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Witness 22 - Jean-Jules-Pierre Gaignet

 

Jean-Jules-Pierre Gaignet was born in Gué-de-Velluire (Diocese of Luçon) on 11th May 1839. He was a professor of dogmatic theology and Holy Scripture at the Major Seminary of Luçon, then, once a Sulpician, he became a professor of moral theology in Dijon and Superior of the Major Seminary of Limoges, before finally moving to Issy. Father Gaignet’s testimony pertains to Father Rossignol’s vision of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus on 16th January 1911, which has just been discussed. He provides further information on the subject.

The witness testified on 30th and 31st March 1911, in sessions 72 and 73, pp. 1165r-1172r of our Public Copy.

[Session 72: - 30th March 1911, at 3pm]

[1165r] [The witness answers the first question correctly].

[Answer to the second question]:

My name is Jean-Jules-Pierre Gaignet, born in Le Gué-de-Velluire, in the Diocese of Luçon, on 11th May 1839, of the legitimate marriage between Jean Gaignet, a farmer, and Modeste Freté. I am a priest in the Diocese of Luçon; after having been a professor for a few months at the Junior Seminary of Les Sables-d'Olonne (1862-1863), I was called to the Senior Seminary of Luçon, where I was a professor of Holy Scripture, then of dogmatic theology (1863-1884). I then joined the Community of Saint-Sulpice (1884); after having taught moral theology in Dijon (1884-1885) as an assistant teacher, I did my novitiate (1885-1886) and was sent, in the capacity of Superior, to the Major Seminary of Limoges (1886-1905). Since then, [1165v] I have lived at the Saint-Sulpice Residence in Issy, in the Diocese of Paris.        

[The witness correctly answers questions three to seven].

[Answer to the eighth question]:

My testimony uniquely concerns the case of Father Rossignol, who was accorded a vision at Beaupréau of the Servant of God. I will draw the information for my deposition from my personal knowledge of Father Rossignol, who was first my professor, then my colleague at the Major Seminary of Luçon. In these two capacities, I was close to him for 25 years.

[Answer to the ninth question]:

I have a particular devotion for the Servant of God, whose life story I read with much edification. I recognized in her a noble soul and heroic holiness and I desire and hope that she will be beatified.

[As, at the request of the Vice [1166r] Postulator, the witness was summoned to give his testimony regarding the vision of the Servant of God, questions ten to twenty-eight inclusive are omitted, and we immediately move on to question twenty-nine. The witness’ answer]:

I was very close to Father Jules Rossignol for 25 years. He was director of the Major Seminary of Luçon, where he successively taught dogmatic and moral theology with equal success. He had a firm and fine mind; his teaching was precise and perfectly orthodox: he was an outstanding professor. He was prudent when giving advice and demonstrated no inclination for exaggerated mysticism. His virtues, and notably his humility, excludes the possibility and even the suspicion of him wanting to rise in the esteem of those with whom he had shared the secret of his vision, a vision with which he said he had been favoured. He confided about this spiritual favour, the vision of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, to two people whose testimonies came to me as follows. The first person to be told of this grace was Father Frapereau, a former parish priest in La Salle de Vihiers and his fellow retiree at the community of Saint-Martin in Beaupréau. I held and read the written report [1166v] of the event that the afore-mentioned Father Frapereau presented to the Vice Postulator of the Cause. Moreover, I’ve seen Father Frapereau myself in the last few days, and he gave me the same account of the vision, providing even more details. He told me that on the morning of 16th January 1911, when he asked Father Rossignol for news on his health, he was told that his night had been good, very good even, and particularly his waking, for he had then distinctly seen beside his bed the Servant of God Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who was smiling at him, indicating that the matter he had entrusted her with was on the right track.    

The other person in whom Father Rossignol confided was Father Arsène, who is a Trappist friar from Bellefontaine and his confessor. In fact I saw, at the Carmel of Lisieux, a report written and signed by the afore-mentioned Father Arsène, with the authenticated signature, attesting that Father Rossignol had informed him of his vision of the Servant of God near his bed. In this document, Father Arsène also mentions Father Rossignol’s immense fears of God’s judgment. I don’t doubt that the Vice Postulator is intending to one day add this document to the Trial’s files. My knowledge of Father Rossignol’s moral values allows me to state that [1167r] his testimony is very reliable when he claims that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus appeared to him and that he recognized her perfectly from her resemblance to her portraits. I therefore unhesitatingly hold this fact as real.          

[Question from the judge: do you know if Father Rossignol still had, at the end of his life, the same remarkable spirit of lucidity you mentioned? Answer]:

I don’t doubt it and cannot doubt it, seeing the testimonies I’ve received of him from those who knew him up to the last moment, notably Father Frapereau, and Father Rossignol’s own nephew, a distinguished and very sincere priest in Luçon.

[The witness then continues]:

As for the meaning of Father Rossignol’s words: “She had me understand that the matter was on the right track”, everyone was sorry Father Frapereau hadn’t insisted on finding out what this matter was. Those who knew Father Rossignol well interpreted two meanings, which, I might add, are not mutually exclusive and do equal justice to the excellent priest: 1st the Servant of God wanted to reassure him with regard to his fears of God’s [1167v] judgment. He had often revealed these fears to me, either as a friend, or as the director of his conscience (I was his confessor between 1870 and 1874). Now, according to those who witnessed his death, his unusually radiant face, the sudden disappearance of his fears, and the enthusiastic sacrifice he made of his life, are facts that so markedly contrasted with Father Rossignol’s usual state that we can quite reasonably consider them as consequences of his vision of Sister Thérèse. 2nd In the vision, Father Rossignol was able to see the announcement of his imminent death and, by means of his death itself, the resolution of a question very close to his heart and about which he’d prayed to the Servant of God. Here is the nature of this matter according to a letter that Father Camille Rossignol, his nephew, wrote me. He had founded a good Christian school and relied on his personal resources to maintain it. The lengthening of his life, which diminished his resources, appeared to compromise the future of his work. His nephew wrote: “In his mind he had to die for his school to survive.”

[Session 73: - 31st March 1911, at 8:30am]

[1171v] [Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I believe I have said everything I know concerning the Cause.

[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]:

Ita pro veritate deposui, ratum [1172r] habeo et confirmo.

Signatuni: J. GAIGNET, Priest