Bl Mère Emilie Tavernier Gamelin (1800-1851) holy medal
Memorial is September 23.
Daughter of Antoine Tavernier and Marie-Josephte Maurice, the youngest of 15 children. Orphaned young, and raised by her aunts. Educated by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Street school. Felt drawn from an early age to work with the poor and disadvantaged; when her brother was widowed, the 18 year old Emilie went to help him on one condition – their table would always be open to the hungry who came to the door.
Married Jean-Baptiste Gamelin, a wealthy and pious apple farmer, on 4 June 1823. Mother of three sons, all of whom died as children. Widowed on 1 October 1827. Took Mary, Mother of Sorrows, as her guide for dealing with these losses, and during her time in prayer, she came to see all the poor and needy as her new family. She turned her home and inheritance into a shelter for the poor, for orphaned, abandoned or runaway children, the mentally ill, homeless, handicapped, immigrants, and destitute of any form. People began to refer to her home as the House of Providence, and she was soon after to find other residences to help and become such Houses. She worked with prisoners, and cared for the sick, brought in her family and friends to help, and led by her example. For fifteen years she worked on her own, always submitting her ideas to her priest and bishop, and completely obedient to them.
In 1841, Bishop Bourget asked the Daughters of Saint Vincent de Paul to send sisters to help Emilie; the congregation agreed, but last minute problems prevented the sisters from leaving Paris. Seeing no outside help available, the bishop then called upon the faithful in his diocese, and Canadian lay women soon presented themselves to help. From this group, under Emilie leadership and by her example, the Sisters of Providence were formed in Montreal. The congregation’s first vows were made on 29 March 1844 with Emilie as novice, nun, foundress and Mother Superior.
The new community faced many early trials. There were always problems of funds and resoures, disease thinned their ranks, and internal dissent threatened to lose Emilie the support of her bishop. But the group survived. There were 50 sisters at the time of Emilie’s death, less than eight years after the group’s formation. Over 6,000 Sisters have joined the order over the years, today working in Canada, the United States, Chile, Argentina, Haiti, Cameroo, Egypt, the Philippines and El Salvador. At her beatification recognition, Pope John Paul II presented her as a model for all by her life dedicated to the most needy.
- French Canadian Catholic blessed
- Mother of Sorrows, house of Providence The reverse of the medal has an image of the Pieta.