Saint Dina Bélanger

Dina Bélanger was born on 30 April 1897 in Québec (in the Saint-Roch parish) to Olivier Octave Bélanger and Séraphia; her baptism was celebrated just hours later and she was baptized in the names of “Marie-Marguerite-Dina-Adélaïde” with the last being in honor of her paternal grandmother.

In 1903 her mother would begin to take her hand and make the Sign of the Cross with it for it was her mother who instilled in her deep and long-lasting religious principles. The girl loved the Angelus but did not understand Latin save for Amen at the end and she ran upstairs for it when the bell rang announcing the beginning of the Angelus. Her mother took her to Mass in her childhood but also to novenas and sermons but she felt the latter were boring. Young Dina also had a mischievous side but also a temper.

In 1903 Dina began her studies at the convent-school of Saint Roch. In 1909 she left that school to continue her studies at Notre-Dame de Jacques-Cartier. However, in 1911 she received parental permission to enter the Bellevue convent boarding school and entered in the fall of 1911. But she became homesick and cried on one occasion; her parents offered to take her home but she refused and said she would get over it in due time. On 6 October 1911, she and some friends visited the Blessed Sacrament and it prompted her to make a private act of consecration to God. In 1906 her mother went to the parish to beg the priest to give her the First Communion before she turned ten, but the priest refused and this was something that hurt her when she learned about it. But she managed to make her First Communion not long after on 2 May 1907 as well as her Confirmation; from 1913 to 1916 she lived with her parents at home after completing her education. She drew up a rule of life for herself and made it a practice to examine her conscience each night.

In 1913 she asked her parents and two priests (one being her spiritual director) if she could enter the Notre-Dame order’s novitiate. The priests told her to wait. Her father later recalled that she was hurt but was at peace with their decision. Her piano studies led to a superior class certificate and a laureate before she attained a teaching diploma. She had been learning piano since 1914 from Joseph-Arthur Bernier who was the organist for the parish of Notre-Dame de Jacques-Cartier He mentioned her piano studies to the parish priest Omer Cloutier who advised her parents to enroll her at the Institute of Musical Art in the United States of America. But she was learning music from the nuns since she was eight up until 1914.

She was sent to learn music in New York and performed in public concerts between 1918 and 1921; her parents were worried about her welfare there but she did her best to reassure them. Dina left home in October 1916 with her father as well as her friends Bernadette Letourneau and Aline Marquis (both became nuns themselves) who were also to go there for their studies. But her father’s return to Canada saw her get homesick but believed her studies would take her mind off it plus the fact that she had to learn English. She returned home to Canada after her graduation in June 1918.

Dina entered the Religieuses de Jésus-Marie on 11 August 1921 where she assumed the religious name of “Marie de Sainte-Cécile de Rome”; she made her monastic vows on 15 August 1923. She entered with the approval of her parents who took her to Niagara Falls in June 1921 before she entered though her parents relocated to be closer to their daughter. During her first mission in Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse where she taught the piano (which started in August 1923) she contracted scarlet fever after treating a student but recovered enough on 7 December 1923 to resume her teaching duties in January 1924. But this fever soon degenerated into tuberculosis and she later wrote that the illness allowed her to further deepen her union with Jesus Christ and on 2 April 1924 she was taken ill again. From February 1924 to 29 July 1929 – at the behest of her superior – Dina began writing a biographical account with the first part completed that first June. Jesus said to her in a vision well before this: “You will do good by your writings”.

At the beginning of 1927 Dina fell ill and was taken ill again to the medical ward though later had enough strength for her perpetual profession on 15 August 1928. On 29 April 1929 she was moved to the tuberculosis isolation ward for good and on 3 September 1929 her parents spent a few minutes with her in which her father wept and her mother gave her drops of water to quench her thirst though the pain of her parents made her suffer.

On 4 September she felt weak in the morning and sometime after 2:00pm after rosaries were recited she felt she would die and at 3:00pm cried out: “I am suffocating” which made the religious rush to her to help but she died sitting up. Her remains were buried on 7 September though exhumed in 1951 and again in May 1990.

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