Comments on the Religious Obituary of Sister Saint-Florentin

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In thinking about how words and meanings were used prior to 1939, I think “Angel-Bread” or “Angel-Dust” is not what the Poulin siblings called Florence when she was at home, acting as both mother and sister to her siblings.

Back then, bread had a ‘starter’ this magic stuff which fed the yeast, and allowed bread to rise (call it magic dust).  I think Florence was so loved that she was viewed as a forerunner of an angel; perhaps angel material, or angel starter.  I think these children called her and viewed her as “Angel-Dear”, something which, with time, becomes an angel.

Grand’ Montagne is a section of Saint Joseph of Beauce which has, by the way, no mountains.  It is interesting to think that with the still of the night, Florence could hear the bells of a local priest’s small chapel ringing, like a heavenly reminder that God was near. To live so close to the recurring sound of this bell each day must have fed her determination, wouldn’t you think?

Decades lates, my mother also spoke of hearing those bells when she was a child. The small chapel was near a small school that served Anne-Marie Poulin LeRoy and Herve Gabriel Poulin,, children of Raoul Poulin.

The phases of religious life for women in most Catholic convents were similar to the following:

Phase I Postulant
1 year
Think about vows and a life in service to God – wear a mini-habit, often all white, display much hair around your face [you are still a member of the outside world].

You are a fiancee of God at this stage.

Phase 2 Noviciat
2 year
Take initial vows – become less worldly – wear ½ white and ½ black, hair is cut dramatically short, and perhaps display very little hair [aspire to be modest and free of vanity in the eyes of God].

You are a bride of God at this stage.

Phase 3 Professed
(full fledged nun, for the rest of your living days)
Final vows – heavy duty commitment to God – wear black, never show hair around face again [achieve highest level of modesty possible for a woman, to be vanity-free for the rest of your life].

You are a wife of God at this stage.

 

Time Line of Florence Poulin’s Life

Birth to 13 years old             =          childhood

14 to 35 years old                =          caring for siblings, mother, grandmother

35 to 70 years old                =          in religious life

 

Entrance to the Cemetery for the Sisters of Charity of Quebec on the grounds of the formerly defunct Villa Mastai, the earliest tuberculosis sanitorium all of Canada. Years later, this facility has been expanded and is now the University of Mental Health of Quebec in Beauport.

 

Joyce

Joyce Derenas is a historical fiction author who writes stories based on the real lives of her French-Canadian ancestors of the Beauce Valley in Quebec.