Following the example of Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey, we turn in confidence to Saint Joseph, our protector and model of the interior life. We pray especially to the patron Saints of the Congregation: St. Teresa, St. Martin, St. Francis Xavier and St. Peter Claver. We learn from them to unite intimacy with Christ and courageous zeal in the service of the mission. (General Chapter Ordinances, 2000)
Anne Marie had chosen Bernard as patron of the first chapel dedicated in Chalon in 1807. She was thus acknowledging her connection with the Trappist monk Dom Augustin de l’Estrange and her experience as a novice at Val Sainte. But the priest who was to celebrate the first Mass questioned her choice. “St. Teresa always dedicated her houses to St. Joseph,” he said. “Besides, my name is Joseph!” Recalling the great saint’s revelation to her of her vocation Anne Marie acquiesced without further ado. Henceforth, Joseph was to be the patron and provider of the congregation. His feast is celebrated on March 19th.
St. Teresa of Avila
Teresa was the great reformer of Carmel who worked to reestablish the Carmelite way of life as it was lived at its origins. During her lifetime, she established many reformed houses of the Order all over Spain and, with St. John of the Cross, was also instrumental in bringing the reform to the male Carmelite Order. The saint is said to have come to the young Anne, a postulant at the Convent of Charity in Besançon, during a time of struggle to know God’s Will for her. Teresa showed her many children of color saying, “These are the children God is giving you.” She told Nanette that she was to found a new congregation that would care for these children. The Church celebrates the feast of St. Teresa on October 15th. St. Teresa teaches us to seek God in all things and to unite contemplation and action.” Under her protection and that of St. Marin. St. Francis Xavier and St. Peter Claver, the Congregation pursues its mission in the world in order that “the whole human race might become one people of God, form one body of Christ and be built into one temple of the Holy Spirit. ( Rule of Life, p. 15)
St. Martin of Tours
During the 18th and early 19th century, Martin was a very popular saint in France, especially in Burgundy where Anne-Marie was born, probably because he was the patron of vintners as well as soldiers. Born in Hungary in 316 to pagan parents, he was conscripted in the army because his father was an army officer. He later became a Christian and a conscientious objector. The charges brought against him were eventually dropped and Martin was free to become a monk. In 360 he settled in Gaul (France) and was soon joined by disciples. Together, they founded the first monastery in Gaul. In 371 the people proclaimed Martin Bishop of Tours. He served as a bishop –monk and converted many pagans to the faith. He died in 397. The biography of Martin written by his friend, Sulpicius Severus, relates the many good works and wondrous deeds that made him such a popular saint. In art, he is usually shown on horseback, handing his cloak to a poor man. Anne-Marie saw in this saint, both a model for evangelization and a protector as she began working to save the faith from the destructive influences of the French Revolution. The fact that she was baptized on November 11, the day the Church celebrates his life, made him all the more significant to her.
St. Francis Xavier
Born in Navarre April 7, 1506, St. Frances Xavier died on the Island of Sancian near the coast of China December 2, 1552. He was one of the first members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). St. Ignatius sent him to evangelize the Indies in 1541. He lived out his life bringing the gospel to the peoples of India and Japan. It is truly amazing that one man in the short span of ten years (May 6, 1542 – December 2, 1552) could have visited so many countries, crossed so many seas, preached the Gospel to so many nations, and moved so many people to embrace the gospel. His zeal for proclaiming the Word has never been matched. Considered the greatest missionary since the time of the Apostles, he was an attractive model for the missionary zeal displayed by Anne Marie and her daughters. Francis Xavier was canonized with St. Ignatius on .The Church celebrates his life on December 3.
St. Peter Claver
(1580-1654) was a Spanish Jesuit missionary to Latin America. He is known as the “Apostle of the West Indies” and the “Slave to the Slaves. Haunted by a vision of going where he was really needed, Claver left his theological studies before their completion and in 1610 went to Cartagena, New Granada (now Colombia). In his profession he stipulated that he would “never admit any inferiority in the Negro slaves,” and so that there would be no doubt of this, he proclaimed himself their slave, adding to his signature ethiopium semper servus (slave of the Negroes forever). For the remaining 38 years of his life, Claver lived in Cartagena, one of the major Caribbean ports in Latin America to which slaves were imported. He had no social program but simply geared his life to the primary needs of the often sick and broken slaves who arrived on American shores. He was not a “revolutionary” priest, intent on changing the fabric of society; he simply cared for the slaves and exhorted the slave masters to be humane. He died of the plague on Sept. 8, 1654 and was canonized in 1887. Three years later he was declared the patron saint of the missions to the Negroes; hence his adoption as a special patron by the Cluny Sisters. We celebrate his feast on September 9.