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Witness 16 - Alcide Ducellier

 

Father Ducellier, the priest who was described as “tactful and goodhearted” in a recent biographical profile, was introduced when he testified as second designated witness in the Ordinary Investigative Process.

Born on 14th November 1849 in Chicheboville (Diocese of Bayeux), he was ordained priest in 1874. Ever available to meet the ministry's needs, he led a very turbulent career. Wherever he went, he was admired for his wholehearted devotion to the Church and to souls. Curate of the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre in Lisieux from 1877 to 1884, he had the honour of hearing Thérèse Martin’s first confession when she was barely seven years old. He was her confessor until she joined the Benedictine Abbey school as a day boarder. Archpriest of Saint-Pierre upon his return to Lisieux in 1899, he preached at the Habit Reception ceremony of his spiritual daughter Pauline, and later at the Veil Reception ceremony of Céline. Thérèse was particularly fond of him. He died in Lisieux on 20th December 1916, at the end of the year in which he testified in the Apostolic Process.

His testimony is rather meagre. The Reverend Father relates Thérèse’s first confession, as he already had done in the Ordinary Process. His testimony relating to the Martin family, of whom he was a close friend, is of great value: “With regards to the Martins, who were well known in this town, I can say that they were an admirably Christian family and were edifying to all” (p. 1028). The rest of the testimony concerns Thérèse’s renown for holiness.

Father Ducellier testified in the 54th sitting, on 7th February 1916 and his testimony in the public transcription goes from page 1027 to page 1031.

WITNESS 16: Alcide Ducellier

[Sitting 54: ‑ 7th February 1916, at 9 o’clock.]

 [1027] [The witness answers the first question satisfactorily.]

[1028] [Answer to the second question:]

My name is Alcide‑Leoida Ducellier. I was born in Chicheboville on 14th November 1849 to Louis Adolphe Ducellier, a masonry entrepreneur, and Céleste Philippe. I am Archpriest of the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre in Lisieux.

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

 [Answer to the sixth question:]

I do not think I am under any influence that might falsify my testimony.

 [Answer to the seventh question:]

Towards 1880, I became Curate at Saint-Pierre of Lisieux. I was the confessor of Miss Pauline and Miss Marie Martin, the Servant of God’s eldest sisters. When young Thérèse reached the age of seven, I heard her first confession. Shortly afterwards, she joined the Benedictine convent school and I myself left the position of Curate in Lisieux. I did not return to the parish until 1889, in the capacity of Parish Priest and Archpriest.

 [Answer to the eighth question]:

I personally have a great devotion to and great faith in the Servant of God. I pray to her every day, several times every day, in fact. Her reputation for holiness, the spiritual blessings that she grants, the miracles being worked through her intercession and my own memories motivate this devotion. I hope her canonisation cause will succeed. She will protect and bring glory to her town of Lisieux.

 [Answer to questions nine and ten]:

The Servant of God’s family moved to Lisieux following the death of Mrs Martin. With regards to the Martins, who were well known in this town, I can say that they were an admirably Christian family and were edifying to all. [1029] Mr Martin especially demonstrated a heroic spirit of faith when his children successively left him to join the Carmelite convent. Following Mrs Martin’s death, Miss Marie, the eldest child, mainly took care of the housekeeping. Pauline, the second child, who is now Mother Agnes, Prioress of the Carmel, took on full responsibility for educating young Thérèse and accomplished the task with much devotion, Christian spirit and attention.

I would see young Thérèse primarily when she came to church, which she did very regularly with her family. Although she was barely seven years old, her angelic piety attracted the attention of parishioners.

 [Answer to questions eleven to fifty-five inclusively]:

Having left Lisieux in 1884, to return only two years after the Servant of God’s death, I have no personal memories to relate in response to all of these questions.

 [Answer to the fifty-sixth question]:

The Servant of God’s burial place is now a regular pilgrimage site, even in winter. Pilgrims travel from even faraway regions. These demonstrations of devotion are remarkable for their reverential, pious and faithful character. Nothing can be seen that denotes eccentricity or superstition.

[1030] [Answer to the fifty-seventh question]:

As Parish Priest of Saint-Pierre in Lisieux, I can confirm that all the Christian people in my parish who knew the Servant of God during her time in Lisieux remember her as an exceptionally pious and edifying young lady whose virtue attracted attention. What is more, I do not believe that in my parish there is a single Christian family who does not pray to the Servant of God constantly. All consider her a saint and are convinced that manifest blessings and even miracles can be obtained through her intercession. Among those who have said as much to me, there are a great many of enlightened and judicious faith, whose opinions merit consideration. As for the origin of her reputation for holiness, I believe that God made use of the book Story of a Soul to make the Servant of God known. However, it is certain, in my opinion, that nothing was undertaken to create an artificial reputation for holiness. The blessings obtained have been the main cause of this movement of piety.

 [Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I have heard nothing that goes against her reputation for holiness and for miracles.

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

I have not witnessed any miracles [1031] firsthand. I often hear people in my parish say, “I have obtained such and such a blessing through Sister Thérèse’s intercession,” and “Sister Thérèse always answers my prayers,” and so on.

I heard from Doctor La Néele the case of a young man from Glos who had been suffering from intestinal perforation and would inevitably die from his wound. The abovementioned doctor, who treated him, placed a relic of the Servant of God on the invalid and he recovered.

 [Answer to the sixty-sixth question]:

I have nothing to add.

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

Signatum: DUCELLIER