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Today’s saint was born with the name Julie Frances Catharine Postel, in Barfleur in Normandy, France. While studying with the Benedictine nuns at Volognes, she decided to devote her life to the service of God and her neighbor and took the vow of chastity.
At age 18, Postel opened a school for girls in La Bretonne. Five years later the French Revolution broke out. During that period St. Mary Magdalen Postel helped priests who were in hiding or in prison. She also encouraged the loyal Catholics of Barfleur. She received permission to keep the Blessed Sacrament in her house, carry the Blessed Sacrament on her person and even to administer Last Rites in cases of emergency.
When peace returned, St. Mary taught catechism to young and old at Cherbourg. In 1805, with the approval of the Vicar Louis Cabart, she and some other women established a religious community. They called themselves the Poor Daughters of Mercy and observed the rule of the Third Order of St Francis.
Thirty years later the new Franciscan sisterhood transferred the motherhouse from Cherbourg to the former Benedictine abbey of St Sauveur le Vicomte in Courtance with Mother Mary Magdalen at its helm.
In 1837 the Vicar General Delamare substituted, in place of the Third Order rule, that of St John Baptist de la Salle, the founder of the Christian Brothers. The members of the community were thereafter called Sisters of Mercy of the Christian Schools.
Mother Mary Magdalen was almost 90 years old when she died on July 16, 1846. Her sisterhood continued to grow and spread to other countries. The original French sisterhood received papal approbation in 1901. Mother Mary Magdalen was canonized in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.