Section title text:  Our Spirit.

Amiens, France, the First House and cradle of the Society

House on rue du puis-vert.Strange as it may seem, the consequences of Marie Madeleine’s choice of school for her son, Eugène had life-changing consequences for herself.  In 1814, the Bishop of Amiens invited the Jesuit priests to open a school in the old Abbey of St Acheul in the city of Amiens.  Marie Madeleine decided to send Eugène to the new school even though it was a long way from home.  Marie Madeleine arranged to stay in Amiens to help her child Sketch of rue Dupuis today.settle and soon found herself doing voluntary work in the school. Marie Madeleine came to know and appreciate even more deeply the Jesuit fathers.  Under their guidance her prayer life flourished and she eventually felt attracted to the Jesuit ideal of total self-giving to the Lord.  But she had a teenage son whom she loved deeply and from whom she could not be separated.  However her experience of God was so strong that she could not ignore it.

In 1817 it was becoming clearer to Marie Madeleine that she was called to found a religious congregation, and she started looking for a house.

The house she bought on rue du puis-vert in 1817, and to which the first companions came in 1820, is on what is now known as Rue Dupuis.  The picture on the left shows what the street looked like at that time. The picture on the right shows the same view today with the convent building that was constructed in 1895. (The convent was by that time dedicated to St Philomena and the front façade of the building is surmounted by a statue of the saint.)

Ancient convent of the Oratory:  Convent of Ladies of the Sacred Heart 1823.Just round the corner from Rue Dupuis (at that time rue du puis-vert) was the convent of the Religious of the Sacred Heart with its large chapel.  Before the Revolution this had belonged to the Oratorians.  This chapel was the place where Marie Madeleine had a deep mystical experience and heard the words I thirst from the crucifix. This experience was to have a profound effect on her life's work.

The corner of Rue des Augustins and Rue du Puits-Vert in 1830.When the first companions came together they cared for numerous poor children and orphans and held night classes for women. Space was at a premium. The town authorities valued the work of the sisters and at their request the Minister for War lent Marie Madeleine and her Companions additional premises for their work with the poor children and women of the area.  The adjacent picture shows this accommodation.  The property had a courtyard and a garden and provided space for work and play.   The night classes ran for many years until they were taken over by a congregation founded for this work.  In 1846 Marie Madeleine obtained a property at Camon, then a village in the countryside.    It became an orphanage and the house in Amiens was developed into a boarding school.  The school thrived but was closed by the French government in 1904. The sisters continued to minister to the people of Amiens in various capacities until 1974 when after more than 150 years of service to the city, they withdrew. However it must be noted that the ‘1895 building’ is now used as a hostel for the homeless, so a ministry of service continues on the same hallowed spot where Marie Madeleine and the early companions worked with the poor of the city. 

The FCJ sisters retain the house, the cradle of the Society bought by Marie Madeleine in 1817. 

Atong pangayuon sa  Diyos nga ihatag niya kanato
      ang espiritu sa “Society of Jesus”
             tungod kay nia kanato ang konstitusyon
                   gasa sa espiritu sa Diyos.    (Marie Madeleine)