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Marie of the Incarnation: one badass saint

January 17, 2015
[MASS NOUN] North American informal
Behaviourcharacteristics, or actions regarded as formidably impressive: few of us can attain her level of badassery
The other day I read an article that used the word ‘badassery’. I couldn’t believe it: had the word finally crossed the Rubicon and become a legitimate word? I checked the Oxford dictionary. Yup, there it was. That got me thinking: the word has some social heft.
It’s not a word that you toss out there for casual emphasis. No, ‘baddassery’ is a word that should be used to describe only the most substantial, the most impactful of characters.
Now, the article I read used the term in reference to an actor who had taken on some interesting roles – hardly badass, I thought.  You know who are ‘badass’?  The missionaries to New France. These men and women had courage. And there’s no one with more true grit than St. Marie of the Incarnation!
Let's recount.
The Raw Deal
From a young age St Marie knew she had a religious calling but her parents couldn’t see their daughter being cloistered, so they married her off to a silk merchant instead.  Tragedy soon struck. Her husband died and left Mary Guyart a widow at nineteen with a six-month-old child. She also inherited a bankrupt business and lawsuits.
But this would be first opportunity for Marie to show what she was made of.
Ingenious Entrepreneur
Turns out she had a knack for business, and not only did she make the silk merchant business profitable, from there she went on to run her brother-in-law’s transport company.  She took care of everything: the inventory of goods, the drivers, even the 60 horses.
Again she wanted to enter the convent but her relatives thought her totally irrational.  Even after she entered they tried to persuade her to leave - her son went so far as to raid the convent!
And that’s just the beginning of her trials and tribulations.
Intrepid Missionary
Once she got permission to go to New France to be a missionary - and let’s be clear the closest analogy today would be if she decided to sign up for the Mars Mission - there’s the perilous voyage there, the work of setting up the mission and learning the native languages.
But get this, once she accomplishes all this, the whole convent burns down and she has to start again!  She’s in mounds of debt, without shelter, and its winter. Nevertheless she fights on and rebuilds.
Unswerving Servant of God
What’s so impressive about St. Marie of the Incarnation is despite the obstacles she faces she never loses faith. And because of this, God forges her into someone altogether exceptional.  She becomes a formidable woman. A saint!
Check out this badass CV:
  • Founder of Canada
  • First female missionary to North America
  • Founder of the Canadian Church
  • Fluent in Huron, Algonkian, Montagnais, and Iroquois
  • Authored first catechism in Iroquoi
  • Eminent historical source of Catholic, French, and Canadian history
All this is to say that although ‘few of us can attain her level of badassery, but with a little faith (and humility) nothing is impossible for God.
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