by Louis Guido
Adele Louise Marie de Mandat-Grancey, affectionately known as Sr. Marie, was born in 1837 to the Count and Countess of Grancey in Burgundy, France. Although raised and educated as a noble, Sr. Marie, early on, exhibited a desire to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to experience the presence of God mystically. From her earliest youth, “pure love” seemed to be her core grace, a love through empathy, compassion and a pronounced idealism. The care of the poor, the sick and children was her dream. She was influenced heavily and drawn strongly to the Daughters of Charity, who were neighbors near her home in Paris.
The Daughters of Charity, established by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac in 1633 was an order devoted to the needs of the poor, an order apparently highly favored by Our Lady. It was to a humble member of this order, St. Catherine Laboure, that our Blessed Mother, Mary, appeared in 1830. During the apparition of November 27, 1830, Mother Mary requested a medal to be struck with her likeness and surrounded by the words, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee,” known as the Miraculous Medal. This mission of the Daughters of Charity resulted in a perfect match for the desires of young Adele Louise Marie and consequently, at the age of 20, she left her family to join the order in 1857. She took the religious name of Sr. Marie de Mandat-Grancey.
Sr. Marie’s first assignment was at a House of Mercy in the town of Aire-Sur-La-Lys, and since being trained as a nurse, she was employed in the pharmacy and the dispensary. To add to her monumental duties, she also was a teacher in an orphanage of 55 abandoned children and an instructor in a sewing workshop for 60 young girls. In all of this work, she was sustained by the responsibility of directing the Children of Mary, an organization that became prominent throughout all of France because of its association with St. Bernadette of Lourdes. It was at this time that Sr. Marie’s devotion to the Blessed Mother became evident in her community and she was identified as a devotee of Mary for the rest of her life, always finding an outlet with a Sodality of Mary, even in faraway Turkey where she would end her days.
A decade later, Sr. Marie assumed the title of “Sister Servant,” a title given to the Superior within the Daughters of Charity, in the Charity orphanage at Pecq, a suburb of Paris. This was at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) and subsequently, the orphanage doubled and tripled in size. She maintained this position until 1886 when she volunteered to serve in the French Naval station at Smyrna in Turkey.
One wonders what prompted Sr. Marie to volunteer for such a far away assignment in Smyrna, Turkey. However, we do know that she had read a book of the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, which had been published in France, wherein is described the House of Mary at Ephesus. Could it have been that Sr. Marie’s interest in Mary’s house was kindled and she desired to find it, since Smyrna is near Ephesus? For whatever reason, Sr. Marie traveled to Smyrna to serve in the French naval hospital where she was ideally situated for the events that followed.
" I am not a priest and cannot bless them, but all that the heart of a mother can ask of God for her children, I ask of Him and will never cease to ask Him." ~ Sister Marie