QUEBEC Montreal 1898 Sisters of the Convent of the Misericorde




Collections: Canada Medals, Medals

Product type: Medal

Vendor: Britannianumismatics



QUEBEC Montreal 1848 - 1898 Sisters of the Convent of the Misericorde 50th anniversary  31mm white metal medal with integral loop 12.88 grams

I have not previously seen this medal before. Not sure if it can be labeled a discovery piece, and such pieces are typically a concoction of previously known dies, or a medal struck in an off metal.  I cannot find any documentation through Leroux, McLachlan, or the Charlton medal catalogues, nor was there an example in Jeffrey Hoare's famed Torex # 6 auction. It was part of a collection of Canadian medals purchased in London, UK. The only Canadian give away is the wreath of maple leaves on the reverse side. The phrase "Bene Merenti" gives the piece a Catholic Church connection. In discussion with some collectors we speculated that it the "Student's Christian Movement", but that organisation was established at the McGill Y.M.C.A. in 1921. The search began for a Canadian Catholic church organisation with the initials SCM that started up in 1848, and had a milestone 50th anniversary in 1898.

Sisters of the Convent of the Misericorde is a home for unwed mothers . It is a congregation of women founded  in Montreal on the 16th of January, 1848, for the purpose of procuring spiritual and corporal assistance for poor mothers and unfortunate girls. It was founded by Madame Rosalie Jette, The institution was approved by Pius IX, 7 June, 1867; and the constitutions, revised according to the latest rules of the Roman Congregations, received the approbation of Pius X, 21 March, 1905. There have been 10 hospitals for this order in both Canada and the United States. Their work goes on to this day.

The Misericordia Sisters endeavored to carry out their ministry discreetly, for the public was neither supportive of their cause nor charitable. The sisters were accused of "encouraging vice". According to Sulpician Father Éric Sylvestre, ""When food was scarce, Rosalie would fast so that the moms could eat. She was fond of saying that ‘Single mothers are the treasure of the house.’"

The 50th anniversary medal is discreet in that it offers little information as to the issuer might be. One might ask why issue the medal at all. (Please note there is no proof that that this piece is from this order, but that all of the information could certainly give good cause for speculation). The Montreal Daily Star of November 16th 1898 shares how momentous the 50th anniversary was for the order. The article notes that this was the 50th anniversary of the Convent of the Misericorde, otherwise known as the Maternité Sainte-Pélagie. It goes on to detail the completion of a new stone building, that replaced their death trap wooden structure. It mentions that in 1897 there were 318 births, and that the new modern facilities would help lower the infant mortality rate which in years gone by had been as high as 90%. The occasion was marked by a three day religious and social occasion that included a Pontificial mass with the Archbisop of Ottawa officiating. There were further addresses delivered by the Archbishops of Ottawa and Montreal, Bishop Emard, Mayor Prefontaine, a representative of the Quebec government, and members of of the medical faculties of Laval and McGill. Invitations had been issued to the elite of Catholic society.