Guillotined Religious Beatified in France
Sister Marguerite Rutan Was a Martyr for the Faith
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DAX, France, JUNE 21, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A sister of the Daughters of Charity who was guillotined during the French Revolution for refusing to deny her faith in Christ and the Church was beatified last Sunday in Dax.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, presided at the beatification Mass in southwestern France, which was attended by some 5,000, including 1,000 Daughters of Charity and 10 bishops.
The cardinal represented Benedict XVI, who was visiting the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro.
Marguerite Rutan was born in 1736 in Metz, France, the eighth of 15 children. Her father was a stonecutter, master mason and architect, and her profoundly Christian mother gave each of her children a serious religious education and the example of a selfless life.
In 1757, at the age of 21, Marguerite began her novitiate in the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. In 1779, she was sent to serve in the Hospital of Dax. The sister soon became a pioneer of social action, opening a school and working to provide a home for abandoned girls.
In 1789, the French Revolution began, which ushered in a perior of social and political turmoil in the country.
In 1792, Sister Marguerite and her community of sisters were accused of theft, and on Christiamas Eve in 1793, Sister Marguerite was denounced and imprisoned.
At the height of the Reign of Terror (1793-1794), she was sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Tribunal on April 9, 1794, and guillotined on the same day for refusing to deny her faith. It is estimated that between 16,000-40,000 people were guillotined during this period of history.
A year later, the new government of the Directory lamented that Sister Marguerite was "sacrificed in an inhuman way for reasons which are yet to be proved."
The Diocese of Aire et Dax organized a three-day celebration to mark the martyr's beatification, which took place nearly 100 years after the sister's cause for canonization began.
The faithful were able to visit some of the places Sister Marguerite lived and worked in the city of Dax, as well as see a play on the life of the sister titled "Marguerite Rutan, a New Flower Opened for Us Under a More Beautiful Sky."
On Saturday, a prayer vigil was held in the cathedral, presided over by Cardinal Amato, and attended by bishops, Daughters of Charity, members of the Saint Vincent Family, and pilgrims.
Bishop Philippe Jean Louis Breton of Aire and Dax presided over the first Mass in honor of the new blessed on Monday, with the participation of the Saint Vincent Family and the diocese.