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Bonjour to all!

queen-ameliaBonjour to all.

My first question to all of you is “why would Mother Theodore and the famous Marie Antoinette ever be mentioned in the same blog?” They are both women? Good guess. For those of you who guessed that they are both French, you are also correct! But wait, there’s more. For those of you who are very clever and guessed that Marie Antoinette was intimately connected to the French Revolution, so much so, that she is credited with the over-throw of the Monarchy, which incited the war in the first place, you are right-on.

What is the connection between these two French women? This is a tough one, as Marie Antoinette was beheaded in 1793, five years before Mother Theodore was born. I am sure all of you remember when Mother Theodore went back to France and had an audience with Queen Amelia. I’m not quite sure on their exact conversation but perchance the queen might have mentioned her very famous aunt, Marie Antoinette! Isn’t that fascinating! Well it is to me. Yes, Marie Antoinette was the sister of Queen Amelia’s mother.

Oh, so much for French history. Did you know the new Saint Mother Theodore shrine, which is under construction at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, will have what is called the French Room, to honor her native roots?

As you enter this room you will notice and perhaps feel the presence of French decor. The carpet with a fleur-de-lis pattern will strike an immediate French theme. The room will be graced with Queen Amelia’s picture, given to Mother Theodore by the queen herself. In another area of this room you’ll see a picture of the Cathedral at Seez, one of the last great and massive cathedrals Mother Theodore saw right before she boarded the Cincinnati ship, to come to America.

french-roomAs you enter the room, to the right, you will see the Rosewood Seraphine organ. Even though it was made in England, it was given to Mother Theodore’s struggling community by Bishop de Saint-Palais in May of 1852. The French connection is that this very organ had taken a prize in the Paris Exposition of 1844. The “inside” story of this organ awaits another blog!

The education award that Mother Theodore received from the Academy of Angers, and signed by the King of France, will be quite visible as you enter on the left. There are many more French artifacts, pictures and panels situated in this luxuriously decorated room.

As you make your way into the rest of the shrine, we hope you will feel the drastic and sudden change of cultural life that Mother Theodore experienced when she entered into the dense forests of Indiana. Stay tuned for more blogs on the new shrine, leading up to the re-opening and dedication in October!

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Sister Jan Craven

Sister Jan is a Sister of Providence. Currently she ministers as co-director of Providence Spirituality and Conference Center and as director of shrines at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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