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Witness 11 - Francoise‑Thérèse Martin Visit. Ord. B.M.V.

 

Saint Thérèse’s sister Léonie (1863-1941) joined the Visitation convent and testified as seventh witness in the Formal Investigative Process (vol. I, pp. 339-359). Although good at heart, she had been a source of concern and perplexity to her family due to her weak and sickly nature. Her vocational journey was also complicated: a first attempt with the Poor Clares of Alençon (1886) was followed by two others at the Visitation Convent of Caen (1887‑1888 and 1893-1895). Weakness and inconsistency always overcame her undeniable good intentions and exceptional generosity.

Sister Thérèse always believed that Léonie would ultimately succeed in her vocation and before dying, said to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, “After my death, I will obtain her admission to the Visitation convent and she will persevere.” Her words came true. On 29th January 1899, aged 36, Léonie entered the Visitation convent for the third time and remained there. Emulating Saint Francis de Sales and her holy Sister, she followed the evangelical path of spiritual childhood with humility and simplicity, offering herself to God in perfect self-surrender.

It is not known whether the perspective of testifying at the Apostolic Process was a cause for concern to Sister Françoise-Thérèse, as it had been for the 1910 Process. We know only that she was desirous to testify without leaving the convent of Caen, and had the audacity to make this wish known to Mgr Lemonnier when he visited the Visitandines to celebrate their patron saint’s feast day on 2nd July 1915. “We are not going to move the whole court for you,” exclaimed the Bishop. Yet when in 1910 she stayed for five days at the Benedictine monastery of the Blessed Sacrament, where she was reunited with Sister Marie-Joseph of the Cross, Marcelline Husé, the former servant of the Guérin family, she also went, by order of the bishop, to the Carmelite Convent of Lisieux, where her sisters were nuns, and stayed there from 11th to 18th September 1915, and was therefore reunited with Pauline, Marie and Céline.

WITNESS XI: Françoise‑Thérèse Martin Visit. Ord.

Upon her return to the Visitation convent, she was able, in humility and reverence, to watch the triumphant ascension of her sister Thérèse, who had loved her deeply. Her health began to decline in 1927 with frequent illnesses and rheumatic and arthritic pain. She continued to be of great edification and died on 16th June 1941.

Sister Françoise-Thérèse’s testimony is very simple, as it was in the first Process. She acknowledges that she has little to say about Thérèse’s life as a Carmelite, basing herself mainly on the letters that her sister wrote to her (cf. pp. 933, 934). Yet she provides a few interesting details as to the visits she made to Thérèse at the Carmel of Lisieux: “When I went to see my sisters in the visiting room, I noticed that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus appeared particularly humble and discreet, willingly letting the others do the talking. She was also extremely punctual, being the first to withdraw when the sand-timer showed that the allotted time for visits was over” (pp. 292‑293). Léonie comes back to Thérèse’s dutifulness and faithfulness elsewhere: “When the half-hour that was allotted for visits was over, she would not stay a second longer” (p. 940). She goes on to say, “When I used to see her in the visiting room of the Carmel, she was always careful not to take anything or ask for anything that might be contrary to religious poverty” (p. 940).

The Visitandine does not forget the role Thérèse played in ensuring the success of her vocation (cf. pp. 935‑937, 942-943). She describes her sister’s goodness in these terms: “I noticed... that she was very self-forgetful, and always sought to please others. I was particularly touched by her great sensitivity in her behaviour towards me. I was 23 at the time and she only 13, but I was very much behind in terms of my studies and training. My little sister took it upon herself to teach me, doing so with immense charity and the utmost tact so as not to humiliate me” (p. 922). “My little sister was always very meek and exercised perfect self-control. I do not remember ever seeing her demonstrate impatience, let alone become angry” (p. 938).

Léonie’s testimony carries particular interest for its historical perspective of the Beatification and Canonisation Process of her father and mother. Sister Thérèse wrote, “I have the good fortune of belonging to unparalleled parents who both surrounded us with the same care and the same affection” (MS “A” 5,1). Particular reference may be made to pages 916 and 917, as they contribute to re-establishing the truth with regards to certain unfounded insinuations, insinuations which people did not fail to spread against Mr and Mrs Martin.

The witness testified on 13th and 14th September 1915, in sittings 46 and 47 (pp. 913‑950 of the Public Transcription).

[Sitting 46: - 13th September 1915, at 9am and 2pm]

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

[Answer to the second question:]

My name is Marie‑Léonie Martin, in religion Sister Françoise‑Thérèse. I am a professed nun of the Visitation Convent of Saint Mary in Caen, where I was professed on 2nd July 1900. I was born in Alençon, in the diocese of Séez, on 3rd June 1863 to Louis‑Joseph‑Stanislas Martin, a jeweller, and to Marie‑Zélie Guérin. I am therefore the sister of the Servant of God, Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

 [The witness answers questions three to five satisfactorily].

 [Answer to the sixth question:]

My sole desire is the glorification of God, and I do not believe [914] I am motivated by any wicked disposition that might prevent me from telling the truth. I give my testimony very freely, and no one has influenced it.

[Answer to the seventh question]:

At the time of the Servant of God’s birth, I lived in Alençon, with my parents, and I witnessed firsthand the Servant of God’s early childhood. When my father moved to Lisieux, following my mother’s death in 1877, I was sent to boarding school, at the Benedictine Abbey of Lisieux: I saw my father and sisters on days off and in the holidays. In 1881, I left the boarding school and lived in the house named Les Buissonnets with my father and sisters until 1886. At that time I went away to try religious life. I returned home to Les Buissonnets in January 1888, a few months before the Servant of God joined the Carmelite convent. It was not until after the Servant of God’s death that I left Lisieux and definitively joined the Visitation convent in January 1899. During the Servant of God’s life as a Carmelite, I at times went to see her in the visiting room.

In my testimony, I will draw on my own observations, and also on the writings of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and family letters that my sisters wrote. These documents helped enormously to refresh my memory.

[Answer to the eighth question]:

I have always dearly loved the Servant of God, [915] even during her lifetime, for she was a delightful child. Since her death, I have developed a very deep devotion to her; meditating upon her conduct and her writings does me great good: she is my “ideal saint”.

I very much desire the success of her Beatification Process. This is not because she is my sister and I love her as such; it is because God shall be better known and loved as a result, as Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus has shown by example what Jesus recommends in the Gospel: “Whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matth. 18:4).

WITNESS 11: Françoise‑Thérèse Martin Vis. Ord.

 [Answer to the ninth question]:

The Servant of God was born on 2nd January 1873 in Alençon, in the diocese of Séez. I have already stated, in answer to the second question, the names and occupations of our parents. I attended my little sister’s baptism; she received the sacrament on 4th January 1873, in the church of Notre‑Dame d’Alençon. She was baptised by Father Dumaine, who was curate of the church at the time and is now vicar general to His Excellency the Bishop of Séez. Her godmother was our eldest sister, Marie, and her godfather was the son of one of my father’s friends; I’ve forgotten their names. The Servant of God was baptised with the names Marie‑Françoise‑Thérèse. She was not confirmed until much later on, in the year of her First Communion at the Benedictine Abbey of Lisieux, on 14th June 1884.

[916] Thérèse was the ninth and last child to be born of my parents’ marriage. Of the eight children that preceded her, four died: two brothers and two sisters. Four sisters remained: Marie, Pauline, Léonie and Céline.

Concerning my parents’ dispositions, I can say that they were exemplary Christians. First, my father was remarkable for his great charity to the poor and his total faithfulness to every Christian duty. No material interest could persuade him to open his jewellery shop on Sundays. He attended Holy Mass every day, and took Communion often. He even took Communion every day in the lead-up to his last illness. He observed the fasts prescribed by the Church in all their rigueur, even at the age of 67. I will also note his remarkable respect for priests, whom he never failed to greet with a bow, even if they were strangers.

Our mother was remarkable for her faith and charity to the poor. She would go to the earliest Mass every day. A member of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi, she observed its rule in strict faithfulness and demonstrated austerity in terms of food and all things. She practised self-forgetfulness constantly. She took Communion frequently, of course; but daily Communion was not customary at that time, and I do not recall whether my mother took Communion during the week.

[917] Our parents loved their children dearly, but were not too soft in raising them, as so many are these days. They took great care of our spiritual education and trained us in the Christian virtues.

 [Answer to the tenth question]:

Our mother intended to feed young Thérèse herself at first, but had to give up on account of her weak health. Thérèse was therefore sent to a wet nurse in the country. A year or 18 months later, she was stronger. My mother took her back and raised her until she was four and a half. It was then, in 1877, that our mother died.

Even as a young child, young Thérèse was remarkable for her obedience and honesty. We would need only to tell her once that something was bad for her to carefully avoid doing it again.

If she happened to do something wrong, as children do, she would quickly own up to it of her own accord.

At the age of three, she demonstrated extraordinary knowledge of all things pious. For example, she explained to her sister Céline, who was four years her senior, “There is nothing surprising about God being present in a tiny host because as He is almighty He can do what He pleases” [MSA 10,1].

On 28th August 1877, out mother died. Afterwards, my father left Alençon and came to Lisieux. He did so reluctantly, but for the good of his children, counting on Mrs Guérin, our mother’s [918] sister-in-law, to be of support and useful counsel, since our eldest sister Marie was not yet 17. It was our elder sisters, Maire and Pauline, who mainly oversaw our education at Les Buissonnets. Out of sensitivity, young Thérèse had chosen Pauline to be her “second mother”, and it was indeed Pauline who had the most direct influence on her spiritual education. She even became her school mistress until October 1881. At that time, I had left the boarding school at the Benedictine Abbey of Lisieux, and young Thérèse, aged 8 and a half, took my place, but only as a day boarder for she would return home every evening.

From the age of five to eight, the Servant of God’s dispositions in terms of piety were already remarkable. Her attitude in the evenings, when we would pray as a family or listen to pious readings, showed that her attention was centred wholly upon God.

Every year, she would prepare for the feast of Christmas by way of a novena, during which she would perform nine acts of virtue every day.

At that time, she liked to contemplate a holy card representing “the little flower of the divine prisoner” [MSA 31,2]. To see her, one could tell that already she conducted deep heart-to-hearts with Jesus, but in great secret, for nothing was visible externally save the angelic expression that lit up her face.

[919] [Answer to the tenth question continued]:

She attended school at the Benedictine Abbey from the age of eight and a half until about thirteen.

During that time, the Servant of God demonstrated a maturity beyond her years; she did not like noisy games. Moreover, since our mother’s death, she had become less cheerful, very sensitive and prone to sadness. The close family setting suited her better than the agitation of a public school. She was very successful in her studies, and proved grateful, obedient and mild-mannered with her mistresses. She was kind to her young classmates; she would never have intentionally hurt anyone. Yet it is true to say that the environment did not suit her very well, and she was never completely happy there.

WITNESS XI: Françoise‑Thérèse Martin Vis. Ord.

During Holy Week in 1883, Thérèse contracted a strange and violent illness. For a few months, probably following Pauline’s admission to the Carmel (October 1882), she was particularly sad and complained of persistent headaches. At its height, the sickness was characterised by fits of fright, which would arise unexpectedly [920] and from trivial incidences. Sometimes there would be several fits in the same day. Between fits, she would be motionless and speak little. I am not entirely sure that she was fully lucid. We couldn't leave her for a minute. One day when I left the room for just a few moments, she took advantage of my absence to throw herself over her bed head onto the paved floor. When I returned, I was very frightened, but she had done herself no harm.

I did not attend any of the doctor consultations or hear the doctor give his opinion directly, but I learnt during a family meeting that the doctor had said, “It’s a mental illness... I don’t understand it at all... She might stay in this condition.” At certain times, the patient could not recognise her father or her sister Marie.

After six weeks of illness, on 10th May 1883, the sickness reached its peak. During a particularly violent fit, my sisters and I, frightened and despairing, knelt down at the foot of a statue of the Blessed Virgin that was in the bedroom. I stayed there, sobbing, with my head in my hands, so I did not see the patient’s ecstatic expression when she had the vision of the Most Blessed Virgin. However, when I looked up from my prayer, I saw that little Thérèse was completely healed. Her face had resumed its calm and beauty, and no trace of the strange illness resurfaced ever again.

I do not think she was yet 7 years old when she [921] went to confession for the first time. After that, she would go to confession on important feast days, and liked to receive the sacrament of penance.

The Servant of God took her First Communion in the chapel of the Benedictine Abbey on 8th May 1884 at the age of eleven and a half. She dearly wanted to take it earlier, but was obliged to follow the rules of that time: “It’s most unfortunate,” she said, “to be delayed a year for not having been born two days earlier.” She prepared for the great day with extraordinary fervour, increasing notably the number of sacrifices and acts of love that she performed for God, carefully recording them in a little notebook. I had the opportunity to visit her during her preparatory retreat: she was deeply reverent and fully focused on Jesus’ imminent descent into her heart. On the day of her First Communion, the wholly heavenly and angelic expression of her face proved that she dwelt more in heaven than on earth.

Towards the age of 13, Thérèse had to leave the Benedictine school and stay at home. I do not think this was on her own initiative. My father saw the precarious state of her health and decided to keep her with him. She finished her schooling by taking lessons with a tutor in town and studying on her own at home.

At that time, I left home several times to make attempts at religious life. I therefore found myself in the Servant of God’s company [922] from time to time. I can confirm that she was always very pious, took Communion several times a week, and attended Holy Mass on a daily basis, I believe. I also noticed that she was very self-forgetful, and always sought to please others. I was particularly touched by her great sensitivity in her behaviour towards me. I was 23 at the time, and she only 13, but I was very behind in terms of my studies and training. My little sister took it upon herself to teach me, doing so with immense charity and the utmost tact so as not to humiliate me.

 [Answer to the eleventh question]:

Thérèse never shared with me her intentions as to her vocation. At the time when the question of her admission to the Carmel was being discussed in Bayeux and Rome, I was away from home, as I have said, attempting religious life. I therefore know of these events only by hearsay from my sisters and from reading Story of a Soul.

 [Answer to the twelfth question]:

I know only indirectly what happened during the years that Sister Thérèse spent in the Carmel. However I noticed a few details myself. For instance, when I went to see my sisters in the visiting room, I noticed that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus appeared particularly humble and discreet, willingly [923] letting the others do the talking. She was also extremely punctual, being the first to withdraw when the sand-timer showed that the allotted time for visits was over.

 [Answer to questions thirteen and fourteen]:

As much as I was able to observe my little sister’s life, I never saw her commit the least breach of duty or obligation, or noticed any slackening in her practice of virtue.

 [Answer to questions fifteen to twenty-one inclusively]:

The Servant of God’s spirit of faith was revealed to me mainly in the constant habit she had of appreciating all things from God’s perspective. In her conversations, the advice she gave me and letters she wrote to me, she spoke only of heavenly matters. To illustrate her natural way of thinking, I can do no better than to quote two passages from letters she addressed to me and which I treasure. On 20th August 1894, following our father’s death, she wrote to me as follows,

“I think more than ever about you now that our dear Father has gone up to heaven; I believe you are experiencing the same feelings as ourselves. Papa's death does not strike me as a death but a real life. I am as though reunited with him after an absence of 6 years; I feel him around me, watching over me and protecting me...

WITNESS 11: Françoise‑Thérèse Martin Vis. Ord.

“Dear little Sister, are we not more united now that, [924] as we gaze up to the heavens, we find there a Father and a Mother who offered us to Jesus? Soon their desires will be accomplished, and all the children God gave them are going to be united to Him forever....” [LT 170].

11th April 1896. “Dear Léonie, Your very little Sister cannot refrain from writing to you also to tell you how much she loves you and is thinking of you, especially on this your feast day. I have nothing to offer you, not even a picture; but I am mistaken, I will offer you tomorrow the divine Reality, Jesus-Victim, YOUR SPOUSE and mine. Dear little Sister, how sweet it is that all five of us can call Jesus ‘Our Beloved’. But what will it be when we see Him in heaven and follow Him everywhere, singing the very canticle that only virgins are permitted to sing! Then we shall understand the value of suffering, and, like Jesus, we shall say, ‘It was truly necessary that suffering should try us and raise us up to glory.’ Dear little Sister, I cannot tell you all the deep thoughts my heart contains concerning yourself; the only thing I want to say is this: I love you a thousand times more tenderly than ordinary sisters love each other, for I can love you with the Heart of our celestial Spouse. In Him we are living the same life, and in Him for all eternity I shall remain, Your very little sister, Thérèse of the Child Jesus” [LT 186].

[Sitting 47: 14th September 1915, at 9am and 2pm]

[932] [Answer to questions twenty-two to twenty-six]:

In the years that I spent with the Servant of God before she joined the Carmel, I often noticed that the purpose of her effort was not to find [933] happiness here below. She very often thought of eternal life and the happiness of heaven, and liked to speak about it.

Following her admission to the Carmel, I knew of her inner dispositions only by way of the few letters she wrote to me and which I quoted in the first Process. I will go over the main passages demonstrating that she thought of heaven more and more over time, and that she envisaged earthly sufferings from this point of view.

On 20th May 1894, she wrote, “I cannot tell you everything I would like to say... But one day in heaven, in our beautiful homeland, I shall look at you and in my eyes you will see all I would like to say to you... In the meantime, we must merit the homeland of heaven… We must suffer, we must fight” [LT 163].

In January 1895, after our father’s death, she wrote, “The year that has just passed away has been very fruitful for heaven: our dear Father has seen what ‘no human eye has seen.’ Our day will come also... Oh, how sweet it is to think we are sailing towards the eternal shore!... Dear little Sister, do you not find, as I do, that our Father's departure has brought us closer to heaven? More than half the family now enjoys the vision of God, and it will not be long before the five exiled on earth will fly away to their homeland. The thought of the brevity of life gives me courage; it helps me bear the weariness of the road” [LT 173].

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

As a very young child, the Servant of God [934] loved everything that related to piety. At the age of 7, when Marie and Pauline were preparing Céline for her First Communion, Thérèse begged to be allowed to attend the lessons and exercises. Thérèse’s piety was enlightened, simple, amiable, without artifice and without restraint. She approached God with the naivety and candour of a child who runs into their father’s arms. At church, she was the most reverent of all of us, even during long services, and inspired admiration in the person responsible for guarding the children. I’ve said that, when she joined the Carmel, the Servant of God and I were separated. I know of her inner dispositions only by way of a few letters and my memories of visits. I could therefore relate what I have heard from my sisters, or what I have read from notes they have sent to me and letters they have written to me, but I would be pointlessly repeating the testimony that they can provide themselves.

Here is a passage from a letter that Thérèse wrote to me on 12th July 1896. She remarks upon the following passage from Canticle of Canticles: “You have wounded my heart by one hair on your neck” (4:9). “We who live in the law of love, how can we not profit from the loving advances our Spouse is making to us? How can we fear Him who allows Himself to be enchained by a hair fluttering on our neck? Let us understand, then, how to hold Him prisoner, this [935] God who becomes the beggar of our love. By telling us that it is a hair that can work this wonder, He is showing us that the smallest actions done out of love are the ones which charm His Heart. Ah, if we had to do great things, how much we would have to be pitied!... But how fortunate we are since Jesus allows Himself to be enchained by the smallest things” [LT 191].

[Answer to questions thirty-two to thirty-six]:

Already at the age of five, six and seven, Thérèse displayed great devotion to her neighbour. I said before that she did not like childish games and was thoughtful and quiet. Yet she would spend whole afternoons playing games that she disliked to humour a sickly cousin.

I could repeat here what I have already said about the patience and goodness she showed to me.

WITNESS 11: Françoise‑Thérèse Martin Vis. Ord.

Mother Agnes of Jesus told me the following, which illustrates how charitable she was towards me: Mother Marie de Gonzague, Prioress, had told Thérèse to pray for our father’s recovery when prostrated on the day of her profession, but she contented herself to say, “My God, let papa recover, if it is Your will, since Mother Prioress told me to pray for this, but for Léonie, let it be Your will that she becomes a Visitandine and, if she doesn’t have the vocation, I pray that you might give it to her: You cannot refuse me this” [Primary source]. It so happened that I would leave the [936] Visitation convent following a fruitless attempt, but the Servant of God’s faith remained unshakable. She told Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, “After my death, I will obtain Léonie’s admission to the Visitation convent and she will persevere”. 

When she was young, she liked attending to the poor, and nothing repulsed her, not even dirt. She would kiss and cuddle the poor and often unclean children. She enjoyed teaching children and talking to them about God.

Later on, on 12th July 1896, she wrote to me from the Carmel, in a letter I have already quoted, “It is not little sacrifices you lack, dear Léonie,... I take delight at seeing you before such a treasure and especially to think you are able to profit from it, not only for yourself, but for souls. It is so sweet to help Jesus by our light sacrifices, to help Him save souls that He bought at the price of His Blood” [LT 191].

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

Her prudence seemed remarkable in terms of the advice she gave me for my spiritual good and my vocation. Before I joined the convent, I was plagued by hesitations, and made several attempts at religious life. In the visiting room, the Servant of God encouraged me to persevere and turned me away from all things worldly. She said that, having donned the religious habit, even temporarily, I should [937] not give into vanity in dress. Moreover, as I’ve said, she remained hopeful that I would become definitively consecrated in the Visitation Order, which I did.

Here is a passage from a letter she wrote to me at that trying time (11th October 1894): “Since we learnt of your trials, all our thoughts and prayers are for you. I have great confidence that my dear little Visitandine will emerge victorious from all her great trials and will one day be a model nun. Jesus is sleeping while His poor spouse is fighting against the waves of temptation, but we are going to call Him so tenderly that He will awaken soon, commanding the wind and the storm... Dear little Sister, you will see that joy will follow hardship and later on you will be happy for having suffered” [LT 171].

To support what I have just said concerning the wisdom of her advice and doctrine, I can do no better than to quote the fine testimony that our Holy Father Benedict XV pronounced on 17th May 1913, when he was Archbishop of Bologna. To mark the life of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus being published in Italian, he wrote, “It seems that this pious Carmelite disciple wanted to convince us of how easy it is to reach Christian perfection. This is why she insisted in showing us ‘her way of spiritual childhood’. Nothing should be easier than trusting in the way that children trust, or than surrendering ourselves completely into the [938] arms of Jesus. It is sweet to hope that the example of Thérèse of the Child Jesus, whose holy simplicity raised her to the heights of perfection, will be useful to the faithful of our diocese” [Annals 7-1931].

 [The witness goes on to reply to questions thirty-nine and forty]:

I can think of no precise answer to these questions. I can only reiterate that the Servant of God accomplished all her duties, towards both God and her fellow creatures, with the utmost perfection.

 [Answer to the forty-first question]:

My little sister was always very meek and exercised perfect self-control. I do not remember ever seeing her demonstrate impatience, let alone become angry. She never asked for sweets, either, as other children do.

[939] [Answer to the forty-second question]:

The Servant of God had high esteem for the merit of suffering when it is borne bravely for God. I found she showed great strength of character in difficult circumstances. An example is the day she was admitted to the Carmel. She loved our father very dearly, and was particularly loved by him. She was undoubtedly deeply pained to part from him, and the thought of the grief felt by our father made her sacrifice even more heroic. However, she parted from her family in perfect serenity.

I thought her very courageous when our father fell ill. I have already quoted a few passages from letters in which she expresses the generosity and spirit of faith with which she bore the sacrifice.

In the advice she gave me, she often said that sacrifice and suffering were considered precious blessings. In January 1895, she wrote, “God finds you worthy of suffering for His love, and it is the greatest proof of affection that He may give you, for suffering makes us like Him” [LT 173].

 [Answer to the forty-third question]:

The Servant of God was amiable and gracious, but she was not at all vain and was a stranger to even the shadow of evil.

WITNESS 11: Françoise‑Thérèse Martin Vis. Ord.

She had a natural liking for beautiful things, and this inner nobility raised her high [940] above sensual pleasures.

 [Answer to the forty-fourth question]:

When Thérèse was a child, she did not spend the money she was given on superfluous things. She would give almost all of it to the poor in alms or to charitable works, or else use it to bring pleasure to others.

Whenever I saw her in the visiting room of the Carmel, she was always careful not to take anything or to ask for anything as this might have been contrary to religious poverty.

 [Answer to the forty-fifth question]:

In her childhood and youth, until she joined the Carmel, the Servant of God was extremely obedient, easy-going and joyful. She did not need to be told something twice and would diligently follow the little rule that she had imposed on herself at the age of 13 and 14 with regards to her use of time and order of her readings. In the visiting room of the Carmel, I also noticed her perfect obedience: when the half-hour that was allotted for visits was over, she would not stay a second longer.

She never objected, and would submit herself to others’ judgement with great ease.

 [Answer to the forty-sixth question]:

As a child, Thérèse was reserved and modest, [941] and never showed off, easily persuading herself that she was inferior to others.

Although very pretty, this was of no concern to her, and she seemed unaware of it, demonstrating indifference as to the clothes that her elder sisters presented to her.

Even though our father had a particular affection for her, which she deserved, she never boasted about it and remained humbly submitted to her sisters. The letters she wrote to me later on from the Carmel are all full of praise for the virtue of humility and exhortations to practise it. On 27th December 1893, she wrote, “Pray to sweet Jesus for me that I may always remain very, very little” [LT 154].

On 22nd May 1894, alluding to my religious name of Thérèse, which was also her name, she wrote:

“Which Thérèse shall be the most fervent? The one who is the most humble and closely united to Jesus” [LT 164].

On 28th April 1895, she wrote, “Creatures will not see my efforts to virtue. Trying to forget myself, I shall want no other glance but that of Jesus. What does it matter if I appear poor and destitute of mind and talents? I want to put into practice the recommendation from The Imitation: ‘Set your joy only in contempt of self. Love to be unknown and counted as nothing’” [LT 176 and Imit. Bk 1 ch.2-3].

 [Answer to the forty-seventh question]:

I live in a community, amidst very faithful and very fervent people, but the contrast is striking between their nature and what I observed in the [942] Servant of God. This contrast is particularly noticeable in that there was no slackening in her virtue; on the contrary, it progressed continually. I also noticed, in the Servant of God’s holiness, an amiability and an ease that I consider rare.

 [Answer to the forty-eighth question]:

There was nothing indiscreet about her; I have just said, on the contrary, that everything about her virtue was simple and amiable.

 [Answer to the forty-ninth question]:

I do not think the Servant of God saw any visions or experienced rapture, except three or four times, according to what I have heard. These were: the vision of the Blessed Virgin, who healed her when she was 10, a prophetic vision of our father’s illness, a flame or wound of love whilst walking the Stations of the Cross in the Carmel, an extraordinary feeling of union to God, which lasted between 8 and 10 days during her novitiate, and a state of ecstasy at the moment of her death. However, I did not directly witness any of these events and Thérèse never spoke to me about them.

As far as I am concerned, I must note a prophetic vision seen by the Servant of God concerning my vocation. When I abandoned the Visitation convent following a fruitless attempt at religious life, she told Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, “After my death, I will obtain Léonie’s admission to the Visitation convent and she will persevere.” And I was indeed admitted to it, on 28th January 1899. I was professed in 1900 [943] and hope to remain here until I die.

On 3rd June 1897, when I left the convent, and was thinking of orientating myself towards secular life, she sent me a picture that I have since treasured. On the back, she had written, “Dear little Sister, how sweet it is for me to think that one day we shall follow together the Lamb for the whole of eternity!” [LT 238]

 [Answer to the fiftieth question]:

Besides the events I related in answer to the preceding question, I have not heard it said that the Servant of God performed any miracles during her lifetime.

 [Answer to the fifty-first question]:

I remember Mother Agnes of Jesus telling me in the visiting room that she had requested Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus to write down her life story. But I did not discover the contents of the manuscript until it was published, after the Servant of God’s death. Concerning her early years, which I witnessed, I can confirm that the account is perfectly true, and I am in no doubt as to the scrupulous sincerity of the rest of the manuscript.

WITNESS 11: Françoise‑Thérèse Martin Vis. Ord.

[Answer to the fifty-second question]:

I was kept informed, as events unfolded, of what took place in the months preceding the Servant of God’s death by way of letters from my sisters and conversations with them in the [944] visiting room. She was definitively confined to her bed in July 1897. I saw her for the last time in the visiting room on 3rd July if I remember correctly. Her face appeared angelic and almost translucent. I learnt from my sisters that she endured great suffering in admirable dispositions of faith, love and patience. I have treasured a letter from her, a copy of which I submitted to the court in the first Process. It is the last letter she wrote to me; it is dated 17th July 1897 and is written in pencil. Here it is: “Dear Léonie, I am very happy to be able to speak with you again. A few days ago I was thinking I no longer had this consolation on earth, but God seemed willing to prolong my exile a little. I am not perturbed by this, for I would not want to enter heaven one minute earlier by my own will. The only happiness on earth is to do our upmost to always find the lot Jesus gives us delightful. Your lot is so beautiful, dear little sister; if you want to be a saint, it will be easy for you since deep down in your heart the world means nothing to you. You can, then, like us, occupy yourself with ‘the one thing necessary,' that is to say: while you give yourself up devotedly to exterior works, your purpose is simple: to please Jesus and to unite yourself more closely to Him. You want me to pray in heaven to the Sacred Heart for you. Be sure that I shall not forget to deliver your messages to Him and to ask all that will be necessary for you to become a great saint. [945] A Dieu, dear sister; I would like the thought of my entrance into heaven to fill you with gladness since I shall be able to love you even more. Your little sister, Thérèse of the Child Jesus” [LT 257].

She died at 7 o’clock on the evening of 30th September 1897, in a transport of love, which my sisters recounted to me, and which is described in the epilogue of Story of a Soul.

 [Answer to the fifty-third question]:

I saw the Servant of God’s body laid out at the choir grate. I thought her face looked extremely beautiful, more so than any other I’ve seen in death. I would readily have stayed to contemplate it, but the crowd of faithful who had come to see her body and to pray prevented me from doing so. The chapel was full. There were even people in the sanctuary and on the altar steps. Undoubtedly, there had been many fewer people present following the death of other Carmelites. I heard someone behind me say, “She is so beautiful! It is difficult to pray for her, one feels compelled to pray to her.”

 [Answer to the fifty-fourth question]:

I attended the burial, which took place on Monday 4th October in the town cemetery. The coffin was placed in a grave in the bottom right hand corner of the new plot designated for Carmelites. I noticed that the grave was very deep. There were numerous clergymen present.

[946] I learnt from public documents that she was exhumed and transferred to a neighbouring grave by order of His Excellency the Bishop of Bayeux, on 6th September 1910.

 [Answer to the fifty-fifth question]:

At the first burial, which I attended, absolutely nothing took place that resembled worship to the Servant of God.

I did not attend the exhumation ceremony.

 [Answer to the fifty-sixth question]:

After the Servant of God’s death, I stayed at home for another 18 months before joining the convent definitively. During that time, I often went to pray at my little sister’s grave. Some faithful would come already but they were few.

Having been a cloistered nun since January 1899, I have not been back to the grave, but I know, from public testimony, that her burial place has become a pilgrimage site. The number of pilgrims is significant and regular.

 [Answer to the fifty-seventh question]:

In the Servant of God’s lifetime, when she lived at Les Buissonnets, I often heard people of good judgement say that the child was out of the ordinary, that there was something heavenly about her face and also that her wisdom and behaviour, as well as her piety, were exemplary.

[947] Later on, following her admission to the Carmel, several nuns in the monastery told me in the visiting room that she was out of the ordinary, that she had the maturity of a 40 year old, and was considered a model nun on account of the holiness of her life.

 [Who were the nuns that said this? Were they the Servant of God’s own sisters?]:

There were others besides my sisters, but I do not remember their names, apart from Mother Marie of Angels and Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustine.

 [What do you know of Sister Thérèse’s renown for holiness following her death?]

When Story of a Soul was published, the admiration of faithful for the Servant of God’s holiness spread like wildfire, and today, that fire burns brightly all over the world.

In her manuscript, the Servant of God says, “To this day, O God, I have declared Your wonderful works, and I shall continue to do so even when I am old and grey” [MSC 3,1]. Is this not a prophecy of the true mission that she is accomplishing today?

WITNESS 11: Françoise‑Thérèse Martin Vis. Ord.

Since my arrival at the Carmel to give my testimony, I have noticed that there are many more people and services in the chapel than there used to be.

[948] I have seen a priest say Mass for a pilgrimage group he had brought there. I was astonished to see, in a corridor inside the convent, how many votive offerings have been sent in thanksgiving for blessings obtained through the Servant of God’s intercession. More ex-votos are stacked up in a locked room. Candles that faithful have sent burn continuously before the statue of the Most Blessed Virgin. Apparently 600 francs’ worth of candles are lit every month.

In the Visitation community in Caen, it is unanimously acknowledged that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus is a saint. Of course some nuns are less enthusiastic than others, but everyone agrees that she is holy.

 [Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I have never heard anyone utter a single remark against the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness. I have indeed heard it said, even in our community, that the way in which pictures, medallions, jewellery, etc. concerning Sister Thérèse have been distributed has been somewhat over-zealous and excessive. It is even believed that the Carmel itself is behind this propaganda, but this is not true. The Carmel merely responds to the requests of faithful, and in many cases, [949] shopkeepers sell to the public objects that they have made without anyone being able to stop them.

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

In the winter of 1900, fighting a feeling of boredom and aversion, I was sloppily reciting the divine office one evening, when to my great astonishment I saw a luminescent shape appear on my divine office book. I was not frightened; quite the opposite. After a moment, I realised that the luminescent shape was a hand. I believed firmly that it was my little Thérèse; I felt deeply comforted and was flooded with a delightful feeling of peace. I have not seen the hand since.

On two or three anniversaries of Sister Thérèse’s death, 30th September, I perceived the scent of roses; this was four or five years ago. The favour has not reoccurred in recent years.

At the first Process, I spoke of the miraculous healing of a nun in our community; Sister Marie Bénigne. But it has since been discovered that the nun suffers from nervousness, rendering the case doubtful.

I have heard, both in our community and in the visiting room, quite a significant number of people say that they owe various spiritual blessings to Sister Thérèse’s intercession. I myself am convinced I have obtained many graces by praying to her.

I have read numerous accounts, both handwritten and printed in editions of Shower of Roses, of temporal [950] and spiritual favours having been obtained from the Servant of God, but I haven’t studied them in any detail.

Lastly, during recreation at the Carmel yesterday, we were read a letter from Colonel Etienne, who has consecrated his entire regiment to Sister Thérèse and says that it is highly protected.

 [Answer to the sixty-sixth question]:

I have nothing to add.

[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: SISTER THÉRÈSE‑ FRANCOISE MARTIN, witness. I have testified as above according to the truth. I hereby ratify and confirm it.