Franca Zonta, FMI
The book fills the gap between Adèle’s death and the suppression of Catholic teaching orders in France at the beginning of the twentieth century.

by Franca Zonta, FMI

Translated by Joseph Stefanelli, SM

381 pgs.


Written to fill the historical gap between Adèle’s death and the suppression of Catholic teaching orders in France at the beginning of the twentieth century, Sister Franca develops this history using archival material available in the Archives of the General Administration of the Daughters of Mary.  More than half the book details the founding of the Third Order Secular and the Third Order Regular, their relationship to the Daughters of Mary, their apostolates and the eventual merger in 1921 of the Third Order of Auch with the Daughters of Mary.  The thinking of Father Chaminade and Mother Adèle concerning the Third Order, the vow of enclosure, the vow of stability, the vow of teaching faith as applied to the Third Order is detailed and explored.

Toward a Merger

“Once upon a time there was a Third Order. . . . “

No doubt there are some now who think of the Third Order in terms of a fairy tale or legend, something which once was but is no longer. They think of it as a reality which once existed but which succumbed little by little to time, and which history snuffed out. This has been the fate of numerous congregations which found themselves on the way to extinction and whose last members joined some other order, more or less similar. The charism of the original group is lost, buried in the past. All that remains is a history and a memory.

This was not the case for the Third Order of the Daughters of Mary of Auch. Although examining the final years of the Third Order does not properly fit into the time frame of this study, it seems desirable to do so. Having followed its history thus far, it is important to look also at this concluding phase. The Third Order is like a “tributary stream” flowing into and losing itself in the “great river.” It is also important to balance, where necessary, the impression many still have that “Once upon a time. . .

An Old Dream
How did the notion arise of a merger between the Daughters of Mary of Ausch and those of Agen? When, and why? These are the first questions to arise, and it may come as a surprise to discover that this was an old idea, a desire having its roots in the heart of Mother Aimée Lacoste. It was not the result of the persecution which broke out early in the 1900s against the teaching orders. This latter event only brought to maturation a dream which had been cultivated for a long time.

It has already been seen how, as in any good family, little difficulties and inevitable misunderstandings had developed from time to time between the two branches of the Institute. It was becoming more and more evident that the principles regulating the relationship between the two needed to be modified.

Who would be better situated to give suggestions and appropriate advice than one who, while being in the family, was also not involved in the issue? This person was Good Father Simler, the Superior General of the Society of Mary. He had already played a great role in the rapprochement between his own religious family and the Daughters of Mary. He was the first to dedicate himself seriously to the relationship between the sisters of Agen and those of Auch. . . .

Having been asked his advice by various parties, Father Simler spent more than a year reading, studying, reflecting, examining the various Constitutions, and questioning and listening to those involved. He gathered information from anyone who was able to provide it. Above all, “We addressed ourselves to the Immaculate Virgin, Our Lady of the Pillar and Mother of Good Counsel, who was the first foundress of all these works and who remains their guardian and directress.”

1: A Precious Heritage 
 January 10, 1828 
 Mother St. Vincent de Labastide 
 Legal Approbation of the Institute, 1828 
 First General Chapter, 1830 
2: Expansion of the Institute 
A Backward Glance 
Rheinackern, 1828 
Abbey of Our Lady of Acey, 1830 
Lons-le-Saunier, 1853 
Pyumirol, 1850 
Agen, Collège Saint Caprais, 1850

3: Relationship with the Society of Mary 
The Institute of Mary
Difficulties with Father Chaminade
Difficulties with Father Caillet

Renewal of Contact

4: Toward Definitive Approbation 
Mother Marie Sophie Baud
Mother Marie Stanislas Pernier
Definitive Approbation, 1888

5: The Third Order Regular (1836) 
Intentions of the Founders
Vow of Enclosure
Third Order Secular
A Providential Moment
Why at Auch?
The Foundress' Wish Realized
Why "Third Order"?
Some Characteristics
Relationship between the Daughters of Mary
and the Third Order
Constitutions of 1888

6: "Central Superiors" of the Third Order
Mother Léocadie Voirin, 1836-44
Mother Visitation Souèges, 1844-45
Mother Thaïs Laborde, 1845-46
Mother Sainte Claire Brun, 1846-48
Mother Marie Aimé de Jésus Lacoste, 1848-97
Mother Marie Félicie Dupuy, 1898-1903
Mother Marie Louise du Sacré Coeur Guilhempey, 1903-23
Two Other Superiors

7: Expansion of the Third Order 
Foundations of the Third Order of Auch
Conditions for New Foundation
Department of Gers
Barran (Gers), 1838
Castillones (Lot-et-Garonne), 1839
Cazaubon (Gers), 1839
Labastide-Savès (Gers), 1839
Pavie (Gers), 1840
Montréal (Gers), 1841
Sarrant (Gers), 1841
Fleurance (Gers), 1842
Mas d'Auvignon (Gers), 1843
Aux-Aussat (Gers), 1843
Astaffort (Lot-et-Garonne), 1845
Pergain (Gers), 1845
Castelmoron (Lot-et-Garonne), 1846
Cologne (Gers), 1847
Montesquiou (Gers), 1848
Castex (Gers), 1850
Bon-Encontre (Lot-et-Garonne), 1852
Estang (Gers), 1853
Beaucaire (Gers), 1855
Saint-Antonin (Gers), 1855
Saint-Clar (Gers), 1858
Plaisance (Gers), 1863
Legupie (Lot-et-Garonne), 1866
Auch (Gers)
Riguepeu (Gers), 1876
Arreau (Hautes-Pyrénées), 1890
Goulen (Lot-et-Garonne), 1898

8: Foundations in Corsica 
Ile-Rousse, 1840
Olmeto, 1840
Cervoine, 1847
Ajaccio, 1852
Vico, 1857
Corsica: Daughters of Agen?
Or Third Order of Auch?

9: Toward a Merger 
An Old Dream
Father Simler's Proposal for Union
Fears, Hopes, and Concerns
The Third Order, a Diocesan Institute?
Final Steps
Civil Recognition of the Institute

1. Civil Statutes of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary of Agen
2. Royal Ordinance of March 23, 1828
3. Decree of February 16, 1856, Authorizing Modifications in Statutes
4. Decree of November 11, 1865, Authorizing Modifications in Statutes
5. Modified Statutes of Third Order, 1865
6. Archbishops of Auch, 1836-1921
7. Mothers General Daughters of Mary of Agen
8. Central Superiors Third Order of Auch
9. Daughters of Mary Who Died at Acey
10. Prospectus of the School at Ajaccio, 1852
11. Dedication of New Boarding Department, Ajaccio, 1868
12. Pontifical Approbations of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary