Book Review:
Book cover

Adele: A Biography of
Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon

Joseph Stefanelli S.M.
North American Center for Marianist Studies 

The two-hundredth anniversary of the birth and baptism of Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon (Venerable Mother Marie of the Conception) will be commemorated on June 10, 1989, by Marianists throughout the world. To enhance the celebration, a new work by Joseph Stefanelli, S.M., on the life of the foundress of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate has been prepared. Adele is the comprehensive biography; sure to find its way into the hands of all those who have waited for years for such a resource. 

In the Preface, Father Stefanelli, a noted scholar and author in Marianist studies, summarizes the materials he used as reference. So, after Adele's death, many of the sources, such as letters and other primary documents, were gathered for a memoir, but these were accidentally destroyed following the death of one of the biographers. The task of reconstructing Adele's life - her activities, the influential people in her life, her personality - has been undertaken by many during the past two centuries, but Father Stefanelli's book is the first work of this magnitude available in English.

Adele's story is an engaging one.  It is, in one sense, the simple story of a young aristocratic woman in rural southwestern France who founds and inspires a religious congregation of women, the Marianist Sisters. But, it is also a story of profound faith, courage, compassion, and determination during one of history's most dramatic periods. The see-saw politics of Revolutionary France, the danger and uncertainties for Roman Catholics, the disruption of family and economic life, are all the backdrop for scenes from Adele's life of prayer her succor to the needy, and her institution of a network of dedicated young women throughout France, a network tied together primarily through Adele's prodigious letter-writing and her appealing, motivating ways. 

Father Stefanelli has provided students of Adele's life with a valuable research document. The appendices include bibliographic data and references, lists of correspondents, religious and secular names, personnel statistics, maps, biographical data on early members of the Daughters, a concordance of letters special notes, and an index. 

For those interested in Adele's special charisma, very personal glimpses into her spiritual exercises her thoughts, hopes, and frustrations-even her humor-are offered through excerpts or summaries of her letters. For those seeking a fuller sense of the interweavings of Father William Joseph Chaminade's and Adele's works, several chapters detail the association between the two and the flowering of the family tree of faith that they together planted and tended. 

The volume comprises nearly six hundred pages and contains numerous photographs. The book is available through the Marianist Resources Commission, the publication arm of the North American Center for Marianist Studies.

– Carol Quinn Hiri

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