From Marseille to Outremont

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The story of Sister Marie de Sainte-Marthe, snjm

Claire Roubaud was born in Marseille, France, on July 16,1866. Orphaned at the age of seven, she was taken in by the Religieuses des Saints Noms de Jésus et de Marie (The Religious of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary) in her home town. She attended their school, studied for seven years in their scolasticate and then, in her own words, “donned the postulant’s bonnet” in that community on September 29, 1885. On January 28, 1886, she made her profession and received the name Sister Marie de Sainte-Marthe. She took her final vows on February 5, 1887.

Sister Marie de Sainte-Marthe’s places of mission included the Tarascon convent. Between 1901 and 1905, when she was working at the Mother House at 110 Magdeleine Blvd. in Marseille, new laws were passed by the French government that culminated in the dissolution of religious orders and the confiscation of their assets. In Rose of Canada, Father Duchaussois stated that, in 1903, when more than 200 SNJM sisters were teaching in 30 boarding schools and day schools, the order was dissolved. With no establishments outside France where they could go and thus save their order, some sisters were imprisoned, others resigned themselves to the situation and returned to their families, and still others fled to communities that were in a position to resist.

Sister Marie de Sainte-Marthe found refuge with an aunt and uncle who died several years later. But she never waivered from her desire to fulfill her vocation to the holy names of Jesus and Mary. In the spring of 1911, she wrote to Mother M.-Martin-de-l’Ascension, superior general at the mother house of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Québec, who admitted her into Mother Marie-Rose’s congregation.

On October 22, 1911, the 45-year-old Claire Roubaud entered the Hochelaga novitiate; she again took the name of Sister Marie-de-Sainte-Marthe and made her profession on August 5, 1913. She then worked at Hochelaga Convent, Outremont Boarding School and the Motherhouse in Outremont where she was responsible for supervision, teaching the students needlework, making liturgical vestments and embroidering altar linens.

On May 13, 1942, at the age of 75 years, nine months and eight days, Sister Marie de Sainte-Marthe died as a result of pulmonary problems. She had been in the service of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary for more than 55 years.