by Lisa Murphy MMM Archivist Ireland 11.02.2022
On the 11th of February 1936 Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide issued the decree Constans ac Sedula, enabling religious women to undertake work in all fields of medicine. This permitted Marie Martin’s vision of a congregation of medically trained religious women to be realised. At that time, Marie Martin was on a retreat with the Benedictine nuns at Kylemore Abbey, County Galway which was being directed by Dom Bede Lebbe OSB from Glenstal Abbey.
It was Dom Bede Lebbe who gave Marie Martin the copy of The Universe (a Catholic newspaper) which reported the Constans ac Sedula decree and gave its text. This decree permitted and encouraged Sisters to work in medicine, describing it as an “urgent and essential need of the Mission.” It goes on to say, “It is indeed desirable that new Societies of Sisters, with proper safeguards, should be formed for the care of mothers and children.” In the weeks following the issuing of the decree Marie Martin prepared a petition that would be sent to Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide on the 25 March 1936.
Marie Martin’s petition set out her plan for erecting a medical missionary congregation with a particular focus on maternity care. Enclosed was a supporting letter from Dom Bede Lebbe OSB of Glenstal Abbey, which outlined the Benedictine formation received by Marie Martin and her companions at Glenstal Abbey. The petition was signed at the Grotto in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Inchicore, Dublin, by Marie Martin. She used a pen that had belonged to Dom Columba Marmion OSB (who was beatified in 2000) and which had been presented to her by the then Prior of Glenstal Dom Gerard François OSB on the occasion of his recall to the Benedictine Abbey at Maredsous, Belgium. The pen of Dom Columba Marmion now resides in the MMM Archive, a representation of the beginnings of MMM.