Berthe Adele Teilhard de Chardin with her husband, Emmanuel, parents of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
Continuing this week’s theme of Mother’s Day tributes it is appropriate that we recognize the Mother of Teilhard de Chardin, the inspiration of this blog. I have not been able to find out much about the history of Berthe Adele Teilhard de Chardin, other than that she was a native of Picardy, France, was born of a “distinguished lineage” and was the great-grandniece of Voltaire. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was the fourth of eleven children born to Berthe and Emmanuel.
It appears that Berthe Teilhard de Chardin was extremely influential in the formation of Pierre’s religious beliefs, vocation and character. Pierre’s biographer, Robert Speaight described Berthe as
“a woman of exemplary piety to whom Pierre was later to confess that he owed ‘the best of myself’, to her, she instilled in him a devotion to the Sacred Heart, which was to be the radiating center of his own ardent spirituality. . . Berthe rose early; walked every day to Mass before dawn so that she might be at home to breakfast with the family; was indifferent to the conventions of society even when she conformed to them.”
An online biography of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin would state that
“[h]is sensitive nature was also nurtured by his mother’s steadfast piety. Teilhard’s reflections on his mother’s influence is striking, he writes: ‘A spark had to fall upon me, to make the fire blaze out. And, without a doubt, it was through my mother that it came to me, sprung from the stream of Christian mysticism, to light up and kindle my childish soul. It was through that spark that `My universe,’ still but half-personalized, was to become amorised, and so achieve its full centration.'”
Going into this Mother’s Day weekend in the U.S., here is a tribute to Berthe Teilhard de Chardin, who lit and kindled the fire of faith in young Pierre that sent him on a wonderful journey to be a light for generations to come.