Blessed Rosalie Rendu

Blessed Rosalie Rendu

Blessed Rosalie Rendu introduced the first members of the St Vincent de Paul Society to people they could assist and provided advice.

A painting of Blessed Rosalie Rendu - head and shoulders.

Who is Sister Rosalie Rendu?

Rosalie Rendu was born Jeanne Marie Rendu on 9 September 1786 in Confort, France. She was the eldest of four girls, and with their parents, they lived simply in the mountains. Her parents were well-respected.

When Jeanne was three years old, the French Revolution broke out in France. At this time, many faithful priests were forced to flee to avoid harm, and the Rendu family became a refuge for many of these priests.

Following the death of her father and baby sister, Jeanne helped her mother look after the family. She was sent to a boarding school for two years to get a good education. While there, Jeanne discovered a hospital where the Daughters of Charity cared for the sick. Her mother gave her permission to spend some time at the hospital, and Jeanne soon felt called by God to become a Daughter of Charity.

When she was nearly 17 years old, Jeanne entered the Motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity and received the name Rosalie. She took vows to serve God and the poor and spent over 50 years living out those vows.

She opened a free clinic, a pharmacy, a school, an orphanage, a childcare centre, a home for the elderly and a youth club for young workers. She became known as the “good mother of all”, and helped Frédéric Ozanam and his friends to do good works, which is how the St Vincent de Paul Society started.

As well as assisting the disadvantaged in the streets and in their homes, Sister Rosalie showed great courage and leadership during the bloody uprisings that took place in France in 1830 and 1848. During the battles, Sister Rosalie would risk her life by climbing up on the barricades to help wounded soldiers, regardless of which side they were fighting on.

Although her health was always fragile, Sister Rosalie never rested; she preferred to keep serving the poor. Eventually, her huge workload – combined with her age and increased frailty – broke her resistance and she became progressively blind during the last two years of her life. Sister Rosalie died on 7 February 1856 and was beautified on 9 November 2003.

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