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Echo of the Archives - nº 8

E eventMonday, 27 May 2024

The dream comes true

"What do you do with your intelligence, your heart, your memory? " asked Marie Eugénie in her chapter instruction of November 10, 1872. She often named memory as one of God's gifts: memory of the work of God himself, even of his immense love; memory of his action through each of the sisters, via the Congregation, throughout the world. To nourish our memory, to colour it with the history of the Assumption through the centuries, the dream of a museum has taken shape in recent months. At the end of a path of reflection by the International Archives Team, the sisters who collaborate with the Archives in the house in Auteuil, in collaboration with the General Community and with the support of Manuel Esteves who works in Auteuil, the project has come to fruition: formulation of objectives, exploration of objects to be exhibited, research about the museums of other congregations, drawing up plans, budgets, a schedule... This project was presented by Sr. Véronique and approved by Sr. Rekha and her Council in July 2021. The work began on September 6, 2021; first the electricians and then painters, before the installation of custom-made furniture and various displays.

What will this museum be?

We thought of it as a space where tradition and modernity meet, in the image of our spirit. Simple and beautiful. Starting with the conviction that there is always something new to discover about our history, we wanted it to be a place of information and interaction. The exhibits and displays will be supplemented by information that can be consulted on a digital tablet or computer. A "treasure cabinet" will offer visitors copies of original documents and photos of the history of our Provinces. A space will be reserved for family memories of the Gardiennes Adoratrices (Soeurs de Saint Aignan), the Augustinian Sisters of Notre Dame de Paris with their long history, the large Assumption Family. Finally, the room will be equipped with a screen and a video projector to screen films related to the history and charism of the Assumption.

The garden, a place of memory

Beyond the museum, the house of Auteuil itself is a place full of history and memory. The visit of what was called the "Little Convent" or "Convent of the Immaculate Conception" in the time of Mary Eugenie is one of the essential welcoming rituals when a new session begins. Visiting the cellars and the garden, we realized that many objects remained hidden. We also felt that it was important that its occasional visitors should have access, if they wish, to the history and the identity of this place, in a discreet way. Finally, we wanted to offer every pilgrim of the Assumption the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Mary Eugenie and the first sisters of Auteuil. A memory trail in the garden has therefore been designed, connecting real and tangible traces of history with an information terminal to explain them. Seven locations are planned: (i) the old monastery, (ii) the chapel of the wood (“chapelle du bois”), (iii) the small convent or convent of the Immaculate Conception, (iv) the villa Saint Michel and its rose garden, (v) the family of the Assumption, (vi) the chapels of the house throughout its history, and (vii) the current chapel.

These projects have brought us immense joy because they are the result of great teamwork and fruitful collaboration with the professionals who have helped us. In the study plan proposed in the Education Councils, Marie Eugénie talks about the geography and history taught to children, stressing that "they are made well aware of the remarkable memories attached to each of these places". Places open a path for us. We grow to realise the importance of being rooted in history, of being in certain places able to read a little about our origins and of knowing how to recognize our heritage in order to express the charism of the Assumption and its identity in the world of today.

Sister Véronique, Archivist of the Congregation

September 2021


Bell used for liturgies by the Augustinian Sisters of the Precious Blood of Arras