Thérèse Couderc, co-founder of the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle, was instrumental in initiating new forms of spiritual ministry for Roman Catholic women in nineteenth-century France. This was made possible by the resurgence of female congregations in the context of a fragmented political, social and religious landscape. While most of these religious sisters ministered in educational and social fields, the Sisters of the Cenacle specialized in the giving of spiritual retreats according to the Ignatian method. However, despite her contribution to this pioneering work, Couderc seemed to withdraw into a life of increasing invisibility and was noted in particular for her great humility (cited as one of the central reasons for her canonization in 1970). This representation of her as une grande humble has been undergirded by her own writings as well as the assessments made about her by contemporaries and subsequent interpreters.
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