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Witness 15 - Martha of Jesus and of the Blessed Perboyre, O.C.D.

 

Sister Martha of Jesus, a lay sister, was Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus’ companion in the novitiate, then her disciple.

Désirée-Florence-Marthe Cauvin was born in Griverville (diocese of Evreux) on 16th July 1865, the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Having lost her father and mother very young, she spent her childhood and youth in orphanages in Paris then Bernay, which profoundly marked her psyche. She entered the Carmelite convent on 23rd December 1887 and took the Habit on 2nd May 1889. She made her Profession on 23rd September 1890, requesting and obtaining permission to stay in the novitiate in order to remain under the direction of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

“Of mediocre intelligence, she suffered and unintentionally made those around her suffer, due to her argumentative nature which, despite real effort, she never managed to entirely correct. But, by contrast, her tireless frankness, good heart and dedication, and lastly her immense piety, edified us very often” (Obituary Circular p.2). Fr. Stéphane-Joseph Piat, in his book “Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux à la découverte de la voie d'enfance” (“Saint Thérèse of Lisieux discovers the way of childhood”) (Paris 1964), described Sister Martha as follows: “an upright heart, dedicated, pious, she was not lacking in qualities, but her narrow-mindedness, brutal frankness, and aggressive instinct together with her frustration complex as a result of a lack of maternal affection, left her quite unsociable. If she wasn’t excessively clinging to either Mother Marie de Gonzague, for whom she became servant and follower, or to Thérèse herself, who corrected her tenderly, she would shut herself away in a melancholy sulk, and risk erupting into biting sarcasm. It was she who, through error of judgment, would serve the Saint with dried up leftovers, and also she who charitably invited her, unsuccessfully, to come and warm herself in the kitchen.      

She both feared and admired her, testing her with her sarcastic remarks, silence or untimely visits, but loved her enough to implore and obtain permission to stay with her in the novitiate. A fruitless task if ever there was one, and Sister Thérèse was the first to admit it…” (ch. 7, p. 171).

It is to Sister Martha that Thérèse is referring when she mentions the companion in the novitiate with whom she was permitted “to hold little spiritual talks from time to time” MSC, p. 20v – Jesus allowing Thérèse to enlighten her on her faults and especially the overly human affection she had for Mother Marie de Gonzague (ibid. 20v-21v).

Again it was to comfort Sister Martha that Sister Thérèse for three years took her private annual retreat with her, endeavouring each day to note down sacrifices and practices of virtue, for the personal use of the complicated humble lay sister (who would testify to this in the Apostolic Trial).

Sister Thérèse wrote her a few notes that reveal to us the extent to which she knew how to handle and understand this sister, even in her darkest moments. It was for her that Thérèse wrote, on 16th July 1897, as a birthday present, the Prayer to obtain Humility. (HA, pp. 307-308).

During the last years of her life, Sister Martha of Jesus experienced a spiritual transformation that became even more profound and visible during the months of suffering preceding her death. She died on 4th September 1916*.

The witness testified on 17th–18th February 1911, in sessions 60-61, pp. 616r-632v of our Public Copy.

[Session 60: - 17th February 1911, at 2pm]

[616r] [The witness answers the first question correctly].

[Answer to the second question]:

My name is Désirée Florence Cauvin, in religion Sister Martha of Jesus and of Blessed Perboyre. I was born in Giverville (diocese of Evreux) on 16th July 1865 of the legitimate marriage between Alphonse Cauvin and Augustine Pitray. I am a lay sister of the Carmelite convent of Lisieux, which I entered as a postulant [616v] in 1887 and where I made my Profession in 1890, on 23rd September.

[The witness answers questions three to six correctly].

[Answer to the seventh question]:

I have prayed a great deal to God that I don’t offend him in the way I am going to testify. Even though I love the Servant of God very much, I would prefer to say nothing in her favour than fall short of the truth.

[Answer to the eighth question]:

I entered the Carmelite convent only three months before the Servant of God, I was therefore her companion in the novitiate. From then on, I clung closely to her, because of her virtues and the good she did to my soul. This special closeness kept us together until her death. I will only use my personal memories in my deposition.

[Answer to the ninth question]:

I love Sister Thérèse of [617r] the Child Jesus very much because of her virtue and the good she did to my soul. I pray a great deal for her beatification which I believe will glorify God and do souls good.

[Answers to questions ten to sixteen]:

I know nothing about the Servant of God before her entrance into the Carmelite convent.

[Answer to the seventeenth question]:

The Servant of God entered the Carmelite convent of Lisieux in April 1888. She took the Habit on 10th January 1889. We did our novitiate together. She made her Profession on 8th September 1890. The delay before her Profession was longer than usual because, as she was so young, our Superior, Father Delatroëtte, imposed this delay. As soon as the Servant of God came among us, I noticed that she was not an ordinary soul. When I saw her perfection, I had difficulty understanding how such a young Sister could be so perfect. What especially struck me about her, was [617v] her humility, her spirit of religion and her mortification.

[Answer to the eighteenth question]:

Even in her earliest years of religious life, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus’ virtue gave her influence over her companions in the novitiate. All the novices, as I did, felt the need to seek her opinions, her encouragements and to follow her advice. Seeing as our Mother Prioress had given us permission to communicate with the Servant of God on such matters, we effectively treated Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus as a true novice mistress. In 1896, when Mother Marie de Gonzague became Prioress, she fully entrusted her with the task of training the novices, although she didn’t give her the title of the post. The Servant of God wished to remain in the novitiate, out of humility, even after her time in the novitiate was officially over. I myself stayed with her until 1895, and even after this date I never ceased seeking the Servant of God’s opinion. She directed the novitiate in a strong [618r] way; she was extremely vigilant and very perspicacious in noticing our imperfections and correcting us of them. She did so with much zeal and never sought the consolations that a less demanding approach would have procured her. She loved us all equally, but with an affection that was completely spiritual, very strong and disinterested.    

[Answer to the nineteenth question]:

I did notice that, in the last months of her life, the Servant of God was writing something personal, but I didn’t know exactly what it was, or the conditions in which she was writing the work. I received little messages from her in which she exhorted me to fervour. I think she must of also written similar ones to other Sisters.

[Answer to the twentieth question]:

I don’t know if I’m right, but I believe a heroic virtue is a virtue that is not mean-spirited, is out of the ordinary, and sublime. The Servant of God’s virtue always appeared to me to be so. It is precisely because [618v] her holiness was not ordinary that I felt indomitably attracted to her.

[Answer to the twenty-first question]:

ON FAITH. – I noticed that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus always had an immense spirit of faith. She saw only God in everything and everyone. This was especially true of her Superiors to whom she demonstrated absolute obedience.

ON LOVE OF GOD. – It was impossible to go near Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus without being surrounded and filled with the presence of God. She had a way of talking about spiritual things that was tireless to listen to. She felt what she was saying so deeply that we felt it was like a flame unceasingly devouring and consuming her. Everything about her commanded respect; we could feel as we neared her that her soul was always united with God and that she never lost his presence. In the choir, she taught me a great deal through her humble, modest and reverent behaviour; she seemed so filled with the presence of God, as if she was lost in him. She said to me one day: “I only have one desire, that of becoming a great saint, because that’s the only thing that is real on earth. I am determined to set about working with courage; I don’t want to refuse Jesus any of the numerous sacrifices he is asking of me, but present him with my soul so that he may possess it entirely and do with me what he pleases. This work requires suffering, I am well aware of that; but what a joy to suffer for those whom we love” – Primary source.

[Session 61: - 18th February 1911, at 8:30 and at 2pm]

[621r] [Continuation of the answer to the twenty-first question]:

ON LOVE OF GOD (continuation). – No earthly things interested her; she was indifferent to everything, except that which involved the glory of God and souls. One day she said to me: “In order for your Love to become very pure and disinterested, you mustn’t share it, but let Jesus possess it entirely. If you give it to an earthly creature, what do you expect to get in return? Perhaps some mark of affection: but afterwards only disappointments await you, whereas if you give it to Jesus, you are sure to find true happiness, because he is a faithful friend who never changes.”

ON CHARITY FOR ONE’S NEIGHBOUR. When a Sister needed the Servant of God to assist her and would come and disturb her at no matter what time of the day, she could be sure of receiving a warm welcome: Sister [621v] Thérèse of the Child Jesus never showed any annoyance at being disturbed. She was always willing to please, and this sometimes cost her immense sacrifices. When she was unable to do what was asked of her, she apologized so amiably that we would return to our cells as happy as if she had granted our request. She said to me one day: “We must never refuse anyone anything, even if it costs us a lot of pain. Imagine it’s Jesus asking you for something; how you would then hurry to assist him, and always with an amiable face!”  

In her immense charity, she always forgave those who could cause her pain, judging their intentions to be good. Her charity extended in particular to Sisters who could give her cause for distress. One day I asked her: “How is it that you always smile when my Sister *** speaks to you? There is nothing that could draw you to her however, for she is always making you suffer.” She replied: “That’s precisely what makes me love her and show her so much affection; how could I prove my love to Jesus if I behaved otherwise with those who [622r] make me suffer?” A postulant accused the Servant of God and I of asking our Mother Prioress to send her away from the monastery, which was absolutely false. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus said to me: “Let us pray for her, let us show lots of affection and be helpful to her. That way, she won’t suffer any more and will see that she was mistaken.”  

But I must above all testify to the way in which the Servant of God treated me personally. She was unspeakably kind and charitable with me; only in heaven will it be known how much good she did me and just how dedicated she was to me. However, I caused her much suffering as a result of my difficult character; but I can say in all truthfulness that she was unwavering in her gentleness and even-temperedness; I would even say that the more I made her suffer, the more I thought I saw her double her efforts to be considerate and thoughtful. She never pushed me away, despite my frequent visits; I never noticed the least annoyance at my coming. I loved her very much for her admirable virtues; sometimes, however, I felt a little jealous, and because she pointed out my faults, I [622v] did get angry on occasions; so I distanced myself from her and resolved not to speak to her anymore. But in her immense charity, she always sought me out to do good to my soul and, through her gentleness, always managed to win me over.

One day I was annoyed, and I said things to her that must have hurt her a great deal. Yet she didn’t let anything show and spoke to me calmly and kindly, persistently beseeching me to help her perform some duty. I yielded to her request, but complained, because it bothered me a great deal. I then had the idea of seeing how far I could try her patience, and to test her virtue, I decided not to respond to what she said to me; but I didn’t manage to weaken her kindness and I ended up asking her to forgive me for my behaviour. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus didn’t criticize me at all, or make any mortifying remark to me, and while showing me my errors, she encouraged me to be gentler when it came to assisting others. I couldn’t believe the charity with which she treated me. I often asked myself what could possibly be worthwhile her taking such an interest in a poor little lay-sister. It’s nevertheless impossible to [623r] explain how much dedication she showed to my soul.

ON PRUDENCE. – The Servant of God’s prudence seemed very great to me, especially in the way she trained the novices. In general, I can say that she studied particularly carefully what God was asking of each of us; she was always alert to spot the smallest of faults. I was sometimes surprised that she could see so clearly; nothing escaped her. She corrected very gently, but also very firmly; she never gave in to our faults or went back on what she told us. We had to do what she said at all costs and endeavour to overcome our natures. But I must testify to the particular prudence with which she directed me personally. Despite being eight years younger than me, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was always my support, my comforting angel and my guide in my temptations and in the difficulties I had to endure. Seeing that the advice she gave me did me so much good, our Mother Prioress allowed me, during my retreat, to spend the recreations with her. She knew how to raise my soul to divine things so well! [623v] Nothing earthly came into our conversations; all of them were about heaven; she spoke to me only about Jesus’ love and the souls she wanted to save. She also shared her desires for perfection and sainthood with me. Everything she said was so beautiful that I was wholly enveloped in the perfume of her virtue.

The zeal she extended to me, and that she extended to all the other novices, was very pure and very disinterested. She wasn’t afraid of annoying us and in so doing losing her popularity and our shows of affection which a weaker stance in relation to our faults might have procured her. If I’d have yielded to my nature, I would have very often avoided meeting the Servant of God, knowing very well that my faults would be revealed to me, but I was so strongly drawn to her holiness that I would go to her almost despite myself. I shall relate some of the advice she gave me that reveals how prudent and enlightened she was in the ways of God: “The more a sacrifice costs you” she would say, “the more you must do it with joy; stay alert so that you don’t miss any; if you knew the value, in Jesus’ eyes, of a little act of denial, [624r] you would seek them like a miser seeks a treasure.”

During a retreat, she began writing down advice for me: “Don’t fear telling Jesus you love him, even if you don’t feel it: that’s how you force Jesus to help you… It’s a great trial to see everything in black, but it doesn’t depend on you entirely. Do what you can, and then be confident that Jesus will do the rest… Together let’s please Jesus, let’s save souls for him through our sacrifices… Above all, let’s be small, so small that everyone can trample us underfoot, and without us looking as though we feel it or suffer”- LT 241 -. She also wrote me several little prayers; here is an extract: “O God hidden in the prison of the tabernacle! I come with joy to you each evening to thank you for the graces you have given me. I ask pardon for the faults I committed today. O Jesus! How happy I would be if I had been faithful, but alas! often in the evening I am sad because I feel I could have corresponded better with your graces... If I were more united to You, [624v] more charitable with my sisters, more humble and more mortified, I would feel less sorrow when I talk with you in prayer. And yet, O my God, very far from becoming discouraged at the sight of my miseries, I come to you with confidence, recalling that it isn’t "those who are well who need a doctor but those who are sick." I beg you, then, to cure me and to pardon me. I will keep in mind, Lord, "that the soul to whom you have forgiven more should also love you more than the others"!... I offer you every beat of my heart as so many acts of love and reparation and I unite them to your infinite merits. I beg you, O my Divine Bridegroom, to be the Restorer of my soul, to act in me despite my resistance; and lastly, I wish to have no other will but yours. Tomorrow, with the help of your grace, I will begin a new life in which each moment will be an act of love and renunciation.” - Pri 7 -

When I told her my grievances against the Sisters, she was careful not to say I was right or agree with me; on the contrary, she defended those I was complaining about and showed me their virtue. She was also very discreet: I could tell her everything, even my most intimate thoughts. I had nothing to fear, she never repeated one word, even in her conversations with her three sisters. Lastly her wise advice, her unworldly spirit and her heroic disinterest in the face of duty was so visible at one moment in my life that I can’t omit relating it even though the situation was quite delicate. I consider the advice she then [695r] gave me as one of the greatest graces of my religious life. It was two years after my Profession; Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was not yet nineteen years old. She had noticed something too natural in my assiduity to our Mother Prioress Marie de Gonzague. Given Mother Marie de Gonzague’s somewhat irritable temperament regarding the Servant of God, her intervention against our relationship could have caused her a great many problems. She nevertheless didn’t hesitate to perform her duty for the good of my soul. Therefore on 8th December 1892, she came looking for me before mass saying she needed to speak to me. So I happily went to her cell. She was so good at talking to me about God that I felt real joy when I was in her company. But when I went in I realized that she was no longer the same: she seemed sad; she made me sit down beside her, hugged me, which she never did, and showed me such affection that I wondered what this all meant. She said at last: “I’ve been wanting to open my heart to you for a long time; but the moment had not come. Today God made me feel that I had to speak out and tell you everything in you that displeases Jesus: the affection [625v] you have for your Mother Prioress is too human, it is doing much harm to your soul, because you love her with passion, and affections such as these displease God: they are a poison for religious souls. It is not to satisfy your nature that you came to the Carmel, but to deny yourself and let your physical self die; if it had been otherwise you would have been better staying in the world than coming to the community and losing your soul.” After having heard these and other very harsh things that caused me a great deal of pain, I was obliged to admit that what she said was true. My eyes were then opened and I saw how far I was from the perfection that my Carmelite vocation required of me. What would I have become without my angelic mistress’ protection? What also struck me on this occasion was her perfect disinterest in view of doing good to my soul. This is what she told me on the subject: “If our Mother notices that that you have been crying and asks you who has hurt you, you may, if you want, tell her everything I have just said to you: I would prefer to be frowned upon by her and sent away from the monastery if she wishes, than fail in my duty.” - MSC 20,2-21,2 – In this matter, the Servant of God’s only concern was that my affection for our Mother become pure; she wasn’t doing it to distance me from her; oh, no, that wasn’t her intention, for one day when I took a remark made to me by the same Prioress badly, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus severely chastised me, saying: “You don’t see God enough in those who command you, you are lacking in spirit of faith.”

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

[626v] ON THE VIRTUE OF STRENGTH. – The Servant of God was so courageous in the practice of virtue that I would lose hope of ever being able to copy her. For example when she was suffering and in difficulty, it was then that she appeared more joyful than usual, smiling at everyone and avoiding showing favouritism. She was always even-tempered; her character was always calm and considerate; in the immense suffering she endured, she never let anything show on the outside. Out of mortification, she never leant back when she was sitting down, even when she was extremely tired and could hardly pick up her feet; but her passionate love for suffering and mortification meant she never complained about anything.

ON TEMPERANCE. – The Servant of God denied herself in every way. In the kitchen, not knowing who to give the leftovers to, they were always served to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, knowing she wouldn’t leave anything. It was also difficult to know her taste, what she liked or didn’t like. It was only during her last illness that she [627r] admitted to being sick every time she ate certain things. Her behaviour also implied immense mortification and immense control over herself. She was modest, reverent, with her eyes always lowered, not seeking to see or know about what was happening around her, never taking any notice of what didn’t concern her. She never gave her opinion, unless she was asked for it. If she saw several Sisters chatting together, she would walk right past them, without curiously inquiring into the subject of their conversation; and she urged us to do the same: “When you see several Sisters chatting together” she said to us, “don’t stop: that is not mortification.” Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was above all admirably faithful to denying her inner feelings. As Novice Mistress, I noticed she never did anything that might cause us to like her. She loved us all very much, but disinterestedly, without seeking to satisfy herself, and didn’t let any favouritism for anyone show.

Her admirable mortification of the heart was visible in the very remarkable way she behaved in regard to her blood sisters, who were nuns [627v] in the same monastery, that is to say Mother Agnès of Jesus, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and Sister Geneviève of Saint Teresa. I noticed that when Mother Agnès of Jesus was Prioress, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus denied herself of going to her cell. I know that it was very difficult for her, because she was very loving and particularly fond of this sister (Pauline) who was like a mother to her. Yet she did it out of virtue, to concede nothing to nature. One day, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and I both witnessed an incident that was very hurtful to Mother Agnès of Jesus, who was then Prioress. I said to her: “How you must suffer seeing our Mother, who is your own sister, treated in this way!” “Yes, it does cause me pain” she replied, “because it is Jesus in His authority who is offended, yet it would cause me just as much pain if someone else was Prioress. As for Mother Agnès of Jesus, the suffering she endures serves to increase her merits for heaven.” Her attitude towards her other two sisters was the same. One day at a time we had permission to speak, I avoided going to find her. She asked me the reason for this; I told her I wanted to let her spend time with her sisters: “Oh, but you [628r] cause me pain” she said, “How can you think that I enjoy talking to my sisters more than to the others? Now that I am in Carmel, I mustn’t have a preference for anyone. That doesn’t stop me from loving my sisters very much; but the love I have for them must be pure and disinterested.” Another day, I had a grievance against one of her sisters. I was mindful not to tell Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, for fear of hurting her. Yet, to my great surprise I heard her say:

“My sister *** is giving you many struggles, she is causing you a great deal of suffering: why do you hide the grievances you have against my sisters from me? Do not fear telling me, nothing here below can bind me any longer. It is only offending God that causes me pain.” From then on, I never hid anything from her, and I never regretted opening up to her, because nothing I entrusted her with was ever revealed. I also noticed that the Servant of God sought the company of nuns whose characters could bring her suffering. She even asked to be given a duty with a Sister precisely because she gave her a lot of trouble.        

[628v] ON OBEDIENCE. – The Servant of God accomplished exactly what her Superiors asked of her, without ever allowing herself to make any remark and without ever judging their behaviour or course of action. During her novitiate and throughout her religious life, she was greatly edifying for me on this point, as she was on many others. I only had to watch her act to know what I had to do. She was perfectly prompt. As soon as the first bell rang, she immediately left what she was doing, without lingering on any detail however small. She was very faithful to remaining silent; she never would have allowed herself to say a word in the places where silence was required.

ON POVERTY. – I never saw Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus waste a second. She was sparing with her time, always occupied and finding ways to put even the shortest moments of free time to use. The “alpargates” (a type of sandal worn by the Carmelite nuns) that were found after the Servant of God’s death show how much she loved poverty. They were so [629r] worn and had been repaired so many times that not one Sister in the community would have wanted to wear them. How I regret burning them! They would have shown the extent to which she practiced poverty, and they would have been an example to those who didn’t know her and are obliged to believe everything we say. I can tell you that I have never seen a nun practice poverty to such a high level of perfection. One Sister told me that what had always inspired her about Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was her perfect constancy in all things, her mortification and also her immense spirit of poverty. She told me that the Servant of God had asked her as a favour to give her the oldest and most frequently repaired clothes. Seeing how much pleasure it brought her, she effectively gave her the most worn-out clothes first. It was Sister Saint John the Baptist, the launderer, who related this to me.

ON HUMILITY. – All that the Servant of God desired was to stay in the shadows and be forgotten, so that no one would pay her any attention and so that we would consider her as the last member of the community. The most tiresome or humiliating duties were those [629v] she would choose first. Alluding to my position as a lay sister, she said: “How I envy your fate, you who have so many opportunities to dedicate and sacrifice yourselves for Jesus’ love.” When the Servant of God was reprimanded, she never made excuses. I can tell you in all honesty that during our novitiate, when our Mistress criticized her, even if it was undeserved, she said nothing in her defense. One day she gave me this piece of advice: “To please Jesus, we must remain very humble, very little, so that no one pays attention to us. Let us always remain tiny children, as Our Lord desires. Didn’t he say in the Gospel - *Mk.10:14 – that the kingdom of God is for little children and those who resemble them?” One day when she seemed radiant after a conversation with one of our Sisters, I asked her “What could she have said to you to make you so joyful?” She replied: “It’s because she told me the truth and showed me how imperfect I am. Oh, how glad I am that she told me everything she was thinking of me! It’s so good and so rare to hear the truth be said. Generally, people don’t like it, but for me it is a source of great joy.”    

[630r] I will finish what I have to say about her humility by quoting a few passages of a prayer that she wrote for me: “I want truly to humble myself and to submit my will to that of my Sisters. I do not wish to contradict them nor seek to see whether or not they have the right to command me. O my Beloved, no one had this right over you and yet you obeyed not only the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph but even your executioners. Now in the Sacred Host I see you at the height of your annihilation. ...To teach me humil­ity you cannot humble yourself further. Therefore, to re­spond to your love, I desire that my Sisters always put me in the lowest place and I want to convince myself that this place is indeed mine. I beg you, my Divine Jesus, to send me a humiliation whenever I try to set myself above others... But, you know my weakness, Lord. Every morning I make a resolution to practice humility and in the evening I recognize that I have again committed many faults of pride. At this I am tempted to become discouraged but I know that discouragement is also pride. Therefore, O my God, I want to place my hope in You alone. Since you can do everything, deign to bring to birth in my soul the virtue I desire...” - PRI 20 -.

[630v] [Answer to the twenty-second question]:

I was once very sad in my heart and I was careful to hide my suffering from Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. I did everything to avoid meeting her; but I was sent to her cell on an errand. So that she wouldn’t notice I was suffering I pretended to be very cheerful. To my great surprise, after observing me for a few moments, I heard her say: “You are sad about something, why don’t you want to tell me?” - MSC 26,1 -. It wasn’t the first time that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had voiced what was happening in my soul. She told me things that it was impossible for her to have known if she hadn’t been inspired by God.  

[Answer to the twenty-third question]:

All the novices who were close to the Servant of God, like I was, and who knew her well, admired and proclaimed her great holiness. For the nuns, who observed her less, she could go unnoticed due to her hidden life.

[631r] [Answer to the twenty-fourth question]

Due to my duties, I was rarely with the Servant of God in her last illness; and I only know what the Sisters who stayed by her side told us.

[Answer to the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth questions]:

On these points I only know what we are told in the visiting room and what our Mother tells us during recreation.

[Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

The letters our Mother reads us in recreation evidently show that the Servant of God’s renown for holiness has spread throughout the entire world. I was specifically responsible for preparing little pictures that had a little souvenir of the Servant of God attached to them. I prepared 23 000 of them in the course of one year, and I know that we weren’t able to reply to everyone.

[631v] [In answer to the twenty-eighth question, the witness says she doesn’t know anything].

[Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

A lay sister (Sister Saint Vincent de Paul, who died around 1905) suffered for several years from a type of cerebral anemia: “she couldn’t think any more”, she would often say to us. Now, on the very day Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus died, she came to kiss her feet, asking her to heal her of her condition, which happened that very same day. At the end of October 1908, I went to the laundry room, in a hurry to perform an act of charity. Walking through the cloisters, near the statue of the Child Jesus, I noticed a very sweet smell of heliotropes. I continued on my way without thinking any more of it, but on my way back, there was the same perfume again and it was so strong that I thought there must have been a large bunch of these flowers somewhere. I searched the oratory of the Child Jesus and the surrounding area, but without finding anything. I then informed our Mother (Mother Marie Ange) who on nearing the statue could also smell heliotropes. She unhesitatingly attributed this prodigious event to Sister [632r] Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and as soon as she thought this, the perfume vanished. It is worth noting that this was the first time we had noticed perfumes in the community. The Servant of God had been dead for eleven years, and during that time nothing similar had ever happened. Neither I nor anyone else then dreamt that such occurrences were possible, and at first I didn’t think to attribute them to supernatural causes. Since then, the same phenomenon has happened to me three or four times and quite frequently to other Sisters as well. Every day I hear extracts from letters relating miraculous healings, conversions, visions, and so on.    

[Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I have said everything I know.

[632v] [Concerning the Articles, the witness says she knows nothing other than what she has already deposed in answer to the preceding questions. – Here ends the interrogation of this witness. The Acts are read out. The witness makes no amendment to them and signs as follows]:

As witness I have deposed as above, according to the truth, I ratify and confirm it.

Signatum: Sister MARTHA OF JESUS