Family tree of Hélène de CHAPPOTIN


FrenchBorn Hélène de CHAPPOTIN

Foundress of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary

Born on May 21, 1839 in Nanres, France , France

Died on November 15, 1904 in San Remo, Italy

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Helene de Chappotin, was born in France in 1839. She lived a remarkable life. Deposed by the pope as Superior of her own order then reinstated, a prolific writer (more than 33,000 letters and essays), Helene moved from a life of enclosed prayer to a life amongst the people. Her personal legacy is now present on every continent on Earth.

Also known by her religious name, Mary of the Passion, Helene de Chappotin was a risk taker who reached out to the poor. Her experience of the poor and marginalised, especially the plight of women, brought her into dialogue with the justice issues of her time. She would say, "To go to the poor is a need of my soul."


In her twenties, Helene made the life-changing decision to enter religious life. Then in 1865 she was sent to South India to a challenging mission. Life there proved very different and difficult. In 1876, she went to Rome to get permission to found the Missionaries of Mary, a women-specific missionary order run by a woman with missionary experience. In 1877 her constitutions for the new group were approved.

Helene's experience confirmed for her the need for both prayer and work - contemplation and action. Her deep devotion to the Eucharist provided the energy for her spirituality and the poverty and simplicity of St Francis of Assisi inspired her lifestyle.

In 1882, the small Institute she founded - the Missionaries of Mary - was taken into the Franciscan family and became the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Helene's vision of sharing God's love across international boundaries led her to desire her sisters to be "citizens of the world".

Helene de Chappotin was beatified by the Church in 2000.

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Geographical origins

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