Blessed Dina Bélanger (30 April 1897 – 4 September 1929) - in religious Marie of Saint Cecilia of Rome - was a Canadian professed religious and a professed member from the Religieuses de Jésus-Marie. Bélanger was a noted musician and learnt the piano from her late childhood while teaching this later in her life though a period of ill health ceased this; successive bouts of poor health never hindered her spiritual or musical aspirations though weakened her due to contracting tuberculosis. Her biographical account - spanning from 1924 until just a couple of months prior to her death - details her spiritual encounters with Jesus Christ in a series of visions.
|Born||30 April 1897|
|Died||4 September 1929 (aged 32)|
Sillery, Québec, Canada
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||20 March 1993, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II|
Bélanger's beatification was celebrated on 20 March 1993.
Dina Bélanger was born on 30 April 1897 in Québec (in the Saint-Roch parish) to Olivier Octave Bélanger (21.04.1871-21.07.1952) and Séraphia Matte (18.04.1870-18.08.1951); 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. There was a brother that was born seventeen months after her but Joseph-Simeon-Gustave (September–December 1898) died three months after.
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 so once brought the stoneware doll she named Valeda; her mother did not like it and asked it be left alone but she would still use it which prompted her mother to put it in her purse. Bélanger was reprimanded at home and her mother hid it next time the pair went to Mass but she found this and received another reprimand that ceased this habit. Bélanger also had a mischievous side but also a temper. In 1901 she threw a tantrum. Then her father arose from the table and joined in. She stopped upon seeing her father do that; she was mortified and never threw tantrums after that.
In 1903 she 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. She 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.
Bélanger 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 - she 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 she 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.
The Salle Dina-Bélanger and the Québec Music Festival Dina Bélanger and the Collège Dina Bélanger in Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse are named in her honor. A musical based on her life was presented as part of the fourth centennial of Québec and the 49th International Eucharistic Congress held there in June 2008. The singer-songwriter Martin Louis Lanthier created the production and Bruno Marquis performed the staging.
The beatification cause opened in Québec in which the informative process was held from 11 May 1950 until 2 May 1956 with the late Bélanger's parents offering testimonies for the beatification process; the theologians approved her journal entries and other spiritual writings as being in line with the faith on 8 July 1965 while a supplementary process was held from 20 September 1963 to 6 September 1967. An apostolic process would have been held as was the norm at the time but this was dispensed. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints validated the previous processes in Rome on 30 January 1987 and received the Positio dossier from the C.C.S. in 1987. Theologians approved the dossier on 25 October 1988 as did the C.C.S. on 2 May 1989. The confirmation of her heroic virtue allowed for Pope John Paul II to title her as Venerable on 13 May 1989.
The miracle that led to her beatification was the cure of the infant Jules Chiasson of New Brunswick from hydrocephalus in 1939. It was investigated on a diocesan level before it received C.C.S. approval on 14 March 1987; medical experts approved it on 15 November 1989 as did theologians on 23 March 1990 and the C.C.S. on 19 June 1990. John Paul II approved this healing to be a miracle on 10 July 1990 and beatified Bélanger on 20 March 1993 in Saint Peter's Square.
Notre Seigneur, Homme-Dieu, me fit voir son Cœur adorable, dans l’Hostie sainte. Son Cœur et l’Hostie étaient parfaitement unis, tellement l’un dans l’autre que je ne puis pas expliquer comment il m’était possible de les distinguer l’un de l’autre. De l’Hostie émanait une immensité de rayons de lumière. De son Cœur jaillissait une immensité de flammes, lesquelles s’échappaient comme en torrents pressés. La très sainte Vierge était là, si près de Notre Seigneur qu’elle était comme absorbée par Lui, et pourtant, je la voyais distinctement de Lui… Toutes les lumières de l’Hostie et toutes les flammes du Cœur de Jésus passaient par le Cœur immaculé de la très sainte Vierge.
- "Blessed Dina Bélanger - Mother Ste-Cecile de Rome". Mystics of the Church. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
- "Bl. Dina Bélanger". Catholic Online. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
- "Bélanger, Dina". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
- Marie Sainte-Cécile de Rome (Dina Bélanger), religieuse de Jésus-Marie (1897-1929) : autobiography and testimony/text published and annotated by Dom Léonce Crenier; preface by Mgr Camille Roy. Author: Marie St. Cecilia of Rome, sister, RJM Publisher: Convent of Jesus and Mary, Sillery (1934) (Québec] : L'Action catholique.