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Witness 10 -Marie of the Angels and the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

 

Marie-Jeanne-Julie de Chaumontel (1845‑1924) has already been introduced in vol. 1, pp. 408‑409. Let it simply be remembered that, having been professed in the Carmelite Convent of Lisieux in 1868, she had the privilege of being trained for religious life by Reverend Mother Geneviève of Saint-Teresa, foundress of the convent, and was tasked with training the future Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus from 1888 to 1892. She died in 1924, on 24th November, which at that time was the Feast of Saint John of the Cross.

The testimony that follows is almost twice as long as that of 1911. Sister Marie of the Angels expresses herself with the same simplicity, yet speaks at more length on her former disciple’s virtues, Carmelite spirit, and constancy and strength in the exercise of perfection. She also elaborates upon her continual union with God, which gave her the perfect disposition for exercising fraternal charity, proving sensitive and helpful to all her Sisters.

She was struck by the words addressed by Pope Benedict XV on the subject of Sister Thérèse to the then famous Picpus Father Mateo of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts: “Her mission is to teach priests to love Jesus Christ” (p. 865).

Sister Marie of the Angels concludes: “For me, contemplating the Servant of God is akin to gazing at the stars above: the more one looks at them, the more one discovers. It follows that the more I contemplate her soul, the more holy and worthy of sainthood I find her” (p. 906).

The witness testified on 7-10th September 1915 in sittings 43 to 45 (pp. 859‑907 of the Public Transcription).

WITNESS 10: MARIE OF THE ANGELS AND THE SACRED HEART O.D.C.

[Sitting 43: - 7th September 1915, at 9am and 2pm]

 [859] [The witness answers the first question satisfactorily.]

 [Answer to the second question:]

My name is Jeanne de Chaumontel, in religion Sister Marie of the Angels and the Sacred Heart, and I am a professed nun of the Carmelite Convent of Lisieux. I was born in Montpinçon, in the Diocese of Bayeux, on 24th February 1845 to Amédée de Chaumontel and Elisabeth Gaultier de Saint Basile. I was professed on 25th March 1868.

  [The witness answers questions three to five inclusively satisfactorily].

 [Answer to the sixth question:]

I do not believe that I am driven by any bad feeling [860] that could distort the truth, and I testify in all sincerity and freedom.

[Answer to the seventh question]:

I first knew the Servant of God when, aged eight or nine, she would come to the visiting room to see Sister Agnes of Jesus, her sister, who joined us in 1882. Then I came to know her better when she herself joined the Carmel, where I was her Noviciate Mistress for four years (1888‑1892). After that, I left this post but continued to live with Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus until she died.

 [Answer to the eighth question]:

Even in Sister Thérèse’s lifetime, I was deeply fond of her because of her angelic fervour. Yet since her death my devotion to her has grown immensely upon gaining knowledge of the power of her intercession. I ardently desire her beatification, for the glory of God first and foremost, and for the glory of the Church, of France, the diocese and our Order.

 [Answer to questions nine to eleven inclusively]:

I did not directly witness the Servant of God’s life before she joined the convent. What I do know of it, I learned from reading Story of a Soul or from conversations I had with her sisters at [861] recreation. My indirect knowledge is undoubtedly of no use to her Cause, because the same events can be better explained by her sisters, who lived with her at that time.

  [Answer to the twelfth question]:

The Servant of God joined the Carmel on 9th April 1888, at the age of 15. I was Novice Mistress at that time. As soon as she joined, the Servant of God surprised the community by her bearing; she exuded a sort of majesty, which we were far from expecting in a 15 year old child. She went about her duties with charming grace, was a model novice, and surpassed all her fellow novices in terms of virtue. She received the Habit on 10th January 1889 and was professed on 8th September 1890.

[Were the ceremonies of Habit Reception and Profession in conformity with the Rule and customs of the monastery?]:

There was a few months’ delay, both for her Habit Reception and Profession. These delays were imposed upon her by her superiors on account of her young age, I believe, and not because of any dissatisfaction as to her conduct.

 [The witness continues]:

She showed me nothing but kindness, and her obedience was as prompt as it was blind. She had an intuition with regards to virtue and religious perfection such that we had only to instruct her as to the [862] Rule, Constitutions and customs unique to our Holy Order for her to adhere to them immediately and perfectly. I do not remember ever having to reproach her. I therefore taught her for almost four year in the novitiate, which I left five months following her profession. When she in turn was in charge of the novitiate, a post of which she was very worthy, she carried out the duties as well as the most experienced nun, even though she had only the title of assistant. She would have been capable of fulfilling any post in the community, even that of prioress.

Following her profession, she remained in the novitiate for a further three years, as is our custom. I do not remember whether she left the novitiate after that. She held several ordinary occupations in the community, such as portress, sacristan, laundry supervisor, and so on. She accomplished all her duties perfectly.

 [Answer to questions thirteen and fourteen]:

To my knowledge, the Servant of God never committed even the slightest voluntary fault. As early as aged eight, which is when I first met the blessed child, she seemed more like an angel than a mortal little girl. The Holy Spirit dwelt in her, God already possessed her heart and it was said that a guardian angel guarded the entrance to her soul, because a heavenly atmosphere surrounded her and she was very peaceful, quiet, reverent and pondered. One felt [863] in the presence of a child who was out of the ordinary, one who was destined to lead souls to God through the simplicity of her holiness, which principally consisted in practising ordinary virtues to a heroic level. This was the hallmark of her life, and remained so in all respects until she died.

  XV- XX [Answer to questions fifteen to twenty inclusively]:

From her tenderest childhood, the Servant of God’s faith shone through in her love of prayer, holy feast days, divine offices, and books of piety, especially The Imitation of Christ and the Holy Gospel.

WITNESS 10: MARIE OF THE ANGELS AND THE SACRED HEART O.D.C.

When she joined the Carmel, her faith was visible from the joy she felt to have at last found the place of pasture for which she had yearned. For her, this place was quite simply the house of God and the gate to heaven.

From the outset, she approached everything from a spiritual perspective, seeing God in everything and everyone. She saw Jesus in figures of authority, who were the reflections of Him on the cross, and even were this cross made of mere bronze, she showed the same deep respect as if it was gold.

Her enlightened faith allowed her to see God’s will in the trial that was her father’s illness, and she adored the Master deeper still. The greater her suffering and humiliation, the more generously she embraced her Sisters. In this time of difficulty, as in all the trials that marked her religious life, she dwelt in deep peace, [864] which explains her imperturbable calm even when she was brought the most distressing news. It was at this painful time that she said to Mother Agnes of Jesus, “My heart sings just as Saint Cecilia’s did” [Primary source].

The faith that inspired her life, writings and poems was subjected to many trials in the form of long and cruel temptations. “I have been suffering for months,” she said, “and I still await deliverance. One must have passed through this dark tunnel to understand its blackness.” To plunge her further into despair, the devil whispered to her, “A night darker still awaits you, the night of utter nothingness” [MSC 6,2].

Undoubtedly in these hours of extreme anguish, God flooded her soul with the light that would inspire “the little way of self-surrender and spiritual childhood” which she so admirably practised. Taught to her novices, and subsequently revealed to all who read her life story, this doctrine of simplicity and love was intentionally bequeathed to “little souls” as a guide. It has drawn the universal admiration of not only our Holy Fathers Pope Pius X and Benedict XV, but also cardinals, bishops, monastics, priests, and the most learned missionaries. One missionary visitor told me he had “found in her biography what he had long sought in vain.”

Speaking to a devotee of Sister Thérèse, Reverend Mateo, who is a Picpus Father, Pope Benedict XV said last spring, [865] “Her mission is to teach priests to love Jesus Christ.”

The Servant of God wrote out the Credo in her own blood and kept it on her.

She always had a copy of the Holy Gospel about her person to have it at her disposition at all times. She took delight in reading it, and it was from there that in times of trouble, no matter where she was, she drew the light, comfort and strength she needed. She had a rare knowledge of Holy Scripture, as can be seen from the way she explained it and revealed its meaning in Story of a Soul. One might call this book a marvel, because the lively words simply ran off her pen without the need for a rough draft.

She saw God in nature, the beauty of which revealed God’s infinite love and raised her soul to Him. I can confirm that, during her short yet very full life, the Servant of God heroically applied the following instruction from our holy Rule: “In all things take up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to extinguish all the darts of the evil one; without faith, indeed, it is impossible to please God” [Carmelite Rule].

This sacred shield never left her; with it she triumphed over everything that could prevent her from attaining the level of admirable holiness to which she aspired, and which she reached in so short a time.

  XXI [Answer to the twenty-first question]:

 [866] As a result of being healed by Our Lady of Victories, she always had a tender devotion to the Bl. Virgin. She would have liked to be a priest, because she would have “spoken of her so highly!” [LC 21-8.] She found that priests showed her more as a queen than a mother. She could not understand why it was said she would eclipse all the saints like the rising sun causes the stars to disappear from sight: “How strange that would be!” she said. “A mother who makes her children’s glory vanish! I myself think just the contrary” [LC 21-8].

She prayed the Rosary and the Memorare every day. The first poem she wrote was in Mary’s honour. It was called “The Virginal Milk of Mary” [PN 1]. Similarly, her last was entitled “Why I Love You, O Mary!” [PN 54.]

Saint Joseph was also particularly dear to her. She turned to him to ask for Holy Communion to be granted frequently at the Carmel of Lisieux. Her prayer was answered by way of Leo XIII’s decree. She also wrote a poem in honour of Saint Joseph [PN 14].

The Holy Angels were also the subject of poems by her, because she loved them with touching piety.

Above all, she loved the Holy Gospel, holy books, the Song of Solomon, and the works of Saint John of the Cross. One day, when she was perhaps 17 years old, she spoke to me about certain more mystical passages of the bible with an intelligence so far beyond her years that I was left astounded.

One day when we had licence to speak, shortly after she left the novitiate, she shared with me some magnificent reflections that she [867] later expressed in her splendid poem, “To Live by Love” [PN 17].

 [Answer to the twenty-first question continued]:

As a postulant and novice, her piety was revealed in the playlets that we performed at Christmas and Easter and other feast days, and which were most gracefully and poetically written and prepared by Mother Agnes of Jesus.

WITNESS 10 - Marie of the Angels and the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

It was delightful to watch and listen to the Servant of God reciting them, for her angelic expression and the deep fervour in her voice reflected her inner sentiments. It was enough to bring tears to one’s eyes. One Christmas Day, playing the role of the Bl. Virgin, she held the child Jesus in her arms; had he been alive, she could not have been more reverent or tender.

  XXII - XXVI [Answer to questions twenty-two to twenty-six]:

The Servant of God’s trust was but the physical manifestation of her faith in the infinite goodness of God, [868] a faith which had enveloped her since infancy. She had experienced it to the point that her soul approached God as a small child would approach a loving father, letting themselves be carried in his arms and surrendering themselves to him for all their needs.

Furthermore, difficulties did not frighten her, as she demonstrated in the way she overcame all those that stood in the way of her vocation, because her trust was founded on her deep certainty that God in his faithfulness would help her.

This blind trust gave her the admirable courage that she displayed on her trip to Rome. She did not let herself be intimidated by any of the contradictions she encountered, though they would have unsettled many.

It was this hope that sustained her throughout her life, from her admittance to the Carmel to her postulancy and the trying years of her novitiate. It accompanied her during her last illness and right into the arms of death.

Upon her return from Rome, every day brought new disappointments. She had believed that permission to join the Carmel would promptly be granted to her, but Christmas came and went and, in her words, “Jesus left His little ball lying neglected on the ground” [MSA 67,2].

However she kept hoping against all hope, because, as she said, “God grants miracles to those whose faith is as small as a mustard seed, in the hope of strengthening their slender faith” [MSA 67,2]. This was the lesson [869] that the trial taught her.

When her venerable father took ill, her trust did not waver. She ranked this trial among her greatest blessings and described it as a “great treasure” [MSA 83,2].

She had boundless trust in the power of prayer, and often said that God had answered her every prayer and could refuse us nothing when we pray in faith.

She never doubted divine mercy. As a small child, she would pray for sinners, including the great criminal Pranzini, who was sentenced to death for his frightful murders. Her trust in God’s mercy was such that she was certain her prayer would be answered. She asked for just one sign of his repentance and we know that she was granted it.

She did not fear death, which, she said, was “the only way to reach God” [Primary source]. Nor was she afraid of purgatory, saying that it was “the least of her worries” [Primary source].

In a letter to Mother Agnes of Jesus, she wrote, Ah! From this moment, I know it: yes, all my hopes will be realised... Yes, the Lord will do for us marvels that will infinitely surpass our immense desires” [LT 230]. Jesus once said to Saint Mechtilde, “It is a great joy to Me that men expect great gifts from Me... It is impossible for man not to receive what he has believed and hoped for... Therefore it is good for a man to hope much in Me and to place in Me all his confidence.” Jesus’ words certainly help to explain [870] the wonders that He has performed on earth through Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus since her death.

What better place than here to quote Pope Pius X’s words in relation to the Servant of God, which he spoke in a private audience to an important figure of Roman nobility: “It is extraordinary to see how Jesus condescends to this soul’s every desire.”

Donna Lancellotti of the House of Merode wrote down those words spoken by Pope Pius X upon hearing them from a distinguished family member.

 XXVII - XXXI [Answer to questions twenty-seven to thirty-one]:

Even as a small child, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus loved God extremely ardently, as everything in Story of a Soul proclaims.

She practised mortification of the heart to a heroic degree even as a postulant, knowing that the smallest thread, like an iron chain, can prevent a bird from flying.

I witnessed her struggle to prevent herself from developing human affection for others, particularly for Mother Prioress, whom she loved dearly. Yet God helped her, seeing fit that the latter should have for her nothing but harsh words. This broke her heart, and therefore, in the way she behaved towards her, she kept human feeling hidden deep inside. She therefore demonstrated to her religious respect rather than affection, depriving herself of all natural satisfaction, to the extent that her conduct was very edifying.

[871] The Servant of God had a great fear of even very small faults, and the words, “No one knows whether love or hate awaits them,” caused her to weep bitterly one day until she was brought comfort by the explanation.

Her relationship with God was one of pure faith, and she cheerfully accepted spiritual miseries, praying God to comfort the souls whom she was saving through her sacrifices.

Both at the Carmel and in her childhood, she took delight in everything relating to God. She took great pleasure in decorating the novitiate altar dedicated to the Child Jesus, and nothing made her happier than arranging flowers around the pious statue of the Child Jesus in our cloister. What inner sentiments motivated the lavish care she bestowed upon her Divine King!

She cherished solitude, showing admirable understanding of the words, “The kingdom of God is inside of you.”

WITNESS 10: MARIE OF THE ANGELS AND THE SACRED HEART O.D.C.

She also understood the following words, expressing them in her poem “To Live by Love”: “If a man love Me, he will keep My word: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.”

She put into practice the following instruction from The Imitation of Christ: “Close the door upon yourself and call to your Jesus, your Beloved” [The Imitation, Bk 1 ch. 20]. When she became sacristan, she handled the sacred vessels with increased fervour, remembering Jesus’ words, “Be pure, you who bear the vessels of the Lord” [Is. 52:11, MSA 79,2].

[872] Her supreme devotion was to the Holy Face of Jesus, which reminded her of His great love for her during His Passion. It was contemplating His Face that kindled zeal in her heart for saving souls. She always kept a picture of It in her prayer book and her stall during meditation. The picture was hung from her bed curtains when she was sick: the sight of It helped her to endure her long martyrdom. She liked to recite the touching verse from the poem she had composed in honour of His Holy Face,

“That glance, surcharged with love, consoles me through the years;

His loveliness displays foretaste of heaven indeed” [PN 20].

Another lovely poem dedicated to the Sacred Heart reveals the devotion she had to the Heart of Jesus, whom she said was “her only support and which, in Its tender love, loved her despite her weakness” [Primary source]. She found His Heart in the Holy Eucharist, through which It dwelt in her. Receiving Communion every day was therefore her dream. Father Youf, who held Thérèse’s elect soul in high esteem, granted her this privilege for several months.

Does it not sound like an angel speaking when, in chapter eleven of her life story, she says she has found her vocation, and that her vocation is love? “Yes, I have found my place in the bosom of the Church, and this place, O my God, Thou hast Thyself given to me: in the heart of the Church... I will be LOVE!”

A few days before she died, she said to Mother Prioress, “One hope alone quickens my heart: the [873] love I will receive and the love I shall be able to give... I feel that my mission is soon to begin—my mission to teach souls my little way... I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth” [LC 17-7]. What I think about the Servant of God is this: in the heart of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, the hidden fire of divine love smouldered on earth, hidden from view under the ashes of her obscure Carmelite life. After having chosen Saint Mechtilde, Saint Gertrude and Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque to reveal His love for the world, Jesus now wishes, it would seem, to use the Servant of God to set earth ablaze. A passage from a letter written in 1914 by Argentinean priest Father Augustin Barréro, from Buenos Aires, seems to confirm my theory:

“I thank God for the blessings He is granting all over the world through the posthumous ministry of His little servant Thérèse... Now she is proclaiming to everyone, simultaneously and in their own language, the Gospel of Salvation and the little way of spiritual childhood. This new, bigger Pentecost is nothing short of a miracle of divine omnipotence! It is certainly a lesson to our proud century, and also to us ministers of the Lord, who, in order to reach souls, rely on our knowledge more than on our holiness!”

The Servant of God’s love for God nurtured love for the poor and all who suffer. She was overjoyed when tasked with giving alms to beggars who proffered her their hand.

[874] This charity grew with age and blossomed at the Carmel. As soon as she joined, she demonstrated touching charity when trying to assist one of her fellow novices. She also lovingly comforted me in many difficulties I encountered, understanding that they were very trying for me!

The conversion of sinners was already a cause close to her heart, and she took it upon herself to save the unfortunate Father Hyacinth, for whom she offered her last Communion.

I do not remember ever hearing her say anything that went against charity, or even a bitter remark if someone said something hurtful to her.

If her assistance was needed, she never showed annoyance or fatigue. If someone knocked on the door to her cell, she would answer with a smile even if she was very busy.

She would put her talents as a painter and poet at the disposal of her Sisters, cheerfully dedicating her free time to composing, and giving all her creations away until she had none left for herself.

She spared others the worst chores. Take washing days, for example: in winter she would volunteer to rinse the linen in cold water, even though she keenly felt the cold, and in summer she would do the opposite and choose to stay in the hot laundry room. There, she suffered in silence as the Sister opposite inadvertently splashed dirty water in her face while washing.

She observed the following instruction in our Constitutions [875] at all times including at recreations: “The Sisters should develop no friendship in particular and love each other without exception, as Our Lord Jesus Christ commanded His apostles... Loving one another without exception is a point of great importance” [Constitutions of 1582].

At recreations, she did not seek the company of her blood sisters despite her affection for them. She sacrificed their company so that her deep love for her Carmelite family would not suffer. After one solitary retreat, she came to recreation before going to greet her beloved second mother, Agnes of Jesus, which pained the latter deeply. Mother Agnes hoped she would at least sit next to her, but she did not; she went and sat near the first person she saw. When Mother Geneviève heard about this, she scolded Mother Agnes, saying that she did not understand true charity.

WITNESS 10: MARIE OF THE ANGELS AND THE SACRED HEART O.D.C.

When I told Father Auriault about it, he said, “Oh, I think it’s marvellous!” and the elderly nun who first related the incident to me said recently, “Sister Thérèse has a sublime mission to carry out in Holy Church,” and added, referring to the Servant of God’s perfection, “Truly, we’ve never seen the like.”

She endured in silence anything that was a source of struggle, and, as she recounts in her biography, overcame a natural dislike for a certain Sister when the devil made her see only unpleasant qualities in her. Yet she did not yield to temptation, telling herself that charity does not consist of only sentiments, but also deeds. She therefore acted as though she loved that Sister [827] above all others, and lavished her with every kindness possible. She also prayed for her, offering to God the nun’s virtues and merits. “I felt that this pleased Jesus immensely,” she said. She would smile at the Sister when tempted to say something unpleasant and would change the subject. One day the Sister asked her what it was that she found so attractive in her, because she would give her a lovely smile every time they met. Ah!” she said, “What attracted me was Jesus hidden in the depths of her soul” [MSC 14,1].

She volunteered to be the assistant of a certain Sister, the character of whom heralded a very difficult ministry. What patience and charity she demonstrated on that battlefield! And she worked with such kindness, intelligence and wisdom that she managed to do the nun much good.

The community witnessed her practice another act of heroic charity when she offered to assist dear old Sister Saint-Pierre, who could walk only with the help of crutches. The work involved accompanying the nun from the choir to the refectory after evening meditation, which was no small affair! What an opportunity it offered to practise patience! The Servant of God did everything to please the frail nun, extending her virtue to the point of offering to cut her bread for her.

I was once again witness to her charity when influenza visited the community and took three victims. All except two or three Sisters [877] were bedridden. Divine Office was suspended: it was as silent as the grave in the community. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus redoubled her efforts to help the sick and dying whilst also attending to her duties as sacristan, showing a calmness, presence of mind and intelligence that were by no means ordinary. Our Superior, Father Delatroëtte, who had been opposed to her admission, was struck by her virtue every time he visited his Daughters. He came to place great hope on the child for the future of the community.

It was also very touching to see the tender love which she showed to dear Mother Marie de Gonzague, despite the troubles that the latter often caused her. With her remarkable sharpness of mind, the Servant of God understood that the Mother Prioress’ faults were balanced by many other fine qualities, for we loved her despite everything. Perfectly aware of the cause of her suffering, she was able to use her childlike ways to lavish her with affection, comfort her and enlighten her, and nothing could better be applied to the Servant of God than the words, “Truth comes from the mouth of babes.” For example, following an election that she knew had been very difficult for the unfortunate Mother Prioress, she apparently wrote her a lovely letter , and it planted a good seed in her heart.

[Sitting 44: - 9th September 1915, at 9am and 2pm]

[881] [Answer to questions thirty-seven and thirty-eight inclusively]:

The Servant of God had the prudence of an old man who has experienced life in all its hardships. She was very observant of everything, deeply thoughtful, and always had an eye fixed on God.

She was very reserved in every way, both in word and deed, and in the growing difficulties that she came across.

Her prudence was visible in the difficult negotiations that she had to endure to follow her vocation. On this occasion she turned to prayer, placed her trust in God, refused to grow impatient and harboured no bitterness towards those who were thwarting her desire. It took great courage, as she said herself, to speak to the Pope when she was a mere child of fourteen.

When she was admitted to the Carmel, she remained very reserved so as to avoid forming a human attachment to her Mother Prioress. Then, when the latter caused her difficulties, she was careful to act as though nothing were wrong, greeting her with a smile despite everything and showing her the same respect as always.

Sometimes a witness to the difficulties that Mother Marie de Gonzague caused for Mother Agnes of Jesus, the new Prioress, the Servant of God suffered terribly but remained silent. One day, however, she said to me, her eyes full of tears, “Now I understand how Jesus felt to see His mother suffer at His Passion” [Primary source].

[882] She showed great prudence in the task of bettering a fellow novice whose character roused fears of indiscretion. Having herself experienced the suffering that can come from a lack of freedom in matters of conscience, she behaved with immense prudence and wisdom in order to spare her novices from this suffering. I witnessed her prudence in this respect when I was sacristan. She asked me to secretly let novices go to the confessional when they dared not ask for permission to do so from Mother de Gonzague.

She went to the visiting room only through charity.

WITNESS 10: MARIE OF THE ANGELS AND THE SACRED HEART O.D.C.

If she was asked for advice there, she would give it with simplicity and humility and would be an angel of peace at all times and in all places.

She liked the solitude of her small cell; she truly had a distrust of the world and was “a person of prayer” as recommended by our Holy Constitutions [St Teresa of Avila].

 [Answer to questions thirty-nine and forty]:

The Servant of God always practised justice towards God and His Saints through the worship she gave them. Ceremonies, feast days, approaching the sacraments; all such things delighted her. At the Carmel, she had a very great devotion to the Divine Office. “The Divine Office was at once my happiness and my martyrdom,” she said towards the end of her life. “I had a great desire to recite it well, without making any mistakes. I don’t believe that anyone could have had a greater desire to recite the office more perfectly than I and [833] to be present in the Choir” [LC 6-8].

She was always submitted to the advice of her superiors and confessors, whom she held in high esteem, and they reciprocated.

She practised justice in her understanding and practice of silence, which she observed according to our holy rule: “Silence is the promotion of justice” [Carmelite Rule].

 [Answer to the forty-first question]:

The Servant of God practised self-mortification to a heroic degree, because she made it consist of enduring the hundreds and thousands of small sacrifices that make up religious life and of always being helpful to everyone, despite the many conflicts that are characteristic of even the most perfect communities on account of people’s different characters and education. The Servant of God endured everything in silence. She never complained about anything, not even of the heat or the cold, even though it was learnt later that the latter had made her suffer to the extent that she thought she should die. She took whatever was given to her in terms of clothing and food. Concerning the latter, she suffered much, because she was often given only leftovers, whereas at her tender age, she should have been on a very fortifying diet, as should any nun who is as young and has a health as frail and delicate as hers.

[884] [Answer to the forty-first question continued]:

Her mortification did not consist of strict austerities, which she would have been pleased to observe had she had the permission, but of things on which self-love and pride often thrive. It consisted principally of denying herself and her own will. Moreover, she understood these principles even as a child: she strove to break her will and her sensibility, to hold her tongue and many other things of this nature.

Once at the Carmel, she set to work, and I can confirm that her beginnings were very difficult. It cost her dearly to go and weed the garden, which I sent her to do every day at half past 4 in order that she get some fresh air, but she was mindful not to say anything because it represented a fine opportunity for her to cross Mother Prioress, who never failed to humiliate her. She would say, “What sort of a [885] novice needs to be sent for a walk every day?” The Servant of God also heard her say, “That child does absolutely nothing.” And later on she would thank Mother Prioress for this valuable education.

When Mother Prioress reproached her lack of devotion in the Offices, she felt obliged to work in her free time without telling anybody.

When she went to Mother Prioress for spiritual direction during Mother Agnes’ time as Prioress (which she did less often than the other Sisters), if the portress or some other Sister interrupted, she never complained, even though deep down it caused her considerable suffering.

She grew in faithful and constant mortification and extended it to all aspects of her life, which meant that she always greeted suffering with a smile.

When, two months before she died, Mother Agnes of Jesus heard praise of her patience, she visited her one day when her suffering was particularly cruel; the patient’s face suddenly beamed with joy and an angelic smile crossed her features. When asked the cause, she replied, “It’s because I can feel a sharp pain in my chest. I’ve made it a habit to always love suffering and to give it a warm welcome” [CSG].

She went on to say, “For a long time, suffering has been my heaven here below and I have trouble understanding how I will grow used to a place where joy prevails, completely [886] unmarred by sadness” [SS Epilogue].

 [Answer to the forty-second question]:

As a child, the Servant of God managed to overcome her nature and remain even-tempered and kind.

As soon as she joined the Carmel, her strength was revealed in the energy with which she bore the austere Rule and spiritual desolation. She bravely accepted her Mother Prioress’ severity. Despite several Sisters’ disillusion regarding the way she was treated, thinking she was spoilt in every way, she was actually very tried by Mother Prioress. Whenever she came across the latter, she was greeted only with reproaches, which she bore in silence. For spiritual directions, during which time she remained with Mother Prioress for an hour, she was scolded for almost the entire duration, and her distress was increased when she did not understand how to correct the faults of which she was accused.

The Servant of God acted by the principle that one should exhaust one’s strength before complaining. “I can still walk,” she would say, “I must go about my duties” [SS Epilogue].

WITNESS 10: MARIE OF THE ANGELS AND THE SACRED HEART O.D.C.

On the day she was admitted to the Carmel, she could hear the sobs of her family as she reached the threshold to the convent. She did not shed a tear, but her heart was beating so fast that she thought she should die. Our Mother Saint Teresa said, “when she tore herself from her father’s arms, she felt [887] her bones break” [Vida 4-1]. What must it have been for this 15 year old child, whose venerable father was being asked by God to sacrifice one of his daughters for the third time?

She was still a postulant when her father contracted a paralysis that, seeking to lodge itself in his brain, gave reason to fear a frightful calamity. At that time, the Servant of God surprised me when, casting an angelic glance towards heaven, she said, “I am in great suffering, but I can suffer yet more” [MSA 73,1]. Some while after her reception of the Habit, her ordeal reached its peak. She wrote, “I could no longer say that I could suffer more” [MSA 73,1].

In times of hardship, the Servant of God suffered in silence, in the manner of Jesus during His Passion. Contemplating His divine Face, she came to understand that “a soul without silence is like a city without defences and that whoever keeps silence keeps their soul” [Primary source].

 [Answer to the forty-third question]:

As a child, the Servant of God was as though enveloped in an aura of innocence and candour, which commanded reverence and respect.

Her fellow first communicant and schoolmate at the Benedictine Abbey, Miss Louise Delarue, told me one day that she could never forget the “air of innocence and extraordinary candour” of her young companion. “Extraordinary,” she repeated, emphasising the word.

[888] Saint John Vianney said, “The Holy Spirit reposes in a pure soul as in a bed of roses. There comes forth from a soul in which the Holy Spirit dwells, there emanates a sweet scent, like that of the vine in bloom.” This admirable reflection cannot apply to anyone better than the Servant of God.

Her purity was visible in her whole bearing, and Father Youf, our chaplain, was so struck by this when he came to confess the sick that he encouraged us to follow her example. And the gardener, seeing her walk through the cloisters when he was working in the courtyard, recognised her from her posture despite her veil, and marvelled at her even pace. She went about with her eyes lowered and lived for God alone. The beatitude, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” could have been written for her. I can find no better comparison to the Servant of God than the streams of our valleys, which flow noiselessly in the shade, and whose clear waters are never troubled.

Here is a rather original testimony of the Servant of God’s virtue; it was provided by a Zouave who greatly admired her. Thanking a lady for giving him Story of a Soul and a relic of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, he said, “I spent four years with General Gouraud, and he is not unlike Sister Thérèse in that he’s as pure as an angel and as strong as a lion.” The lady, who is most honourable, communicated these curious words to us in the belief that they would [889] please us.

 [Answer to the forty-fourth question]:

These words of Saint Francis de Sales could be said of the Servant of God: “There is little that I desire, and the little that I do, I desire very little.”

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was speaking most sincerely when, in her hymn “To Live by Love”, she said,

“O Heart Divine, o'erflowing with tenderness,/ How swift I run, who all to Thee has given!/ Naught but Thy love I need, my life to bless./ That love is heaven!” [PN 17]

As a postulant she liked to have well kept things to use, and to have everything needful to hand, but little by little, Jesus enlightened her and she was faithful to grace. She therefore joyfully let “the pretty little jug in our cell” [MSA 74,1] be replaced by another coarse and chipped one. She grew to love the ugliest and most impractical objects. One evening, someone inadvertently took her lamp; it so happened she had a lot of work to do, and she almost lost her patience, but the light of grace taught her to rejoice at being deprived of things that were not only fine but also needful. If she could not do without something, she asked for it, but humbly, as though a pauper proffering a hand for alms.

She would never have arranged flowers around the statue of the Child Jesus during working hours [890], even though the task was entrusted to her, and devoted only her free time to it.

I caught her one evening unpiecing an altar decoration. Instead of cutting the thread, she was pulling it very gently with a small tool, so that, in the spirit of poverty, it could be used again.

She wore the clothes that were given to her, without ever asking for others; the same went for food.

She understood the spirit of poverty perfectly: she did not assume that her own thoughts belonged to her, though they are widely considered as possessions. She said, “Jesus has given me the grace of being no more attached to the possessions of the mind and heart than to those of earth” [MSC 19,1].

The Servant of God constantly had in mind the following instruction from our holy Constitutions: “They will always observe the poverty to which they vowed themselves so that it might serve all” [St Teresa Const.].

She truly was the pauper described in the Gospels to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs.

WITNESS 10: MARIE OF THE ANGELS AND THE SACRED HEART O.D.C.

 [Answer to the forty-fifth question]:

As soon as she entered the novitiate, the Servant of God endured every sort of subjection, and she surpassed her fellow novices in obedience and in every other virtue. She never questioned me: her obedience was as prompt as it was blind, towards not only me, but also her Mother Prioress.

[891] One day, I suggested to her some reflections on which to meditate, believing I was being helpful, but I discovered that they did not inspire her. She said nothing to me, however, and would have forced herself to meditate on them had I let her.

Mother Prioress sometimes made recommendations that she herself forgot some while later, which meant that the Sisters thought that they too were dispensed from following them. It was not so for the Servant of God: she continued to faithfully observe them.

When I was dispensed of the office of Novice Mistress, I sometimes had the Servant of God helping me in the sacristy. I was once again able to admire her humility, deference and obedience. She would never have volunteered for any elevated duty. She remained very reserved and would not have handled the sacred vessels without my permission.

Yet the most heroic act of obedience that I saw her perform was as follows, and when I related it to Jesuit Father Auriault, he was greatly edified. It was when Mother Marie de Gonzague, Prioress, gave the Servant of God the strict order not to return to Confession with Franciscan Father Alexis, our retreat preacher, even though she had every much the right to do so as the other Sisters. The holy friar had restored peace to her soul when she had been suffering a veritable inner martyrdom and he had invited her back. Yet she did not dare to disobey Mother Prioress. [892] She told me of her pain. Moved, I advised her to press Mother Prioress to let her go, but she decided that the more perfect conduct would be to remain silent, observing the last instruction of our Holy Rule: “You are to humbly honour your prioress, and rather than thinking about them, you are to look to Christ who set them as head over you” [Carmelite Rule].

Out of obedience, she placed all her piety and as yet inexperienced talent into painting a fresco of angels around the oratory tabernacle. The attributes that she assigned to each of them express her soul’s aspirations: to sing God’s praise, to spread knowledge of God like the missionaries, and to strew flowers where Jesus’ feet pass by making hundreds of sacrifices.

 [Answer to the forty-sixth question]:

As soon as she entered the novitiate, the Servant of God put into practice the following article of our Constitutions, which is important and crucial to perfection: “You are to take care not to excuse yourself unless it is necessary” [Const. of St Teresa].

One day, I scolded her in the novitiate for breaking a small vase, saying that she was disorderly. In fact she was not to blame; it cost her dearly not to tell me this, yet she remained silent.

She never pushed herself forward to get herself noticed; she gave her opinion very humbly and only when asked. She was never self-seeking, and never displayed any over-sensitivity.

[893] During the vigil preceding the day of her profession, the devil insinuated to her the idea that she was not suited to Carmelite life. Straight away, she humbly came to tell me of her temptation. I quickly reassured her, but to humble herself further, she resolved to inform Mother Marie de Gonzague.

[Sitting 45: - 10th September 1915, at 9am and 2pm]

[896] [Answer to the forty-sixth question continued]:

Bestowed with many blessings, the Servant of God did not attribute them to herself, and yet, since humility is truth, she acknowledged them and gave all the glory to God. In the words of the Blessed Virgin, she did not hesitate to say that “the Lord had done great things to me,” but she added “and the greatest of those is to have shown me my insignificance and my powerlessness to do anything good” [MSC 4,1].

Upon seeing an ear of corn bend under the weight of its seeds, she said, “God has entrusted me with seeds for myself and for many others. I therefore wish to bend under the abundance of His divine gifts, acknowledging [897] that everything comes from up above” [LC 4-8].

She did not try to attract attention, or esteem, or the praise of others, since God was her all.

It was upon contemplating the Holy Face that she learned humility, and came to understand better than ever that true glory consists in seeking to be ignored and counted for nothing. She said, “only the lowliest place is devoid of vanity and vexation of spirit” [Primary source. Imit. Book 3, ch. XXVII]

 [Answer to the forty-seventh question]:

I’ve seen some truly fervent and even very holy nuns here, including Mother Geneviève, our foundress, Sister Adelaide, Sister Louise and several others, but I have never seen anyone quite like Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. I never witnessed a single moment of weakness in her, never a complaint, not even a hint of sadness, and this despite her young age and the great spiritual and bodily suffering that befell her. She was the embodiment of perfection and sheer amiability. I think that here lies her heroic virtue.

 [Answer to the forty-eighth question]:

WITNESS 10: MARIE OF THE ANGELS AND THE SACRED HEART O.D.C.

Her behaviour was never indiscreet. On the contrary, a characteristic of her virtue was simplicity.

 [Answer to the forty-ninth question]:

I never directly witnessed any exceptional [898] spiritual happenings during the Servant of God’s lifetime. I heard only the few well-established facts, as related by Mother Agnes of Jesus and several other Sisters. For example at about the age of 10, the Servant of God saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin when she was healed of a serious illness. She experienced a transport of love as a novice but I have only a vague knowledge of it. Perhaps Mother Marie de Gonzague told her not to mention it to me.

During her illness, she was brought flowers to strew over her crucifix, which was her devotion. When a few petals fell to the ground and were gathered up to be thrown away, she said mysteriously, “Oh, do not throw them away: they will benefit many” [LC 14-9].

Another day, she said to Mother Agnes of Jesus, “After my death you shall have many sources of joy in the letterbox and in the turn office” [LC 11-8]. Her words seemed curious at the time but have come to pass.

 [Answer to the fiftieth question]:

I am not aware that she performed any miracles during her lifetime.

 [Answer to the fifty-first question]:

The Servant of God wrote the sublime pages of her manuscript out of obedience, in simplicity and righteousness, unaware that the book was intended for publication. This was as God wished it to be, so that the entire world would benefit from her story. Its swift and prodigious [899] circulation proves this, as does the way it delights souls and teaches to approach God through trust, love and self-surrender. I was unaware that she had written the biography, and when it was read aloud in the refectory, I was struck by surprise and admiration. A while later, I took the sublime book with me on my annual retreat. After meditating on a few pages, I felt inspired to imitate Sister Thérèse by opening the Holy Gospel at random, and my eyes lighted upon this passage: “Who is it of whom such wondrous things are said? It is Jesus, son of Joseph, and His sisters are here among us.”

 [Answer to the fifty-second question]:

When sickness confined the Servant of God to the infirmary, she heroically revealed the virtue that she had acquired in full health and which is required by our Constitutions.

Her bravery and patience were equal to her physical and moral suffering, and she had no shortage of spiritual trials until the end.

The community went to see her only rarely so as not to tire her, for she was very weak. Yet she was always cheerfully and amiable, greeting all her Sisters with an angelic smile.

God saw fit that our holy and devoted Doctor de Cornière was able to do nothing but ease her cruel suffering, which she endured until the end in all its intensity. The doctor [900] was very edified by her patience, saying, “Oh, if you knew what she is suffering, you would not wish to retain her here on earth. I cannot heal her; her soul is not of this earth” [LC 24-9].

After taking Extreme Unction, she said, “I have found happiness and joy on earth, but only in suffering, for I have suffered much here below. Souls must be told this. As a child, I desired suffering, but I did not think it would bring me joy: this was a blessing that God gave me later” [LC 31-7].

Her self-surrender in love was such that suffering had become sweet to her: however, she asked us to pray for her, for she could feel her weakness.

She had lived in our Carmel as an angel, and died there a seraph.

Her last agony began at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on 30th September 1897. The whole community gathered round her bed. At 7 o’clock that evening, the Sisters, who had recently left the infirmary, were called back with a loud ring of the bell. I hurried back and arrived in time to see her lean her head to the right, move her lips, and say, “Oh, I love him! My God! . . . I . . . love . . . You!” [LC 30-9] These were her last words. She fell back and, her eyes open and glistening, cast a magnificent glance towards the image of the Blessed Virgin, as though beholding a spiritual vision, and then her soul flew to heaven. She died of love, as was her dream.

I thought the Blessed Virgin must have come for her at the opening of the month of the rosary, to [901] reward her for the touching piety with which she had used roses to demonstrate her love to Jesus. Now she was going to heaven, to pick prettier roses than those on earth, in order to fulfil her promise and to strew them upon the whole world in a shower of blessings.

 [Answer to the fifty-third question]:

She looked very beautiful laid out in front of the choir grate, but this beauty was only a pale reflection of the extraordinary beauty with which she shone when the community carried her body from the infirmary door through the cloisters. I was struck by it and wondered whether she was in fact dead: she looked so alive that I would not have been surprised to see her smile upon her Child Jesus as she passed by His statue in the cloisters. She resembled a virgin martyr laid out on her shrine more than a poor Carmelite on a coffin.

Many people came to pay their respects, but nothing extraordinary took place.

WITNESS 10: MARIE OF THE ANGELS AND THE SACRED HEART O.D.C.

[Answer to questions fifty-four and fifty-five]:

I did not attend the various ceremonies. I do not think, from what I have heard, that anything extraordinary took place.

 [Answer to the fifty-sixth question]:

I have heard that a significant and growing number of pilgrims have been to the Servant of God’s grave.

[902] [The witness then answers the fifty-seventh question.]

I have said that the chaplains and confessors of the convent held the Servant of God in singular esteem during her lifetime. For example, Father Youf knew her from when she joined, and confessed her until she died. Father Baillon, who was considered one of the most educated priests in the diocese and whom she liked to consult, also had the highest consideration for the Servant of God. Father Armand Lemonnier also regarded her as a predestined soul, and spoke of her only with the utmost respect. He called her “the little flower,” and attached great authority to her advice.

In the community, she was considered a little angel and a model of religious perfection. I have heard a few small recriminations here and there, but they are the result of faults of judgement or character flaws on the part of those who made them.

[903] Since her death, the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness and miracles has spread far and wide. There is no better comparison than the mustard seed from the Gospel; that smallest of seeds which grew into a tree and provided shelter for birds.

Her influence is keenly felt in our community. Since the Servant of God’s death, our Carmel has made significant progress in regularity, silence and fervour. A retreat preacher recently said to Mother Prioress, “Reverend Mother, one can tell that a saint has passed through your convent.”

The spread of her reputation for holiness can be measured by the number of copies of her life story and keepsakes that have been produced and sent all over the world to satisfy demand. The biographies can be counted in their thousands, and the pictures in millions. From morning till night, I work for her alone; I have prepared thousands of pictures to be sent. I receive few letters that do not speak of her, and I never go to the visiting room unless it is to hear about her. Her portraits and pictures, notably the lovely rotogravure at the beginning of her life story, charm those who see them.

The floods of letters we receive, which amount to 500 every day, testify to the boundless trust that everyone, particularly soldiers, have in the Servant of God. Military officers entrust their regiment or troop to her protection. For instance, [904] Colonel Etienne wrote to tell Mother Prioress that he calls his regiment “Sister Thérèse’s Regiment.” A pilot placed a picture of her on the wings of his aeroplane. In a letter that I’ve already quoted, Father Augustin Barréro, an Argentinian priest, wrote, “The other day, I lunched on board a four-masted ship that was stranded near Buenos Aires. Do you know what I saw as I entered the captain’s cabin?... Sister Thérèse’s portrait! On board there were two copies of her life story; all the officers had read it and we spoke of her for a good part of the meal. It’s true! Only in hell is she not loved and imitated,” and I myself will add that I believe she is wreaking fury and despair among the demons.

 [Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I have never heard a single remark said against the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness. All those that I know, in the community and outside, are deeply devoted to her and strongly desire her beatification.

 [Answer to the fifty-ninth question]:

The first demonstration of the Servant of God’s spiritual influence is, as I’ve said, the obvious increase in the community’s religious fervour. On various occasions, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus has made her presence known by way of miraculous fragrances. I have perceived them [905] several times; once it was when I was preparing little envelopes intended for holding her relics. Sister Jeanne-Marie, who was to finish the task, smelt the same scent when she opened the box containing the envelopes. Following that, as I was about to receive Holy Communion two years ago, an exquisite and indescribable scent enveloped me so completely that I was left astounded. For the following few days, I noticed the scent of violets each time I withdrew from the altar. These fragrances heralded various hardships or blessings in my family.

When Sister Geneviève could not recognise which long veil had been worn by Sister Thérèse, she asked her sister for a sign. She asked that, when placed upon a Lay Sister’s wounded leg, Thérèse’s veil would heal it. Her prayer was answered, and the Sister who had been covered with thirty or so broils recovered such good health that from that day on (7 years ago on 1st June), she assumed the task of cooking alone. This duty is so tiring that it is usually assigned to a different Lay Sister each week.

 [Answer to questions sixty to sixty-five inclusively]:

I have not directly witnessed any miraculous healings. I have been read the numerous accounts received by the convent; there have been some wondrous blessings, but I cannot remember any details.

[906] [Answer to the sixty-sixth question]:

To finish my testimony, I would once more say what I said at the Ordinary Trial, which is that, for me, contemplating the Servant of God is akin to gazing at the stars above: the more one looks at them, the more one discovers.

WITNESS 10: MARIE OF THE ANGELS AND THE SACRED HEART O.D.C.

It follows that the more I contemplate her soul, the more holy and worthy of sainthood I find her.

Where can the Servant of God’s holiness have come from? We might think that she drew its source from the virtues of her own parents, whose lives were remarkably Christian. We might also believe that the holiness of our foundresses, whom I knew, played a considerable role. This theory can be confirmed by the fact that the night following the death of our venerable Mother Geneviève, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus saw her in a dream giving to each of her Daughters something that had belonged to her. She came to her with empty hands and, looking at her affectionately, said, “To you, I leave my heart” [MSA 79,1].

[907] [As regards the Articles, the witness claims to know nothing other than what they have already reported in response to the preceding questions. - Here ends the questioning of this witness. The Acts are read out. The witness makes no alteration to them and signs as follows]:

Signatum: I, SISTER MARIE OF THE ANGELS AND THE SACRED HEART, witness, have testified as above according to the truth, and hereby ratify and confirm it.