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Witness 22 - Sister Marie-Joseph of the Cross O.S.B.

WITNESS XXII

SISTER MARIE-JOSEPH OF THE CROSS O.S.B.

We are reunited here with an acquaintance from the first Process: Marcelline Husé had been a servant of the Guérin family in Lisieux, and then, from 1889, a Benedictine nun of the Blessed Sacrament in Rue Saint Loup in Bayeux, where she died on 26th December 1935 following a long illness. She was born in Saint Samson (Mayenne), in the diocese of Laval, on 19th July 1866 and was in the Guérin family’s service from 1880 to 1889.

This new testimony adds nothing to her first statement, from which it differs in brevity and conciseness. The witness again lingers, but more discreetly, on certain details surrounding Thérèse’s childhood, particularly on her mysterious illness and recovery, which was attributed to “Mary’s smile.” At the end she alludes to Thérèse’s interventions in her life following the Servant of God’s death.

Sister Marie-Joseph testified in the visiting room of her convent in Bayeux on 26th February 1917, in sitting 68, and her testimony can be found on pages 1332-1341 of the public transcription.

[Sitting 68: 26th February 1917, at 9 o’clock.]

[1332] [The witness answers the first question satisfactorily.]

[1333] [Answer to the second question:]

My name is Marcelline Anne Husé. I was born in Saint Samson, in the diocese of Laval, on 19th July 1866, to Norbert Husé, a farmer, and Françoise Barbier. I am a professed Benedictine nun of the Blessed Sacrament of Bayeux, where I was professed on 10th August 1892.

 [The witness answers questions three to five satisfactorily].

WITNESS 22: SISTER MARIEJOSEPH OF THE CROSS O.S.B.

 [Answer to the sixth question:]

I testify in all freedom and have not been influenced by any feeling of fear, or anything else, or by anyone.

 [Answer to the seventh question:]

On 15th March 1880, I began to work as a housemaid in Lisieux, for Mr Guérin, who was the Servant of God’s uncle. Thérèse Martin was then 7 years old. She would often come to her uncle’s house, and I would take her either to school or for a walk with her cousins, Mr Guérin’s daughters. I worked at the house for nine years, that is to say until after Sister Thérèse joined the Carmelite convent. I will speak from my personal recollections, which relate to the Servant of God’s life between the ages of seven and fifteen. I have read Story of a Soul, but for the period in question, the book merely revived and confirmed my recollections. From 1889 onwards, the Servant of God and I exchanged a few letters but otherwise had no contact.

[1334] [Answer to the eighth question]:

I have a very great devotion to the Servant of God and hope this Process will be successful because I witnessed her angelic piety and virtues even as a young child, and because I believe I have received valuable blessings through her intercession.

[Answer to the ninth question]:

I know from my relations with her family that the Servant of God was born in Alençon on 2nd January 1873, and that her family moved to Lisieux in 1877, after Mrs Martin’s death, to be closer to Mr and Mrs Guérin. It was three years after their arrival in Lisieux that I myself began working as a servant in Mr Guérin’s house.

The Servant of God had had several brothers die at an early age. She had four elder sisters, who, like herself, often came to her uncle’s house, and consequently I knew them, too. Their names were Marie, Pauline, Léonie and Céline.

 [Answer to the tenth question]:

When I arrived in Lisieux in 1880, it was mainly Pauline, her second sister, who saw to little Thérèse’s instruction and education. Pauline was very pious and intelligent herself. She had been trained by her Visitandine aunt and by her parents, Mr and Mrs Martin, who were exemplary Christians. She was therefore more than capable of seeing to her sister’s education. And I saw [1335] that her training was indeed very thorough on all aspects of science and virtue.

In October 1881, Thérèse Martin attended the Benedictine Abbey school of Lisieux as a day boarder. She did so until the age of thirteen. She would come to her cousins’ house every day and I would take them all to school. In the evening, I would bring her back to Mr Guérin’s house, from where her father or sisters would collect her.

At that time, she was very meek and mild of character. She was very sensitive and would weep easily. She did well in her studies, but what stood out even at that time was her great piety. She was charitable and affectionate to others. Having felt sorrow myself after leaving my mother at a very young age, I experienced the goodness of her heart: she strove to comfort me and to help me forget my sorrow. She enjoyed serious games but disliked noisy games.

I witnessed the beginning of the curious illness that she contracted at the age of 10. Her father was away, and because of this, Thérèse stayed at Mr Guérin’s house. She had suppressed immense grief following the departure of Pauline, “her second mother”, for the Carmel, and it was thought among the Guérins that such an effort in a young child of fragile health could have caused the condition. She would suddenly become feverous, and extremely jumpy, which provoked fits of terror at the slightest noise or surprise. She was not [1336] delirious at that time, but demonstrated a general over-excitability. A week later, the condition suddenly left her, and she attended her sister Pauline’s Habit Reception ceremony at the Carmel in perfect serenity. Once the ceremony was over, it was thought she had recovered and she returned to her father at Les Buissonnets. But the following day, or the day after, the illness returned more violent than ever. As she was not at Mr Guérin’s house in the second period of the illness, I was unable to observe it as before. I only paid her a few visits and found her extremely listless. She didn’t even recognise me. However I didn’t see her worst fits. Doctor Notta treated the condition as a mental illness, prescribing showers and wet sheets, but to no avail. I did not witness her recovery first-hand, but her sisters came to Mr Guérin’s house and said, “Little Thérèse is cured; it was the Blessed Virgin who cured her.” The very next day, Thérèse came to her uncle’s house, and I noticed she was perfectly well, and after that, there was no trace of her illness again.

In preparation for her First Communion, she locked herself firmly away in the Benedictine Abbey. I wasn't able to see her until the day of the ceremony, and was touched to see how pious she was.

At the beginning of 1886, Mr Martin decided that life at the school was affecting Thérèse’s health, and kept her at home, where she finished her education with more freedom by way of private lessons. I still saw her at that time, because she often [1337] came to her uncle’s house. What struck me particularly about her was her sincerity and solemnity, which were beyond her years, and her piety grew deeper and deeper.

 [Answer to the eleventh question]:

No one in the family was surprised she became a nun. Everyone was expecting it and said that a soul as beautiful as hers wasn’t meant for the world. Yet it was a surprise that she joined the Carmel as young as 15. I discovered from family conversations that she went to Bayeux and then to Rome to seek permission to become a Carmelite at 15.

WITNESS 22: SISTER MARIEJOSEPH OF THE CROSS O.S.B.

However, as I was merely a servant, I wasn’t told any personal details surrounding her vocation.

[Answer to the twelfth question]:

When I in turn became a nun, I had no further contact with the Servant of God, as I’ve said. I did receive two or three letters from her. I kept only the letter she wrote me for her profession, and I submitted it for the Process of her Writings.

[Answer to questions thirteen to fifty-six inclusively]:

As I myself know only what I’ve said about the Servant of God’s life, I can provide no accurate or detailed testimony in answer to these questions.

[Answer to the fifty-seventh question]:

[1338] During the Servant of God’s lifetime, I did not hear any opinions concerning her holiness. It is true that I wasn’t in a situation to know what people might have said or thought about her either in the Carmel or outside. When her aunt, Mrs Guérin, spoke about her in her letters, she always called her “the angel of the family.” Since the Servant of God’s death, I have heard it said many, many times that the Servant of God was a saint, that her virtues were sublime, that valuable blessings can be obtained through her intercession, and that she will in all likelihood be canonised. Not only have I heard nuns in our convent say as much, but, as it is my duty to attend to English and French ladies who stay with us, I have heard most of the ladies say the same. I have never heard it said that people connived in any way to create this public opinion.

[Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I have never heard anyone give an unfavourable opinion on this Beatification Cause.

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

I myself believe I have received several valuable blessings through Sister Thérèse’s intercession. When I first became a nun (1889) I faced enormous temporal difficulties and more importantly my conscience was plagued with [1339] uncertainties. I recommended myself to the prayers of the Servant of God, who had just received the Habit. Immediately, in no time at all, all the difficulties melted away.

On some occasions I have been almost crippled by venous wounds on my leg. Last December, after a particularly exhausting few weeks, I developed a severe swelling, and experience had taught me that an ulcer would soon form and prevent me from working. As no one could replace me in my duties, given the general health of the community, I prayed to Sister Thérèse, placing a relic of the Servant of God on my leg. Without any earthly medicine, and without rest, the swelling disappeared and I was able to continue my work.

I have on several occasions heard either our Sisters or the ladies staying with us say that they themselves have received manifest blessings through the intercession of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. However, I have not witnessed an actual miracle.

[Answer to the sixty-sixth question]:

I have nothing to add.

[1340] [As regards the Articles, the witness claims to know nothing other than what they have already declared 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: I, Sister MARIE-JOSEPH OF THE CROSS, unworthy nun, witness, have testified as above according to the truth. I hereby ratify and confirm my testimony.