Historical Corner: Sisters’ devotion to Our Mother of Sorrows

The devotion to Our Mother of Sorrows is one of the defining traditions of the Sisters of Providence, born of the grief experienced by Emilie Gamelin upon the death of her husband and three young sons. After her tragic losses, Emilie Gamelin received the image of Our Mother of Sorrows from her spiritual advisor and in it found relief from her bereavement. “…every day I invoked her in an act of special devotion. I asked her for courage … my heart was pierced with a painful sword and I found solace only by meditating on her sorrows,” Mother Gamelin wrote in 1850.

Emilie resisted the temptation of self-pity; she chose instead to join her sorrows with those of Jesus. She was nourished by her devotion to Our Mother of Sorrows to find the strength to work toward alleviating all sorts of human misery. This is where the charism of the Sisters of Providence takes its source: in “the manifestation of the mysteries of the Providence of God and Our Mother of Sorrows in compassionate love and creative prophetic solidarity with the poor.”

The Sisters of Providence traditional habit included reminders of Our Mother of Sorrows through an image on the pectoral cross and the Seven Dolor beads worn at their side.