History of Rosalie in Pictures
The story of Rosalie Cadron-Jetté in pictures.
The paintings you see were painted in 1950, by two Misericordia Sisters, artists-painters, Sisters Cécile Piché and Sylvia Rondeau.
You can admire these paintings, and many others, in the Misericordia Sisters’ Museum.
Rosalie Cadron was born on January 27, 1794, of Antoine Cadron dit St-Pierre, farmer in Lavaltrie, Québec, and Rosalie Roy dit Desjardins, midwife.
She was baptized into the Catholic Faith the same day.
Twelve years later, in 1806, Rosalie’s sister, Sophie was born.
On October 7, 1811, Rosalie marries Jean-Marie Jetté. She is 17 years old, Jean-Marie is 33.
The family grows. Rosalie and Jean-Marie have eleven children, six are born in Lavaltrie. A life close to nature, where Rosalie fishes for her children’s supper (the Saint Lawrence river is close to their land), and where she performs all the tasks required of a mother in a 19th century family.
Having a large family does not prevent Rosalie from being hospitable towards the homeless who come knocking at her door or to prepare the children of Lavaltrie for their first communion.
While awaiting her fifth child, Rosalie is called upon to take in twins, for a few days, who were nearly put to death. In fact, Rosalie’s mother, being a midwife, is called to assist a young girl who is about to deliver.
Since she is not married, the parents want to hide this family shame, so they ask Mrs. Cadron to burn the babies.
But Mrs. Cadron saves the babies by escaping with them through the window and brings them to her daughter Rosalie. Rosalie keeps them several days and has them baptized.
These happy years suddenly come to an end. Rosalie and Jean-Marie decide, for the good of the boys whom they would like to see settle on productive lands, to sell the land in Lavaltrie and buy a bigger one in la Présentation de St-Hyacinthe in the Eastern Townships, south of Montreal.
However a vendor, in collaboration with a deshonest notary, defraud the Jetté family, who loses everything and is left out in the street. The family must now settle in Montreal and try to earn a living.
Then a cholera epidemic, in 1832, strikes a deadly blow to Jean-Marie who, within 24 hours, leaves Rosalie alone and in charge of seven living children and a sick mother.
Time goes by. Rosalie’s mother dies in 1838, and Rosalie’s children are now able to manage on their own. Having more free time, she takes care of all the poor that cross her path, in addition to living an intense prayer life. Some of those people in need who visit the office of Msgr Ignace Bourget, bishop of Montreal from 1840 to 1876, are pregnant and unmarried.
Montreal becomes rapidly industrialized and its population also increases very quickly. The need for all sorts of social services multiply. Bishop Bourget asks Rosalie, a 50 year old widow, to establish a community to care for single mothers, exclusively, to provide for their needs, including a refuge. Rosalie accepts. Her children find it difficult to accept this mission which has been entrusted to their mother. It’s a shame! During that era, unwed mothers were scorned and held incontempt, including those who took care of them. It was said of Rosalie and her new community that they were “encouraging vice”.
It was on January 16th, 1848 that Rosalie Cadron-Jetté and her seven companions became Misericordia Sisters after pronouncing their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, including a fourth vow, which as to care for and provide a home for single mothers.
Rosalie’s religious life begins thus and lasts for 20 years. She takes care of the mothers, trains the novices who wish to dedicate their lives to the works of the Misericordia Sisters, and intensely live her faith.
Times are hard for the new community which is boycotted by the uncharitable snobs of the time. The sisters exercise all sorts of trades and crafts to generate survival funds. When carrying newborns to church to have them baptized, the sisters find it difficult at times. Some who watch them go by cover them with scorn and they laugh at the babies, stigmatizing them with most unflattering names.
Still, their hospitality and care for both mothers and children remain continuous…
After twenty years of love given to single mothers and to her companions in religion, Rosalie Cadron-Jetté dies on April 5th, 1864, of a long illness that caused her immense suffering (Bright’s disease, also called chronic nephritis).
Evidence was collected after her death on her exemplary life and reputation for holiness. Here we find the origin of the cause of canonization of the founder of the Sisters of Misericordia.