Marie du Tixier

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Marie du Tixier
Titre(s) Baronne de Veuilly
Conjoint(s) Charles Ripault, baron de Veuilly
Dénomination(s) Mère Marie de Saint-Charles
Date de naissance 1593
Date de décès 1665
Notice(s) dans dictionnaire(s) ancien(s)

Notice de Barbara Diefendorf, 2008

The daughter of Amos du Tixier, seigneur de Maisons, a gentilhomme ordinaire de la chambre of King Henri IV, and of Françoise Hurault, the daughter of Jacques Hurault, chevalier, seigneur de Vueil, a conseiller du roi and maître des requêtes, Marie was born in Paris and baptized on March 5, 1593. She spent most of her early childhood in the household of her maternal grandmother, who raised her in the Catholic religion, as she had raised her mother. Marie’s father, a Protestant, converted to the Catholic faith on his deathbed, at which point her mother took a vow to join as austere a religious order as possible as soon as she could free herself from her family obligations. She accomplished this vow by entering the strict Récollette convent of Sainte-Claire in Verdun, where one of her daughters was a nun, in 1613. The eldest of the five children who survived to adulthood, Marie had been married to Charles Ripault, baron de Veuilly, the son of a presiding magistrate in the Parlement of Paris (ca 1609). She was pregnant with their first child when her husband was shot and killed seven years later. A short time later, she gave birth prematurely to a son who was named Charles after his father. Already pious and austere in her practices as a wife, Marie developed in widowhood a strong religious vocation. She refused all offers of remarriage, rejecting in particular one suitor whose ardent pursuit of her was fictionalized in Jean-Pierre Camus’s novel La pieuse Julie (1625), and secretly entered the recently founded Franciscan Third Order Penitent convent of Sainte-Elisabeth in Paris a year after her husband’s death. Her family fought hard against this decision and even brought her crying baby to the convent to try to convince her to change her mind, but she persevered. Taking the habit in January 1617, she made her vows on March 3, 1618, and was elected superior on December 20, 1622. She remained in this and other important positions in the convent until her death in 1665. It was under her leadership that many of the convent’s spiritual exercises and practices assumed their mature form. She also supervised the expansion of convent buildings and helped guide the community through several major crises provoked by schisms within the congregation of Franciscan Third Order Penitents. A gifted spiritual direction, she gave counsel not only to the convent’s nuns but also to lay men and women who came to the convent’s parlor to seek her advice. Largely forgotten until the recent interest in recovering women’s history, Marie de Saint-Charles du Tixier is representative of the strong-minded and energetic women who helped establish France’s Catholic Reformation. Although young and inexperienced when she entered religious life, she demonstrated the spiritual leadership and administrative abilities necessary to establish a solid place for a relatively unknown new ascetic religious order in a city where more celebrated and better funded new religious institutions were multiplying rapidly. Her penitential and ascetic piety, characteristic of the early stages of the Catholic Reformation, gained her a reputation for sanctity that extended beyond her convent walls.


- None of her writings have been independently published, but some letters and excerpts from addresses given fellow nuns and other writings appear in Jean Macé, La vie de la vénérable mère Marie de S. Charles, religieuse de Sainte Elizabeth, dite au siècle Madame la Baronne de Veuilly, Paris, F. Muguet, 1671

Choix bibliographique

- Diefendorf, Barbara B., From Penitence to Charity: Pious Women and the Catholic Reformation in Paris, New York, Oxford University Press, 2004.

- Macé, Jean, La vie de la vénérable mère Marie de S. Charles…, voir supra, Oeuvres.


- (A propos de ses talents de directrice spirituelle) «Elles confesserent toutes dans ces premiers essays, qu’elles avoient en leur Mere une Maîtresse passée en ce grand métier de conduire les Ames à la perfection. […] elle inspiroit à ses Filles une devotion mâle, & un courage de grâce, qui devoroit toutes ces grandes difficultez qui herissent le chemin de vertu.» (Jean Macé, La vie de la vénérable mère Marie de S. Charles..., voir supra, Choix bibliographique, p.85-86)

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