The Tyburn Nuns have bought the house in France where their foundress, Mother Marie Adèle Garnier, was born in 1838.
The purchase of the property in Grancey-le-Château, a Burgundy town in the Archdiocese of Dijon, was completed just months after the Cause for the canonisation of Mother Marie Adèle was opened.
The nuns, whose Mother House in London is sited yards from the site of the execution of more than 100 Catholic martyrs of the Protestant Reformation, intend to install a chapel inside the house and to turn the property into a centre for pilgrimage as the Cause of their foundress progresses towards sainthood.
The nuns also intend to found a museum and information centre dedicated to the life of Mother Marie-Adèle at the site and to convert a large part of the house for use as a small conference and retreat centre for day groups and some overnight guests.
The Cause of Mother Marie-Adèle was opened on December 3 2016 by Bishop Joseph de Metz-Noblat of Langres, France, at a ceremony in the Convent of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, a monastery of the Tyburn Nuns within his diocese at St Loup-sur-Aujon, just 20 miles from Grancey.
The first contract for the purchase of the house, which had been previously used as a police station and most recently as a tourist information office, was signed on March 8.
Soon afterwards, the house was bought outright by the nuns for an undisclosed sum thanks to benefactors from all over the world who answered an appeal for help. They included villagers from poor areas of Peru.
The nuns still require funds for the renovation work and are actively seeking church pews and other furnishings.
The nuns hope to have the house ready to open to the public by autumn 2017 at the earliest following renovation work and the installation of the chapel.
At present, the house has six self-contained apartments and a large ground floor room which was previously the tourist office but which will be converted into a chapel.
Their intentions for the property have been welcomed by Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon.
“I cannot but encourage you in this project of acquisition of the house and of the construction of a chapel,” Archbishop Minnerath said in a letter to Mother Marilla Aw, the Australian-born Mother General of the Tyburn Nuns.
“The diocese of Dijon rejoices at seeing the rise of Grancey-le-Château as a place of pilgrimage where your sisters will radiate the spirituality of the Sacred Heart,” he said. “We are also rejoicing at the opening of the Cause of beatification of Marie-Adèle Garnier. May the Lord bless your apostolate.”
Mother Marilla said that since St Loup was opened in 2013 the Nuns have been making pilgrimages to the house, which she described as the “Bethlehem of our congregation”, standing outside singing and praying in “rain, hail, shine or snow”.
Mother Marilla said: “The construction of a chapel in the house where our dear saintly foundress was born is significant for us as a congregation but also crucial now when her Cause for canonisation has just opened.
“Since 3 December there has been unexpectedly fervent international interest in her and her Eucharistic spirituality. Our foundress died at Tyburn, London, and her tomb has been for many years a place of pilgrimage for those who esteemed and venerated her privately. For decades those who have been in need have been visiting her tomb and we have many letters of favours received.
“In May, 2018, there will be a 12-day pilgrimage for our oblates and friends which will begin at Tyburn, London, and will include Paris, Pontmain, Lourdes, Nevers, Saint Loup sur Aujon, Dijon and Grancey-le-Château.
“On 21 May this year, Rev Mother Xavier McMonagle, the Assistant General of our congregation has been invited to speak about Mother Marie-Adèle Garnier at a retreat on Long Island, New York, run by the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist. She was also invited to be on a programme on EWTN with Fr Mitch Pacwa. We also will be in Boston between 23–29 May and hope to speak about the charism of our Mother Foundress there.
“There are so many things that are happening all around the world in regard to the cause of canonisation of our Mother Foundress that it truly appears that she is very impatient to be canonised. Therefore, if anyone thinks they have need for her prayers now is a good time to ask.”