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Witness 15 - Alexandre‑Charles Maupas

 

Alexandre‑Charles Maupas (1850-1920) was nominated Parish Priest of Saint‑Jacques church in Lisieux and Delegate Superior of the Carmelite Convent in 1895 (vol. I, p. 526) and therefore did not come into contact with Thérèse until towards the end of her life. He states modestly (p. 1001) that he had not had enough time to form a personal and thorough opinion as to the Servant of God’s virtues.

His testimony is therefore more about Thérèse’s reputation for holiness than the heroic nature of her virtues. Yet it is moving to hear him quote some of the Servant of God’s comments as she prepared to leave this world and join the heavenly Father. These quotations prove the objectivity of the notes that Mother Agnes published in Last Conversations relating to the Servant of God’s joy at the thought of her imminent encounter with Jesus (cf. p. 1002).

The witness testified on 17th September 1915, in the 51st sitting (pp. 996‑1005 of the public transcription).

[Sitting 51: ‑ 17th September 1915, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.]

[1000] [The witness answers the first question satisfactorily.]

 [Answer to the second question:]

My name is Father Alexandre‑Charles Maupas. I am Honorary Canon and Parish Priest of the Church of Saint‑Jacques in Lisieux and Ecclesiastical Superior of the Carmelite convent of the same town. I was born on 27th August 1850 in Mesnil-Auzouf, in the Diocese of Bayeux, to Alexandre‑Pierre Maupas, a farmer, and Jeanne Marie.

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

[Answer to the sixth question:]

I am testifying in all sincerity and freedom.

WITNESS 15: Alexandre‑Charles Maupas

 [Answer to the seventh question]:

When I arrived at Saint‑Jacques in 1895, and was nominated Ecclesiastical Superior of the Carmel, the Servant of God had already been there for 7 years and had 5 years of profession. I therefore came to know her in the last two years of her life and especially in her last illness.

 [Answer to the eighth question]:

I have a true devotion to the Servant of God, for I believe I have obtained manifest blessings through her intercession. I desire her beatification for the good of the Church [1001] and of souls. I hope it will happen as soon as possible, so I can witness it.

 [Answer to questions nine to eleven inclusively]:

I know nothing about the early life of Sister Thérèse, other than what I have read and heard.

 [Answer to the twelfth question]:

In the few months between my appointment as Father Superior and the Servant of God’s last illness, I rarely saw her, and did not have time to form a personal opinion of her.

 [Answer to questions thirteen to fifty inclusively]:

I did not know her well enough to be able to form a personal and thorough opinion as to these various points.

[Answer to the fifty-first question]:

I read the Servant of God’s writings with great pleasure and great edification. I particularly admired the sublimeness of her doctrine on the love of God. I was also struck by her extended knowledge of Holy Scripture, and by the marvellous insights that she was able to draw from almost every page. It far outweighs what can be expected of such a young nun, and I would consider myself fortunate to be able to do the same.

Having had the opportunity to pass through the monastery of the Grande Chartreuse in 1902 or 1903, I cannot remember [1002] the precise date, I was told by one of the abbey’s chief monks, “We long sought a book that would benefit our friars, and the life of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus responds perfectly to this need and is benefitting our friars enormously.”

 [Answer to the fifty-second question]:

When I first saw her ill, she looked joyful and radiant. When I asked her the cause of her joy, she replied, “It is because, this time, I know I am soon going to see Jesus.” She appeared to envisage death not only with great serenity, but also with true joy.

When I administered to her the sacrament of Extreme Unction shortly before she died, I told her that if she received this sacrament in good dispositions, her soul would be “as pure as on the day of her baptism.” According to her sister, these last words brought her great joy.

 [Answer to the fifty-third question]:

I noticed nothing exceptional about the state of her body following her death.      

 [Answer to the fifty-fourth question]:

I presided over the burial, which took place in the town cemetery, in the plot reserved for Carmelite nuns, on 4th October 1897. Nothing out of the ordinary happened on this occasion. I also attended the transfer of [1003] her remains into a neighbouring grave on 6th September 1910, ceremony presided over by His Excellency the Bishop of Bayeux. The official report of it was published.

 [Answer to the fifty-fifth question]:

Nothing took place on these occasions that was contrary to the rules of the Church.

 [Answer to the fifty-sixth question]:

Unfortunately, the state of my health does not allow me to go to her burial place as often as I would like, but I am fully aware that, every day, from morning until night, a continuous stream of pilgrims from all social backgrounds and all countries visit it.

 [Answer to the fifty-seventh question]:

In the last few weeks of the Servant of God’s lifetime, I noticed she was considered in the community as a model nun. The chaplain, Father Youf, claimed at the time that he held her in the highest esteem. Today, in my parish, and in the whole town, she is considered a saint. What is more, having had the opportunity to journey afar, I have noticed that no matter where I stop, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus is known and regarded as a saint.

 [Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I have never heard anyone express an opinion that was contrary [1004] to the Servant of God’s holiness. I have heard it said a few times that a bit of a commotion was perhaps being made around her Cause, yet I attach no importance to such remarks. Besides, the Servant of God has had no hand in creating the fuss, and whatever people might say or do does not stop her from being a saint.

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

Personally, I attribute the unexpected conversion of three dying people to my prayers to the Servant of God. One of these conversions was particularly remarkable. Under religious censorship, the man refused to recant, and seemed doomed to dying in a state of final impenitence. I prayed a novena to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, asking that the invalid would send for me himself, which is precisely what happened towards the end of the novena. I was able to administer to him all the sacraments and he died an edifying death.

I have also witnessed firsthand conversions of pilgrims. One in particular was most striking.

I also believe I owe her my recovery from a serious illness last winter. A novena was prayed for me, the last day of which fell on the anniversary of the Servant of God’s baptism.

WITNESS 15: Alexandre‑Charles Maupas

I joined in the prayers, and at the end of the novena I found myself unexpectedly on the road to recovery.

Apart from these personal favours, I know that a very large number of people claim to have obtained all sorts of blessings through her intercession. I have [1005] not taken the trouble to verify these claims.

 [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: A. MAUPAS, Father Superior of the Carmelite Convent