Pleas for Poverty, Third plea

1951 La Borgata Prenistina Rome1951 La Borgata Prenistina Rome

Little sister Magdeleine continues to be concerned about living the poverty of Jesus, workman of Nazareth. On the 10th July she writes at length to Bishop Montini:

In the advancing tide of Communism our communities of worker life, our worker Little sisters, show the poor side of the Church, and bear a witness to the Church's love for the working class, the class of the poor to which Christ and the Holy family belonged.


Submitted to Pius XII in Rome on the 11 July 1948

This is the third time I shall have the joy of kneeling at the feet of Your Holiness to ask you to bless the religious family that the Lord has charged me to found and to make grow.

For the third time, I make bold, Most Holy Father, to submit to you the same plea for poverty in the name of Christ Jesus, the divine Workman of Nazareth.

This poverty is the desire of all the Little Sisters of Jesus whom I represent here because I am their mother. Their desire is unmitigated and without reserve, not only for themselves, but also for their Institute.

They cannot resign themselves to possessing dowries and to having investments and capital multiplying in Banks when they have inherited the name and the ideal of Father de Foucauld. For their living they have their worker communities and the labour of their two hands. The poor and working people do not have the luxury of the rules of prudence and yet how much more than we religious would they need security for the morrow for their families which are sometimes so numerous.

I beg you, Most Holy Father, to allow us, who unlike other Orders have no organised works to support, to be in the Church, in the face of spreading Communism, Little Sisters belonging to the working class. In the missions as in Europe, let us be of the class of those who will never be able to put money aside for the future and who live from one day to the next by hard work, and have no other honour than that of faithfully following in the footsteps of Jesus.

And besides, what good in the present economic upheaval are dowries and investments, which are at the mercy of every minor crisis? If they no longer mean anything, why, since the Lord willed that we be born in this time of crisis, should we be obliged to include provisions for them in our Constitutions?

For the past eight years, our poverty has attracted many, many young people. There are sixty of us, living in seven communities, in five Dioceses. Many are asking to join us. In four communities Little Sisters work in factories, deeply loved and respected by their brothers and sisters at work.

This poverty has spoken to young people from the Orient. His Beatitude Patriarch Khouzan wants us to come to Egypt and His Excellency Archbishop Hakim is calling us to his Diocese in Galilee. Next year we will found in Nazareth, the centre for our communities in the Orient. We want to go quickly beyond the national framework of France. His Eminence Cardinal Tisserant is encouraging this project.

Is this rapid development a blessing of our poverty and does it consecrate it?

All I am asking is to continue this experiment for a few years more. I would like to found a community in the poorest and most wretched neighbourhood of Rome, near Borgata-Gordiani, for example, where people still throw stones at priests when they pass. I would like to start a little community shining with charity to make its home in one of the poorest houses of the area among working people. Iwant it to be a living witness to the poverty of the One we love to call ‘Our Beloved Brother and Lord Jesus’.

I want to live this experience right here at Rome under your eyes, Most Holy Father, and at the same time in other new communities in the Orient and in the Occident. If, at the end of three or four years of experiment, we fail, then humbly I will acknowledge that I was wrong. In the joy of obedience, I will then submit to the directives of the Church with the certainty that I am doing the Will of God.

But if our Congregation continues to grow and to flourish, then I ask you once again to ratify the mission that has been entrusted to us to take up the ideal of Father de Foucauld and carry it out in all its integrity.

I ask you, Most Holy Father, to bless all the Little Sisters, and to bless me too, who from the first day have presented myself to you as a ‘little Sister of no importance at all’, one who knows the Lord has entrusted to her a work that is far too great for her.