January 23 – Mystical experience of Hélène de Chappotin at the Poor Clares in 1861

Today is an anniversary for me. I do believe that 28 years ago, on this feast day, Our Lord marked me out to be your Mother. I certainly did not understand that. But it was then that I began to take hold of the first link of that chain that has led me to have all of you as my children. (23rd January 1889, Daily Letters)

On this date (the Espousal of the Blessed Virgin), Almighty God gave me the first grace for the foundation of the Institute. It was at the Poor Clares in 1860. Certainly your Foundress was far from foreseeing what awaited her, but it seems that she had been chosen on that day to be a Victim, Franciscan Missionary of Mary, and all of you with her. (CT/1:78)

I see myself back among the Poor Clares on that morning of the 23rd of January with the […] Gospels on my lap […].

Mother Mistress stopped me and sent me to fetch the tract on obedience. It was in the choir; I went down and there […] as I faced the tabernacle these words fell from heaven:

“Do you wish to be crucified in the place of the Holy Father?” I bowed my head in the “fiat” of obedience. Then these words followed without any explanation: “Mary victim of Jesus [and of Jesus] Crucified.” Since then I feel that “I have within me the prayer to the God of life”. Victimhood took full possession of me. Overcome by emotion and by a love which I can still see yet, though the day is far away, I left the choir […] I was as if paralyzed and Jesus took my heart from me as though the life of little Hélène de Chappotin had come to an end. […] Then His heart came into me and, since then, what a life of agony! (NS 352, May 8, 1891)

Mary of the Passion revisits, directly or indirectly, this experience at the Poor Clares in Nantes, which is for her a special consecration and a gift of love. Right there was sown the first seed of our charism, given to the young Hélène and which she transmitted to us with so much love and suffering.

Let us thank the Lord and ask the intercession of Mary of the Passion to deepen ever more the beauty and strength of the charism we have inherited and to surrender ourselves wholeheartedly without compromises.