Written on: January 30, 2023
Submitted by Sister Mary Elizabeth Looby, gnsh
I recently wrote to Montreal to find out why “Jesus/Mary/Joseph” was inside our profession rings. I didn’t know the reason for the inclusion or who made the decision to include the names. I received this explanation from Francois M. Nadeau , the Archivist.
Devotion to the Holy Family gained popularity in Europe during the 17th century and was introduced into New France by Msgr. Laval, the first bishop of Québec. The devotion rapidly became quite pronounced and traces of it remain easily visible in the Province’s current toponomy. The 1675 edition of “La solide devotion à la Sainte famille” (The Solid Devotion to the Holy Family) a copy of which Marguerite d’Youville owned, does not mention engraving the names in profession rings, so it was probably her decision from the beginning.
Interestingly enough the profession ring was worn on the left hand until 1874 when Mgr. Fabre ordered a change to the right hand “pour se conformer à l’Esprit de l’Église et suivre les règles données dans le Pontifical Romain (to conform to the Spirit of the Church and to follow the rules given in the Roman Pontifical)”. The Counsel general of the Grey Nuns in 1967 changed it back to the left hand. Therefore, many images of Marguerite d’Youville made during the period of Beatification show her profession ring on her right hand, as in this picture: