Soeurs de Saint-Joseph de Cluny
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      Some of her letters

Some of her letters

Anne-Marie Javouhey wrote many letters - to her family, her sisters, church dignitaries, civil authorities and many others. The 1,136 letters that have been found, were edited in 1994 and published in four volumes by Cerf Editions (in French). Her personality, as well as the spirit which energized her, are revealed in this voluminous correspondence. Following are some extracts.


1798 to her father

"Spare yourself the sorrow you might one day feel for not having allowed your children to follow their vocation. Tell me calmly what it is that holds you back in this matter. The question is sufficiently important to merit a discussion. I have promised God to devote my life entirely to the care of the sick and to the instruction of little girls. I have chosen the feast day of St. Martin, which is my birthday, for this important act. Ah! If only the Lord would grant me to hear these words which would be so consoling: ‘My daughter, do whatever the Lord inspires you, I only wish what will be for His glory and your happiness’. …I know that it is your happiness to make us happy. For myself I can tell you that I can never be happy unless you grant me my request. I close my letter, dear father, and await from you those words which will be my consolation and your peace of soul."

November 1807 to the Head of a ministerial office

"Nine years ago God, in an extraordinary but sure way, showed me that He was calling me to the state of life that I have adopted: to instruct the poor and to care for orphans. I was then only between seventeen and eighteen years old and without any financial resources of which I could dispose. The religious communities had been destroyed by the Revolution and everything seemed to make the realization of this project impossible. However the Lord made His Will known to me so clearly, that having consulted the most enlightened persons in our neighbourhood, they advised me to put my hand to the plough, whatever difficulties I might encounter.
My parents, after a resistance lasting three years, at last consented to give me the necessary means to carry out His plan."

March 1822 to her father

"We have just reached Senegal after a good journey lasting 26 days. You could never imagine what this country is really like. Its population is enormous for the extent of its territory. I have a great desire to work for their happiness; if you only knew how little up to now has been done for this end. I shall be beginning my work with very limited resources, but with the well-founded hope of success; this encourages me and will help me to overcome every obstacle."

September 1822 to her sister Mother Marie-Joseph

"How I love Africa! How I thank God for having brought me here. However, be consoled, I shall soon return to France, since you wish it, but I shall not say goodbye to Africa, I shall go back to continue the great work that God in His mercy seems to have confided to us."

February 1846 to a Sister in Mayotte

"I am taking advantage of our Sisters’ departure for Bourbon to assure you that I have not forgotten you and also to get news of you. I am longing to hear from you. And yet, that will not be before five or six months unless you have already written from Goree. Be that as it may, be happy since you are doing God’s Holy Will. He will not abandon you in the midst of any troubles or difficulties that you may meet with."

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