Mother Mary de Sales



Therese Chappuis was born on 16th June, 1793 at Soyhières, a little village in the Swiss Jura. She was baptized the same day.
Her father, a former Swiss Guard in the service of Louis XVI, became a hotel owner or an inn keeper in his native village. Thérèse’s childhood was very happy in the bosom of a very Christian family.
Therese was only four years old when she attended her first Mass. At the moment of the elevation, she had a revelation: “I understood everything, she said, God revealed it to me, I saw that it was the sacrifice of the Saviour, and I received a light which is always present”.

maison Chappuis-soyhières


Therese was so happy in her family that to leave them was extremely hard. She only stayed three years as a boarder in the Visitation of Fribourg, as she was nearly always ill.
The time had come for her to follow the interior call that attracted her to the cloister, she replied to it courageously. But not long after having crossed the threshold of the Visitation she couldn’t stand the religious practices; the lights that she had previously found in prayer suddenly failed her. She spent three months in unspeakable temptations and anxieties. Finally, not being able to take any more, she spoke of returning to her family.
At her family home, she received a cold welcome! Her brothers and sisters blamed her indecision, her father and mother seemed grieved. Always united to God, she lived apart in her uncle’s house, close to those whom she loved, but without taking part in the small family celebrations and she suffered a lot from loneliness. Thus the three years she spent from 1811 to 1814 were for her a hard novitiate which prepared her for holiness. She finally re-found peace of heart on leaving the world by a supreme effort, she returned to the Visitation and said: “This matter is finished I am a religious forever!”
She took the habit on 4th June, 1815 and was given the name of Marie Françoise de Sales: names which indicated at the same time her devotion to the Blessed Virgin and her filial love for St Francis de Sales.
At the age of twenty-four, her superiors judge her capable of being a novice mistress, first at Metz, a monastery being founded, then at Fribourg.

Monastère de Troyes

Superior of the monastery of Troyes

After that she became superior of the monastery of Troyes, where she spent most of her life. Younger than the majority of the sisters, her small size, and her face which recalled the innocence of adolescence, made her appear even younger than she was; nevertheless she inspired respect by all her behaviour. “We saw what a nun is,” said the Sisters of Troyes. To all these qualities and to a sound judgment, she joined a determination which admitted no attention outside of duty and the Rule.

The boarding school

After a period of crisis, her outstanding qualities gradually dispersed the prejudices causes by the introduction of modifications in the school rule. The house re-found the life and prosperity of the past. She encouraged serious work, such as housework, relief of the poor and the work for the church. Her thoughts on education were to train the young boarders in virtues that would be practical later on and regulate their religious practices that they would be called to live. She formed a strong Christian generation, faithful to duty.

Louis Brisson

One day, she saw a young seminarian accompanying a priest who had come to give the Sacrament of the Sick to a nun. The Lord gave her an insight and Mother Chappuis confided to the priest: “Today you have brought us our confessor. You must reserve him for us, because God has chosen him.” And in reality, this young seminarian was Father Brisson, who would be the chaplain and confessor of the Visitation for forty-four years.

Père Brisson jeune
Learn more about Father Brisson

Oblate Fathers and Sisters

At different times during the fifty years of her life, she foretold the creation of the Oblate Fathers of St. Francis de Sales. In 1863 she insisted, during a dangerous illness, that her days would be prolonged because she had to work towards the foundation of an institution of priests enrolled under the banner of St. Francis de Sales.

Mère Marie de Sales

Her predictions proved correct: She herself helped Father Louis Brisson the chaplain of the monastery, with all her force, assuring Mgr Ravinet, the Bishop of Troyes, that this foundation was God’s will. In giving her attention to the foundation of the college, which would be the birthplace, recruiting the first members of the Institute and assuring them that this was the will of God for them. The congregation was established only five years before the death of the Venerable Mother. “I can die now that they are founded,” she said.
In according with this prediction, the Oblate Fathers received the approval of Rome, barely two months after the Good Mother had breathed her last breath.

As early as 1858, in the depth of the cloister, she also inspired and helped the foundation of a centre for of young working girls. Five hundred girls grouped around a few dedicated Directresses. The girls who were residents, received food, shelter and work in a workroom arranged for them, others were sponsored, counselled, protected and found a good place in a Christian home.

However great the zeal of these pious persons placed in charge of the work was, the good Mother understood that this foundation would not have stability unless a religious community took on the responsibility. But who could this be entrusted to? The Visitation is cloistered and exterior work impossible for them. She then encouraged Father Louis Brisson to create a new non cloistered institute, different to the Visitation by the external rule, but animated by the same spirit and inspired by the same Spiritual Directory. Thus the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales were established. Their objective is the evangelization, the human and Christian education of young people. Mother Mary de Sales was the main instrument of this foundation. She herself prepared the first two Oblates Sisters. God reward her by special graces for this faithfulness at all times.

Venerable Mother Chappuis died in Troyes, on 7th October 1875, at the age of eighty-two.