Where was Sister Emmanuelle born?
Sister Emmanuelle, born Madeleine Cinqin, was born on November 16, 1908 in Brussels, of a French father and a Belgian mother, traders in the manufacture of fine lingerie. She is the second of a wealthy family of three children who belong to the textile bourgeoisie and lead a quiet existence. When she was 6 years old, little Madeleine experienced a tragedy: her father drowned before her eyes. Marked for life, she later revealed that it was on the day of this tragic accident that her religious vocation was born.
When did Sister Emmanuelle take her religious vows?
Madeleine Cinquin entered the Notre-Dame de Sion congregation in 1929 and took her religious vows there on May 10, 1931. She chose the name Sister Emmanuelle, which means “God with us” in Hebrew. A graduate of philosophical and religious sciences, she taught successively in Turkey (1932-1954, then 1959-1963), in Tunisia (1954-1959) and in Egypt (1963-1971).
When did Sister Emmanuelle settle in Egypt?
In 1963, she arrived in Egypt where she taught at Sion College in Alexandria.. She did not like the experience with students from wealthy families and so, in 1965, she took charge of a small school open to poor children. She moves in with a family to live through these inhumane living conditions until the end. She finally settled in a Cairo slum in 1971, at the age of 62. This miserable neighborhood is home to ragpickers who make a living from collecting garbage, also called the zabbalines. Sister Emmanuelle will share twenty-two years of her existence with them.
Where does Sister Emmanuelle’s famous phrase “Yalla” come from?
Sister Emmanuelle used this formula as her motto. “Yalla” means “Forward”, in Arabic. The ragpicker from Cairo used this expression since her experience in Egypt, as a cry from the heart to incite action and compassion. A beautiful summary which sums up his philosophy and his rhythm of life!
What association founded Sister Emmanuelle?
In 1985, theassociation Act, support, mobilize for the future of children (Asmae) was founded by Sister Emmanuelle. Resolutely secular, it guarantees aid to the most deprived regardless of their religion, without prejudice to belief. Thanks to it, deprived families and children, in France and abroad, have access to education and care. From the start, three rules governed Asmae’s action: “Approach needs pragmatically by relying on a local partnership, aim for autonomy and avoid assistance.” In each country concerned, coordinators base their actions on its principles.
Today, the association continues Sister Emmanuelle’s mission. It is established in eight countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Philippines, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, India, Ivory Coast and France). In 2022, it supported 24 projects and more than 39,000 beneficiaries.
What is Sister Emmanuelle known for?
Sister Emmanuelle had media notoriety which allowed her to convey her message to a wide audience. However, she never lost her simplicity and this was her secret to seducing the greatest number of people. “I believe in just being yourself. In front of the media, I am what I am, I speak like I speak to everyone,” she said in an interview with Pilgrim.
With Abbé Pierre, she had become another religious personality widely acclaimed by the French. Like him with his beret and his cassock, she cheerfully assumed responsibility by wearing her nun’s outfit and her sneakers. In January 2004, she was a guest on the show Your French at heart alongside Abbot Pierre. During this show, comedian Jamel Debbouze pays tribute to them.
She also rubbed shoulders with the political world. On January 28, 2002, at the Élysée Palace in Paris, she was received by President Jacques Chirac who presented her with the insignia of Commander of the Legion of Honor. In January 2008, she will be elevated to the dignity of Grand Officer.
Where is Sister Emmanuelle’s grave?
Tired but not suffering from any particular illness, the “little sister of the poor” died on September 20, 2008 in his sleep, at the age of 99. She was buried at Callian, in a small village in the Varin a collective grave, that of his congregation.