Why are we called "Grey Nuns?"


The story of our "colorful" name begins with a wedding...

In 1722, at the age of 21, Marguerite de Lejemmerais, a girl from a genteel but impoverished Montreal family, married Francois d’Youville. Francoise proved to be a disappointing husband. His illegal liquor trading with the Indians caused Marguerite great pain and social embarrassment.

After Francois’s death, society still judged Marguerite by the criminal actions of her husband. Despite her sufferings, she felt God’s presence in her life and committed herself to a life of charity and service to the poor, the ill and the elderly.

Marguerite’s deep spirituality, unwavering belief in Divine Providence and selfless works of mercy attracted other women to join her and in 1737, they consecrated themselves to God and established the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity.

Because of her husband’s association with illegal liquor trading, Marguerite and her sisters were jeered as “les Souers Grises” or “the tipsy sisters” (the French word “gris” had two meanings: “grey” and the vernacular “tipsy.”)

The compassion and good works of the sisters eventually won the respect of the people of Montreal and Marguerite retained the name “Grey Nuns” as a symbol of humility.

Today, Grey Nuns can be found all over the world, continuing the legacy of love, compassion and service of Saint Marguerite d’Youville.

If you would like to read more about the story of Saint Marguerite d’Youville, click here.