that cause. With the encouragement and co-operation of St-Hyacinthe Bishop Joseph LaRocque, Aurelie gained approval to establish the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood on Sept. 14, 1861.
Three companions joined the foundress in taking the habit and two years later she became Mere Catherine-Aurelie du Précieux-Sang. This was the first Quebec contemplative community founded by a Canadian.
- WCR photo by Ted Fitzgerald
A portrait of Mere Catherine-Aurelie di Précieux-Sang.
Mother Superior continued to experience dramatic spiritual phenomena for the rest of her life and despite the problems associated with leading and managing a growing congregation, always persisted in her veneration of the Blood of Christ.
Aurelie's legacy, the Monastery of the Precious Blood, is situated in thriving St-Hyacinthe, central town of the municipality of Maskoutaine, an important agri-centre in Quebec's Monteregie region. The area evolved from the 1748 Seigneury of Maska which was settled on the banks of the Yamaska River in 1751 by Jacques-Hyacinthe Simon Delorme.
Visitors to the monastery chapel are impressed by the large size and aura of spirituality emanating from the quiet 1877 sanctuary.
Intensive restorations were completed in 1996 in preparation for well-attended ceremonies associated with the centenary of the death of Mere Catherine in 2005.
Those approaching the adjacent shrine are admitted by sisters wearing the white habit of the order, in recognition of its other patron, Mary Immaculate, overlain by the unique full length red scapular, emblematic of the Precious Blood.
The granite sarcophagus of Mother Catherine occupies a small area next to her tiny office and bedroom which have been preserved intact over the years. A few artefacts and pictures associated with the holy woman's life adorn the walls of the little shrine.
Books, prayer cards and tiny photo relics of Mother Catherine can be obtained from the sisters who are also a great source of information about their order. The order has spread to encompass all Canada, with some 200 members, plus establishments in Japan and the U.S.
Daily Mass and Vespers are celebrated in the chapel as part of the congregation's ongoing ministry "to pray in the name of the Church."
Reports of miracles due to intercession of Mere Catherine have encouraged the active advancement of her cause for eventual canonization through the Centre Aurelie Caouette.
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