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Sœur Emmanuelle (November 16, 1908 – October 20, 2008), born Madeleine Cinquin, was a Belgianmarker and Frenchmarker nun (she was later honoured with the Egyptian Nationality in 1991).


She was born in Brusselsmarker, Belgium, the daughter of a family of lingerie manufacturers. At the age of six she saw her father drown. She was educated at the Sorbonnemarker, earning a degree in philosophy. In 1929, she took her religious vows and became a nun in the Congregation of Notre-Dame de Sion.

With the 1930s, she started working as a teacher at Notre-Dame de Sion high school in Istanbulmarker where she lived until the 1960s, with teaching engagements of several years in Tunismarker and Alexandriamarker in between.

In 1971, she witnessed the impoverished conditions of the trash collectors in Cairomarker, Egyptmarker, and decided to live among them. She remained there until 1993, when she returned to Francemarker. It 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 hosts.

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 priests to marry. She was voted one of the most popular people in Francemarker, and has been compared to Mother Teresa, although she herself regarded the comparison as "ridiculous". In 2003, French television broadcast Soeur Emmanuelle: An Exceptional Woman. In 2005 she ended in fifth place in the Walloonmarker version of Le plus grand Belge (The Greatest Belgian).

She died on October 20, 2008 in Callianmarker 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 too.

Les Amis de Soeur Emmanuelle (The Friends of Sister Emmanuelle) is a charitable organization based in Brussels.


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