A Friend of the Poor: Sr. Emmanuelle dies at 99

She Loved God and neighbor well!


Sister Emmanuelle devoted her life to helping the poor in Egypt. This week she died. She was one month short of her 99th Birthday. Tributes to her life have been printed in News Papers around the world.

Sr. Emmanuelle was born Madeleine Cinquin in Brussels on Nov. 16, 1908, she spent her childhood between the Belgian capital, Paris and London. She received a degree in philosophy from the Sorbonne, and in 1929 she took her final vows as a sister of ‘Notre Dame de Sion’.

At retirement age (1970) she moved to Egypt and thus began her tireless efforts on behalf of the poor – the scavengers of garbage in Cairo’s garbage dumps.






The title of France’s favourite woman was awarded to her in 2004 – to the bewilderment once again of the country’s film and television elite.

‘People are shocked when they hear her speak. There’s a disconnection between her appearance as an old and fragile nun and her ability to shake the French nation’s collective consciousness,’ said Trao Nguyen, the director of her charitable foundation.
Her popularity is also tied up with France’s latent Catholicism. ‘It is very strange that at a time when France’s churches are emptying and there’s a serious deficit of people wanting to take orders, that the country should vote for a nun as its favorite female figure,’ Jérôme Fourquet, the director of reseach at Ifop, said. ‘But although the Church has much less influence, people still aspire to its values, which she embodies.’
Emmanuelle moved effortlessly from Cairo slums to the salons of Paris, where she charmed politicians and benefactors into donating money to her charities, which support deprived children around the world. President Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, the finance minister, have both found time to visit her in her nunnery in southern France. Reported by Amelia Gentleman


In this April 6, 1987 file photo, French nun Sister Emmanuelle, right, is escorted by then French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac following their meeting at the Hotel Matignon in Paris.

Sr.Emmanuelle moved effortlessly from Cairo slums to the salons of Paris, where she charmed politicians and benefactors into donating money to her charities, which support deprived children around the world. President Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, the finance minister, were among her many admirers and supporter.

Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said on news of her death: “She was a particularly significant personality of our time,” He compared her work with some of the most revered humanitarian workers of modern times, including Nobel laureate Mother Teresa. He said Sister Emmanuelle’s character was “similar to that of Abbe Pierre and Mother Teresa, who had the ability to show how Christian charity can speak to all men.”

She returned to France in 1993 and despite her advanced age, started working in the poor neighbourhoods of Paris, telling reporters she was shocked by the deprivation she encountered
Known for her straight-talk and quick repartee as much as her large glasses and wrinkled smile, she also new controversy, especially when she challenged the church teaching on contraception and married priests.



This was written in the Australian on news of her death

On October 24th, was Published: “….a book written two years ago, was kept under lock and key until the 99-year-old’s death on Monday, which triggered an outpouring of tributes for her work with the poor in the slums of Cairo and later in France.

But while Confessions of a Nun was a celebration of brotherly love, Sister Emmanuelle also set out in it to puncture her iconic image and conduct a “radically honest examination of her conscience”, wrote her editor, Abbot Thilippe Asso.

Thus she tells of her outings to Brussels dance halls, of falling in love with her Greek teacher and of being torn between marriage and the convent. She masturbated in her youth and felt sexual temptation in later life.

Despite having a Jewish grandmother, she felt a strong antipathy towards Jews in her early life and only made her peace with other cultures when she began working among the people of the Middle East.

“Muslims, atheists and Jews nourished my Christian faith,” she wrote. “They expanded my understanding of God. True value does not lie in the religion, but in the love that makes us accept others as our brothers and sisters.”

Sister Emmanuelle, whom the Vatican has compared to Mother Teresa because of her many years spent working with the poorest of the poor, also shared Teresa’s periods of doubt about her faith. “Faced with the absence of God in the middle of atrocious tragedies was I, in the final and lucid analysis, right to believe in Him?” she asked.

“Confronted with the death of children, the very idea of an all-powerful being can seem a fantasy. My faith wobbled, steadied itself, only to wobble once more,” she said, before recounting her return to “the good path”.

Rest in Peace Sr. Emmanuelle. It is not easy to live in these modern times, but you tirelessly kept the faith in these turbulent times.



Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come you that are blessed by my Farther, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungy and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25)



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