Sister Marie Anne Vaillot et Sister Odile Baumgarten

  • Shot – the 1st of February 1794 in Angers
  • Beatified – the 19th of February, 1984 along with 97 Martyrs in Angers
  • Feast day – 1 February

By September 1792 the hospital Sisters in Angers saw a rise in religious persecution.  Following their bishop, numerous priests refused to take the required oath.  Driven from their parishes they were quickly arrested.  A year later, 400 of them were put in chains and taken through the city of Angers to prison.

In 1793 the members of the Municipal Council went to the hospital to make the Sisters take the oath of Liberty-Equality.  Their eloquence was great, stressing the service of the sick.  A time for reflection was given to each of them.  The community tried to be united.  Soon the revolutionaries realized that the Sisters were being influenced by three among them:

Sister Antoinette Taillade, from Cahors, was the superior of the community.  At the age of 54 she had been a Daughter of Charity for 34 years.  The sisters appreciated her prudent wisdom, great piety and her strength of character.

Sister Marie Ann Vaillot, originally from Fonainebleau, was 59 years old and had been in the Community for 32 years.  With competence and precision she was responsible for the finance office.

Sister Odile Baumgarten was born in 1750 in Gondrexange in Lorraine.  She entered the Daughters of Charity in 1775.  She was in charge of preparing the medications in the pharmacy of the hospital.

Their arrest took place on Sunday, January 19.  Sister Antoinette Taillade, separated from her two companions, was incarcerated in Pénitentes.  Sister Marie-Anne and Sister Odile were taken to Calvary Monastery.  They were shaken by the state of filth and the misery in which the prisoners were left.  Pending trial the Sisters listened to the suffering of the imprisoned mothers with their children, who sought to relieve and especially to encourage them.  Death lurked all around them.

On January 28 the two Sisters were brought before the revolutionary tribunal.  Before the violence of her judges, Sister Marie-Anne could only respond, “do with me as you wish.”  Seen as a fanatic and a rebel, the sentence was to be shot.  Sister Odile, after having heard the interrogation of her Sister, added, “My conscience does not permit me to take the oath.”  Her sentence was the same: to be executed.

Like the other detainees, the Sisters were taken back to their cells.  On the morning of the first of February the commissioner came to the prison and called for the condemned, among whom were the two Sisters.  In the damp cold, in a long procession of 200 women, tied two by two by a central rope, they painfully moved on to the “Champ des Martyrs.”

All along the three kilometers the Sisters prayed to Mary to be with them on the road.  Suddenly Sister Odile dropped the rosary that she had kept hidden in her dress.  A guard saw her bending over to pick it up.  Immediately he struck her with a rifle and Sister Odile staggered.  Sister Marie-Anne held her up, fearing she could be thrown under the cart carrying the dying.  Afterward the rosary was retrieved by a woman who later took it to the Sisters at the hospital.

On their arrival at the Champ de Martyrs, the victims discovered the presence of the Sisters and were moved to ask for their prayers.  To their surprise the commandant of the battalion came forward to propose to save the two sisters by saying that they had taken the oath.  Proudly Sister Marie-Anne responded, “Citizen, not only did we not want to take the oath, but we do not want to have it look as if we did.

Someone was singing!  “I place my trust, Virgin Mary, in your help.”  The rifles were raised; the bodies fell into the trench.  A great silence and the peace of God descended on that field of glory.

At the hospital the administrators continued to harass the Sisters.  Each one made her decision in complete freedom.  Ten Sisters took the oath of Liberty-Equality in order to stay and care for the sick.  The seventeen others, having refused, were arrested on March 11 and went to prison where they found Sister Antoinette Taillade.  Several weeks later, along with other religious, they were taken, more often on foot, toLorientto be deported to Cayenne.  For long days they waited.  The commander of the arsenal where the Sisters were imprisoned saw the care these women gave to the sick seamen.  He refused board them on the awaiting ship.  They were able to return to the hospital in Angers around 1804.