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Teresa Couderc

(1805—1885)


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St Ignatius Loyola (1491—1556) Spanish theologian and founder

 

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Foundress of the Cenacle nuns (1805–85).

Born into a prosperous farming family at Le Mas-de-Sablières (Ardèche), she learnt to read at an early age and wished to be a nun who would work towards the return of religion to the countryside. Educated by the Sisters of St Joseph, she took part at the age of twenty in a mission preached at Sablières, which was the first since the French Revolution. She soon joined a new community founded by the preacher Jean Terme in 1826. He asked the Sisters to help him look after the shrine of St Francis Regis and provide accommodation for female pilgrims. Teresa was appointed superior and was asked to give retreats for women. She and some companions withdrew from the existing community and started another one called Sisters of the Retreat (later, the Cenacle), who propagated the methods of Ignatius of Loyola. A new church and house were soon built, but unfortunately the Sisters ran into debt. Teresa resigned and a wealthy widow, who had joined them less than a month before, was appointed in her place. She however was no more successful and was removed after less than a year.

For the next thirteen years Teresa was allocated only manual work in house and garden, both at La Louvesc and at Lyons (1842–3), but soon showed her ability by buying a property for half the asking price. Meanwhile a schism had developed, unconnected with her, and she was sent to Paris to attempt to heal it. She was again in charge for a short time, but then retired into the background unless a new foundation was to be made. She was not resentful about her demotion in middle age but realized the redemptive value of suffering. Rightly acknowledged as the foundress of the Institute, she became very deaf and arthritic in old age, while the Franco–Prussian war was a source of added grief. She died at Fourvière and was buried at La Louvesc. Then there were nine Cenacles in France and three in Italy: now there are over sixty in fourteen countries. She was beatified in 1951 and canonized in 1970. Feast: 26 September.

Life by H. Perroy (1928, Eng. tr. 1960);B.L.S., xi. 244–7;Bibl. SS., iv. 275–8.See also A. Combes, Deux flammes d'amour: Thérèse de Lisieux, Therese Couderc (1959).

Subjects: Christianity.


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