will certainly ask " Where is situated the Island of
Mauritius?" Our island is so small that it is
difficult to find it on a map. It is a pinhead…but a
golden one, lost in the Indian Ocean.
"God created the Island of Mauritius first, and then,
to make the paradise, he merely copied Mauritius (Mark
Its religious history shows that God needs the
collaboration of men. Religious life in Mauritius, between
1790 and 1840, suffered a deep crisis because of the
reduced number of priests, because of the influence of the
French Revolution, of the arrival of the protestants, of
the immigration of non-christians and for so many other
In 1810, in fact, the Island had passed under the English
rule and the Catholic Church had fallen into a state of
deplorable neglect. It is in this atmosphere that our
Caroline was born. It is in this far-off island, so varied
in its configuration, so numerous in its inhabitants and
so manifold in its history, that we meet, in the course of
the 18th century, a French officer of noble
birth, Mr Gabriel Lenferna de Laresle, who settled
definitively in Mauritius and founded a happy family
beside his beloved spouse Fannie de Chaumont.
From this couple was born in 1795 a baby named Charles
Honoré, who was to be the father of our heroine. Charles
Honoré Lenferna de Laresle was one of those characters
who can face with courage and dauntless dedication the
adventurous life of the inhabitants of a colony.
Beside him, in 1819, we find a very sweet girl, Caroline
Enouf, who was sprung from the Earls of Marassé, and from
this noble couple was born, in the district of
Pamplemousses, on March 20th 1824, Caroline
Françoise Adelaide. This admirable baby was to be the
future Foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of
Good and Perpetual Succour.
She was hardly three years old when she lost her mother in
November 1827. In 1828 her father married his second wife,
Nellie Marchand de St. Hilaire, and of this marriage were
to be born two girls and two boys. A few years afterwards
Charles Honoré set out for Rodrigues Island, where he
stayed for some time with his family, leaving Caroline in
Mauritius under his mother's care.
Caroline's father, influenced by the current
philosophic trends of thought, postponed his daughter's
baptism until she could make her own choice. When she
reached the age of eleven, while she was in the
boarding-school of Mrs Farquarson, Caroline asked to be
baptised and she received the Sacrament on December 7th
1835. On that same night, while contemplating the starry
sky through the window of her room, she was overcome with
a deep emotion and, in a moment of great fervour, she
chose to become a Sister of Charity. The next day,
December 8th, she made her First Holy Communion
and received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Farquarson left for Italy and Caroline went to pursue her
education in the school of the Misses Duvivier. This was
the first field where her charity began to produce
abundant fruits and to win the affection of her teachers
and of her schoolmates. Henceforward all admired her
kindness, her dedication towards the sick and her
cleverness in caring for them. When still young Caroline
showed, over and above her most noble qualities of heart
and mind, a keen intelligence, a delicate kindness and a
definitely resolute character. When her school years were
over, she came back home to look after her two
half-sisters who had lost their mother, and her two
cousins. More than once she refused to get married because
the only spouse she wanted was Jesus Christ.
From that moment the field of her charity expanded outside
her family, in favour of the poor, the orphans, the sick
whom she nursed to the point of exhaustion.
Such a treasure of charity needed to be guided and guarded
through obedience. The Divine Providence saw to this
admirably well by entrusting in 1841 the Diocese of Port
Louis to Mgr. Collier, who become the protector and father
of Mother Augustine's Institution. Mgr. Collier was helped
especially by two wonderful priests: Father Laval (now
Blessed Jacques Désidé Laval), a saintly religious, and
Father Masuy, a fellow student of Cardinal Deschamps,
Archbishop of Malines in Belgium. Father Masuy, a learned
and eloquent priest, full of zeal, had chosen to be a
missionary. He saw to the construction of the Immaculate
Conception church of which he became the parish priest-
In 1845 the Bishop had called from Ireland 8 Sisters of
Our Lady of Loreto to take charge of the education of the
Caroline chose Father Masuy as spiritual director because
of his great devotion to the Holy Virgin. While the latter
was absent from the Island she opened her heart to Mgr.
Collier, but at first he did not encourage her vocation.
On May 24th 1848, feast of Our Lady of Good
Succour, at the conclusion of a novena to the Holy Virgin,
she had three masses celebrated. On that same day she went
to confession and had the joy of hearing from the Bishop
the following words: "God's will on you is clear to
me, you will be a Sister of Charity."
Caroline made her noviciate in the Convent of the Loreto
Sisters, took the veil and the name of Mary Augustine. In
1850, she pronounced her vows and became a Sister of
Charity, without belonging to any Congregation.
Before his departure for Europe, where he was to remain
two years, Mgr Collier symbolically offered her a golden
louis to start her foundation, which she dedicated to Our
Lady of Good Succour. He took her to a small house
belonging to the Diocese and asked a widow to stay with
It was there that she received the first sick persons.
Very soon three postulants joined her. In 1851, the small
Community moved to a more spacious house; and there they
began receiving orphans boys and girls.
In 1852, coming back from Europe, Mgr. Collier was pleased
to find four Sisters of Charity in his Diocese. It was
time to strengthen the new-born Institution by the public
profession of the Foundress and her first co-Sisters;
hitherto bound by private vows only. In fact, on that same
year on May 24th, feast day of Our Lady of Good
Succour, they made their public profession in the
A bigger dwelling place had become necessary. Mgr.
collier offered them a third house, which was no other
than the building that had sheltered Mrs Farquason's
boarding-school in Edith Cavell Street (ex. Rempart
Street). Mother Augustine had always liked this house,
because she was living in it when she was baptised and
made her First Holy Communion.
on it was extended and became the Mother House of the
Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Good and Perpetual
Succour and it is hitherto occupied by the Sisters.
Mgr. Collier entrusted to Father Masuy the first draft of
the Constitutions of the new Institute and approved them
in February 1854. In 1855, Father Masuy presented them to
the Holy See in Rome for approval. In 1871 the
Constitutions were approved "ad experimentum"
for 10 years and the final approval was obtained on August
In 1854, an epidemic of cholera broke out in Mauritius.
The heroic charity of Mother Augustine and her co-Sisters
was revealed not only during this epidemic, but also
during the epidemics of small pox and yellow fever, which
followed. The consequences of these epidemics was the
foundation of important orphanages, which was later on
followed by the opening of free schools for poor children
On December 24th 1856, the Sister in charge of
the sacristy, when going to place the statue of the Child
Jesus in the crib prepared in the grotto of Our Lady of La
Salette (grotto which up to now can be seen in the garden
of that same house), was surprised to find there a
new-born baby with a note on the neck "It
is born to-day, we entrust
it to the Sisters". Henceforth Mother
Augustine added to her institutions a baby care centre.
In 1857 Mother Augustine started the charitable
work which she had most at heart: the leper's home, which
was named "Hospice St. Lazare". Moreover
the Government had a home for insane persons. When they
got to know that these people were ill-treated, they
passed on the administration to Mother Augustine without
In 1859, the French Consul called Mother Augustine and
asked her to look after the French sailors who had become
sick or wounded. Soon after was inaugurated a hospital
where thousands of French sailors were nursed between 1859
Mgr. Collier's successor, Mgr. Hankinson, did not
understand the problems of the Community of the Sisters of
Good Succour, whose Constitutions had not yet been
approved by Rome. A conflict arose and Mother Augustine
felt that the tension was such that only the Pope, Pius IX,
could help her to avoid a disaster. After spending a whole
night in prayer, she decided to set out for Rome in order
to ask the approval of the Constitutions of her Institute
and to secure the future of the Sisters who had been
entrusted to her.
left the Island on June 5th 1869.
On that date the Congregation numbered 108 Sisters,
divided into 19 communities, all of them depending on the
Mother House in Port Louis.
After Mgr. Hankinson's death in September 1870, Mgr.
Scarisbrick was appointed Bishop of the Island in November
1871. It was only in May 1872 that Mgr. Scarisbrick
In the course of her stay in Rome, Mother Augustine met
Mgr. Deschamps, Archbishop of Malines in Belgium. This
encounter was a blessing and marked the foundation of a
Community in Belgiuim in 1872.
After staying in Rome for some time, Mother Augustine
opened a Community there, and finally on July 1878,
settled permanently in Via Merulana where is still now the
seat Generalate of the Congregation
In 1882 the Institute was definitively approved by the
Holy See under the title of "Congregation of the
Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Good and Perpetual
Succour". Mother Augustine died in Rome on January 28th
1900. The cause of her beatification was introduced in
1927. When the Ecclesiastic tribunal ordered the opening
of her coffin, on December 1930, her body was found in a
good state of preservation, her face was white as snow and
an arm, having been lifted up, came back to its normal