Emily was born near Rodez in south France. She was sheltered from the terrors of the French Revolution which broke out when she was two. She had a normal upbringing but at 17 years she had a spiritual experience that gave her a lasting impression of God's presence in her life.
She started as a teacher in her local religious school. Her aim had been to join the community but the nuns mostly elderly and not a coherent community were unwelcoming. She found herself drawn to teaching poor children. Soon she was teaching 40 children with three assistant teachers. She then rented larger rooms. As it happened the local religious community folded and Emily who by then had 8 companions and 100 pupils took over the school buildings. She made public vows and the Congregation of the Holy Family of Villefranche effectively came into being. Despite some setbacks the congregation continued to flourish and grow.
She died in 1852 and was canonised in 1950. Her congregation now have houses in France, England, Switzerland, Spain, Africa, Bolivia and Brazil. Their main activities are running orphanages and health care centres.