Canada’s first female saint started a school

On this day in 1657 Marguerite Bourgeoys started teaching in Montreal. A year later she opened the city’s first school in a converted stable, and later organized a boarding school for girls and a school for native girls.

Born in France, and sent to New France at the age of 32 specifically to teach children, Bourgeoys eventually founded the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal, one of the first convents to live as a non-cloistered order. This was something she struggled to maintain against the opposition of local church leaders.

In 1878 Pope Leo XII had the the title venerable, and in 1950 she was beatified. On Oct. 31, 1982 she was canonized as Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, the first female saint of Canada.

She had already been honored on a Canadian Postage stamp.

On May 30, 1975, Canada Post issued an eight cent stamp showing her teaching a group of children. The stamp was designed by Jacques Roy, based on a painting by Elmina Lachance. Ashton-Potter Ltd. printed 13.4 million stamps.

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