Home » Blog » Journals and Letters week 49: The death of an angel

Journals and Letters week 49: The death of an angel

(Today we are discussing “Journals and Letters” page 422 to page 429 mid-page starting with Death of Sister St. Francis. Join us in reading a portion of Saint Mother Theodore’s writings every week.)

This week’s post happens to fall on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a tragic day in our country. How painful it is to lose someone from your life. Whether it is death or some other type of separation, when someone you are close to departs it is very difficult.

Void in the Community

Last week, we saw Mother Theodore as the disciplinarian. This week, she is the messenger of some sorrowful news as she writes about the death of her dear friend and confidante, Sister St. Francis Xavier Le Fer. “You do not expect me, my dear daughters, to write a eulogy of her whom we have so many reasons to regret, of her whose absence leaves such a void in the Community.”

Mother Theodore bares her heart in these beautiful letters and it was a privilege to read them. Her writing is a window to her deep love for this remarkable woman. This death is hard for Mother Theodore. Even though she has already suffered much loss, losing Sister St. Francis seems even more painful. “But Thou knowest that the deep wound it has made in my heart will be healed only when I shall be reunited to her in that heaven which she beheld so beautiful in dying.”

Sister St. Francis Xavier Le Fer

An angelic beauty

It was the beauty of her spirit which made her such a woman to be admired, but Sister St. Francis Xavier also had a physical beauty. Mother Theodore wrote about it. “And she was beautiful — with an angelic beauty. She belonged no longer to this earth; it was unworthy of her.”

I’ve always been struck by Sister St. Francis’ beauty and felt validated when I read that it had not escaped the eye of Mother Theodore. “Not only have we unanimously considered her the saint of our Congregation, but persons of the world, even those of a different faith, could not behold her angelic exterior without being led to the thought of God.”

The legacy continues

Reading what Mother Theodore wrote about her friend really touched me. Her love is apparent and it was comforting to me to read her words. The legacy of her beautiful eulogy of Sister St. Francis Xavier is carried on by the current Sisters of Providence. Whenever the Community suffers a loss they take the time to write about the life of each sister and make sure to tell her story. Often, they are filled with personal stories that are even sometimes humorous.  If you have time to read a few more you can find them here.

Your turn

How do you personally relate to Mother Theodore’s loss? What has been your response when you have lost a loved one through death or another type of separation?

What, if anything, gave you comfort when reading these letters?

Next week: lower page 429 to page 432

View the complete reading series.

Download the complete reading schedule:

Share this:

Mary Riley

Mary Riley

Mary Riley is director of operations for White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Prior to her current role, she served as the marketing manager for some ministries of the Sisters of Providence including White Violet Center for Eco-Justice and the Volunteer Services.

Plan for your future!

Leave the things you value to the people and purposes you value most.

Updated Estate Planning Info. here

Farm Internships!

Are you interested in interning at White Violet Center?

Learn more here


  1. Avatar S. Connie Kramer on September 11, 2021 at 11:24 am

    Beautiful reflection Mary. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • Mary Riley Mary Riley on September 14, 2021 at 9:43 am

      Thank you for your kind words. I really was touched by these letters.

  2. Avatar Judy Copeland on September 11, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    When I first saw her photograph, I was struck by her beauty and angelic appearance. She is truly a saint.

    • Mary Riley Mary Riley on September 14, 2021 at 9:47 am

      I have always thought this and was so happy to learn that Mother Theodore thought the same.

  3. Avatar Dorothy Rasche, SP on September 12, 2021 at 10:17 am

    At one time I had a deep devotion to her. Your blog has helped renew that devotion. Thanks.

    • Mary Riley Mary Riley on September 14, 2021 at 9:44 am

      Oh wow! This really made me happy to read this. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Avatar Jeannie Smith on September 13, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Mary, I’m glad you pointed out that the legacy continues. I always read the stories of the Sisters who have died, and they are always awe-inspiring. These stories fill me with admiration, and sometimes surprise me with details about someone I’ve known for years, but even so had no clue of the depth and breadth of her life. What a legacy!

  5. Mary Riley Mary Riley on September 14, 2021 at 9:46 am

    This is so true. Sometimes, especially when we meet people later in life, we don’t really hear about many things that happened prior. I am so glad that the sisters share this with us when one of them passes.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.