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Saint-Brieuc. A contemplative itinerary with Marie Balavenne


A new itinerary, opened out in the park of the DHS Mother House in Saint Brieuc, was inaugurated on Sunday 19 March 2017, to help us better know who Marie Balavenne was. It is open to the public as of now.

Rue des Capucins, Saint Brieuc, on a Sunday afternoon in March, has been inaugurated the "Marie Balavenne itinerary". In her input, Sister Jeanne Le Roux, the DHS Provincial, drew up a moving picture of the foundress, born on 20 March 1666, at Le Légué (a commercial and fishing port, and sailing harbor situated in Britanny between Saint-Brieuc and Plérin towns). After the unveiling of the very first panel, the visitors could spread out and discover the various workshops proposed to them: historical film, exhibition, a visit of the house… In the park, a beautiful place with green spaces and flower beds, the visitors could file past the nine pictures of the itinerary. They were invited to let themselves be seized by the Spirit, questioned, permeated by what constituted Marie Balavenne’s life, her totally dedicated life in humility and discretion, at the service of Christ for the sake of the most fragile and vulnerable. It was not her life story as it is drawn out in Sr Madeleine Le Saux’s beautiful poem entitled “The hidden Source” but the very essence of what constituted Marie Balavenne’s existence. A surge of intense emotion welled up within us on hearing the reading of the poem imbued with such beauty and simplicity, a poem which made Marie Balavenne live anew in the heart of a number of the people who had come here on 19 March.

At the Wellspring of the Encounter. The last panel constituted the apotheosis of it all, showing the photo of the Well which is still to be found in the courtyard of Plérin community. Let yourself be touched, moved  by the last verses of the calligraphic poem on that panel: “At the wellspring of the Encounter where life is changed, the Lord of the Source still comes to sit there and it is He whom she shows, whom she makes known, having lost herself in Him, so long ago”.

Many people also gathered to discover with great interest the big Hall of the Archives made of beautiful woodwork. This hall dating from the end of the 19th century used to be a chapel. One can see pictures, photos showing the activities of the sisters from the foundation. In Renée Burel Hall, an exhibition commented the history of the Congregation, completed by two slide shows. The former named “Origins” was realized by Sr Marie Thérèse Hélies, a poetical document, about ten minutes long, which invites you to get along. The second, to be viewed afterwards, is the work of the Young and Vocations Commission of the congregation. Entitled “Marie Balavenne’s Life”, it concerns the younger and presents the life of the foundresses with archival documents in support of it. 

At 5p.m the day came to an end by a short but intense time of prayer in the chapel, followed by a convivial cup of tea enlivened with pleasant encounters. 

Christiane Lefilleul, DHS Associate. Published on 21/03/2017

To view the film ”Origins”, you have to get into contact with Sr M.T. Héliès, phone number 02 96 68 17 24. But in the park, the visit remains open every day to the large public.

Photos: Jean-Louis Kervizic, Associate.



Filles du Saint-Esprit 15 bd. Sebastopol 35101 Rennes Cedex 2 France

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