Today, June 17, we celebrate the feast day of *Saint Emily de Vialar* (1797-1856), virgin of the Church, caregiver to the poor, and foundress of the Sisters of Saint Joseph “of the Apparition.”
Saint Emily was born to an aristocratic family in Gaillac, France, the eldest of 3 children. As the French Revolution had just passed, and anti-Christian sentiment was still in full force in France, Emily was baptized by her parents in secret, and her mother undertook religious instruction in the home.
When her mother died, Emily was sent to boarding school at age 13, but returned to Gaillac a few years later and began catechizing the local youth. When her father attempted to arrange a marriage for her, Emily refused. Emily privately consecrated her life to God, deciding to remain a virgin, and increasing her prayer life.
Later on, Emily took up residence in a large building she purchased in Gaillac, and along with three like-minded women, began ministering to the needy, sick, and poor. Soon, eight others joined the cause and the group was eventually granted the religious habit and eventually they were known as the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition.
Saint Emily was especially moved by the mystery of the Incarnation, which she contemplated in prayer frequently. Emily felt strongly that the Incarnation should be the core of her congregation, the inspiration for her mission.
Saint Emily died at age 59, from long-standing complications of a hernia. Four years after her death, her mortal remains were found intact, incorrupt. By the time of her death, she had formed forty-two foundations of her Order.
Saint Emily de Vialar, pray for us*.