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Witness 1 - Agnès de Jésus

 

The series of testimonies given at the Informative phases of the Beatification and Canonisation Process of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus opened with the impressive testimony of Mother Agnes of Jesus, the Servant of God’s sister. This testimony was supplemented by the Novissima Verba.

Who better than Mother Agnes to fathom the Saint’s soul? In the Last Conversations, the Prioress revealed to us the expressions that testify to the deep affection held for her by her “little daughter”, who would go so far as to identify her as her “light” (ibid. 25.7.14), her “sun” (ibid. 5.8.5, 7.8.5), her “telephone” (ibid. 27.7.11), and her “support” (19.8.2), even affirming that, for her, she was “a lyre, a song” (1 1.9.2). It is widely known that Sister Thérèse entrusted her manuscripts to Mother Agnes, calling her also “her historian” (ibid. 29.7.7) and saying to her, “You alone know all the recesses of my soul!” (ib. 16.7.4). It was therefore only right that Mother Agnes was called to testify first.

The second of nine children born to Louis-Joseph-Stanislas Martin (1823-1894) and Marie-Zélie Guérin (1831-1877), Marie-Pauline was born in Alençon on 7th September 1861. After having been a boarder at the Visitation convent school in Le Mans, where she received an intellectual and spiritual education that was steeped in the Salesian spirit and which she reflected throughout her life, Pauline was inspired to turn away from the Visitation convent where she was heading and, on 2nd October 1882, joined the Carmelite convent of Lisieux, the town where her father had lived since 15th November 1877. There she received the Habit on 6th April 1883 under the name of Agnes of Jesus and was professed on 8th May 1884, on the same day that Thérèse took her first Communion.

The future saint would join the Carmel on 9th April 1888 and Mother Agnes was elected Prioress for the first time on 20th February 1893. It was as Prioress that, in December 1894, she ordered Thérèse to write down her childhood memories and so it was that, on her patron saint’s feast day in 1896, Mother Agnes received the autobiographical pages that today constitute Manuscript A.

Mother Agnes’s first priorate ended in 1896. Elected sub-Prioress in 1899, she was once again elected Prioress in 1902, then in 1909 following the premature death of Mother Marie-Ange of the Child Jesus. She was then re-elected to the post continuously until Pope Pius XI nominated her Prioress for life on 31st May 1923. She died on 28th July 1951 after a harrowing illness.

It is thanks to Mother Agnes that in 1897, under the priorate of Mother Marie de Gonzague, Sister Thérèse was obliged to write the text that today constitutes Manuscript C. It was once again Mother Agnes who had the great merit of having Story of a Soul (L’Histoire d’une âme) published so quickly, it appearing as early as 30th September 1898, for the first anniversary of Thérèse’s death.

As we know, the book immediately had a wide circulation and Mother Agnes complemented it with the Novissima Verba a few years later in 1927.

Convinced of the great spiritual good that her sister’s glorification was bringing people, as shown by her statement in the Apostolic Process, (public copy pp. 341-342), Mother Agnes put all her heart into the project, pursuing it with ardour and perseverance. There was no shortage of difficulties, of course, but she felt great joy at the end of the Informative phases of the Ordinary (1910-1911) and Apostolic Processes (1915-1917), and at the declaration of Thérèse’s virtues as heroic on 14th August 1921 under the papacy of Benedict XV, and especially at her beatification on 29th April 1923 and canonisation on 17th May 1925 under the papacy of Pius XI. This Pope held Mother Agnes in the highest esteem until his death in 1939. The liturgical feast of Saint Thérèse was extended to the Universal Church on 13th July 1927 and the Saint was proclaimed Patroness of Missions alongside Saint Francis-Xavier on 14th December 1927, then Secondary Patroness of France on 3rd May 1944.

Despite her limits, which we must of course consider in light of her time and education, Mother Agnes truly deserves the whole Church’s gratitude because she clearly had a deep intuition as to the value of the Saint’s writings and immediately, and not without a certain boldness, set about publishing them.

In response to Canon Dubosq’s requests, Mother Agnes offered a clear picture of the Servant of God’s spiritual physiognomy and the meaning of her message, and therefore sought to let Thérèse speak for herself first of all, as we have indicated in notes referring to the Saint’s writings. She presented the court with the Novissima Verba on 2nd September 1910 (leaf 247r-297v).

Here and there, the witness provides the details that she deems essential. When, on 7th July 1897, Mother Agnes wanted Thérèse to repeat what she had told her about the wound of love received on 14th June 1895, she was met with the reply, “Mother, I told you about it that very day and you barely listened.” (LC (Last Conversations), Yellow Notebook, 1, 7.7.2) Fortunately, Mother Agnes expanded upon the Act of Oblation in the fourteenth session on 27th August 1910 (l. 208v-212r).

As for Story of a Soul, it was on 16th August 1910, during the 7th session, that Mother Agnes spoke about its genesis. She explained the circumstances in which Thérèse had written her texts and how she had entrusted Mother Agnes with the right to modify, shorten or expand them as she saw fit (cf. l. 155v-159v and Manuscrits autobiographiques, edited by François de Sainte Marie, I, 1956, pp. 66-70).

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

The following day, in session 8, the Promoter of the Faith asked whether Thérèse’s autobiographical manuscripts corresponded exactly to the texts that had been published. It was then that Mother Agnes declared, quite discreetly as it happened, that in view of their publication, certain passages had been deleted and other changes made, and that the ensemble had been presented as though it had been dedicated to Mother Marie de Gonzague alone (l. 161v-162r). The court was not indifferent to this and decided that the authentic copy of Thérèse’s hand-written texts should be filed with the Articles of the Process, which was done. In the copy of the Process that we are publishing, the authentic copy can be found in vol. IV, l. 1404v-1634v. We provide the text at the end of our volume.

Mother Agnes testified from sessions four to nine (12-19th August 1910) and from sessions fourteen to twenty-one (27th August – 15th September 1910), l. 135r-176v and 208v-301v. The break is justified by the fact that the court wanted to allow Scottish priest Thomas Nimmo Taylor to testify without further delay, as he was then in Lisieux leading a pilgrimage.

[Session 5: - 12th August 1910, at 8:30 am and at 2 pm.]

[135r] [The witness responds to the first question satisfactorily].

[Answer to the second question]:

My name is Marie-Pauline Martin. I was born in Alençon in the diocese of Séez on 7th September 1861, of the legitimate marriage between Louis-Joseph-Aloys-Stanislas Martin, originally from Bordeaux, and Marie-Zélie Guérin, originally from Gandelain, near Alençon in the diocese of Séez. My religious name is Sister Agnes of Jesus, nun, Prioress of the Carmelite Convent of Lisieux, blood sister of the Servant of God.

[The witness responds to questions three to six inclusive conformably and satisfactorily].

[135v] [Answer to the seventh question]:

I am happy to be testifying. I’m doing so for God’s glory. I’m without a doubt happy that she is my sister, but her life seemed so edifying to me that even if she wasn’t my sister, I would still be very happy to be giving the same testimony.

[Answer to the eighth question]:

I primarily knew the Servant of God as a result of the constant family relations that I had with her and of living together, first in the family home, from 1877 to 1882, then in the Carmel from 1888 until she died. During the first five years of her life (1873-1877), I was at boarding school, away from home. From 1882, when I joined the Carmel, until 1888, when she joined the same convent, I was parted from her, but we kept up family relations. I myself had seen and witnessed what she relates in Story of a Soul, which she wrote herself, and reading her writings added little to my knowledge of her life. [136r] On her deathbed, she said to me, "You alone know all the recesses of my soul." [LC 16-7].

[Answer to the ninth question]:

I have great affection for her and great trust in her because I believe she is close to God and has power over His heart. I pray to her often, not because she is my sister, but because of her holiness; I have genuine respect for her; during her lifetime, I had respect, but mostly affection. I greatly desire her beatification, because she will bring God glory, and more importantly, spread news of His mercy. People will trust His mercy more and fear His justice less. This is what Sister Thérèse called her “little way of trust and surrender”, which she wanted to teach souls after her death.

[Answer to the tenth question]:

She was born on 2nd January 1873 in Rue Saint-Blaise in Alençon, in the parish of Notre-Dame, diocese of Séez. Our father, as I said earlier, was called Louis-Joseph-Aloys-Stanislas Martin [136v] and was born in Bordeaux on 22nd August 1823. Our mother’s name was Marie-Zélie Guérin. She was born in Gandelain on 23rd November 1831. Our father was a jeweller and our mother had a business making Alençon lace. When the Servant of God was born, our father retired from his business and our family’s financial situation was comfortable. Our parents had nine children during their marriage:

1. Marie-Louise, born in Alençon on 22nd February 1860.

2. Marie-Pauline, born in Alençon on 7th September 1861.

3. Marie-Léonie, born in Alençon on 3rd June 1863.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

4. Marie-Hélène, born in Alençon on 13th October 1864, died aged 4 and a half.

5. Marie-Joseph-Louis, born in Alençon on 20th September 1866, died aged 5 months.

6. Marie-Joseph-Jean Baptiste, born in Alençon on 19th December 1867, died aged 9 months.

7. Marie-Céline, born in Alençon on 28th April 1869.

8. Marie-Mélanie-Thérèse, born in Alençon on 16th August 1870, died aged 3 months.

9. Marie-Françoise-Thérèse (the Servant of God), born in Alençon on 2nd January 1873.

[137r] The children were educated partly at home and partly in boarding schools run either by the Visitandines of Le Mans for the eldest daughters, or by the Benedictine nuns of Lisieux for the youngest, due to the change of residence following our mother’s death. This was particularly the case for Léonie, Céline and Thérèse.

[Answer to the eleventh question]:

Our parents had the reputation of being devout and very pious. Despite her tiring life, our mother attended the five-thirty Mass with our father every day, and they both took Holy Communion four or five times a week. Towards the end of his life, our father took Communion every day. He was a member of the Conference of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and the Nocturnal Adoration Society, etc. They both observed Lent through fasting and abstinence, despite my mother’s frail constitution. My father insisted on observing Sunday as holy, although closing his jeweller’s business on that day in particular caused it considerable harm.

[139r] [Answer to the twelfth question]:

She was baptised in the church of Notre-Dame [139v] in Alençon on 4th February 1873.

[How do you know this?]:

Because I was there.

[Do you know why she was not baptised until two days after her birth?]:

Because we were waiting for her godfather. During that time, our pious mother was in a state of continual panic, regretting having waited and fearing that the child would come to some harm. She kept imagining that the child’s life was in danger. All the other children had been baptised on the day they were born. The baptism certificate must be in the Vice Postulator’s files, for that matter.

[Answer to the thirteenth question]:

Their sole concern, as it were, was our spiritual welfare. Our mother wished that all her daughters would become nuns, without wanting to influence us however.

[Could you explain this further?]:

[140r] Our mother often turned our thoughts to God during the day. She would take us to see the Bl. Sacrament. Our mother was quite firm when it came to our education and didn’t let us get away with anything, especially concerning vanity, etc. Our father was of a softer character. He particularly loved his little Thérèse, and our mother would say, “You’ll be the ruin of her!”

[Why was the Servant of God particularly loved by her father?]:

1stly, she was his youngest child, and secondly, she was particularly intelligent and loving. Very small, she could tell what my father was feeling, and he drew comfort from her following our mother’s death.

[Did the Servant of God ever use this fatherly favouritism as an excuse to boast, etc.?]:

Not at all. You see, our father loved her but didn’t spoil her. Once, when she said to him, a little rudely, “Move out of the way,” (she was perhaps three years old) he corrected her and made her acknowledge her fault. It stayed with her for life. She never did anything of the sort again and her words were always very respectful. I never noticed that she was proud with regard to her sisters; on the contrary. Following our mother’s death, she regarded her older sisters and particularly myself [140v] as her mother. I cannot remember her ever disobeying me. She didn’t do anything without asking for permission. When my father suggested they go out together, she would always reply, “I will ask Pauline for permission.” [MSA 19,1] My father himself encouraged this submissiveness. And if I refused, she sometimes wept because our father would have liked to have gone out with her, but she obeyed without arguing.

[Answer to the fourteenth question]:

Following our mother’s death on 28th August 1877, our father came to settle in Lisieux, because Mr Guérin, our mother’s brother, lived in the town, and because my father hoped to find in Mrs Guérin, a particularly kind and pious lady, some support and practical assistance in the education of his daughters. Thérèse was brought up at home by my father and by her eldest sisters, Marie and myself, until the age of eight and a half. At the age of eight and a half, she went to the Benedictine Abbey school in Lisieux as a day boarder. Two of her sisters, Léonie and Céline, had been brought up in that monastery. [141r] As Léonie had finished her education, Thérèse took her place. She was taught by the nuns, and my sister Céline, who was with her, knows more about her time there than I do.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

During the years prior to her joining the Abbey, I was mainly responsible for her education. She proved very diligent and profited from all my lessons. She strived to obtain self-control and it was then that she developed the habit of never complaining or making excuses. At the Abbey, she gave her mistresses complete satisfaction through her diligence, as prove the comments sent home each week. She told me later that she had suffered at the hands of a jealous classmate, but she never complained at the time. Having noticed that some of her classmates showed particular fondness for one or other mistress, she thought to imitate them, but didn’t succeed, which she considered a special blessing from God. She often said to me, as she relates in her life story, “Not knowing how to win the good graces of creatures, I was unable to succeed. O blessed ignorance! It has helped me avoid great evils!” [MSA 37,1] [141v] She took her first Communion at the Benedictine Abbey on 8th May 1884. I was then in the Carmel and it was my sister Marie who mostly oversaw her preparation. Three months before her first Communion, I gave her a small book in which to note down her sacrifices and aspirations of love to Jesus every evening. During those three months, she wrote down 818 sacrifices and 2 773 acts or aspirations of love. She was confirmed at the Benedictine Abbey on 14th June 1884.

[Answer to the fifteenth question]:

Shortly after her first Communion, she went through a crisis of scruples and, as her health seemed to be failing, our father thought it wise to take her out of school and resume educating her at home.

[Was her sickness the only reason for her leaving school, or was it also prompted by some form of disapproval from her mistresses or by some form of aversion on the part of the Servant of God?]:

Oh, no! It was her physical weakness that made my father afraid [142r] that school was proving too tiring for her, but my sisters know more about this than I do.

[Do you know what the Servant of God’s life was like after leaving the Benedictine Abbey?]:

I was in the Carmel. My sisters were at home, so will know much more than me. I can only quote from her life story.

[Answer to the sixteenth question]:

Even as a tiny child, the Servant of God said that she wanted to live in a wilderness in order to better pray to God. When she accompanied my father on his walks in the countryside, while he was fishing, she would withdraw to a quiet place, where she could ponder matters of eternity, she said. When I joined the Carmel in 1882, she was beginning to aspire to this sort of religious life. As early as 9 years old, she wanted to join the Carmel, and her desire gradually grew stronger until the age of 14, when she took the first steps to fulfil her ambition.

[142v] [Could her desire have stemmed from being in her sisters’ company, or at the very least, from the particular affection that she had for the witness, who was already a nun in the Carmel?]:

My sisters Marie, Céline and Léonie showed no desire to become nuns at that time; my sister Marie would in fact attempt to turn the conversation away from the subject. Fearing myself that she was talking about the Carmel because of me, I asked her one day whether she was expressing the desire in order to be with me. She was hurt at the supposition and said, “Oh no! It’s for God alone!” [MSA 26,1] as she amply proved afterwards.

[Session 6:-13th August 1910,at 8:30 am and at 2 pm]

[144v][Continuation of the answer to the sixteenth question]:

No one except me encouraged her in her ambition to join the Carmel; she couldn’t talk about her wish to Marie without feeling spurned, as her eldest sister thought her too young and did everything in her power to stop her from joining. To test her, I [145r] sometimes attempted to dampen her ardour. If she truly hadn’t had the vocation, she would have given up trying to answer God’s call right from the start, when she met nothing but obstacles. She did not know how to go about announcing her decision to my father, who had just sacrificed his three eldest daughters. Marie had joined me in the Carmel and Léonie was then with the Poor Clares in Alençon. The Servant of God was 14 and a half. She chose the feast of Pentecost to tell him of her decision and she spent all day begging the Holy Apostles to inspire her with the words she would need to say. After pointing out to her that she was still very young, my father let himself be persuaded by the reasons that she gave him and replied that he felt highly honoured that God was demanding his children of him. But some difficult trials still awaited her. When consulted on the matter, our uncle Mr Guérin answered that, as long as it depended on him, he would not hear mention of the vocation before she was 17. He said it was unwise to let a child of 15 join the Carmel.

  1. WITNESS1: Agnes ofJesusO.D.C.

In the eyes of the world, it would be very detrimental to our religion to let an inexperienced child [145v] embrace that kind of lifestyle. Lastly, he said that it would take a miracle to make him change his mind. Thérèse sought solace in prayer and begged Jesus to work the miracle. A while later she had a spiritual trial, a feeling of utter abandonment, which lasted for three days. On the fourth day, my uncle gave her his consent unexpectedly. A few days later, she came to the Carmel to share her joy with me, but imagine her sadness when I told her our father superior would not agree to her joining before she was 21.  

[Who was the superior of the monastery then and do you know why he was opposed to the Servant of God joining?]:

It was Father Delatroëtte, the parish priest of the church of St Jacques in Lisieux. He told me himself that he thought the child too young. He expressed no other reasons for his opposition. 

[Might the superior have been opposed to the Servant of God joining the Carmel for the reason that two of her sisters were already in that very monastery?]:

[146r] He never said as much to me.

[Then the witness continued her presentation as follows]:

No one had imagined that he would put up any opposition. Our Reverend Mother Prioress was very favourable to Thérèse joining. Without losing heart, the Servant of God begged our father to take her to see the Father Superior, and her sister Céline accompanied her. She tried to elicit his compassion and to prove to him that she did have the vocation for the Carmel. He received them very coldly and said that there was no harm in waiting, that she could live the life of a Carmelite at home, and that not all was lost if she didn’t take the discipline (whip) etc. But he added that he was merely the Bishop’s representative and that if his Excellency wanted to let her join, he wouldn’t be able to say anything.

[Are you relating all of this going by the manuscript called Story of a Soul which she wrote herself?]:

She told me all of this in person, several times.

When my father promised to take her to the bishopric as she wished, she added, “If his Excellency does not give me permission, I will go and ask [146v] it from the Holy Father.” [MSA 52,1]

She told me all about her trip, and later related it in Story of a Soul. What worried her most was, having never visited anyone without the presence of her elder sisters and having spoken only rarely and when she was spoken to, she didn’t know how she was going to get over her shyness and explain her request to his Excellency and the reasons for it. She overcame her anxiousness however and pleaded her cause as best she could. His Excellency thought that the child should stay at home and be a consoling presence to her father for several more years, so was astonished when her father supported his daughter’s request. Father Révérony, the Vicar General, expressed his admiration. Questioned by his Excellency as to when she first desired religious life, she replied that it was a long time ago. Father Révérony, the Vicar General, said with a smile, “It can’t have been fifteen years ago." [MSA 54,2] She said that there were not many years to subtract, because she had wanted to be a nun ever since she was 3, and to join the Carmel as soon as she knew about it. His Excellency said that he wanted to talk the matter over with Father Delatroëtte, the Carmelite convent’s Superior, and that he would give her his answer afterwards. Knowing Father Delatroëtte objected, she was upset by this decision and wept profusely. When Mr Martin mentioned during the course of the conversation their intention to go to Rome, his Excellency approved. When she came back from Bayeux, she came to see me. I was struck to see that, despite her immense sadness, there was deep peace in her heart, because she was entirely surrendered to God’s will. I can still hear our conversation and it inspired me with great respect for her, so elevated did the dispositions of her soul seem to me.

She preceded her trip to Rome with a pilgrimage to the church of Our Lady of Victories in Paris. There she prayed to the Most Holy Virgin for the principal objective of her trip, which was to obtain permission from the Holy Father to join the Carmel. She also prayed to the Blessed Virgin for the preservation of her virtue. She said, “I asked her [147v] to keep far from me every opportunity to sin. I was fully aware that, on my trip, I could easily meet with things capable of troubling me. I was still unacquainted with evil and so was apprehensive about making its discovery.” [MSA 57,2] She repeated these words, which are recorded in her manuscript, over and over again to me, as she did the whole contents of her life story. As her letters prove, she was not indifferent to the beauty of nature and art during her trip, her admiration always ending with a spiritual reflection. But she was constantly focused on her future interview with the Holy Father. The details of her trip are recorded in the life story that she wrote, and as my sister Céline accompanied her, she will be able to relate them to you. I know them from what they told me, and they conform in every way to the manuscript, a copy of which I intend to enclose with the Cause case files.o

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[148r] [Continuation of the answer to the sixteenth question. – The judge asks whether the witness can complement Story of a Soul with more details about the trip]:

No, everything she told me can be found in the text. In her audience with the Sovereign Pontiff, she overcame her immense shyness and requested authorisation to join the Carmelite convent at the age of 15. Father Révérony, Vicar General of Bayeux, was present at the audience and, having pointed out to the Sovereign Pontiff that the matter was being considered by the Superiors, [148v] Leo XIII told the Servant of God, “Do as the Superiors say.” She persevered, saying, “Oh, most Holy Father, if you say yes, everybody will agree.” The Pope replied, “Come now, you will join if God wills it.” [MSA 63,1] She made to speak again and the audience ended only because Father Révérony and the guards dragged her from the Holy Father’s feet.

Here is a passage from a letter that she wrote to me after the audience: “I believe I did what God wanted me to do, and now there remains nothing for me to do but to pray. My heart is heavy. However, God cannot give me trials that are beyond my strength. He has given me the courage to bear this trial. Oh! it is very great. . . . But, Pauline, I am the Child Jesus' little ball; if He wishes to break His toy, He is free to do so. Yes, I will all that He wills.” [LT 36] Upon her return to France, regarding the pursuit of her ambition, she obeyed to the letter the advice that I gave her after having consulted the Reverend Mother Prioress myself. She was certain, she said, that obeying was the only way to avoid making mistakes. [149r] Upon my advice, she wrote a letter of request to his Excellency the Bishop of Bayeux before Christmas 1887. This time, he replied on 28th December granting the much-desired authorisation. She did not join the Carmel however until April 1888.

[Do you know why the Servant of God did not join the monastery as soon as she had the Bishop’s authorisation?]:

The immediate Superior, Father Delatroëtte, was so unhappy about the steps that had been taken without his consent, and about the authorisation obtained against his will, that we in the Carmel thought it a good idea to give him the satisfaction of delaying the postulant’s entrance for a little while. She finally joined the Carmel on 9th April 1888. She was brought by my father and the whole family. Father Delatroëtte, the Superior, introduced her to the Community in these terms: “Reverend Mother, you may sing the Te Deum. As his Excellency’s representative, I present to you this 15 year old child. You are the one who wished her to join and I hope she does not dash your hopes. But I will remind you that you bear full responsibility for the outcome.”

[149v] [How do you know this?]:

I witnessed all these events.

[Do you know whether or not the Superior’s opinion ever changed?]

It took several years for the priest to change his mind, but finally he developed a deep admiration for the Servant of God, to the extent that he said to Mother Prioress, “Ah, truly, that child is an angel.” I heard him say these words myself, and, as the Superior said them, his eyes were brimming with tears.

[Answer to the seventeenth question]:

When she joined the monastery, the Sisters, most of whom were expecting to see nothing but a very ordinary child, were awed into respect in her presence. There was something about her that was so dignified, so determined, and so modest that even I was surprised. One of the Sisters later admitted to me that, seeing how ardently I was working to obtain her admission, she had said to herself, “How foolish to let such a young child into the Carmel! How [150r] deluded Sister Agnes of Jesus is! She will only be disappointed!" She admitted that she had been very mistaken.

[Which Sister was it? Is she still alive?]:

It was Sister Saint John of the Cross. She died a few years ago.

[Continuation of the answer]:

As she had become a postulant in April, aged 15 and three months, she could have legitimately taken the Habit six months later before the end of October, but she in fact didn’t take the Habit until 10th January 1889.

[Why was the Habit reception thus delayed?]:

At about this time, our father was very sick and we hoped that, if we postponed it, he would be able to attend the Habit reception at a later date.

[Continuation of the answer]:

On 11th January 1890, having been a novice for one year and one day and aged 17, she could have been professed. Yet the Reverend Mother Prioress had a feeling that the Superior would be against it on account [150v] of her age, and so told her to postpone it.

[How did the Servant of God react to this new delay?]:

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

I myself was with our Reverend Mother Prioress when she refused to profess her, a decision which I supported. She was deeply disappointed but she understood almost immediately, during prayers, that the delay was willed by God. She told me at the time what she later wrote in her manuscript: “I understood that my intense desire to make Profession was mixed with a great self-love. Since I had given myself to Jesus to please and console Him, I had no right to oblige Him to do my will instead of His own. Then I said to Jesus, ‘O my God! I don’t ask you to be professed. I will waitas long as you desire, but what I don’t want is to be the cause of my separation from You through my fault. I will take great care, therefore, to make a beautiful dress enriched with priceless stones, and when You find it sufficiently adorned, I am certain all the creatures in the world will not prevent You from coming down to me to unite me to Yourself forever, O my Beloved!’” [MSA 73,2-74,1]

[151r] She was admitted to profession on 8th September 1890. The authorisation to submit the Servant of God’s admission to the Chapter vote had to be obtained from the immediate Superior who, still hesitant, referred the matter to his Excellency the Bishop, and the latter granted the requested authorisation. Her dispositions when she was professed are recorded in her manuscript, as they were revealed to me, for that matter. The notable characteristics of this period of her life, which stretches from her joining the Carmel until the moment she was entrusted with the novices, was humility, and care in being faithful in the smallest of things, despite the frequent spiritual dryness. I know all of this because she would share her state of mind with me on days when the Rule allowed us to talk to one another.

[Did she seek out the company of her blood sisters above that of others?]:

Quite the opposite; at recreation and at other times, she would deny herself our company and choose the company of Sisters who seemed less friendly towards her.

[Session 7: - 16th August 1910, at 8:30 am and at 2 pm]

[153r] [Answer to the eighteenth question]:

She was tasked, in an auxiliary capacity, with training the novices (1893), having reached the age of 20. This responsibility was given to her first of all by myself, as I was Prioress in 1893. She kept it until her death (1897), her position as an assistant having been confirmed by our Mother Marie de Gonzague, who became Prioress [153v] in 1896.

[Why was she nominated only assistant to the noviciate and not Novice Mistress?]:

When I became Prioress in 1893, I felt duty-bound to give the title of Novice Mistress to Mother Marie de Gonzague, then leaving the post of Prioress.

[Why did you decide to nominate the Servant of God assistant Novice Mistress under Mother Marie de Gonzague?]:

As Mother Marie de Gonzague was leaving the post of Prioress, I felt obliged for reasons of convenience to nominate her Novice Mistress. But, though she had real qualities, she had some failings and flaws, the unpleasant consequences of which I hoped to counterbalance by assigning Sister Thérèse to help her in her duty.

[Why, when she was re-elected Prioress, did Mother Marie de Gonzague confirm Sister Thérèse’s post as assistant, without giving her the title of Novice Mistress?]:

Mother Marie de Gonzague saw fit to keep the title and clout of Novice Mistress for [154r] herself at the same time as being Prioress.

[How did the Servant of God behave in the exercise of her duties?]:

She spared no pains and cautioned fearlessly, despite everything this cost her. She did so, however, with care and discernment. She said to me cheerily, “I have to handle a few of them roughly, and others with kid gloves.” She never spoke of her worries or problems. She never asked the novices questions out of curiosity. She did not try to win their affection. She would put all her trust in God in times of difficulty and at such moments would pray for the Bl. Virgin’s help. One day, she said the following words to me and I immediately wrote them down: “To the right and to the left, I throw the good grain that God places in my hands to my little birds. And then I let things take their course! I concern myself with it no more. Sometimes, it’s just as though I had thrown nothing; at other times, it does some good. But God tells me, ‘Give, always give, without worrying about the results.’” [LC 15-5] She let the novices say what they liked against her. They spoke all the more [154v] freely as the Servant of God was not officially Mistress and younger than several of them. I crossed her one day when a novice had just spoken to her in a very humiliating manner.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Her face was animated. I said to her, “Whatever is the matter? Are you tired?” She replied, “I’m very happy: God has just given me the opportunity to remind me that I am very small and without virtue. It reminded me of Shimei cursing David and I said to myself, “Yes, the Lord ordered Sister *** to say those things to me. I believe it all the more given that this morning I had a particular desire to be humiliated.” [HA (Histoire d’une âme) ch.12 (MSC 27-1)]

[How did the Servant of God behave, as assistant to the noviciate, towards the Novice Mistress, Mother Marie de Gonzague?]:

She was always very respectful and deferent, and behaved very carefully as the situation was delicate. In 1904, seven years after the Servant of God’s death, Mother Marie de Gonzague said to me on her deathbed, “Mother, not a single soul here has been as guilty as I and yet I trust God and in little Thérèse: she [155r] will intercede for me and obtain my redemption.”

[Where did you get this information?]

I witnessed all these things myself. Sister Thérèse would share her thoughts with me all the time and I noted down what seemed interesting to me.

[Did the Servant of God hold any other responsibilities or posts?]:

She successively fulfilled various ordinary tasks in the monastery as sacristan, portress, refectorian, and laundress, having held virtually every post in the monastery, except that of infirmarian, even though she greatly desired it. She demonstrated indifference as to the choice of duties and took great care to fulfil them as being the expression of divine will at all times.

[Answer to the nineteenth question]:

Her main written work was her life’s manuscript. Besides this text, she wrote a certain number of letters to family members, and she wrote a few pious poems, either to express her own sentiments, or at the request of one of her religious [155v] Sisters, for example on the day of their profession, their birthday, etc. There are also some plays entitled Pious Recreations, which are little sketches to be performed during our private celebrations.

[As part of the same question, the witness is asked to talk in particular about the origin and writing of the manuscript entitled, “Springtime Story of a Little White Flower,” which she wrote herself and dedicated to Mother Agnes of Jesus (Story of a Soul, written by herself)]:

At the beginning of 1895, two and a half years before Sister Thérèse died, [156r] I was with my two sisters (Marie and Thérèse) one winter evening, when Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus recounted several childhood memories to us, and Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart (my eldest sister Marie) said, “Ah, Mother! It’s such a shame that we don’t have all that down in writing. What pleasure it would bring us if you asked Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus to write her childhood memories down for us!” “I would like nothing better!” I replied, and, turning to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who was laughing as though we had mocked her, told her, “I order you to write down all your childhood memories for me.”

The Servant of God set to work out of obedience, because I was then her Mother Prioress. She wrote only in her free time and gave me her notebook on 20th January 1896 for my feast day. I was at evening prayer. Passing me on her way to her stall, she knelt down and gave me this treasure. I replied with a simple nod of the head and placed the manuscript on the stall, without opening it. I didn’t take the time to read it until after the elections that year, in the spring. I noticed how virtuous the [156v] Servant of God was, because once she had obeyed my order, she did not concern herself over it, never asking me if I had read her notebook or what I thought of it. One day, I told her that I hadn’t had the time to read any of it, and she didn’t appear the slightest bit upset. I found her accounts incomplete. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had concentrated on her childhood and early youth, as I had asked her to do. Her religious life barely featured at all. The end of this, first part of the manuscript corresponds to page 149 of the printed book (Story of a Soul), 8th edition, 1910.

I thought it was a shame that she hadn’t given the same coverage to events in her life in the Carmel but at this juncture I was no longer Prioress and Mother Marie de Gonzague had returned to this post. I feared that she wouldn’t attach the same importance to the writings as I did and I didn’t dare say anything to her. But eventually, when Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus became very sick, I decided to attempt the impossible. On the evening of 2nd June 1897, four months before Sister Thérèse died, at about midnight, I went to see our Mother Prioress, saying, “Mother, I can’t [157r] sleep until I’ve told you a secret. While I was Prioress, Sister Thérèse wrote down a few of her childhood memories for me out of obedience.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

I reread them the other day. They are nice, but there isn’t much that you could use to write her circular when she dies, because there is almost nothing in them about her religious life. If you command her to, she will write something more thorough, and I don’t doubt that you will obtain something far better than what I have.”

God blessed my initiative, and the next morning our Mother ordered Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus to continue her account. I had already chosen her a notebook, but she thought it too pretty, even though it was very plain, as the court can see (the witness presents the book). She feared breaching the vow of poverty by using it. She asked me whether she should at least make her lines narrower to use less paper. I replied that she was too sick to trouble herself with writing in such a way and that she should in fact space out the lines and write in big letters. And so she resumed her writing, straight off, and again without any crossings-out, but it was so muddled because of her illness and the comings and goings of the infirmarians and novices, who wanted to make [157v] the most of her last days, that she said, “I don’t know what I’m writing.” And one day, having been interrupted more often than usual, she said, “I’m writing about charity, but I haven’t done as I’d have liked; it’s ever so badly expressed. At least my thoughts are down. You will have to revise all this. I assure you that it has no cohesion.” Another time, she said, “Mother, whatever you see fit to remove or add to my life’s notebook, I’m the one who removes or adds it. Remember this later on and have no scruples on this point.” [LC 9-8]

She stopped writing at the beginning of July in her last year, 1897. Even then, she could write the last page only in pencil because she was very weak. The last sentence she wrote reads as follows: “Yes, I feel it; even if I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go, my heart broken with sorrow, and throw myself into Jesus’ arms, for I know how much He loves the prodigal child who returns to Him. It is not because God, in His great Mercy, has preserved my soul from mortal sin that I go to Him with confidence and love.” [MSC 36,2] When I expressed my [158r] regret that she couldn’t continue, she said to me, “It is quite long enough. There is something in it for everyone, except for those following extraordinary ways.” The end of this manuscript corresponds to page 207 of the published book Story of a Soul, 8th edition, 1910, towards the middle of the eleventh chapter. The pages that follow in the published book and which continue her life story are reproductions of pages that the Servant of God wrote previously, during her last retreat in September 1896, at the request of Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and with the authorisation of the Reverend Mother Prioress,Marie de Gonzague.

[Do you know whether, when she wrote these remarks, the Servant of God suspected that they would be published one day or that, at the very least, they would be used to write the circular that is customarily sent to other monasteries following the death of a nun?]:

She suspected nothing of the sort when she wrote the first section concentrating on her childhood and youth. She thought she was writing for me and her two other sisters, Marie and Céline, who were also in the Carmel. Such was our conviction too, for that matter. Similarly, the pages that became [158v] the third section were written exclusively for her sister Marie, at her request. But when Mother Prioress, Marie de Gonzague, ordered her to write about her life in the Carmel, I had her understand that the manuscript could serve to edify many, and that its publication would be a way for God to fulfil her desire to do good after her death, and she accepted this reasoning very candidly. When I told her that, on the other hand, our Mother Prioress might burn it, she replied, “Oh, that wouldn’t matter. It would mean that God doesn’t want to use this means, but there will be others.”

[Was it formerly customary for Carmelites to write autobiographical notes and for the Prioress to use them to write circulars, in the monastery of Lisieux if nowhere else?]:

This had certainly never been done before, not since the foundation of the Carmel of Lisieux.

[159r][Did the Servant of God write at all differently when she found out that her work might be published?]:

She wrote the last pages of her manuscript with the same candour. You only need to read it to see that they were written with barely any sense of order, the words running off the pen. She even asked me, “What do you want me to write about?” I answered, “Charity, and the novices,” etc. She did so immediately, without further comment.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[Have the Servant of God’s writings already been published?]:

  

In 1898 (October), we published the first text in a book entitled, “Soeur Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus et de la Sainte Face: Histoire d'une âme, écrite par elle-même” (“Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face: Story of a Soul, written by herself.”) This book contains her self-written life story, with a selection of her letters and poems. I took the initiative to have it published following her death. Upon rereading the manuscripts that I had in my hands, I felt as though I possessed a treasure, one that could do great good to many souls. That is why I thought of publishing it with the Reverend Mother Prioress’s decision. She sent my copy to Reverend Fr Godefroy Madelaine of the Premonstratensian Order, who today is Abbot [159v] of Frigolet Abbey, and was then Prior of the Abbey of Mondaye in the diocese of Bayeux. Upon reading his report, Monsignor Hugonin, the Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, gave his permission to print it (7th March 1898). My copy was printed after being slightly amended according to Father Godefroy’s suggestions.

[Session 8: - 17th August 1910, at 8:30 am and at 2 pm]

[161v] [Did seeing and reading this story help inform the witness’s testimony for the informative phase of the Cause?]:

Without a doubt, because it speaks about her life much better than I can.

[Does the printed book (Story of a Soul) correspond exactly to the Servant of God’s manuscript, so that one can safely be taken for the other?]:

There are a few differences but these are of little importance and do not change the overall meaning and content of the account. These differences are: 1stly The deletion of a few very short passages that relate private details on family life during her childhood; 2ndly the deletion of one or two pages the contents of which I thought less interesting for readers outside the Carmel; 3rdly lastly, as the handwritten story was written in three parts (one being addressed to me (her sister Pauline), another to her sister Marie and the [162r] last and most recent to Mother Marie de Gonzague, who was then Prioress), the latter, who presided the manuscript’s publication, required certain details in the sections addressed to her sisters to be amended so that, for more cohesion, it would appear that the ensemble was addressed to herself.

[At this, the judges decided that they would need an authentic copy of the handwritten document, according to the rules of law in the matter, and that it should be enclosed with the Process files].

[Do you know the circumstances under which the pictures of the Servant of God published in Story of a Soul came into being?]:

The majority of the pictures are drawings that our sister Céline (Sister Geneviève of Saint Teresa) sketched from family memories and a few photographs. We had a camera in the Carmel and Geneviève knew how to use it well. She used it for her various drawings and she took several photographs of Sister Thérèse and other members of the community. To humour her, the Servant of God readily accepted her demands with total candour.

[162v] [Answer to the twentieth question]:

When she joined the Carmel, I must say that there was a need to combat a slackening of fervour. Several nuns followed the rule of course, but there were quite a few others who let themselves go. The Servant of God focused on her duty, without concerning herself with what the others did. I never saw her join the groups that would form around Mother Prioress upon her leaving the visiting room to hear the news, nor did I hear her be uncharitable. During our great family ordeals, she was much braver than us. After hearing dreadful news in the visiting room, for example concerning our father’s health, instead of seeking comfort by talking to us, she would immediately resume her community activities, etc.  

She seemed so perfect to me, even in the early years of her religious life, that I never noticed the progress she mentions in her writing: “When I think back to my time in the novitiate, [163r] I certainly see my imperfection!” [MSC 15,1] This imperfection was visible to her alone. The attention she put into pleasing God seemed continual to me. Amidst the most distracting of occupations, you could tell that the Servant of God was entirely surrendered to grace alone. Never did I catch her inattentive. When I spoke to her, she conveyed this reverence, even when she spoke of unimportant matters. She never complained about things that caused her suffering.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Instead of her personal, spiritual or physical trials resulting in a slackening in her effort, it was precisely when she appeared most cheerful at recreation and more alert in her work that we knew she was undergoing some form of suffering. One day when I asked her why she seemed particularly joyful, she replied, “It’s because something is paining me. Nothing brings me joy like pain.” [LC 19-5] She was always at peace, despite her spiritual dryness and troubles. She was all gentleness; grace was visible on [163v] her lips in the form of a perpetual smile, and more often than not, this smile was not the expression of felt joy, but the result of her love for God, which made her consider suffering as a source of joy. Her generous fervour was, however, not cold or affected, but full of candour.

[Answer to the twenty-first question]:

Generally, she considered all things from her faith’s perspective. She never saw only the [164r] earthly and human side of events. For example, when she was Novice Mistress, she was not upset when someone criticised the way in which sermons and instructions were given. She no doubt believed that all priests spoke equally well, but was not upset if people talked about the imperfections of their preaching. Likewise, she would say that the spirit of faith did not allow for priests’ faults to be discussed.

She confessed for the first time at about the age of six and a half. For her, this represented an important event in her life. She examined her conscience very carefully, under my guidance. When I told her that Baby Jesus’ tears would fall on her soul and purify it when the priest blessed her, she looked forward to her confession as one would a great celebration. Since she examined herself with me very candidly, she asked me what she should say. I was at a loss to find her a sin, as I had never seen her disobey or commit a fault, so I incited her towards love and gratitude rather than contrition.

At the Benedictine Abbey [164v] school in Lisieux, she succeeded in her studies perfectly, but Religious Education enthralled her particularly. Father Domin, the Benedictine chaplain, called her “his little doctor”. When she was 7 years old, I prepared her sister Céline for her first Communion, and Thérèse attended her lessons. I sometimes told her to go away, because she was too young. She later wrote what she told me at the time: “My heart would then be very heavy and I thought that four was not too young to prepare to receive God.” [MSA 25,1] Everything that related to God and to religious truths was embraced by her heart and naturally engaged her mind.

She experienced spells of spiritual dryness throughout her life. When her sorrows were great, reading spiritual authors would leave her dry, but the Holy Gospel, which she constantly wore next to her heart, would occupy her mind and nourish her soul. In 1895, she wrote, “At the age of 17 and 18, I had no spiritual nourishment [165r] other than the works of our holy Father Saint John of the Cross. Later on, however, all books left me arid and I’m still in that state. In this helplessness, Holy Scripture and the Imitation come to my aid; in them I discover solid and very pure nourishment. But it is especially the Gospels which sustain me during my hours of prayer, for in them I find what is necessary for my poor little soul . . .I understand and I know from experience that ‘The kingdom of God is within us.’ (Lk. 17:21) . . . Never have I heard (Jesus) speak, but I feel that He is within me at each moment; He is guiding and inspiring me in what I must say and do. I find, justwhen I need them, certain insights that I had not seen until then, and most frequently it isn’t during my hours of prayer that these are most abundant but rather in the midst of my daily occupations. [MSA 83,1-2]

Communion was her life’s joy and desire, even though she admitted to me to have never, as it were, experienced any significant solace. When the Decrees of 1891 were issued, she hoped that confessors would at last be free to give daily Communion to whom they pleased, because [165v] this was the Pope’s will, and she was indescribably happy. [FOOTNOTE: Decree by the S. Congregation of Bishops and Regulars (17th Dec. 1890): De nonnullis abusibus qui in Instituta religiosa irrepserant evellendis (in: Leonis XII Pontificis maximi Acta, vol. X, Romae 1891, pp. 353-357). – Here is the relevant passage: "Concerning the permission or prohibition to approach the Holy Table, the Holy Father decrees that permission or prohibition concerns the ordinary or extraordinary confessor alone, Superiors having no authority to intervene in the matter . . . Those who obtain from their confessor authorisation to take Communion more frequently or even daily are obliged to duly inform the Superior.”] She seemed exultant: “No, it should not be for Mother Prioress to regulate Communions. I’ve always been surprised by it.”

Towards the end of her life, she underwent a very trying temptation against thoughts of heaven. She told me her thoughts and feelings at the time, as she always had, and the best way I can express them is to quote what she wrote in her life manuscript, as it conveys what she said to me perfectly: “At this time I was enjoying a faith so alive and so clear that the thought of heaven brought me every happiness, and I wasunable to believe there really were impious people who had no faith. I believed they were actually speaking against their own inner convictions when they denied the existence of heaven. During those very joyful days of the Easter season, Jesus had me feel that there really are souls who have no faith, and who, through the abuse of blessings, lose this precious treasure. He permitted my soul to be invaded by the thickest darkness, and that the thought of heaven, which up until then had been so sweet to me, be no longer anything but the cause of struggle and torment. This trial was to last not a few days or a few weeks, [166r] it was not to be extinguished until the hour set by God Himself and this hour has not yet come. . .

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“One would have to travel through this dark tunnel to understand its darkness . . . The King of the Fatherland with the ever shining sun actually came and lived for thirty-three years in the land of darkness. Alas! The darkness did not understand that this Divine King was the Light of the world. Your child, however, O Lord, has understood Your divine light, and she begs forgiveness for her brothers. She is resigned to eat the bread of sorrow as long as You desire it; she does not wish to leave this bitter-filled table at which poor sinners are eating until the day set by You. Can she not say in her name and in the name of her brothers, ‘Have pity on us, O Lord, for we are poor sinners!’ (Lk. 18:13) Oh! Lord, send us away justified. May all those who are not enlightened by the bright flame of faith one day see it shine. O Jesus, if it is needful that the table soiled by them be purified by a soul who loves You, then I desire to eat this bread of trial at this table until it pleases You to bring me into Your bright Kingdom. The only grace I ask of You is [166v] that I never offend You! . . . When I want to rest my heart, fatigued by the darkness that surrounds it by the memory of the luminescent country after which I aspire, my torment redoubles; it seems to me that the darkness, borrowing the voice of sinners, says mockingly to me, ‘You are dreaming about the light, about a fatherland embalmed in the sweetest perfumes; you are dreaming about the eternal possession of the Creator of all these marvels; you believe that one day you will walk out of this fog that surrounds you! Go forth, go forth; rejoice in death which will give you not what you hope for but a night still more profound, the night of nothingness.’ . . . I don’t want to write about it any longer; I fear I might blaspheme . . . Ah, may Jesus pardon me if I have caused Him any pain, but He knows very well that while I do not have the joy of faith, I am trying to carry out its works at least. I believe I have made more acts of faith in this past year than in my entire life.”[MSC 5,1-7,1]

[Session 9: - 19th August 1910, at 8:30 am and at 2 pm]

[170v] [Continuation of the answer to the twenty-first question]:

I remember one day during her last illness, when she was particularly tempted against the faith, she recited this stanza from one of her poems:

“Since the King of Heaven wanted his Mother to be plunged into the night, in anguish of heart,

Mary, is it thus a blessing to suffer on earth? Yes, to suffer while loving is the purest happiness!

All that He has given me, Jesus can take back. Tell him not to bother with me;

He can indeed hide from me, I’m willing to wait for him till the day without sunset when my faith will fade away.” [PN 54-16]

I was present on this occasion. It was on 11th July 1897.

[Questioned on heroic hope, the witness replies]:

For as long as I knew her, only the tips of her toes touched upon earth. Even as a small child, when she would withdraw to some quiet place on walks with my father, [171r] it was to contemplate heaven and eternity, as she told me later. In the evenings on Sundays and religious feast days, she would be sad to see the end of the lovely ceremonies and say that only in heaven is happiness lasting. Very small, she once said that she desired her father or mother to die, even though she loved them extremely deeply. When her words were met with surprise and she was chided for them, she replied, “It’s so that you can go to heaven.” I didn’t hear her say this myself. I was at the Visitation boarding school in Le Mans, and my mother told me about it in a letter. [FC (Family Correspondence) 147]

When she was about ten, my father took her to stay with friends in Alençon in the holidays. Often, in the visiting room, and later on in the monastery, she would speak of the feelings she experienced during that holiday in society. What she told me conforms in every way to what she recorded in her manuscript. “God gave me the grace of knowing the world just enough to despise it and distance myself from it. I can say it was during my stay in Alençon that I made my first entrance into the world. [171v] Everything was joy and happiness around me; I was entertained, coddled, and admired; in a word, my life for those two weeks was strewn only with flowers. I must admit this type of life had its charms for me. Wisdom is right in saying, “The bewitching of vanity overturns the innocent mind!” (Wis. 4:12). I consider it a great grace not to have remained in Alençon. The friends we had there were too worldly; they knew too well how to ally the joys of this earth to the service of God. They didn’t think about death enough . . . I love to return in my mind to the enchanting places where they lived, wondering where these people are, what became of their houses and gardens where I saw them enjoy life’s luxuries? And I see that all is vanity and vexation of spirit under the sun (cf. Eccles. 2:11)..., that the only good is to love God with all one’s heart and to be poor in spirit here on earth. Perhaps Jesus wanted to show me the world before His first visit to me in order that I might freely choose the way I was to follow.” [ MSA 32,2]

[Are all these accounts based on reading the handwritten manuscript?]:

[172r] But of course not! There is nothing in the manuscript that I didn’t know from our private conversations.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

When I commanded her to write down her childhood memories, the Servant of God herself replied, “What do you want me to write that you don’t already know?” Only, the manuscript expresses it better than I could.

[Mother Agnes continues]

In the Carmel, I saw that she was entirely orientated towards heaven; the earth no longer meant anything to her. She told me in a thousand different ways that what she thought about above all when contemplating heaven was not the personal joy that she would experience there, but the fact that she would love God more, that she would be loved by God and that she would find there a way to make God better loved.

Trust in God in a way became the hallmark of her spirituality. She felt drawn to this trust even as a very small child, and I did everything in my power to encourage this inclination. She told me one day that as a child she had been struck by this verse from Job: “Even if He killed me, I would hope in Him.” (13:15) [LC 7-7] Scruples came and paralysed these impulses. Later on, during the first years of her religious life [172v] in the Carmel, she suffered spiritual qualms, due partly to what she had heard in certain instructions; that it was very easy to offend God and lose one’s purity of conscience. This was a source of torment for the Servant of God. The preacher of the 1891 retreat restored her peace of mind: “How happy I was,” she wrote, “to hear that our faults did not cause God any pain. This assurance filled me with joy, helping me to patiently bear life’s exile. I know that God is more loving than a mother, and is a mother not always willing to forgive the little offences that her child commits involuntary?” [MSA 80,2]

After that retreat, she surrendered herself entirely to God’s trust. She sought justification for her boldness in Holy Scripture. She happily quoted Saint John of the Cross: “Souls obtain from God that which they beg of Him.” [Dark Night] She also said she had found an “elevator”, in other words the arms of Jesus to raise her to heaven. She rested there fearlessly, not at all apprehensive of this life’s many sorrows. She said that her great temptations against the faith only removed from her desires that which was too human. [173r] “One could believe that it is because I haven't sinned that I have such great confidence in God. Yet I feel that even if I had committed all possible crimes, I would still have the same con­fidence.” [LC 11-7] She hoped as much from the justice of God as from His mercy: “What a sweet joy it is,” she said, “to think that God is Just, i.e., that He takes into account our weaknesses and is perfectly aware of our fragile nature.” [MSA 83,2] She also said that she would rather live without solace because she thought that by doing so she would be demonstrating greater trust in God.

[173v] [On the subject of heroic hope, the witness adds as follows]:

The Servant of God relied on nothing but God’s help for everything. She told me that, after having tried in vain to comfort her sister Céline in the visiting room, she trustingly asked God to comfort her Himself and to help her understand certain things, which she named. After that, she gave no further thought to the matter, and her trust was never betrayed, she told me. Every time, Céline received insight and the comfort for which Thérèse had prayed in her name. This would be proven in the following conversation that they [174r] shared in the visiting-room.

[Answer given on the subject of heroic charity with regard to God]:

I think that, in the same way I breathe the air, she breathed love for God. Every morning when she was a tiny child, our mother would have her say a prayer, offering her heart to God, as all children are made to do. But instead of contenting herself to say it once in the morning, the Servant of God would recite the prayer of her own accord at other times of the day. I can still remember that, on the evening of her first Communion, she looked like an angel gone to heaven. I have seen many pious little girls on the day of their first Communion, but this was completely different. When she came to see me in the visiting room, after her first Communion and before she joined the Carmel, her conversations would constantly revolve around love for God and religious practices.  

Although she had a very sensitive, loving and fervent nature, she experienced almost continual spiritual dryness while in the [174v] Carmel. Her love for God at this time was expressed through a very generous mindfulness to seize every opportunity to please God through good works. She never let an opportunity escape her. She looked for chances to be charitable, especially in everyday communal life. She sought the most difficult of occasions so as to demonstrate more love, but let herself be guided by obedience. At that time there was a nun in the infirmary whom old age and sickness had made singularly difficult. She would have liked (the Servant of God) to be a infirmarian. She said to me, “Oh, how I would have loved it! There would have been more opportunities to suffer for God.” [CSG (Counsels and Reminiscences published by Sr Geneviève) p.92]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

In the early years of her childhood, she would worry whether God was pleased with her or whether there was anything for which He reproached her. As I was like a mother to her, she would ask me every evening what I thought about this. At about the age of twelve, for a year and a half she suffered a severe crisis of scruples that concerned all aspects of her behaviour. At this time, she was in a continual state of panic for fear of offending God in some way. [175r] There were two occasions when she told me she had felt immense happiness. The 1st was when, at about the age of fifteen and a half, her Jesuit confessor Father Pichon assured her that she had never committed a mortal sin. The 2nd was when, at the 1891 retreat, Father Alexis, a Recollet, told her that her faults, which were all due to frailty, “caused God no pain.” [MSA 80,2] This last statement brought her immense joy because fear of offending God was ruining her life. She composed a short prayer for her profession ceremony which she wore against her heart. The note reads as follows: “Take me before I can commit the slightest voluntary fault.” [Prayer 2]

Before joining the Carmel, she told me that she wanted to become a Carmelite even if it meant saving only one soul, and that a whole life of suffering would not be too much for this. But afterwards, her ambition took on a whole new dimension: saving souls for God was her constant concern; she talked about it all the time. For her profession, when she was asked why she desired to embrace this holy state during the canonical examination (2nd September 1890) [175v], she replied, “I came above all to save souls and to pray for priests.” [MSA 69,2]

She told me that she would have liked to share the vocation of priest and missionary in order to proclaim God’s name in all the countries of the world and to be a martyr of Christ Jesus. Unable to do this, she decided to make up for it through the ardency of her love and desires, because if her desires were ardent, they would be as effective as actions. One day when her spiritual torment was particularly intense, she said to me, “Oh, Mother, how fortunate it is that God became man, so that we might love Him. Oh, how right He was, because otherwise, we would not dare to do so.” She contemplated Our Lord, particularly in His Childhood and Passion, in response to her two religious names: “Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.” Her love for the Child Jesus led her to offer herself to Him so that, in His hands, she might be like a toy in the hands of a [176r] small child. By this childlike image she meant that she should abandon herself entirely to Our Lord’s will and accept to be treated by Him according to His wishes. She saw in the Holy Face the expression of all the humiliation that Our Lord had suffered for us and drew from it a constant willingness to suffer and to be humbled through love for Him. One day, looking at a picture of the Holy Face, I said to her, “What a shame it is that His eyes are closed and we cannot see His gaze!” She replied, “Oh, no, it is better this way, because otherwise what would become of us? We wouldn’t be able to see His divine gaze without dying of love.”

[How do you know all these things?]:

It is the result of our continuous relations. If I told you everything I witnessed and everything she told me, this trial would last forever. I’ve known many very fervent Carmelite nuns who have really loved God and feared offending Him, but the Servant of God’s qualms seemed different from [176v] what I saw in others, to the extent that there seemed to be no point of comparison. You’d have thought she could see God constantly, so great was the intimacy of her union with Him.  

[Session14: - 27thAugust 1910,at 8:30 am]

[208v][Still on the subject of charity with regard to God]:

In June 1895, she felt compelled to offer herself as a victim to God’s Merciful Love. She came to ask me for permission to do so, for I was Prioress. When she approached me with her question, her face was animated, and she seemed as though she was burning with love. I allowed her to make this act of oblation, but without appearing to make too much of it. She therefore wrote her prayer of self-offering [209r] and submitted it to me, adding that she wanted to have it verified by a theologian. Reverend Le Monnier, Superior of the Missionaries of La Délivrande, examined it. He simply replied that he found nothing in it that was contrary to faith, but that she should replace “I feel in my heart infinite desires,” with “I feel in my heart immense desires.” This represented a sacrifice to the Servant of God, yet she made the replacement without any objection. Besides, the act in itself was approved and she expressed great joy at this.

It was on 9th June 1895, the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, that she officially made this self-offering. In this act of oblation, I note two requests for favours that are quite extraordinary: 1stly the grace to preserve the real presence of Jesus Christ between her Communions: “Remain in me as in a tabernacle”; 2ndly the grace to see the stigmata of His Passion shining in her glorified body in heaven.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[Do you know whether the words “Real presence between Communions” and “Stigmata on her glorified body” were spoken and written by the Servant of God in a somewhat metaphorical sense, or in a strict sense?]:

[209v] She often developed these thoughts when talking to me and I am certain that she meant them in the literal sense. Moreover, her loving trust in Our Lord gave her a sort of unreserved boldness when making requests. She doubted nothing when considering all-powerful love.

[Did she speak of this self-offering openly in front of the other nuns?]:

Not at all! No one knew about it. Later on, she spoke of her act of oblation to just two of her novices, pointing out to them the advantages and glory that it can bring God.

Moreover, she kept saying that surrendering oneself to love meant surrendering oneself to suffering; she expressed the same thought in this stanza:

"To live of love, ‘tis not to fix one’s tent on Tabor’s height and there with Thee remain. ‘Tis to climb Calvary with strength nigh spent, and count Thy heavy cross our truest gain.” [PN 17-4]

[210r]

[Could you show us the original handwritten “Offering”? She produced the handwritten document as well as the copy that she had prepared with the intention of enclosing it with the Cause documents. This copy was immediately read and recognised as conforming perfectly to the original. It was placed in the Process files].

“J.M.J.T.

Offering of myself as a Victim of Holocaust to God’s Merciful Love

O My God! Most Blessed Trinity, I desire toLoveYou and make YouLoved, to work for the glory of Holy Church by saving souls on earth and liberating those suffering in purgatory. I desire to accomplish Your will perfectly and to reach the degree of glory You have prepared for me in Your Kingdom. I desire, in a word, to be a saint, but I feel my helplessness and I beg You, O my God! to be Yourself mySanctity!

Since You loved me so much as to give me Your only Son as my [210v] Saviour and my Spouse, the infinite treasures of His merits are mine. I offer them to You with gladness, begging You to look upon me only in the Face of Jesus and in His heart burning withLove.

I offer You, too, all the merits of the saints (in heaven and on earth), their acts ofLove, and those of the holy angels. Finally, I offer You,O Blessed Trinity!theLoveand merits of theBlessed Virgin, my dear Mother.It is to her I abandon my offering, begging her to present it to You. Her Divine Son, myBelovedSpouse, told us in the days of His mortal life:“Whatever you ask of the Father in my name he will give to you!” (Jn 16:23)I am certain, then, that You will grant my desires; I know, O my God! thatthe more You want to give, the more You make us desire.I feel in my heart immense desires and it is with confidence I ask You to come and take possession of my soul. Ah! I cannot receive Holy Communion as often as I desire, but, Lord, are You notall-powerful?Remain in me as in a tabernacle and never separate Yourself from Your little victim.

[211r] I want to console You for the ingratitude of the wicked, and I beg of You to take away my freedom to displease You. If through weakness I sometimes fall, may YourDivine Glancecleanse my soul immediately, consuming all my imperfections like the fire that transforms everything into itself.

I thank You, O my God! for all the graces You have granted me, especially the grace of making me pass through the crucible of suffering. It is with joy that I shall contemplate You on the Last Day carrying the sceptre of Your Cross. Since You deigned to give me a share in this very precious Cross, I hope in heaven to resemble You and to see shining in my glorified body the sacred stigmata of Your Passion.

After earth’s Exile, I hope to go and enjoy You in the Fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for YourLove alonewith the one purpose of pleasing You, consoling Your Sacred Heart, and saving souls who will love You eternally. In the evening of this life, I shall appear before You with empty hands, for I do not ask You, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is stained in Your eyes (Is. 64:5). [211v] I wish, then, to be clothed in Your ownJusticeand to receive from YourLovethe eternal possession ofYourself.I want no otherThrone,no otherCrownbutYou,myBeloved!

Time is nothing in Your eyes, and a single day is like a thousand years (Ps. 89:4). You can, then, in one instant prepare me to appear before You.

In order to live in one single act of perfect Love, I OFFER MYSELF AS A VICTIM OF HOLOCAUST TO YOUR MERCIFUL LOVE, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves ofinfinite tendernessshut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become amartyrof YourLove,O my God! May this martyrdom, after having prepared me to appear before You, finally cause me to die and may my soul take its flight without delay into the eternal embrace ofYour Merciful Love.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

I want, O myBeloved,at each beat of my heart to renew this offering to You an infinite number of times until, the shadows [212r] having disappeared (Sg 4:6), I may be able to tell You of myLovein anEternal Face to Face!

Marie, Francoise, Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, unworthy Carmelite religious.

This 9th day of June, Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, In the year of grace, 1895.” [Prayer 6]

[Once this self-offering made, did the Servant of God forget it?]:

Oh, no, never! She was constantly reciting it; it was like the cornerstone of her life. On her death bed, she said to me one day, “I often recite my act of consecration.”

[On the subject of heroic charity with regard to her neighbour]:

She was very compassionate [212v] about the suffering of others, even as a very young child. We specifically tasked her with distributing alms to the poor. Every Monday, poor people would come to Les Buissonnets (our house in Lisieux). Every time the doorbell rang, young Thérèse would go and open the door and then come to me and say, “Pauline, it’s a poor old crippled man! It’s a poor woman with very young children; one of them is in a vest, and the woman looks very pale!” And I would see deep compassion in her eyes. She would then hurry back to them with either bread or money. Sometimes she came back radiant: “Pauline, the poor man said, ‘God will bless you, young lady.’” To compensate her for her work, our father would give her a few coins. She would give them all away in alms; it was something she loved doing.

In the Carmel she’d have liked to have been an infirmarian, and devote herself to looking after the sick. She said to the infirmarian, “You are very fortunate: you will hear Our Lord say, ‘I was sick, and you looked after me.’” (Mt 25:36) [LC 29-7 - CSG p. 91]

In the monastery there was a [213r] Lay Nun who was elderly, disabled and sour-tempered. She died in 1895. The Servant of God volunteered to assist and support her as she moved from one exercise to another. The poor invalid’s peculiarities of character and abruptness made her task very difficult. The Servant of God devoted years to the task with so much consistency, care and gentleness that she ultimately won the nun’s trust, despite the latter’s initial rude welcome. Sister Thérèse said that she assisted Sister X with the same care as she would Our Lord.

[Session 15:-29th August 1910,at 8:30 am and at 2 pm]

[215r][Still on the subject of heroic charity with regard to her neighbour]

When she was a child, I taught her the practice of making sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. She adopted the practice with passion. It was on Christmas Day 1886 that she felt particularly drawn to adopt this charitable exercise. “Jesus made me a fisher of souls,” she wrote, “I experienced a great desire to work for the conversion of sinners.” [MSA 45,2]

A picture of Our Lord Jesus Christ shedding His blood revealed to her what she had to do to save souls. She understood, she told me, that she had to collect Jesus’ blood and pour it out upon souls. “I felt myself consumed by a thirst [215v] for souls. As yet, it was not the souls of priests that attracted me, but those of great sinners.” [MSA 45,2] In the visiting room and later on in the Carmel, she told me all that she had done for the conversion of the murderer Pranzini, but Sister Geneviève knows more about this than me, because she was then at home.

Later on, the souls of priests attracted her more strongly, because she knew they were dearer to Our Lord and more able to win hearts for Him. She told me so many times after her trip to Rome, during which she was surprised to learn that while their sublime dignity raises them above angels, they are nonetheless weak and fragile men. From that moment on, she prayed for priests continually, and spoke of the necessity to obtain blessings for them. She was very happy to offer up prayers and sacrifices for two missionaries, friars to whose works our Mother Prioress had associated her. On 19th August 1897, the feast of Saint Hyacinth in the Carmel, she offered up her Communion, which was to be her last, [216r] for the conversion of the poor priest of our Order of the same name (Father Hyacinthe Loyson). His conversion was one her most ardent desires. She spoke about it many times during her life, saying that she was making many sacrifices to this end.

On 12th July 1897, she said to me, “I hold nothing in my hands. Everything I have and everything I merit is for the Church and for souls. Even if I live to be 80, I will still be as poor as I am now. If I had been rich, I wouldn’t have been able to see a poor man without immediately giving him my possessions. Therefore, as soon as I earn a spiritual treasure, feeling that at the same time souls are in danger of falling into hell, I give them everything I own, and I haven’t yet found a moment to say, ‘Now I’m going to work for myself.’” [LC 12-7]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

During her religious life, there were many times when she had to endure dislike, character faults, differences of temper, and even jealousy and hurtful conduct from some nuns. Not only did she put up with everything with the highest degree of patience, but she also did her utmost to forgive bad conduct. She would spend more time with these nuns than others and [216v] would show them nothing but kindness and consideration.

She said to me about one nun whose behaviour seemed particularly blameworthy, “I assure you that I have the greatest compassion for Sister . . . . If you knew her as well as I do, you would see that she is not responsible for all the things that seem so awful to us. I remind myself that, if I had an infirmity such as hers and so defective a temperament, I wouldn’t do any better than she does, and then I would despair; she suffers terribly from her own shortcomings.”

At the death of Mother Geneviève (foundress of the Carmel of Lisieux), our families and the monastery workers sent in many flowers and crowns. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was arranging them as best she could around the coffin when Sister . . ., who was observing her, complained, “Ah, you are making sure to put the crowns from your family at the front and the flowers from the poor at the back.” At this cruel remark, I heard her reply very softly, “Thank you, Sister, you are right. Give me the moss cross [217r] that the workers sent and I will place it at the front.” [HA 12] Sister . . . later admitted that from that day onwards, she regarded the Servant of God as a Saint.

She seemed particularly fond of the Sisters who caused her suffering and would seek their company. Several times, her eldest sister (Marie of the Sacred Heart) expressed surprised and even hurt. “You would think she liked that nun I dislike so much more than me, even though I was like a mother to her.” During recreation she would not make a point of seeking the company of her three blood sisters, who were Carmelites with her. She was indifferent as to which nun she spent time with. Very often, she would more willingly talk to those who were alone and neglected. Although she was very sensitive and affectionate by nature, she demonstrated reserve in topics close to her heart and her attitude inspired primarily respect. During her last illness, we wanted to kill the flies that were bothering her. She made this exceptional remark: [217v] “I have no other enemies, and as God has commanded us to forgive our enemies, I am pleased to have this opportunity to do so. That is why I always show them mercy.”

[Cardinal virtues. – On the subject of prudence]:

Until she joined the Carmel, she never felt the need to ask for advice on spiritual matters from anyone but her sisters, those who had been like a mother to her and knew every recess of her soul. It was from them that she sought clarification when she had scruples. And when her sister Marie told her that such and such a fear was groundless, she demonstrated perfect obedience and was at peace. The question of becoming a nun seemed so straightforward to her that she never dreamt of it posing a problem for which she would need a spiritual director’s insight. At the age of ten, she had laid out her future; her only difficulty was obtaining entry, and she visited me in the Carmel to help determine her course of action.

[218r] At that time in her life (from 13 to 15) she could clearly see what Our Lord was asking of her, and apart from the number of Communions that she could take, there was no question that she thought useful to put to her confessor. She wrote, “Jesus gave Himself to me in Holy Communion more frequently that I would have dared hope. I had taken as a rule of conduct to receive as many Communions as my confessor permitted, allowing him to regulate the number and not asking. At that time of my life, I didn’t have the boldness I have now, for I am convinced that a soul ought to tell her director the longing she has to receive her God . . . I went to confession only a few times, and never spoke of my inner feelings; the road which I trod was so direct, so clear, that I needed no other guide but Jesus. I compared directors to mirrors who faithfully reflect Our Saviour to souls, and I thought that in my case God did not use an intermediary but acted directly.” [MSA 48,2]

[218v][Still on the subject of prudence]:

After joining the Carmel, she sensed the need to have an informed director verify the spiritual path that she felt compelled to follow, a path which included, as well as an ardent desire for a very high degree of holiness, an attraction towards childlike trust and total surrender to Our Lord’s goodness and love. God saw fit that she should have great difficulty sharing her feelings and it took several years for her to find the director she sought. The first barely listened to her and had to go [219r] to Canada, from where he wrote her a few lines once a year. Another, astonished at the boldness of her aspirations for a very high degree of holiness, told her that it was succumbing to pride to want to equal or even surpass Saint Teresa. Another, at last, in 1891, assured her that she was not offending God and could follow her way of trust and surrender in complete safety.  

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Regarding the direction of the novices, for which she was responsible, it is extraordinary that she never sought to earn their affection through concessions of human prudence. She saw only the interest of their religious perfection and strove to help them achieve it, even at the expense of her popularity. I must have witnessed hundreds of examples of her faithfulness in guiding them according to her conscience.

In 1895 or 1896, upon her Reverend Mother Prioress’s order, she agreed to establish a form of spiritual brotherhood between herself and two missionaries: Father Bellière, a White Father, and Father Roulland, a missionary in China. Not only did she offer up prayers and sacrifices for them, but she also wrote several letters to each of them on spiritual matters. Now, during her last illness, she communicated the following remarks and [219v] instructions to me: “Later on a great number of young priests, knowing I was given as spiritual sister to two missionaries, will ask the same favour from the Carmel. This could become a danger. It’s only through prayer and sacrifice that we can be useful to the Church. Correspondence should be very rare, and it mustn’t be permitted at all for nuns who would become preoccupied with it, believing to be working marvels and doing nothing really but harming themselves and perhaps falling into the devil’s subtle traps. Mother, what I’m saying to you is very important. Don’t forget it later on.” [LC 8-7]

[On the subject of justice and its components]:

When she was sacristan, she was very pious in the exercise of her duties, notably when she touched the sacred vessels and prepared the altar cloths and paraments. The role compelled her to be very fervent, and she recalled these words from Holy Scripture, “You are to be holy, you who carry the vessels of the Lord.” (Is. 52,11) [MSA 79,2] If she found any pieces of host in the ciborium or on the corporal, she would demonstrate immense joy. Once, having [220r] discovered quite a large piece, she ran to the laundry room where the community was working and beckoned to several Sisters. She knelt down first to adore Our Lord, placed the corporal in the burse and then had us kiss it. Her emotion was indescribable. Another time, the priest dropped a host when giving Holy Communion. The Servant of God held out the end of her scapular to stop the host from falling on the ground. Afterwards, she said to me joyfully, “I held the Child Jesus in my arms, just like the Blessed Virgin.” When she was sick, she was brought the chalice of a young priest having just celebrated his first Mass. She looked inside the holy vessel and then said, “I saw my reflection in the bottom of the chalice where Jesus’ blood rested and where it will rest a great many times. I used to love looking inside the chalices when I was sacristan.” [LC 19-9] Her devotion to the Blessed Virgin was very strong and entirely daughterly.

Her spirit of faith inspired her with religious respect for all those who held legitimate authority. During her time in the [220v] Carmel, it so happened that a certain nun was elected Prioress, despite a number of flaws that perhaps should have prevented her from holding the post. I know that the Servant of God feared her being elected. However, once elected, she not only obeyed the Prioress according to the rule, but she also went out of her way to show her daughterly respect and affection. She strove to comfort her in the struggles she faced as a result of her particularly problematic election. The Servant of God also worked, as best she could, to inspire the novices whom she knew opposed the new Prioress with religious respect for her.

No longer Prioress, I lent Sister X a sympathetic ear several times out of compassion. I asked Sr Thérèse of the Child Jesus what she thought about this. She replied without hesitation, “Mother, if I were you I would not be her confidante; you are no longer Prioress, it is illusory to think we can do any good acting outside of obedience. Not only will you do no good to the poor soul by listening to her, but you could even do her harm and put yourself at risk of offending [221r] God.”

In about 1894, France saw the publication of a series of so-called revelations about Masonic mysteries under the name of a certain Doctor Bataille (Léon Taxil) and Diana Vaughan. These accounts captivated the French public for a while. Later on, the truth came out. Yet the Servant of God, who took interest in the revelations at first, did not wait for the official denial before stating that they deserved no credit. Now, she based her disapproval on one fact alone, which was that, in one of the newspapers, the supposed Diana Vaughan spoke against a bishop’s authority. She said, “That cannot possibly come from God.” She couldn’t stand the smallest lie, even when meant in jest. She was righteousness personified. She reprimanded the novices for making quips and jokes, though no one took them seriously, and she never allowed herself to do such things. She was so graceful and cheerful, that you couldn’t know her without loving her. She was the delight of our recreations. You could tell that her cheerfulness came from an inner joy. She said to me, “I am always cheerful and joyful, even when I’m suffering. I like Saint Louis [221v] de Gonzague less than Théophane Vénard because it says in the Life of Saint Louis de Gonzague that he was serious, even at recreations, whereas Théophane Vénard was always cheerful.” [LC 27-5]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[Session 16:-30th August 1910,at 8:30 am and at 2 pm]

[223v][On the subject of strength. Was the Servant of God ever upset and if so, how did she then behave?]:

She did not lack causes for sorrow. I will first speak about her physical suffering, which she endured with extraordinary courage and energy. In her childhood she caught bronchitis every winter, giving her severe fevers and breathing difficulties. She would continue her ordinary activities without complaining until she was exhausted, resuming her work at the slightest sign of improvement. But it was above all during her last sickness in the Carmel that she demonstrated heroic courage. Until a violent haemorrhage in the night of Maundy Thursday to Good Friday 1896 [224r] revealed the seriousness of her condition and the real cause of her sore throat, she did not excuse herself from any community duties, even when they were very exhausting for her and caused her great suffering, for example, sweeping the dusty floors and doing laundry work. When she vomited blood for the first time in the night of Maundy Thursday, she refrained from lighting her lamp to find out what had just happened to her in order to mortify her curiosity. The next morning, having realized that her handkerchief was covered in blood, she said to the Reverend Mother Prioress, “This is what happened to me, but please do not attach any importance to it. It’s nothing; I’m not in pain and I beg of you to let me continue the Holy Week activities with everyone else.” And so, the next morning, on Good Friday, she attended all the community activities and did every penance customarily set for that day in the Carmel. For a further year, she was so adamant that no importance should be attached to her suffering that she was allowed to continue doing all the community activities and chores.

One of the greatest causes of [224v] sadness that she and we endured was the extremely distressing and humiliating illness that struck our father in the last five years of his life. This was a paralysis which began in his limbs and then caused a very distressing brain disorder. He had to be treated in a mental health centre. Tactless people talked in front of Sister Thérèse herself saying that the admission of his daughters to the Carmel, and particularly the admission of the youngest, whom he loved especially dearly, had caused his strokes. Well-intentioned people would speak bluntly about it when visiting us. Even within the community, Sisters would often discuss it in front of us, at recreations, even though it was a very distressing subject for us. While my sister Marie and I were overwhelmed with sadness, the Servant of God, who was undeniably deeply affected, bore the ordeal very calmly and in a strong spirit of faith. On a picture, on which she had written the dates of the most significant blessings she had received, she noted the 12th February 1889, the day our father went to the special care centre. What she wrote in Story of a Soul is an accurate [225r] description of her feelings as she related them to us at the time: “Words cannot express our anguish. One day, in heaven, we shall enjoy talking to one another about our glorious trials; don’t we already feel happy for having suffered them?Yes, Papa’s three years of martyrdom appear to me as the most loveable and most fruitful of my life; I wouldn’t exchange them for all the ecstasies and revelations of the saints. My heart overflows with gratitude when I think of this inestimable treasure, which must provoke holy jealousy in the angels of the heavenly court. My desire for suffering was answered, and yet my attraction for it did not diminish.” [MSA 73,1]

She practiced the acts of corporal mortification required by the Rule with great generosity. She would have liked to practice more, and several times asked for the authorisation to do so, but she was refused on account of her fragile constitution. To make up for this, she shrewdly and without letting anything show seized every opportunity to suffer that presented itself. It was not until towards the end of her life that we realized she felt the cold terribly, no doubt due to the state of her health. Yet she was never seen to rub her hands together in winter, or [225v] adopt a demeanour that suggested she was suffering. She never said, “It’s very cold,” or, “It’s hot.” And so there were thousands of opportunities of which she was able to take advantage in order to inflict suffering on herself. She never complained about anything. One day, when a Sister attached the Servant of God’s scapular, the pin went through the skin as well as the fabric. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus let nothing show and happily continued her duties in the refectory for several hours. But ultimately she feared, she told us, that she was “not acting out of obedience because our Mother knew nothing about it,” and removed the pin from her shoulder.

[226r][Mother Agnes continues on the same subject]:

One day when she had worn a small cross with sharp points on it for too long, she was left with a wound that became infected and ultimately obliged her to treat it. She said at the time, “As you can see, I am not made for severe penances. God knows that I desire them, but He has never seen fit to fulfil my desire, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten sick for so little. What is this compared to the mortification of the Saints? Still, severe penances would have brought me too much joy, and human satisfaction can very easily taint even the purest act of penance. We must be wary of this. Believe me, Mother, you must never go down that road; it is not for little souls like ours.” [LC 27-7]  

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[On the subject of temperance]:

In 1897, on the subject of her childhood memories, she said to me, “Had Our Lord and the [226v] Blessed Virgin not themselves gone to banquets, I would never have understood the custom of inviting friends to meals. I understood that people extended invitations for the purpose of conversing together, of discussing trips, memories, and things of a spiritual nature, but I felt that in order to nourish ourselveswe should go into hiding, or, at least, stay at home. I thought the act undignified.” In the Carmel, she said that going to the refectory was torture. As she never complained, it was ultimately believed that she didn’t have the same aversions or dislikes as others, and she would be served leftovers and scraps from previous meals, which she always accepted without ever objecting. During her last illness, she was unexpectedly faced with a very real temptation to succumb to greed. In her mind she pictured all sorts of tasty dishes and she was filled with the desire to have them at her disposition. She said to me with a sigh, “To think that for my entire life, eating has been torture for me, and look where I am today: I feel like I’m dying of hunger! Oh, it’s so dreadful [227r] to die of hunger! But here I am experiencing it to the full! Oh, God, come for me quickly!” [LC 12-8]

She was extremely sensitive by nature. Even as an older child, she could be moved to tears extremely easily. This is the one fault I saw in her. On 25th December 1886, she told herself that, for God, she needed to control these excessive emotions, and from that day onwards, she demonstrated perfect self-control. In Story of a Soul she calls this day her “conversion” [MSA 45,1]. In the Carmel, she was every bit as sensitive as others to the nuisance caused by ill-timed disturbances and being interrupted in the middle of a task. Nevertheless, she was not only gracious, but deliberately put herself in the path of those who were likely to disturb her the most.

[On the subject of associated virtues and religious vows]:

She practiced obedience with extraordinary faithfulness. She took every little instruction to the letter and care had to be taken not to put her under unnecessary constraint. She said that [227v] obedience is an infallible compass and that we stray far from grace when we do not follow the instructions of authority figures. Many times, out of obedience to our Reverend Mother Prioress, she abstained from telling me her thoughts and feelings, even though having done so since early childhood had created a need in her and she took great comfort from opening up to me as before. One day, I asked her what she would have done if one of her sisters had been sick instead of her. “Would you have come to the infirmary at recreation periods?” She replied, “I would have gone directly to recreation without asking for any information, but I would have done this quite simply so that no one would notice the sacrifice I was making.” [LC 20-7]

The practice of religious poverty was very dear to her. Not only did she joyfully accept the customary poverty of the convent, but in the Carmel itself she was happy to go without even the most necessary of things. When, [228r] for example, someone would forget to serve her in the refectory, she would feel pleased and avoid letting anyone notice. She would say, “I am like a real poor person; there is no point in taking a vow of poverty and not enduring it.” Sometimes her thoughts would be plagiarised. She thought nothing of it and said that in virtue of poverty she had no more claim to the thought than anyone else.

She made chastity a very righteous idea, exempt from both scruple and illusion. I found the advice she gave to the novices very enlightened, and it was certainly not the experience of evil that gave her these insights. She told me one day that she had educated herself, without realising, through observing flowers and birds. But, she added, “It is not wrong to know things, for everything that God has made is very good. Marriage is wonderful for those whom God calls to it. It is sin that disfigures and stains it.” She practiced this virtue very faithfully, but also with her usual candour. I don’t believe she had any particularly violent struggles on this point. In [228v] some circumstances however we can note her tact and vigilance: 1stly prior to her trip to Rome, she was wary of the dangers she could come across and made a point of entrusting the preservation of her innocence to Our Lady of Victories in Paris; 2ndly she forbade her novices from showing marks of affection that could open the door to the slightest hint of sensuality; 3rdly when alone, she was every bit as reserved and modest as in public, saying that she was in the presence of angels.

[Session 17:-31st August 1910,at 2 pm]

[230v][On the subject of the Servant of God’s humility]:

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

When she was a child, we took great care to encourage humility in her, carefully avoiding giving her praise. At school she was sometimes congratulated on her good work. She said she then realised that, in her heart, she would not have been indifferent to praise, and she thanked God that at home, and especially at her uncle’s house, she found a sort of counterbalance to the praise she received elsewhere. One day, at the age of ten, [231r] she came to the Carmel visiting room and a nun thoughtlessly expressed admiration for the child’s beauty in the other people’s presence. The Servant of God was upset by this and almost shocked. As she was already planning to become a Carmelite, she said, “Truly, it is not to hear praise that I wish to join the Carmel. If I leave the world, it will be for Jesus alone.” [MSA 26,2]

She told me many times that “when she joined the Carmel, Our Lord showed her that true wisdom consists in wanting to be ignored.” [MSA 26,1] In the midst of the humiliation caused by my father’s illness, she told me that her desires had been fulfilled, because she had shared suffering and scorn. On the day of her profession, she wore on her heart a note on which she had written, “Let nobody pay any attention to me; let me be trampled underfoot like a little grain of sand.” [Prayer 2] During her 1892 retreat (she was 19), she wrote to me saying, “It’s bliss being well hidden and unknown even by people who live with us. I have never desired human glory; to be treated with contempt was my heart’s desire, [231v] but having recognised that even this was too glorious for me, I wanted only one thing: to be forgotten.” [LT 95] The closer she grew to perfection, the more humble she became. Instead of being discouraged by the little involuntarily faults that she couldn’t help, she said, “I am resigned to always seeing myself as imperfect, and in this I find my joy. I expect to discover more imperfections in me.” [MSA 74,1]

On 28th May 1897, four months before she died, she came down with a high fever. I was there when a Sister asked her for some help with some very intricate painting. A momentary blush betrayed the struggle she was having hiding her impatience. That evening, she wrote me a note showing how humbly she recognised her weakness. Here are a few sentences from it: “This evening I showed my virtue, my treasures of patience! And I who preach so well to others!!! I am glad you saw my imperfection. Ah, the good it does me to have been bad! I am [232r] happier to have been imperfect than if, sustained by grace, I had been a model of meekness.It does me much good to see that Jesus is still very gentle and very tender towards me!” [LT 230] When her last sickness grew serious, a Lay Sister came and offered her some meat broth. She refused her mildly, saying that she couldn’t possibly drink the broth without it making her vomit. I can’t remember whether or not she drank it in the end; I only know that she humbly asked the Lay nun to forgive her. The latter was nevertheless disedified by her resistance and said to another nun, “Not only is Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus not a saint, but she isn’t even a good nun.” Her words got back to Sister Thérèse, who was filled with such holy joy that she couldn’t help but share her happiness with a Sister by whom she felt understood, and that Sister said to me, “It’s the most edifying memory I have of the Servant of God.” When she was sick, there were no end of causes for annoyance and impatience. She barely ever let the slightest emotion show. When she did, she would [232v] recognise her weakness and ask for forgiveness, recommending herself to our prayers. Sometime later, she said to me, “I am very happy not only that people find I am imperfect but particularly to feel this myself and to have such need of God’s mercy at the moment of my death!” [LC 29-7]

Her humility did not prevent her from recognising God’s gifts. One day when we asked her what she thought about the blessings she had received, she replied candidly, “I think God’s Spirit blows where it wishes.” (Cf.Jn.3:8) – [LC 11-7] As she grew in humility, her simplicity in recognising and confessing to God’s gifts became greater and greater and reflected a certain boldness. But however precious these gifts were, we could tell by the way she related them that there was nothing but simplicity in her and not the least self-appraisal.

I could say many other things about humility, as I could the other virtues I witnessed, but it would go on forever.

[233r] [Answer to the twenty-second question. On the subject of gifts from up above]:

Generally, the Servant of God’s life was very simple. Otherwise, she couldn’t be a model for “little souls”, which was, she said, “her path”. Yet it is worth mentioning here several isolated facts that do seem to be extraordinary blessings.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

1stly At the age of six or seven she had a vision, the circumstances surrounding which she described in her life manuscript [MSA 19,2-20,2]. Our father was away and would not be back for several days. At about two in the afternoon, looking through the window out into the garden, Thérèse saw a figure walking along a path over open ground about 20 metres away. He had the same build and outward appearance as our father but walked as if bent over by age and his head was covered in an indistinctly coloured veil. She watched the figure for a few moments, then called out, “Papa, papa”. My sister Marie and I, who were in a next door bedroom, ran to her. Thérèse told us about the vision, which had just vanished. We went down into the garden, which was surrounded by walls so no one could have entered. We saw no sign of human [233v] presence. We advised our little sister to think no more about it and not to talk about it. But she was convinced not only that her vision was real but also that it had a positive significance which would be revealed to her later on, and that it presaged a certain trial or ordeal. When, during the last five years of his life, our father had the humiliation of suffering from the degenerating brain disorder I mentioned above, she realised that her childhood vision presaged these sad times.

[Did the Servant of God not confirm the sad signification of the vision until she knew for a fact that her father was ill?]:

It was then that she realised its exact significance. But well before the event and even at the time of the vision, the Servant of God was absolutely convinced that the vision presaged some difficult event.

[Either in her childhood or at a later date, was the Servant of God prone to an overactive imagination or any element of “neuropathic” behaviour?]

[234r] Not at all; she was a very calm, level-headed child, and not at all fanciful. At about the age of ten and a half, she came down with quite a strange illness, which I will talk about later, and about which my sisters are better informed than me, having been present. But the vision in question took place three years before the illness, which was only a passing illness and left without a trace.

2ndly At the age of ten and a half she suddenly came down with a strange sickness that my sisters will be able to describe in more detail. I had already joined the Carmel and knew nothing about it other than what I was told in the visiting room. It entailed fits of fright and horrible visions and an impulse to throw herself head first off her bed onto the paved floor. She later said that at no moment did she lose her reasoning and that when she seemed senseless, she could hear and understand everything that was being said around her. Afterwards, she was always convinced that these phenomena had been caused by the devil. Be that as it may, the sickness vanished suddenly, never to return again, on 10th May 1883, in the following circumstances: During a novena to Our Lady of Victories that we were [234v] praying for her, she suffered a fit worse than the others. My sisters present consequently began praying to the Blessed Virgin at the foot of a statue that was in the bedroom. Even Thérèse, suffering her fit, began praying to Mary. She told me that suddenly she saw the statue come to life and the Blessed Virgin move towards her and smile. At that moment, her sickness definitively vanished without a trace. During her last illness, I placed the very statue that had decorated her bedroom as a little girl beside her in the infirmary. She would look at it fondly. I was at her bedside with our sister, Marie of the Sacred Heart, when she said, “Never has she looked so beautiful to me, but today she is a statue; once, as you well know, she was not a statue.” [LC 6-7-5]

[Session 18:-1st September 1910,at 8:30 am and at 2 pm]

[236v][Continuation of the answer to the twenty-second question]:

3rdly. Several times in her life, she revealed to me that she had sometimes experienced extraordinary surges of love. [237r] Several times before she joined the Carmel, she experienced what she called “transports of love” without trying to induce them [MSA 52,1]. In her heart, she felt surges that she had never felt before. She told me that having not known how to express her love to Jesus and her desire that He be loved and glorified everywhere, she had told God that “to please Him, she would willingly consent to being thrown into hell so that He might be loved by someone in that place of blasphemy.” In her manuscript, she added, “I realised that this could not bring Him glory, because He desires only our happiness, but when you love someone, you feel the need to say hundreds of foolish things.” [MSA 52,1-2]

She also told me that when she was a novice she had felt as though separated from her body for almost a week. “I was no longer on earth. I performed my refectory duties as though I had been lent a body. I can’t describe it. It was as though a veil had been cast over all the things of this earth for me.” [LC 11-7]

[Do you know whether these states differed from particularly intense contemplation?]

Yes they certainly did, because she was always very contemplative; and if they had been nothing more than [237v] contemplation, she wouldn’t have spoken about them as being special. When I asked her whether over the course of her religious life she had ever experienced any extraordinary workings of grace in her soul, she replied, “Several times in the garden, during evening silence, I have been in so complete a state of contemplation, my heart has been so at one with God, and I have experienced surges of love so great yet without any effort, that it seems to me these graces were what Saint Teresa calls ‘flights of the spirit.’” [LC 11-7]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

In 1895, while I was Prioress, she told me about a blessing that she called “wound of love”. At the time, God saw fit that I should pay no attention to it, to test her no doubt. I even appeared as though I didn’t believe her, and I admit that this was the case. But, after thinking about what she had said, I wondered how I could have doubted her affirmation for a moment. However, I didn’t say a word to her until her illness grew serious. Then (1897), in the infirmary, I asked her to repeat what she had told me in 1895 about this wound of love. [238r] She looked at me and, smiling sweetly, said, “Mother, I told you about it that very day, and you barely listened to me.” When I said I regretted this, she replied, “You did not upset me. I quite simply realised that God had acted for my own good. What happened was this: it was a few days after my self-offering to Merciful Love. I was beginning the Stations of the Cross exercise in the choir when I suddenly felt wounded by a dart of fire so ardent that I thought I was going to die. I don’t know how to describe it; there’s no comparison that can convey the intensity of the heavenly flame. One second longer, and I would certainly have died. Still,” she added simply, “the saints have experienced it many times. We read it in their life stories, as you well know, Mother. I myself have experienced it only once in my entire life, and spiritual dryness quickly settled back in my heart afterwards. I’ve remained in that state of dryness my entire religious life, so to speak. Only very rarely have I been given solace, although I did not desire it. On the contrary, I was fiercely proud that God was not holding back with me. Extraordinary graces had never tempted me. I preferred [238v] to say to God over and over that,

“‘I don’t desire to see Him here below.’” [LC 7-7 and PN 24 stanza 27]

Towards the end of her life (the last three months), while my sisters and I were sitting at her bedside, she revealed to us, with great simplicity, strange predictions as to what was going to happen after her death. She had us understand that once she was dead, people would ask for relics of her and that she would have a mission to accomplish in people’s souls, by spreading her “little way of confidence and self-surrender.” For example, she advised us to carefully preserve her body down to her nail clippings. Over the weeks preceding her death, we would take her roses for her to unpetal and scatter over her crucifix; when a petal fell on the floor, once she had touched it, she said, “Do not lose these petals, little sisters; you will perform favours with them later on.” [LC 14-9]

She also said, “You must publish the manuscript (her life story) without delay after I die. If you take too long, the devil will put up hundreds of obstacles [239r] to prevent it from being published, and yet it’s very important.” I asked her, “So do you think it will be through your manuscript that you will help souls?” “Yes, it’s one of the means God will use to answer my prayer. It will help all sorts of people, except those following extraordinary ways.” “But,” I added, “what if our Mother throws it on the fire?” “Well, I won’t be upset in the slightest, or have the slightest doubt as to my mission. I will simply think that God will fulfil my desires in another way.” [LC 11-7]  

[While she was writing the aforesaid manuscript, did she predict that it would be published?]:

Certainly not for the first part, which she wrote upon my order while I was Prioress. It didn’t cross her mind when she was writing the section addressed to her sister Marie, either. As for chapters 9, 10 and the first pages of chapter 11, which were addressed to Mother Marie de Gonzague, she foresaw it being published, but she certainly didn’t go to any more trouble over it for all that. She wrote with total simplicity, as things came to her.

[239v] One day, a few days before she died, my sisters and I were nursing her when she suddenly said, “You are aware that you are nursing a little saint.” After a moment’s silence, she said, “You are saints, too, for that matter.” [LC 11-8-3]

[During her last illness, did the Servant of God suffer delirium or other similar affliction?]

She did not lose her presence of mind for a moment. On the contrary, she grew calmer as death grew closer.

[240r] [Answer to the twenty-third question. – On the subject of her reputation for holiness during her lifetime]:

I noticed that in her childhood people considered her as extraordinary. I guessed that this wasn’t only due to her beauty, but for whatever it was that was pure and heavenly in her physiognomy; I heard it said many times.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

  

[244r] [Continuation of the answer to the twenty-fourth question]:

She embraced suffering like a long-desired blessing. She asked for relief only when forced out of obedience, and even then, with much [244v] discretion. “I ask for as little as possible,” she said one day. We had to guess what could give her relief. She never begged for pain relief and even at the height of her suffering, contented herself with saying, “My God, in Your great goodness, take pity on me!” [LC 39] She was not afraid of the greater pain that was yet to come and contented herself with saying, “Suffering can reach its very pinnacle; God, who has led me by the hand since my earliest childhood, won’t abandon me, I’m sure of it. I may well become completely exhausted, but I shall never have too much to suffer.” [LC 27-5]

 Victoire Pasquer, our servant, whom I saw again in the visiting room a few months ago, said to me when she came, “It’s true that Miss Thérèse wasn’t ordinary. I was fond of all of you, but Thérèse had something that none of you others had: she was like an angel; it was striking.” A venerable single lady who looked after the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin and surveyed children during processions in the Parish of Saint-Pierre of Lisieux said the following about the Servant of God: “Little Thérèse really is an angel. I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t live long. [240v] But if she lives, people will talk about her later on, you’ll see, because she will become a saint.”

In the Carmel, all the nuns, except perhaps one or two, were very surprised and edified by the virtues that we saw her practice even in the early days of her novitiate. As the years went by, this good opinion increased further. Mother Marie de Gonzague, the Prioress, who often exercised particular severity towards her, explained her attitude to the Novice Mistress in these terms: “A soul of such mettle is not to be treated like a child or with kid gloves all the time.” [HA 12] Before she was professed, the Reverend Mother Prioress and other nuns would introduce her to their visiting relatives, sure of the esteem and good reputation that she would reflect upon the community. In fact, the Reverend Mother Prioress often received praise on her account. Retreat preachers and confessors spoke to Mother Prioress about her as though she was an angel. The sacristan, who knew her for having seen her in the sacristy, [241r] held her in high veneration and said she was unlike other nuns and that, when he came to work in the monastery, he recognised her despite her lowered veil from her modest bearing.

However, to my knowledge, some nuns thought differently. One of them said that it wasn’t difficult being holy when one had everything one could wish for as she did, and when one lived with one’s family and was pampered. I am obliged to say that this senior professed nun, who was not of very sound judgement, decided to leave the monastery and is now living out in the world. Another, during her last illness, said, “I wonder what our Mother Prioress could possibly write about Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. What can you say about someone who has been constantly cosseted and hasn’t acquired virtue at the cost of struggles and suffering like us? She is meek and good, but these things come naturally to her.” [LC 29-7] I heard these words through Sr Thérèse herself, who had heard them. The nun who pronounced them is now dead. On the other hand, that same nun, who was a Lay Nun, said on other occasions that Sister Thérèse of the Child [241v] Jesus was a saint.

[Answer to the twenty-fourth question]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus died in the infirmary of our Lisieux convent on Thursday 30th September 1897, at about seven o’clock in the evening. She died of lung tuberculosis. In about 1894, she began suffering from swollen throat glands: these were treated with cauterisation and she continued her ordinary Carmelitan life exactly as before. On the evening of Maundy Thursday 1896, she suffered a haemorrhage in the above-related circumstances. She had another the next day. Nevertheless, she continued all the convent’s usual activities and penances almost until the end of Lent 1897, the following year. She was put on a meat diet for just a few weeks following a persistent cough. At the end of Lent 1897, her condition became much worse. Her fever became continuous and she was subjected to a vigorous treatment of vesications, [242r] punctual cautery, iodine tincture and friction massages. None of these treatments worked. On 6th July 1897, the haemorrhages resumed and occurred two or three times a day for a whole month. On 8th July, she was taken down to the infirmary where the illness followed its course until the day she died, 30th September. During the five months prior to her death, and particularly from 6th July onwards, she suffered very violent and ever increasing pain. Doctor de Cornières, the convent’s doctor, said, “She is suffering dreadfully. You do not want to keep her in this state.” He was surprised at her steadfast patience and angelic smile. On about 25th May, when she was still in her cell and lying on the mattress, she said to me, “I would prefer to stay in this cell than go down to the infirmary because nobody can hear me coughing here. I am disturbing no one, and what’s more, I take no pleasure from being nursed too well.” [LC 25 and 26-5]

[Session 19: - 2nd September 1910, at 8:30 am and at 2 pm]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

I cannot say that she suffered in rapture and always desired to suffer more. She explained her attitude as follows: “Mother, aren’t you surprised by how I am suffering? In my bodily suffering I’m like a tiny child; I have no thoughts other than that of simply accepting everything God wants, and enduring what He sends me from minute to [245r] minute, without worrying about the future. I’m looking forward to dying only because it is God’s plan for me. I do not wish to die more than I wish to live. It is human nature to prefer to die; but if I had to choose, I wouldn’t choose anything. I love only what God does.” [LC 26-8]

Her soul remained plunged in deep darkness until the end, because of her temptation against the existence of heaven. She confided her sorrow to me, saying, “Must one love God so much and have these thoughts?” [LC 10-8] The following note, which she wrote on 3rd August accurately summarises her feelings faced with bodily and moral suffering: “Oh, my God, how gentle You are to Your little victim of Mer­ciful Love! Even now, when You add exterior suffering to the trials of my soul, I cannot say, ‘The agonies of death have surrounded me,’ (*Ps. 17:5) but in my gratitude, I cry out, ‘I have descended into the valley of the shadow of death; nevertheless, I fear no evil because You are with me, Lord!” (*Ps. 22:4) [LT 262] She always kept the hope or rather the assurance that she would die of love. “I’m still [245v] hoping to die of love,” she said to us. “Dying of love does not mean dying in rapture. Our Lord died of love on the Cross, and look what agony He endured.” [LC 4-7] Another day, she said to me, “It’s not the prospect of joy or rest that attracts me to heaven. What attracts me is love: giving and receiving love, coming back to earth to make God loved, and helping missionaries, priests and the whole Church. I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.” [LC 17-7] What I saw shine more brightly within her during her last illness was simplicity, self-defiance, humility, a constant recourse to prayer and trust in God.

She received Extreme Unction on 30th July, and from 19th August onwards, she had to stop receiving Holy Communion because of the vomiting from which she constantly suffered. On 29th September, the day before she died, her pain was extreme, and she cried out, “I can’t take anymore. Ah, pray for me! If you only knew!” [LC 29-9] After [246r] Matins, she joined her hands together and said, “Yes, God, I accept everything.” [LC 29-9] On the morning of 30th September, her suffering was indescribable. She joined her hands together and, looking at the statue of the Blessed Virgin opposite her bed, said, “Oh, I’ve prayed to her so fervently, but this is pure agony, with no hint of solace.” [LC 30-9] At about three o’clock, she crossed her arms over her body and said to Mother Prioress, “Oh, Mother, present me quickly to the Blessed Virgin. Prepare me for death.” [LC 30-9] She went on, “Everything I have written on my desires for suffering is very true, but I do not regret surrendering myself to Love; far from it.” [LC 30-9] At a few minutes past 7 o’clock, believing her condition to be stable, Mother Prioress dismissed the community. And the poor little victim sighed, “Mother, is this not the last agony? Am I not going to die?” [LC 30-9] “Yes, my child,” replied Mother Prioress. “This is the last agony, but God might wish to prolong it for a few more hours.” She said bravely, “Well. . . Alright! . . . Alright! Oh, I would not wish to suffer for less time.” [LC 30-9] And, looking at her crucifix, [246v] she said, “Oh! . . . I love Him!. . . My . . . God! . . . I . . . love . . . You!!” [LC 30-9] After uttering these words, she gently fell backwards, her head leaning to the right. Mother Prioress quickly called back the community and everyone witnessed her ecstasy. Her face, which had been purplish and contorted during her last agony, had recovered the freshness and lily-coloured complexion of full health. Her eyes looked upwards, shining with peace and joy. One Sister approached with a lit torch, to look more closely at her sublime expression. In the light of the flame, there was no movement from her eyelids. Her ecstasy lasted for at least the time it took to say a Credo. Then I saw her close her eyes. She let out several sighs and surrendered her soul to God.

In death, she kept her sweet smile: she was ravishingly beautiful. Following the Carmel’s custom, her body was laid out in the nuns’ choir, near the grate. On the evening of Sunday 3rd October, the coffin lid was closed following signs of body decomposition. The funeral took place on [947r] Monday 4th October in the cemetery of Lisieux without anything out of the ordinary happening.

What I have just said about the last sickness and death of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus is only a very incomplete summary of my memories. Over the last months of her life, I noted down, day by day, the events that marked her days as and when I witnessed them and particularly the words she said. There is no better way for me to finish my testimony than by presenting the court with a copy of these daily notes.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[Here is the text from Mother Agnes’s manuscript, duly signed by her and recognised as authentic by the clerk, in agreement with the judges and the Promoter]:

+ MORAL PHYSIONOMY OF SISTER THÉRÈSE OF THE CHILD JESUS AND THE HOLY FACE during her last sickness according to her exact words, heard by me (Sister Agnes of Jesus) from the Servant of God’s own mouth and recorded in a notebook [247v] as she said them. Although this appeared tiring for her and slowed her outpourings, she let me do it without objection for fear of upsetting me.

15th May 1897

“It’s the same to me whether I live or die. I really don’t see what I’ll have after death that I don’t already possess in this life. I shall see God, true; but as for being in His presence, I am totally there here on earth.” [LC 15-5]

“I am very happy to be going to heaven soon, but when I think of these words of God: “My reward is with me, to render to each one ac­cording to his works,” (*Rev. 22:12) I tell myself that He will be very much at a loss in my case. I haven’t done any works! He will not be able to reward me ‘according to my works.’ Well, then. He will reward me ‘according to His own works.’” [LC 15-5]

“It is impossible, I know, but if God did not see my good ac­tions, I would not be the least bit upset. I love Him so much that I’d like to please Him through [248r] my love and little sacrifices, without Him even knowing where they come from. If He finds out and sees, He will be obliged to reward me, and I don’t want Him to have to go to this trouble!” [LC 9-5]

“I would love to go to the Carmel of Hanoi to suffer much for God. I’d like to go there, if I recover, in order to be all alone, and to have no earthly solace or joy. I know very well that God does not need our works; I’m sure that I would not make myself useful there. Yet I would suffer and love Him. That is what counts in His eyes.” [LC 16-5]

18th May

“All my duties were taken away from me; I realised that my death would cause no disruption to the community.”

I asked her, “Are you saddened to pass as a useless member in the minds of the nuns?”

“Oh, that is the least of my worries; it makes no difference to me at all!” [LC 18-5]

When I saw her so sick, I did everything possible to have Mother Prioress dispense her from reciting the Office for the Dead as decreed by our Constitutions at the death of a member of our Order. She said:

[248v] “I beg you, don’t prevent me from saying the Offices of the Dead; it’s the only thing I can do for souls in purgatory.” [LC 18-5]

I was surprised to see that, despite her condition, she never remained idle, and I told her so.

“I must always have some work ready to do; in this way, I don’t worry and never waste my time.”

“I begged God to permit me to continue the community activities right up to my death, but He did not answer my prayer! I think I could have attended them all, and I would not have died a moment sooner. Sometimes, it seems to me that if I had said nothing, no one would have discovered I was sick.” [LC 18-5]

19th May

I asked her: Why are you so cheerful today?

Because this morning I had two pains. Oh, very sharp ones!. . .Nothing brings me joy like pain.” [LC 19-5]

[249r]20th May

“Someone told me I shall fear death. This could very well be true. There isn’t anyone more mistrustful of her feelings than I am. I never rely on my own thoughts; I know how weak I am. However, I want to rejoice in the feeling God is giving me at the present moment. There will always be time to suffer the opposite.” [LC 20-5]

From 21st to 28th May

I know I’m going to die very soon, but when! Oh, when?...It never comes! I’m like a little child who has always been promised a cake. He is shown it at a distance, and when he nears to take it, a hand withdraws it!But I am resigned to either living or dying. I am even ready to recover and go to Indochina, if that is God’s will.” [LC 21 to 26-5]

Once I’m dead, I don’t want to be surrounded with wreaths of flowers as MotherGeneviève(our foundress) was. To those who want to give some, you will say that I would rather they spend the money on ransoming [249v] black baby slaves. Tell them that this is what I want. I would like a little ‘Théophane’ and a little ‘Marie-Thérèse’.” [LC 21 to 26-5]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“There was a time when I had trouble taking expensive remedies, but, at present, it makes no difference to me; far from it, because I read in St Gertrude’s life that she delighted in taking them, remembering that it would benefit those who did her good. She based this on Our Lord’s words: ‘Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me.’” (*Mt. 25:40) [LC 21 to 26-5]

“I’m convinced that remedies are powerless to cure me; but I have made an agreement with God so that He will have them benefit poor, sick missionaries who have neither the time nor the means to take care of themselves. I ask Him to cure them instead of me with all the treatment I’m given.” [LC 21 to 26-5]

“I’ve been told so many times that I’m brave, and this is so far from the truth that I once said to myself , ‘Well, then, you mustn’t make a liar out of everybody!’ And so, with the help of grace, I set about [250r] acquiring bravery. I’ve acted just like a warrior who, hearing himself always being praised for his bravery, and knowing that he’s nothing but a coward, ends up by being ashamed of the com­pliments and wants to deserve them.” [LC 21 to 26-5]

“I would prefer to stay in our cell than go down to the infirmary because nobody can hear me coughing here. I am disturbing no one, and what’s more, I take no pleasure from being nursed too well.” [LC 21 to 26-5]

“If I didn’t have this spiritual trial and these unfathomable temptations against the faith, I really believe I’d die of joy at the thought of leaving this earth.” [LC 21 to 26-5]

28th May

I haven’t any misgivings whatsoever about the final struggles or sufferings of this sickness, no matter how great they may be. God has helped me and led me by the hand since my earliest childhood. I’m relying on Him. I’m convinced that He will continue helping me until the end. My suffering might become extreme, but I shall never have too much of it, I’m sure.” [LC 27-5]

“I wish to die no more than [250v] to live; that is to say that, if I had to choose, I would rather die, but as God chooses for me, I would prefer what He wills. It’s what He does that I love.” [LC 27-5]

“Let it not be believed that if I recovered, it would throw me off course or destroy my little plans. Not in the least! Age means nothing in the eyes of God, and I’d manage to remain a little child, even if I lived for a long time.” [LC 27-5]

“I always see the good side of things. There are some who set about giving themselves the most trouble possible. I do just the op­posite. If I have nothing but pure suffering; if the heavens are so black that I see no break in the clouds, well, I find my joy in it!” [LC 27-5]

29th May

She had suffered a great deal. I opened the Holy Gospel to read her a passage from it and I happened upon the words, “ He is risen; he is not here; see the place where they laid him.” (*Mk. 16:6)

“Yes, that’s very true! I am without a doubt no longer as I was in my childhood, sensitive to every sorrow; I am as though [251r] risen; I am no longer in the place where people think I am.. . .Mother, don’t worry about me, for I have come to a point where I cannot suffer any longer, because all suffering is sweet to me.” [LC 29-5]

30th May

I tell her, “You might suffer a great deal before dying!”

“Oh, don’t worry about that; I have a great desire to suffer!” [LC 30-5]

4th June

She bid us (her three sisters) farewell. That particular day, she seemed not to be suffering and her face was transfigured.

“I’ve asked the Blessed Virgin that I might not be as tired and withdrawn as I have been these past days; I really felt that I was causing you pain. This evening, she answered my prayer.Oh, little sisters, how happy I am! I see that I’m going to die very soon; I am sure of it now.”

“Don't be surprised if I don’t appear to you after my death, and if you see nothing extraordinary to signal my happiness. You will remember that it’s ‘my little way’ not to desire to see anything. You know well what I’ve so often said to God, the angels, and the saints:

[351v] ‘It’s not my desire to see them here below.’”[LC 30-5] [PN 24-27]

“The angels will come for you,”said SisterGeneviève of Saint Teresa.

“I don't believe you’ll see them, but that doesn’t prevent their being there.I would,however, like to give you the pleasure of dying a beautiful death. I’ve asked the Blessed Virgin for this. I haven’t asked God because asking the Blessed Virgin for something is not the same as asking God. She really knows what to do with my little desires, and whether or not she must speak to God about them. So it’s up to her to see that God is not forced to answer my prayer, and allowed to do everything He pleases.”

“I don't know whether I’ll go to purgatory or not, but I’m not in the least bit worried about it. However, if I do go there, I’ll not regret having done nothing to avoid it. I shall not be sorry for having worked solely for the salvation of souls. How happy I was to learn that our holy Mother, St Teresa, thought the same way!

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“Don’t worry, little sisters, if I suffer greatly and if, as I’ve already said, you see [252r] no sign of happiness in me at the moment of my death. Our Lord really died as a Victim of Love, and you see what agony He endured!” [LC 4-6]

That afternoon, seeing her suffering greatly, I said to her, “Well, you wanted to suffer, and God hasn’t forgotten that.”

“I wanted to suffer and I’ve been heard. I have suffered greatly for several days now. One morning, during my act of thanksgiving af­ter Communion, I could feel the agonies of death. . .and without a hint of solace!” [LC 4-6]

“I accept everything out of love for God, even the outrageous thoughts that come and disturb my mind.” [LC 4-6]

5th June

“If you find me dead one morning, don’t be upset: it will simply be because Papa, God, has come for me. Without a doubt, it’s a great blessing to receive the sacraments; but it’s also good when God doesn’t allow for it; everything is a blessing.” [LC 5-6]

  1. 6thJune

“I thank you for having asked [252v] that I be given a piece of the sacred Host. I still have very much trouble swallowing it. But how happy I was to have God in my heart! I cried as on the day of my First Communion.” [LC 6-6]

“See how little solace I have in my temptations against the faith. Father Youf told me today, ‘Don't dwell on them, it’s very dangerous.’ He also asked me, ‘Are you resigned to dying?’ I replied, ‘Ah, Father, I find I need resignation only to live. For dying, it’s only joy I feel!” [LC 6-6]

  1. 7thJune

I supported her as she walked around the garden. Coming back, she stopped to look at a small white hen sheltering her chicks under her wings. Her eyes filled with tears. I said to her, “You’re crying!” She put her hand over her eyes and cried even more.

“I can’t explain it just now; I’m too deeply moved.”

Later on, with a heavenly expression on her face, [253r] she said:

“I cried when I thought how God had used this image in order to teach us of His tenderness for us (cf. *Mt. 2:35-37). Throughout my life, that is what He has done for me! He has hidden me totally under His wings! Earlier today, I could no longer control myself; my heart was overflowing with gratitude and love.” [LC 7-6]

9th June

(She was suffering from a violent pain in her side.)

“It’s said in the Gospel that God will come like a Thief. (Cf. Mt. 24:43-44). He will soon come to steal me away! Oh, how I’d love to help the Thief!” [LC 9-6]

To Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart (her eldest sister Marie), who said, “What grief we’ll feel when you leave us!”

“Oh, no! You’ll see; it will be like a shower of roses.” [LC 9-6]

“I’m like a little child at a railway station, waiting for her Papa and Mamma to put her on the train; alas, they don’t come, and the train pulls out! However, there’ll be others, and I’ll not miss all of them!” [LC 9-6]

[253v] 10th June

I ask the Blessed Virgin very often to tell God not to put Himself out on my account. She delivers my messages well! I don’t understand anything about my sickness any more. Here I am getting better! However, I abandon myself to Him and I’m happy. What would become of me if I nourished the hope of soon dying! Nothing but disappointments! But I don’t have a single one, because I am content with all that God does; I desire only His will.” [LC 10-6]

14th June

“We can put up with a great deal from one moment to the next!”[LC 14-6]

15th June

I asked, “Are you tired of seeing your condition becoming prolonged? You must be suffering so!”

“Yes, but it pleases me!” “Why?

“Because it pleases God.” [LC 15-6]

“I'm happy; I don’t think I’ve offended God at all during my illness. Recently, I was writing about charity (in the notebook of her Life) and, [254r] very often, nuns came and distracted me; I was careful not to become impatient, and to put into practice what I was writing about.” [LC 15-6]

22nd June

She was in the garden in the wheelchair. When I went to see her in the afternoon, she said,

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“How well I understand Our Lord’s words to our holy Mother St Teresa: ‘Do you know, my daughter, who are the ones who really love me? It’s those who recognise that everything that can’t be referred to me is a lie.’ (*Life of Teresa of Avila) Oh, how true this is! Yes, everything outside of God is vanity.” [LC 22-6]

23rd June

I was telling her, “Alas, I’ll have nothing to offer God when I die; my hands will be empty.”

“Well, you’re not like me, though I find myself in the same circumstances. Even if I had ac­complished all the works of St Paul, I would still believe myself to be a useless servant (*Lk. 17:10). But it is precisely this that brings me joy, for having nothing, I shall receive everything from God.” [LC 23-6]

25th June

She showed me a passage from a book about the [254v] Propagation of the Faith where mention was made of a beautiful woman dressed in white appearing to a baptised child. She said, “Later on, I’ll go to little baptised children just like this.” [LC 25-6]

26th June

“What pain I had in my side yesterday! Thentoday, it’s gone! Ah! When shall I be with God! How I long to go to heaven!” [LC 26-6]

30th June

I was speaking to her about certain saints who had led ex­traordinary lives, such as St Simeon Stylites.She said, “I myself prefer the saints who feared nothing, for example, St Cecilia, who let herself be married and was not afraid.” [LC 30-6]

3rd July

I was confiding to her my feelings of sorrow and discouragement after committing a fault:

“You don’t do as I do. When I commit a fault that makes me sad, I know very well that this sadness is a consequence of my infidelity, but do you believe I stop there? Oh, no! I’m [255r] not so foolish! I quickly say to God, ‘My God, I know I have deserved this feeling of sadness, but let me offer it up to You just as I would a trial You send me through love. I'm sorry for my sin, but I’m glad to have this suf­fering to offer You.’” [LC 3-7]

 

She was in pain and to turn her thoughts from it, she said sadly and softly,

“I need some food for my soul; read a life of a saint to me.”

Do you want the life of St Francis of Assisi? It will distract you to hear about the flowers and little birds.” She answered solemnly,

“No, not to distract me, but to see some examples of humility.” [LC 3-7]

 

4th July

“Our Lord died in agony on the Cross out of love.I tell you frankly, I think that this is what I am experiencing.” [LC 4-7]

5th July

  1. ,

“I too have moments of weakness, but I’m not surprised by them. I don’t always succeed, either, in rising above [255v] earth’s trivialities as swiftly as I’d like; for example, I will be tormented by a foolish thing I’ve said or done. Then I withdraw into myself and say, ‘Alas, I’m no further on than before!’ But I tell myself this very gently and without any sadness! It’s so good to feel small and weak! [LC 5-7]

“Don’t be so sad to see me sick, Mother, for you can seehow happy God is making me. I’m always cheerful and content.” [LC 5-7]

6th July

“I’m making very many little sacrifices.” [LC 6-7]

“It is clear you are glad to have coughed up blood today and that you can see the divine Thief.”

“Ah, even if I could not see Him, I love Him so much that I’m always pleased with what He does. I wouldn’t love Him less if He didn’t come and steal me away; far from it. When He misleads me, I pay Him all sortsof compliments, and He doesn’t know what to do with me."

“I read a beautiful passage in Reflections in the Imitation (*I JC Bk 2 Ch. 9 Reflections). Our Lord [256r] enjoyed all the delights of the Trinity when He was in the garden of Olives, and still His last agony was nonetheless cruel. It’s a mystery, but I assure you that I understand it a little through what I’m experiencing myself.”

I had placed a lamp before the Virgin of the Smile to receive the favour thatThérèse would stop coughing up blood.

“So you’re not rejoicing that I’m dying! Ah, for me to rejoice, I would need to continue coughing up blood. However, it’s over for today!”

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“When will the Last Judgment happen? Oh, I wish it were atthis very moment! And what will happen afterwards?![LC 6-7]

7th July

She had coughed up blood again.

“I shall soon go and see God!”

“Are you afraid of death now that you see it so close?”

“Ah! Less and less!”

“Are you afraid of the ‘Thief’? This time, He is at the door!”

No, He isn’t at the door, He is inside! But what are you saying, Mother! Do I fear the Thief? How can I fear someone I love so much! [256v] The words, ‘Even if God killed me, I would still hope in Him,’ (*Job 13:15) have delighted me since my childhood. But it took me a long time to reach this degree of surrender. Now, I’m there! God took me up in His arms and put me there!”

I begged her to say a few edifying and friendly words to Drde Cornière :

“Ah, Mother! That isn’t my style. Let Doctorde Cornièrethink what he wants! I love only simplicity; I loathe pretense. I assure you that doing what you want would be wrong of me.”

 

We were talking about her past:

“At the age of fourteen, I also experienced transports of love. Ah, how I loved God!” [LC 7-7]

7th July

She was so sick there was talk of giving her Extreme Unction. That evening, she was taken down from her cell to the infirmary. She said joyfully:

“I fear only one thing: that all this will change.” [LC 8-7]

[257r] Looking at her emaciated hands:

“I’m becoming a skeleton already, and that pleases me!” [LC 8-7]

“Oh, I shall certainly cry when I see God! No, we can’t cry in heaven. Yes, we can, since it is written: ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” (*Rev. 7:17) [LC 8-7]

She was trying to recall sins she could have committed through her senses in order to confess them before being anointed; we had reached the sense of smell, and she said :

“I remember once enjoying using a bottle of Eau de Cologne that someone gave me on a trip.” [LC 8-7]

In a solemn and quiet voice on an oc­casion when she had been misunderstood:

“The Blessed Virgin did well to keep everything in her heart (*Lk 2:19). . . . People can’t be angry with me for doing as she did.”

“It was as though the little angels were amusing themselves hiding from me the light showing me my imminent end.”

[257v] Did they hide the Blessed Virgin, too?

“No, the Blessed Virgin will never be hidden from me, for I love her too much!”

“I very much wish to receive Extreme Unction. It’s too bad if I am mocked afterwards!”

(Mocked if she recovered her health afterwards, because she knew that certain nuns didn’t think she was in danger of dying.) [LC 8-7]

We thanked her for her comforting words:

“Little sisters, I offer you the little fruits of my joy such as God gives them to me.”

“In heaven, I shall obtain many blessings for those who have helped me. You, Mother, won’t even be able to make use of them all, so many will there be for you to enjoy.”

“If you only knew how kind God will be to me! But if He is the least bit unkind, I’ll still think Him kind. If I go to purgatory, I’ll be very glad, too. [258r] I’ll do as the three Hebrews in the furnace did. (*Dn. 3:21 et seq.) I’ll walk around in the flames singing a hymn of Love. Oh, how happy I’d be if, by going to purgatory, I could redeem other souls by suffering in their place, for then I would be doing good; I would be redeeming captives.”

She warned me that later on, a great number of young priests, knowing she had been given as spiritual sister to two missionaries, would ask the same favour of the Carmel. She told me that this could become a danger :

Any Sister could write what I have written and receive the same compliments and the same trust. But it’s only through prayer and sacrifice that we can be useful to the Church. Correspondence should be very rare, and it mustn’t be permitted at all for nuns who would become preoccupied with it, believing to be working marvels and doing nothing really but harming themselves and perhaps falling into the devil’s subtle traps. Mother, what I’m saying to you is very important. Don’t forget it later on.” [LC 8-7]

"Sister***will need me.. . .However, I will come back!” [LC 9-7]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[258v] 9th July

The Father Superior said to her, “You will soon go to heaven! But your crown is not yet finished. You have only just begun it.”

“Ah, Father, what you say is true! No, I haven’t finished my crown. God has done it for me.” [LC 9-7]

10th July

We said to her, “Some saints are afraid of being damned. Why aren’t you afraid?” She replied with a subtle smile:

“Little children aren’t damned!” [LC 10-7]

It crossed her mind that she was not seriously ill and that the doctor was mistaken.

If my soul was not filled in advance with surrender to God’s will; if it had to be overwhelmed by the feelings of joy and sadness that alternate so quickly on this earth, then it would be a bitter pain to bear. But these alternations only touch the surface of my soul.. . . Ah, they are nevertheless great trials!” [LC 10-7]

[259r] 11th July

I was speaking to her about the manuscript of her Life, about the good it would do to souls.

“...But people will clearly understand that everything comes from God; and what glory I receive from it will be a gratuitous gift from God, one that doesn’t belong to me; everybody will see this clearly.”

She was talking about the Communion of the Saints. She explained to me how the treasures of one become the goods of another:

“Just as a mother is proud of her children, so we shall be proud of each other and not be the least bit jealous.”

On the subject of her life story:

“One could believe that it is because I haven’t sinned that I have such great trust in God. Do tell people, Mother, that even if I had committed all possible crimes, I would still have the same trust; I feel that this whole multitude of offenses would be like a drop of water thrown into a fiery furnace. You will then tell the story of the sinful woman who was converted; souls will understand im­mediately, and be encouraged by her example.”

 

Here is the story she wanted me to tell:

“It is related in the Lives of the Desert Fathers [259v] that one of them converted a woman who was a public sinner, and whose life of evil had outraged the entire land. Touched by grace, that poor sinner followed the Saint into the desert, to carry out rigorous penance there. On the very first night of the journey, however, even before she had come to the place of her retreat, her earthly ties were broken by the violence of her repentant love. At that very moment, the holy man saw her soul being carried by angels up to the very bosom of God. This is a striking example of what I mean to say, but such things cannot be expressed in words.” [LC 11-7]

Suffering from her temptation against the faith and from her physical powerlessness, she recited this stanza from her poem to the Most Blessed Virgin:

“Since the King of Heaven wanted his Mother to be plunged into the night, in anguish of heart,

Mary, is it thus a blessing to suffer on earth? Yes, to suffer while loving is the purest happiness!

All that he has given me, Jesus can take back. Tell him not to bother with me...

He can indeed hide from me, I’m willing to wait for him till the day without sunset when my faith will fade away.” [PN 54-16]

I said to her, “HowGod has favoured you! What do you think of this predilec­tion?”

[260r] “I think God’s Spirit blows where it wishes!” [LC 11-7]

12th July

“I hold nothing in my hands. Everything I have, everything I earn, is for the Church and for souls. Even if I live to the age of eighty, I will still be as poor as I am now.” [LC 12-7]

“God will have to carry out my will in heaven because I have never carried out my own will here on earth.”

You will look down upon us from heaven, won't you?”

“No, I will come down!” [LC 13-7]

During the night of the 12th, she composed this poem in preparation for Holy Communion:

“You who know my extreme littleness, you don’t hesitate to lower Yourself to me!

Come into my heart, O white Host thatIlove, come into my heart, for it longs for You!

Ah, I desire that Your goodness might let me die of Love after receiving this favour.

Jesus! Listen to my tender cry. Come into my heart!” [*PS 8]

 

“I don't say, ‘Although it is hard to live in the [260v] Carmel, it is sweet to die there,’ but, ‘Although it is sweet to live in Carmel, it is still sweeter to die there.’”

She was offered some wine:

“I don’t want any earthly wine; I want to drink only the new wine in my Father’s kingdom.”

“I beg you to perform an act of love and an invocation to all the saints; they’re all my relatives up there!”

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

She spoke again about the Communion of Saints:

“With the virgins we shall be like virgins; with the doctors, doctors; with the martyrs, martyrs, because all the saints are our relatives; but those who’ve followed the way of spiritual childhood will always retain the charms of childhood.”

“Even in my childhood, God gave me the feeling that I would die young.”

“God has always made me desire what He wished to give me.”

[261r] To the three of us:

“Don’t believe that when I’m in heaven I’ll let ripe plums fall into your mouths. That isn’t what I had, nor what I desired. You will perhaps have great trials, but I’ll send you insights that will help you to appreciate and love them. You will be obliged to say after me: ‘Lord, You fill us with joy in all that You do.’”

“It’s not the prospect of joy that attracts me about heaven. I can’t really think about the happiness awaiting me in heaven; only one expectation makes my heart beat, and it is the love I shall receive and be able to give. I think of all the good I would like to do after my death: have little children baptised, and help priests, missionaries and the whole Church.

“This evening, I heard some music in the distance, and I realised that soon I would be listening to incomparable melodies, but this feeling of joy was only passing.” [LC 13-7]

“If I had been rich, I would have found it impossible to see a poor person going hungry without giving him my possessions. In the same way, whenever I gain a spiritual treasure, [261v] feeling that at that very moment there are souls in danger of being lost and falling into hell, I give them everything I possess, and I have not yet found a moment when I can say, ‘Now I’m going to work for myself.’” [LC 14-7]  “I have always liked what God has given me, to the point that, if He had given me a choice in the matter, I would have chosen those things; even the things that appear less good and less beautiful than those others had.”

“My heart is filled with God’s will, and when something is poured on it, that thing doesn’t penetrate the interior; it’s a triviality that slides off easily, just like oil when added to water. I always remain at deep peace in the depths of my heart; nothing can trouble it.” [LC 14-7]

She recited this stanza from her poem “Jesus, Remember” in a heavenly voice:

“Remember that your holy will is my rest, my only happiness.

I abandon myself and I fall asleep without fear in your arms, O my divine Saviour.

If you also fall asleep when the storm rages, I always want to stay in deep peace.

[262r] But, Jesus, while you are asleep, prepare me for the awakening!” [PN 24-32]

Looking at her emaciated limbs :

“Oh, what joy I experience seeing myself consumed!” [LC 14-7]

15th July

“Perhaps you'll die tomorrow (the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) after receiving Holy Communion.

“Oh, that wouldn't resemble my little way. I won’t stray from it in order to die. Dying after Holy Communion would be too wonderful for me; little souls couldn’t imitate it.”

She told me about the following incident, the memory of which was a blessing for her :

“Sister Marie of the Eucharist wanted to light the candles for a procession. She had no matches, but seeing the little lamp that was burning in front of the relics, she approached it. Alas, it was half-extinguished; there remained only a feeble glimmer on its blackened wick.She managed to light her [262v] candle from it, and with that candle, she lit those of the whole community. It was, therefore, the half-extinguished little lamp which had ignited all these beautiful flames, and these, in turn, could ignite an infinite number of others and even lightthe whole world. Nevertheless, the little lamp would always remain the original cause of all this light. How could the beautiful flames boast of having made this fire, when they themselves were lit with such a small spark?It is the same with the Communion of Saints. Very often, without our knowing it, the blessings and insights we receive are due to a hid­den soul, for it is God’s wish that Saints communicate grace to each other through prayer and with great love. This love is much greater than that of a family; even the most perfect family on earth. How often have I thought that I may owe all the blessings I’ve received to the prayers of someone who begged God for them on my behalf, and whom I shall meet only in heaven.Yes, a very little spark [263r] will be able to produce great lights in the Church, like Doctors and Martyrs, who will undoubtedly be higher in heaven than the spark; but how could anyone think that their glory will not become his?”

“In heaven, we shall not meet with indifferent gazes, because all the elect will discover that they owe each other for the blessings that merited their own crown.” [14-7]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

16th July

Concerning her fulfilled desire to have her sister Céline (Sister Geneviève of Saint Teresa) with her in the Carmel:

“I had made a complete sacrifice of SisterGeneviève,but I can’t say that I no longer desired her here. Very often in the summer sitting on the patio during the hour of silence before Matins, I would say to myself, ‘Ah! If only myCélinewere near me! No! It would be too great a joy for this earth!’ And it seemed an unrealisable dream. However, it wasn’t through selfishness that I desired this joy; it was for her soul, it was so that she could walk my little way.. . .And when I saw her enter this convent, and not only enter, but be entrusted to me completely to be instructed in all things, and when I saw that God was doing this, surpassing all my desires, I understood the immensity of His love for [263v] me. And so, Mother, if a desire that is barely expressed is an­swered in such a way, it’s inconceivable that all my great desires, which I’ve so frequently expressed to God, won’t be completely fulfilled.” [LC 16-7]

17th July

“I feel that I’m about to enter into my rest. But I especially feel that my mission is about to begin, my mission of making God loved as I love Him, of giving my little way to souls. If God fulfils my desires, my heaven will be spent on earth until the end of the world. Yes, I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth. This isn’t im­possible, since from the very bosom of the beatific vision, the angels are watching over us. I won’t be able to rejoice in my rest as long as there are souls to be saved. But when the angel says, 'Time is no more!' (*Rev. 10:6) then I will rest; I'll be able to rejoice, because the number of God’s elect will be complete and because all will have enteredinto joy and repose. My heart beats with joy at this thought.” [LC 17-7]

Another day, I asked her, “What is the path you wish to teach souls?”

“Mother, it’s the path of spiritual childhood, it’s the way of trust and total surrender. I want to teach them the little methods that have worked so well for me, tell them that there’s only one thing to do here below: strew before Jesus the flowers of little sacrifices, win Him over with caresses. That is how I won Him over, and that’s why I’ll be so warmly welcomed up above.” [LC 17-7]

19th July

“Earlier I wanted to ask Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart (her Sister Marie), who had just seen Father Youf, what he said about my condition after he visited me. I thought to myself, ‘It might do me some good, and comfort me, to know. When I thought over the matter further, I said, ‘No, it’s only curiosity; I don’t want to do anything to find out what he said, and since God hasn't permitted her to tell me herself, it is a sign He doesn’t want me to know.’ And I avoided bringing the conversation back to the subject in case Sister Marie was forced to tell me. I wouldn’t have been happy.” [LC 19-7]

20th July

“What would you have done if one of us three had been sick instead of you? Would you have come to the infirmary at recreations?”

“I would have gone straight to recreation [264v] without asking for any news. However, I’d have done this quite simply so that no one would notice the sacrifice I was making. If I had come to the in­firmary, it would have been to please others and not to satisfy myself. I would have done all this to fulfil my duty and to draw blessings down upon you, which self-seeking behaviour would certainly not have accomplished. I myself would have drawn great strength from thissacrifice. If, through weakness, I had ever acted otherwise, I would not have been discouraged. I would have striven to make up for my failures by depriving myself still more, without allowing it to be seen by others.”

“God allows Himself to be represented by whomever He pleases, but this is of no importance. With you as Prioress, there would have been a human element, and I prefer the divine. Yes, I say this from the bottom of my heart; I’m happy to die in the arms of Mother Prioress because she represents God for me.”

(This Mother Prioress had given her much cause for suffering.) [LC 20-7]

We wanted to make the most of her last days and questioned her about many things:

“I’m being plagued with questions. It [265r] reminds me of Joan of Arc before the court. I think I am answering with the same sincerity.” [LC 20-7]

21st July

“I’ve never done as Pilate did and refused to hear the truth (cf. Jn 18:38). I’ve always said to God, ‘O my God, I’m willing to listen to You. I beg You, answer me when I humbly ask You, What is truth? Help me to see things as they really are. Let nothing blind me.”

We were telling her she was fortunate to have been chosen by God to tell souls about the way of trust and love; she answered:

“What does it matter whether it is I or someone else who gives this way to souls! As long as the way is pointed out, the instrument is unimportant.” [LC 21-7]

22nd July

“I have never given God anything except love. He will give me love back.” [LC 22-7]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

23rd July

I was telling her of my fear that she’d have to suffer much more :

[265v] “We who run in the way of love shouldn't be thinking of what suffering might take place in the future; it shows a lack of trust, it’s like meddling in the work of creation.”

“At the time of our great trial, how happy I was to say this verse in the choir: ‘Inte, Domine,speravi!’” (*Ps. 70:1) [LC 23-7]

She had been sent some delicious fruit, but couldn’t eat it. She took each piece one by one as though offering them to someone and then she said:

“The Holy Family has been well served. St Joseph and the Baby Jesus have each received a peach and two plums. The Blessed Virgin has had her share, too. When I’m given milk mixed with rum, I offer it to St Joseph, saying to myself, ‘Oh, how much good this will do poor St Joseph!’ In the refectory, I always thought about who should be offered my food. Sweets were for little Jesus; strong foods were for St Joseph, and I didn’t forget the Blessed Virgin either. But whenever I was missing something, I was even happier, for then I could really offer it to the Holy Family, being deprived of what I was offering.” [LC 24-7]

[266r] 25th July

Iwas telling her that I was coming to a point of desiring her death so that she wouldn't suffer any longer:

You mustn't say that, Mother, because suffering is exactly what pleases me in life.”

Uncle Guérin had sent her some grapes; she ate a few and said:

“These grapes are so good! But I don’t like eating what comes from my relatives. When they used to bring me bouquets of flowers for my Baby Jesus, I could never take them until Mother Prioress had said I could.”

 

“So where is the divine Thief now? You don't speak of Him anymore.” She placed her hand on her heart, saying:

“He’s here! He’s in my heart!”

I was telling her that death was not a pretty sight, that I would suffer a great deal to see her dead. She answered affectionately:

“The Blessed Virgin held her dead Jesus on her knees, and He was disfigured and covered with blood! You will see something different! Ah! I don’t know how she stood it! Imagine what would become of you if they brought me to you in that state! [266v] ‘Responde mihi!’" (Good Friday Office)

I asked her for some advice concerning spiritual direction:

“I think we have to be very careful not to be self-seeking, otherwise we could have our hearts broken, and afterwards we’ll say in all truth, ‘The guards took my cloak from me; they wounded me. Only when I had passed them a little did I find my Beloved.’I think that if this soul had humbly asked the guards where her Beloved was, they would have shown her where He was; however, because she wanted to be admired, she got into trouble, and she lost simplicity of heart.” [25-7]

Concerning a novice who had hidden feelings from her:

Virtue shines forth naturally, and as soon as it is no longer present, I can see this.” [26-7]

27th July

The community was doing the laundry :

“At around one o’clock in the afternoon, I said to myself, ‘They’re really tired out from doing the washing!’ And I prayed to God to con­sole all of you, so that you would work in peace and love. When I saw [267r] how sick I was, I rejoiced at having to suffer like all of you.”

In the evening, she recalled St John of the Cross' words for me :

“‘Tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!’ (*Living Flame st. 1, l.6) I’ve always ap­plied these words to the death of love that I desire. Love will not wear out the veil of my life; it will tear it suddenly. With what longing and what consolation I recited, even at the beginning of my religious life, these other words of St John of the Cross: ‘It is of the highest importance that the soul practice love constantly in order that, being consumed rapidly, she may be scarcely retained here on earth but promptly be admitted to see God face to face.’” (*LF st. 1, l.6)

“I look forward to dying only because it is God’s will for me.”

“I’ve never asked God for the favour of dying young; I’m sure, then, that at this moment He’s accomplishing His own will.”

She was having difficulty breathing, and I showed my sympathy and sorrow for her :

“Don’t be upset. If I can’t breathe, God will give me the strength to bear it. I love Him! He’ll never abandon me.” [LC 27-7]

29th July

A Sister reported this remark, made during recreation: “Why are they talking of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus as though she were a saint? She practiced virtue, true but it wasn’t a virtue acquired through humiliation or suffering.” She said to me afterwards:

“And I who have suffered so much since my most tender childhood! Ah, how much good it does me tosee the opinion of creatures, especially at the moment of my death!”

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

 

One of the Sisters thought she was pleasing Thérèseby bringing her a certain object,but it had just the opposite effect. She showed her displeasure, but she was immediately sorry and begged for forgiveness with tears in her eyes:

“Oh, I do beg your pardon; I acted through selfishness. Please pray for me!”

A little later :

“Oh, how happy I am to see I am imperfect and to have such need of God’s mercy at the moment of my death!”

We expressed our fears that she’d die during the night. She replied, [268r]“I'll not die during the night, believe me; I have had the desire not to die at night.”

She said in a quiet voice:

“At last I’m going to die! These past three days, I’ve suffered greatly, it’s true. Tonight, it’s as though I were in purgatory.”

“Very often, when I’m able to, I recite my Act of Oblation.”

“What is our humiliation at one moment is our glory later on, even in this life.”

“I haven’t the capacity for enjoyment; I never have had; but I have a great capacity for suffering.” [LC 29-7]

30th July

“My body has always embarrassed me; I’ve never been at ease in it . . .even when very small, I was ashamed of it.”

“I wouldn’t have picked up a pin to avoid purgatory. Everything I’ve done, I’ve done to please God and to save souls for Him.”

[268v] Theflies tormented her, but she wouldn’t kill them:

“I have no enemies, and since God asks us to forgive our enemies, I’m pleased to find this opportunity to do so. That’s why I always show them mercy.”

“It must be very hard to be suffering so much.”

“No, I can still tell God that I love Him; I find that this is enough.”

Pointing to a glass containing a very distasteful medicine that looked like a delicious red-currant liqueur :

“This glass is an image of my whole life. Yesterday, Sister Thérèse of St Augustine said, ‘I hope you’re drinking some good liqueur!’ And it’s the worst possible thing to drink! Well, Mother, that is what appeared to the eyes of creatures. It always seemed to them I was drinking exquisite liqueurs, when it was bitterness. I say bitterness, but no! My life hasn’t been bitter, because I was able to turn all bitterness into something joyful and sweet.”

“Will you prepare me for [269r] receiving Extreme Unction? Pray to God that I might receive it as well as it can be received.”

“Our Father Superior said to me before the ceremony, ‘You’re going to be like a little child who has just been baptised.’ Then, he spoke to me about nothing but love. Oh, how touched I was!”

She was showing us her hands with reverence after Extreme Unction. On previous days, she had let us collect the pieces of dry skin from her lips, which were chapped from fever, but on that day she wanted to swallow them . After Extreme Unction, she received Holy Viaticum.Barely had she finished her prayer of thanksgiving when some Sisters came to see her. She told me in the evening:

“How they disturbed me after Communion! But I thought of Our Lord, who withdrew into solitude and was unable to prevent the people from following Him there. And He didn’t want to send themaway. I wanted to imitate Him by being kind to the Sisters.” [LC 30-7]

Her mattress had been brought down in preparation to lay her body out after her death. She noticed it when someone opened the door of the cell ad­joining the infirmary, and she cried out joyfully:

[269v] “Ah, there’s our mattress! It’s going to be close by to place my corpse on!” [LC 30-7]

“Mother, if you wish to express my gratitude to Doctor de Cornière for treating me, paint him a picture with these words, ‘What you have done to the least of my brethren, you have done to me.’”[LC 30-7]

31st July

“I have found happiness and joy on earth, but solely in suffering, for I’ve suffered greatly here below; you must make it known to souls. . . .Since my First Communion, since the time I asked Jesus to change all the solace of this earth into bitterness for me, I’ve had a per­petual desire to suffer. I wasn’t expecting, however, to find joy in suffering; this was a blessing I received later on. Up until then, it was like a spark hidden beneath the ashes, like blossoms on a tree that are destined to become fruit in time. [270r] But seeing my blossom falling all the time, that is, allowing myself to yield to tears whenever I suffered, I said to myself with astonishment and sadness, ‘But I will never move beyond the stage of desires!’” [LC 31-7]

1st August

Referring to the great grace she had received upon looking at the pierced hand of Jesus in a picture that had ac­cidentally slipped from her missal :

“Oh! I don’t want this Precious Blood to be lost. I shall spend my life gathering it up for the good of souls.”

Referring to her autobiographical manuscript:

After my death, you mustn’t speak to anyone about my manuscript before it is published; you must speak about it to no one but Mother Prioress. If you do otherwise, the devil will set you more than one trap to hinder the work of God, and it’s very important work! ” [LC 1-8]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“No one will be able to say of me, ‘She died of not dying.’ (*Teresa of Avila Poem - Commentary) As far as nature is concerned, yes, heaven! But grace has taken control of nature in my soul, and now I can only repeat to God:

[270v] Lord, I'm willing to live a long time more, if that is your desire.                                                                      I’d like to follow you to Heaven, if that would make you happy.                                                                                   Love, that fire from the Homeland, never ceases to consume me.                                                                    What do life and death matter to me? Jesus, my joy, is to love you!” [PN 45-7]

“All things pass away in this mortal world, even little Thérèse . . . but she’ll come back!”

“I am filled with joy, not only when people find me imperfect, but especially when I feel this myself. It surpasses all praise, which only bores me.” [LC 2-8]

3rd August

“How did you manage to reach such steadfast peace?

“I forgot myself, and was careful to seek myself in nothing.”

“Little sisters, pray for the poor sick who are dying. If you only knew what happens! How little it takes to lose one’s patience! You must [271r] be kind towards them all without exception....”

To the three of us:

“You must pay attention to regular observance. After a visit, don’t stop to talk among yourselves, because then it’s like being at home, and we deprive ourselves of nothing.”

“Oh, how sore my shoulder is! If you only knew!”

When we tried putting padding on it:

“No, you mustn’t take away my little cross.” [LC 3.8]

4th August

In response to something we said:

“No, I don’t believe I’m a great saint; I believe I’m a very little saint; but I think God took pleasure in putting things in me that will do good to me and to others.”

 

Someone brought her a sheaf of corn; she detached one of the prettiest ears and said to me :

“Mother, this ear of corn is the image of my soul: God has entrusted me with graces for myself and for many others.” 

Then fearing she had entertained a proud thought, [271v] she added :

“Oh, how I want to be humiliated and mistreated in order to see if I have humility of heart! However, when humbled on former oc­casions, I was very happy. Yes, it seems to me I am humble. Godshows me truth; I can really tell that everything comes from Him.”

“How easy it is to become discouraged when we are very sick! Oh, how I sense that I’d become discouraged if I didn't have any faith, or rather if I didn’t love God!”

“I fell asleep for a second during prayers. I dreamt that they needed soldiers for a war. You said, ‘You must send SisterThérèseof the Child Jesus.’ I replied that I would have preferred the war to be a holy one. I went just the same. Oh, Mother, how happily I would have left to fight against the heretics during the time of the Crusades, for example. I would not have been afraid to take a bullet! I wouldn’t have been afraid of gunfire. Is it possible that I should die in a bed?” [LC 4-8]

[272r] 5th August

It was very warm, and the sacristan pitied us for having to wear such heavy habits :

“Ah, in heaven, God will reward us for having worn heavy habits here on earth out of love for Him.”

Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart told her that when she died, the angels would come to her in the company of Our Lord, and that she would see them resplendent with light and beauty :

“Such images do me no good; I can nourish myself on nothing but the truth. That is why I’ve never wanted any visions. Here on earth, we can’t see heaven, the angels, etc., as they really are. I’d rather wait until after my death.”

To celebrate the feast of the following day, August6th,feast of the Transfiguration, we took the picture of the Holy Face she loved so much and hung it on the wall by her bed. Looking at the picture, she said:

“How well Our Lord did to lower His eyes when He gave us His portrait! Since the eyes are the mirror of the soul, if we had seen His soul, we would have died of joy.Oh, how much good this Holy Face has done me in my life! When I [272v] was writing my hymn ‘Living on Love,’ it helped me compose with great ease. I wrote down from memory, during my night silence, the fif­teen couplets that I had devised during the day, without a rough draft. That same day, by the time I went the refectory after the examination of conscience, I had devised the stanza, ‘Living on Love is wiping your Face, it’s obtaining the pardon of sinners.’”

.

“I recited it to Him as I passed by, doing so with great love. When I looked at the picture, I cried out of love.”

(We pass in front of this picture of the Holy Face on the way from the choir to the refectory.)

“I said in the words of Job (*7, 4), ‘Each morning, I hope I’ll not see the night, and each evening, I hope not to see the next morning.’”

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“The words of Isaiah, ‘Who believed our message? . . . He had no beauty or majesty, etc.,’ (Is. 53:1-2) formed the very basis of my devotion to the Holy Face, or, put a better way, the basis of all my piety. I, too, desired to be without beauty or majesty, to be alone treading the wine press, unknown to everyone.” [LC 5-8] [273r]    

Referring to something I had confided to her:                                                                                                                                

“A Mother Prioress should always let others believe shehas no troubles. It does us such good and gives us great strength not to speak about our troubles. For example, she should avoid saying, ‘You have your trials and difficulties, but I have the same and many others,’ etc.”

6th August

She had hoped she would die during the night, and in the morning she told me : 

“I waited for Jesus all night! I repelled many temptations. Ah, how many acts of faith I made! I can also say, ‘I looked to my right and beheld, but I found no one who understood me.’ (Ps. 141:5) Nobody knows the moment of my death.”

Then she looked at the statue of the Blessed Virgin, and sang sweetly :

“When will it come, O tender Mother, When will that beautiful day come,

That day on which from this earthly exile, I shall fly to my eternal repose?” (*Soupir de l’exilé in Chants à Marie, Paris, 1879)

Due to her sickness, she was dispensed from reciting the Office for the Dead as decreed by our Constitutions [273v] at the death of a nun in the Order’s various convents. She said:

“I can count on nothing, on no good works of my own, to give me confidence. For example, I’d like to be able to say that I’ve fulfilled all my obligations to pray for the dead. Yet this poverty was a real insight and a blessing for me. I realised that never in my life would I be able to pay my debts to God, and this would bring me real wealth and real strength if I thought about it in this way. Then I prayed, ‘O my God, I beg You, pay the debt that I have acquired to the souls in purgatory, but do it as God, so that it will be infinitely better than if I had said my Offices for the Dead.’ And then I felt great comfort as I remembered these words from St John of the Cross’ hymn: ‘Pay all debts.’” (LF st.2, l.6) I had always applied this to Love. I felt that this blessing couldn’t be expressed in words. We experience such great peace when we’retotally poor, when we depend upon no one except God.” [LC 6-8]

She lamented certain things we had [274r] confided to her, saying:

“Oh! How few perfect nuns there are! They do nothing, or next to nothing, saying, ‘I’m not obliged to do that, after all. There’s no great harm in speaking here, in satisfying myself there.’ How few there are who do everything as best they can! And yet these are the happiest nuns. Take observing silence for example; it does such good to the soul, and prevents so many failures in charity and so many other troubles of all kinds. I mention silence in particular because it’s on this point that we fail the most.” [LC 6-8]

 

Referring to reciting the Office in the choir:

“How proud I was when I was hebdomadarian for the recitation of the Divine Office! I would recite the prayers loudly in the middle of the Choir! I was proud because I remembered that the priest said the same prayers at Mass, and like him, I had the right to pray aloud before the Blessed Sacrament, giving the blessings and the absolutions, and reading the Gospel when I was first chantress. I must admit that the Office was both my hap­piness and my martyrdom at once, because I had a great desire to recite it well, without making any mistakes. I excuse the nuns who forget or slip up. Sometimes, [274v] at the moment of saying something, even after having seen and read it, I would let it pass without opening my mouth because of a totally involuntary distrac­tion. Yet I don’t believe that anyone could have a greater desire than I to recite the Office perfectly and to be present in the Choir.”

T he main nurse had acted in a way that could have had serious consequences for Sister Thérèse’s health, and the Mother Prioress demanded an explanation from Sister Thérèse. She told me later:

“I told Mother Prioress the truth, but as I was speaking, there came to my mind a more charitable way of expressing it than the one I was going to use, one that wasn’t wrong, certainly. I followed my in­tuition, and God rewarded me for it with a feeling of great inner peace.”

That evening, Iasked her to explain what she meant by “remaining a little child before God.” She said:

“It means recognising our insignificance, expecting everything from God as a little child expects everything from its father; it means not worrying [275r] about anything and not being set on making a fortune. Even among the poor, the child is given what it needs, but as soon as it grows up, its father no longer wants to feed it and says: ‘Work now, you can take care of yourself.’It was so as not to hear these words that I never wanted to grow up, feeling that I was incapable of earning my living; eternal life in heaven. I’ve therefore always remained little, having no occupation other than gathering flowers, the flowers of love and sacrifice, and offering them to God for His pleasure.”

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“Being little also means not attributing to oneself the virtues that one prac­tices, believing oneself capable of anything, but recognising that God places this treasure in the hands of His little child to be used when necessary; but it always remains God's treasure. Lastly, it means not becoming discouraged by one’s faults, for children fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much.” [LC 6-8]

7th August

“Oh, how little God is loved on this earth, even by priests and monastics! No, God isn’t loved very much.”

“Mother, if I were unfaithful, even if I [275v] committed only the slightest in­fidelity, I feel that I would pay for it through frightful troubles, and I would no longer be able to accept death. I therefore never stop saying to God, ‘O my God, I beg You, preserve me from the misfortune of being unfaithful.’”

“What infidelity are you talking about ?”

“A proud thought voluntarily entertained. For example, if I said to myself, ‘I have acquired a certain virtue, and I am certain I can practice it.’ For then, this would be relying upon my own strength, and when we do this, we run the risk of falling into the abyss. However, I will have the right to do silly things until I die, without offending God, if I am humble and I remain little. Look at little children: they never stop breaking things, tearing things, falling over, even though they love their parents very, very much. When I fall over, it makes me recognise my insignificance more, and I say to myself, ‘What would I do, and what would I become, if I relied upon my own strength?’I understand why St Peter fell (cf. *Mt.26:69-75). Poor Peter, he was relying upon himself instead of relying only upon God’s strength. I conclude from this [276r] that if I said to myself, ‘O my God, You know very well I love You too much to dwell upon one single thought against the faith,’ my temptations would become more violent and I would certainly succumb to them.I’m very sure that if St Peter had said humbly to Jesus, ‘Give me the grace, I beg You, to follow You even unto death,’ he would have received it immediately.I’m also very certain that Our Lord didn’t say anything more to His Apostles through His instructions and His physical presence than He says to us through His inspiration and His grace. He could have said to St Peter, ‘Ask me for the strength to accomplish what you want.’ But He didn’t because He wanted to show him his weakness, and because, before ruling the Church, which is full of sinners, he had to experience for himself what man is able to do without God’s help.Before Peter fell, Our Lord said to him, ‘And once you are converted, strengthen your brothers,’ (*Lk.22:32) that is to say, convince them of the weakness of human strength through your own experience.” [LC 7-8]

8th August

I was telling her I’d make her virtues valued later on . [276v] She an­swered:

“It is to God alone that all value must be attributed; there’s nothing of value in my little insignificance.”

She was gazing at the sky through the window of the infirmary, and Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart said, “You look up at the heavens with so much love!” Later on she confided what she was thinking to me:

“Ah, she believed I was looking at the sky and thinking of the real heaven! No, it was simply because I admire the material heavens; the other is more and more closed to me. Then I immediately said to myself with great delight ‘Oh, but it is indeed out of love that I’m looking up at the sky; yes, it’s out of love for God, since everything that I do, my actions, my glances, everything, is done out of love.”

“I was thinking about my past today, and about the brave action I once took at Christmas, when the praise directed to Judith came to mind: ‘You have acted with manly courage, and your heart has been strengthened.’ (*Jdth 15:11 according to the Vulgate) Many souls say, ‘I don’t have the strength to accomplish such sacrifices.’ Let them do as I did: make an effort! God never refuses that first blessing that gives us the courage to act; afterwards, the heart is strengthened and we go from triumph to triumph.” [LC 8-8]

9th August

I was saying about her,“Our warrior is down .”

“I'm not a warrior who has fought with earthly arms but with ‘the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.’ (Eph. 6:17) And this sickness hasn’t been able to break me, and no later than yesterday evening, I made use of my sword with a novice. I told her, ‘I'll die with my weapons in my hands.’”

She was told she was a saint :

“No, I’m not a saint; I’ve never performed the actions of a saint. I’m a very little soul upon whom God has bestowed blessings; that’s what I am. What I say is the truth; you’ll see this in heaven.” [LC 8-8]

10th August

We were saying that souls who reached perfect love could see their spiritual beauty, and that she was among their number :

“What beauty? I don’t see my beauty at all; I see only the blessings I’ve received from God.”

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[277v] We showed her a picture of Joan of Arc in her prison:

“The Saints encourage me, too, in my prison. They tell me, ‘As long as you are in irons, you cannot carry out your mission; but later on, after your death, it will be time for your works and your conquests.’”

“I’m thinking of the words of St Ignatius of Antioch: I, too, must be ground down through suffering in order to become the wheat of God.”

I was talking to her about heaven, about Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin, who are there in body and soul. She heaved a deep sigh:

“Ah!”

Your exclamation tells me how much you are suffering from your inner trial !

“Yes! Must one love God and the Blessed Virgin so much and have these thoughts! However, I don’t dwell on them. [LC 10-8]

“I would never want to ask God for greater sufferings. If He in­creases them, I will bear them with pleasure and with joy because they will have come from Him. If I asked for sufferings, they would be my own, [278r] and I would have to bear them alone, and I’ve never been able to do anything alone.”[LC 10-8]

Talking about the Blessed Virgin:

“Ah, the Blessed Virgin doesn’t have a Blessed Virgin to love, so she’s less happy than we are.” [LC 11-8]

“I often pray to the saints without being answered; but the more deaf they are to my prayers, the more I love them.” [LC 11-8]

12th August

Ever since the ear of corn (see 4th August), my sentiments regarding myself have been very low. But immense was the grace I received this morning when the priest led the Sisters in reciting the Confiteor before giving me Communion! I saw Jesus on the point of giving Himself to me, and I heard the confession that I feel is such a necessary humiliation: ‘I confess to Almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to all the saints, that I have greatly sinned. . ..’ ‘Oh, yes!’ I said to myself, ‘They do well to beg forgiveness from God and all the saints for me at this moment. . . .’ Like the publican,Ifelt I was a great sinner.Ifound God so merciful! I found it so [278v] touching to address the whole heavenly court in order to obtain God’s forgiveness through its in­tercession. Ah! I could hardly keep from crying, and when the Sacred Host touched my lips, I was deeply moved.”

“It is most extraordinary to have experienced this at the Confiteor! I believe it’s because of my present disposition; I feel so destitute! I have no less trust, on the contrary; and the word ‘destitute’ is not correct, because I am rich with all the divine treasures; but this is precisely why I humble myself even more. When I think of all the graces God has given me, I have to hold myself back to prevent shedding tears of gratitude continuously.”

“I believe the tears I shed this morning were tears of perfect con­trition. Ah, how impossible it is to give oneself such feelings! It is the Holy Spirit who gives them, He who ‘breathes where he wills.’” (cf. Jn. 3:8) [LC 12-8]

We were talking of the resistance she had shown when we had told her to look after her health, not to rise at the same time as the community and not to attend Matins. She said:

“You didn’t understand [279r] when I protested, but it was because I felt that you would try to influence Reverend Mother. I wanted to tell the whole truth to Reverend Mother so that she would decide her­self. I assure you that if she herself had asked me not to go to Mass, Communion, the Divine Office, I would have obeyed with great docility.” [LC 12-8]

13th August

I was telling her about a thought I had had about heaven during Compline :

“I myself am given insights only to see my little insignificance. This does me more good than all the insights on the faith.”[LC 13-8]

14th August

It had been a difficult day both physically and mentally. In the evening, I said, “ Have you had a lot of difficulties today?"

“Yes, but then I love them...I love everything God gives me.” [LC 14-8]

15th August

I was recalling for her what St John of the Cross said about the death of those who were “consumed by love”. (* LF st. 1 l.6) She sighed and said:

“I shall have to say that what is at the bottom of my heart is ‘joy and rapture’. But it wouldn’t be so encouraging for souls if they didn’t believe [279v I suffered greatly.”

She was having great difficulty breathing:

“I don’t know what will become of me.”

“Does what you will become worry you?”

Oh, no!”

“I asked the Blessed Virgin last night to stop me from coughing so that Sister Geneviève could sleep, but I added, ‘If you don’t, then I’ll love you even more.’”

“God gives me courage in proportion to my sufferings. I feel at this moment I couldn’t take any more, but I’m not afraid, because if they increase, He will increase my courage at the same time.” [LC 15-8]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

16th August

“I. . .can...no longer. . .even. . .speak...to you! Oh, if one only knew!...If I didn’t love God!” [LC 16-8]

Talking about the angels:

“The angels can’t suffer; therefore, they are not as fortunate as I am. How [280r] astonished they’d be if they suffered and felt what I feel! Yes, they’d be very surprised because I am so myself.” [LC 16-8]

17th August

“I really feel that God wants me to suffer. The remedies that should be doing me good and which comfort other patients do me harm.”

“I’m going to pray that the Blessed Virgin relieve your breathing difficulties.”

“No, we must leave them to it up there!” [LC 17-8]

18th August

“I’m suffering greatly, but am I suffering well? That’s the point!”

At recreation, she said to me:

“Mother, please read me the letter you received for me. I deprived myself of asking this of you during prayers, in order to prepare myself for Communion tomorrow and because it isn't per­mitted.”

Seeing me take my pencil to write this down, she said:

“Perhaps my merit will be lost, since I’ve told you and you are writing it down.”

[280v] “You want to acquire merit?”

“Yes, but not for me, for poor sinners and the needs of the whole Church.”

I was telling her she was very patient :

“I haven’t been patient for a single minute. It’s not my patience! Once again you’re mistaken!”

I said, “ Wouldn’t it be something if you recovered your health?”

“If that was the will of God, I’d be very happy to make the sacrifice. But I assure you, it would be no mean feat to have come so far and then go back! Listen!” [LC 18-8]

19th August

“Perhaps I’m losing my wits. Oh, if they only knew what I’m experiencing. Last night, unable to take any more, I begged the Blessed Virgin to hold my head in her hands so that I could bear its weight.”

She was handed her crucifix. She [281r] kissed it tenderly. On this particular crucifix, Our Lord’s head was inclined. Looking at it, she said,

“He is dead! I prefer it when He is represented as dead, because then I think He is no longer suffering.”

She asked for a remedy even though it gave her quite a bit of pain;

“I have asked for it out of fidelity.”

She still looked out for the novices and said to one of them:

“You shouldn’t sit sideways in the chair; it’s forbidden.”

“I'm suffering only for an instant. It’s because we think of the past and the future that we become discouraged and fall into despair.”[LC 18-8]

.

20th August

We were talking about the troubles caused to the infirmarians by one poor Sister who suffered from neurasthenia. She said passionately:

“Oh, how I wish I had been infirmarian and nursed that Sister! Grace would have spoken louder than natural inclination. Oh, I really think I’d have made that Sister happy. Yes, I’d have relished all that. And I’d have put so much love into the work, remembering [218v] God’s words, ‘I was sick and you looked after me.’” (Cf.Mt.25:36)

She couldn’t drink any more milk, it filling her with revulsion. I said to her, “Would you drink this cup to save my life?”

“Oh, yes! . . . So, look, wouldn’t I drink it out of love for God?”

And she drank the cup in one gulp .

“When I’m in great suffering, I’m happy it’s me; I am happy it isn’t one of you.”

She spoke to me about a priest’s letter that said the Blessed Virgin didn’t know physical suffering from actual experience :

“Mother, looking at the statue of the Blessed Virgin this evening, I realised this wasn’t true. I realised that she suffered not only in soul but also in body. She suffered a lot on her journeys from the cold, the heat, and from fatigue. She fasted very frequently.Yes, she knew what it was to suffer!”

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“How delightful it will be in heaven to find out everything that took place in the [282r] Holy Family! As little Jesus grew up, perhaps when He saw the Blessed Virgin fasting, He said to her, ‘I would really like to fast, too.’ And the Blessed Virgin answered, ‘No, young Jesus, You are still too little, You haven’t the strength. Or else perhaps she didn’t dare hinder Him. As for dear Saint Joseph, oh, how I love him! He wasn’t able to fast because of his work.I can see him planing, then wiping his forehead from time to time. Oh, how I pity him! How their life seems simple to me!The country women would come and chat to the Blessed Virgin. Sometimes they would ask her to entrust her child Jesus to them so that He could go and play with their children. And young Jesus would look at the Blessed Virgin to see if He could go and play. . . . What does me a lot of good when I think of the Holy Family is to imagine a very ordinary life. It wasn’t exactly as people have told us or presume. For example, it is said that the Child Jesus, after having formed some birds out of clay, breathed upon them and gave them life. Ah, no! The Child Jesus didn’t perform pointless miracles like that, even to please His Mother. Why weren’t they transported to Egypt by a miracle, which would have been worthwhile and [282v] so easy for God? In the twinkling of an eye, they could have been taken there! No, everything in their life was done just as in our own.What troubles and disappointments they must have faced! How many times did people complain to dear St Joseph! How many times did they refuse to pay him for his work! Oh, how astonished we would be if we knew how much they suffered!” [LC 20:8]

“I felt pleasure at the thought that they were praying for me; then I told God that I wanted all those prayers applied to sin­ners.”

I asked, “You don’t want them for your own consolation ?”

“No!” [LC 22-8]

From the 21st (forgotten)

I was gazing at her on my knees, my heart filled with sadness:

“Why are you sad, Mother?”

“Because you’re suffering so much!

“Yes but there’s much peace, too, much peace!” [LC 21-8]

 “Someone found you imperfect on a certain occasion.”  She said:

“Oh, well, so much the better!” [LC 22-8]

22nd August

[283r] “Oh, Mother, what would become of me if God didn’t give me courage? I have only the use of my hands now! We don’t realise what it is to suffer like this. No, we must experience it.” [LC 22-8]

23rd August

“I have not yet passed a night so bad. Oh, how good God will have to be so that I can bear all I’m suffering. Never would I have believed I could suffer so much.”

“You sang to the Blessed Virgin, ‘All He has given to me, Jesus can take back.’ (PN 54) She has told Him this, and He’s taking you at your word. ’” 

“I’m glad and I do not regret it.” 

“God is giving me no premonition of my coming death, but of much greater sufferings.. . .But I don’t fret, I don’t want to think about anything but the present moment.”

To her nurse:

“Do pray to the Blessed Virgin for me, for if you were sick, I’d pray a great deal for you! But when it comes to praying for oneself, one doesn’t dare.”

She had offered up her sufferings for a young seminarian under temptation. He learnt of this and wrote her a most humble and touching letter. She said:

[283v] “Oh, what solace this letter brought me! I saw that my suf­ferings were bearing fruit. Did you notice the sentiments of humility the letter expressed? And what good it did me to see how in such a short time we can have great love and gratitude for a soul who has done us good and whom we didn’t know until then. What will it be like in heaven, then, when souls discover those who saved them?”[LC 23-8]

She was telling me that nothing she had heard preached on the Blessed Virgin had moved her :

“Let priests show us practicable virtues! It’s fine to speak of her privileges, but above all, we must be able to imitate her. She prefers imitation to admiration, and her life was so simple! However good a sermon is on the Blessed Virgin, if we are obliged to keep saying, Ah! . . . Ah! ... we grow tired!”

“How I like singing to her:

‘The narrow road to heaven you made easy while always practicing the humblest virtues.’” [LC 23-8]

24th August

[284r] I asked her whether she felt discouraged:

“No!. . .And yet everything is for the worse! With each breath, I suf­fer violently. But no, everything is not for the worse, everything is for the better!” [LC 24-8]

25th August

“Ah! I myself don’t want to know! I’m in such peace!”

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Every evening, one Sister would come into the infirmary, place herself at the foot of the bed, look at her and laugh for a long time. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus would greet her with smiles.

“How indiscreet it is to visit like this and how tiring it must be for you,” I said :

“Yes, it’s very hard to be looked at and laughed at when suffering. Yet I think how Our Lord on the Cross was looked at in the same way in the midst of His sufferings; isn’t it said in the Gospels that people looked at him, shaking their heads? This thought helps me to offer Him my sacrifice graciously.”

For several days, she kept very silent from the pain and was terribly restless and anxious. [284v]Now and then, she would beg us to pray and have others pray for her:

“Oh, how necessary it is to pray for the dying! If you only knew! I believe the devil has asked God permission to tempt me through extreme suffering, to make me fail in patience and faith!”

She groaned, but very softly!

“Oh, I complain so! Yet I would not want to suffer less!”

“I am ready for anything. We must surrender ourselves! Little sisters, I would like you to rejoice.” [LC 25-8]

26th August

We had left the blessed candle lit for her all through the night :

“It’s because of the blessed candle that I didn’t have too bad a night. Oh, Mother, how necessary it is for God to help us when we are badly suffering.”

“It’s most strange to be [285r] afraid of dying!” [LC 26-8]

She was continually suffering from thirst. Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart asked, “ Do you want some ice water?”

“Oh, I’d love some!” 

Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart added, Mother Prioress obliged you to ask for everything necessary.

“I do ask for everything I need.”

“You ask only for what is necessary, and never for what could give you some relief ?

“No, what’s necessary only. Therefore when I don’t have any grapes, I don’t ask for any.”

A few moments after taking a drink, she looked at her glass of water . “Drink some more!”

“No, my tongue isn’t dry enough.” [LC 27-8]

28th August

Pointing through the window to a dark spot in the garden, she said:

“Look, do you see the black hole over there near the chestnut trees, where we can’t see anything? It's in a similar hole [285v] that I am as far as body and soul are concerned. Ah! what darkness! But I am in peace.”

“My dear Blessed Virgin, what gives me the desire to leave is this: I’m tiring out the nurse, and I can tell that I’m paining my little sisters by being so sick. . . . Yes, I would like to go.” [LC 28-8]

29th August

I said, “It's very hard to suffer without any inner solace .”

“Yes, but it’s a suffering without anxiety. I am content to suffer since God wills it.” [LC 29-8]

30th August

I said to her, “Would you be happy if you were told you will die in a matter of days? Would you prefer this to being told that you will suffer more and more for months or even years to come?”

“Oh, no! I wouldn’t be happier at all. The only thing that makes me happy is doing the will of God.” [LC 30-8]

From 16th July (forgotten)

“If God were to say to me, ‘If you die right now, you will have very great glory; if you die at eighty, your glory will not be as great, but it will please Me much more,’ I wouldn’t hesitate to answer, ‘My God, I want to die at eighty, for I do not seek my own glory but simply Your pleasure.’”

“Great saints have worked for the glory of God, but I’m only a little soul; I work simply for His pleasure, and I’d be glad to bear the greatest sufferings even if it made Him smile only once.” [LC 16-7]

31st August

“How I need to see the wonders of heaven! Nothing moves me here on earth.”

“Ah, it is incredible how all my hopes have been fulfilled. When I would read St John of the Cross, I’d beg God to work out in me what he wrote, that is, to do the same as though I had lived to be very old; to consume me rapidly with Love, and [286v] my prayer has been answered!” (*LF st.1 l.6)

2nd September

“I’ve offered up my trial against the faith especially for someone connected to our family who has lost the faith.”

“Oh! yes, I desire heaven! ‘Tear the veil of this sweet encounter,’ (*LF st.1 l.6) Oh, my God!”  [LC 2-9]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

4th September

She was served a little meat. She said, “I’m very glad that meat disgusts me because at least I find no pleasure in it.” [LC 4-9]

5th September

I was telling her that she had suffered less while I had been with her.

“Oh, just the opposite! I’ve suffered very, very much! But it’s to the Virgin Mary that I complained.” [LC 5-9]

9th September

“Ah, I know what it is to suffer!” [LC 9-9]

[287r] 11th September

“I’m afraid I’ve feared death, but I’m not afraid of what follows. Only I ask myself, ‘What is this mysterious separation of the soul from the body?’ It’s my first experience of this, but I immediately surrender myself to God.”

“Please hand me my Crucifix so that I can kiss it after the Act of Contrition, in order to gain the plenary indulgence for souls in purgatory; I can give them no more than that! Now Give me the holy water; and bring closer the relics of Blessed Anne of Jesus andThéophaneVenard, so that I can kiss them.”

"Should I be afraid of the devil? I don’t think so, for I do everything out of obedience.” [LC 11-9]

13th September

She was brought some violets.

“Ah, the scent of violets!” [LC 13-9]

Then she gestured to me to know if she could smell them without failing in mortification .

14th September

She was brought a rose. She unpetalled it over her Crucifix very piously and lovingly, taking each petal and touching it to the wounds of Our Lord.

“In the month of September, littleThérèseis still picking petals off ‘the springtime rose’ for Jesus.”

“When picking the petals off the springtime rose for You, I would love to dry Your tears!” [PN 34]

And when the petals slid from her bed onto the infirmary floor, she said:

“Gather up these petals, little sisters, they will help you to perform favours later on.. . .Don’t lose a single one.”

“Ah, now... ‘I have the hope that my exile will be short!’” [PN 17]

The doctor had told her that there would be no last agony, and when her pain grew worse and worse, she said :

“And yet I was told that there would be no last agony!. . .But, all things considered, I do want one.”

I asked, “If you had to choose one or the other, which would you choose ?”

I wouldn’t choose anything!” [LC 14-9]

15th September

I said, “Today’s great [288r] sufferings will seem very small to you when you are in heaven.

“Oh, even on earth, I find them very small!”[LC 15-9]

20th September

The doctor had remarked upon her heroic patience.

“How can he say I’m patient! It’s not true! I never stop moaning and groaning; I’m always crying, ‘My God, my God! I can’t stand it anymore! Have pity, have pity on me!”[LC 20-9]

22nd September

I said, “Poor little thing! You’re suffering so much and it appears the saints have deserted you. You call them and they don’t come for you.”

“Oh, I love them all the same! However, they want to see how far I will push my trust in God.” [LC 22-9]

24th September

For the anniversary of her reception of the Veil, I had a Mass said for her. She thanked me, but seeing her in so much pain, I said to her sadly, “Ah, you haven’t been brought any relief!” She replied:

“Was it to obtain relief for me, then, [288v] that you asked permission for the Mass?”

“It was for your good .”

“My good, then, is to suffer, no doubt.. . .”

Soon I shall speak only the language of the angels.”

Do you have any intuition as to when you’ll die?”

“Ah, Mother! Intuitions! If you only knew how poor I am! I know no more than you know; I understand nothing more than by what I see and feel. But, in spite of this darkness, my soul is in remarkable peace.”

“You will go to heaven among the Seraphim. “Ah, but if I go among the Seraphim, I shall not do as they do! ‘They cover themselves with their wings’ (*cf.Is.6:2) in God’s presence; I will be very careful not to cover myself with my wings.” [LC 24-9]

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

25th September

I had told her what was said at recreation regarding the responsibility of those who were in charge of souls and who had lived a long time. She said:

As far as little ones are concerned, they will be judged with great kindness. (*Ws. 6:7 according to the Vulgate) And one can [289r] remain little, even in the most formidable duties, even having lived a long time. If I died at the age of eighty, whether here or in any other monastery, I can tell I would still die as little as I am today. And it is written, ‘At the end, the Lord will rise up to save the meek and the humble of the earth.’(Ps. 75:10) It doesn’t say ‘to judge,’ but ‘to save.’”

She said to me in the last days of her suffering:

“O Mother, it’s very easy to write beautiful things about suffering, but writing is nothing, nothing! One must suffer in order to know!”

This statement of hers had made a painful impression on me. That same day, appearing to remember what she had said, she looked at me meaningfully, and said:

“I really feel now that what I’ve said and written is true for everything.. . .It’s true that I wanted to suffer deeply for God’s sake, and it’s true that I still desire this.”

Someone said, “Ah, it’s frightful what you’re suffering !”

“No, it isn’t frightful. A little victim of love cannot find frightful what her Spouse sends her through love.” [DE 25-9]

[289v]28th September

“Earth’s air is denied to me! When will God grant me the air of heaven?” [LC 28-9]

29th September

Eve of her death. From early morning, she appeared to be in her last agony. She had a very heavy rattle in her throat and was unable to breathe. At noon, she said to Mother Prioress:

“Mother, is this the last agony? What must I do to die? Never will I know how to die!”

I read for her the French translation of the Office of St Michael the Archangel and the prayers for the dying. When we reached the part about demons, she made a childlike gesture as though to frighten them and exclaimed with a smile:

“Oooh!!!” as if to say, “I’m not afraid!”

After the doctor’s visit, she said to Mother Prioress:

“Is today the day, Mother?”

Mother Prioress said that it was, and we added, “God is very joyful today!” She exclaimed:

[290r] “Me too!”

“If I died right now, what bliss!”

In the afternoon:

“I can’t take any more! Ah, pray for me! If only you knew!”

After Matins, she joined her hands together and said in a quiet and plaintive voice:

“Yes, God. Yes God, I accept everything!!!”

She asked to be left alone for the night, but Mother Prioress was not willing. This was no small comfort to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and to SisterGeneviève. [LC 29-9]

30th September

Day of her precious death! (Thursday)

In the morning, I stayed with her during Mass. She didn’t say a word. She was exhausted, gasping for breath. I could tell she was in indescribable suffering. At one moment she joined her hands together and, looking at the statue of the Blessed Virgin opposite her bed, said:

“Oh, I’ve prayed to her so fervently, but this is pure agony, with no hint of solace.”

[290v] All day long, without a moment’s respite, she remained, it can be said, in veritable torment. She appeared to have no strength left and yet, to our great surprise, she managed to move and sit up in bed.

“See how strong I am today, Mother! No, I’m not going to die! I still have months left, perhaps years! I no longer believe in death for me....I believe only in suf­fering.. . . And it will be even worse tomorrow. . . Well, so much the better!. . . O my God!. . .I love God! Oh, dear Blessed Virgin, come to my aid!

“If this is the last agony, what is death?!”

O Mother, I assure you, the chalice is filled to the brim!...”

“Yes, my God, everything that You will, but have pity on me!”

“Little sisters! Little sisters! Pray for me!”

“My God! My God! You who are so good! Oh, yes, You are good! I know it.. . .

At about three o’clock, she crossed her arms over her body. [291r] Mother Prioress placed a picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on her lap. She looked at it for a moment.

“Oh, Mother, present me quickly to the Blessed Virgin. Prepare me for death.”

Mother Prioress replied that as she had always understood and practiced humility, she was already prepared. She thought for a moment then humbly pronounced these words:

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“Yes, it seems to me I never sought anything but the truth; yes, I have understood humility of heart.”

She said once again :

“Everything I’ve written about my desires for suffering. Oh! It is indeed true!”

She said resolutely:

“And I’m not sorry for surrendering myself to Love.”

From that moment on, it appeared that she was no longer the one suffering. As I looked at her, I thought several times of martyrs who, even in the hands of their persecutors, shone with a divine strength visible to all.

She said again with insistence:

“Oh, no! I’m not sorry for surrendering myself to Love; on the contrary!”

A little later:

[291v] “Never would I have believed it was possible to suffer so much! No, never! I can’t explain it except by the ardent desires I have had to save souls.”

At about five o’clock, I was alone by her side. Her face changed all of a sudden; I understood it was her last agony . Mother Prioress came back to her side. When the community came into the infirmary, she greeted the Sisters with a sweet smile. She was holding her Crucifix and looking at it constantly.

For more than two hours, a terrible rattle tore her chest. Her face was blue, her hands purplish, her feet were cold, and she shook all over. Perspiration stood out in enormous drops on her forehead and rolled down her cheeks. Her breathing difficulties grew ever worse, and in an effort to breathe she let out little in­voluntary cries.

Her mouth seemed so dry that, to relieve her, SisterGeneviève (her sister Céline) placed a little piece of ice on her lips. I’ll never forget her expression and the heavenly smile that she gave her. It was [292r] as if she was reassuring her and bidding her a last farewell.

At six o'clock, when the Angelus was ringing, she lifted her eyes to the statue of the Blessed Virgin. Oh, again, her gaze was most loving!

At a few minutes past seven, believing her condition to be stable, Mother Prioress dismissed the community, and the poor little victim sighed:

“Mother, is this not the last agony? Am I not going to die?”

“Yes, my child,” replied Mother Prioress. “This is the last agony, but God might wish to prolong it for a few more hours.” She said bravely:

“Well. . . Alright! . . . Alright! Oh, I would not wish to suffer for less time.”

And, looking at her crucifix:

“Oh! . . . I love Him! . . . My . . . God! . . . I . . . love . . . You!!”

After uttering these words, she gently fell backwards, her head leaning to the right. Mother Prioress quickly called back the community and everyone witnessed her ecstasy. Her face, which had been purplish and contorted during the last agony, had recovered the freshness and lily-coloured complexion of full health. Her eyes looked upwards, shining with peace and joy. Sister Marie of the Eucharist approached with a lit torch, to look more closely at [292v] her sublime expression. In the light of the flame, there was no movement from her eyelids. Her ecstasy lasted for about the time it took for us to say a Credo. As soon as it ended, the Servant of God breathed her last.

She had a sweet smile even in death: she was ravishingly beautiful. She held the crucifix so tightly that it had to be prised from her hands.

Her limbs remained supple right up to her burial, which took place on Monday, October4th 1897.

Signatum:SISTER AGNES OF JESUS u.c.n. [30-9]

[Answer to the twenty-fifth question]:

She was buried in the town cemetery, in the plot reserved for Carmelites. Her body remains in that same grave to this day.

[Answer to the twenty-sixth question]:

I know from what people have told [293r] me and from letters I’ve received that people visit her grave everyday and that there are more visitors every day. Obviously, I haven’t seen this for myself because I’m a cloistered nun, but it is public knowledge.

[Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

Since the Servant of God’s death, almost all the candidates we have admitted joined because of her. The first to join in these circumstances was Marie-Ange of the Child Jesus. She took the Servant of God as her model and walked with immense fervour in her way of spiritual childhood. As Prioress, she managed to submit Sister Thérèse’s Cause, to which she is wholly devoted, to Holy Church. She offered up her life that it might be successful, and after having proved to be a worthy emulator of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus for the seven and a half years of her religious career, she died aged 28, in admirable dispositions of love and trust in God. The other candidates who joined us all took the same ideal of perfection, striving only to follow the Servant of God’s way. Many candidates who sought to join our monastery because of the [293v] Servant of God could not to be admitted. Several among them, whom we referred to other convents, gained admittance. Through letters I’ve received, I’ve also noticed the influence that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus has on encouraging souls to choose a life of religion. Sister Thérèse has sent us candidates from not only this region. Mother Marie-Ange came from Brittany, another came to us from Provence, another from the Pyrenees, another two from Brittany, and one from the Vendée. Among those who have sought admittance, I can name people from Constantinople, Ireland, Portugal and Italy.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

But her influence doesn’t stop there: all sorts of souls are concerned. There are some who consider her as their guardian angel and have manifest signs of her ongoing assistance. For them, her writings are the code for perfection that guides their spiritual life, and they strive to follow “her way”. I’ve noticed her influence on mothers of children as well as on nuns. Yet I think her influence is at its most admirable in priests. I’ve [294r] lost count of the number of priests who, upon reading Story of a Soul, have been moved from ambivalent to fervent, from fervent to perfection, and even sometimes from sinner to saint.

[How do you know this?]:

Through the letters I keep receiving. I’ve also often met priests in the visiting room whose fervour has been rekindled or amplified after coming into contact with Sister Thérèse. And their conviction that her virtues must have rubbed off on the others in the monastery was such that they seemed to believe this must be a place of utmost fervour. Hosts of laypeople have written to express the same sentiments and to ask for prayers in the same faith. In 1898, our Reverend Mother Prioress (Marie de Gonzague) had the manuscript of Story of a Soul published, with the approval of his Lordship the Bishop of Bayeux. At first, the book was distributed only to Carmelite monasteries, to replace the obituary circular that is customarily sent when a Sister dies. But this acted like a spark. Carmelite monasteries lent the book out, and we were assailed with requests for more. In the beginning, [294v] I was not Prioress, but Mother Marie de Gonzague had tasked me with book deliveries, and I would receive at least five orders a day. From January 1909 onwards, having been advised by Monsignor de Teil, Vice Postulateur, to keep an exact record of the number of received letters, requests for prayers, books, pictures, keepsakes and so on, Reverend Marie-Ange, then Prioress, carefully kept an account book that is still kept to this day. Today, the average number of daily letters has grown to 50, coming from all five continents. Just to give an idea of the accounts kept for books, pictures, keepsakes and letters relating to the Servant of God, I will say that from the publication of Story of a Soul to this day, the total number of copies of the Life of Sister Thérèse that have been printed amounts to 62 815 for the complete edition and 80 000 for the abridged version. The total number of copies sold comes to 45 715 for the complete edition and 56 405 for the abridged version. As for pictures and keepsakes, we have been receiving more and more [295r] requests. In 12 months, that is to say from July 1909 to July 1910, we were asked for 183 348 pictures and 36 612 keepsakes. Over those twelve months, the total number of letters received, whether from France or abroad, comes to 9 741.

[Have you actively sought to spread her renown, etc.?]

We have increased the number of editions, pictures and keepsakes to meet the demand. The bookshop has advertised these publications in the usual way, but we have not engaged in any propaganda.

[Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

I know through Mr de Meulemeester, 120 Rue Washington, Brussels, who has since died, that a Polish priest whose name I don’t know, who had the reputation in his country of being able to communicate spiritually with his guardian angel, spread the rumour that Sr Thérèse’s reputation for holiness was groundless, that her life story was going to be blacklisted if it hadn’t been so already, and that the ecclesiastical authority had had the cross [295v] removed from her grave. Mr de Meulemeester came to Lisieux to check this last fact for himself, photographed the cross, which is still on the grave, and publicised the photo in Poland and abroad, as a response to this idle fancy.

[Continuation of the answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

When Story of a Soul was first published (1898), most Carmelite monasteries recognised the exceptional virtue that characterised her life. Two or three Carmels, however, communicated remarks to us that I [296r] can resume as follows: “This very young nun should not have stated her views on perfection in such absolute terms. Age and experience would have undoubtedly altered them. The Reverend Mother Prioress ought not to have permitted her to express them in this way and furthermore ought not to have published them herself.” I should add that since that time, the nuns who said these things have completely changed their opinion. I know this from letters they have written to me. One other Prioress, now dead, when speaking about her graces, said that Sister Thérèse may have expressed herself candidly in her writing, but that it also contained an element of pride.  

[Session 20:-3rd September 1910,at 8:30 am]

[298r][Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

1stly: In the convent itself, I have witnessed no striking healings, but a few nevertheless wondrous events. Firstly, blessings of fervour and generosity have evidently been obtained by our nuns, notably in terms of understanding and love, simplicity and humility. Secondly, all our nuns, except perhaps one or two, have intermittently noticed, in various places in the convent, the existence of naturally inexplicable scents (such as incense, roses, violets, etc.) These sensations were not only unexpected, but also, most of the nuns who perceived them were sceptical about them. At first, I myself had difficulty believing in them, and fearing them to be illusions, I believed it my duty as Prioress not to make a fuss about what our Sisters told me.

WITNESS 1: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

These phenomena [298v] began immediately after Sister Thérèse died, and have since continued at intervals. They have been more frequent over the past two years.

[Have you yourself perceived such smells?]

Yes, about ten times since the Servant of God died. But I prefer inner blessings. A strange thing happened this year in the kitchen: a Lay nun (Sister Jeanne-Marie of the Child Jesus) has a very great devotion to the servant of God. She prays to her constantly and particularly for the grace to accomplish all the work that is asked of her without complaining, even if it is excessive. One day, when doing some manual labour that she had been asked to do, she felt very tired, and she inwardly said to herself, “What will become of me if I’m asked to do something else?” At that very moment, our Sister in charge of the kitchen (Sister Marie-Madeleine) called her and asked her to come and clean the kitchen boiler and then fill it up. It is a [299r] 65 litre reservoir. Sister Jeanne-Marie prayed to Sister Thérèse and without complaining began to do what she was asked. The two nuns completely emptied and dried the boiler. Sister Marie-Madeleine went to the pump in a nearby room, and filled a first 16 litre pitcher. Sister Jeanne-Marie carried back the first pitcher, emptied it into the boiler and went back to fetch a second. When she came back to empty the second pitcher, she found the boiler full. She called Sister Marie-Madeleine, who saw the full boiler with her own eyes.

2ndly: As for the more or less miraculous favours that have been obtained outside the monastery, they have become countless. They include blessings of spiritual progress, conversions, healings, visions, and so on and so forth. The letters I receive from all over the world every day relate very diverse blessings. Some are less significant, others are very prodigious. On the advice of Monsignor de Teil, Vice Postulateur, I carefully keep everything that is sent and, under the title “Shower of Roses” (term employed by the Servant of God), I have published, with the Imprimatur of his Lordship the Bishop of Bayeux, a collection of 167 accounts of favours granted between 1899 and 25th February 1910. This collection was added to the latest complete edition [299v] of Story of a Soul (Ed. 1909). We are flooded with requests for pieces of clothing and other objects used by Sister Thérèse, in order to obtain healings and so on. We cannot satisfy all the requests, which arrive in their thousands. It would be absolutely impossible for me to relate all the blessings here. It would be simplest to append the Process files with both a printed copy of Shower of Roses and a handwritten copy of the main accounts of miracles that have been received since it was printed.  

[The judges order for the Process files to be supplemented with the printed text of accounts entitled Shower of Roses and an authentic handwritten copy of some accounts sent to the Prioress of the Carmelite convent, and primordially those contained in recently received letters.]  

[Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I can think of nothing to add.

[All questions having been asked, the case proceeds to the examination of the Articles written by the Vice Postulator of the Cause. With regards to the Articles, Mother Agnes of Jesus, Prioress and witness, states that she knows nothing more than what she has already said in response to the questions put to her.]

[Session 21:-5th September 1910,at 8:30 am]

[301v - 302r] [This marks the end of the interrogation of this witness. The Acts are read out. The witness makes no modification to them and signs as follows]:

Signatum: I, Agnes of Jesus,witness, have testified according to the truth; I ratify and confirm it.