Origin of the Confraternity

    
     In the northern part of France there lived, about the middle of the last century, a very respectable woman, named Louise Josson de Bilhem, the wife of a court official.  Endowed with rare qualities both of mind and heart, she was the central figure around which the most learned and esteemed gentlemen and ladies were grouped.  As a wife and mother she was a model, admired and imitated by others; she was like the "Strong Woman" Holy Scrpiture speaks of, who pays attention to all, has watchful eyes over all, a helping hand for all, and who thus insures for her home prosperity, wealth, comfort and peace.  Whenever a noble work was undertaken or in progress in the city she was one of the most zealous promoters.
    
     She heard of the pious wishes of a few Christian mothers who were solicitous about the welfare of their children and desirous of working together to attain the great end they had in view.  Herself a mother, she could not but understand the reality of the fear with which, in our days, every truly Christian and conscientious mother's heart is filled.  She could not resist the strong, innate desire of uniting these pious mothers, who, by assisting one another, would mutually care for the welfare of their children.  With wonted activity and thoughtfulness she went to work.  Her noble undertaking was blessed; her endeavors were richly rewarded.  Within a short time the mothers were united in a holy league, and assisted one another by words and deeds and mutual prayers.
 
     The first day of the beautiful month of May, in 1850, the Christian Mothers of Lille, France, assembled for the first time to pray with and for one another and their children, to discuss their problems, and to advise one another regarding the Christian rearing of their children.  This was the first union and the first public meeting of Christian mothers.  The members of this incipient Confraternity of Christian Mothers were well aware that success would not crown their efforts unless they enjoyed the assistance and encouragement of those whom our Divine Savior has appointed as teachers and leaders of His faithful followers, and who alone were to administer His Sacraments and dispense His blessings.  Accordingly, they entrusted their undertaking to their pastors.
 
     The fact that the Societies of Christian Mothers originated with the mothers was a dispensation of Divine Providence.  They are to be planted and nurtured by the mothers themselves; they are to be the fruit of their sincerest and heartiest wishes for the welfare of their little ones.
 
     After the pastors were interested in the society and extented to it their protection, its propagation was astonishingly rapid.  The society found its way into America at an early date, and on the 16th of Janurary, 1881, the Confraternity of Christian Mothers canonically erected in St. Augustine's Church, Pittsburgh, PA, was raised to the rank of an Archconfraternity with the right of affiliating other Confraternitites.
    

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