mother foundress

The Foundress, St. Claudine Thevenet was born in Lyon, France on 30 March 1774. When the French Revolution broke out in 1789 two of Claudine's brothers were among those arrested for opposing the new regime. Claudine visited them in prison and followed the prisoners to the place of execution. As they passed by, they whispered: "Forgive Glady, as we forgive”! She certainly forgave those who had denounced her brothers but the young girl of 19 was never to forget the cruel scene of her brothers being clubbed to death after they were shot!

Claudine knew that ignorance of God, a lack of love and a sense of insecurity were the main causes of the demoralization of the people after the French Revolution. She undertook the care and education of stray girls. Other young ladies joined her. By 1818 they formed a Religious Congregation. They chose Claudine as their Superior, the Foundress of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary.


What kind of women did she wish to form in her work with the young? :

  • Women of faith in God, themselves and others who would live their lives in the light of Faith
  • Women capable of being good wives and mothers and creating happy homes
  • Women whose very presence anywhere would exude goodness and touch other lives
  • Women capable of earning a living by their honest work

What did she desire of her Religious and their lay collaborators? :

  • To be a living witness in their own lives of the values they teach
  • To be completely given to the young and to be real mothers to them
  • To have foresight and thoroughness in preparing and carrying out their duties
  • To be impartial
  • To have simplicity in doing things to please God
  • To be courteous, but without any affectation in their manner, tone of voice, deportment and behavior
  • To be clean and orderly in their work and in their personal appearance, but without pretence

What was her pedagogy? It was a system :

  • Of prevention that foresees and forestalls faults giving guidance at the opportune time there is greater delicacy of love implied in removing obstacles than merely healing wounds.
  • Of attention to the individual, stressing the dignity of each person.
  • Of participation and collaboration because love cannot develop except in a united school community.
  • Of giving a practical formation and enabling the young, while living with the present, to prepare for the future.
  • Of social formation the ability to take their place in society with confidence.
  • A pedagogy based on simplicity and a family spirit.
  • A stimulating pedagogy giving each one the taste for going beyond the self for making a reality of the dream which God has for each of His children.

Hers was a pedagogy of love that she drew from the Heart of Jesus pierced on the cross for the salvation of all (men). Different social structures and environment require new forms of presence and make new demands on our creativity, but today, as in the time of Claudine Thevenet, the work of education in love remains the best reform we can offer. The Finest Methods Effect Nothing without Love.