France de Marolles

Born 1973, studied economics. Married to François-Xavier for 24 years, mother of seven children and four others already in heaven. In 2010 she found her way to Schoenstatt through the Schoenstatt Shrine in Pozuelo, Madrid. The family was living in Spain at the time because of a long stay abroad by Mr. de Marolles, and has now been living in Madrid for two years.

What experiences have formed you as a woman?

The love of my parents and the example of my mother, who gave herself completely for her children, formed the foundation of my life.

The experience of youth camps in the mountains, inspired by the spirituality of the Foyers de Charité, founded by Marthe Robin, had a strong impact on me in my youth. They gave me inner peace and responded to my thirst for truth as opposed to a world whose incoherence did not satisfy me. In the school of St. John Paul II, where I discovered the theology of the body, I found, with the support of priests, the strength to follow my vocation as a woman through healthy bonds of friendship between man and woman, which were able to develop during my years of study, which allowed me to give my contribution in the education and accompaniment of young people.

A life full of privations as the wife of a marine soldier due to the frequent absence of my husband, as well as difficult pregnancies led me to open myself completely to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, at a young age. At the daily reception of the Eucharist I experienced the joy of being deeply connected with my husband and, despite his absence, remaining united with him in the sacrament of marriage. Our love, founded in Christ, received and given daily in communion with my husband François-Xavier, has more and more revealed to me my identity as a woman.

Each child taught me to be a mother, widened my maternal heart and transcended the limits of my love. I was inspired to seek God ever more deeply in prayer and in His Word, from which I always draw the living water to learn to love and to want to love.

The experience of the shrine, which I have had for 10 years, led me to deepen the inner unity of my being, in the school of Mary, Mother of God as educator, who teaches me to unfold all my dimensions as a woman: daughter, wife and mother.

In what moments did you experience God?

I was a fearful child and these fears were heightened by the heart problems of my father, who was very often in hospital between life and death. When I was five years old, I made a pilgrimage with my family to a Marian shrine. There I was deeply moved by the prayer of the ” Hail Mary “. After returning home I prayed this prayer whenever I was afraid and experienced the power of the words, “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death”. I then experienced a deep peace. Even as a child, Mary showed me that she cares for me like a mother to whom I can entrust everything.

In the first year of our marriage, I gave up my job to follow my husband, who began his career in the Navy. Soon we were expecting our first child. In the fifth month while my husband was at sea, I had to be hospitalized because the child was in danger of being born too early. During this time I felt a strong desire to read the Holy Scriptures and to be nourished by the Word of God. God, my Father, accompanied me every day with His Word. He was close to me, especially through the prayer of the psalms, where I could express all my fear and abandonment. His Word was my support, my rock, my hope to bring this pregnancy to a good end. I am sure that through his word God protected us and the life of our first child, who then saw the light of day.

I had a great longing to be loved and I believed at the beginning of our marriage that François-Xavier could fulfill this longing. But in Paray le Monial, the city of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I was given the grace to understand that God alone can completely satisfy my longing to love and be loved. I learned to adore him, to let myself be loved by him, and thus to love him and my fellow men again.

When we were expecting our fifth child, a medical error led to the premature birth and death of this child, whom we had baptized François-Joseph. During this experience of François-Joseph’s death, I really felt the Blessed Mother Mary at my side. The word “Do not be afraid” was alive in my heart. I am sure that through Mary, God was close to me in this profound hour of suffering. We shed many painful tears because of François-Joseph, but they were fruitful in mutual reverence, in unity and love in our marriage.

2009 we were transferred to Madrid on short notice. The first period of this sudden uprooting was difficult, both for the children and for me, as I did not speak a word of Spanish and my husband was away for weeks. We experienced our helplessness and powerlessness in the face of the challenges we faced. In this situation of uprootedness, I discovered the Schoenstatt Shrine where I felt at home from day one, welcomed in my helplessness and surrounded by unconditional love. In this place I experienced a deeper closeness to God through Mary. I see that both of them help me every day to raise my children, to support my husband, and to always find a solution for every problem. I experience the closeness of a Father God, who teaches me to accept myself in my poverty and who unfolds His power in my weakness. We have experienced that Divine Providence that takes care of us when we trust in God.

What challenges do you see for women today?

The challenge for woman is to pass on the faith and to educate to love by welcoming others, listening, serving them and giving herself.

By accepting her originality, her talents but also her weaknesses, she accepts the challenge of being totally woman as a complement and enrichment for the man. Her task is to build a bridge between God and man, in the school of Our Lady, and to learn every day to give of herself for those entrusted to her.

What do you want to change in the world through your life?

With God’s grace, I want to lead the world on the path of beauty, love and service – that it abandons itself freely and with joy to Mary’s guidance, which leads us to Jesus and thus to the fullness of love. I ask for the grace to be a humble monstrance and to learn more and more to let myself be loved and seized by Christ in my poverty. I want to bear witness to his merciful love that saves me daily and fills me with joy and hope.