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Witness 26 - Victor-Louis Domin

 

Born in Caen on 1st October 1843, Victor Louis Domin exercised nearly all his priestly ministry in Lisieux. He was chaplain of the Benedictine Abbey for over forty years, tasked not only with assisting the Sisters but also with teaching religious education to the pupils and directing various pious associations. Hence little Thérèse Martin took her first retreat with him in preparation for her first Communion in 1884. “I listened with great attention to the instructions Father Domin was giving us, even writing up a summary of them”, Thérèse tells us (MA “A” 34r), and she would go on to say: “(he) used to call me his little doctor because my name was Thérèse” (p. 37v). She took another retreat with him in 1885. Fr. Domin was an exemplary priest and died in Lisieux an honorary Canon on 13th June 1918.  

His testimony was given in sincerity. He says that although she was already a profoundly prayerful soul, Thérèse as a child had difficulty adapting to liturgical prayer. In addition and more importantly, both as a child and as a nun, Thérèse always gave him the impression of being someone who was overly “flattered”. From her father, Mr. Martin, and from Mother Marie de Gonzague and Father Youf, he heard nothing but praise after praise, which in the end annoyed him enough to put him off setting foot in the Carmel.

The witness testified on 7th August 1911, in the 79th session, pp. 1234r-1239r of our Public Copy.

[Session 79: - 7th August 1911, at 2pm]

[1234r] [The witness answers the first question correctly].

[Answer to the second question]:

My name is Victor-Louis Domin, I was born in Caen, in the Parish of Saint Sauveur, [1234v] on the first of October 1843, of the legitimate marriage between Louis Domin, a printer, and Euphémie Delos. I am a priest, an honorary Canon, and I’ve been chaplain to the monastery of Benedictine nuns in Lisieux since the year 1874.    

[The witness answers questions three to seven correctly].

[Answer to the eighth question]:

I knew the Servant of God: 1st through a few family connections, being a third cousin of her aunt, Mrs. Guérin. 2nd I above all came to know her at the time she was a day pupil at the Benedictine Abbey. As chaplain, I was in charge of giving the pupils religious instruction; I also heard their confessions; I presided the meetings of the Association of the Holy Angels and the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which were run at the school. 3rd I also gathered testimonies on the Servant of God from various people, including some nuns who were formerly her teachers and a few of her classmates [1235r] at the boarding school. 4th I will only infrequently and unintentionally use the Servant of God’s testimony that is recorded in her autobiography.

[Answer to the ninth question]:

I have a particular devotion to the Servant of God: I pray to her every day. My devotion dates back to the time I read her Life Story (about 1898). I desire the success of her beatification Cause because the number of events that take place today persuades me that she is particularly blessed by God. The special contact I had with her also makes me wish for her beatification, although this desire isn’t capable of influencing the sincerity of my testimony.

[Answer to questions ten to fourteen]:

Thérèse Martin started attending the boarding school ran by the Benedictine nuns of Lisieux in the month of October 1881; she was therefore eight and a half years old. She left, I believe, around Easter time 1886. She was not on my register from October 1886 [1235v] onwards. She was therefore at boarding school for four and a half years, but there were numerous absences in that time. I don’t have much to say, even though I was quite close to several members of the Martin family, which was in part my own. I met the child many times at family gatherings, but my attention was never fully focused on her. At the boarding school, I hardly saw her outside catechism, but I must say she was perfectly well-behaved, and admirably learnt her lessons. I thought, as did many other people, I believe, that she was overly flattered, overly acclaimed by her family, and especially by her father, who it seemed could not leave her side, and incessantly called her “my little Queen”. I thought they risked making her vain and full of herself like so many other young girls. I heard it said that her classmates didn’t like her very much, and had no affection for her; she was only a day pupil and was often absent. She [1236r] would frequently cry, as she herself says, and as I noticed one day in catechism. She gave the impression of finding it difficult to follow Mass on Sundays; but this requires an explanation. We generally ask the children to follow the different points of Mass in their books. We therefore asked this of Thérèse as we did of the other children; but the dear child wouldn’t. When I showed her what she should be reading, she would thank me with a gracious smile, look down at her book for a few seconds, and soon lift up her head again as if she had been distracted. But in fact she was undoubtedly not distracted; she was saying a much better prayer than her classmates were, by devoting herself to contemplative meditation… Moreover, people sometimes mentioned the expression on her face which, during services and religious ceremonies, would become absolutely celestial.  

[Answer to the fifteenth question]:

I didn’t follow the Servant of God closely for the period between her leaving the boarding school and her entrance into the Carmel.

[Answer to questions sixteen to nineteen]:

I remember that the thought that the Servant of God was overly flattered and acclaimed followed me even after she entered the Carmel. One day, during her novitiate, I saw her in the visiting room, accompanied by Mother Marie de Gonzague, and I was most surprised to hear the Superior boast about the little novice’s generosity: I said to myself that it wasn’t wise to praise a young person in this way in their presence. I have since thought that she must have been strongly anchored in humility, because she wasn’t shaken by all this praise. The chaplain of the Carmel at the time, Father Youf, would also sometimes speak of Sister Thérèse’s extraordinary qualities, but not in her presence. This is what he said to me, word for word: “Even though she is very young, if the community needed a Prioress, she could be nominated without fear.” [1237r] I thought my colleague was “bluffing”, as the English say, when he said this, and as a result of it I hardly ever went to see her at the Carmel; I always kept my distance because I found that people’s opinions of the child were exaggerated, and I didn’t want a part in this praise. Alas! It was me who was in the wrong by not believing in her extraordinary virtue: I can see that now.  

[Answer to questions twenty to twenty-four]:

I cannot give a detailed testimony in answer to these questions. I said above what I’d noticed regarding these points during her life-time.

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

I’ve been ten or twelve times to pray at the Servant of God’s tomb. I was prompted to do so by a feeling of devotion and trust. I then noticed that other pilgrims came to her tomb for the same reasons. I saw people [1237v] from all social classes: priests, nuns, lay people, and soldiers. Their attitude wasn’t one of simple curiosity, but of piety and religion.

[Answer to the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth question]:

During the Servant of God’s lifetime, as I already said, I always thought that people admired her too much and that their admiration was unjustified, but my feelings completely changed when I became familiar with “Story of a Soul”. From then on, I began to pray to her every day and I don’t think I’ve ever missed one. I was particularly struck by the following words that she pronounced on her deathbed: “I feel that my mission is soon to begin - my mission to make others love God as I love Him… to teach souls my little way” LC 17-7. For me, this could mean only one of two things: either these words were those of a girl who is foolishly or even madly proud, [1238r] or they represent a prophecy that can only have come from heaven. Now it’s impossible to consider the first hypothesis even for a moment; therefore we are obliged to admit the second and see in this young Carmelite nun a saint in all senses of the word.

More than once have I admired what I shall call her doctrine, which she calls her “little way”, and which can be summarized in three points. 1) remaining little or practicing humility; 2) often accomplishing little mortifications, little sacrifices, which she calls “scattering flowers” – LC 17 - 7 – trusting God and practicing holy surrender. I was so impressed with this little set of guidelines that I remember even having drawn my resolutions from it for one of my yearly retreats.

If I’ve found teachings in the words of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus that are helpful to me, I’ve also found teachings to help those whose souls are entrusted to me. I have talked about this in my conferences and my interviews with nuns, now very much convinced of the [1238v] extraordinary way that God saw fit to teach this soul: “Qui te revelas parvulis... Beati mundo corde, quoniam ipsi Deum videbunt” - *cf. Luke. 10:21; Matt. 5:8 -. Several years ago (7, I believe) I asked the Mother Prioress of the Benedictines for permission to give each nun a copy of the abridged life story of Sister Thérèse (“Call to Little Souls”): I went so far as to say that I wasn’t offering them all just a souvenir, but rather a manual and a sort of treatise on mystical theology. During different trips I’ve taken, either in Belgium or in the Pyrenees, I observed that the Servant of God’s renown for holiness has spread to these countries.

[Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

I believe the favours obtained through the Servant of God’s intercession are countless, for I hear people talk about them everywhere. Some recount temporal favours, others spiritual graces, as prove the multiple reports that are sent every day to the Carmel, several of which have [1239r] been published.  

[Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I’ve said everything I know.

[Concerning the Articles, the witness says he knows 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 deposui ut supra secundum veritatem, ratum habeo et confirmo.

Signatum: L. DOMIN.