Litany to Marie Rivier’s Virgins
Mary, Mother of Mercy, Marie Rivier’s early childhood educator,
Pray for us.
Mother Mary you bestowed your smile on the children in answer to their confident prayer.
Pray for us.
Mother Mary, Lady of Thueyts,
you gifted us with your seal in our beginnings.
Pray for us.
Mother Mary, Lady of Le Puy, you lead us on the path of humility.
Pray for us.
Mother Mary, Lady of Providence,
Help of the poor, attentive to all our needs..
Pray for us.
Mother Mary, Lady of Fourvière,
Mother Rivier placed her adoration project n your hands
Pray for us.
Mother Mary of the Presentation,
Model of total offering and adoration,
Pray for us.
OUR LADY OF FOURVIÈRE
Fourvière has been a popular place of pilgrimage near Lyon (France) for many centuries. A shrine dedicated to Our Lady was built in 1170. The chapel and parts of the building have been destroyed and rebuilt at different times over the centuries. The protection of the Virgin Mary is attributed to the salvation of the city of Lyon from the bubonic plague that swept Europe in 1643. The Virgin is also credited with saving the city a number of other times, such as from a Cholera epidemic in 1832, and from Prussian invasion in 1870.
It was to this popular Marian sanctuary that on August 27, 1827, Marie Rivier made a pilgrimage. With her usual childlike simplicity and confidence she wrote a long letter to Mary about her many preoccupations and needs, and in particular her project for a houseful of Sisters whose main function would be adoration and prayer. She placed this letter on the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She climbed the hill to this shrine many times during her six-day sojourn in the city to invoke Mary’s intercession.
A few days later, she wrote to Sr. Gonzague: ”Think of how much I prayed to the Blessed Mother for all of you. I hope she will obtain for each one the grace I desire. I so ardently wish happiness for all, especially that all could be true daughters of Mary.”
Today, a commemorative plaque recognizes the role of Mary as Mother and Guardian of the congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary since its beginnings and throughout its history.
Our Lady of Fourvière is commemorated on April 11. Each year on December 8, the city of Lyon thanks the Virgin for saving the city by lighting candles throughout the city. It has been called the Festival of Lights
Our Lady of FOURVIÈRE, pray for us.
OUR LADY OF PROMPT HELP
Marie Rivier often prayed before this statue in urgent matters and desperate situations. The provenance of this statue is not known. It was first venerated while Marie Rivier was at Thueyts and it remained at her bedside throughout the rest of her life. The Blessed Virgin Mary was ever ready to listen to her daughter’s serious concerns and give prompt assistance in desperate situations. And fervent prayers were promptly answered!
One of these situations concerned a boarder who ran away not long before the evening meal. While the Naud brothers searched for the little girl in the midst of a rainstorm, Mother Rivier remained kneeling before the statue beside her bed until the child was found imploring, “Most Holy Virgin, bring the child home to me.” The child had hidden under an old oak tree when she felt a pull to return home where Mother Rivier anxiously awaited her. The little one was found at 10:00 pm on a bridge over a small stream and promptly reunited with Marie Rivier right into open loving arms.
The statue is presently kept at the Mother House of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, Bourg St-Andéol, France; it is on display in Mother Rivier’s room.
Our Lady of PROMPT HELP pray for us.
April – May
OUR LADY OF LE PUY
Marie Rivier joined an ancient line of pilgrims visiting the Blessed Virgin Mary at Le Puy, France. This statue was very dear to Mother Rivier’s heart. She visited her as often as she could, especially when she visited the nearby convents. She confided her hopes, dreams, feelings and concerns in many letters she wrote to Mary. It was here she received the intuition that Mary wanted her to: “Guide your daughters in the ways of humility.” This was during the early years of the foundation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. On her work table, she had a small statue of this Black Virgin.
One of the oldest shrines in the world dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was at Le Puy-en-Velay, France. Legend has it that the first sanctuary was built in 430 following an apparition of Mary to a sick woman of Puy.
It is a major stop on the Way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Crusaders on the way to and from the Holy Land, kings and pilgrims paused at this sanctuary ….. Over time, a cathedral was built on the site.
In 1254, King St. Louis IX gave the cathedral an ebony image of the Blessed Virgin clothed in gold, and the site became the home of the “Black Virgin of Le Puy-en-Velay”.
In 1794: revolutionary authorities burnt the statue and scattered the ashes so that no relics could be made from them.
In 1844, the present statue (an approximate 17th century copy) was taken from another church to assume the empty throne and title of her burnt sister. In 1856, she was crowned by the bishop of Le Puy in the name of Pope Pius IX.
The small Black Madonna is in the cathedral against a curtain backdrop, resplendent in her full golden robe, with only her face and the Christ Child’s showing. On August 15, the Assumption of Mary is celebrated by carrying the Black Madonna statue in a procession through town.
The feast of the Black Virgin of Le Puy-en-Velay is celebrated on July 11
Our Lady of LE PUY, pray for us.
Another statue of Mary on this site calls for attention: Our Lady of France. In the 19th century a colossal statue of the Blessed Virgin cast from the iron of 213 pieces of artillery taken by Pélissier at the battle of Sebastopol, was placed atop the cathedral.
OUR LADY OF MERCY
PIETÀ of Montpezat
Marie Rivier discovered that “this lady” would cure her incapacity to walk. For 4 years, (ages 2-6) she prayed daily to Mary for healing, fully confident that her prayer would be answered. This mother holding her dead son was instrumental in Marie Rivier’s formation in the spiritual life. These hours with the Virgin Mary initiated a spiritual journey which lasted her whole life. Prayers were said with the simplicity of a child, certain that what she wanted would happen. She would cajole the Virgin (“You must be cold, I brought a hat for you”) make promises (“if you cure me, I will bring little children to know and love you.”). How could a mother not respond to such entreaties? Theirs was an on-going dialogue, which continued throughout Marie Rivier’s life.
Photos do not render the simple beauty of this statue of the Pieta, also known as Our Lady of Mercy –. When I personally saw it in Montpezat, I was struck by how beautifully this wooden sculpture expressed Mary’s sorrow.
The Chapel of the Penitents where Marie Rivier prayed with such fervor was not far from the Rivier home. In 1885, the statue was moved to the parish church where it remains until today. In 1984, Denis Picollo sculptured a wooden replica which was placed in the Chapel at Bourg-saint-Andeol.
Submitted by Sr. Janice Fournier, pm
OUR LADY OF GOOD HELP
Marie Rivier made many pilgrimages to this Virgin in Lablachère not far from Montpezat. In her letters to Mary, she spoke as a child to her mother, telling her of all her problems and difficulties in establishing her convents, confident Mary would answer her. In one of these letters she begged the Virgin to help her find qualified personnel to teach in her school and for vocations for her convents. The extreme poverty of the beginnings and her poor health toward the end of her life were some subjects of these petitions. If the problems were not solved fully, she did receive new strength and a continued determination to do God’s Will.
This particular Virgin was enthroned in a chapel in Lablachère in 1682 on Palm Sunday, and quickly became an important pilgrimage site, interrupted only during some days of the Revolution.
The Virgin is beautifully portrayed in a wood carving. She is crowned Queen of heaven, holding a scepter of authority. Jesus is also crowned and holds the world in his hand. As royalty does, they are ready to come to the assistance of those who ask for it.
Our Lady of GOOD HELP, you answered Marie Rivier’s requests many times, pray for us in our needs.
Submitted by Sr. Janice Fournier. PM
OUR LADY OF NAZARETH / OF THE HOLY FAMILY
When I chose to write about this statue so beloved to Mother Rivier, I felt that it fit well into the month of January.
In the liturgy of January we continue to celebrate the event of the Incarnation. The feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on the Sunday before January 01 or on December 30 if Christmas falls on a Sunday.
Although the Holy Family has been honored through the centuries, a specific date for this feast only happened in the 20th century.
The gospels of Matthew and Luke provide us with glimpses of life in this new Jewish family consisting of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as they grow together as a family.
This statue of the Virgin is part of three life-size painted wooden statues representing the Holy Family. Mr. Vernet acquired the set made by a poor shepherd from the Tyrol region, and presented it to Mother Rivier. She accepted with great joy; she envisioned her daughters of the Holy Family living in imitation of the hidden life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph at Nazareth.
Joseph is a saint, Mary is without sin, Jesus is God incarnate, yet there are still challenges, hardships, tense moments, and opportunities for misunderstanding when they work together to live these moments, as well as events for celebration of life.
Pope Paul VI states that “from the Holy Family we learn about silence, family life (also life in community) and discipline”. Wherever we are on our life journey, we can learn from Mary – Jesus and Joseph too – that opportunities to grow in faith, hope and love can be found along the path. Thus, family life as it is lived out each day can be a road to profound personal transformation and communion with God.
These statues are currently in the Mother House at Bourg Saint-Andéol, France at the end of a hallway visible to the Sisters and an inspiration as they go about their daily tasks.
OUR LADY OF THE APPLE TREE
This oddly named ancient statue was venerated in Largentière, not far from Montpezat in France. The legend tells of a site chosen by the people to build their new parish church. Work began, but every night the workers’ tools disappeared and were found under an apple tree on the opposite embankment. The people understood that their church was to be built where the apple tree stood. The statue is said to have been sculpted from the wood of this tree, and was venerated from that time forward.
During the French Revolution the church in Largentière had been closed, but it was opened for Marie Rivier who spent three days in prayer before this statue. Marie Rivier always consulted Mary before taking important decisions and this one was most serious. Should she leave Montpezat for Thueyts as the call seemed to be? After many rosaries and ardent pleadings, she knew interiorly what she should do. Marie received a letter from her spiritual director saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ, come to Thueyts; this is the will of God for you. I cannot doubt it is God calling you to come and do good work here.” She did not hesitate to obey this order from heaven. And so it was that Thueyts saw the beginnings of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary.
OUR LADY OF THE PRESENTATION
On November 20, 1796, in the house of the Dominicans in Thueyts, France (where she lived and had her school) Marie Rivier and her students and teachers were preparing to celebrate Saint Catherine (patron of girls) on November 25.
Mr. Pontanier dropped in unexpectedly and suggested she and her companions make their promises to God the next day instead of on November 25. Marie Rivier had never heard of the feast of the Presentation of Mary, but the name alone appealed greatly to her. So, on November 21, Marie Rivier and her companions made their promises to God, consecrating themselves, the house, their students and all Marie Rivier’s projects to Mary.
After the Mass, Mr. Pontanier offered Marie Rivier a stamp with the initials of the Ave Maria worked into a monogram of the Blessed Mother, saying, ‘Take it. Let it be the seal of your convent.’ Marie Rivier accepted it with deep feelings of respect and joy, confident that this was the answer to all her prayers, to her desire of founding a Convent.
Thus it came about that November 21st became the main feast day of this new “convent”, and the birth of the Institute of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary.
Our Lady of THE PRESENTATION, pray for us.
This is a photocopy of the monogram traced on wooden disks and placed above every doorway in the Generalate at Castelgandolfo on November 21, 1996. Designed by Sr. Janice Fournier, pm
The mystery of Mary’s presentation in the Temple remains a beautiful symbol of her relationship to God, evoking for us the wonders that God has done. As we ponder this mystery, we marvel at God’s work in Mary, and also in all of creation. This relationship is offered to us as well. We have only to be open to God’s invitation and discover his wonders and glories.
OUR LADY OF SMILES is a painted wooden statue dating from Roman times. Mary has a grave and severe expression. It belonged to a poor girl of Montpezat who lent it to Marie Rivier and eventually gave it to the Sisters of the Presentation. Marie Rivier placed it in her classroom, often praying before it. Marie Rivier’s dream was to found a convent; she had the students pray fervently, watching the Virgin’s face for a smile. The Virgin did smile – everyone saw the smile at the same time – and Marie Rivier knew that this was a sign from Mary approving her project. The Virgin smiled several times as well when Marie Rivier prayed with the students for other favors.
In Mother Rivier’s time, there was no Child Jesus in Mary’s lap – there evidently had been once upon a time. The child Jesus was lost! In 1982, the statue was restored, the cloth robe she was wearing was removed, and the statue was painted in colors similar to how it may have been originally. The Child Jesus was reproduced as it may have been so long ago and placed in Mary’s lap. The work is now completed!
Blessed Virgin Mary, smile on our dreams. May we have the faith and hope to make them come true!
Our Lady of Smiles, pray for us.