Blessed Marie Ann Rivier
Motpezat-sous-Bauzon (Viviers) France, December 19, 1768 – Bourg-Saint-Andéol, February 3, 1838
Roman Martyrology: At Bourg-Saint-Andéol the territory of Viviers in France, Marianna Rivier blessed, virgin, who, at the time of the French Revolution, when all religious orders and congregations were closed, founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary to instruct the Christian people in faith.
Jesus says in the Gospel teaching to his disciples: “Ask and it shall be given” and Marie Rivier was the most striking example of this constant and confident demand, which resulted in her body the signs of normal life un’impossibile.
She was born in Montpezat-sous-Bauzon in the diocese of Viviers in France, December 19, 1768. Her great vitality, was caused by a bad accident when she was 16 months old, in April 1770, when she fell out of bed, and was seriously injured; the consequence of which was that she could not stand and thad to be carried. The disease was progressive, her head and arms remained weak, the joints of the ankles, knees and wrist movement grew and the members were all Crippled. The development of her entire body was severely compromised, she could hardly stay upright with the aid of crutches.
At Montpezat was the chapel of the Penitents, which was revered by the inhabitants of the Virgin Pietà, and the mother of Marie Rivier confident, brought the girl to the Chapel every day to implore the grace of healing to the Madonna, this pilgrimage lasted four years and even the little one began to pray to the Virgin, seated on a mat, lying between the altar and the Pietà for hours, for days, for years.
During this period, Marie had an intuition that if God would heal her, she could spend the rest of her life, to make school children, which was seen surrounded by a host, which was teaching catechism.
On September 8, 1774 with the help of crutches, she was able to walk; she was taken to bring the turkeys out to pasture and go like every day at the altar of the Virgin, but a new building to collapse completely, but the trust in the grace was not the less and so three years after August 15, 1777 she was completely healed.
Her first impulse was to withdraw into a lonely place for a life of prayer, but then she remembered the promise made to Our Lady of Mercy: “You bring many children” and then Marie was dedicated to the apostolate among young people by their peers called ‘little mother’ and visits to the poor. After her First Communion grew in her the desire to belong only to God, she was twelve years old, but it showed at seven, when her mother placed her together with an older sister, at the Sisters of Notre Dame in Pradelles (Haute-Loire), studies performed here, with the increasingly strong desire to consecrate themselves to God.
Asked to be allowed in the monastery of the nuns, but the Council of Religious Communities, except that Marie, for her frail and failing health, could be adapted to the religious life. Rejected by the sisters, Marie Rivier refused to give up and in 1786 at the age of eighteen, she asked for and was granted, not without difficulty, the permission to open a school, which was immediately attended by many children, entrusted by parents who had great confidence in young Maestrini.
She became a Dominican and Franciscan Tertiary, opened a room for the unemployed youth of the parish to form a work, visited the sick and the needy are occupied. But the great upheaval of the French Revolution, which broke out at the time, blocked everything.
By the decree of 7-10 November 1793, the Convention abolished the Christian religion and the impact is felt even at Montpezat, and Mary in 1784, had to leave the country and take refuge in the nearby village of Thueyts, accepted by father Luigi Pontanier Sulpician (Company the priests of St. Sulpice, founded in Paris in 1642 by Olier J.-J.), which became her first supporter.
Here in 1796, gathered some young and November 21 of that year, with four companions, with the permission of the Vicar General, promised during a Mass celebrated by the same father Pontanier, offering herself and her work at Queen of Heaven, so in the attic of the school, stood the first nucleus of the future “Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary.”
The following year, November 21, 1797, with the first eleven companions, Marie, who had added the name of Anna, made her religious profession, with a provisional regulation, which was approved on August 7, 1801 by the Bishop of Vienne, fifteen days after there was the signing of the Concordat, which closed a historical period of both France and the preparatory period of the congregation.
From that year, the Community took flight; in 1803 it opened the first novitiate, and from 1802 to 1810 were opened far 46 houses in Anna Maria brought all her exhortation to a life of prayer and commitment to education and pastoral care. She invited the faithful to church for the meeting on Sunday,she was called to pray the rosary and gave instruction to the men and women.
Multifarious activities obtained from many denominations, conversions, vocations and many loud, in 1815, the need for more space had to leave the house Thueyst and the Center of the Congregation moved to Bourg-Saint-Andéol in the region of the Rhone, in an old convent continuing to spread throughout France.
In 1820, her order was present in eight dioceses and counted 88 houses and the Rule in 1822, the result of twenty years of experience, was given to the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. Her intense work which was running for all Houses and rush by so many pastors who required her work and the presence of her daughters, consumption, and physical decay was felt at the end of 1837 and early 1838 and after a short illness, she died on February 3, 1838, at age 70, in the Central House of Bourg-Saint-Andéol.
With her death all had the impression that she died with an exceptional woman and holy; she left three hundred nuns scattered in fifteen dioceses, with 141 houses. Her tomb is in the House and now the General Congregation is present in Africa, Asia, Europe and Americas.
The small, crippled, frail, little girl who could not stand up, with her continuous, insistent call for healing, answered by the Lord, became a giant of the Catholic religious works; dismissed from the convent, she founded a large congregation, and was beatified on May 23, 1982 by Pope John Paul II, with the liturgical celebration February 3.
Author: Antonio Borrelli
Source: Santi e Beati