Founder of the order of Roman Catholic nuns known as the Sisters of Providence of Montreal. Beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 2001.

In 1800, in the city of Montreal, Marie Emélie Eugénie Tavernier was born to Marie-Josephte and Antoine Tavernier. Emélie's mother died when she was 4, and she was adopted by her aunt and uncle.

She married Jean-Baptiste Gamelin on June 4, 1823. Together they had three children. In 1827, her husband and three sons died during a typhus epidemic.

Emélie turned to charity work, opening a poor house for elderly women in an unused part of a school house in 1830. She was able to open a second in 1832, using two adjoining houses, where she lived with her elderly charges. A third, larger, home was donated in 1835, known colloquially as the Yellow House. With the help of several patrons, who called themselves The Ladies of Charity, Emélie continued to expand her work with the poor and elderly.

Meanwhile the Bishop of Montreal, Ignace Bourget, had been trying to get a chapter of the Daughters of Saint Vincent de Paul to come to Montreal, but they were unable to establish a presence in the city. Bourget decided to found his own congregation based the order on the rules of the Daughters of Saint Vincent de Paul. Bishop Bourget named them The Daughters of Charity, Servants of the Poor. This being a mouthful in any language, they came to be known to the people of Montreal as the Sisters of Providence.

Bishop Bourget and Emélie jointly established the congregation at the Yellow House in 1843. Emélie was given the responsibility of directing the work of the Sisters, who would, after all, be continuing the good works she had been doing herself. Emélie was not among the original seven novices of the order, but she joined soon after, when one of the other women dropped out. Emélie entered the novitiate, and became Mother Gamelin in 1844.

Emélie continued her good work until she succumbed to the cholera epidemic that swept Montreal in 1851, dying on September 23rd of that year.

In October 2001, Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Gamelin. Since she did not die as a martyr, an attributed miracle is required for this step along the road to sainthood. According to the Church, "having obtained through her intercession the healing of a youth afflicted by a serious illness, [Mother Gamelin] can now be listed among the vast number¹ of blesseds." The youth, a 13 year old boy, was apparently cured of his fatal leukemia through prayers to Mother Gamelin.

  1. The number is vast, in part, because John Paul II has been turning them out like sausages. He has doubled the number of the beatified, and more than doubled the number of saints, since the start of his reign as Pope.


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