Thursday, January 7, 2016

St. John the Baptist and the Durieux Sisters

Here is a holy card of St. John the Baptist, one of Marie-Antoinette's patron saints, which she gave to her main femme de chambre, Thérèse Durieux and her sister Barbe Durieux. The sisters were members of the Archduchess Antoine's entourage, who are mentioned in the letters of the Empress Maria Theresa to the Marquise d’Hennezel.  She was to leave the sisters behind in Austria. The card was given to them on the occasion of Antoine's marriage-by-proxy in April 1770 in Vienna in which she became the Dauphine of France. Her words to her maids are, in Latin and French:  
Auspice Deo / Soyez persuadée chere Durieu que je penserai toujours a vous et que ne n’oubliere jamais les peines que vous avez eu avec moi c’est dont vous assure / votre tres fidele / Antoine Archiduchesse
Auspice Deo literally translates "Under the auspices of God" which means not only having faith in God but to place oneself trustingly inside God's plan. A rough translation of the rest of the message reads:  "Be persuaded, dear Durieu, that I will think always of you and the pains you have taken with me, may this assure you. Your very faithful, Archduchess Antoine." One can only imagine the trouble the handmaid went through with her turbulent adolescent charge while preparing Antoine to leave her home forever and become a future Queen of France. Share

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