Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Order of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 7
Order of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament


Founded in the early part of the seventeenth century by Jeanne Chezard de Matel. The illustrious foundress was born in 1596, at Roanne, France, and died in 1670 at Lyons. The rule and constitutions of the order were approved in 1633 by Urban VIII, and confirmed in 1644 by Innocent X. The principal object of the order is the education of youth. The first house was founded at Lyons, France, foundations being subsequently established at Avignon, Paris, and various other places in France. At the time of the French Revolution the religious were driven out of their monasteries, and destruction threatened the order, but the Word Incarnate watched over its preservation, and, after the restoration of peace, the order was re-established. Azerables, France, claims the privilege of being the cradle of the resuscitated order. It thence again spread it branches over many parts of France. In 1852, Bishop Odin, first Bishop of Texas, visited France to obtain religious for his far-off mission. A little band, headed by the noble and self-sacrificing Mother St. Claire, left Lyons to transplant to the New World the Order of the Incarnate Word. At Brownsville, Texas, then a mere fort, was founded the first house in America. Many hardships had to be encountered, and many difficulties faced, but the wise and prudent management of the superioress, and the devotion and self-sacrifice of the pioneer band, overcame every obstacle. In 1866 an establishment was founded at Victoria by religious from Brownsville, Texas, Mother St. Claire being again chosen superioress. The same wise administration caused this house to prosper, and in a few years it had sent out subjects to begin foundations at Corpus Christi, Houston, and Hallettsville. These, in turn, made foundations in many places in Mexico. The community of Victoria consists at present of forty-four members. Mother M. Antoinette, who was then a novice of the house of Lyons, and was the first to join the community after its commencement here, is the present superioress. The institute is in a very flourishing condition. A new, excellently-equipped academy has been built at Victoria, where a high standard of education is maintained by an efficient staff.

MOTHER ANTOINETTE