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Letter: Jan. 13 1849

No-one.jpg-webWhy thank-you, Mother Theodore, we love you too!

Let’s sit back for a minute and think about this quote and the context. When you hear the words, “saint of God”, what do you picture? I personally picture a holy person with a long robe and a glowing halo around their head and in their presence, choirs of angels sing.

NEWSFLASH: saints are real people, everyone! The truth is, Mother Theodore was a very down-t0-earth woman with a sense of humor and a whole lot of ambition. When she walked into the room, angels didn’t sing and she didn’t have a glowing halo around her head. In fact, her hands and feet may have been filthy with dirt after working in the garden or after spending a day in the forest to retrieve some healing herbs for her daughters.

Daughters? Nuns can have kids? Of course! Mother Theodore was a mother of an entire Congregation and she was certainly viewed as a very “motherly” figure. Whether she gave birth to them or not, she considered all of the sisters, postulants, novices, and students of the Woods to be her daughters.

This particular quote came about in a letter written on Jan. 13, 1849 to Sister Basilide (one of the sisters who had traveled with her from France to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods almost nine years before). As you can imagine, after a three month journey across the Atlantic Ocean and through miles of wilderness together, they became very close. After their arrival to the Woods, Sister Basilide was sent to a mission in Vincennes, Ind., which meant putting distance between herself and Mother Theodore.

Mother Theodore and Sister Basilide often wrote back and forth to each other, and sent gifts. This letter was a response to some gifts that Sister Basilide sent Mother Theodore. In her return letter, Mother Theodore expressed her fear of “losing” Sister Basilide to distance. However, her confidence was restored when she received the letters and gifts. She explained that all the Sisters at St. Mary’s loved her and missed her very much. Then she wrote, “The name of Mother is not given in vain. Could I forget what you are to me? No, dear Sister Basilide, no. Be assured once for all—I am not always in my days of avowal—no one will ever love you as your old Mother Theodore does.”




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Jena Thralls

Jena graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She worked for the Sisters of Providence as a Marketing Manager.

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