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  About Us... Our Foundress
 

Mary Theresa Ledóchowska was born in Loosdorf, Austria on the 29th April, 1863. Her parents, Count Anthony Ledóchowski, Polish, and Countess Josephine Von Salis-Zizers, Swiss, belonged to Austria’s nobility. From them Marie Theresa inherited not only their noble blood but also a noble heart as well as deep faith and solid piety.


It is evident that the family were deeply religious: her uncle Cardinal Ledóchowski was sentenced by Bismarck to three years detention and later appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples. Two of her family joined the religious life: her sister Julia, who then became the Foundress of the Ursuline Sisters of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus (she is now Canonized); her brother Vladimir became superior general of the Jesuits; another brother Ignatius, an army general died heroically in the Nazi concentration camp, Dora Nordhausen, during World War 2.

 

Mary Theresa was attractive, intelligent, gifted with artistic and literary talents but also vain and ambitious. One day she would accuse herself of wanting to become famous at all costs. She herself related good-humouredly some of her failed exploits:

Mary Theresa Ledochowska

April 29th 1863 - 6th July 1922

Beatified 19th October 1975

 

Her presentation of the siege of Troy with ultra-modern artillery provoked outbursts of laughter, and then there was a painting session. Alas! Her sketch of her sister Marie was judged a caricature.

 

With her headstrong character, only little by little under the influence of grace did her “I want” become “God wants it”. Suffering, both physical and moral, would shape her heart, making it docile to God and His plans for her.


At 22 Mary Theresa fell victim to small pox. During her illness she showed remarkable abandonment to God’s will at the prospect of being disfigured for life. She accepted it with a smile without flaunting her sacrifice. By now she had understood that external beauty is precarious. But her trial did not end there. Her beloved father visited her and contracted the disease. He died four days later leaving a huge gap in her heart. Evidently, before capturing her definitively, God wanted to sever her ties with everyone and everything. Towards the end of 1885, as soon as she had recovered from smallpox, she became lady in waiting to the Archduchess Alice of Tuscany exiled in Salzburg. Placing herself at the service of the Archduchess, she intended to serve God.


As a Christian Mary Theresa felt called to question: what can I do? She was greatly impressed by a couple of meetings with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and their heroic experiences among the lepers. But knew that the missionary life “ad gentes” was not for her. Her health would not stand up to it. One day however, a pamphlet written by Cardinal Lavigerie, who was travelling through Europe denouncing the scandal of Black slavery in Africa and elsewhere fell into here hands. It was the following statement that electrified Mary Theresa:

 

"Christian women of Eurpoe! It is up to you!

If God has given you the talent for writing,

use it in the service of this cause

you will find none holier"

   

 

 

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