LANGLOIS, MARIE-THÉRÈSE, dite de Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Nun Hospitaller of the Hôpital Général of Quebec, superior; b. 20 Jan. 1684 in Quebec, daughter of Jacques Langlois, a tailor and then a baker in Quebec, and Marie-Thérèse de Lessard; d. 26 Feb. 1743 in Quebec.
Marie-Thérèse Langlois entered the convent of the Hôpital Général of Quebec on 29 Dec. 1706 and made her profession on 30 April 1708. Her father could promise a dowry of 1,000 livres only, on which he would pay the income; to guarantee this obligation he had to mortgage two houses he owned in Quebec. Since she could not make up the amount of 3,000 livres required as a dowry, Marie-Thérèse Langlois was admitted thanks to the foundation dowry, a donation made by Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix*] to the Hôpital Général through which he allocated 1,100 livres as annual income to be used in perpetuity as provision for a nun.
The annals of the community do not say a great deal about Marie-Thérèse Langlois. That she held the offices of depositary, assistant superior, mistress of novices, and superior is known, but her activities from 1717 to 1723 and from 1726 to 1729 are a mystery. Marie-Thérèse de Saint-Jean-Baptiste was superior first from 1723 to 1726, and the annalist barely mentions the superiorship which devolved upon her in 1730. The author of Mgr de Saint-Vallier et l’Hôpital Général, who knew nothing about Marie Thérèse’s superiorship from 1730 to 1732, asserted instead that Marie-Joseph Juchereau Duchesnay, dite de l’Enfant-Jésus, sister of Geneviève Juchereau Duchesnay, dite de Saint-Augustin, who had died, was chosen superior to succeed her sister in this office. However, in 1730, upon the death of Geneviève de Saint-Augustin, Marie-Thérèse de Saint-Jean-Baptiste, who had been assistant superior since 1729, served as superior until the end of the three-year term.
It is appropriate to recall briefly this troubled period in the 1730s, when Marie-Thérèse Langlois became superior. The nuns had chosen sides in the conflict which began between the civil and religious authorities upon Saint-Vallier’s death in 1728 [see Étienne Boullard*; Claude-Thomas Dupuy*]; conflicts of personalities and dissensions within the community resulted, and the coadjutor, Pierre-Herman Dosquet*, only aggravated them. However, everything that Dosquet said cannot be taken literally; he had little sympathy for the nuns of the Hôpital Général, who had been specially protected by his predecessor, Saint-Vallier. According to the coadjutor a spirit of independence and liberty, of individualism and discord, reigned in the community. He went so far as to state that several nuns of the Hôpital Général were admitted to make their profession without doing their noviciate – an allegation which is certainly not confirmed by a serious study of the registry of admissions and professions. To complete his picture of indiscipline Dosquet added that these “rebellious nuns come rather sharply to blows.”
Behind Dosquet was the dean of the chapter, Louis Bertrand* de Latour, who had been appointed superior of the religious communities. By his provocative attitude he antagonized a good many of the nuns of the Hôpital Général. In 1730 Latour had the election for a new superior held on 28 March, the day after the death of the superior, Geneviève de Saint-Augustin, despite the opposition of 17 nuns who wanted the ceremony held after the Forty Hours’ Devotion, as the regulations of the community stipulated. Latour, like Dosquet, seemed to favour nuns of humble condition rather than those from great families, in reaction against Saint-Vallier, who was inclined to support the latter when important offices were in question. Thus, according to Charles de Beauharnois and Gilles Hocquart*, it was Latour himself who decided to appoint a superior for two years, in this case Marie-Thérèse Langlois, the daughter of a craftsman. After this arbitrary appointment the nuns were truly divided within the community, and the group opposed to Latour went so far as to remove the ropes from the bells before the end of the ceremony. However, the seriousness of such events should not be exaggerated: the strife that followed the pseudo-election of 1730 was not in the least unusual; reactions of this kind were common in the communities of women in Canada, as in France.
Nevertheless it cannot be denied that around 1730 there was a certain slackening of discipline with respect to the rules of the cloister among these nuns. Again it was Dosquet who deplored the fact that before his arrival “the nuns used to go to the Château Saint-Louis or the intendant’s palace for dinner or supper parties, to the great indignation of the public.” Henceforth, under his authority, the governor and intendant would no longer be permitted to enter the convents. But this sort of irregularity was encountered also in the other two communities of women in Quebec.
It was in this tense atmosphere, then, that Marie-Thérèse de Saint-Jean-Baptiste had to carry out her duties as superior. The election in 1732, which took place according to canonical rules, gave the superiorship to Marie-Joseph Juchereau Duchesnay. After that date Marie-Thérèse held the office of mistress of novices for two three-year terms, and in 1738 she was elected depositary and discreet. She held these offices until her death, on 26 Feb. 1743 in the convent of the Hôpital Général.
AAQ, 1 W, Église du Canada, II, 285–87, 349. AHGQ, “Annales”; Cahiers divers, notices, éloges funèbres, circulaires, notes diverses; Divers extraits de nos annales et autres notes diverses; Registre des entrées et des dots. AJQ, Registre d’état civil, Notre-Dame de Québec, 20 janv. 1684. AN. Col., B, 57/1, ff.106–108; C11A, 54, f.36; 56, ff.66, 174. 186. Mgr de Saint-Vallier et l’Hôpital Général, 301, 718. Léon Roy, “Jacques Langlois et Marie-Thérèse de Lessard,” BRH, L (1944), 119–26.