Sister Marguerite Rutan

  • Guillotined on 9 April 1794 at Dax
  • Beatified on 19 June 2011
  • Feast day – 26 June

Sister Marguerite Rutan, born in Metzon 13 April 1736, entered the Daughters of Charity in 1757.  After having had much experience in caring for the sick in diverse hospitals, she arrived at Saint-Eutrope Hospital in Dax.

In this newly completed hospital Sr. Marguerite organized the work, provided the necessary improvements and built the chapel.  More importantly, she gave her full attention to the sick and to abandoned children.  There were six Sisters with whom she shared the joys, sorrows and fatigue of the work.

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

As at Angers, the oath of Liberty-Equality was required of them.  After reflection in the community, they firmly refused conscious of the possible consequences.

The Revolutionary committee wanted to remove the Superior of the Sisters and looked for a motive to arrest her.  A false testimony allowed them to say that Sr. Marguerite was unpatriotic, a fanatic against the principles of the Revolution and that she tried to convince the wounded soldiers to desert and join the royalist army of Vendéens.

On December 24, 1793, Christmas Eve, Sister Marguerite was arrested.  She celebrated the birth of the Savior in the silence of her cell.  News arrived in her cell: the guillotine had been installed at Poyanne Place, not far from the prison.  On the 19th of February five Sisters from the hospital were imprisoned.  By an injunction of the Revolutionaries, the sixth, Sister Monique, was left to maintain the care for the sick.

On April 9 Sister Marguerite Rutan was judged and condemned to death.  The execution of her sentence was immediate.  She was taken out, tied back to back with Father Lannelongue.  Marguerite, possessed with a transcendent strength, advanced with dignity to the foot of the guillotine, confiding her entrance into eternal life to Mary.

The five Sisters in prison were freed at the end of 1794 and three of them went back to serving the sick at the hospital.