JEANNE LYDIA BRANDA, KNOWN AS MOTHER MARIE-THOMAS D’AQUIN NUN,
EDUCATOR AND WRITER
 
Born in Saint-Romain-la-Virvée in France on 13 August 1877, Jeanne-Lydia Branda joined the Dominican Sisters in 1899. She taught school near Paris and for some months in Italy (1904). She went to the United States in 1904, and taught school in Massachusetts (Fall River), Maine (Lewiston) and Ohio. She took her vows in 1906 as Sister Marie-Thomas d’Aquin. She arrived in Ottawa in 1914 as principal of L’Institut Jeanne d’Arc, a girls’ school. In 1919, she started the Revue Jeanne d’Arc, directing it until 1957, and founded the congregation of Les Sœurs de l’Institut Jeanne d’Arc d'Ottawa, serving as its superior until 1942. Under the pseudonym Marie Sylvia, she published various poetry collections, including: Vers le bien (1916), Vers le beau (1924), Vers le vrai (1928) and Reflets d’opales (1945), which were awarded prizes by the Académie française. Member of the Société des écrivains canadiens (Canadian Authors Association) and La Société des poètes canadiens-français, she won the 1926 poetry contest and received the Institut de France gold medal in 1932. She was made an Officier d'Académie of the Department of Public Instruction (France) in 1927 and received the Cross of the Légion d’honneur (France) in 1956. Mother Marie-Thomas d’Aquin died in Ottawa on 17 March 1963 at the age of 85.