Little Sister Magdeleine's journey

1952 Le Tubet1952 Le Tubet

"What was most striking on meeting Little sister Magdeleine was how she was open and in tune with life around her and how she knew how to respond with an amazing flexibility. Above all it was how she kept her eyes and heart centred on the ordinary life of the One who had fascinated her, Jesus.

‘God is not a prisoner of our human logic or of our poor human means.’
‘You too, take Jesus as your friend and then let him be your guide. That is all you have to do.’

Magdeleine Hutin was born in Paris in April 1898. Her roots however were in Lorraine in Eastern France. As a child she spent her summers there at her grandmother’s house in a small village 40 kilometres from the German border. It was there that she first experienced the sad divisions that hold people apart.

With her familyWith her family

She was the youngest in a family of six children but by the end of the First World War she was the only remaining child with her elderly parents. Her brothers and sisters had all died either in the war or through sickness. She herself was in very poor health. Her parents were strong Christians and they shared their faith with their children. While still very young Magdeleine wanted to give her life to God and from her father she learned to love Africa and the Arabic speaking world.

She discovered Charles de Foucauld - Brother Charles, through a biography by Rene Bazin and it made a deep impression on her. Through these writings she was able to identify the ideal that she dreamed of ‘Jesus-Love’, a life lived according to the Gospel. She was sure God was calling her to become one of the Little Sisters that Brother Charles had wanted so much to found. Her desire persisted even though on a human level it seemed impossible to fulfil because of her poor health. With faith in Jesus ‘Master of the Impossible’ she begged God each night to hasten her departure for North Africa.

In 1935 she developed severe arthritis. It progressed rapidly and the formal diagnosis was that in a short time she would be totally disabled. The doctors told her that the only way to avoid this would be to go and live in a country where there it never rained – like in the Sahara!

For the priest who was counselling her, this was the sign he had waited for. He told her,

‘Leave quickly, God will take you by the hand and you must let God lead you…I am convinced that you should go because humanly speaking you are not capable of accomplishing anything. If you do, it will be God’s work. Without God you can do nothing, absolutely nothing.’
‘The whole foundation rests on those prophetic words.’