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Blessed Marguerite Rutan of the hospital in Dax

  • Guillotined on 9 April 1794 in Dax
  • Beatified on 19 June 2011
  • Liturgical feast – 26 June

Sister Marguerite Rutan, born in Metz on 23 April 1736, entered the Daughters of Charity in 1757. After having acquired significant experience in the care of the sick in several hospitals, she arrived at the Saint-Eutrope hospital in Dax in 1779.

In this new hospital, the construction of which was scarcely completed, Sister Marguerite organized the work, made the necessary plans and had the chapel built. But above all, she devoted all her attention to the sick and to abandoned children. With the six Sisters there, she shared their joys, sorrows and weariness.

The Revolution brought to the hospital a new director who supported the new ideology and then a chaplain who had taken the revolutionary oath. The Sisters refused to attend his Mass. Despite the difficulties, they continued their work with the sick and wounded soldiers.

As in Angers, they were required to take an oath of freedom-equality. After community reflection, they unequivocally rejected this request, aware of the possible consequences.

The members of the revolutionary committee, who wanted to separate the Superior from her Sisters, looked for a reason to arrest her. A false testimony allowed them to say that Sister Marguerite was not civic-minded, a fanatic who denied the principles of the revolution, who tried to lead the wounded soldiers to desert and join the royalist army of the Vandée region.

On 24 December 1793, Christmas Eve, Sister Marguerite was arrested. In the silence of her cell, she celebrated the birth of the Savior. Weeks went by. Some news reached the cell: the guillotine had been set up at Poyanne Square, not far from the prison. On 19 February, five Sisters from the hospital were imprisoned; the sixth, Sister Monique, was kept there on the order of the Revolutionaries in order to maintain the service to the sick.

On 9 April, Sister Marguerite Rutan was tried and sentenced to death. The sentence was immediately carried out. Tied back-to-back with Father Lannelongue, who shared her fate, Marguerite, imbued by a force greater than herself, approached the foot of the guillotine with dignity, entrusting to Mary her entrance into eternal life.

The five imprisoned Sisters would be released at the end of 1794, and three of them would be able to resume their service to the sick in the hospital.