Novena Day 6
Blessed Mary of the Incarnation (1566–1618)
“Lord Jesus, I very humbly beg you to look from now on through my eyes, speak by my tongue, and
accomplish by all my members and senses the things which are agreeable to you.”
Blessed Mary of the Incarnation
Feast Day ~ April 18
Barbara Avrillot was born in Paris in 1566 to a devout, noble family. Her mother dedicated Barbara to the Blessed Virgin Mary and sent the little girl to be educated by the Poor Clare nuns of Longchamp. Although Barbara had aspirations toward the religious life, she acceded to her parents’ wishes and married Pierre Acarie in 1582 at the age of 16. The couple would have six children together. Over the years, her husband’s imprudent management of the family’s finances caused the family much suffering and hardship, but Barbara still found the means to distribute alms to the poor and perform many varied works of charity.
In 1601, Barbara was introduced to the writings of St. Teresa of Ávila, and shortly thereafter began having mystical experiences with the saint, who told her that God wanted her to introduce Discalced Carmelite nuns in France. With the help of St. Francis de Sales, who obtained the approval of Pope Clement VIII, Barbara had permission to begin establishing monasteries of Discalced Carmelite nuns in France. The first of these communities was established in Paris in 1604, and six Spanish nuns who had known and had been formed by St. Teresa settled in the new foundation, including Anne of St. Bartholomew and Anne of Jesus. By the time of her death in 1618, Barbara helped establish 14 Carmels in France, and her three daughters all became Carmelite nuns.
When Pierre died in 1613, Barbara requested to be admitted to the Amiens Carmel, where her eldest daughter was sub-prioress, taking the name Sister Mary of the Incarnation.
Blessed Mary’s Carmelite spirituality was marked by her fervent spirit of prayer and her zealous propagation of the Catholic faith. After years of rapidly deteriorating health, Blessed Mary died at the Carmel at Pontoise at the age of 52.