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Witness 29 - Sister Saint-Andrew, O.B.S.

 

Born in Les Chapelles (in the Diocese of Laval) on 21st January 1863, Eugénie-Marie Barbé came to the Benedictine Abbey Notre-Dame-du-Pré of Lisieux in 1882, as a lay assistant teacher of the boarding school. There she met Thérèse Martin who had been a pupil there for just a few months. She was admitted into the novitiate in 1884 and was professed on July 22, 1886.

It is worth remembering that the glorious Benedictine institution of Lisieux, which was founded at the very beginning of the 11th century, and then dispersed during the Revolution at the end of the 18th, was reborn in 1808. It was completely destroyed in the bombings of 6th-7th June 1944.

The witness testified on 11th August 1911, in the 84th session, pp. 1287r-1290r of our Public Copy.

[Session 84: - 11th August 1911, at 8:30am]

[1286v] [The witness answers the first question correctly].

[Answer to the second question]:

[1287r] My name is Eugénie Virginie Marie Barbé, in religion Sister Saint Andrew. I was born on 21st January 1863 in Les Chapelles (in the Diocese of Laval) of the legitimate marriage between Michel Barbé, a farmer, and Anne Bigot. I joined the Abbey (Benedictine Monastery of Lisieux), first as a lay assistant teacher in the boarding school (January 1882). I joined the novitiate on 11th August 1884, and was professed on 22nd June 1886. I have been Prioress of the monastery since 18th August 1896.  

[The witness answers questions three to seven correctly].

[Answer to the eighth question]:

I became familiar with the Servant of God when I was an assistant teacher in the boarding school. When I arrived in January 1882, Thérèse Martin had already been a pupil there for a few months. She wasn’t in the class I was assisting, [1287v] but I had the opportunity of seeing and talking to her every day at recreation, in the refectory, in study periods, etc. I will recount what I myself was able to notice during these two years of the Servant of God’s lifetime. I will also share what people have told me since the Servant of God’s death about favours that have been obtained through her intercession. I have reread, in preparation for giving my testimony, the “Story of a Soul written by herself”, but only to remind me of what I had directly observed. I was able to notice that in the particular passages relating to what I witnessed directly, the Servant of God’s story perfectly conforms to the truth.

[Answer to the ninth question]:

I desire the Trial to result in the Servant of God’s beatification, because I believe and I’ve seen that her doctrine and example do souls good. I have a certain devotion for the Servant of God, but [1288r] this leaves me entirely free from bias in my judgments and testimony.  

[Answer to questions ten to thirteen]:

I didn’t know the Servant of God before I arrived as a lay assistant teacher at the “Abbey” of Lisieux. I didn’t know her parents either, or the way in which she was brought up by her family.

[Answer to the fourteenth question]:

The Servant of God was already a pupil at the “Abbey” when I arrived. I can confirm that, as a pupil, she was remarkably punctual and always did her work. My observations on this point seem particularly weighty to me seeing as I wasn’t her teacher in the strict sense of the word, so I saw her in a more informal manner. As I was then a lay teacher, I could mix with the pupils more freely, and I would converse [1288v] with them more as my equals than the nun teachers would. I then became aware that her faithfulness stemmed from her ardent desire to please God, but, at that time, I was tempted to see exaggeration in her and, in a way, the sign of a worried and scrupulous soul. I was not directly involved in the preparations for her first Communion, and she didn’t share with me the state of mind she was in. I could only observe her attitude during the retreat and on the day of her first Communion itself, in the chapel of the “Abbey”, on 8th May 1884. I can remember that her posture and facial expression revealed a tender, and I may say exceptional, piety. She stood out among all the others even though they weren’t lacking in piety. After that, I didn’t follow her closely enough to notice anything in particular, for I entered the novitiate in August 1884, and I lost sight of her, even though she remained a pupil at the school. [1289r] In fact, the novices had no contact with the boarding school.

[To questions fifteen to twenty-six, the witness states she has nothing to depose].

[Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

All the Sisters who knew the Servant of God at the boarding school gave a positive testimony of her; but since her death they have, like myself, gained a better understanding of how profound and elevated her virtue really was.

[Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

I’ve never heard anyone object to the renown for holiness that is becoming established regarding the Servant of God. One or two of our nuns only say that when she was at boarding school, she was excessively sensitive, which would lead her to become overly distressed.

[1289v] [Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

In my task as Prioress, I’ve noticed that reading Sister Thérèse’s life story and writings has had a positive influence when it comes to training souls. I would in particular point out that meditating on her life story is enlightening and encourages a more fervent practice of fraternal charity, mortification of the mind, little sacrifices and surrender to God. Several people have told me about miraculous favours obtained through the Servant of God’s intervention. They were mostly inner graces rather than temporal favours. People would explain them as follows: “I feel closer to God when I pray.” Several of our nuns (no less than six) have said this to me, and two people outside the monastery.

[Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I don’t know anything else.

[1290r] [Concerning the Articles, the witness says she knows nothing other than what she 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 habeo et confirmo.

Signatum: Sister SAINT ANDREW, O.B.S.