The childhood of Catherine Labouré
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The childhood of Catherine Labouré (Paris 1830)
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Catherine Labouré

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Catherine Labouré was born on 2nd May 1806 in a rural area in Eastern France to a large family of important agricultural landowners. A lively and hard-working child, she spent all her days working on the farm.

She lost her mother at the age of 9 and was sent, with her younger sister Tonine, to live with her aunt. The older sister, Marie-Louise, already with the Sisters of Charity, returned for some time to help out at the family home. When she returned for her holy communion, Catherine was aged 12 and decided to stay with Tonine to keep the family home. Marie-Louise, her elder sister, then returned to the Sisters of Charity community.


She regularly attended Mass and daily visited the "Chapel of the Virgin", which the Labouré family had restored near to its home. Despite long working days, she visited the sick, welcomed the poor and started to fast on Fridays and Saturdays from the age of 14.

During this period, she had a dream. She was in the Chapel of the Virgin and the old priest there told her "God has plans for you, don't forget it." This religious conviction gradually grew and was to dominate all her decisions. Hitherto illiterate, she decided to learn to read and write, as she could not imagine serving God without that ability.

Approving her will to study, her father sent her, at the age of 16, to a boarding school for girls near Châtillon where she stayed for 2 years. She kept a precious memory of her visit to the Sisters of Charity during this period of her life as it was in the community church that she was able to identify the name of the priest that appeared in her dream: it was Saint-Vincent de Paul.

At the age of 21, Catherine Labouré joined the community of the Sisters of Charity.

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