« The mystery of Kermaria » – the passing on of a heritage

Brother Benoît osb, from the Abbaye Sainte-Anne de Kergonan in Brittany, shares his impressions of the performance of “Le Mystère de Kermaria”. He sees it as a transmission of the spiritual heritage of the Congregation and the history of religious life in the diocese.

We experienced an exceptional moment of grace on Saturday the 9th of September 2023 at Kermaria, the home of the “Daughters of Jesus”, for the performance of the “Mystery of Kermaria” at the entrance to the Congregation’s estate on the outskirts of Locminé. This open-air theatrical performance, with beautiful sets and around 80 extras, told the story of the beginnings of the Congregation, which dates back to 1834 and whose first house was at Bignan in Morbihan.

Two key figures

We discovered the personality of Mother Sainte Angèle, née Perrine Samson, the first Superior General of the “Daughters of Jesus”.

and, above all, the striking figure of Mother Marie de Saint Charles, née Angélique Périgault. Coming from Talensac in the diocese of Rennes, she was looking for a poorer congregation than the ones she knew. She arrived in Bignan on the 17th of October 1841, made profession in 1843, and was elected Superior General on the 23rd of August 1846, after only 5 years of religious life, at the age of 26, and by 27 votes out of 29! She governed the Congregation for almost 40 years and gave the Sisters a spiritual education that is still relevant today.

«   I pray to the good God to give us his Spirit that we may act in due time according to his good pleasure; then I abandon myself into his hands with calm and peace. »

Mother Marie de Saint Charles

Lann Vraz becomes Saint-Joseph-of-Kermaria

On the 30th of April 1860, the estate of Lann Vraz (Great Heathland) in Locminé became Saint-Joseph-de-Kermaria. According to a Locminé legend, Saint Joseph appeared there to Louison, a poor peasant woman returning from the market. Louison was a woman of faith and prayer, to whom he made this revelation, naming the place Lann Vraz :

« Great things will come about here. Many people will come from far and wide to live here together, and St Joseph will be honoured here.»

With which words he disappeared.

History and celebration

This performance was planned for the 170th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters in Kermaria, but due to Covid it had to be postponed until 2023.

The performance alternated between serious moments in the history of the community and more playful moments of celebration, with the audience joining in with the rhythms of the dances and clapping their hands.

An evocation of heroic beginnings

The text and costumes were beautiful and evocative. The actors’ diction was very good, the sound system was perfect, and the action unfolded flawlessly! There were many children and young people in the cast, and a real joy emanated from the mystery evoked. The heroic beginnings of community life were a source of great enthusiasm, as the first Sisters were particularly courageous and quick to work in the fields, which made them so close to the people of the countryside.

Thank you for this page of history

Thank you to the director and to all the many volunteers who so ably showcased the Congregation’s charism of serving the poorest people in rural areas through their health care and teaching work with families and in parishes.

Thank you above all to the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus for having supported this magnificent adventure, which has enabled us to remember a very beautiful page in the holy history of our diocese of Vannes and which has given us access to the spiritual treasures of their religious family.

The passing on of a heritage

Dear Sisters, you are heirs to a spiritual heritage through this history in which God has manifested himself in so many ways, through the spirituality of Mother Marie de St Charles which has guided your religious life; thank you for bearing witness to this and for sharing with us your concern to pass it on.

Truly, the “Mystery of Kermaria” deserves to be more widely known!

Text by Brother Benoît osb

Abbaye Sainte-Anne de Kergonan (diocese of Vannes)

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