St. Mother Théodore Guérin was born Anne-Therese Guérin in France on October 2, 1798. During her childhood, the French government was shutting down churches and arresting priests and religious. Anne-Therese’s cousin was a seminarian, living in hiding at her parents’ home, and he taught her theology and catechism.
At age 26, Anne-Therese entered the Sisters of Providence to provide religious education to young students, and took the name Théodore Guérin. She was recognized for her great intelligence, and in 1840 she was sent to the US, to Vincennes, Indiana, to found a convent. Mother Théodore opened the first girls’ boarding school in the state and championed Catholic education.
Her convent of Our Lady of the Woods was constantly under threat of attack from anti-Catholics and from Catholics themselves. The bishop of Vincennes excommunicated Mother Théodore because he was unable to meddle in the order’s rule. His successor eventually lifted the excommunication.
Mother Théodore died on May 14, 1856, after she fell ill. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1998 and canonized in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.