Celebrating 1609/11 - 2009/11
Mary Ward founded her first house in St Omer, in what is now northern France, 400 years ago. It was most likely founded in early 1610, but the ‘Glory’ vision that inspired this first foundation was given to Mary Ward in late 1609.
It was whilst Mary Ward was doing her hair one morning in front of the mirror of her dwelling in the Strand in London, that she fell into a trance and heard repeated over and over again the words ‘Glory, Glory, Glory’. Later, in letters she wrote about this event, she stated that she understood that God was calling her, not to the enclosed convent life any more, but to something that would be more to God’s glory. What this was she did not know. She decided to go over the channel in order to discern her vocation and pray for enlightenment. Several of her young women friends went with her.
Two years later, in 1611, Mary Ward learnt what it was that God wanted of her. She was at prayer when she heard distinctly the words: ‘Take the same of the Society’. By this she understood the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, and she
was being called to take on the Constitutions and manner of living of the Society of Jesus as far as was possible for women, but as an independent foundation. The rest of her life was spent in striving to fulfill this call.
The Congregatio Jesu and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary are celebrating their foundation by Mary Ward across the two years 2009-2011