Marie de l'Incarnation

Marie de l'Incarnation, née Marie Guyart, founder of the Ursuline order in Canada, mystic, author (b at Tours, France 28 Oct 1599; d at Québec C 30 Apr 1672). As a child, Marie Guyart, daughter of a master baker, showed unusual spirituality. Her husband, Claude Martin, died in 1619 after 2 years of marriage, leaving her with a 6-month-old son and a bankrupt business. Urged to remarry, she withdrew into secluded meditation and prayer and on 24 March 1620 experienced a mystical and emotional "conversion." She decided to withdraw from the world, but her sister and brother-in-law called on her to help their failing carrier business. Under Marie the business prospered but visions continued to haunt her.

In 1632, though heartbroken at leaving her son, she entered the Ursuline cloister at Tours. She took her vows in 1633 and taught Christian doctrine for 6 years. From her reading of the Relations des Jésuites and her visions, she concluded that her vocation was in Canada. With 2 Ursulines and Mme de LA PELTRIE, she landed at Québec 1 August 1639 and established a convent in the lower town. In 1642 it moved to a permanent stone building in the upper town. She worked zealously at educating French and native girls, wrote numerous theological and spiritual treatises, an Iroquois catechism and Algonquian and Iroquois dictionaries, and kept abreast of public affairs. Although cloistered, she received many notable visitors at her monastery.