Anne Marguerite Adelaide Emily de Vialar was born at Gaillace, Albi in southern France. She was the only daughter of Baron James Augustine de Vialar and Antoinette. Her wealthy parents sent her to school in Paris but at the age of fifteen, she returned to her small town of Gaillac when her mother died.
Fifteen-year-old Emily would be good company for her father. Mr. de Vialar was interested in finding a suitable husband for his daughter. He became very angry when Emily flatly refused to marry because she wanted to be a religious sister and give her life to God.
When Emily was twenty-one, a new priest, Father Mercier, arrived in Gaillac. Emily went to him for direction as she wanted to help the poor and the sick. Father Mercier helped her set up an out-patient service right on the terrace of the de Vialar home.
Emily’s father was upset by all the bother and this tense situation between Emily and her father existed for fifteen years. Then Emily’s grandfather, the Baron de Portal, died leaving Emily a large fortune. At last she could have the independence she needed to begin her great work for God.
With the help of Father Mercier, Emily bought a large house in her hometown. She and three other women began a religious order. They designed a habit and chose the name “Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition”.
The archbishop blessed their congregation and ministry. These sisters would be care for the sick and poor, and educate children. Twelve young women joined the group within three months. Sister Emily pronounced her vows in 1835 along with seventeen other sisters.
The Sisters of St. Joseph started branch convents. In 1847, the sisters went to Burma and in 1854, to Australia. In forty years, Mother Emily saw her congregation grow from the patio of her home in Gaillac, France, to some forty convents around the world.
Mother Emily wrote many letters which showed her great love for God, for his Church and for people. She saw in her heart people everywhere who needed the truth of the Gospel and the love that Christ brings. She asked Jesus for the strength she needed to continue her mission. Mother Emily’s died on August 24, 1856.
Reflection: The poor, the helpless and the sick are some of the treasures of the Church. We must have a compassionate heart toward them and be sensitive to their needs like St. Emily who was docile to the Will of God in showing care to these least of our brethren. Only by compassion that we can received compassion. Be compassionate and you will obtain Heaven!
Prayer: O God, who have taught your Church to keep all the heavenly commandments by love of you as God and love of neighbor; grant that, practicing the works of charity after the example of blessed Emily, we may be worthy to be numbered among the blessed in your Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.