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Elisabeth Bergeron (1851-1936)

Will Elisabeth Bergeron be someday on the list of saints?
Canonization will add nothing to the sainthood of Elisabeth; but it would allow making public the worship which is already devoted to her privately. In Rome, the cause has already cleared the first step towards canonization, that of venerability, recognized in 1996.
While waiting for the required miracles, the Church studies her way of living the Gospel, in order to offer her as a model for us, so that we may imitate her actions.

Spiritual physiognomy of Elisabeth
While still alive, Elisabeth already has the reputation of being a saint. Imagine children coming to the door one day asking for relics of the foundress! Being gifted with a good sense of humour, she is greatly amused at their request. Why do you think bishops come to consult her? Certainly not because of her university degrees! Her source is in God and in her way of loving and serving wholeheartedly all the little ones and the poor of her time.

“A saint has just died” (1936)
The news of her death spreads throughout the city. One word is on all lips, “We have just lost a saint!” During three days, old and young filed past her remains. A mother rushes to the coffin, with her blind two-year-old child. When she returns the following day, the toddler extends his hand towards the cross on the chest of the deceased. “Miracle!” exclaims the mother, “He sees the cross!”

On May 2nd, 1936, the funeral is a real apotheosis for the humble foundress. Always so unassuming, Elisabeth has a royal funeral procession.

Elisabeth, always present
In 1936, Elisabeth’s work is in full expansion: 534 Sisters work in 48 schools. Her spiritual daughters follow in her footsteps. Years pass.
The reputation of sainthood of Mother Saint Joseph (Elisabeth Bergeron) incites the Sisters to undertake steps for the introduction of her cause in Rome. The archbishop of Saint Hyacinthe, Mgr. Albert Sanschagrin, OMI, obtains from Rome the permission to begin the procedures in view of a possible canonization:

- by the exhumation of remains
On October 9, 1968, the body of Elisabeth Bergeron is exhumed in the presence of the religious and civil authorities concerned. Her remains are taken to the Mother House of the Congregation and deposited in a sealed tomb.

-by a study of the life and virtues of Elisabeth Bergeron (1968-1975)
A first in Canada: ordinarily realized in Rome, the opening of the Cause is launched this time in the very midst of the Congregation by the bishop of the diocese of Saint-Hyacinthe Mgr. Sanschagrin
- consulting eyewitnesses;
- compiling of the document to be forwarded to Rome
- sending to Rome the writings dictated by the foundress to her secretary.

-by the presentation and approval of the file “Life and Virtues of Elisabeth”
In 1989, this file called Positio, composed in Saint Hyacinthe by Sister Jeannine Couture, SJSH, is forwarded to Father Yvon Beaudoin, OMI, reporter for that cause in Rome. The latter replaces Father Angelo Mitri, deceased reporter.
On July 7, 1995: Rome approves the Positio. The consultants stress Elisabeth Bergeron’s humility, her understanding and love of the Church, and her submission to the will of God.

Elisabeth Bergeron declared Venerable on January 12, 1996

The promulgation of the decree of heroic virtues, by Pope Jean-Paul II, is done at Saint-Pierre-de-Rome, at noon, on January 12, 1996. Mgr. Louis Langevin, bishop of Saint Hyacinthe is present.

Great diocesan feast
The Sisters of Saint Joseph exult and invite all the diocesans to partake in their thanksgiving at a celebration in the cathedral of Saint Hyacinthe on April 29, 1996, anniversary of the death of their beloved Foundress, henceforth known as Venerable Elisabeth Bergeron.

Elisabeth’s mission lives on
Even today, Elisabeth’s dynamism is apparent. Her spiritual daughters, mindful of the needs of the time, choose new pathways, take counsel together, and give to the mission the inspiration of Elisabeth Bergeron. Laypersons associated to the Congregation are inspired by her spirituality and commit themselves to follow in her footsteps. The Elisabeth Bergeron Centre insures a link with the many friends of Elisabeth. Many are the visitors who come to her tomb to pray. Fervor holds steady around Venerable Elisabeth Bergeron. A museum set up in June 1999, allows visitors to discover the material signs of her passage on earth as well as the work of her collaborators.
To the question “Will Elisabeth be canonized soon?” an answer bursts forth, “If it is the will of God.” All is possible! In the meantime, we should not fear to solicit fervently the God of the little ones and the humble.

Elisabeth's mission is not completed, it begin!

Novena to the Venerable Elisabeth Bergeron
by S. Ghislaine Salvail, sjsh

Novena to the Venerable Elisabeth Bergron
by Diane Beauregard, sjsh