GIFFARD, MARIE-FRANÇOISE, dite Marie de Saint-Ignace, Hospitaller of the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec, first nun of Canadian birth; b. 1634, daughter of Robert Giffard and Marie Regnouard; d. 1657.
In 1634 Giffard, having been granted a seigneury, returned to New France with his wife and his two children. On 11 June, a week after their arrival at Quebec, Françoise was born; she was baptized by Father Charles Lalemant. In the autumn of 1646 she took her vows at the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec. She received the name of the mother superior and foundress, who had died 5 November.
Marie-Françoise Giffard’s niece, Mother Juchereau* de Saint-Ignace, has traced a portrait of her that seems authentic: “She was very intelligent, endowed with great gentleness and a prudence beyond her age. Her innocence and purity were angelic; she had a sincere and deep humility, an ardent charity and an unfailing readiness to endure all in God’s name.” Mother Giffard de Saint-Ignace died 15 March 1657 at Quebec, after terrible suffering. She was buried under the chancel in the Hôtel-Dieu chapel. Her contemporaries admired her saintly qualities.