Filles de la croix

Founder of the Sisters of the Cross (1752-1834) - Canonized in 1933 


Childhood of André-Hubert Fournet 

 André-Hubert is the 9th of a family of 10 children. He grew up surrounded by the love of his parents and siblings. 

 A carefree child, laughing, exuberant, he prefers play to work. 

 A resident at the Châtellerault Secondary School, he is loved by all his classmates for his joyful drive and frankness. 

Young André at his deskAndré-Hubert's first teacher, his mother, was surprised by her child's exuberance but she also knew his heart and his great tenderness. 

 "One day, my good André, you will be a priest. You will go up to the altar and pray for your mother. 

 Her mother planted the idea and then she left all the space to God. God does not seem in a hurry... nor does André-Hubert, who writes on the first page of one of his books: "This book belongs to André-Hubert, a good boy, who will never be a monk or a priest". 

God works with time... 


André-Hubert likes life  

 After his classical studies, he studied law for one year. His writing is so bad that he cannot qualify to become a lawyer. 

Without consulting anyone, he joined the army. One day, in his military uniform, he went to his uncle's house, the priest of Saint-Pierre de Maillé. 

 The reception is cold: 

"Your visit is at the wrong address! I don't have a nephew in the military service". 

 Chruch at HaimsWhere to go? A door is always open to him: that of his mother's heart. Madame Fournet directs her son to one of his uncles, a priest in Haims, in the Vienne region. 

This uncle is reserved, austere, meditative. Haims is a harsh and sad countryside. 

In this solitary environment, André-Hubert reflects, prays. 

 At 22, he decides to enter the seminary and become a priest. 

First assistant priest, André-Hubert was then appointed parish priest at Saint-Pierre de Maillé. He is a good priest, but he likes to receive his confreres and friends with a certain luxury. 

One day, the parish priest expects company. His table is richly prepared. The door of the dining room on the 1st floor of the rectory is open for the reception. 

Stair to the rectory of St-Pierre de MailléOn the stairs, a sound of footsteps André-Hubert happily goes to greet his guest. 

Surprise! Surprise! ... It's a beggar asking for alms.  The priest is embarrassed: 

"I have no money... » 

"What! No money" replied the poor man. Your table is covered with it! 

 The beggar’s words are for André-Hubert, the Word of Jesus Christ. 

He cries for a long time, prostrated on the flagstones of the church. Through the beggar's words, Jesus Christ entered his heart. 

Passionate and generous, André-Hubert had the courage to convert. 


1789 - The Revolution breaks out in France 

The constitutional oath is required of priests. 

André-Hubert refuses to take the oath of office in the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. He is now a wandering priest, without a parish, without a church, without a home. He must stay in hiding. His life is in danger. 

Confident in Providence, he decides to leavetaking the path of exile to Spain. 

Spain welcomes the French priest, the fugitive. 

Drawing of Los ArcosFrom 1792 to 1797, André-Hubert takes refuge in Los Arcos, a small town in Navarre. But he misses his abandoned parishioners of Saint-Pierre de Maillé. He hears their voices. So, he decides to come back to France, alone. 

In France, it is not the expected calm. Refractory priests are, once again, in danger. These are difficult times. 

It is still the era of catacombs!  But our Pastor is brave.  As a precaution, André-Hubert celebrates the Eucharist clandestinely, sometimes in one place, sometimes in another. 


Meeting with Elisabeth Bichier des Ages  

 One night, in a poor barn, poorly lit, a young lady enters. This is Elisabeth Bichier des Ages, a local chatelaine. In this assembly of peasants and sharecroppers, she is a sensation. We step aside to let her pass. 

The priest intervenes strongly: 

 Do you think, Mademoiselle, that I will leave, to hear you, these mothers of families, these poor peasants who came from several leagues? » 

 Humbly, the Elisabeth answers: 

 "Father, I will wait... All you have to do is agree to hear me after them." and she waited for long hours. 

Farm of Les MarsyllisIn this barn known aLes Marsyllis, Elisabeth finds the spiritual advisor that her prayer asked of God. 

André-Hubert sees Elizabeth as a soul of uncommon beauty. 

Their first meeting was decisive. Elisabeth is at the origin of the congregation of the Sisters of the Cross, of which André-Hubert and Elisabeth are the co-founders. 


The Good Father 

 In France, better days are dawning. In 1801 André-Hubert returns to Maillé and in 1802, re-establishes himself to his rectory. The Good Father - André-Hubert Fournet

His parish is a family. 

In all homes, he is called "the Good Father". He knows all his parishioners. He loves them and is loved by them. 

André-Hubert, a builder, an assembler... 

 In the aftermath of the Revolution, André wanted to educate children and care for the sick. He entrusts this mission to Elisabeth, the young lady he met at Les Marsyllis.  Around Elisabeth, a small community is born. 

André-Hubert becomes the spiritual and apostolic leader of this new family, which would be called the "Sisters of the Cross". 

 After 40 years of parish ministry, Good Father André left Maillé to dedicate himself to the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross, which now lives in a former convent of the Fontevristes in LPuye. 

Until his old age, the Good Father kept an expression of simplicity and humility. In the sun of God's love, the transfiguration of his being continues. 

On May 13, 1834, André-Hubert opened his eyes to the sun without decline.