Either make Jesus Christ known or die!
– Blessed Marie Rivier
That no-nonsense quote concerning a Christian’s call to spread the Gospel comes from a woman who only stood 4’ 4”. In this respect her story, which I will present blow, is a powerful testament of what one person can do when God is allowed to working through them.
At the age of sixteen months, Marie broke her hip in a fall that left her crippled. Her mother, refusing to give up, carried the child to a local Pieta statue each day to pray. On 8 September 1774, having seen her mother spend hours in prayer, Marie was suddenly able to walk. However, the effects of her early immobility, and the rickets she suffered, stayed with her, and even as an adult she stood only four foot, four inches tall.
At age seventeen Marie tried to join the Sisters of Notre Dame, but was refused due to her poor health, and returned to her parents’ home. By age eighteen Marie was devoting herself to evangelization and care for thepoor in her home parish. She started her own school in 1786, a place that welcomed the well-off and the impoverished.
When the French Revolution began in 1789, and religious expression was suppressed, Marie held covert Sunday prayer services when there was no priest available to celebrate Mass. In 1794 the government confiscated the Dominican house her school had been using, sold it, and kicked out Marie and her teachers. As they left, the convent’s statue of the Virgin Mary smiled at them and moved; the little group took it as a sign, and decided to stay together. When all other convents were being closed, Marie and four like-minded friends opened a new one on 21 November 1796 near Thueyts, Ardeche, France. They became the foundation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary (White Ladies). The Sisters devoted themselves to teaching and home evangelization, care for orphans and the abandoned, bringing Jesus to anyone who would listen, and in their words “to pass on hope”.
By the time of Marie’s death, there were 350 Sisters and 114 houses; today there are over 3,000 Sisters working in France, Switzerland,Canada, United States, England, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Mozambique, Japan, Philippines, Senegal-Gambia, Ireland, Peru, Brazil, Cameroon, and Ecuador.