Montreal Area (Varennes, Quebec): Marguerite d’Youville Sanctuary
About Marguerite d’Youville:
Born here in 1701, Marguerite was a French Canadian woman who was widowed at the age of 30. In 1731, she, along with three other women, founded a religious association, the Order of Sisters of Charity of Montreal, commonly known as the Grey Nuns of Montreal. The purpose was to work with the poor, unwed mothers and orphans of Montreal. Such kindness to the poor was not always appreciated in those days, so much so that calling them the Grey Nuns of Montreal was almost a sign of dis-respect (her husband had been a bootlegger, so this was not the cream of society).
Nevertheless, the association grew, and in 1744, formally became a religious order. Among their accomplishments, they brought the General Hospital of Montreal back from ruins and debt…only to have it destroyed by fire in 1765. They soon rebuilt the hospital, and it is in this hospital that Marguerite died in 1771.
Among the other accomplishments of the order following her death, was the founding of D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York in 1908. It was the first college in Western New York to offer baccalaureate degree programs for women. There is a statue of her on the campus.
She was canonized by Pope John-Paul II in 1990, the first native-born Canadian to be declared a saint. She is patroness of widows and difficult marriages.
Her Feast Day is October 16 in Canada. Other countries may have different dates.
About the Sanctuary of St. Marguerite d’Youville:
The Shrine here in Varennes, just a short distance (18 miles) from Montreal, and that is why we have included it in our Montreal map. It was built in 1961 and contains a museum that showcases her life, work and spirituality. Marguerite made her mark in Varennes, the city of her birth, as well as in Montreal and in the world of Canadian medicine.
They are open June 18 to October 2, 1:00-4:30 p.m. Wednesdays to Saturdays and Sundays 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
There is a gift shop located in the sanctuary’s museum that has religious items such as rosaries, medals, statues and various items bearing the likeness of Saint Marguerite d’Youville.
Traveling to Varennes:
As mentioned above, Varennes is just outside the city limits of Montreal, which is why we included this in our Montreal section. You can reach it by Subway (Line 4) from downtown Montreal.
Address: 201, rue Sainte-Anne, Varennes, QC J3X 1R6
Tel: +1 450-583-6023
Click here for the official website of the Sanctuary of St. Marguerite d’Youville.