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Witness 19 - Claude-Marcel Weber

 

Born in Lorcelette, in Lorraine, on 25th April 1835, Claude-Marcel Weber was ordained priest in Metz on 11th April 1861. In his testimony the witness admitted to being guilty of certain faults which had led him before the German civil court (Lorraine being then annexed to Germany) and which had him suspended twice a divinis. Yet he also testifies to his sincere conversion, to his attempt at becoming a Cistercian monk in Lérins and finally to the apostolic activity he performed at Saint-Jean-de-Luz (Diocese of Bayonne), during which time he received the triple grace which is the subject of his declaration. He died on 20th October 1915.

The witness testified on 22nd and 23rd March 1911, in sessions 69-70, pp. 1127r- 1141r of our Public Copy.

[Session 69: - 22nd March 1911, at 2pm]

[1127r] [The witness answers the first question correctly].

[1127v] [Answer to the second question]:

My name is Claude Marcel Weber born in Lorcelette, in the Diocese of Metz, on 25th April 1835, of the legitimate marriage between Mathias Weber, landlord, and Marguerite Albrecht. I am a priest, having been ordained in Metz on 11th April 1861. I performed the ministry of vicar, and then of parish priest until 1873. At that time I was a novice for nine months at the Cistercian monastery of Lérins. When obliged for health reasons to abandon this vocation, I spent two years in a nursing home in Le Dorat, in the Diocese of Limoges. Since then I have been an auxiliary priest in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, in the Diocese of Bayonne, where I am approved for confession and preaching throughout the diocese.    

[The witness answers the third question correctly].

[Answer to the fourth question]:

In about 1884, I had to report [1128r] before the German civil court for an accusation of immorality and rightly or wrongly I was condemned to a six-year prison sentence.

[Answer to the fifth question]:

I incurred the suspension a divinis twice in about 1873, and I was absolved of this ban the following year, in 1874. I confess that I previously committed great faults; I admit to them humbly. Yet since then God has brought me back to him; I am most favourably disposed towards my ecclesiastical superiors and we are on perfectly legitimate terms, as the testimonial letters from Mgr. the Bishop of Bayonne, which I present to the court, prove.  

[The witness answers the sixth question correctly].

[Answer to the seventh question]:

No human motive, but only the desire to obey the Church could persuade me to come and testify, foreseeing that I would have to make the corresponding confessions to questions 4 and 5.

[1128v] [Answer to the eighth question]:

My whole testimony is uniquely based on my personal observations. I didn’t know the Servant of God, but I shall testify: 1st to the remarkable graces she has granted me; 2nd to the spread of her renown for holiness and the power of her intercession in the South West of France and in northern Spain.

[Answer to the ninth question]:

If I didn’t have a great devotion for the Servant of God, I would not have travelled so far to bring my testimony. I owe her immense gratitude because she miraculously restored my eyesight, and for other infinitely more precious spiritual favours. I desire her beatification because people will then pray to her even more and obtain, through her intercession, many graces.

[Answer to questions ten to twenty-four]:

Up until last year, 1910, I didn’t even know who the Servant of God was: I therefore have nothing in particular to depose [1129r] in answer to all these questions.

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

Yesterday, 21st March, my first thought on getting off the train at Lisieux, was to go to the town cemetery, to demonstrate my gratitude to my celestial benefactor. It was about midday:

I saw, praying very fervently near the grave, a soldier in military uniform. When I congratulated him on his piety, he said he had come to thank the Servant of God for having cured his mother of cancer. I also noticed on the grave a certain number of letters and notes addressed to the Servant of God that had been put on the ground amongst the flowers. I myself placed a batch of letters that various people had given me in the Basque Country before I left to come to Lisieux.

[Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

Saint-Jean-de-Luz where I live (Diocese of Bayonne) is a sea-side resort, in summer and winter. Many priests come here from all over France and Spain. Following the miraculous healing I was [1129v] granted, I made it my duty to spread knowledge of the virtues and powerful intercession of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. With this in view, I offered pictures of the Servant of God to priests to put in their breviaries. Now, they nearly always replied: “Oh! Sister Thérèse! We know her well; we love her and pray to her in our country.” In Saint-Jean-de-Luz and the surrounding area, and throughout the Diocese of Bayonne, priests in ministry offer souvenirs and pictures of the Servant of God to sick people they go to visit, especially to those whom they seek to convert. As for the faithful in the region, knowing that I was granted special graces through the Servant of God’s intercession, they unceasingly come to me asking to have the Carmels of Lisieux and Zarauz pray for them. Even Mgr. the Bishop of Bayonne, as well as his Vicar General Mgr. Diharse and his secretary Canon Daranatz are ardent apostles of devotion to Sister Thérèse: they recommend priests to pray to her above all for spiritual healings. I wanted to have an idea, to share with the court, of the Servant of God’s [1130r] reputation in the numerous French religious communities that are exiled in Zarauz and in the province of Guipuzcoa. With this in view I visited not only the Carmelite monastery of Zarauz (in exile in Bordeaux), but also the Visitation and Ursuline religious houses, and several communities for men. Everywhere I went I gathered testimonies of intense devotion, particularly at the Visitation convent, where I was assured that the Servant of God and her exemplary virtues are very efficient at motivating fervour. They want to imitate Sister Thérèse and at the thought of even the slightest failure, they fear being withheld of her inspirations and becoming unworthy of her protection.

[Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

I have no knowledge of any opposition to the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness.

[Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

In the spring of 1900, Doctor Baradat from Cannes (Alpes-Maritimes), whom I consulted about an anemia, incidentally looked me in the eyes, and said: “Did you [1130v] know you run the risk of contracting cataract?” “Contracting cataract? Me?” I replied; “but my eyesight is still quite good for my age and nobody in my family has ever suffered from this complaint.” “You can say all you like,” he insisted “you have the beginnings of a typical case of cataract.” I thought the doctor must have been mistaken. However, as I was in Paris the following September, I went to consult the distinguished oculist Abbadie, in boulevard Saint Germain. I was seen by one of his assistants: “I can’t see anything,” he said; “but follow me,” and he showed me to the darkroom. There, he meticulously examined my eyes with an electric light. “Yes,” he then said, “you have the beginnings of cataract; but don’t let it worry you, it will mature later… much later… and in ten years or so, when it does, come to see us and we’ll operate on it free of charge.” “How consoling!” I thought as I left: “Living for ten years with the prospect of having my eyes butchered for free! And what would be the result?” After that, I didn’t consult any more oculists or doctors about [1131r] my eyes, and I didn’t treat them. I waited until the cataract “matured”. However, it wasn’t long before the assistant of Doctor Abbadie’s prognosis came true. Slight at first, my eyesight trouble developed little by little so that in 1906 I could no longer easily read or write, even when wearing strong glasses. I had a sort of veil over my eyes and this veil grew thicker and thicker in the years that followed. In early 1908, there was a constant mist before my eyes, a fog which, in full daylight, prevented me from recognizing my best friends at 12 paces. Once dusk fallen, I didn’t dare venture out for fear of hitting passers-by, or of missing the pavement and getting run-over by carriages. In May 1909, an optician who happened to be passing through and wanted to sell me some glasses, had me read, with his instruments, different-sized letters at varying distances first with both eyes and then with each eye separately. He finished by declaring that my “right eye was completely blind and that the other eye was very poorly.” He had exaggerated somewhat, for I could still see the silhouette of a person two paces in front of me with my right eye only, but the silhouette was [1131v] vague, unfocused, and shapeless, so I wouldn’t have been able to tell if it was a man or otherwise. The vision in my left eye had become so poor that on Palm

Sunday 1909 I tripped over the steps leading up to the choir stalls which I couldn’t see any more, in front of the whole parish. After that I dreaded descending the altar steps down which I was obliged to tentatively feel my way with my feet. In short I risked becoming completely blind within a short space of time and felt I was on the verge of being unable to either recite my breviary or say Mass. I already anguished over the prospect of travelling to Paris for that so-called free operation that was in itself risky and had doubtful chances of success. Yet Divine Providence, which prepares all things so sweetly, had, without my knowing, put me in contact with the Sisters of an “oculist” able to restore sight to the blind without ointment or surgical scalpel.

Although I’m a passionate apiarist, last year I had to part with all the dear bees that my increasingly poor eyesight prohibited me from looking after any longer. The Reverend Mother Prioress of Zarauz acquired some of my colonies. Now, last spring (1910), she [1132r] expressed a desire for a queen of Italian bees, but only on condition that I came to introduce it to one of her indigenous hives myself. I replied that I was no longer able to perform such a delicate apicultural operation and told her about the sad state of my eyesight. Upon hearing this, with the robust faith of a Carmelite nun, she replied in so many words: “Oh, no, we’re not having that! Apiarists still need you, and we Carmelites need you above all. Since prayer is all-powerful, we shall force ourselves upon God, and he shall be obliged to restore your eyesight.” A few days later, I was astonished by the ease with which I could read and perceive the altar steps at my feet. On the same day, I ordered the queen in question from an apiarist from Italy and informed the Mother Prioress that I’d placed the order and would soon be coming (March 1910).      

Once at Zarauz, I learnt that the community had said a novena to obtain the healing of my eyesight through the intercession of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, whom I had never heard of until then. It was therefore for a priest who didn’t know her, and who had never personally asked her for anything, that the angelic Sister had [1132v] obtained from her Divine Bridegroom a remarkable improvement in my eyesight. I say “improvement”, for, while there was a great and surprising change for the better, I hadn’t recovered clear and full vision. The Reverend Mother and myself therefore agreed to pray a second novena and she gave me a relic picture of the Sister whom I would henceforth refer to as my “celestial oculist”, advising me to place it on my eyes each evening I said the novena (May 1910). Now, before this novena came to an end I could already easily read the “Decrees of the S. Congregation of Rites” which was printed in very small letters at the beginning of the Roman Breviary (edition printed in 12 000 copies in 1902 by the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, Tournay) and which beforehand had appeared before my eyes as an indecipherable smudged page. More importantly, I could from then on recognize people over a hundred paces away. We had begun the novena on the Thursday in the Octave of Pentecost (19th May). Towards mid June I went back to Spain to put the Carmel’s hives in order. We then decided to say a third novena, this time for thanksgiving, and at the same time to obtain perfectly clear eyesight. And again, my [1133r] celestial oculist answered our prayers, or rather the prayers of her Sisters in Zarauz, as the following event proves. Having recovered my eyesight, I wanted to be an apiarist again. I therefore bought a bee colony from a hive in the area and transferred bees and honeycomb to one of my elegant hives with moveable frames. A few days later, I visited my apiary to see if everything was in order and I found several royal cells, some of which contained newly hatched larvae, and others simply eggs. Oh! I could see these bluish-white minute bee eggs that resemble tiny bits of sewing thread. For years it had been impossible for me to perceive them even with strong glasses, and now I could see them with the naked eye again! How gratefully did I raise my eyes skywards where my celestial oculist had just implemented her resolution to do good on earth.

en action de grâces celle-là, et en même temps pour obtenir une plus parfaite lucidité de vue. Et. cette fois encore, ma [1133r] céleste oculiste exauça nos prières, ou plutôt celles de ses consoeurs de Zarauz, ainsi que l'atteste le fait suivant.

There is therefore no room left for doubt: the healing of my eyesight is real and lasting. I probably don’t have the eyesight of a 20 year old man, but the state of my eyes has been restored to what it was before the first symptoms of cataract showed in 1899. All in all, my eyesight is better than the eyesight of a normal old man of my age (76). I of course owe this healing, which is incontestably [1133v] wondrous, since it was obtained without the intervention of any human help or treatment, to the intercession of she to whom we prayed for precisely that reason: Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who died in 1897 in the Carmel of Lisieux. Glory be to God! And thanks be to my celestial oculist!!  

I can present to the court a letter from Doctor Baradat, in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Haute-Savoie, dated 7th September 1910. Here is the letter: “My dear Father: I remember very well having seen a certain opacity, a cloud in the lens of your left or right eye (I can’t remember now which), which allowed me to predict that sooner or later a cataract would appear. This was ten years ago! My memories are too vague for me to formulate them in a certificate. However, despite the thousands of patients I have had to deal with, I do remember this observation very well; I saw something to that effect, and I clearly must have told you. Yours sincerely. Doctor Barabat.” I can also provide the court [1134r] with the handwritten attestation by the Reverend Mother Prioress of the Carmel of Zarauz, which relates the circumstances in which the prayers that obtained my recovery were said, so that it may be included at the end of my testimony.

[Having recognized the authenticity of the document, the judges and Promoter decide to include it at the end of the deposition. It reads as follows:]

[Account by the Prioress of the monastery of Zarauz]:

“J.M.J.T.

I undersigned, the Prioress of the Carmel of the Good Shepherd in Zarauz, Guipuzcoa, Spain, declare to have prayed three novenas with the whole community, the first in March, then in May and June 1910, to the Servant of God Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, a Carmelite nun of Lisieux, in order to obtain the recovery of Father C.M. Weber’s eyesight. Fr. Weber, a priest from the Diocese of Metz in La Lorraine, resident in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Diocese of Bayonne, had lost sight in one eye over a year earlier and had contracted cataract in the other eye. During the novenas, he progressively recovered clear vision in both eyes, as much in the blind eye [1134v] as in the other.  

In witness whereof, I have signed with the Mothers of the Council.

Signed: Sister Thérèse Aimée of the Heart of Jesus, Prioress

Sister Marie-Thérèse of Jesus, Sub-prioress

Sister Marie of the Cross, 3rd bursar,

Sister Marie of the Trinity, 1st bursar,

Sister Marie Joseph of the Saviour. Carmel of the Good Shepherd in Zarauz 10th August 1910.”

[Session 70: - 23rd March 1911, at 8:30am]

[1138r] [1138v] [Continuation of the answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

[Question from the Promoter: In absence of a certificate from doctors relating to this complaint, could you at least provide a document attesting to the common knowledge of your infirmity? Answer]:

I hadn’t thought the document would be useful, but if the court wishes, nothing would be easier for me than to obtain it when I return to Saint-Jean-de-Luz and send it to the presiding judge. All the clergy in the town and region do indeed know how, prior to March 1910, my colleagues were obliged to lead me when the sky grew a bit dark.

[The judges accept this proposition and in agreement with the Promoter decide that the document, once authenticated by the Episcopal of Bayonne, will be added to the Acts, at the end of the present deposition].

[The witness continues]:

I learnt from Canon [1139r] Daranatz, the Bishop of Bayonne’s secretary, that two miraculous occurrences have been attributed to the Servant of God’s intercession in the region: 1st the conversion, on his deathbed, of a father who was refractory to religious practices; 2nd the healing of a six-year old little girl. I myself said a novena to the Servant of God with some other individuals to obtain the conversion of an atheist who publicly denied the existence of God and who seemed inaccessible to all religious ideas. Now during our novena, to the great surprise of his friends and family, he spontaneously started talking about God and imploring his mercy, repeating: “Lord, have mercy on me.”

A Sectarian Calvanist I know, having consented to read the “Life of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus”, was so moved when he read it that he now goes to a Catholic church, attends teaching sessions and seems to be visibly moving towards converting in the near future. I know of, either in the Carmel of Zarauz, or in the Ursuline convent in Getharia [sic] or the Visitation convent in Zarauz, a certain number of healings and other temporal and spiritual graces that were attributed to the intercession of the Servant of God by the nuns and Superiors of these [1139v] houses who informed me of them in person.

[Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I have made known everything I can remember.

[Concerning the Articles, the witness says he knows nothing other than what he 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]:

Ego testis, ita pro veritate deposui, illud ratum habeo et confirmo.

Signatum: Cl. M. WEBER