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May 8: Blessed Catherine of St. Augustine

Catherine de Longpré was born in France in 1632.

At the age of 12, she entered the convent of the Hospataliers of Bayex, a branch of the Augustinians, the first order to send missionaries to Canada.  In 1648 she asked to go to Quebec City to help the sisters in the Hôtel-Dieu hospital, the first established in Canada.  She contracted the plague on her voyage, but recovered.

In the following years, she worked with the poor through famine, conflict and illness, even as other members of her community returned to France.  Catherine was graced with several mystical experiences, but the people of New France remembered her more for her kindness and great love for them.

She battled poor health all her life and died in 1668 at the age of 36.  Counted among the founders of the Canadian Church, she was beatified in 1989.

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