A History of St Marie Madeleine Postel

Julie Frances Catherine Postel was born on November 28th 1756 in the small French fishing town of Barfleur, Normandy.

She was the eldest of seven children.  Her family, although not rich, was reasonably comfortable.  As a child she was renowned for her generosity and was often in trouble because of it.  Time and again she parted with her own lunch in favour of a hungry school-mate, and it is known of one occasion when she gave her shoes to a little beggar girl.

Soon after Julie’s eighteenth birthday she opened her own school.  This marked the beginning of Julie’s life-long commitment to the education of children.

In 1807 Julie Postel took the name of Marie Madeleine and henceforth as founder of the order of ‘The Poor Daughters of Mary’ would be known as Mother Marie Madeleine.

From 1838 onwards ‘The Poor Daughters of Mary’ became the ‘Sisters of the Christian Schools of Mercy’.  From this time the order specialized in the education of girls.  Mother Marie Madeleine’s kindergarten and junior schools were run according to the most enlightened educational principles of the early 19th century.  She used comparatively new methods in education, and her schools were declared by the Schools Inspectors to be the best-run establishments of their kind in the whole Department.

On July 16th 1846, in her ninetieth year, Mother Marie Madeleine died.  She was succeeded by Sister Placide.  In 1925 Mother Marie Madeleine was canonized and is now known as St Marie Madeleine Postel.

It is now over 200 years since Julie Postel founded the order.  Today her nuns in France, Holland, Germany, Italy, England, Ireland, South America, Central Africa, India, Indonesia and the Philippines are engaged in the education and service which she inspired them to undertake.

Nuns of the Order came to Worcester and founded St Mary’s Convent School in 1934.  The School opened in the spring term with four pupils, Barbara Harrell, June Meath, Ivy Tetley and Margaret Elgar who was the great-grandniece of Sir Edward Elgar. In 2011 St Mary’s Worcester began.

Today we are becoming more involved with the rest of our worldwide community.  We have already established links with the Mother House in Normandy.  Years 7 and 8 make a biennial visit in the Spring Term.  We are offered the challenge of fundraising for our schools in India where a little goes a long way.  As we reach out to our brothers and sisters in India, all much less fortunate than ourselves, the mission of St Marie Madeleine Postel is continued here in Worcester.