October 15, 1701

(Varennes, Quebec)


December 23, 1771


Couvent des Ursuline (1714)

Awards & Honours:

1990: Canonization by Pope John Paul II

Ste. Marguerite d'Youville oil painting

Founded the Sisters of Charity of Montreal

Ste. Marguerite d'Youville

An early champion of health care for all

As a young widow, Marguerite d’Youville turned her attention to the suffering of those around her. In 1738, she founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal (Les Soeurs Grises), a charitable Order which assumed responsibility for the General Hospital of Montreal’s program dedicated to caring for the poor. In the succeeding centuries, generations of Grey Nuns have founded numerous charitable institutions throughout the world. Madame d’Youville was beatified by Pope John XXIII in 1959 and canonized by Pope John Paul II on December 9, 1990.

Key Facts

Like many families at the time, d’Youville suffered the loss of four of her children when they were infants

Involved in the education of her younger siblings and supported her widowed mother

Founded a charitable association to assist all those in need at a time when the Montreal General Hospital only welcomed men

Faced harassment from those who dismissed the work of the Sisters of Charity

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

Today, the life of Marguerite d’Youville remains a source of inspiration for many as a powerful example of determination, dynamic administration, and selfless devotion. During her lifetime, she challenged the status quo to ensure that all those who needed care received it, regardless of their situation. Moreover, she successfully established the institutional capacity to make that care possible. Over 250 years later her ethos and practice can still be felt. St. Boniface Hospital, for example, is the second largest hospital in Manitoba, employs over 3,500 staff and operates a research facility with a budget of $7 million. In addition, thousands of Grey Nuns continue to dedicate their lives to bringing care to all they can.

Ste. M. d'Youville and the children


  • Sainte Marguerite d'Youville posthumously inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    London, Ontario

  • M. d'Youville stamp

    A young woman claimed to have recovered from acute myeloblastic leukaemia after praying to d’Youville

    In 1990, Marguerite d’Youville became Canada’s first saint.

  • After her death in 1771, The Grey Nuns carried on d’Youville’s legacy

    Women in Medicine

    Their work took them beyond Montreal to different parts of Canada. The Sisters of Charity of St-Hyacinthe was founded in Quebec. In 1871, the established St. Boniface Hospital in the new province of Manitoba.

  • Louis XV signed the Letters Patent

    Leadership in Organizational Development

    This patent sanctioned the appointment of Madame d’Youville as Director of the hospital and officially established the Sisters of Charity. By 1755, the hospital expanded its medical services to serve those suffering during the smallpox epidemic. The hospital also became an importance place of treatment and convalescence during the Seven Years War.

  • D’Youville was named temporary directress of Montreal’s General Hospital

    The Early Days - Health Care Pioneers

    The hospital was in terrible disrepair and faced bankruptcy.

  • Following the death of her husband, d’Youville committed her life to service

    The Early Days - Health Care Pioneers

    She moved into Le Verrier House with three other women where they all began caring for those in need. These women became known as the Sisters of Charity, and would later become the Grey Nuns.

  • Marguerite married François d'Youville

    The ceremony occurred in Montreal where both Marguerite and François lived. The Governor General, The Marquis of Vaudreuil, signed the marriage contract.

  • Ursuline Convent

    D’Youville began studies at the Ursuline Monastery in Quebec City

    She trained there for the next two years.


Her charisma and her mission are spread throughout the world.