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BLESSED


599


BLESSING


latter place (1639) he began to lay the foundation of the institute he desired to establish, but it was not till twenty years later (1659) that, after great diffi- culty, the first house was opened at Marseilles for the three ladies whom the saintly founder had be- gun to train at Avignon. The Bishop of Marseilles gave them the habit the following year, approved the rule and constitutions Father Le Quieu had drawn up, and erected them into a simple congrega- tion. It was not till after the death of the founder, who lived to see another foimdation made at BoUcne, that the constitutions were approved by Pope Inno- cent XII (1693), who authorized the nuns to take solemn vows and bound them to enclosure. This was the first congregation instituted for the perpet- ual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; it is not an austere one, but the degree of perfection put before the members by the founder is very high. The original mother-house at Marseilles was suppressed at the French Revolution, when the nuns were dis- persed, but it was reopened in 1816; the Boilene house suffered more severely. Thirteen of the nuns endured martj-rdom under the Commune; their cause of beatification is now before the Holy See; the remainder of the Boilene community returned to their convent and resumed their work of perpet- ual adoration in 1802. The Boilene nuns sent three of their number with one lay sister, under the Reverend Mother Emilie Pellier to England, to found a house at Cannington (1863), a community which was afterwards moved to Taunton in Somersetshire, where it has since remained. There is also a house at Oxford, and another near Newport. After Father Le Quieu's death foundations were made in the south of France, and after the French Revolution other houses were founded in the same locality. Since then a house has been established in Normandy, from which another convent has been opened at Hal in Belgium. There are no houses of this congre- gation in America.

Fallot, Vie du Ph-e Antoine Le Quieu (1847); Steele, Convents of Great Britain (St. Louis, 1902), 117.

Fr.vncesca M. Steele.

Blessed Sacrament, Sisters op the, one of the most recent congregations of religious women in the Qatholic Church and one of entirely American origin, founded by Miss Katharine Drexel at Phila- delphia, Pa., in 1889, for missionary work among the Indians and coloured people of the United States. The formal approbation of the Holy See was given to the congregation in July, 1907.

The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore gave a new impetus to missionary work among the coloured and Indian races and as one of the results of its recommendations. Right Reverend James O'Connor, Bishop of Omaha, acting in conjunction with Miss Katharine Drexel, daughter of the late Francis A. Drexel of Philadelphia, decided \\'ith the approval of the Most Reverend P. J. Ryan, Archbishop of Philadelpliia, to form a new congregation of religious women devoted exclusively to missionary work among these two races. For some years previous to this step. Miss Drexel had been very active in re-estab- lishing and supporting schools in many of the Indian reservations. The greater portion of the income which she derived from her father's estate was used in maintaining and furthering these missionary projects. At this period a survey of the field of work revealed about 250,000 Indians neglected, if not practically abandoned, and over nine millions of negroes still struggling through the aftermath of slavery.

The piteoas condition of these two races decided Miss Drexel to devote both her fortune and her life to them. With the approval of high church au- thorities in the United States slie gathered around her young women imbued with the same ideas, ana


thus foimded, towards the close of 1899, the nucleus of the new community. In order to be well grounded in the principles of the religious life, the first members made a two years' no\-itiate ^\■itll the Sisters of Mercy. After this, they continued their period of preparation in the old Drexel homestead, Torresdale, near Phila^ delphia. Early in 1892 a mother-house and novitiate


were opened at Maud, Pennsylvania, adjoining which was erected a manual training and boarding school for coloured boys and girls.

The distinctive spirit of this institute is the con- secration of its members, body and soul, to the service of Jesus Christ ever present in the Holy Eucharist. His Eucharistic life is to be the inspiration of the entire varied activity of the sisters. Besides the vows usual in all religious communities, the sisters pledge themselves to work exclusively for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the Indian and coloured races. By their rule, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament may (1) undertake aU kinds of educational works; (2) they may care for orphans or spiritually or coi^ poraUy destitute children; (3) they may attend the sick by visiting them in their homes or by con- ducting hospitals; (4) they may shelter destitute and deser\'ing women; (5) they may %asit and in- struct inmates of prisons and reformatories; (6) they may establish and conduct homes for the aged; (7) they may establish schools and classes outside their own houses, \'isit the poor in order to look after their religious welfare and also to teach them habits of good living, neatness, and thrift — in short, to make them self-sustaining men and women.

The sisterhood now numbers one hundred and twelve members. In 1894, St. Catharine's boarding and industrial school for Pueblo Indians was opened at Santa F6, New Mexico; in 1899, the Institute of St. Francis de Sales, Rock Castle, Va., a boarding academy and industrial school was opened for the training of Southern coloured girls; in 1902, St. Michael's Mission, Arizona, for the education of Navajo Indians, a boarding and industrial school, was completed and opened. The Academy of the Immaculate Mother, NashvUle, Tenn., was opened in 1905. In this -school girls are also trained to be- come teachers, while others not desiring to teach may take a full course of domestic science and dress- making. In 1906, the sisters commenced work at Carlisle, Pa., by instructing the Indian pupils of the Government School, and conducting a day school for coloured children.

Sister Mercedes.

Blessing. — In its widest acceptation this word has a variety of meanings in the sacred writings: (1) It is taken in a sense that is synonjTnous with praise; thus the Psalmist, "I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall be always in my mouth"