Born in Normandy in 1803 into a deeply christian family, tested whilst still very young by family bereavements and suffering due to a congenital birth defect, Henriette cultivated in herself a firm and courageous faith, loyalty and tenacity which she never lost. Straight forward, strong, enthusiastic and bold, she revealed herself to be a great mystic, capable of obedience, true fidelity with a determination equalled only by her vision, her humanity and her will to achieve whatever she felt spiritually inspired to do.
The biography of Mother Saint Mary describes the difficult but successful journey of a fragile woman imbued with the certainty received for the Virgin Mary that she would be supported, she and all those who followed her in the Foundation. Her first attraction was for the education of “young orphan children.” Her intention was to save them from the evils of her time.
Very quickly, she thought about those who, like herself, were victims of a physical disability. A clinic was specially designed in which the best medical treatments were available for such children.
Her charisma and her perception to study 'The personality of each child', was one of her great visions. In an era where education meant merely to make the child obey and which considered children and adolescents to be "minors" in society, she considered them as "majors" and followed them with great interest as they revealed themselves. This method of considering education, often still the misunderstood today, attracted parents who demanded the admission of their daughters as pupils in the schools, boarding a day which she opened.
In 1848, the foundation of a "daughter house" at Norwood took place -this was a milestone for the freedom of action which the Foundress desired. Fighting against monastic enclosure - she preferred action - she initiated her first missionary foundation to Roseau (British West Indies) in 1857.
Mother St. Mary died in 1858, loved by her sisters and recognized by the Church for her charism. The cause of her beatification is currently being studied by Rome. The light of her presence within the Congregation and in the hearts of the sisters burns brightly : It is a presence of love, of commitment and liberty.