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Witness 24 - Sister Marie of the Holy Rosary O.S.B.

WITNESS XXIV

SISTER MARIE OF THE HOLY ROSARY O.S.B.

As we know from the Ordinary Informative Process, before becoming a Benedictine nun, this witness was Thérèse’s schoolmate in the school of Notre Dame du Pré in Lisieux for three years. Her name before joining the Benedictines was Marguerite-Léonie-Augustine Leroy, and she was born in Lisieux on 27th June 1867. She was professed at the Benedictine Abbey of Lisieux on 2nd July 1900 and died there on 19th March 1935.

This nun’s testimony tells us nothing new. She alludes to a few events that took place in Thérèse’s adolescence, events that are related in Story of a Soul, but tells us nothing about her perceptions of the saint during these years.

What is of particular value, however, is the information she reveals regarding two elderly nuns of the Benedictine community in Lisieux who were opposed to Thérèse. The first correctly identified Thérèse as “susceptible”, and this was a trait against which the saint had had to struggle hard; the other, rather argumentative, nun claimed not to believe “in all these mystical sanctities”: she therefore understood nothing of Thérèse or her spirituality.

The witness testified in the visiting room of her convent on 13th March 1917, in the 70th sitting, and her testimony goes from page 1470 [i.e. 1370] to page 1374 of the public transcription.

[Sitting 70: 13 March 1917, at 9 o’clock.]

[1370] [The witness answers the first question satisfactorily.]

[Answer to the second question:]

My name is Marguerite Léonie Augustine Leroy. I was born in Lisieux on 27th June 1867 to Ferdinand Leroy, a salesman, and to Clémentine Malvina Rivière. I am a professed nun of the Benedictine Abbey of Lisieux where I was professed on 2nd July 1900.

WITNESS 24: Sister Marie of the Holy Rosary O.S.B.

 [The witness answers questions three to five satisfactorily].

 [Answer to the sixth question:]

I have no feelings that might prevent me from speaking truthfully. No one has sought to influence me in my testimony, either.

[Answer to the seventh question:]

I knew the Servant of God particularly in the years 1881, 1882 and 1883. I was then, like herself, a day boarder at the Benedictine Abbey of Lisieux. In 1883, I left the school, and consequently saw the Servant of God less often. However, as I was in frequent contact with the Guérin family, I was able to see her a few times before she joined the Carmelite convent in 1888.

[1371] Once she joined the Carmel, I lost all contact with her.

 [Answer to the eighth question]:

I have a great devotion to the Servant of God, and pray to her in faith. I hope she will be beatified because I believe it is for the glory of God and the good of souls.

 [Answer to the ninth question]:

I know nothing particular as regards this point.

 [Answer to the tenth question]:

When Thérèse Martin joined the Benedictine school in 1881, at the age of 8 and a half, I myself had been a pupil there for several years. I was 14 at the time. Although we were not in the same class because of our age difference, I had a few opportunities to observe her. I noticed that she seemed particularly shy and extremely sensitive. She was, however, quietly cheerful and amiable. I do not remember her suffering at the hands of her schoolmates, as she leads us to believe was the case in her life story, but in hindsight I realise that she must have done. There was a striking contrast between herself and many of the schoolmates of her age in terms of education, character and piety.

I particularly remember three characteristics of that period: 1stly [1372] She regretted being unable to share her troubles, no matter how trivial, with her sister Pauline. 2ndly When I was head of a pious association in the convent, she came to ask me for advice at recreation, according to the convent’s custom. She was about 10 years old, and I was very surprised by her question: she asked me to explain how to go about meditation. 3rdly I think I can also remember her explaining to me how she herself would pray silently by her bed: she would hide in the narrow passage, and, “there, I think” she said [MSA 33,2]. Yet as several of our nuns have told me that she said the same thing to them, and as we have often talked about it in the community, even before Story of a Soul was published, I have begun to wonder whether she really told me this or whether I merely heard it from our Sisters. In any case, there is no doubt that she said this to one of us. I have no other clear recollections on either her illness or First Communion.

After she left the school, I saw her sometimes with her family or at church. She remained shy, was visibly deeply pious, but was also very simple and not at all stiff. I think she took Holy Communion more often than other children her age.

 [Answer to questions eleven to fifty-six]:

I have no personal information with regards to these questions.

[1373] [Answer to the fifty-seventh question]:

In general, it is believed in our community that the Servant of God is a saint. We pray to her and have faith in her intercession. We believe that Story of a Soul is truthful. I myself am all the more convinced of this given I knew her and her family. I find the book is a true reflection of what I observed.

 [Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I knew two nuns in our community, who were former school mistresses, who entertained a less favourable opinion on the Servant of God’s holiness. However, they put forward no precise accusation. One underlined Thérèse’s great sensitivity as a child, which she called “susceptibility”. As for the other, it is well known in the community that she is very argumentative and of unsound judgement. This nun, too, said nothing precise, other than that she “doesn’t believe in all these mystical sanctities.”

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

I heard it said in the community that personal blessings have been received through her intercession, but I personally do not know of any event that can be qualified as miraculous.

 [Answer to the sixty-sixth question]:

I cannot think of anything else to say.

[1374]

 [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 OF THE HOLY ROSARY, witness, have testified as above according to the truth. I hereby ratify and confirm my testimony.