Augustinian Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus - First Superior General of the Federation - 1901 - 1951
1 - (1901-1922) Yvonne Beauvais was born on July 16, 1901, in Cossé en Champagne, a small village in Mayenne, of a very honorable family. At three years of age, upon losing her father, Yvonne was entrusted by her parents to her maternal grandmother who expanded her soul by reading the lives of the saints. She manifested a very tender devotion toward the Holy Virgin and her guardian angel, a great desire, already, for the Eucharist, and an impassioned search for “her Jesus” in the poor. She saw, even before the formula existed, and from an early age, the “little way of spiritual childhood” of Thérèse de Lisieux, for whom she had a great affection.
At 6 years of age, she rejoined her mother and followed her, in Argentan and Toul, in the various boarding schools of which her mother became the directrice, in order to replace the religious teachers who had left.
But it is in Paris that she will make her first communion, at nine years of age. Two days later, on January 1, 1911, she wrote in her own blood a “Pact of love” with the “Little Jesus,” in terms surprising for a child of this age, and which would be, without her then suspecting it, the program of her entire life: “I want to save many souls, and to love You more than everyone. I beg you to make me a saint, a very great saint - a martyr. But I want most of all to do Your Will! YOUR LITTLE YVONNE.”
This pact was joyfully summarized later by her in the motto she chose: Direct to the service of Jesus, the King. But already before the pact, and especially from this date on, she would be attentive to controling the unleashing of her impulsive character and to learning to suffer much in silence. For suffering was going to be the inseparable partner in the “mission” that God had prepared for her.
At fourteen years of age, in England, where she continued her studies, she developped the practice of reciting each day the “Small Office of the Blessed Virgin.”
At twenty years of age, she registered in Paris with the Association of the Children of Mary Immaculate, and put, from now on, always with the greatest discretion, to the service of the poor, by varied activities that her inventive zeal would imagine, all the resources of her rich nature, her talents and her love for “Jesus, the Lord.” It is only much later, with her entry into the convent, that one would know about her large family of poor people, when obedience obliged her to tell of her charitable experiences in the region of Paris or in Le Mans, and the exceptional circumstances, not to say miraculous, which accompanied her apostolate.
How, during all these years, did she succeed in hiding her initiatives and especially her sufferings?
In 1921, Yvonne was twenty years old: she was a radiant, joyful and very artistic girl, always ready to be helpful to someone, at home or outside, in a constant search for souls. She brought joy everywhere, in the living rooms where she was invited and in the lofts of her friends, the poor. For her, “to be joyful is to be charitable.” She noted, regarding her devotion: “I will put a smile on my lips, and will be able to fix it by thinking of You, my Jesus. I will gain souls for You, while enjoying… a cup of tea”. Only, the Lord knows at what price!
2 - (1922-1927) However, nature has its limits. Yvonne fell ill and, to complete her convalescence, she arrived, on March 18, 1922, by a providential circumstance, in a small private hospital that was managed by the Augustinian Sisters of Mercy, in Malestroit, a small village in an unknown corner of Morbihan. The monastery itself was, at that time, certainly one of the most humble of the Order. But it was there that, on the following July 5, the young girl had a “revelation” which determined her future and her “mission.”
From that day on, indeed, until her death, Yvonne, who became, even before her entry into this convent as a nun, Yvonne-Aimée of Jesus, will be the object of extraordinarily effective graces and no less extraordinary persecutions from the devil. A life of reparation for sinners, for souls in purgatory, and for those who commit sacrileges against the Eucharist, will become more and more explicit, so much so that she will no longer spend, from that moment on, a single day and very often nights, without being the object of the demands of redeeming Love. She was still, in the eyes of the world, only a lovely, smiling and devoted young girl, but her intimate prayer now became: “Ô Jesus, I abandon myself fully to your mysterious operations in my soul”.
She began, for the rest of her life, a painful Holy Hour, each Thursday from 11 p.m. to midnight. She was obliged to avow: “I say always yes to Jesus“. This total consent required from her a daily heroism in the suffering of her body and soul. She rejected nothing that was required of her: “If God orders, what then can I do but to obey? If He asks me to go uproot the mountain, I will get up at the break of dawn, I will besiege the foot of the giant, and if I should not have a peak and a spade, equipped only with my hands, I would still go! ”
But already, shortly after this July 5th, she realized that she did not have the right to keep her secret to herself; so she went in all simplicity to her directors and confided her secret, becoming obedient to the sometimes painful requirements of those who were officially charged with controling her astonishing vocation. She would thus be, until the end, always submissive to the decisions of the ecclesiastical authorities.
It is from this time that can be traced her ejaculatory prayer “Ô Jesus, King of Love, I trust in Your Merciful Kindness.” This prayer became the source of many spiritual and temporal graces for those who adopted it. Thereafter, it was enriched with the granting of indulgences by the Sovereign pontiffs Pius XI, Pius XII and John XXIII, for the entire Order and hospitalized persons, as well as by Bishops, for their respective dioceses.
In September 1922, having completed her convalescence, Yvonne had to leave, returning from time to time, her “dear convent,” as she already called it, and had to go back to Paris or Le Mans, as wished her mother who was still unaware of what had taken place. The Lord’s will was finally made very clear: Yvonne-Aimée was to be an Augustinian nun at Malestroit. Her hour had not yet come and, until 1927, she would lead, one guesses with what difficulties, a life dedicated to the sometimes disconcerting orders of her King of Love and her life as a young girl in the world. Except for some friends whom the Lord chose, especially relative to preserving her from indiscretions, no one suspected that Yvonne Beauvais was a privileged person.
3 - (1927-1951) At last, opposition to her entry into the community is providentially lifted: Yvonne presented herself at the postulate of Malestroit, on March 18, 1927.
On September 10, during the ceremony of receiving the habit, the preacher (Reverend Crété, S.].) was authorized to shed light on the mystery of the new novice: “Trials and joys, sufferings and temptations, angels, men and demons, eveything came into play to strike those blows and to give those caresses which were designed to render the little fiancé less unworthy of the Lord, Jesus.”
But, at the end of November, she fell so seriously ill that one thought it necessary to give her extreme unction and to cause her to pronounce her vows in articulo mortis. The entire community, the chaplain, her director, the ecclesiastical superior surrounded her bed of agony and were witnesses of a miracle. The one who was dying in front of them sprang to life and, with a sigh, her words could be heard: “Your Love will be my heaven on Earth”. And a half hour later, she took her place again in the choir! We will see the place that the Lord reserved for her in her community and the Order of Canonesses.
On December 21 of the same year, the Bishop of Vannes, on whom the monastery depended, authorized the superiors to entrust to the novice, one month after her consecration to Divine Will, the construction in Malestroit of a large modern private hospital for which an unexpected benefactor provided the first funds.
She will take then the difficult direction of the kitchen, while working, as secretary, for the preparation of the second general Chapter of the Order, with a view to revising the Constitution that her Superior will take with her, in the name of all the monasteries, to seek approval in Rome.
Meanwhile, the small convent of Malestroit became a flourishing monastery: people began to converge there, and sister Yvonne-Aimée of Jesus was entrusted with their formation, inculcating in them, in the spirit of the Order, her own spirit of joyful, simple, trustful and total abandonment to the will of the “Jesus, the Lord”. Who could resist the attraction of the young Mistress of novices, who, in addition, had the gift of reading people’s hearts!
At 34 years of age, 7 years after pronouncing her vows, she was elected Superior of the Community, then, in 1939, President, and, after the war, Superior General, of the Federation of all the monasteries of the Order, for which she had written and presented for approval at Rome, the statutes.
Malestroit, this Nazareth of the Order, became henceforth its radiant center; Mother Yvonne-Aimée was seen as “a gifted manager, resembling the great foundresses, particularly suited to her mission”. One could hardly follow her in her overabundant activity, where strength and kindness radiated; but this was only the visible aspect of her vocation, or rather one intertwined with the other, the mysterious aspect no longer having as a witness but a restricted circle of her entourage and the directors who controlled her. She continued to follow the same painful way for the salvation of souls, among flashes of divine predilection.
The war of 1940 was an occasion for her to practice all her gifts. She did not lack the official recognition of men; but this nun wanted only to place her courage and her confidence in God at the service of universal charity.
The hour of the only true recompense was soon to ring for her who did not consent, in December 1927, to retard the date of departure.
In spite of her poor suffering body, marked by scars and burned with constant fever, she was planning, at the beginning of 1951, to go visit her daughters in Natal; but, on February 3rd, the day before her departure, she returned her noble soul to God, at 49 years of age.
Since then, those who approached her continue to feel her presence; and the people who call upon her are unanimous in recognizing the effectiveness of her Intervention with her “King of Love,” for whom she had accomplished on earth, with complete fidelity, the least orders of the Redeeming Will, and agreed to be the collaborator and the messenger of His Merciful Kindness.
O Jesus, King of Love, Who inspired in Your servant Yvonne-Aimée a generous participation in Your infinite tenderness for souls, an ardent devotion for the Holy Eucharist and an unwavering fidelity to Your service, grant, we beseech you, that all Your gifts be glorified in her, according us through her intercession the grace, which we seek with confidence, of Your divine and merciful kindness.
O You, who live and reign with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. So be it.
O Jesus, King of Love, I Trust in Your Merciful Kindness.
Monseigneur Le Bellec
Eugène Joseph Marie
Bishop of Vannes, August 2, 1954
Those persons who receive graces attributable to the intercession of Mother Yvonne-Aimée of Jesus are requested to make them known to the Community of Augustinians - 56140 Malestroit – France