Marguerite Bays was born the daughter of simple, pious farmers
on 8 September 1815 in La Pierraz, Siviriez, near Fribourg, Switzerland.
She was educated locally and worked as a dressmaker.
She spent all her life in her own neighbourhood. In her parish
she was an exemplary committed lay person, especially dedicated
to children and young girls. She also visited the sick and the
dying with tireless ardour. She was a true friend of the poor,
whom she called "God's favourites". She introduced missionary
activities into the parish and contributed to founding the Catholic
press at the time of the Kulturkampf.
She developed intestinal cancer at the age of 35 and asked Our
Lady to intercede with her Son to exchange her suffering for the
kind of pain that would enable her to share more directly in the
Passion of Our Lord. She was miraculously cured on 8 December
1854 at the moment when Pius IX pronounced the dogma of the Immaculate
Conception. Instead, she had to bear a "mysterious affliction"
which immobilized her in ecstasy every Friday when, physically
and spiritually, she relived the phases of Jesus' passion from
Gethesmane to Calvary. She also received the stigmata, like St
Francis, which she did her best to hide.
Marguerite Bays put the greatest trust in prayer, the focus of
her life, to which she had been inclined since childhood. She
had deep love for Our Lady, whom she venerated by frequently reciting
the Rosary and visiting her shrines. She also had immense love
for Jesus in the Eucharist, before which she spent long hours
in adoration. She lived constantly in God's presence. Thus she
suffered from the sight of the weak faith she saw around her and
prayed that it would be strengthened. Her focus on the eternal
prevented her from being distracted by the pleasures of this world
or by personal advantage of any kind. God was her greatest love.
She deplored human indifference to him and insistently demanded:
"What can we do to love God more?". Her constant concern
to be centred on God made her profoundly humble. She felt she
was the lowliest of creatures and a great sinner, and fought the
self-love that dampened her ardour. She fled attention and always
sought to hide the great marks of favour she had been granted.
Marguerite identified increasingly with the suffering of Jesus
on the Cross. Happy to be called to follow him, she showed no
sign of suffering and on the contrary "could be heard to
utter words of adoration and submission to God's holy will".
She died at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, 27 June 1879, absorbed in her
love for the crucified Lord.