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Mary Ward on Retreat at Liege in October 1619

The nun who laid the groundwork for active modern women’s religious orders

Mary Ward set out to do what St. Ignatius Loyola had done for men.
Mary Ward set out to do what St. Ignatius Loyola had done for men.

He was very near me and within me, which I never perceived Him to be before. I was moved to ask Him with great confidence and humility, what I came to know to whit, what He was. I said, ‘My God, what art Thou?’ I saw Him evidently and very clearly go into my heart and little by little hid Himself (and there I perceive Him to be still in the same manner, my meditation being ended an hour since). I endeavored to go forward according to the points of the meditation, but could not, He held my heart, I could not work. I would then have asked Him something, bid Him welcome, but He would not let. I once asked, ‘will you lie there and do nothing?’ And another time, ‘make that heart perfect and such as you would have it’; but beginning my speech in both, I could not possibly go forward. I saw plainly that His only will was that I should neither work nor talk, but hold my peace.

— from the writings of Mary Ward

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Mary Ward (1585–1645) was an English Catholic nun who founded the Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as the Sisters of Loreto, a teaching order that has schools around the globe. Declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, Ward entered religious life, the Poor Clares, at age 15. Seeking to establish an order of nuns that participates in active ministry in the world, she sought to do through a woman’s religious order in their proper field of action — that is teaching and tending to the sick — what St. Ignatius Loyola had done for men in establishing the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Her pioneering work and the success of the orders she founded laid the groundwork for active modern women’s religious orders.

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Mary Ward set out to do what St. Ignatius Loyola had done for men.
Mary Ward set out to do what St. Ignatius Loyola had done for men.

He was very near me and within me, which I never perceived Him to be before. I was moved to ask Him with great confidence and humility, what I came to know to whit, what He was. I said, ‘My God, what art Thou?’ I saw Him evidently and very clearly go into my heart and little by little hid Himself (and there I perceive Him to be still in the same manner, my meditation being ended an hour since). I endeavored to go forward according to the points of the meditation, but could not, He held my heart, I could not work. I would then have asked Him something, bid Him welcome, but He would not let. I once asked, ‘will you lie there and do nothing?’ And another time, ‘make that heart perfect and such as you would have it’; but beginning my speech in both, I could not possibly go forward. I saw plainly that His only will was that I should neither work nor talk, but hold my peace.

— from the writings of Mary Ward

Sponsored
Sponsored

Mary Ward (1585–1645) was an English Catholic nun who founded the Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as the Sisters of Loreto, a teaching order that has schools around the globe. Declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, Ward entered religious life, the Poor Clares, at age 15. Seeking to establish an order of nuns that participates in active ministry in the world, she sought to do through a woman’s religious order in their proper field of action — that is teaching and tending to the sick — what St. Ignatius Loyola had done for men in establishing the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Her pioneering work and the success of the orders she founded laid the groundwork for active modern women’s religious orders.

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