The Franciscan Nuns of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Troyes (now known as the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration) were founded by Father Jean-Baptiste Heurlaut, Curé of the Parish Church at Maizières-lès-Brienne in the department of Aube, France, after his entrance into the Capuchins of the Province of France, where he took the name of Father Bonaventure.
While still a young priest, he dreamed of founding a small community of Nuns in his Parish. To carry out this plan, he sought the aide of a young woman of his parish whose secret aspirations to the cloistered life were known to him, and who evidenced an ardent love for the Holy Eucharist. Her name was Joséphine Bouillevaux.
Born at Maizières-lès-Brienne on June 1st, 1820, which was, by a touching coincidence, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Joséphine had been formed in the faith and in the spiritual life by her family which was very pious and faithful in the practice of their religion. After starting a school at Maizières, Father Heurlaut left to become a diocesan missionary. He continued to guide Joséphine and her aunt Jeanne, who were teachers at the school, and he formed them and the other teachers into a community in which they lived by a rule. No one could guess what would later evolve from this core community.
For his part, the Founder, feeling called to a more perfect life, sought to discern the way in which he could best respond to the plan of God. He decided to enter the Capuchin Fathers. Father Heurlaut discussed his plan for the community at Maizières with his future Superiors, and the Father General of the Capuchins replied: “First enter the Novitiate; after your Profession, the Order will help you as best it can to found a community of Franciscan Sisters.” On March 25, 1851, the day which recalls to the world the great mystery of holiness “when Jesus, in the womb of His Mother, took up His first form of the Eucharist”, Father Heurlaut, Founder of an essentially eucharistic institute, was invested at Marseille in the Franciscan habit and took the name Father Bonaventure.
One year later, in Paris, he received the Profession of Joséphine Bouillevaux in the Third Order of Saint Francis (the Secular Franciscans) and gave her the name of Sister Marie de Sainte Claire. So were the supernatural bonds of these chosen souls affirmed in the unity of the same spirit.
On December 8, 1854, the day of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Sister Marie de Sainte Claire placed her spiritual projects, desires, hopes and fears under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She also confided to Mary all her daughters present and future by an act of consecration; this marked the official beginning of our Order. One week later, on December 15, octave of the Immaculate Conception, Father Bonaventure invested the first four postulants in the Franciscan habit. Mother Marie de Sainte Claire, as Foundress and, at age 34, the oldest in the house, was named Superior.
For a long time, Father Bonaventure wanted to transfer the community still in the first stages of its development to Troyes, his diocese of origin. On July 15, 1856, the little colony was definitively installed in this city which had given birth to the Pope of the Feast of Corpus Christi, Urban IV. On August 1st of the same year, the chapel was blessed and placed under the patronage of Our Lady of the Angels, and Monseigneur Coeur, the Bishop of Troyes, granted the community permission for perpetual exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament, which our Order has not ceased to maintain to the present day.
In 1868, Blessed Pope Pius IX accorded the Decree of Erection of the Monastery. Definitive approbation of the Order was granted by the Sovereign Pontiff Leo XIII in 1899. Thus the Institute was firmly established as a Congregation of Pontifical Right.
In 1866, two Polish Nuns sought political refuge in our Troyes Monastery and made their Profession in our Order. Five years later, on April 28, 1871, they returned to Poland to found the second Monastery of the Institute, under the direction of the Servant of God Mother Mary of the Cross Morawska. From this Polish branch, many monasteries have been established in other countries.
The Proliferation of Our Order
The Troyes Monastery, located on rue Mitantier very close to the Cathedral, is thus the ‛Cradle’ of our Order. Unfortunately, due to a lack of vocations as well as the advanced age and poor health of the Sisters, the Monastery was closed in 1997. It was re-opened in 2007 by Mother Marie Emmanuel of the Cleveland, Ohio Monastery with the participation of Sisters from the USA and India. It is the Sisters’ great joy to dwell there in the House of the Lord, to live within the walls of that sacred place where the first Eucharistic Throne of our Order was established and where Jesus was praised, loved and adored in the heart of France for generations.
From its modest beginnings in the little Monastery of Troyes, our Order has spread around the globe. Today, 160 years later, there are thirty-six Monasteries in seven countries: two in France – Troyes and Castelnaudary – eight in Poland, one in Austria, one in Germany, seven in the United States, fourteen in India, two in Bangladesh, and one in Kazakhstan.
The Monastery founded by Mother Morawska in Vienna, Austria in turn established the first American Monastery in Cleveland, Ohio in 1921. Mother M. Agnes, Foundress of the Cleveland Monastery, was still its Abbess when Mother M. Angelica entered our Order. Mother Angelica later founded our Monastery in Alabama, U.S.A., as well as EWTN, the Missionary Franciscans of the Eternal Word, and the Knights of the Holy Eucharist.
The flame of thanksgiving is truly shining throughout the world as the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration continue to offer their hymn of thanksgiving, captured so simply in their motto:
Thanks be to God through Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament!
Our beloved monastery of origin can be contacted at the following:
Monastère des Clarisses
26, rue Mitantier
A recent visit from our sister community in Troyes | http://olamnuns.com/blog/143-our-visitors-from-troyes-france.html