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Witness 19 - Pierre-Alexandre Faucon

WITNESS XIX (DESIGNATED WITNESS III)

PIERRE ALEXANDRE FAUCON

This witness is completely new to us. He did not testify in the Ordinary Process, and now is summoned as a designated witness. He did not meet Thérèse until shortly before she died, when, already ripe for heaven but suffering her temptation against Faith, she envisaged and predicted her future mission, and the dawn of her time of conquests.

Born in Ondefontaine (Calvados) on 15th February 1842, Faucon was ordained priest on 29th June 1868. In the service of his diocese, he fulfilled several posts successively, and always with apostolic zeal and great devotion. Firstly he was Curate of the church of Notre Dame de Guibray, and then of Saint Jacques in Lisieux in 1870. Then, in 1876 he was transferred to Caen, as chaplain of the Benedictine monastery. In 1883 he was nominated Senior Parish Priest of Ryes, and lastly in 1886 he returned to Lisieux as chaplain of the Congregation of the Orphans. At the same time he became Extraordinary Confessor of the Carmelite convent. In the Apostolic Process, he introduced himself, as will be seen, as “Honorary Canon of Bayeux, chaplain of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity in Lisieux.” He died on 3rd May 1918.

Very sober and discreet, the Canon’s testimony confirms the admiration he had revealed on 29th September 1897 after hearing the last confession of Thérèse on her deathbed (cfr. AP, testimony of Mother Agnes of Jesus, p. 508). Fr Faucon relates this confession, but more importantly, he relates the dispositions and spiritual attitude with which Thérèse took the great Sacrament of Penance. “When she came to me, in the confessions that took place during the Ember Days, she expressed herself with great simplicity, clarity and sobriety. There was nothing in her spiritual conduct that denoted the least affectation. She was unconcerned with others, forgetful of self and she thought only of God” (p. 1085).

Fr Faucon testified on 9th February 1916, in the 57th sitting, and his testimony is found on pages 1084-1088 of the public transcription.

[Sitting 57: 9th February 1916, at 9 o’clock.]

[1084] [The witness answers the first question satisfactorily.]

 [Answer to the second question]:

My name is Pierre-Alexandre Faucon. I was born in Ondefontaine on 15th February 1842 to Gilles Faucon, a private guard, and to Aimée Besognet. I am a priest, Honorary Canon of Bayeux, chaplain of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity in Lisieux.

 [The witness answers questions three to five satisfactorily].

 [Answer to the sixth question:]

In my testimony I am under no inward or outward influence that could change the truth.

 [Answer to the seventh question:]

I knew the Servant of God as a result of my duties as Extraordinary Confessor of the Carmelite nuns, which I exercised for four or five years prior to the Servant of God’s death. She came to my confessional during the Ember Days. Moreover, as her Ordinary Confessor was seriously ill, I was requested a few days before she died to give her Last Absolution.

I was also informed about the Servant of God in my conversations with the other [1085] nuns in the convent.

I have read Story of a Soul, which confirms what I have heard about the Servant of God, but in my testimony I will relate only what I observed personally.

 [Answer to the eighth question]:

I am very fond of the Servant of God and have a great devotion to her because of her virtues and power of intercession, which are evident to me. I very much wish for her beatification and it will be a great joy for me to witness it, God willing.

 [Answer to questions nine to thirteen]:

Personally I know nothing precise about the Servant of God’s early years and curriculum vitae.

 [Answer to the fourteenth question]:

When she came to me, in the confessions that took place during the Ember Days, she expressed herself with great simplicity, clarity and sobriety. There was nothing in her spiritual conduct that denoted the least affectation. She was unconcerned with others, forgetful of self and she thought only of God. I believe she was fulfilling the following maxim from the Imitation of Christ: “Ama nesciri et pro nihilo reputari,” and even the following words from St Paul: “Mortui estis et vita vestra abscondita est cum Christo in Deo” (Col. 3:3).

[1086] [Answer to questions fifteen to thirty-six inclusively]:

WITNESS 19 (DESIGNATED WITNESS III): Pierre Alexandre Faucon

I did not see the Servant of God often enough to be able to give a detailed testimony on each of her virtues.

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

I heard the Carmelites praise the Servant of God highly in her duties as Mistress and Director of the novices. Those who were under her direction in particular told me that she enlightened them, dispelled their doubts, comforted them, encouraged them admirably and seemed to be able to read their thoughts. She had an answer for everything. And how sorry they were after she died! How they missed her!

 [Answer to questions thirty-nine to fifty-one]:

I know nothing particular as regards these points. I could give an opinion having read her life story, which I hold for very sincere, but anybody could make the same assessment.

 [Answer to the fifty-second question]:

Due to the serious illness of the convent’s Ordinary Confessor, Father Youf, I was requested to visit the Servant of God on her death-bed to hear her last confession. Walking into her infirmary, I felt I was entering a shrine. [1087] The sight of her filled me with deep respect. Despite her suffering, she was so beautiful and so calm that she was as though already in heaven. When Reverend Father Granger, a diocesan missionary, heard I was to see the Servant of God, whom he regarded as a saint, he tasked me with asking her to pray for him, that he might be granted two particular blessings. With simplicity and humility, she promised me they would be granted. I have since found out that Father Granger obtained the blessings in question. They pertained, I believe, to the construction of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Langannerie.

 [In answer to questions fifty-three to fifty-five, the witness has nothing to comment.]

 [Answer to the fifty-sixth question]:

I have made a pilgrimage to the Servant of God’s burial place a number of times, and continue to do so when I am able. A steady and often considerable number of pilgrims visit it. People pray there with reverence and sincerity.

 [Answer to the fifty-seventh question]:

It is widely believed that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus is a saint and works miracles. This is obvious because people come to her grave from all over France and people from all over the world write letters requesting prayers or relating miracles.

[1088] [Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I know of no one who objects to her reputation for holiness and for miracles.

 [In answer to questions fifty-nine to sixty-five, the witness has nothing to comment.]

 [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 statements are read out. The witness makes no alteration to them and signs as follows]:

Signatum: Fr FAUCON.

I have testified as above according to the truth. I hereby ratify and confirm my testimony.