Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mother Madeleine Sophie Barat

Today is assigned to many saints, including both Conon the Elder & Conon the Younger, a father & son who were both hermits which interests me for all the wrong reasons; John de Atares, another hermit & possibly the first I found way-back-when-I-first-started-with-the-saints-in-my-blog who managed to die of natural causes; Raymund who may or may not be several different men, it really was not clear; two different men named Maximus, one of them must be the subject of an obscure-or-not Monty Python sketch; Richard Thirkeld who I actually kind of remember from studying Tudor England; the Martyrs of Toulouse; two different inquisitors; the list goes on.

May 29th gives me plenty to choose from & I choose the one that does not belong: Madeleine Sophie Barat. The day of Madeleine Sophie Barat is actually May 25th but for a very long time, the calendar has had her listed on May 29th.

Madeleine Sophie Barat dedicated her life to the cause of educating young women after herself having been discouraged from becoming a Carmelite nun.  So instead, she founded her own order.

In the interest of protecting her from the worldly-world, her brother brought herself with him to Paris. Strange choice, I agree. Especially when you factor in this was closely following the La Terreur. According to every source I found, her brother had an unusually strong influence on her life. Eleven years her senior, he was a professor & also her godfather & was directly responsible for her being an educated person herself.

Mother Barat was the patroness of the school she founded, but was neither a mother, Mother, nor the patron saint of anything at all. At least officially. Unofficially she is widely accepted as the Patroness of School Girls. She shares this seat with other founders of orders, such as Saint Ursula, who actually covers all juvenile students, in general, which she (Ursula) has to share with Thomas Aquinas, who oversees students of all ages. & presumably all genders, although I doubt he saw it that way.

But let us get back to Madeleine Sophie Barat. I cannot get past her first ambition: to be a Carmelite, being thwarted & deciding to actively recruit (members & sponsors) for her own order. Carmelites, for those who do not know (which included me, until I started to look into this) are not what you would describe as 'outgoing'. They are 'retiring', their big calling is to contemplative prayer, not fund raising. That she was successful in her empire-building is proof that Mother Barat probably would have been an unhappy Carmelite.

It gets stranger.  I usually ramble on & on about Roman era saints- so much less documentation so I can embroider as I like OR Medieval saints -so much conflicting documentation which is kind of better.  Mother Barat did her recruiting, cloistering  & educating during the French Revolution, in France.  Of course the French Revolution was in France; I mean so was she.   According to the sources I found, the Reign of Terror was particularly hard on the church, & maybe it was.  I would have thought it was rather harder on wealthy landowners.  Oh wait, I see it now!

I had a history professor who lamented that we (USAmericans) did not study the French Revolution more closely.  We treat it like a footnote in our own history.  He thought we, as a culture, had a lot to learn about sending more & more people to a centralized, rarefied location to govern making only cursory visits to the countryside & vastly underestimating the variety of opinions outside of the Beltway.  I mean outside of the court of Louis the four-thru-sixteenth.

So, Madeleine Sophie Barat, today is not your day.  Today is not the day we should, according to the calendar, honor her memory & sacrifice by promoting education for those with less access to education & in her day that meant those with vajayjay.  We should have been doing that four days ago, but we missed it & now there is nothing to do but wait until next year.

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow. I just found your blog. I love your writing -- now I have to get more coffee and sit here all day reading it all.