Sœur Emmanuelle (November
16, 1908 – October 20, 2008), born Madeleine
Cinquin, was a Belgian and French nun (she was later honoured with the Egyptian
Nationality in 1991).
born in Brussels, Belgium,
the daughter of a family of lingerie manufacturers.
age of six she saw her father drown
educated at the Sorbonne, earning a
degree in philosophy.
In 1929, she
took her religious vows and became a nun in the Congregation of Notre-Dame de
1930s, she started working as a teacher at Notre-Dame de Sion high
school in Istanbul where she
lived until the 1960s, with teaching engagements of several years
in Tunis and Alexandria in between.
she witnessed the impoverished conditions of the trash collectors in Cairo, Egypt, and decided
to live among them. She remained there until 1993, when she
returned to France.
was upon her return that she gained the status of a media sensation
in France, as she was well received by audiences and talk-show
In addition to her charity work, she was known for her unorthodox
religious views, including her approval of the use of contraception
and of the idea of allowing
voted one of the most popular people in France, and has
been compared to Mother Teresa,
although she herself regarded the comparison as
In 2003, French television
broadcast Soeur Emmanuelle: An
. In 2005 she ended in fifth place in the
Walloon version of
Le plus grand Belge (The
on October 20, 2008 in Callian in her sleep
from natural causes at the age of 99, less than four weeks from
celebrating 2008-10-20 and before celebrating 2008-10-31
Les Amis de Soeur Emmanuelle (The Friends of Sister Emmanuelle) is
a charitable organization based in Brussels.