Pictured: Left: Mother Agatha Guthrie, who named our school as Mother Superior in 1882. Center: OLP’s first location in 1882, on Second and G Street. The arrow in the top right corner is pointing to the small schoolhouse. Right: The original Our Lady of Peace statue, enshrined in Paris at the Sacred Heart Religious chapel.
Historical Corner: What’s In a Name?
By Dr. Melinda Blade, Director of Mission Integration and OLP Historian
5th in a series about OLP’s history. Read the previous installment here.
Have you ever wondered how OLP received its name? Mother Agatha Guthrie, who was the Mother Superior of the Order when OLP opened, seemingly named the school when the four Sisters arrived to open OLP in 1882. Our Chapel is dedicated to Our Lady of Peace, as well. The moniker of Our Lady of Peace, however, has its origins in past centuries.
In the early 1500s, following the wedding of a young woman, Francoise e Voisins, the statue was known as the Virgin of Joyeuse and was a family heirloom. The young bride had received the statue of Our Lady of Peace as a wedding gift from her husband, Jean de Joyeuse.
The statue was eventually bequeathed to the Parisian Capuchin Order of the Church, an Order into which Jean and Francoise’s grandson had entered in 1588 after his young wife, Catherine, died. He took the statue to Paris when he entered the Order; his religious name was Brother Ange. The statue remained in Paris for the next 200 years and was renamed Notre Dame de Paix (Our Lady of Peace).
The original statue is described as being about 11 inches high and made of dark wood. The Blessed Mother is shown holding an olive branch in her right hand (a symbol of peace) and the infant Jesus is on her left side (the Prince of Peace). She was hidden by the Capuchins during the French Revolution and afterwards, she was given to a French priest, Peter Coudrin. Courdin and Henriette Aymer de Chevalerie are co-founders of the congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (usually referred to as the Picpus Fathers or the Sacred Heart Religious).
Today, the original wooden statue of Our Lady of Peace can be found in the Paris convent chapel on the Rue de Picpus (Picpus Street) of the Sacred Heart Religious. She is enshrined in a niche dedicated to her.
The Feast Day of Our Lady of Peace is celebrated on January 24 in some parts of the United States, but the rest of the world uses July 9. The July date commemorates when the Archbishop of Paris, Jean François Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de Retz, and the papal nuncio, Nicolas Grillie, first blessed the statute in 1657. The King of France, Louis XIV (“The Sun King”), attended the blessing. Later, Pope Alexander VII chose July 9 as the Feast Day upon which the Capuchins would celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Peace.
Read the next installment here.