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Hedwidge Davignon - Biography

HedwidgeDavignon-ovalHedwidge Davignon
Sister Véronique-du- Crucifix
1820-1903

Her youth

Hedwidge Davignon was born in Saint-Mathias-de-Rouville. Her father, Joseph Davignon dit Beauregard, was a farmer. He died when Hedwidge was 5 years old. Her mother, Victoire Vandandaigue, dit Gadbois, taught at Académie Davignon and provided for the education of her 10 children. Hedwidge attended the convent of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame in Saint-Hyacinthe where she developed her aptitudes for the arts and for study.  Later she became a teacher in her mother’s school.

Hedwidge experienced the Troubles of 1837. During a riot, her brother Joseph was arrested and then deported to the United States.

Hedwidge’s first encounter with Eulalie Durocher (Mother Marie-Rose) took place on the occasion of the blessing of the Cross on Mount Saint-Hilaire in 1841. From that time on, the young woman enjoyed visiting Eulalie and Mélodie Dufresne in the presbytery in Beloeil. She would become the 5th Sister in the Congregation.

Her personality

Sister Véronique-du-Crucifix is portrayed to us as an exceptional woman through her qualities of heart and mind, her deep faith and her concern for people. Her great apostolic zeal led her to Oregon after she recognized the major needs of this region.  She brought support, formation and encouragement to the young missionary Sisters. She was highly regarded by the people of Oregon of all ages, races and religious persuasions.

Sister Veronique was sometimes criticized for being too tolerant of clergy who were interfering in the organization and life of the Community. A sensitive woman, she could be seen weeping for joy as well as at times of trial. She found joy and serenity in prayer which helped her to maintain a strong presence in challenging situations.

Her commitment

An extraordinary teacher, Sister Véronique was always drawn to teaching poor children. She effectively contributed to our mission of education through the breadth of her knowledge and implementation of innovations in teaching.  In company with Sister Thérèse-de-Jésus, she had been introduced to the methods of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in 1844. As Directress of Studies, she prepared a Directory which was used within the Congregation for many years.

Active for 56 years, Sister Véronique held important positions of leadership.  She replaced Mother Marie-Rose as Superior General and always tried to maintain the spirit of the foundress. She deemed maintaining unity within the Congregation essential, and she tried to ensure that through good communication.  Her extensive correspondence, her sharing of the experience of her missionary trips and the biographical notes about the foundress testify to her efforts.  

A valiant worker, who was nicknamed “the Mother of the Pacific,” she was at the heart of our history. She fulfilled the mission given to her by Mother Marie-Rose.  Withdrawing to the Infirmary at Hochelaga and suffering from rheumatism, she said with humour that it was better “to be held back by the legs than by the head or the hands” because she could still write and make herself useful.  A wealth of gratitude and admiration followed her when she died at age 83.   

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