Matilde Pratt (1826-1903)

Of Cures and Boundaries: Canadian/U.S. Connections, Part 2

Earlier, we wrote about Matilde Pratt (1826-1903), born in Quebec, brought with her sister Delphine at an early age to St. Louis and raised in the Mullanphy orphanage at the City House after her father died. Both sisters entered the Society. Matilde was the community infirmarian at Grand Coteau in 1866 when Mary Wilson (also Canadian born) was miraculously cured through the intercession of St. John Berch-mans. Matilde was therefore a key witness in the examination of the miracle. While Adeline Boilvin (1813-1848) was sent from Pennsylvania to Canada for her health, Mary Wilson (1846-1867) was sent from Canada to Louisiana for her health! Mary was born in London, Ontario, but made her novitiate at Grand Coteau. Her cure happened in 1866 but she died a year later.

Speaking of cures, one of the most interesting stories is that of Agnes Jordan (1856-1916). Born in Quebec, she entered at the Sault in Montreal in 1877, made her first vows at Grand Coteau and was finally professed in 1885 in Mexico. The superior vicar in Montreal was Stanislas Tommasini, who hesitated to accept her because her health was so fragile. In Guanajuato, Mexico, she was on the point of death from some disease that the doctor judged highly infectious. A coffin was ordered, and he instructed them to place her in it immediately after death. But Mother Tom-masini, now her superior again in Mexico, ordered the uncon-scious patient under holy obedience to join the novena by the community asking for a miracle through St. Madeleine Sophie’s intercession. The next morning, she was completely well. Her fami-ly in Canada received both a letter and a telegram at the same time, the letter saying that Agnes would be dead by the time they received it, the telegram saying that she was completely recovered. Agnes, the community treasurer, was very annoyed that she had to pay for the coffin and promptly dismantled it to use the wood in other ways. For unknown reasons, the miracle was not one attribut-ed to Sophie for her beatification in 1908.

Mary Elizabeth Moran (1836-1905) was born in New Orleans, entered at Grand Coteau, was assistant superior there when Mary Wilson was cured, then superior vicar, founding seven houses in four countries. In 1881 she was sent to Halifax for eight months for a complete rest, then returned to spend much time in Cuba and Mexico and died at Grand Coteau.

Vicariate boundaries were also fluid. Elisabeth Galitzin was given the powers of a provincial for all of North America until her death in 1843. After her Mother Hardey held the same office for the houses of the East, Canada and Cuba, while Maria Cutts did the same for the West, without the title of vicar until 1851, when the chaos created by the 1839 crisis was resolved. Mother Hardey founded Buffalo in 1847, Halifax in 1849, Detroit in 1851, Sandwich, Ontario, in 1852, Albany in 1853, and moved St. Jacques de l’Achigan, Quebec (founded 1842), to St. Vincent in 1852 and to the Sault in 1855. The Eighth General Council in 1864 created separate vicariates in Canada, Eastern U.S. and Cuba, Northwest U.S. and Southwest U.S., but Detroit was part of the Canadian vicariate from 1868 to 1874. Present connections only continue a long history!

Lyn Osiek

Based on research by Marie Louise Martinez