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Witness 6 - Agnes of Jesus, O.C.D.

 

The testimony of Mother Agnes of Jesus (1861-1951) is the longest testimony of the Apostolic Process. Clear, logical, and well documented, it reflects a long and meticulous preparation as well as a judicious emphasis of certain facts and words that, in 1910, had either not caught the witness’ attention, or at least, not caught it so markedly.

It is not necessary at this point to give an outline of Pauline Martin’s biography. Readers can refer to vol. 1, pp. 131-133 and the book entitled La petite mère de Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux, Mère Agnès de Jésus (“The Second Mother of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: Mother Agnes of Jesus”), Lisieux 1953.

It is well known that Mother Agnes contributed to Thérèse’s instruction. She published and disseminated the message contained in Story of a Soul, which is one of God’s greatest gifts to the Church of our time, and indeed of any time, and she was the most important and most convinced artisan of the humble nun’s glorification. Her implication is not to be under-estimated.

Mother Agnes’s testimony at the Apostolic Process perfectly correlates to the line of questioning put forward by the General Promoter of the Faith. This fact was not the fruit of chance, as reveal the Preparatory Notes for the Apostolic Process kept in the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux. Through a methodical choice of facts and texts, the witness was able to avoid her new testimony being a duplicate of that of the first Process. She can only be praised for this. This achievement was the result of an unparalleled diligence in gathering, inventorying, classifying and disseminating the extremely rich documentation.

Let us first of all highlight the three “dossiers” that Mother Agnes presented at the trial, which were significantly valuable in terms of providing not only information on Thérèse’s life, but also a synthesis of her doctrinal message, and an overall view of the blessings and favours that had been attributed to her.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

These three documents such as they were presented by Mother Agnes in her testimony can be found in the 1st volume of the trial’s original transcription, which was placed in the Archives of the Bishopric of Bayeux. All three were written by the Mother Prioress herself, who was an excellent calligrapher. They bore headings and, where relevant, sub-headings, all of which were in the same handwriting.

Their headings read as follows:

  1. The milieu in which Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus sanctified herself at the Carmel of Lisieux (pp. 357-370; Bayeux originals, I, f. 197r-204v) ;

  2. Way of spiritual childhood (pp. 409-420; Bayeux originals, I, f 233r-238v);

  3. Extracts of files recording miracles attributed to the intercession of the Servant of God Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus (pp. 532-551; Bayeux originals, I, f 318r-329v).

These headings are self-explanatory.

The third document does not bear directly on either Sister Thérèse’s virtues at the Carmelite convent, or her doctrinal message, but clearly shows her already “[spending] her heaven doing good on earth”.

The second was intended to be an “official” introduction to the Way of Spiritual Childhood and its various components. This Way is presented from the perspective of “Thérèse’s method of prayer and her genre of piety”, in which, according to Mother Agnes, “everything leads back to what she called her way of spiritual childhood.” The witness underlines, “This is such an important point that I felt I ought to spend a bit of time writing a description of it. I hereby present it to the court” (p. 409).

Even if it might give the impression of being a unilateral doctrinal systematisation that insists too heavily on certain aspects particularly close to Mother Agnes’s heart, the ensemble is certainly rich with information and terms that no one could better interpret or present than herself. It is to be remembered that this synthesis presented by Thérèse’s “second mother” provided Pope Benedict XV with more than one notion for the fine speech that he pronounced on the subject of spiritual childhood in his decree on the heroic nature of Thérèse’s virtues on 14th August 1921.

The first of the three documents (which will be transcribed below) principally refers to Mother Marie de Gonzague. It has hitherto only appeared in its entirety in the 1038 paged volume entitled Positio super virtutibus, published in 1920 by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. It can be found on pp. 164-175, §§ 375-376.

Those who had direct or third-party access to it were bound by a duty of discretion, for the reason that Mother Marie de Gonzague had family and did not return to God until 1904. It is this duty that Fr Ubald from Alençon seriously breached by publishing an article in French in the January 1926 edition of the review Barcelone Estudis Franciscans (pp. 14-28) entitled “Sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant-Jésus comme je la connais” (“Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus as I know her”). There is no reason to dwell on the consequences of this hasty exploitation here. Suffice it to say that it caused Mother Agnes great suffering.

We have transcribed below Mother Agnes’s document as it appears in the acts of the Process, leaving it to the historians and psychologists the care and liberty to comment on it. Mother Agnes of Jesus testified on 5th to 19th July 1915 in sittings 11 to 21 (pp. 340-552 of the Public Transcription).

[Sitting 11: - 5th July 1915, at 10 am and at 2 in the afternoon].

[340] [The witness responds to the first question satisfactorily].

[Answer to the second question]:

My name is Marie Pauline Martin. I was born in Alençon on 7th September 1861 to Louis-Joseph-Stanislas Martin and Zélie Marie Guérin. I am a professed nun of the Carmel of Lisieux, Prioress of the convent and blood sister of the Servant of God.

 [The witness responds to the third question satisfactorily].

 [The same is true of questions four and five].

[Answer to the sixth question]:

I am testifying for the glory of God alone. I will say what I know personally, [341] and no one has dictated what I should say.

 [Answer to the seventh question]:

The Servant of God was my youngest sister. From the time our mother died (in 1877), when the Servant of God was four and a half, until I joined the Carmel (2nd October 1882), I saw to every aspect of the education of my younger sister, to whom I acted as mother. In 1888, she joined me in the Carmel, and until she died we lived in the same community; from 1893 to 1896 I was Prioress of the convent. My testimony will bear on my personal recollections. Reading Story of a Soul and the Servant of God’s other writings served only to remind me of a few details which in any case I observed directly.

[Answer to the eighth question]:

I have above all a very great natural affection for the Servant of God because she is my dearly beloved sister. However, I believe that if she was not my sister, I would love her every bit as much, because of her holiness and I would trust her equally. I desire the beatification of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus because I am increasingly convinced that she has been chosen by God to make known on earth the love that He has for His poor little creatures, and His desire to be loved by them in return with filial tenderness [342]. Most of the Saints that have been canonised by the Church are great beacons of light that only great souls can imitate.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Yet great souls are very rare, whereas the number of little souls, that is to say, those who must walk a common pathway and in faith alone, is immense: it would seem that they have been waiting for “little Thérèse”, for this wholly attainable guide, for this new extension of God’s goodness to lead them to love through humility and the most absolute surrender. Sinners also will benefit from her beneficial influence and find their salvation in her.

[Answer to the ninth question]:

The Servant of God was born in Rue Saint Blaise in Alençon on 2nd January 1873. She was not baptised until the afternoon of 4th January because our family were awaiting her godfather. My mother was very upset about this delay, and, in the meantime, begged God not to let her daughter die before she was baptised.

My father (Louis-Joseph-Stanislas Martin) was born in Bordeaux on 22nd August 1823, and my mother (Zélie Marie Guérin) was born in Saint-Denys-sur-Sarthon, in Orne, on 23rd December 1831.

At the age of 20, my father took steps to become a monk at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, but as he had not completed his studies, the Superior advised him to return home to finish them and return to the monastery afterwards. In due time, he was [343] given other advice as to his life orientation.

Very young herself, my mother had the intention of becoming a Sister of Saint Vincent de Paul at the hospital of Alençon, when the Superior told her that her vocation lay elsewhere.

My parents were married on 12th July 1858, in the church of Notre Dame d’Alençon. The marriage was blessed with nine children:

1 Marie Louise, 22nd February 1860, who today is a nun of this Carmel.

2 Marie Pauline, 7th September 1861; that is me.

3 Marie Léonie, 3rd June 1863, who today is a nun at the Visitation of Caen.

4 Marie Hélène, 13th October 1864, who died at the age of five and a half.

5 Marie Joseph Louis, 20th September 1866, who died at the age of five months.

6 Marie Joseph Jean-Baptiste, 19th December 1867, who died at the age of eight months.

7 Marie Céline, 28th April 1869, who today is a Carmelite nun in this convent.

8 Marie Mélanie Thérèse, 16th August 1870, who died at the age of two months.

9 Marie Françoise Thérèse, 2nd January 1873, who is the Servant of God.

My parents always appeared to be saints to me. We children were filled with respect and admiration for them. I sometimes wondered if there could be anyone else like them on earth. [344] I saw nobody resembling them about me. Their way to relax was to have pious conversations and to read holy books. They went to Mass every morning, and took Holy Communion often. My mother had a frail constitution and yet, like my father, she followed all the recommended fasts and abstinences. They kept Sunday observance down to the last detail. My father’s friends sometimes accused him of taking it too far, because he would close his jeweller’s shop on Sundays. Now, people from the countryside came into town particularly on Sundays and would go and buy their jewellery elsewhere when it was for a wedding. “If you would simply leave open a side door,” his friends would say, “you would be doing no harm and would not lose profitable sales.” Yet my father would reply that he would prefer to bring God’s blessings upon him.

My father and mother were charitable to the poor. Among charitable associations, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith was the one they preferred.

My mother was abnegation personified; she was gifted with extraordinary energy. The lace-making business that she established alone, and which she looked after tirelessly to assure her children’s future, made her life very meritorious. When my little brothers and sisters died, her submission to God’s will, despite her deep grief, was so great that people less Christian than herself were almost shocked, [345] to the point of saying that she did not love her children.

It was my parents’ wish that all of us be consecrated to God; they would have liked to give Him priests and missionaries. My mother had been struck by the life of Madame Acarie, and many times I heard her say, “To think that all her daughters became Carmelites! Can a mother have any greater honour?” She told me that if my father happened to die before her, she would, once we had all left home, go and spend the rest of her days in a Visitation convent.

 [The witness continues her answer to the ninth question]:

My mother tried to nurse little Thérèse herself, as she had tried in vain to do with her other children. Her grief was great at being unable to succeed once again. This impotence came, I suspect, from a blow [346] that she suffered to the chest in her youth, and which caused the cruel illness that killed her. Little Thérèse was sent to be wet nursed in Semallé, not far from Alençon, in a good family whose surname was Taillé. The wife was already an acquaintance of my mother’s. Dear “little Rose” as people called her was the embodiment of devotion.

Thérèse returned home on 11th April 1874 in flourishing health.

My mother went to Lourdes to seek a miraculous recovery for herself, but came back only more ill in June 1877. Her faith and trust towards the Blessed Virgin did not diminish for all that. We could hear her pray on nights when she was in terrible suffering. She died a saintly death on 28th August 1877.

 [Answer to the tenth question]:

After my mother died, in November that same year 1877, my father came to live in Lisieux so that we could be nearer to our Uncle Guérin, my mother’s brother. He was counting on Mrs Guérin’s devotion to initiate his eldest daughters in their new duties.

Towards the end of his life, my father prayed that he might suffer for God’s sake, and his prayer was answered in the form of the very humiliating cerebral illness that caused his death. He died on 29th July 1894.

At Les Buissonnets (the name of the house where [347] we lived), my eldest sister Marie and I saw to educating our younger sisters, Céline and Thérèse. I instructed little Thérèse until October 1881, when she joined the Benedictine Abbey School in Lisieux as a day boarder.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

After our mother died, she became very shy with strangers, and so sensitive that she would cry at nothing. Yet I noticed that the reason for her tears was usually fear of having pained our father, her sisters, or above all God.

She was extremely successful in her studies, both at the Abbey and at home. The nuns considered her a very intelligent girl, but religious education was what captivated her the most.

In 1882, when Thérèse had just turned ten, I joined the Carmel, and Thérèse stayed in the care of our eldest sister. After I had entered religious life, Thérèse came down with a strange illness. Her extraordinary symptoms led us to believe that the illness had come from the devil. Thérèse was miraculously healed by the Blessed Virgin during a novena prayed to Our Lady of Victories. She told me herself that she saw the Blessed Virgin walk towards her and smile upon her.

 [Could you characterise her symptoms and the development of her condition? - Answer]:

I was at the Carmel at the time; my sister Marie (Marie of the Sacred Heart) and also Céline, who witnessed first-hand what happened at Les Buissonnets, will be able to provide a more detailed account. I can remember questioning our sister [348] Marie in the visiting room at that time as to the nature of her condition and what Doctor Notta said; she told me on several occasions that the doctor admitted to not being able to understand the illness’ symptoms at all. The members of this Court who knew Doctor Notta will be aware that he was a highly valued practitioner. I can also affirm that for the rest of her life at the Carmel, not a trace of those troubles ever reappeared. She always appeared very calm, very judicious and self-controlled.

 [The witness resumes their answer]:

She took her First Communion on 8th May 1884, after having prepared for several months with the most tender and truest sentiments of piety. “For a long time now,” she said in her autobiography, “Jesus and poor little Thérèse had looked at and understood each other. That day, it was no longer simply a look, it was a fusion” [MSA 35 r°]. Many times did she express to me directly the sentiments that she conveys in this sentence about her First Communion.

At the age of 12, during her preparatory retreat for her Second Solemn Communion, she began growing very scrupulous. I never saw her like this; I on the contrary knew her as open and very trusting, free of any excessive worry regarding her small faults. In the meantime, Marie, who had guided and comforted her until then, joined the Carmel in turn on 15th October 1886. Bereft [349] of support, and suffering more and more deeply, Thérèse prayed to her little brothers and sisters in heaven and was brought perfect peace. This trial lasted for about a year and a half.

At 13 years of age, she left the boarding school and finished her education at Les Buissonnets by taking private lessons.

 [Do you know why the Servant of God left the Benedictine boarding school? - Answer]:

I do not know exactly. I believe it was due to the general state of her health. My sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, who was then at home, will know better than me.

 [Answer to the eleventh question]:

From the age of two onwards, young Thérèse thought that she would become a nun. “This is one of my first memories,” she wrote, “and I have not changed my resolution since then” [MSA 6r°]. I know that in her early childhood, she shared this wish with our mother and us.

At the age of nine, hearing me describe the solitary life of Carmel, she felt a strong attraction. She wrote, “I felt that Carmel was the desert where God wished me to hide. I felt this so strongly that I had not the least doubt in my heart. I wanted to go to Carmel for Jesus alone” [MSA 26r°].

 [Might she have wished for the solitude of Carmel in order to be reunited with her beloved sister? - Answer]:

 [350] I admit that, given her wish to be a Carmelite, I for my part did all I could to attract her to our convent, because I could see that she was a little saint and could bring great blessings upon us. However I am convinced that she herself did not seek my company and would have willingly gone to another Carmelite convent had she been directed to do so by obedience.

 [Continuation of the answer]:

At the age of 14, she spoke to me again of her ambition to join Carmel, but I was alone in encouraging her. Our sister Marie told her that she was too young. I myself, influenced by what my elder sister told me, raised a few objections to her project. On Pentecost Sunday 1887, she sought and obtained our father’s permission, but she then had to face the refusal of our uncle and the invincible opposition of the Superior of the Carmel, Father Delatroëtte. The latter thought her too young and categorically refused to admit her despite the insistence of Mother Prioress Marie de Gonzague, who greatly desired her admission. One feast day, Father Superior came into the monastery to visit Mother Geneviève, our foundress, who was in the infirmary. The latter, upon the request of Mother Marie de Gonzague, and in front of the whole community, appealed for Thérèse’s admission in time for Christmas. Outraged, Father Superior replied, “I cannot believe I am hearing about this application again! To hear so many exhortations, one would think that the salvation of this community [351] depended on this child! There is no harm in hurrying. She should stay with her father until she comes of age. Do you think that I issue this refusal without having first consulted God? I don’t want to hear mention of this affair again.”

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Monsignor Hugonin, Bishop of Bayeux, to whom the affair was referred, would not make up his mind. On a trip to Rome in November 1887, in the company of my father and sister Céline, Thérèse made known to the Sovereign Pontiff her desire to obtain permission to join Carmel immediately, but the Pope did not give her a decisive reply. Eventually, after having tested her perseverance, God blessed her courageous efforts, and on 28th December 1887, the Bishop of Bayeux authorised her immediate admission. However, I feared that the austerity of Lent would prove too much for Thérèse so soon after joining the convent, and therefore, upon my request, and influenced by Father Superior’s persistent discontentment, Mother Prioress Marie de Gonzague imposed another three months’ delay. The doors of the Carmel were finally opened to her on 9th April the following year, 1888, when she was 15 and three months of age.

Upon introducing Thérèse to the community on the day of her admittance, with the door to the convent wide open, and in front of our father, Father Superior said, “Well, Reverend Mothers, you may sing the Te Deum! As representative of His Lordship the Bishop, I present to you this 15 year old child as per your request. I hope she does not deceive your [352] hopes, but let me remind you that if it is the case, you alone will bear the responsibility.” The whole community was chilled by his words.

It took several years for the dear priest to change his mind; but later on he came to appreciate the Servant of God to such an extent that I saw his eyes fill with tears once as he spoke of the “angel” that was Sister Thérèse.

When the time came for her to part from our father, she did not shed any tears, but could feel her heart beating so wildly that she wondered whether she was going to die. When she reached her little cell, her eyes shining with peace and happiness, she said something to me that I shall never forget: “I am here forever and ever” [MSA 69,2].

[Sitting 12: - 6th July 1915, at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon]

 [355] [Answer to the twelfth question]:

On 10th January 1889, after 9 months of postulancy, she received the Order’s Habit, and on 8th September 1890, she pronounced her perpetual vows with most admirable fervour before receiving the black veil on the 24th of the same month.

           In order to understand the life of Sister Thérèse at the Carmel, I consider it necessary to tell the court of the state that the community was in at the time that she lived there, and above all, the role and character of Mother Marie de Gonzague, who was elected Prioress several times. As this is a delicate and complex subject, I have prepared a statement which I would like, with your permission, to read to the court. Out of caution, prior to my appearance here, I submitted this report to five of my fellow Sisters who were witnesses to the events and details described inside. They proposed several corrections, which I incorporated, and they signed the definitive draft. The document that I give to the court is therefore much like a ‘community’ document.

[The witness is instructed to read the document. Once this is done, Vicar General Auguste Quirié, delegate judge, asks whether there were any Sisters left in the convent who knew Mother Marie de Gonzague and whether they would all acknowledge the accuracy of the document, or whether they might have any criticisms to make of it. – Answer]:

Other than the five nuns who reviewed and signed the statement, there are eight others who knew Marie de Gonzague. I did not show them the document because I thought that reawakening these memories might be painful and distressing, but I am certain that [357] all of them would acknowledge the accuracy of this presentation.

[The document will be filed with the acts of the Process]:

The milieu in which Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus

sanctified herself at the Carmel of Lisieux

The Carmel of Lisieux was founded in 1838 by Reverend Mother Geneviève of Saint Teresa (formerly Miss Claire Bertrand). She was gifted with a deep and great spirit of faith and great piety, and she practised heroic virtues for over 60 years. For those who knew her or have read her biography, she will remain an accomplished model of meekness and humility.

Sustained by a particular grace, the holy foundress endured the very painful ordeals suffered by the nascent community with the same calmness and trust that would characterise her entire life, and God soon showed His blessing on her enterprise by surrounding her with perfect nuns.

The difficulties of the early days, which were overcome with much generosity and the hidden yet immense virtues of our first Mothers and Sisters, would bring numerous blessings upon our Carmel. And it was no doubt their merits that saved it from ruin during the long [358] crisis that it endured.

For almost 40 years, a thick veil, one that we would rather never have lifted, concealed many sorrows in the new convent.

 

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Reverend Mother Marie de Gonzague

On 29th September 1860, 26 year old Miss Marie de X . . . *[Marie Davy de Virville] joined the Carmel of Lisieux as a postulant in the best of dispositions. She was named Sister Marie de Gonzague.

As a result of her outward charms (she was of above-average height, had distinction and a very kind tone of voice) and her piety and simplicity, which sometimes bordered on candour, she quickly won everybody’s sympathy. Yet her nature was unbalanced. At times excessively cheerful, at others absorbed in dark, melancholy thoughts over a mere trifle, she had inexplicable character anomalies despite her robust health.

She performed particularly strict penance and would have had an elevated and very generous soul, not to mention a heart of gold, had it not been for those unfortunate contrasts and a passionately jealous nature. Although very often subconscious, this jealousy grew over the years, provoking frequent conflicts, vexations and even terrible scenes.

Nevertheless, as soon as she left the novitiate, the Superior, Father Cagniard, let her take a position of responsibility, hoping through this means to develop her real capabilities and [359] at the same time to remedy her strange temperament. This was a fatal mistake. She was nominated Sub-Prioress on 8th July 1866, then Prioress on 22nd October 1874, a position which she would hold for 21 years.

Here are some details and examples of what took place at the convent under her government or through her influence:

She had several regrettable and sudden wild impulses. On 16th July 1867, when she was Sub-Prioress, she disappeared until nightfall following a fit of jealousy, and several Sisters who had been sent looking for her found her huddled in a corner of the garden, behind a ladder. Unhappy and panic-stricken, she let herself be led to the Prioress’ cell and was on the point of throwing herself out of the window (on the first floor) when a Lay Sister caught her. After this incident, of which the Father Superior was informed, the rumour circulated in the town, it is not known how, that the Sub-Prioress of the Carmel was mad. Even her family heard wind of it. Yet thanks to Mother Geneviève’s prudence, the rumour was little by little stifled.  

During her time as Prioress, when it came to putting a matter to the vote, she would practically impose her will. She allowed herself to be seduced by outer advantages, distinction, the charm of a fine voice, and above all by the affection that she was shown, thereby setting herself up for bitter regrets in her old age. One hysterical nun, who was admitted by the chapter upon her insistence, was the source of many a sorrow for her. Another, [360] indiscrete nun who suffered from the same condition, and had a subconscious compulsion for lying and stealing, was also admitted upon her demand.

One can imagine the training she provided. She gave very good advice but set poor examples. To get into her “good books”, one needed to flatter her and to be diplomatic. This led Father Youf, who was our chaplain for 25 years, to say, “Isn’t it a shame that souls believing they will find simplicity at the Carmel are obliged to practice politics?” He said this because, in certain cases, it was absolutely necessary to act furtively and subtly.

What is much more dreadful is the way in which the Holy Eucharist was sometimes dispensed! Mother Marie de Gonzague once promised Communion as a reward to the Sister who would catch a rat! It would also be taken away for a trifle. How shameful this is to reveal!

When the Decrees of 1891 withdrew from Mother Superiors the right to regulate Communions in their communities, Mother Marie de Gonzague accepted the directives with respect and submission to the Church. Soon, however, when the confessor saw fit to allow some of the Sisters daily Communion and not others, her jealousy resurfaced. Father Youf was afraid, and the number of Communions once again became the same for all the nuns.

Other, less serious, but nevertheless very shameful, cases of abuse took place: for example the poor Mother [361] had a cat that she fed veal liver and sweetened milk. Whenever he caught a bird, she would have it roasted for him and served with a delicious sauce. Up to this point, her behaviour was only ridiculous, although it did constitute a breach of poverty. However sometimes the cat would get lost, and in the evenings, during the hour of great silence, the Prioress would go and look for him with the Lay Sisters, calling everywhere for him, even over the wall separating the monastery from a neighbouring garden, which went against the rule and caused a stir in the community.

The sick also suffered at the hands of Mother Marie de Gonzague, even though she could be very kind and devoted to them at times.

One young Sister who suffered from a sensitive illness and was obliged to be treated by the current Prioress, had to do so in hiding, always fearing she might be discovered by her former Prioress. The latter would say, “There are certain illnesses that have until now been unknown, and it is a sin to treat them.”

Every year, at the time of the retreat, there would be a veritable monitoring of the preacher’s confessional. Mother Marie de Gonzague could not stand to see the nuns stay in there for any length of time.

For the three years that she was no longer Prioress, her character proved shadier than ever. She hated seeing the authority slip away from her and also the Sisters’ affections focus on someone other than herself. And so it was that, for the Profession of Sister Agnes of Jesus, which took place during one of Mother Genviève’s terms as Prioress, she refused [362] to go and see the oratory decorated for the occasion the preceding day, and, on the day itself, she saddened everyone with her bad mood. It would be the same every time there was a Habit Reception or Profession when she was not Prioress.

As the following elections approached, she began a ruthless and shameful campaign. For the sake of peace, Mother Geneviève humbly withdrew at the end of her three year term and let Mother Marie de Gonzague govern for six.

Later on, once Mother Geneviève had died, she realised that it was impossible for her to remain Prioress indefinitely, and directed chapter votes towards Sister Agnes of Jesus, whose conciliatory character she knew well. She thought that by so doing, she could remain Novice Mistress and have the new Prioress act according to her wishes.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

When she saw the latter assume her authority, she victimised her in every way. One day, witnessing a terrible scene, one Sister (her most ardent supporter) could not contain her indignation: “O Mother Marie de Gonzague,” she said, “it is very wrong to make your Mother Prioress suffer so!” Another senior Sister, equally appalled at her behaviour, resolved to write and inform our Bishop, Monsignor Hugonin, of it, and shared her intention with Mother Prioress that night; but the following day, fearing Mother Marie de Gonzague’s rage, she abandoned the idea.

Seeing her subconscious ruse thwarted, and that she was surplus to requirements, our former Prioress set about preventing Mother Agnes from being re-elected. She succeeded, but this [363] time was nominated after no less than 7 rounds of votes. This harsh lesson would remain with her for the rest of her life. Following her election, a few Sisters considered misplacing a few vote slips bearing her name on them, hoping that they would be found by the Prioress and remove them from suspicion.

This election shortly followed some scenes of dreadful jealousy with regards to the Profession of Sister Geneviève of Saint Teresa and Sister Marie of the Trinity. Hoping to soon replace Mother Agnes of Jesus, Mother Marie de Gonzague strove to hold back the novices in order to reserve herself the honour and joy of professing them.

However, when our Superior, Father Maupas, came to see the community, he said out loud that the Mother Prioress should put forward for profession the names of the two novices at the next chapter meeting. Mother Marie de Gonzague went pale, but contained herself until she left the visiting room, when she conferred with the nuns whose support she had won over:

      “Let her profess her own sister, since we can do nothing to prevent it,” she said, “but I firmly oppose her professing Sister Marie of the Trinity.” Now, Sister Marie of the Trinity had been a novice for two months longer than Sister Geneviève. Yet come what may, the poor Mother wanted to reserve herself at least one of the two, and so she had to compromise.

Sister Geneviève’s name was therefore the only one put to the vote. Under the pretext that it was forbidden for a nun to vote for her own sister, she found a way to shut Mother Prioress out of the chapter meetings. She presided [364] the three sittings herself, collected the votes and made the customary exhortations to the novice.

Not until the last day, when Sister Geneviève was admitted to profession, did she send for Mother Prioress. Even then, she did not invite her to take her place, but left her standing at the back of the room with the novices and Lay Sisters, who had been summoned to embrace the novice as is customary at the Carmel.

One might argue, “Her jealousy was not directed against Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.” In fact, she showed Sister Thérèse much trust, giving her a part of her authority over the novices, and choosing her as confident at the end of her life. What proves her high appreciation of the Servant of God is that she said and wrote all manner of good things about her to her family, retreat preachers, missionary Brothers, and everyone else. The letter she wrote to Father Roulland dated 11th November 1897 is evidence of this. And I add that it was sincere.

That being said, it remains true that Mother Marie de Gonzague refused to share her authority with anyone, even that of Novice Mistress, and Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus aroused her jealousy on many occasions. The latter constantly had to perform her humble duty as assistant to the novitiate in hiding. Also, she could never take as read one of the Prioress’ permissions or responsibilities even when it was sensical (because at times she was perfectly sensical and would even speak and act as a most saintly Prioress). [365] Unfortunately such moments were very fleeting and, suddenly, without a moment’s notice, the nuns could expect to see the exact opposite. If something aroused her jealousy, however slight, a sweet and sincere smile, a most kindly expression could instantly turn into a dark glare heralding an imminent storm.

The picture of injustices and sorrows seen at the convent would not be complete if something was not said about the breaches to the Rule that were made as a result of Mother Marie de Gonzague’s weaknesses as regards her family and visitors.

Concerning visitors first of all, she would spend a long time in the visiting room every day talking to one of her lady friends from town. Once filled in on the news, she would then entertain the Sisters with it at recreations.

As for her family, that was a more serious matter. One of her sisters, the Countess of X., had raised her only daughter rather badly, and she put upon her mother once married. Through incessant letters, the Countess would relate all her troubles in great detail to the poor Prioress, whose mood would depend on the news received that day. The letters became the subject matter of all her spiritual directions for that matter, including to the novitiate.

Countess de X. was wealthy and had every comfort; only, for fear of her daughter, she lived in hiding like a pauper. She borrowed 20,000 francs from the community. Little by [366] little she stopped making regular repayments and, when from time to time we would receive a bank note, we had to thank her as though it were a donation. After her death, the community came into possession of the 20,000 francs, plus 2,000 francs of interest in arrears. This interest was requested quite by chance, because Mother Marie de Gonzague had not kept any sort of accurate account! Without such proof, we had no right to claim anything.

Countess de X. considered the Carmel like her home, and the Sisters whom she called her friends were treated no better than servants. Whenever she came to Lisieux, she had to be served like a queen. She did not come into the convent, but her grandchildren and herself had the run of the Prioress’ visiting room and a bedroom in the Extern Sisters’ quarters. A sigh would go through the whole community at the announcement, “Countess de X. is here!”

On Mother Prioress’ feast days, the Countess kept all the embroidered handmade presents for herself. Over the course of the year, we would gratuitously embroider her coat of arms for her on tablecloths, handkerchiefs, piano covers, etc. It was said that she was doing us an honour by asking us for things. For her grandson’s First Communion, she had pictures on parchment painted by the dozen, and she wanted nothing less than genuine miniatures, that is to say pictures of value!

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

In the attic of her manor house, she found some old paintings and family portraits, which we had to restore. We even had to make two copies of one of them. 

When Countess de X. contracted a long and painful illness, it was the Carmel that paid the specialist, and provided her medicine and even the bandages for her [367] dressings. It fell to a Lay Sister to then wash the puss-filled bandages, which were all the more revolting for their few days’ journey. Eventually the community was darning and washing all her linen for her, including stockings and so on.

One day Mother Agnes of Jesus found poor Marie de Gonzague with a letter in her hand, sobbing. It was because the Countess, she said, was going to be obliged to sell her silver and lace in order to survive!!

Mother Agnes of Jesus took advantage of the opportunity to say, “Mother, the Countess should not fear her daughter so. If she sold one of her pieces of land, she could live in peace. At least, were I in your shoes, I would encourage her to sell a bit of her silver and lace because her daughter does not deserve to have it later on.”

Hardly had she finished speaking when a scene broke out, and soon Mother Marie de Gonzague could be heard recounting her tribulations to a nun from a noble family like herself: “Mother Agnes of Jesus doesn’t know what it means for families like ours to be stricken by poverty! How can I expect my sister to endure the pain and humiliation of selling her precious belongings?!”

One might wonder why our Superiors did not intervene in such a situation. However, the community both loved and apprehended the unfortunate Prioress, and failed to see the extent of the evil. After having suffered in silence, a few, more perspicacious Sisters of righteous conscious, tried to complain. Our confessors and Superiors, terrified of an ascendancy that it seemed impossible [368] to destroy without considerable risk, advocated patience “to keep the peace, so that no word gets out.” “Rather your convent be burned to the ground,” said Father Delatroëtte one day.

Moreover, the Mother Prioress in question distanced her direct Superior, the Bishop himself, from affairs of the convent as much as possible.

After having secretly attempted to throw off the yoke, the nuns were filled with regret. “It would be better to see this through to the end,” they said, “than to sin out of ingratitude. Mother Marie de Gonzague built half of the monastery with her donation campaigns. She accepted almost all of us. We cannot forget that.” And so the situation remained the same, becoming more and more complicated as the years went by.

Even Mother Geneviève could do nothing to hold things in check. Too kind and conciliatory, she contented herself with weeping and praying in silence.

“The community seems to be walking a tightrope,” said Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. “God is working an ongoing miracle in allowing it to keep its balance” [Primary Source]. Little of the evil that saints had noticed and lamented became known outside the convent.

Mother Marie de Gonzague had subjugated anyone outside the convent who knew her and they did not see her at work, or when the oddities of her changeable temperament surfaced, or the outbreaks of her formidable jealousy. 

[369] Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus however, who loved her Prioress’ soul despite everything, prayed for her one day as she was very fearful for her salvation. It was then that, in a dream, she saw her surrounded in flames, walking through the hermitage that she had dedicated to the Sacred Heart (a little chapel in the centre of the cloisters). The Servant of God saw it as a sign that she would be shown mercy on account of her devotion to the Sacred Heart. She would pass only by the fire and not burn for eternity.

Mother Marie de Gonzague died of tongue cancer on 17th December 1904, aged 71.

The day before she died, she humbly said to her Prioress, Mother Agnes of Jesus, “Mother, I have done much to offend God. I am the guiltiest person in this community. I would have no hope of being saved should my little Thérèse not be interceding for me. I can tell that I will owe her my salvation.”

Signatum: SISTER AGNES OF JESUS, u.c.n. prioress.         

Sister Marie of the Angels and the Sacred Heart, u.c.n.:

“I have read these pages carefully and unfortunately they are only too true. I witnessed many other things. I observed the sad incident on 16th July 1867.”

I certify that what is recounted in these pages is far from exaggerated. Signatum: Sister Thérèse of Saint Augustine, u.c.n.

I have read the document and found it very accurate. Signatum: Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, u.c.n.

I have read the document and found it very accurate. Signatum: Sister Geneviève of Saint Teresa, u.c.n.

[370] I have read the document and found it very accurate. Signatum: Sister Marie of the Trinity. u.c.n.

[Continuation of the answer to the twelfth question]:

When I was elected Prioress in February 1893, I nominated the outgoing Prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague, as Novice Mistress. I did not think I could do otherwise if I was to prevent making matters worse. Yet to attenuate the damage as much as possible, I told Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who was then 20 years of age and the most senior member of the novitiate, to watch over her two companions Sister Marthe and Sister Marie-Madeleine, who were Lay novices. In actual fact, I was depending on Sister Thérèse to lead the novitiate. Furthermore I had the titular Novice Mistress, Mother Marie de Gonzague, understand that Sister Thérèse might be of use to her in fulfilling her duty to the novices. She did indeed use Sister Thérèse, whom she called “her little hunting dog”. Yet when she noticed that the Servant of God’s influence was becoming too effective, or else when troubled by her changeable mood, she would take offense and treat her harshly.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

The Servant of God should have left the novitiate at the end of that year, 1893, but she asked to [371] remain there, above all out of humility, and also through zeal for the good of the novices. The following year, 1894, Sister Marie of the Trinity and Sister Geneviève of Saint Teresa joined the convent. 1896 saw the admission of Sister Marie of the Eucharist; which brought the number of novices to five.

On 21st March 1896, Mother Marie de Gonzague was elected Prioress in my place, but she did not nominate a Novice Mistress. She reserved this duty for herself, having Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus to help her, as before. Yet, also as before, as soon as she appeared to be succeeding and achieving something, Mother Prioress would take offence, express anger and humble her.

The Servant of God continued in that poorly defined role vis-à-vis the novices until she died.

In the meantime, she also performed several other duties. She was assigned to the linen room for nine months as soon as she joined the convent, to the refectory for two years following her Reception of the Habit, and then to the sacristy until June 1892. From then until February 1893, she painted several artworks: a fresco in the oratory, various altar cloths, and holy cards that were sold outside the convent. During that time, she was nominated assistant to the Procuratrix, and aided her whenever workers entered the convent.

In the 1893 elections, she was nominated Portress, but continued her painting work. In March 1896, [372] she was reassigned to the sacristy. She had recently vomited blood for the first time, and when she fell definitively sick, she was withdrawn from this duty. She was then assigned to help a poor Sister of unsound mind in the linen room, which she did until all her strength was exhausted. She had greatly desired to be a nurse because of the numerous occasions that she would have had to practice charity, but her desire was never fulfilled. On 8th July 1897, she was confined to bed in the infirmary and died on 30th September 1897.

[Answer to questions thirteen and fourteen]:

Her whole life, the Servant of God observed not only the commandments of God and the Church, but also the recommendations of her Superiors, which she took as precepts. Anyone who knew her well will say the same. She was faithful to them to the point of never committing the least wilful fault. On the day of her profession, she prayed that she might die rather than sully the whiteness of her baptismal robe. She also asked God that she might fulfil her vows in all their perfection: her prayer was answered.

In an effort to conquer her very sensitive and vivacious nature, she demonstrated great strength and great meekness not only as a young child but also in all the difficult circumstances of her life.

Jealous of this most faithful soul, the Spirit of darkness attempted to weaken her filial trust in God towards the end of her life by way of a terrible [373] temptation, but he was vanquished by her heroic prudence and constant recourse to God.

Her charity for God took precedence over all her virtues. Her heart was wounded by this love in the form of a dart of fire. However, this manifest sign of God’s love lasted but for an instant, and for her whole life, the Servant of God was led along a path of pure faith.

Her neighbourly charity was wholly remarkable as well, and stemmed naturally from her charity for God. She faithfully practised the divine commandment of loving her neighbour as herself, as well as Jesus’ new commandment to love Him and as He Himself had loved her.

 [Continuation of the answer to the fourteenth question]:

The virtue of humility shone particularly brightly in her. It was her dream to become so small that she would attain that ideal of evangelical childhood advocated by [374] Our Lord. “If I am to reach the summits of the mountain of love,” she said, “I must not grow up” [Primary source]. She became so lowly that she was able to reach her goal. It was with the most sincere humility, based on the acknowledgement of her insignificance, that at the end of her life she became aware of her soul’s ascent. She awaited only a slight tear in her mortal envelope (which is what she called her bodily prison) in order to fly away to God, to love Him as she pleased and to return to earth in order to make Him loved by the many souls who were yet unaware of His fatherly goodness and merciful Heart.

[Answer to the fifteenth question]:

As a child, Thérèse was very reflective and was always keen to learn more about the faith. When I was preparing her elder sister Céline for her First Communion, I would ask Thérèse to leave us. She would go with a heavy heart, saying that four years was not too long to spend preparing to receive God. She studied catechism and the history of the Church with much interest. She was open to everything that related to God and naturally applied her intelligence to it. Later on, she would find great enjoyment from reading pious books, particularly The Imitation of Christ. She came to know the book from memory by dint of reading and meditating on it, to the point that we could ask her to recite a chapter at random. She was also very fond (during her life as a Carmelite) of [375] studying the Bible, the holy works of Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross.

Even amid the most distracting of activities, we could tell that the Servant of God was not fully absorbed in them. She remained constantly occupied deep down by thoughts of God. Never did I see any unruliness in her. Whenever I approached her, she conveyed an air of reverence, even when she said only trivial things. Her way of acting, her expression, her smile, and everything about her expressed her union with God and her spirit of faith.

From Easter 1896 onwards, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus began to face great temptations against the faith. These temptations bore mainly upon the existence of heaven, and she endured them up until she died. An accursed voice insinuated that there was nothing after death. She said to me one day, “No one can understand the darkness in which I live: my soul is enveloped in darkest night, but I am at peace” [Primary source].

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

She demonstrated to us that she was indeed at peace. Never was she more angelic then when heaven was hidden from her. It was at that time that she wrote her finest poems, giving the impression that the veil of faith had been torn for her. 

In the infirmary one day, she felt compelled to confide her sorrows to me. “If only you knew,” she said, “what horrible thoughts beset me! Pray that I do not listen to the demon who wants to persuade me to believe such lies. [376] The reasoning of the worst materialists is forcing itself upon my mind. Oh, dear Mother, must I have such thoughts when I love God so much?” [LC (Last Conversations) 10-8] She added that never had she tried to reason with these dark thoughts: “I endure them by force,” she said, “but while I am enduring them, I constantly make acts of faith” [Primary source].

Obeying the advice of one of the extraordinary confessors, she wrote the Credo in her blood at the back of a small Gospel book that she always wore upon her heart.

 [Answer to the sixteenth question]:

I cannot better express her sentiments of zeal for propagating the faith than by quoting a passage from her autobiography, sentiments that I heard from her own lips often: “Like the Prophets and Doctors, I would be a light unto souls, I would travel to every land to preach Your name, O my Beloved, and raise on heathen soil the glorious standard of Your Cross. One mission alone would not satisfy my longings. I would spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, even to the most distant isles. I would be a Missionary, not for a few years only, but, were it possible, from the beginning of the world till the consummation of time” [Story of a Soul, published in octavo, 1914, page 214, MSB 3,1].

Amid her greatest temptations against the faith, she [377] said to me, “I offer up these great sorrows in order that the light of faith might be shone upon poor unbelievers and all those who turn away from the Church’s beliefs.”

 [Answer to the seventeenth question]:

The Servant of God’s devotion to Christ’s holy childhood was very great. In her life story, she said that, at the Carmel, she wished to bear the name of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and that she had offered herself up to the Child Jesus as His little toy. She consecrated one of her finest poems to Him, “Unpetalled Rose” [PN 51], which expresses all the tenderness and generosity of her love for Him.

Concerning her devotion to the Holy Humanity of Jesus, she said to me one day, “For humans, who sorely need to understand the object of our love, the idea that God is but a spirit is enough to make us dizzy. Oh, how well He did to become a man!”

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Devotion to the Holy Face held a particular attraction for the Servant of God. As tender as her devotion to the Child Jesus was, it cannot be compared to the one that she held for the Holy Face. It was at the Carmel, at the time of our very difficult ordeals relating to our father’s cerebral illness, that she became more attached to the mystery of Christ’s Passion, and it was then that she added “the Holy Face” to her name. She wrote herself from where she drew the idea of this devotion: “It is written in Isaiah, ‘He has no comeliness or beauty. His face was hidden, and no one [378] esteemed Him’ [Isaiah 53:3]. These words formed the entire basis for my devotion to the Holy Face, or, rather, the basis for all my piety. I too desired to have no comeliness or beauty, to tread the wine-press alone, unknown to all” [MSA 71,1].

Her poems show the importance she gave to her favourite devotion. She dedicated a specific hymn to it. She painted the Holy Face on chasubles and holy cards. She wrote a prayer to the Holy Face for her novices and for herself. Lastly, after her death, I believe that she inspired Sister Geneviève to paint the masterpiece of the Holy Face after the Holy Shroud of Turin. It is such a well-known reproduction now that it has many times been called the Holy Face of the Carmel of Lisieux. Referring to pictures of the Holy Face, she said to me, “How well Our Lord did to lower His eyes when He gave us His portrait! Since the eyes are the mirror of the soul, if we had seen His soul, we would have died of joy” [LC 5-8].

When she was sacristan, she would touch the sacred vessels kept in the sacristy with great respect, and would prepare the altar cloths and paraments with loving care. This duty, she said, compelled her to be very fervent, and she would recall the following passage from Scripture: “Be pure, you who bear the vessels of the Lord” [Is. 52:12, MSA 79,2].

[Answer to the eighteenth question]:

[379] Receiving Communion was her life’s joy and desire, although she admitted to me that she had never found any real solace in it. She was delighted by the Decrees of 1891, hoping that the confessor would finally be free to allow the Sisters to take daily Communion, because she had long felt that “Jesus does not come down from Heaven each day in order to remain in a golden ciborium, but to find another Heaven - the Heaven of our souls in which He takes such delight” [MSA 48,2]. What a disappointment it was when, while admitting the confessor’s theoretical freedom, Mother Marie de Gonzague was displeased that certain Sisters received Communion more often than others. The result was that daily Communion, which had been granted to several nuns, was soon withdrawn by Father Youf in order to keep the peace.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

As a young child, Thérèse would strew flowers before the Blessed Sacrament wearing a heavenly expression. It was clear that her heart was aflame with divine love. Her attention and her eyes would remain fixed upon the Holy Eucharist, and she would throw her rose petals high into the air so that they would touch the holy monstrance.

She always had a strong desire to attend Holy Mass. When there were several celebrated in the convent chapel and she was free, she would hear them all.

During her last illness, we showed her the chalice of a young priest who had just celebrated his first Mass. She looked inside the holy vessel and said to us, “I used to love seeing my reflection in the chalices like this when I was sacristan. I would say to myself that the Blood of Jesus would rest in the place where my features were reflected and purify my soul” [LC 19-9].

Whenever she found a fragment of Holy Eucharist on the corporal, she would express immense joy. Having discovered quite a large fragment one day, she came running to the laundry room where the community was gathered and beckoned her novices over. She knelt down first to adore Jesus, returned the corporal in the burse, and then, with touching piety, had the others kiss it.

On another occasion, upon giving her Holy Communion, the priest dropped a host through the grate, and Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus caught it with her scapular. Afterwards, deeply moved, she said to me, “I held the Child Jesus in my arms, as did the Blessed Virgin.”

 [Answer to the nineteenth question]:

I have little to say on this point. Her status as a Carmelite nun did not provide her with the opportunity to develop a specific zeal in this respect. Even barely 5 years old, we would take her to High Mass and Vespers on Sundays. She behaved like an angel and would listen attentively to the sermons given. She would be very upset when we refused [381] to take her to instructions during the month of Mary or Lent. She would compensate by praying at home and making small altars.

 [Answer to the twentieth question]:

In the years preceding her death, the Gospels alone occupied her thoughts and gave her soul sufficient nourishment. All other religious books left her spiritually dry. “I no longer find anything in books,” she said to me. “The Gospels are enough. I listen with delight to these words of Jesus, which tell me all I must do, ‘Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls’” [LC 15-5].

“How proud I was” she said, “to be hebdomadarian for the recitation of the Divine Office! I would recite the prayers aloud in the middle of the Choir! I was proud because I remembered that the priest said the same prayers at Mass, and like him, I had the right to pray aloud before the Blessed Sacrament, giving the blessings and the absolutions, and reading the Gospel when I was first chantress. I must admit that the Office was both my hap­piness and my martyrdom at once, because I had a great desire to recite it well, without making any mistakes. Despite my best efforts, I did slip up sometimes” [LC 6-8].

 [Session 13: - 7th July 1915, at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon]

[385] [Continuation of the answer to the twentieth question]:

As a Carmelite, she showed great respect for the ecclesiastical superiors, submitting to their direction without allowing herself to judge it. I therefore never heard her utter a bitter word with regards to Father Delatroëtte, our Superior, despite his opposition to her admission. However mediocre the sermons she heard, she would refrain from making the slightest criticism. She held priestly dignity and duties in high esteem, which is why she devoted her entire life to making sacrifices for priests in particular.

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus did not take part in the very difficult election of 1896. When she heard that it was Mother Marie de Gonzague who had been elected Prioress, she was momentarily struck dumb, but her spirit of faith soon conquered her first impression, and the feelings of daughterly submission that she outwardly demonstrated were heartfelt. She never wavered in her spirit of faith regarding authority. She even told me that she truly loved Mother Marie de Gonzague, and the affectionate terms of “beloved Mother” and “darling Mother” that I found in her life manuscript express her heart’s true feelings. [386] Assuming that Mother Marie de Gonzague, and not I, would attend her death as Prioress, a few days before she died she said to me, “With you as Prioress, there would have been a human element, and I would prefer there to be only the divine. Yes, I say this from the bottom of my heart; I’m happy to die in the arms of Mother Marie de Gonzague because she represents God for me” [LC 20-7].

 [Answer to the twenty-first question]:

The Servant of God always had a tender and daughterly devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin. As a child, in the month of May, she would light candles before a statue of the Blessed Virgin in her bedroom and recite there her own little prayers. At her first confession, the priest encouraged her devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin. Relating this in her life story, she added, “I promised to redouble my love for the one who already filled so large a place in my heart” [MSA 16,2].

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

During her illness at the age of ten, she loved weaving crowns of wildflowers with which to decorate the statue of the Most Blessed Virgin by her bed. It was when praying ardently to Mary and gazing at her statue that she saw it walk towards her and smile, and was suddenly cured. Later on, it was her heart’s desire to be accepted into the Association of the Children of Mary.

When stopping in Paris on her trip to Rome, she took no interest in the capital’s sites; only the shrine of Our Lady of Victories held her attention. She prayed fervently there to the Queen of heaven and was granted [387] immense blessings.

At the Carmel, she was delighted to be professed on an 8th September. She wrote, “The Nativity of Mary was a fine feast on which to become the spouse of Jesus!” [MSA 77,1] She loved to meditate upon the life of the Blessed Virgin. Once, when we had received a letter from a priest saying that the Blessed Virgin had not known physical suffering, she said, “Gazing at Mary’s statue this evening, I realised this was not true. She suffered a great deal on her journeys from the cold, the heat, and from fatigue. She fasted very frequently. Yes, she knew what if was to suffer in body. What does me a lot of good when I think of the Holy Family is to imagine a life that was very ordinary. It wasn’t everything that people have told us or imagined” [LC 20-8]. She told me in the infirmary that most of the preachings she had heard on the Most Holy Virgin had left her unmoved. “It is very well to speak of her privileges,” she said, “but above all we must be shown how to imitate her virtues. She prefers imitation to admiration. No matter how fine a sermon on the Blessed Virgin might be, if we are obliged to keep Oohing and ahhing, we soon grow tired! I love to simply sing this to her:

“You made visible the narrow road to Heaven

While always practicing the humblest of virtues” [PN 54].

One evening she exclaimed, “Oh, how I love the Blessed Virgin! Had I been a priest, how I would have sung her praises! She is shown as unapproachable, whereas she should be shown as imitable. She is more Mother [388] than Queen. I have heard it said that her splendour eclipses that of all the Saints. It sounds so strange. That a Mother should take away the glory of her children! I think quite the reverse. I believe that she will greatly increase the splendour of the elect” [LC 21-8].

She decided to dedicate her last poem to the Blessed Virgin, entitling it “Why I Love You, O Mary!” [PN 54]  In it, she expresses all her reasons for loving and imitating her.  In her prayer of Self-Offering to God’s Merciful Love, she says, “It is to the Blessed Virgin, my dear Mother, that I surrender my offering, begging her to present it to you” [PRAYER 6].  She often gave the Blessed Virgin the name “Mamma” because, she said, it seemed ever so much more tender than Mother [MSA 56,2-57,1]. One day, she told me of her feeling of spiritual abandonment, saying Jesus was as though hidden from her. I said, “Is the Blessed Virgin hidden, too?” “Oh, no!” she replied. “The Blessed Virgin is never hidden from me.  And when I cannot see Jesus, she takes Him all my messages.  I tell her very often, ‘Tell Him never to put Himself out on my account’” [LC 10-6].  The last words she ever wrote admirably convey her love for the Most Blessed Virgin.  On 8th September 1897, she laboriously wrote on the back of a holy card, “O Mary, if I were the Queen of Heaven and you were Thérèse, how I would wish to be Thérèse that you might be the Queen of Heaven!!!”  The morning before she died, gazing upon the statue of [389] the Blessed Virgin, she said, “Oh, how fervently I prayed to her last night!” [LC 30-9]  That afternoon, contemplating a picture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, she said to Mother Prioress, “Mother, present me quickly to the Blessed Virgin.”

Referring to her trip to Rome, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus wrote in her autobiography, “I was well aware that on this journey I would come across things that might trouble me.  I prayed specially to St Joseph to watch over me.  From my childhood, devotion to him has been interwoven with my love for the Most Blessed Virgin.  Every day, I would say the prayer beginning “Saint Joseph, Father and Protector of Virgins” [MSA 57-1].  As a Carmelite, she turned to Saint Joseph to obtain the favour of daily Communion and the freedom of the confessor in this respect.  The Decrees of 1891 answered her prayer and considerably increased her faith in Saint Joseph.  When she meditated upon the hidden life of Jesus, she did not forget Saint Joseph.  One day, she said the following to me and I immediately wrote it down: “Oh, how I love dear Saint Joseph!  I can see him planing, and then from time to time wiping the sweat from his brow, but discretely, so as to avoid paining the Blessed Virgin.  How thoughtful he was! How many hardships and disappointments he must have had! He was not always paid for his work and even received complaints, no doubt.  Oh, how astonished we would be if we only knew how much he had to suffer in order to [390] feed and protect Jesus and Mary!” [LC 20-8]

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

During her last illness, the Servant of God would lovingly strew flowers over Saint Joseph’s statue.

Even as a child, she loved and prayed to her guardian angel.  I saw her respectfully set aside and treasure a small holy card depicting her guardian angel, and read over and over the instruction printed on it: “Take care to respect the presence of your guardian angel and to listen to his voice.”  She wrote a prayer to her guardian angel, whom she called, “her Brother, her Friend and her Consoler”. The poem ends with the words:

“With the Cross, with the Host, with your celestial aid,

In peace I await the other life; the joys that will last forever” [PN 46].

She saw herself as the child of all the saints and, in a sublime prayer, asked them to grant her a “double portion of God’s love” [MSB 4,1].  When sick, she often asked us to pray to the saints for her, and did so herself fervently.  One day, she said, “I beg you to make an act of love and an invocation to all the saints; they are all my relatives up there” [LC 13-7].  She had a sisterly affection for Saint Cecilia, Saint Agnes, Blessed Joan of Arc, and Blessed Théophane Vénard, piously keeping portraits of them in her prayer book.

[391] [Answer to the twenty-second question]:

The Servant of God was seven or eight years old.  One evening, at the seaside in Trouville, she and I were alone near the Black Rock Cliffs.  She was watching the setting sun. “I contemplated this luminous trail for a long time,” she wrote. “It was to me the image of God’s grace. I made the resolution never to wander far from Jesus’ gaze that I might travel peacefully towards the eternal shore” [MSA 22,1].

On the subject of heaven’s reward, the Servant of God said to me, “I have formed such a lofty idea of heaven that at times I wonder what [392] God will do at my death to surprise me.  My hope is so great, it is a source of such joy to me, that I will need something beyond all human understanding to satisfy me fully. Rather than be disappointed, I would prefer an eternal hope” [LC 15-5].

 [Question from the Vice-Promoter: Did you hear the Servant of God further elucidate her thoughts on this subject? - Answer]:

She expressed the same idea in her autobiography (published in octavo, 1914, page 219): “And yet I confess, if I reach not those heights to which my soul aspires, this very martyrdom, this foolishness, will have been sweeter to me than eternal bliss will be, unless by a miracle You should take from me all memory of the hopes I entertained upon earth.  Jesus, Jesus! If the mere desire of Your Love awakens such delight, what will it be to possess it, to enjoy it forever?” [MSB 4,2].

She did not want to doubt that heavenly bliss exceeded earthly hope.  The last sentence I quoted proves this: If the mere desire of Your Love awakens such delight, what will it be to possess it, to enjoy it forever?” Moreover, a few months later, she wrote in a letter to me, “Ah! From this moment on, I know it: yes, all my hopes will be realised . . . Yes, the Lord will do for me marvels that will infinitely surpass my immense desires” [LT 230].  I think that in the rather obscure [393] first sentence quoted above, she meant to express in a fictional way the immenseness of her hopes and desires for love.

[The witness continues]:

In 1888, she told me in a letter, “But nothing is too much to suffer to gain the palm [of martyrdom]” [LT 55].  And elsewhere: “I desire at all costs to gain the palm of Agnes, if not by the shedding of blood, it must be by love” [LT 54].

During her last illness, despite her terrible temptation against faith in eternal life, she said, “If I did not have this spiritual trial, which takes away all joy from the thought of heaven, I believe I’d die of happiness at the thought of leaving this earth” [LC 21/26-5].  She expressed her desire to go to heaven very frequently: “Ah, when shall I be with God?  How I would like to go to heaven!  Oh, yes, I want to go to heaven” [LC 26-6].  For her, heaven was seeing and possessing God fully. She aspired to no other reward than God Himself.  She said, “One hope alone quickens my heart: the love I will receive and the love I shall be able to give” [LC 13-7].

In 1889, at the age of 16, she said in a letter to me, “Oh, Mother, if only you knew how I want to be indifferent to the things of this earth!  What do all created beauties mean to me?  I would be unhappy if I possessed them!  It is incredible how big my heart seems when I consider all of earth's treasures. But when I consider Jesus, how little it then appears . . . I do [394] not want creatures to have a single atom of my love, I want to give everything to Jesus” [LT 74].  And again in 1891: “There is no other support to seek outside of Jesus. He alone is immutable. What a joy it is to think He cannot change!” [LT 104]

She was detached from not only people, but also earthly things. At the Carmel she was given a new habit that was a very poor fit and a bad cut. She was always being told she was poorly dressed.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

I said to her, “It must annoy you that your habit is a poor fit!” She laughed, saying, “Not in the least! Not any more than if this habit belonged to a Chinese nun some two thousand leagues from us” [LC 15-5].

Lastly, the charms of creatures glided over her soul, having no effect on her at all: “My heart is full with God’s will,” she said to me. “When something is poured onto it, the interior in not penetrated; it is a trifle that slides off easily, as water cannot mix with oil” [LC 15-5].

[Answer to the twenty-third question]:

The Servant of God aspired to a high level of holiness. Her thoughts in this respect were not always understood. Several confessors and retreat preachers succeeded in frightening her or paralysing her efforts: “Father, I want to become a saint,” she said to one preacher. “I wish to love God as Saint Teresa did.”  She was met with the answer, “That is most proud [395] and presumptuous of you! Content yourself with correcting your faults, ceasing to offend God, and progressing steadily every day. Curb your audacious desires.” “But Father, I do not think my desires are audacious because Jesus said, ‘Be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect’” [Mat. 5:48]. The friar was not convinced, and the Servant of God pursued her search for a figure of authority to tell her, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets” [*Lk. 5:4]. She found this envoy of God in the person of Reverend Alexis, a Franciscan friar from Caen, during the 1892 retreat. Moreover, she acknowledged that, left to her own devices, she would never be able to climb the steep stairway of perfection.  She hoped in God’s mercy alone to take her to heaven, calling it “her sweet Elevator” [MSC 3,1].

 [Answer to the twenty-fourth question]:

Her steadfast hope never wavered, even amid the greatest of trials.  On 7th July 1897, barely three months before she died, and suffering in body and in spirit, she said, “These words from Job, ‘Even were God to kill me, I would still trust in Him’ [Job 13:15] have delighted me since I was a child.”  However, she added, “It took me a long time to reach this degree of surrender.  Now I am there; God has placed me there” [LC 7-7]. She later said, “I don’t have any misgivings whatsoever about the final struggles or sufferings of this sickness [396], no matter how great they may be. God has helped me and led me by the hand since my earliest childhood. I’m counting on Him. I’m sure He will continue to help me until the end. I may well become completely exhausted, but I shall never have too much to suffer. I am sure of this” [LC 27-5].

Regarding my testimony, it is to be remembered that, over the last months of the Servant of God’s lifetime, that is to say from June 1897 onwards, I immediately wrote down everything she said to me. It is from these notes that I quote her words today.

[Answer to the thirty-fifth question]:

She relied uniquely upon God’s help for everything. She told me that, after having tried and failed to find words of encouragement and comfort for our sister Céline in the visiting room, she confidently asked God to comfort her Himself and to have her understand certain things. After that, she worried no more about it, and her faith, she said, was never deceived.  Each time, Céline was given the insights and solace that the Servant of God had requested for her. This was proven by her sister’s words when they next conversed.

When I told her one day how sad I thought it was to receive no thanks for having performed a service for someone, she replied, “I expect no reward at all on earth. I do everything for God, and this way I’m always well repaid [397] for my trouble” [LC 9-5].

Regarding the novices, she said, “To the right and to the left, I throw to my little birds the good grain that God places in my hands. And then I let things take their course! I trouble myself with it no more” [LC 15-5].

She always acted according to these inner feelings of detachment. She was estranged to the things of this world and to the opinions of creatures. With holy pride, she would recite this passage from Saint Paul: “It is the Lord who judges me” [*1 Cor. 4:4].

She said to me on another occasion, “I feel very destitute, but my trust is no less for all that; it is quite the opposite. In fact, destitute is not the right word, because I am rich in terms of divine treasures, which is why I must further humble myself” [Primary source].

She looked to God for everything. Her hope lay in Him alone.  She wrote with regards to the novices in Story of a Soul, “The knowledge that it was impossible to do anything by myself rendered my task easier. My one interior occupation was to unite myself more and more closely to God, knowing that the rest would be given to me over and above. And indeed my hope has never been deceived; I have always found my hands filled when sustenance was needed for the souls of my Sisters” [MSC 22,2].

Consequently, she convinced her novices that the spiritual nourishment she gave them came from God [398] alone. Whenever they were not satisfied, she did not let it trouble her peace. In a poem to Jesus, she sang:

 “Deign to unite me to you, Holy and sacred Vine, and my weak branch will give you its fruit” [PN 5].

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

The Servant of God based her hope for her share of glory in heaven upon the communion of saints. She attributed to this communion the blessings and insights she received from up above during her earthly exile.  One day, Sister Marie of the Eucharist succeeded in lighting a candle from a half-extinguished lamp and then with this candle, lit those of the entire community. For Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, this was a symbol of the communion of saints, as she explained to me in a conversation in the infirmary: “Often, without our knowing it, the blessings and lights we receive are due to a hidden soul, for God wills that the saints communicate blessings through prayer, so that in heaven they might love with a love much greater than that of a family, even the most perfect family on earth. Yes, a tiny spark can kindle great lights in the Church . . .” [LC 15-7].

She went on, “In heaven, we shall not meet with indifferent glances, because all the elect will discover that they owe each other for the blessings that merited their own crown” [LC 15-7].

In the same vein, she said, “All the saints are our relatives” [LC 13-7].

[Sitting 14: - 8th June 1915, at 9 in the morning and at 2 in the afternoon]

[402] [Answer to the twenty-sixth question]:

All her exhortations to the novices, the advice she gave them in their troubles, and the letters she wrote to missionaries are a constant advocacy of trust in God.

Here are a few more specific examples that reveal the nature of her Christian hope: “One might believe,” she said, “that it is because I haven’t sinned that I have such great trust in God; but I feel that even had I committed all possible crimes, I would still have the same trust” [LC 11-7].  She said as much not only to me many times but also in her autobiography.

It is worth nothing that when she made her self-offering to God’s Merciful Love, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus asked for two specific blessings; the first was to conserve the real presence of Jesus in her heart from one Communion to the next; the second was to see shining in her glorified body the sacred stigmata of Jesus’ Passion.  She had already made known to God these two desires many times, having absolute trust in their fulfilment.

 [403] Question from the Vice-Promoter: Did the Servant of God tell you in person what she meant by real presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ outside Holy Communion?]

She mentioned it to me more than once, although not very often. I am nevertheless sure that in her prayer, she aspired to the miraculous permanence of the Sacred Species, not only the permanence of the divine influence, which occurs in faithful souls and does not constitute a miracle. Moreover, in her “Self-Offering”, she appeals to the omnipotence of Jesus Christ to answer her prayer. If she desired the stigmata in heaven, it was uniquely out of love in order to further resemble Jesus and by the same token to bring Him greater glory. And if she desired on earth the privilege of having the real and permanent presence of Jesus in her heart, it was again to be more united to Him and by the same token to be capable of loving Him more.

She was convinced that these desires were pleasing to God. She was not taken by surprise at His marvels, finding that God’s power was always in the service of His infinite love for us. She was struck by Jesus’ words to Saint Mechtilde: “Amen, I tell you, it is a great joy to Me that men expect great gifts from Me. No matter how great their faith or extraordinary their confidence, I reward them beyond their merit.  It is therefore impossible for man not to receive what he has believed and hoped for from my power and [404] mercy.”

 [The witness continues]:

It was once again God’s mercy that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus admired in His justice to those He loves. She shared the opinion of the prophet Isaiah: “With righteousness God will judge the meek of this earth” [*Is. 11-4].  In her eyes, justice was the same as righteousness. She therefore esteemed that God’s justice would be terrible for the impenitent sinner.

The Servant of God’s infinite trust in God’s goodness did not preclude a healthy fear of His judgement.  Shortly before she died, she said to me, “Mother, if I committed only the slightest infidelity, I fear that I would pay for it with frightful troubles, and I would no longer be able to accept death. Thus I never cease to say to God, ‘O my God, I beg You, preserve me from the misfortune of being unfaithful.’” Surprised by her words, I asked what infidelity she was talking about. She replied, “A proud thought voluntarily entertained, for example, saying to myself, ‘I have acquired a certain virtue, and am certain I can practise it.’ For this would be relying on my own strength, and when we do this, we run the risk of falling into the abyss” [LC 7-8].

 [Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

[405] She had an immense fear of offending God. 

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

If she committed the slightest fault, even involuntarily, she would shed streams of tears. Even as a small child, when I told her when something “wasn’t good” [MSA 8,2] she would take great care to avoid it. She said, “I loved God with all my heart, and I took great care not to offend Him” [MSA 15,2].  Ultimately, she took this healthy fear of offending God to an extreme and succumbed to scrupulosity. When, a year and a half later, she was delivered from this trial, her soul definitively settled in a filial fear of causing God pain.

In 1890, she said in a letter to me, “Ask Jesus to take me on the day of my Profession if I must offend Him again in the future, for I'd like to carry to heaven the white robe of my second Baptism without any stain on it. But Jesus can give me the grace of no longer offending Him or else of committing faults that DON'T OFFEND Him and which will serve only to humble me and to make my love for Him stronger” [LT 114].

She frequently broached this subject with her spiritual directors. In her life story she recounts telling Father Pichon of her fear of having lost her innocence and describes her joy at his reply. Later on she speaks of the comfort that Father Alexis brought her when he confirmed that none of her faults had caused God pain. She wrote, “this helped me to bear life’s exile” [MSA 80,2].

She was very disquieted whenever religious instructions spoke of the ease [406] with which we can succumb to mortal sin even through thought alone. To her it seemed most difficult to offend God when one loves Him! For the entire duration of such exercises, she would look pale and defeated. She would be unable to eat or sleep, and would ultimately have fallen sick had they continued. After Father Alexis’ retreat, she was free of such troubles. However, until she died, she remained careful not to commit the slightest fault.

I myself am convinced that not once did she commit a voluntary fault. I am basing my judgement on the continual observation that I made of her way of living. When in 1890 she said in a letter to me, “Ask Jesus to take me from earth if I must continue to offend Him” [LT 114], I believe she was speaking out of humility or, more precisely, because in her conscience, which was yet to be fully enlightened, she was worried about involuntary weaknesses.

 [Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

Her conformity to God’s will surpassed even her longings for martyrdom and heaven. Towards the end of her life, she said to me, “People won’t be able to say of me, ‘She was dying of not dying’ [Th. of Avila]. As far as human nature is concerned, yes, I would rather go to heaven quickly. Yet grace has taken control over my nature, and now I can but say to God:

‘Lord, I'm willing to live a long time more [407] if that is your desire. 

I'd like to follow you to Heaven if that would make you happy.

Love, that fire from the Homeland, never ceases to consume me.

What do life and death matter to me? Jesus, my joy is to love you!’” [PN 45]

She demonstrated her love for Jesus by being very detached from creatures and from herself, by desiring to suffer in order to more closely resemble her Beloved, by being in constant union with Him, by way of a gentle thoughtfulness that was unique to her, and finally by fully conforming to His divine wishes and remaining touchingly disinterested.

 [408] [Continuation of the answer to the same question]:

She desired suffering because Jesus chose it for Himself, and because it provided an opportunity to prove her love for God. Yet above her desires for suffering, she placed her wish to fully conform to divine will. I asked her whether she would not be happier to die soon than remain ill for years. She replied, “Oh, no! I would not be happier. One thing alone makes me happy, and that is God’s will” [LC 27-5].

In her autobiography, she expressed her longing to die a martyr. However, before she died, when she had reached the summit of perfection, she experienced a peace that compelled her to write, “I no longer wish for either suffering or death, yet both are precious to me. Now, the spirit of self-abandonment alone is my guide.  I know not how to ask anything with eagerness, save the perfect accomplishment of God's designs upon my soul” [MSA 83,1].

[409] [Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

Her union with God was so great that she said, “I really don’t see what I’ll have in death that I don’t already possess in this life.  I shall see God, true; but as for being in His presence, I’m already fully in it here on earth” [LC 15-5].

It is true, her union with God was not limited to merely the two hours of meditation prescribed by the Rule, although she was very faithful to this, but it must be said that her prayer was continual. In answer to a preceding question, I spoke of her reverence, and what she said at the end of her life is very true: “I do not believe I have gone three minutes without thinking of God” [CSG (Counsels and Reminiscences)?].

As for her method of praying and her genre of piety, everything leads back to what she called her “Way of spiritual childhood” [LC 13-7].

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

This is such an important point that I felt I ought to spend a bit of time writing a description of it. I hereby present it to the court.

[The witness reads aloud the description]:

Way of Spiritual Childhood

The Servant of God was inspired [410] by the Holy Spirit to follow what she called “her little way”, her wish being that it become known to everyone, because it was “the Master’s precept,” and because, for her, it was the whole truth.

This little way is very simply a path of humility, coupled with surrender and trust in God, evoking the attitude of tiny children who are themselves dependant, poor and simple in every way.

She based “her little doctrine”, as she described it, on the doctrine of Jesus Himself, and by meditating upon the following passages from the Gospels, in which she delighted and which she never ceased to expound: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” “Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” “It is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. [411] Yes, Father, for this is what it pleased you to do.” “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” [*Matt. 18:3-4; 19:14; Mk 10:15; Luk. 9:48: Matt. 11:25-26; Jn 3:3].

Instructed and strengthened as she was by these divine teachings, how can people think that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had a piety that was insipid, puerile and childish, as has sometimes been said?

She did not intend the word “child” to be taken in its strict sense. Referring to the Holy Innocents, she revealed her thoughts on the subject: “The Holy Innocents,” she said, “are not children in heaven; they have merely the indefinable charms of childhood.  They are represented as children because we need symbols to understand invisible things” [LC 21/26-5].

Therefore when she uses the word to describe in concrete terms what is childlike in her spiritual life, it is only as a comparison and to better express her thinking.

What she meant my “remaining a child” before God is this, and I quote her own words:

“To be little means acknowledging one’s insignificance, and expecting everything from God as a little child expects everything from their father.  It means not worrying about anything and not being set on earning our living.

“Even among the poor, they give children what is necessary, but as soon as they grow up, their father no longer wants to feed them [412] and says, ‘Now work, you can take care of yourself.’ It was so as not to hear these words that I never wanted to grow up, feeling that I was incapable of earning my living, that is, eternal life in heaven. I’ve therefore always remained little, having no other occupation save gathering flowers, the flowers of love and sacrifice, and offering them to God for His pleasure.

“Being little means not attributing to oneself the virtues that one practises, believing oneself capable of anything, but acknowledging that God places this treasure in His little child’s hands to be used when necessary; yet it always remains God’s treasure.

“Lastly, it means not becoming discouraged by one’s faults, for children fall often, but they are too little to do themselves any real harm” [LC 6-8].

Self-surrender

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus “expected everything from God as a little child expects everything from their father” to the letter, remaining ever dependent on the will of her God and even on His pleasure in every way. She “looked Him in the eyes” [MSB 5,2], to take her expression, to discern what would please Him most and immediately did it.

Physiognomy of her self-surrender in general

She details this “physiognomy” in a letter she wrote to me during her profession retreat, the whole of which she spent in spiritual darkness:

“At the beginning of my journey, I said to my divine Guide, ‘You know that I want to climb the mountain of love, and for whom I want to reach the goal. You know the one whom I love and the one whom I want to please solely.  It is for Him alone that I am undertaking this journey. Lead me, then, by the paths of His choosing. My happiness will be complete provided that He is pleased’” (September 1890) [LT110].

Her self-surrender amid temptation

She revealed her self-surrender when she felt abandoned by God:

“If Jesus seems to forget me, He is free to do so since I am no longer my own but His.  And He will grow tired of making me wait more quickly than I shall grow tired of waiting for Him” (1892) [LT 103].

She sang in a poem:

“My joy is the Holy Will of Jesus, my only love, 

So I live without any fear. I love the night as much as the day” [PN45].

Her self-surrender in her responsibility over the novices

 [414] In charge of the novices, she increasingly depended on God for everything. She described how, faced with a “task beyond her strength”, she threw herself “into the arms of God like a little child.”

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Looking to Him alone, she believed that, by this simple glance of love and trust, “her hands would be filled with sustenance to nourish His children.” She added, “Without turning away, I will give them this Your nourishment” [MSC 22,1-2].

And this childlike self-surrender was far from lack of concern, for she went on to say, “Ever since I placed myself in the Arms of Jesus I have been like a watchman on the look-out for the enemy from the highest turret of a fortified castle. Nothing escapes my vigilance” [MSC 23,1].

Having practiced this self-surrender, she was able to tell me from experience, “One can very well remain small, even when performing the most formidable of tasks and having attained a very old age.  Even were I to live to the age of 80, and fulfilled every possible task, I feel that I would die remaining as little as I am today” [LC 25-9].

Surrender in sickness

Struggling against her illness, she told me, “I don’t have any misgivings whatsoever about the final struggles or sufferings of this sickness, no matter how great they may be. God has helped me and led me by [415] the hand since my earliest childhood. I’m counting on Him. I am sure that He will continue to help me until the end. I may well become completely exhausted, but I shall never have too much to suffer. I am sure of this” [LC 27-5].

Self-surrender also accompanied her longing for heaven. “I desire neither death nor life. Were Our Lord to offer me a choice, I would not choose. I will only what He wills; it is what He does that I love” [LC 27-5].

She also said to me, “Hope of death was once necessary for me and very meritorious, but today, the opposite is true; God wishes me to surrender myself like a tiny child who worries not what will happen to them” [LC 25-6].

She thought it would be straying from her way of childhood, and from the self-surrender and self-defiance that it embodied, to ask God for greater sufferings, despite her desire for them. “I fear it would be presumptuous to ask for sufferings, for they would be mine, and I would have to bear them alone, and I’ve never been able to do anything alone” [LC 11-8].

As early as 1889, she wrote, “In my weakness lies all my strength” [LT 55].

[416] Simplicity

Concerning the practice of simplicity, which in my view is the fruit of humility, she always took children as her model. When, for example, she happened to be overcome by sleep during meditation, despite her efforts, she said, in humble trust, “Little children are equally dear to their parents whether they are asleep or awake” [MSA 75,2].

This passage of her autobiography has been criticised, and yet the Holy Spirit inspired the prophet King Solomon with similar words: “The Lord provides for His beloved while they sleep” [*Ps. 127:2].

“If I remain little,” she said, “that is to say very humble, I will never offend God, even if I do foolish things until I die. Look at little children: they never stop breaking things, tearing things, and falling over even while deeply loving their parents. And their parents love them in return as much as if they were doing nothing wrong” [LC 7-8].

It was God’s wish that she stay on this path of great simplicity, and He showed her on one occasion that she must not wander from it.  At one time during her religious life, she had a wish to imitate the self-mortification of some saints.  However, she fell ill through wearing for only a few hours a small iron crucifix. During her enforced rest afterwards, [417] God had her understand that, if the studs pressing into her flesh for so brief a time had made her ill, it was a sign that the greater austerities of the saints were not meant for her; nor were they meant for the “little souls” who would walk in the same path of spiritual childhood, path which demanded nothing out of the ordinary.

Without knowing it therefore, she found herself in the “perfect state” described by Monsignor Gay: “Holy spiritual childhood is a more perfect state than the love of suffering, for nothing immolates a man to such a degree as to be sincerely and peacefully lowly.  The childlike spirit kills pride far more surely than the spirit of penance.”

Spiritual poverty

Empty-handed and devoid of possessions, like a little child “not set on earning their fortune” who must rely on their father’s wealth, she said, “I am very happy to be going to heaven soon, but when I recall God’s words: ‘My reward is with Me, to render to each one according to his works,’ I tell myself that He will be very much at a loss in my case because I have no works. He will not be able to reward me ‘according to my works.’  Well, He will reward me ‘according to His own works’” [LC 15-5].

She was modestly pleased of her destitute state; of being unable, to use her expression, [418] “to depend on any good works of her own to give her confidence.” During her illness, she said to me, “I was thinking that never in my life would I be able to pay my debts to God, and that this could be a source of true wealth and strength for me. Then I remembered these words of Saint John of the Cross and, much comforted, I recited the same prayer: ‘O my God, I beg You, pay all my debts for me!’”

[St J. of the Cross: Living Flame, st. 2, vv.6 and LC 6-8]

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

What she hoped for at the end of her path

She realised deep down how sanctifying and purifying her dispositions were for the soul and how many mercies God was showering upon her. Consequently, she liked reciting this passage from Holy Scripture: “Little ones will be judged with much gentleness” [LC 25-9].

It was once again because she felt small and weak, and incapable on her own of climbing the “steep stairway of perfection,” that she sought a way to heaven that was short and suited to her littleness. She found it in the Arms of Jesus, which she called her divine “elevator”: “Your Arms, then, O Jesus, are the elevator which must raise me all the way to Heaven!” [MSC 3,1]

 [419] Her desire to have other souls follow “her path”

Having recognised by experience the many blessings and privileges brought upon her by following her way of trusting simplicity, which for her had been much more rewarding than love of suffering, the Servant of God taught it to her novices.

She wished to have her sister Céline at the Carmel by her side solely in order to share with her the insights that she received from heaven in this respect.

Yet even this did not satisfy her zeal. Feeling sure that she had discovered a priceless treasure, she wanted to share it with everyone.

“The number of little ones on earth is truly great,” she wrote [PN 54], and it was with this multitude of “little ones,” that is to say, of faithful souls who had not been called to follow extraordinary paths, that she wished to share her riches.

When she discovered my wish to publish her manuscript, she recognised its utility only in terms of making known “her way”.

Prophetic vision of the future

“I can feel,” she said, “that my mission is soon to begin; my mission to make others love God as I have loved Him, to teach souls my little way” [LC 17-7].

When I asked her what this way was, she said, [420] “It is the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute self-surrender. I want to point out to others the means that I have always found so perfectly successful, to tell them that there is but one thing to do here below: we must offer Jesus the flowers of little sacrifices and win Him by a caress. That is how I have won Him, and that is why I shall be made so welcome" [LC 17-7].

It is true she had no desire for extraordinary blessings, and loved her life for its great simplicity and faithfulness, although this was above all, she said, “that little souls might have no reason to envy her.”

On 15th July, someone said to her, “Perhaps you will die, tomorrow, on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, after receiving Holy Communion.”

“Ah,” she said, “that will not happen. It would not be in keeping with my ‘little way’. Would you have me stray from it in order to die?  Dying after receiving Holy Communion would be too fine a death for me. Little souls couldn’t imitate it. Everything I do, little souls must be able to do, too” [LC 15-7].

[421] [Answer to the thirtieth question]:

It was the purest and most ardent love of God that comprised Sister Thérèse’s entire life, and I believe that after having lived it, she also died from it, as per her desire.

She came to the Carmel, she once said, to be with Jesus alone.  Later on, her goal became clearer, and I know from what she told me that the only reason she heroically accepted the many sacrifices of religious life was to prove her love to God, and to win every heart for Him if she could, and to obtain the sanctity of priests. No sacrifice was too much for her because she had expected and accepted everything beforehand, with a sole view to make others love God.

When I was preparing Céline for her First Communion, she wanted to listen to what I had to say and prepare for her own.  She longed for her First Communion, and thought it seemed a very long way off.  Three months prior to her First Communion, I gave her a little notebook in which she was to write down every evening her preparatory sacrifices and aspirations of love to Jesus.  She took much pleasure from this practice.  She made 818 sacrifices and 2773 acts or aspirations of love. She kept the tally herself.  She wrote down for me what she felt on the day of her First Communion. Her feelings are related in Story of a Soul (page 59, published in octavo, 1914) [MSA 34,2 - 35,1]. Following this, she would count down the days until her next Communions, [422] finding they were too wide apart. Rather than ask to receive Communion more often, she thought it better to wait for her confessor’s permission. She regretted this later, saying, “Jesus does not come down from Heaven each day in order to remain in a golden ciborium, but to find another Heaven - the Heaven of our souls in which He takes such delight” [MSA 48,2].  At the Carmel, she prayed ardently for a directive from the Pope to free souls from all the rules and customs in force in religious communities that prevented daily Communion.

Seeing how little known God’s love is on earth, she was inspired to offer herself as a victim to His merciful love. By this, she meant offering her heart to God as an abyss that she hoped might be made infinite in order to contain all the flames of divine charity that most men rebuffed, and to be consumed by this fire unto death.  Before writing this offering, she came to ask my permission to do so, for I was Prioress. As she put her request to me, her face shone as though she was set ablaze with love.  I consented to her wish, but with little enthusiasm, not wanting to be seen to make too much of it. She then proceeded to write her prayer, submitted it to me and asked me to have it reread by a theologian. 

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Reverend Father Lemonnier, Superior of the Missionaries of La Délivrande, examined it and told me that he found it contained nothing contrary to the faith, but that the expression, “I [423] feel in my heart infinite desires,” should be replaced by, “I feel in my heart immense desires,” because creatures cannot possess the infinite. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus made her self-offering to God’s merciful love on 9th June 1895. The self-offering was published in her life story (page 305, published in octavo, 1914) [Prayer 6].

Only two novices knew of the self-offering: firstly Sister Geneviève, and later on Marie of the Trinity. The Servant of God pointed out its advantages and the glory that it would bring God. They both made the self-offering themselves and drew great spiritual blessings from it. Sister Thérèse stated that all “little souls”, no matter how weak and imperfect, can aspire to becoming victims of God’s love. This opportunity was in her view the consequence of the “little way of spiritual childhood.”

[Answer to the thirty-first question]:

It deeply pained the Servant of God to know how very offended God was on earth.  During her last illness, I heard her say with holy indignation, “Oh, how I would love to leave this sad world!” [LC 3-7]  Her poems eloquently express her feelings of sadness as well as her desire to compensate for mankind’s affront to God. For example, in her poem “Living on Love”, she said,

“Even in my heart the blasphemy resounds. [424] To efface it, I always want to sing,

‘I adore and love your Sacred Name. I live on Love!’” [PN 17]

And in the poem “Jesus, Remember!” she exclaimed,

“Remember that on earth I want to console you for the forgetfulness of sinners. 

My only Love, grant my prayer. Ah, give me a thousand hearts to love you!” [PN 24]

Moreover, as I have already said, she was inspired to offer herself as a victim to God’s merciful love as a result of the deep pain she felt thinking that His merciful love was being rejected by a great many sinners.

I can provide a few more examples to characterise her love of God. She loved to be forgotten and neglected by creatures in order to belong more fully to God: “When I am too well cared for,” she said to me, “I no longer feel joy” [HA 12]. One day during her illness when she was suffering more than usual, I said, “It’s very hard to suffer so much; it must prevent you from thinking about God.”  She immediately replied, “I can still tell God that I love Him. I find that this is enough” [LC 30-7-8].

She expressed her love of God by suffering for Him.  When we were discussing the happiness of the angels, she said, “They cannot suffer; their happiness is therefore not as great [425] as mine” [LC 18-8].

Gazing at Jesus’ tilted head on her crucifix, she said, “This is how I like crucifixes to be, because Jesus is represented dead and I can think that He is no longer suffering” [LC 19-8]. She also said, “What quickens my heart when I think of heaven is the love I will receive and the love I shall be able to give” [LC 13-7].

Towards the end of her life, she said, “I would not want to pick up a pin to avoid purgatory.  Everything I have done, I have done to please God and to save souls for Him” [LC 30-7].

In a letter she wrote during her profession retreat, she told me of the spiritual dryness she felt: “My fiancé says nothing, and I say nothing in return, other than that I love Him more than I love myself . . . I am pleased to have no solace; I would be ashamed if my love resembled that of earthly fiancées, who are always looking at the hands of their fiancés to see if they have brought them any gifts, or else at their faces to catch there a loving smile for their delight” [LT 115]. “Love can compensate for a long life,” she wrote the following year. “Jesus looks not upon time since time no longer exists in heaven. He looks upon only love.  Oh, Mother, ask Him to give me plenty of it!  I'm not asking for perceptible love, as long as it is felt by Jesus” [LT 114]. She said at a later date, “It is impossible, [426] I know, but if my good actions were to go unseen by God, I would not be upset. I love Him so much that I want to please Him through love and little sacrifices, without Him even being aware they are mine. When He is aware and sees them, He is obliged to reward me, and I don’t want Him to have to go to this trouble” [LC 9-5]. Seeing her strewing flowers over the cross in the courtyard one day, I said, “Are you trying to obtain a blessing?”  She replied, “No, I’m doing it for God’s pleasure. I would not give in order to receive. I'm no egoist; it's God whom I love, not myself” [LC 27-7].

I do not need to say again that all these quotations, both written and spoken, sprang abundantly from her heart, and perfectly expressed her way of living. She only ever worked and acted for God, to prove her love to Him and to be worthy of His love.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[Sitting 15:  9th July 1915, at 9 in the morning and at 2 in the afternoon]

 [430] [Answer to the thirty-second question]:

When I was questioned as to her virtues in general, I mentioned the neighbourly charity that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus practised. Truly, she understood and practised the precept in an absolutely remarkable way.

When Mother Marie de Gonzague asked her to complete her life manuscript, she said to me, “I will write about fraternal charity. Oh, I must, for I have received great insights on the subject, and I do not wish to keep them for myself alone. I assure you, charity is not understood on earth, and yet it is the most important of virtues” [Primary source]. She therefore set to work, but not without being constantly interrupted: “I have not written what I intended,’ she told me sadly. “I would have needed more peace and quiet.  At least my thoughts are down. You will need only to reorganise them.”

She based her neighbourly charity on Jesus’ words: “A new command I give you: As I have loved you, so you must love one another” [*Jn 13:34]. “Yet as it is already difficult to love one’s neighbour as oneself,” she said, “it is almost impossible to love them as God Himself loves them, unless our union with Him becomes so great that it becomes He who, in us, loves all those whom He commands us to love. The more closely united I am with God, the more I love all my Sisters” [Primary source].

The Servant of God studied in depth [431] the various words of Jesus on the subject of neighbourly charity, and she spoke to me on the subject several times with a vehement desire to put into practice that which she understood so well. In her behaviour towards her neighbour, I observed her constantly and meticulously apply these divine instructions, and yet she did so with such simplicity that one would never have suspected the great sacrifices she was imposing on her lively and fiery nature in order to overcome her revulsions. God rewarded her sustained effort because, towards the end of her life, she told me that fraternal charity was no longer a struggle for her and that she then practised it with true predilection. Yet the Servant of God gave me several examples of her charity, and as I observed several others, a few of which I shall quote. I remain absolutely convinced that the majority of her actions were known only by our Father, who sees what is done in secret.

Even as a child, little Thérèse was so kind and so amiable to everyone that she was not only a joy to the family but the housemaids loved her, too.  As she grew in age and virtue, her amiability became even more appealing; there was an unparalleled charm in her smile and her whole demeanour. At the Carmel, merely approaching her filled hearts with joy and made the Lord’s yoke seem easy. At recreations, through her gentle and sincere cheerfulness, which resulted from her abnegation, she spread happiness around her. [432] It was in her nature to never appear in a hurry, giving the Sisters the freedom to ask her for her services, and thereby having the opportunity to follow Our Lord’s advice, which she quotes in her manuscript: “Do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” [*5:42]. She took an active part in the community’s workload, choosing the most laborious tasks and the least comfortable positions in order to spare others. For instance, in the laundry room in summer, she would position herself where it was hottest. We remember this so well that we now call the place “Sister Thérèse’s spot” and the younger Sisters imitate her mortification and charity by devotedly placing themselves there.

Sister Marie-Philomène, who spent a few months in the noviciate with Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, is a very holy nun, but can also be very stubborn and rarely has the humility to admit it. She gave me a written testimony of the Servant of God’s charity, which reads: “Despite the great age difference between us (I joined at the age of 45), and our many differences, for I was one of those whom she describes in her life story as having very few natural gifts in terms of intellect, education, and the habitually appealing qualities, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, far from drawing attention to this, was immensely good to me. There was so much devotion behind her kind thoughtfulness, and so pure and great a charity, that her attentions to me did my soul [433] much good.”

One nun in the community was the source of violent temptation for her. Outwardly, it was true, the Sister appeared selfish, stiff and harsh. Following several years of heroic struggle, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus overcame the natural antipathy that the Sister inspired in her to such a point that one would have thought, and indeed we did think, that she loved the Sister very much. On days when we had permission to speak to each other, she saw this Sister before and more often than the others. At recreations, she seemed happy to be near her and spoke to her enthusiastically, appearing to derive real pleasure from her company.

Towards the end of her life, when she was very sick, she would write her manuscript in the garden. One day I noticed she was being constantly interrupted by the other Sisters and that instead of growing impatient or even humbly begging them to leave her alone, she would put down her pen every time and close her book with a sweet smile. I asked her how under such circumstances she managed to string two thoughts together. She replied, “I’m writing about fraternal charity; I am putting it into practice. Oh, Mother, fraternal charity means everything here below! We love God inasmuch as we practise it” [LC 15-6].

We watched over her on the last night of her life. Up until then, she had refused to let the nurse stay up with her, for fear of tiring her.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

She extended [434] her kind-heartedness even to animals. Whenever we tried to kill the flies that were constantly bothering her, she always begged us to spare them: “They are my only enemies,” she said. “Jesus told us to forgive our enemies, and I am pleased to have this opportunity to do so” [LC 30-7]. She told me that she had great desires to do good to all souls and prayed to God very often in this respect. “After my death,” she said on 17th July 1897, “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. It’s not the prospect of joy or rest that attracts me to heaven. I love to think of all the good that I want to do after my death, for example, obtaining baptism for little children, converting sinners, and helping missionaries, priests and the whole Church” [LC 17-7].

Ad XXXIII respondit [Answer to the thirty-third question]:

She had a zeal for saving souls even as a child, saying prayers and making sacrifices for their conversion. One summer evening, returning from a walk, she told me she was very thirsty. When I suggested she offer her thirst to God for the conversion of a sinner, she joyfully accepted the sacrifice. Once she was in bed, I brought her a drink. “You made the sacrifice,” I told her. “The sinner is surely saved. Drink now.” She hesitated, however, fearing the sinner would be lost, and looked deep into my eyes to see whether I was telling the truth. She was five or six years old at the time. Later on, one [435] Christmas, she said, “a thirst for souls filled my heart, and the need to forget myself” [MSA 45,2].

She prayed ardently and made sacrifices for the conversion of the murderer Pranzini, who did in fact convert at the last moment. She called him “her first child” [MSA 46,2], and the success of her prayers increased her determination to launch into the conquest of souls. Two months before she died, on 1st August 1897, with reference to the blessing she had received in her adolescence when she had looked at a picture of the pierced hand of Jesus (Story of a Soul, page 75, published in octavo, 1914) [MSA 45,2], she said, “If only you knew, Mother, the zeal that burned within me as I looked at that picture! My heart was torn with grief to see that Precious Blood falling to the ground: Oh, I don’t want this Precious Blood to be lost. I shall spend my life gathering it up for the good of souls” [LC 1-8].

[436] Et juxta idem XXXlll Interrogatorium sic prosecuta est testis [Continuation of the answer to the same question]:

She offered all of her merits up to God to save souls. One day she told me that she regretted revealing one of her sacrifices to me, for fear, she said, that her merit would be lost. I asked her, “You want to acquire merits?” “Yes,” she replied, “but not for myself; for poor sinners, and for the needs of the whole Church” [LC 18-8]. She went on to say, “I can keep nothing in my hands. All that I have, and all that I earn, is for the Church and for souls. Were I to live to the age of 80, I would still be as poor as I am now. Whenever I earn spiritual treasures, feeling that at that very moment there are souls in danger of falling into hell, I give them what I possess, and I have not yet found a moment [437] when I can say: Now I’m going to work for myself” [LC 14-7]. One day in the infirmary, she said to me, “I felt pleasure at the thought that people are praying for me; then I told God that I wanted all these prayers applied to sinners.” “You don’t want them for your own consolation?” “No!” [LC 22-8].

Following her trip to Rome, saving the souls of priests took precedence over those of sinners, because she knew they were dearer to Jesus’ heart, and that the sanctification of souls depended largely upon their work. In the canonical examination preceding her profession, she stated that she had come to the Carmel to save souls, but above all to pray for priests. She said she wanted to preserve the salt of the earth by being the apostle of the apostles, and by praying for them while they preached by words and especially by example. This is why she was so delighted to become associated with the work of two missionaries, and why she constantly prayed for poor Father Hyacinthe, offering her last Communion for Him.

She recalled that funeral wreaths had been given for the burial of Mother Geneviève. Fearing that the same would be done for her, she said to me, “To those who want to give wreaths, say that I would rather they spend their money on the ransom of two little black babies, whom I will protect. I would like a little Théophane and a little Marie-Thérèse” [LC 21/26-5].

[438] [Answer to the thirty-fourth question]:

She showed the novices much compassion, and was not discouraged by their faults. There were several who, at first, were mistrustful of her, and one of them, Sister Marie-Madeleine, would even hide when it was time for her to receive her advice. Several times did I see Sister Thérèse, calm and smiling, searching for the rebel. When she found her, she would speak to her with touching kindness and affection. At recreations, instead of seeking the company of her blood sisters, she would approach the nuns whom she liked the least, or who had difficulties, in order to try and chase away their troubles by showing them affection.  

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

She said to me, “I want to follow Jesus’ recommendation: ‘When you give a banquet, do not invite your relatives or friends; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But invite the poor, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid by your Father in heaven, who sees what is done in secret’” [*Luk 14:12-14 and MSC 28,2].

When she took annual retreats, which Sisters like to spend in deep solitude, she let Sister Marthe, her novice, ask Mother Prioress if she could take her retreat at the same time. She willingly accepted this veritable sacrifice, and spent one hour every day with the poor, unintelligent young nun. Furthermore, to encourage her to [439] make certain humbling sacrifices in the refectory, she would make them as well.

She never complained of Mother Marie de Gonzague, despite the latter’s unjust and sometimes severe behaviour towards her. In fact, she comforted her in her sorrows. Following the 1896 elections, Mother Marie de Gonzague was cut to the quick by the affront she had suffered, having been elected after no less than seven rounds of voting; she put this down to appalling ingratitude. In her sorrow, she turned to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus who, very meekly and with great respect, tried to enlighten her and insinuate that she could draw great spiritual blessings from this humiliation.

The Servant of God never rebuffed anyone, not even on the day she died. On 30th July, after receiving Holy Viaticum and Extreme Unction, several Sisters wished to speak to her, not waiting for her to finish her thanksgiving. She said to me afterwards, “I did not turn the Sisters away, because I wanted to imitate Jesus. It is said in the Gospels that when He withdrew to the desert, people followed him there and He did not send them away” [LC 30-7].

One Sister who was very jealous of her, and who never let an opportunity to humiliate her pass by, took advantage of her charity and asked her to decorate with paint the embroidery she was working on for Mother Prioress’ feast day. As the poor Sister [440] was very eccentric, she requested very strange subjects. Sister Thérèse never refused to help her; she went to the trouble of seeking patterns to meet the Sister’s every desire, and worked according to her unusual and tasteless instructions. (This nun has since left the Order and returned to live in society.) In 1897, the last year of her life, Sister Thérèse was still painting small embroideries for this nun. She did not pick up a paintbrush again after that. It was as though one needed only to make Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus suffer in order to obtain all that one wanted from her.

Ad XXXV [Answer to the thirty-fifth question]:

Even as a young child, Thérèse immensely enjoyed giving alms to the poor. At Les Buissonnets, she was responsible for greeting beggars at the door. She would plead their cause before us to obtain as much as possible for them.

As a Carmelite, she would have liked to have been a nurse in order to devote herself to the sick Sisters and, she said, so that on judgement day Jesus might say to her, “I was sick and you visited me” [*Matt 25:36].

She sought permission, as though asking for a great favour, to wheel a poor crippled Lay nun, Sister Saint-Pierre, to the refectory every evening. I watched her accomplish this act of charity with touching care and consideration for a long time. It was all the [441] more meritorious given that the Sister was very difficult to please and often criticised her.

She also wished she could heal and bring relief to sick missionaries. She said to me, “I am convinced of the uselessness of treatments to cure me, but I have made an arrangement with God so that He will see that they benefit poor sick missionaries who don’t have the time or the means to care for themselves. I’ve asked Him to cure them instead of me with the medicine I am given” [LC 21/26-5].

 [Answer to the thirty-sixth question]:

Even at the height of her suffering in the infirmary, she never failed to recite her six ‘Pater’ and ‘Ave’ prayers for souls in purgatory. “The devil is furious,” she said, “because he is doing all he can to make me forget them, but he very rarely succeeds” [LC 11-9]. She begged Mother Prioress for permission to recite, until prevented by exhaustion, the Office for the Dead prescribed for Sisters who have died in our convents.

I know through Sister Geneviève of Saint Teresa that the Servant of God performed the “heroic act of charity” in favour of the souls in purgatory. Sister Thérèse may have told me this herself, but I cannot quite remember.

She also said, “How happy I would be if, by going to purgatory, I could spare other souls by suffering in their stead, for then I would be doing good; I would be saving captives” [LC 8-7].

[442] Ad XXXVII [Answer to the thirty-seventh question]:

Even at a very young age, the Servant of God had a solid grasp of what constituted real virtue. We saw her make repeated sacrifices, and the words we heard her say proved how sincere and pondered she was.

She was only four and a half years old when our mother died, and yet the impressions left upon her by the event were as deep as ours. She greatly matured in soul as a result of the tragedy.

Even as a child, she sensed that her life would be short. She told me so, and I noted it in my notebook. Consequently, she strove to avoid sin and to seek every opportunity to perform acts of virtue in order to grow nearer to God and heaven. She had a particular appreciation for religious sciences; the chaplain of her boarding school nicknamed her his “little doctor” [MSA 37,2].

WITNESS 6: Agnes O.D.C.

She was not fond of games, and would rather listen to serious conversations. At the age of about six, she already liked solitude, especially that of the countryside. When our father took her fishing with him, she would stay out in the meadows for hours upon end, letting her soul absorb God’s sweet presence.

At the Carmel, she told me of a children’s book that our aunt, Mrs Guérin, had given to her to read as a little girl, and the impression it had made upon her. In one of the stories great praise was bestowed on a school teacher [443] who by her tact escaped from every difficulty without hurting anyone’s feelings. To one pupil, she would say, “You are not wrong,” and to another, “You are right.” “I reflected that I would not have acted in such a way,” said the Servant of God, “because we should always tell the truth.” She went on, “And this I always do, though I grant it is much more difficult. It would be far less trouble for us, when told of a worry, to cast the blame on the absent. It would be less trouble . . . nevertheless I do just the contrary. It is my duty to tell the truth to the souls in my care” [CSG?].

[Sitting 16: - 12th June 1915, at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon]

[446] [Continuation of the answer to the same question]:

“When I was at the Abbey school,” she said, “seeing the ease with which certain pupils won the good graces and affection of their teachers, I recalled a passage from The Imitation: ‘Let him who is disturbed be as restless as he will. Keep yourself in good peace.’ I felt that God wanted to distance me from not only the world’s charms [447] but also undue vain attachment to creatures. Even if this attachment is innocent, it troubles the heart, because it is impossible not to fall into extremes” [Primary source].

Concerning the many difficulties she encountered in order to be admitted to the Carmel at the age of 15, she wrote to me from Rome after her audience with the Pope, when the goal of her trip seemed all but lost:

“My little boat is having a lot of trouble reaching port! For a long time, I have seen the shore and yet I still find myself far off; but it is Jesus who is guiding my little boat, and I am sure that on the day when He wills it, it will safely reach the blessed shore of Carmel” [LT 43].

Upon her return from Rome, she was minded to live a life less strictly ordered than before, but she realised that this was a temptation and so devoted herself to an even more serious and holy life. This consisted in breaking her will, checking her tongue and doing services for others without setting store by them.

Confiding to her my feelings of sorrow and discouragement after committing a fault, she said, “I for one do not allow myself to wallow in discouragement. I say to God: My God, I know I deserve this feeling of sadness, but let me offer it up to You, as though it were a trial sent by You out of love. I am sorry for my sin, but I am happy to have this suffering to offer to You” [LC 3-7].

[448] On another occasion, she said, “I’m always happy, for I always manage in the midst of the raging storm to preserve inner peace. If someone tells me about a grievance with another Sister, I am careful not to work myself up against this or that Sister” [LC 18-4].

Once, when she had been misunderstood, she chose to remain silent, and we asked her why. Looking thoughtful, she replied, “The Blessed Virgin pondered all things in her heart, I cannot be blamed for doing as she did” [LC 8-7].

One day towards the end of her life, as I was pushing her wheelchair back from the garden to the infirmary, she said, “This afternoon, I recalled Jesus’ words to Saint Teresa: ‘Do you know, my daughter, who are the ones who really love me? It’s those who recognise that everything that can’t be referred to me is a lie’. Oh, how true this is! Yes, everything outside of God is vanity” [LC 22-6 and Life of Teresa of Avila ch. 11].

On another occasion, believing to be entertaining her, I was telling her of the Emperor and Empress of Russia’s visit to France. She sighed and said, “That doesn't interest me at all! Talk to me of God or the lives of Saints; of things that are real” [Primary source].

 [449] [Concerning her own spiritual life, did the Servant of God seek advice from, for example, spiritual directors?]

It is true that in her autobiography Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus says, “the way I was walking was so straight and clear, I needed no other guide but Jesus”, and she adds, “I compared directors to mirrors who faithfully reflect Our Saviour to the souls under their care, and I thought that in my case He did not use an intermediary but acted directly” [MSA 48,2]. However she was not establishing the principle that she was always directly enlightened by God and had no need for advice from spiritual directors. She was speaking about a specific moment in her life when no darkness obscured her path; this was two years before she joined the Carmel. Once at the Carmel, however, a veil hid the sun for the Servant of God, and she avidly sought enlightenment, mistrusting her own intuitions. I know that she consulted not only priests but also those superior to her in the convent, and even former Prioresses. The latter included our foundress, Mother Geneviève, and Mother Heart of Jesus, the former Prioress of the Carmel of Coutances. She also followed my own advice.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

I know that she confided everything to priests: her fear of offending God, her desire to become a saint, and the blessings she received from heaven. She asked Father Alexis to approve her path of self-surrender and trust. She also submitted her prayer of Self-Offering to God’s Merciful Love to priests. Lastly, she asked several priests for help and encouragement in being prudent in her great temptation [450] against the faith. On her deathbed, she said, “There isn’t anyone here more distrustful of her feelings than I am” [LC 20-5]. Although she felt strongly drawn to the way of love and self-surrender, she only followed it with full confidence after Father Alexis told her she was on the right path, unlike several directors before him. “He launched me full sail,” she wrote, “upon that ocean of confidence and love in which I had longed to advance, but so far had not dared” [MSA 80,2].

 [Answer to the thirty-eighth question]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus displayed both great simplicity and great prudence when giving advice to the souls in her care. Furthermore, she would reflect and pray before acting. Most often, she meditated upon the Holy Gospels to discern her course of action. One day she earnestly recited Jesus’ words: “Your Father in heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him,” and she added, almost in rapture:

“Mother, we need only to ask Him” [Primary source]. When still in the novitiate, one novice companion was Sister Marthe of Jesus, who was duped by a natural affection for Mother Marie de Gonzague, and would win her favour through flattery. One day, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus resolved to open her eyes and save her from going down this wrong path. She prayed in preparation for their discussion, a discussion that was very risky for her because Sister Marthe [451] could betray her to Mother Marie de Gonzague, who was Prioress. When the time came, she spoke with such heavenly authority and prudence that her fellow novice was crushed by grace and made good resolutions for the future.

I wish now to relate some advice she gave me, advice which reveals her great prudence and the reliability of her spiritual guidance.

One day, I sought her advice as Prioress. “A Mother Prioress,” she said, “must always allow others to believe she has no troubles. It gives us so much strength not to speak of our troubles. For example, she should avoid expressing herself like this; You have your trials and tribulations, but I have the same and many others, etc.” [LC 5-8].

Referring to mortifications in the form of penitential instruments, she said, “God has shown me that we must be very restrained on this point, for natural satisfaction can very often be mingled with the most austere of penances” [LC 3-8].

On another occasion, she said, “When a Sister confides something to us in secret, even if that something is unimportant, trust is sacred. We must never tell anyone of it” [LC 23-9].

As we were leaving the visiting room, she said to me and our two sisters, “You must pay attention to regular observance. After a visit, do not stop to talk among yourselves, because then it is not unlike being at home, and we deprive ourselves of nothing. When I am gone, take care not to lead [452] a family life” [LC 3-8].

Even when I was no longer Prioress, out of compassion I often allowed Sister Marie of Saint-Joseph to confide in me. I asked Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus what she thought about this. “Mother,” she replied unhesitatingly, “in your place, I would not be her confidant. You are no longer Prioress. We are deluding ourselves when we think we can do good when acting contrary to obedience. Not only are you not doing the poor soul any good by listening to her, but you may also harm her and lay yourself open to offending God.”

My last point regards spiritual brotherhood, through which a priest and a nun are united in prayer and sacrifice. She warned me during her last illness that, later on, a great number of young priests, knowing she had been given as spiritual sister to two missionaries, would ask the same favour from the Carmel. She told me that this could become a great danger: “Any Sister could write what I have written and she would receive the same compliments and trust. But it’s only through prayer and sacrifice that we can be useful to the Church. Correspondence should be very rare, and it mustn’t be permitted at all for nuns who would become preoccupied with it, believing they’re working wonders. Instead, all they would be doing is harming themselves and perhaps falling into the devil’s subtle traps”[LC 8-7].

[453] [Answer to the thirty-ninth question]:

The notion of justice was very important to Sister Thérèse. She vowed absolute obedience to God as well as all the gratitude and love in her heart. She had a righteous sense of the rights of God, whom she served unreservedly, choosing to following the impulses of her generous love that carried her far beyond the bounds of duty. She hated the little housewifely devotions that sometimes crept into communities. Prayer books gave her a headache. She said that outside of the Divine Office, the ‘Pater’ and ‘Ave’ prayers were enough to set her heart ablaze.

As a tiny child, she would worry each evening whether she had fulfilled her duties towards God.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

In her childish language, she would ask me, “Pauline, have I been a good girl today? Is God pleased [454] with me?” [MSA 18,2].

She told me many times of her affectionate gratitude towards God. The whole of Story of a Soul is but a hymn of gratitude. This can be seen from the very first lines: “I shall begin therefore by singing what must be my eternal song: ‘the Mercies of the Lord’” [MSA 2,1]. In this song, she praises God for everything, especially for her trials, to the point that many believed she had no sorrows, only joys. “It’s an overly sentimental book,” certain readers have dared to say!

Her feeling of gratitude ran so deep that it could reduce her to tears at significant moments, such as when, in the garden, she saw a little white hen sheltering her chicks with her wings. “It’s an image of God’s tenderness for us” [LC 7-6].

Lastly, when she was sick, I heard her say, “When I think of all the blessings God has given me, I have to restrain myself otherwise I would shed tears of gratitude continually” [LC 12-8].

I felt compelled to capture her tears. Whenever I could, I would dry them with a fine cloth until it was soaked through. By way of concession and out of affection for me, the Servant of God, with touching simplicity, would let me do this.

[455] [Answer to the fortieth question]:

I have little to say on this matter.

On 8th August 1897 the Servant of God told me what, as a child, she had thought regarding class inequality on earth: “I had a lot of compassion for those who served. The difference that exists between masters and servants proves so well that there is a heaven where each shall be placed according to their inner worth! The poor and humble will be amply recompensed for their humiliations!”

She was grateful to all those who showed her any kindness.

She bestowed kindness and severity upon the souls in her care with fairness. A novice whom she had strongly reprimanded said to her soon afterwards: “You did well to be severe yesterday; at first I was indignant, but when I thought it all over, I saw that you were quite right” [MSC 24,1].

She advised the novices to keep the peace between them by making fair compromises, and above all to be mindful of jealousy. For her part, she told me, “I have never desired things of others that have appeared better than my own. I have always been pleased with what God has given me” [LC 14-7].

Perhaps now is a good time to describe her love of truth.

As a child, she was very honest and spontaneously deplored her [456] slightest faults.

Towards the end of her life, I asked her to say a few edifying words to the doctor who was treating her. “Ah, Mother!” She replied, “That isn’t my style. Let the doctor think what he wants. I love only simplicity. I abhor pretence. I assure you that to do what you want would be bad on my part” [LC 7-7].

On 9th July, our Father Superior visited her to discern whether she should be administered Extreme Unction. He did not think her sick enough, so friendly and smiling did she appear. Once he had left, I made the remark that she didn’t know how to go about obtaining what she wanted, as she hadn’t appeared sick when he visited. She replied gently, “I don’t know the trade (of trickery)!” [LC 9-7].

 [Answer to the forty-first question]:

Even very young, she practised self-denial in an effort not to yield to the charms of the senses, and continued doing so with increasing simplicity and moderation as she neared the end of her life. She had no desire to practise severe penances, which were capable of preventing the soul from focusing on God. She told me that the devil often tricked generous yet imprudent souls, pushing them to extremes that harmed their health and [457] prevented them from fulfilling their duty. She also saw the risks that come of satisfying oneself. She told me how, early on in her religious life, she had believed she was right to imitate the saints in finding ingenious ways of making food taste dull, “but I dropped that habit long ago” she said. “When food is to my liking, I praise God. When it tastes bad, then I accept the sacrifice. I consider unsought sacrifices to be the most reliable and most sanctifying sort of mortification” [Primary source].

She considered it a sin against temperance not to rejoice in the beauties of nature, music, etc. when it inspired feelings of love and gratitude to God. She explained that as love was the sole goal we should seek, an unimportant deed done with much love should be preferred to another, perhaps better deed carried out with less love.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

On 8th August 1897 (a month before she died), recalling her childhood memories, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus said, “If Jesus and the Blessed Virgin had not themselves attended banquets, never would I have understood the custom of inviting one’s relatives and friends for meals. It seemed to me that in order to eat we should hide ourselves, or at least, stay at home” [LC 8-8].

She lived a very strict life even as a child, and she was never the slightest bit greedy. At mealtimes, she would eat what she was served without [458] demonstrating either disgust or eagerness.

Once at the Carmel, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus never showed a preference for her blood sisters. Even at recreations, she never sought their company, though did not shun them either. She was indifferent as to which nun she spent time with. Very often, she would more willingly talk to those who were alone and being neglected.

When Mother Marie de Gonzague was Prioress, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus would always abstain from sharing her troubles and revulsions with me, even though she could easily have obtained permission to do so.

She was mindful never to make excuses, either to me or to others, and not to speak when she had nothing to say. She let others and even me judge her by appearances, though these were often deceiving and unfavourable.

As Prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague established the custom of allowing the Sisters who so wished to come and see her every week instead of once a month as is written in the Constitutions. When I became Prioress in 1893, the Sisters continued coming to me every week, but Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus believed it was self-seeking to imitate them, and so she was the one I saw the least often.

She joyfully endured any suffering inflicted upon her without seeking relief from it. She told me that when refectorian, a Sister had once attached her scapular and the pin went through the skin of her shoulder as well as the fabric. I asked [459] her for how long she had born the pain. “Several hours,” she replied. “I went to the cellar to fill up the bottles, and brought them back in the baskets. I was overjoyed! But ultimately I feared that I was not acting out of obedience because our Mother knew nothing about it.” 

During her last illness, she refused to pray for relief from her pain, and, even at the pinnacle of suffering, contented herself with saying, “My God, in your goodness, have mercy on me!” [LC 30-9].

On 19th July 1897 (when she was very ill), some hours following a visit from the chaplain, she said, “Just now I was tempted to ask Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart what the chaplain said as to my health. I was thinking that it would do me good and comfort me to know. But thinking on the matter further, I realised I felt only curiosity. Since God hasn’t permitted her to tell me herself what he said, it is a sign that He doesn’t want me to know. I’ve therefore avoided returning to the subject lest Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart feel obliged to tell me” [LC 19-7].

She handed her life manuscript to me on 20th January 1896, and I placed it on my desk without opening it. The Servant of God heard no more about it. Two months later, I finally decided to read it. In the meantime, I don’t recall her mentioning [460] it even once.

[Sitting 17: - 13th July 1915, at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon]

[463] [Answer to the forty-second question]:

Spiritually speaking, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was extremely active and energetic under her sweet and graceful exterior. Her actions consistently revealed a strong character and vigorous mind. She peacefully surrendered herself into the hands of God as a consequence of her love for Him. Yet this did not mean she was idle: her love drove her to seek sustenance in sacrifice. It is true, the Servant of God was contemplative, but her contemplation compelled her to act for the redemption of souls. She said, “It’s only through prayer and sacrifice that we can be useful to the Church” [LC 8-7]. At the age of 14, she said in a letter to me, “I want to give myself totally to Jesus, and to always suffer for Him. If at the moment of my death I could have a soul to offer to Jesus, one whom I have saved through my sacrifices, how happy I would be” [LT 43].

Aged 16, during the retreat prior to her Reception of the Habit, referring to the mistreatment being inflicted upon her by several Sisters, she wrote,

“Yes, I desire these wounds to the heart, these painful pinpricks; I prefer sacrifices to any rapture” [LT 55].

Everything about her religious life conveyed a [464] deep desire to give of herself. She was expressing her true feelings when she said, “Suffering is what pleases me in life . . . . There is but one thing to do here below; offer Jesus the flowers of little sacrifices” [LC 17-7].

Towards the end of her life, she said, “I would be happy to go to Hanoi in order to suffer for God. If I recover, I would like to go there in order to be all alone, and to have no earthly source of solace or joy” [LC 15-5].

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

The doctors were saying she had only a few more days to live, when, amid intense suffering, she said, “If I recovered, the doctors would be amazed; but perhaps they would be more so, those who know of my desire to die, to hear me say, ‘Sirs, I am very pleased to have recovered because I can continue serving God. I have suffered enough to die, and will readily do so again’” [LC 5-9].

In a moment of acute pain, she moaned softly. Hearing herself, she said, “Oh, how I do complain! And yet, I would not want to suffer less” [LC 25-8].

A few days before she died, she said, word for word, “All that I have said and written on suffering is true; It is true that I wanted to suffer for God, and it’s true that I desire it still” [LC 25-9].

I could quote any number of examples of the spiritual strength that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus demonstrated in her service of God. She strove [465] constantly to exercise self-control, for, despite appearances, she suffered much here below both morally and physically. I think that she was as strong before God as she was good at hiding her real suffering from creatures beneath her calm and friendly exterior. Her success was such that several in the community believed she had no sources of suffering. Even amid the greatest bodily and spiritual hardships she had to endure, her faithfulness in terms of accomplishing her duties never wavered. She never demonstrated any cowardliness or laziness.

I will quote a few examples.

Even as a young child, she developed a habit of never complaining or making excuses.

In Sister Thérèse’s time at the Carmel in particular, due to the conditions that I have already described, causes of conflict and vexation were rife. Even elite and very virtuous souls had their moments of impatience and discontentment. I can confirm that, even amid the most humiliating and difficult events that befell her, Sister Thérèse never lost her calm meekness or consistent kind charity. I esteem that, for those who know human nature and community life, this constitutes significant proof of spiritual strength. She was Portress for two years at about the same time as Sister Saint Raphael, who was very slow, [466] extremely fussy and unintelligent. It was said that she could infuriate even an angel. God alone can count the triumphs in terms of humility and patience that the Servant of God won at that time.

Poor Sister Marie of Saint Joseph, who has since left the convent, obtained permission from me to seek counsel from her. The Sister in question was well-intentioned, but due to a mental illness, she caused her heroic counsellor, who never refused to devote the nun her time and strength, to suffer nothing less than a martyrdom. What is more, in 1896, already very sick, Sister Thérèse asked for the privilege to be appointed to the laundry room as assistant to the same Sister, Marie of Saint Joseph. Now, never had this nun been assisted in her duty, because Mother Prioress reasonably esteemed that nobody deserved to have such a heavy burden inflicted upon them. Yet the Servant of God was granted permission to join Sister Marie of Saint Joseph and, until exhausted by illness, she served this singular mistress with utter devotion and without ever growing impatient.

On another occasion, the Servant of God told me she had undergone an intense inner struggle with regard to a lamp to be prepared for the sister and great nephew of Mother Marie de Gonzague. Contrary to our customs, one or other of the Prioress’ relatives regularly came [467] and stayed in the Extern Sisters’ quarters.

 [Continuation of the answer to the forty-second question]:

She said, “The devil tempted me to rebel, to not only stop wasting my precious time preparing the lamp but also to go against Mother Prioress’ authority. This was because she was expecting part of the community to serve her family, which she would never tolerate for the other Sisters’ families. Yet I did not wish to offend God and so I implored Him to calm the storm raging inside me. I summoned all my self-control and set about preparing the lamp, imagining that it was for the Blessed Virgin and the Child Jesus. I did it with incredible care, not leaving on it a single speck of dust. Little by little, my inner peace returned and my disposition became such that I would have spent [468] the whole night serving Mother Prioress’ relatives if asked to do so” [LC 12-7].

 [Did the Servant of God sometimes lose her even-temperedness with regards to Mother Marie de Gonzague?]:

I admit that, only once, the Servant of God openly accused Mother Marie de Gonzague’s conduct, and with reason. What happened was this:

In January 1896, I was Prioress, and would remain so until 20th February. Mother Marie de Gonzague was Novice Mistress. Sister Geneviève was nearing the end of her year as a novice and, according to our Order’s customs, could be admitted for profession on 6th February. The matter would therefore be approved by chapter vote and, in the likely event of admission, she would pronounce her vows in my hands, before the main elections on 21st March. Mother Marie de Gonzague hoped to be elected Prioress, and therefore wished to postpone until after the elections the vote concerning Sister Geneviève’s admission for profession.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Our Father Superior was not in agreement. Mother Marie de Gonzague was very unhappy about this, saying she would not vote in favour of the novice, and began campaigning among the chapter members to send Sister Geneviève to the Carmel of Saigon, which was in need of new members. In the meantime, one recreation when Mother Marie de Gonzague was absent, the Sisters raised Sister Geneviève’s predicament. Some [469] gave vent to their malice against the “four sisters”, as we had come to be disdainfully called. A particularly hurtful insult was directed against Sister Geneviève, which went something like this: “After all, Novice Mistress has every right to test her as she would any other novice.” At this, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus said heatedly, “There are some tests that should not be imposed” [Primary source]. By “a test that should not be imposed,” Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus meant that of delaying a nun’s profession on grounds of jealousy, and even risking losing her by publicly declaring not to vote for her.

 [The witness resumes]:

One of the greatest tests for the Servant of God, and for all of us, was our father’s mental illness. Shortly before Sister Thérèse received the Habit, the series of strokes that our father had suffered the previous year caused his health to take a dramatic turn for the worse. Soon it was impossible to care for him at home, and he was admitted to a care home for the mentally insane on 12th February 1889. This struck the Servant of God particularly hard, for our father meant everything to her. Our grief was often cruelly reawakened by others indiscreetly discussing the matter in front of us. In the visiting room [470] one day, we heard our father be spoken about in disparaging terms, which was particularly hurtful. On other occasions, at recreations, Mother Prioress would openly comment upon our father’s illness in our presence, talking of the diet at the care home, what the insane may or may not do, straitjackets, etc. Despite it being a terrible time of sorrow for Sister Thérèse, who was at the tender age of 16, she never sought comfort from either myself or Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart. In fact, we were the ones who went to her to be comforted. She acknowledged in her Story only that “her desire for suffering was fulfilled” [MSA 73,1]. She told us time and time again, perfectly calmly, how we should consider our ordeal as one of the greatest blessings of our life.

Here are a few more examples of her courage in bodily suffering.

She had always had a very sensitive throat. Two years prior to her pulmonary haemorrhages, her throat became increasingly sore, especially when she helped with the laundry, washing up and sweeping, because of the steam and dust. However she never dispensed herself from these tasks.

In September 1896, she had a large blistering plaster applied. Very shortly afterwards, she came to Mass and received Communion. After thanksgiving I went up to her cell; I found her looking drained, sitting on her little bench with her back resting against the partition separating her cell from the oratory of the Blessed Virgin. I couldn’t [471] help but reprimand her. She replied, “I don’t consider this too much to suffer for a Communion” [LC 21/26-5].

By this time, September 1896, she was coughing a great deal, especially at night. She had to sit up on her mattress to ease her breathing. She had become so emaciated that it was very painful for her to stay sitting for hours on end on the rather hard bed. I wished she would go down to the infirmary, but she said she preferred to be in her cell. “Here, my coughing cannot be heard and I’m not disturbing anybody, and what is more, when I am too well cared for, I no longer feel joy” [LC 21/26-5].

In the infirmary, we ultimately surmised that her shoulder was extremely sore, and wanted to ease the pain. “Don’t take away my little cross,” she said [LC 3-8].

 [Answer to the forty-third question]:

One needs to have seen the Servant of God to understand her purity. She was as though enveloped in innocence, but it was not a childish innocence that knew no evil; it was an enlightened innocence that had perceived the dirt here below, and had her resolve, with the help of God’s grace, not to stain her soul.

In one of her poems, she said,

“Chastity makes me the sister of angels. One day I hope to fly in their armies,

 [472] but during this exile I must fight like them” [PN 48].

She thought, then, that it was necessary to fight, and although she told me she had never been tempted against this holy virtue, she took great care to preserve her treasure’s integrity up until her dying breath.

As a child, there was an air about Thérèse, in her demeanour, her expression and smile, which reflected angelic purity.

She was very simple and had little experience of evil. Fearful of discovering it, as she acknowledges in her autobiography, she entrusted the protection of her purity to the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph.

Later on, she came to understand that everything is pure for the pure of heart. Seeing that she knew about the realities of life, I asked her who had enlightened her. She said that she had discovered them without even looking, from observing nature, the flowers and birds.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

She added, “The Blessed Virgin knew all these things. For she said to the angel, on the day of the Annunciation, “How will this be, since I know not a man?” Knowing things is not evil. All that God has made is very good and very noble. Marriage is a beautiful state for those whom God has called to it; it is sin which distorts and soils it.”

Nonetheless, she wept bitterly at the thought of her sister Céline being exposed, before joining the convent, to hitherto unknown [473] dangers out in the world.

Towards the end of her life, she said to me, “My body has always embarrassed me. I have never felt comfortable in it. As a child I felt ashamed to have one” [LC 30-7].

 [Answer to the forty-fourth question]:

The Servant of God told me that, as a postulant, she took special care to understand the true meaning of poverty, because she felt that remaining faithful to it would require many sacrifices on her part, particularly with regards to objects she used. She liked to have nice things to use and to find everything she needed ready to hand.

She had always been perfectly detached from worldly goods, and gladly gave them up through love for Our Lord.

She let others borrow objects even when she needed them to fulfil her duties, and never asked for them back.

She said she owned ideas and feelings no more than material objects. She therefore left God free to use either at will, for His glory and for the sake of souls.

She let others borrow from her, and even sought whatever was ugly and least practical for her own use.

She took great care to preserve the objects she used, and darned her clothes until they were completely [474] worn through.

She never wasted a single second. Whenever she was told to save her energy, she would reply that her vow of poverty obliged her to work.

When Mother Marie de Gonzague asked her to write the third part of her autobiography, she thought the very plain notebook I had chosen was too fine for the task and feared that to use it would be a sin against poverty. She asked me whether she ought to write small, to save paper. I pointed out that she was too ill to worry about writing small and insisted she space out her characters. The first part of the manuscript is written on the thinnest and poorest quality paper we could find.

[Sitting 18: - 14th July 1915, at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon]

[477] [Answer to the forty-fifth question]:

Towards the end of her life, the Servant of God acknowledged to have never done her own will on earth, and this was why God would do her every will in heaven.

Even as a child, it is true, she was mindful to be obedient. I don’t recall her ever disobeying me, even for something trivial. Even my advice constituted orders in her eyes. She would seek permission for everything. In the afternoons, when [478] she had finished her lessons and exercises, my father would invite her out with him, and her reply would always be, “I will ask Pauline for permission” [MSA 19,1]. Our father himself encouraged submission in her. If I happened to refuse, she never questioned me and showed no frustration despite her yearning to go with him.

I remember at night, to quash her fear of the dark, I would send her to somewhere in the house or even the garden all alone. She would comply without question, despite her fear, which she ultimately overcame completely.

She loved reading, but when told it was time to stop, she would immediately close the book, without allowing herself to read a single word more.

In one book she liked to read, there was a picture which I forbade her to look at. If the book happened to open at that page, she would hasten to close it.

She had a holy fear of acting upon her own will: “I was afraid of my freedom” [MSA 37,1], she writes, recalling her prayer to Jesus on the day of her First Communion.

As a Carmelite, her vow of obedience was no vain promise. She was submissive not only in deed but also in thought, and taught her novices the same obedience.

Her obedience was wholly spiritual. [479] It was God speaking to her through her Superiors, and even instructions from her inferiors revealed something of God’s will.

She called obedience her “infallible compass”: “What joy it brings me,” she wrote to Mother Marie de Gonzague, “to look to you to know and to go where God has called me” [MSC 11,1].

She went so far as to obey not only the formal instructions but also the unspoken wishes of her Superiors, because she saw God in their person.

Referring to the story of the lamp, of which I spoke yesterday, she said, “From that day onwards, I decided never to wonder whether or not commands were useful” [LC 12-7].

The Servant of God said to the novices, “It always offends God a little when we question a little something Mother Prioress has said. It offends Him a lot when we question it a lot, even silently” [Primary source].

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

She wrote her autobiography through obedience alone. If it had been otherwise, she would not have been detached from her work. As it was, were it burned before her eyes, she would not have been at all upset.

She had the highest esteem for religious regularity, and was deeply pained when she observed transgressions in the community. The year [480] she died, I heard her utter this complaint: “Oh, how little regularity there is here! How few perfect nuns there are! They do nothing, or next to nothing, saying,  ‘I’m not obliged to do this or that, after all. There’s no great harm in speaking here, in satisfying myself there.’ How few there are who do everything to the best of their ability!” [LC 6-8].

When Reverend Father Roulland, a Foreign Missionary, was assigned to her as spiritual brother by Mother Marie de Gonzague, she was expressly ordered not to inform me. She was tasked with painting a picture on parchment, also without my knowledge, for her spiritual brother, but to do so, she needed my brushes, paints and burnisher. Her conscientious obedience was such that she hid in the library to paint the picture, and, in order to keep the secret as instructed, she took the trouble to come and fetch the tools she needed in my absence.

Whenever Mother Prioress made a general recommendation, Sister Thérèse would adhere to it for years, while the others would easily forget such details.

She was called to the Carmel of Hanoi. Referring to this in her autobiography, she said, “For me to leave the Carmel of Lisieux, though I love it dearly, an order would not be necessary: a simple look, a sign from God, would suffice” [MSC 9,1].

She wrote about her love of obedience [481] in a poem. I recall these lines:

 “Lord God of Hosts, I want no other glory than to submit my will to You in everything,

Since the Obedient One will tell of His victories for all Eternity” [PN 48].

 [Answer to the forty-sixth question]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus practised humility at all times and in all places. The books she read as a girl relating the feats of French heroines gave her an aspiration for glory. When she then studied the life of Jesus, she quickly resolved to seek glory only in self-deprecation. To go unknown to others and to be counted for nothing was her recipe for perfection. Any good she was able to do, she attributed to God. Not only did seeing her lowliness bring her pleasure, but she also rejoiced when others humbled her, even without reason.

The Servant of God summarised her feelings of deep humility in her poem “I Thirst for Love”:

“My Beloved, your example invites me to humble myself, to scorn honours.

To delight you I want to stay little. In forgetting myself, I'll charm your Heart.

What scorn did you not receive for me, on the foreign shore?

On earth I want to hide myself, to be the last in everything for you, Jesus!” [PN 31]

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was not at all vain as a child and appeared indifferent to clothing. If someone said she was pretty, I would tell her otherwise, and she would believe me.

God Himself gave her an understanding of the vanity of praise. When, aged 9, she came to see me in the Carmel visiting room, a Sister kept saying how sweet she was. Sister Thérèse later wrote, “It was not my intention to come to the Carmel to be praised, and following my visit, I did not cease repeating to God that it was for Him alone I wished to become a Carmelite” [MSA 26,2].

On the day of her profession, she wore on her heart a prayer resuming her many desires for humility: “Grant that no one may pay attention to me; that I may be trodden underfoot, forgotten, as a little grain of sand” [PRAYER 2].

A letter written to me during her 1892 retreat reads, “Oh, Mother! How I long to be unknown to all creatures! I have never desired human glory; to be treated with contempt was my heart’s desire, but having recognised that even this was too glorious for me, I wanted only one thing: to be forgotten” [LT 95].

Life at the Carmel gave her no shortage of opportunities to practise humility. Mother Prioress made a conscious effort to discipline her in this sense. One day when I expressed concern to Mother Prioress [483] at seeing my younger sister suffer ill-treatment and many uncalled-for humiliations, she erupted, “Well! That’s what comes of having sisters! Undoubtedly, you want preferment for Sister Thérèse, but I must proceed otherwise. She is much prouder than you think. She has to be constantly humbled. And if it’s her health you’ve come to beg about, leave that to me, it’s not your business.”

It is clear from Mother Prioress’ words that there was no shortage of opportunities for her to practise humility. She accepted all these opportunities not only generously, but also joyfully. On her deathbed, referring to the past, she said, “I was strengthened by those humiliations. Yes, I was happy every time I was humbled” [Primary source].

Upon the death of Mother Geneviève, the Carmel received many wreaths and flowers. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was arranging them as best she could around the coffin, when Sister Saint Vincent de Paul, observing her, complained, “You are ensuring to put the wreaths from your family at the front and the flowers from the poor at the back.” At this cruel remark, I heard her reply very softly, “Thank you, Sister, you are right. Give me the cross of moss that the workers sent and I will place it at the front” [HA (Histoire d’une âme) ch. 12].

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[484] [Continuation of the answer to the same question]:

She was always willing to atone for her weaknesses. I witnessed her beg, with touching humility, for the forgiveness of Sisters whom she believed she had vexed. One time in particular (on 29th July in the infirmary), she exclaimed with a holy vehemence, her eyes filled with tears, “Oh, I do beg your pardon; please pray for me!” A little later, when her face had regained its peaceful expression: “Oh, how happy I am, not only to see that people find me imperfect, but also to feel I am imperfect, and to have such need of God’s mercy at the moment of my death!” [DEA 29-7]

One day when she was already sick, a Sister came and asked her for her immediate help with some painting work. I was present, and despite my objections on account of the patient’s fever and exhaustion, the Sister insisted; Sister Thérèse’s face [485] betrayed her discontentment. She wrote to me that evening, “Your daughter shed sweet tears just now, tears of repentance but more so of gratitude and love. Ah! Today I showed you my virtue, my TREASURES of patience! And I who preach so well to others!!! I’m pleased you saw my imperfection. I admit it, oh, beloved Mother, I am happier to have been imperfect than if, sustained by grace, I had been a model of meekness.... It does me much good to see Jesus always so gentle, so tender towards me! Truly, it is enough to make me die of gratitude and love!” [LT 230] “I’ve been told several times,” she said in the infirmary, “I shall not differ from others, and I will fear death. This could very well be true. If only you knew how distrustful of my feelings I am! I never rely on my own thoughts; I know how weak I am. I would not dare say to God as Saint Peter said, “I shall never deny you” [LC 20-5].

After receiving Holy Communion one morning, an extraordinary feeling of humility came over her as we recited the Confiteor. She explained it to me: “I saw Jesus on the very point of giving Himself to me, and this confession appeared to me as so very necessary! Like the Publican, I felt I was a great sinner. I found God to be so merciful! When the Sacred Host touched my lips, I could not keep from crying! “I believe the tears I shed this morning were tears of perfect contrition. Ah, how impossible it is to [486] give oneself such sentiments! It is the Holy Spirit who inspires them” [LC 12-8].

Towards the end of her life, we were saying she was a saint, to which she replied, “No, I’m not a saint. I have never accomplished the deeds of saints. I am a little soul upon whom God has showered blessings. What I am saying is true; you will see this in heaven” [LC 4-8].

On another occasion, we were telling her she was fortunate to have been chosen by God to tell souls of “the way of childhood”. She replied, “What does it matter whether it is I or someone else who shows this way to souls? As long as it is made known, the instrument is unimportant” [LC 21-7].

On 10th August 1897, we were saying that those such as herself who had attained perfect love could see their spiritual beauty. She answered, “What beauty? I don’t see my beauty at all. I see only the blessings I’ve received from God.” Then, turning to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and myself, she said, deeply moved, “Oh, little sisters, I owe you such gratitude! If you had not brought me up well, instead of seeing in me what you see today, what a sorry sight I would have made!” [LC 10-8]

We were discussing a keepsake to give, after her death, to Doctor de Cornière for having treated her. When asked her opinion, she said, “If you want to give Doctor de Cornière a token of gratitude, give him a holy card inscribed with Jesus’ words, “What you have done for the [487] least of my brethren, you have done for Me” [LC 30-7].

I believe these deeds and words amply prove the Servant of God’s humble simplicity, and thereby the light in which we should understand her proclamations as to the immense graces she had already received, or hoped to receive, from God.

 [Answer to the forty-seventh question]:

The way in which Sister Thérèse practised virtue seems wholly different from what can be seen in even fervent nuns. It is important to note, first of all, the perfect constancy with which she applied herself to God and the practice of virtue. She never became distracted or slackened in fervour for a moment. In fact, she made steady and continuous progress. I will point out, secondly, the perfection of her inner dispositions, notably her total detachment from others. Thoughts and love of God occupied her every moment. She found pleasure in all that God did and no earthly comfort held any appeal. I will also note her conscientiousness in terms of being faithful in the smallest of things. Lastly, her friendly smile, calmness, meekness and cheerfulness only grew in the face of difficulties and sacrifices.

This ensemble of dispositions, when applied to every virtue, is quite matchless, and in my opinion constitutes an unquestionable heroism of character.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[488] [Answer to the forty-eighth question]:

In answer to the question on the virtue of temperance, I said that moderation and discretion were eminent qualities in the Servant of God, keeping her from falling into any extremes.

 [Answer to the forty-ninth question]:

In terms of spiritual gifts, or at least, manifestations thereof, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus does not resemble the majority of saints who have been canonised by the Church. Save her vision of the Blessed Virgin, and the one which prefigured our father’s illness, and save the dart of love which she claimed wounded her, and finally the moment of rapture when she died, nothing about her life that I can think of was out of the ordinary, excluding perhaps some of the prophecies she made as to what would happen following her death.

Undoubtedly, she commonly experienced a state of deep reverence during prayer, but this stemmed from her simplicity and was not accompanied by any extraordinary signs. It must therefore be concluded that extraordinary mystical phenomena were the exception; simplicity was the norm. To think otherwise would be to change the encouraging physiognomy that God saw fit to bestow upon His humble servant, a physiognomy bestowed with the express intention of calling all “little souls” who wished to follow her way to His divine love.  

When it was suggested that the Servant of God [489] might die on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel after receiving Communion, she declared, “Me, die after receiving Communion on a Feast Day? Oh, that would be too grand! Little souls would not be able to imitate that. They must have no reason to envy me” [LC 15-7].

One day, she said, “There will be something in my manuscript for all tastes, for souls great and small, except those called to extraordinary paths” [LC 9-8]. Does this not prove that she herself had not been called to one?

When asked how she would describe her spiritual life during her illness, she replied, “My life consists in suffering for God, and that’s it!” [LC 4-8]

I will now explain what I know of the five or six extraordinary graces that I mentioned just now:

1stly Prophetic vision of our father’s illness.

She must have been about seven years old at the time. My father had been away in Alençon for several days, and my sister Marie and I were in one of the two attic rooms whose windows faced the back garden of “Les Buissonnets”. Young Thérèse was cheerfully gazing out into the garden through the window of the neighbouring bedroom. It was summer, and the weather was hot. The sun was shining. It must have been about two or three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, we heard our little sister cry out in a distressed voice, “Papa! Papa!” Frightened, Marie said to her, “Why are you calling Papa in that way? [490] You know well he is in Alençon.” She told us that, on the path at the bottom of the garden, she had seen a man dressed exactly like Papa, and of the same height and gait. However, he had his head covered and walked hunched over like an old man. She went on to say that the man had disappeared behind the trees not far from there. We immediately went downstairs and out into the garden, but not finding the mysterious man, we tried in vain to convince Thérèse that she had not seen anything.

Later on at the Carmel, a few years following our father’s death and on a day when talking was permitted, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus recalled the vision and at once understood what it meant. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus explains it in her autobiography (page 33, published in octavo, 1914) [MSA 20,1].

[Sitting 19: - 15th July 1915, at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon]

[493] [Continuation of the answer to the forty-ninth question]:

2ndly Vision of the Most Blessed Virgin and miraculous healing at the age of 10.

[494] Following her miraculous recovery, she came to tell me she had seen the Blessed Virgin. She did so with great simplicity, and only when I asked her to tell me what had happened. She relates it in her autobiography (page 50, published in octavo, 1914) [MSA 31,1]. Moreover, I was not an eye-witness to the event, and my three sisters, who were present, will be able to provide many more details.

3rdly Exceptional and fleeting states of sublime meditation.

She told me on more than one occasion that she understood what a “flight of the spirit” was. Explaining to me what she meant by this, she said, “Several times in the garden, during evening silence, I have been in so complete a state of contemplation, my heart has been so at one with God, and I have experienced surges of love so great without any effort, that it seems to me these graces were what Saint Teresa calls ‘flights of the spirit’” [LC 11-7] [Teresa of Avila Ch. 5, 6th Mansion].

One evening in the infirmary, she spoke of another grace, which she had received in Saint Madeleine’s grotto as a novice. It was a grace followed by several days of calm, during which she found herself in a state that she described as follows: “It was as though a veil had been cast between myself and the things of this earth.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“I was entirely hidden under the Blessed Virgin’s veil. I no longer dwelt on earth. I recall doing my duties in the refectory [495] as though not doing them, as if someone had lent me a body. It’s very difficult to explain; it’s a spiritual state, one that God alone can induce, and it is enough to detach us from the earth forever” [LC 11-7].

Lastly, I asked her to remind me what she had told me when I was Prioress, in 1895, of her “wound of love”. Here are her words, more or less (I wrote them down from memory immediately after our conversation): “A few days after my Offering to God's Merciful Love, I was in the choir, beginning the Way of the Cross, when I felt myself suddenly wounded by a dart of fire so ardent that I thought I should die. I do not know how to explain this transport; there is no comparison to describe the intensity of that flame. It seemed as though an invisible force was plunging me wholly into fire. But oh, what fire! What sweetness! Had it lasted a second longer, I would certainly have died. I understood, then,” she added, simply, “what the saints experience so often!” [LC 7-7]

4thly Predictions or prophetic visions regarding the future.

In light of the opposition that Mother Marie de Gonzague was putting up to daily Communion, the Servant of God promised that shortly after her death (the Servant of God’s death), this favour would be granted to the community, and it was.

Towards the end of her life, she foresaw the good she would do after her death. It would seem that she even predicted being glorified by the Church. I will very simply [496] relate her words and deeds and let them speak for themselves. I leave all comment up to the Church.

When shedding tears of love for Our Lord, and she let me wipe them with a fine cloth, knowing very well that it was not to dry them, but to treasure them as a venerated keepsake.

After I trimmed her nails, she gathered up the trimmings and gave them to me herself, suggesting I keep them.

She had been brought some roses to unpetal over her crucifix. When a few petals fell onto the floor after she had touched them, she said, “Do not lose them, little sisters, for later you will perform great favours with them” [LC 14-9].

Early in September 1897, seeing her on her death-bed, Sister Geneviève said, “To think that you are still expected in Saigon!” “I shall go there soon. If you only knew how quickly I shall make the journey!” [LC 2-9]

On 9th June 1897, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart was telling her how upset we would be when she died. She replied, “Oh, no! You’ll see, it will be like a shower of roses.” She added, “When I am gone, go to the letterbox and you will be comforted” [LC 9-6].

On 23rd June she showed me a passage from a book on the Propagation of the Faith that mentioned a beautiful lady dressed in white appearing before a baptised child. She said [497] animatedly, “Later on, I’ll go to little baptised children just like this” [LC 25-6].

On 1st August that year, she said, “All things pass away in this mortal world, even little Thérèse . . . but she will come back” [LC 2-8].

On 17th July, again from her death-bed, she spoke these unforgettable words, which I wrote down even as she spoke them: “I feel I am about to enter into my rest. But I feel above all that my mission is soon to begin - my mission to make others love God as I love Him . . . to teach souls my little way . . . If God hears my prayer, then my heaven will be spent doing good upon earth until time is no more. Yes, I want to spend my heaven doing good upon earth. Nor is this impossible, since from the very heart of the Beatific Vision, the Angels keep watch over us. There can be no rest for me while there are souls still to save. But when the Angel will have said, 'Time is no more!' then I shall rest; then I shall be able to rejoice, because the number of the elect will be complete. My heart quickens at this thought.”

"And what is this little way that you would teach to souls?” I asked her. “It is the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute self-surrender. I want to point out to them the means that I have always found so perfectly successful, to tell them that there is but one thing to do here below: we must offer Jesus the flowers of little sacrifices and win Him by [498] a caress. That is how I have won Him, and that is why I shall be made so welcome" [LC 17-7].

 [The witness resumes]:

I was able to transcribe only partially what she said on the way of childhood. Her explanation was more developed, but I cannot remember enough to reproduce it here.

Again in July 1897, we said to her, “When you are dead, a palm will be placed in your hand.” “Yes, but I shall have to let it go in order to let fall handfuls of blessings upon earth” [LC 3-7].

She was given a sheaf of corn. Taking one of the prettiest ears, she said, “Mother, this ear is the image of my soul. God has entrusted me with graces for myself and for others” [LC 4-8].

Explaining that humility does not prevent us from recognising God’s graces, she said, “God shows me the truth. I understand that all my gifts come from Him! Yes, it seems to me I am humble when I proclaim His mercies” [LC 4-8].

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

 [Were these words, spoken by the Servant of God with regards to her deeds after death, always earnest?]:

I’m certain that everything she said on the subject was thought-through and intentional: she spoke her true thoughts. Moreover, she never joked on such serious matters.

 [499] [Are you the only one to have received confidences from the Servant of God, or did she open up to others?]:

She shared these things only in the strict intimacy of my sisters and myself. I do not think she spoke of these things to anyone else, other than perhaps in a very limited way, for certain details, to Sister Marie of the Trinity.

 [Answer to the fiftieth question]:

I am not aware of her having performed any miracles during her lifetime.

 [Answer to the fifty-first question]:

The Servant of God wrote a number of letters and poems on pious subjects and also some recreational plays for our feast days. Most importantly, she wrote Story of a Soul, which is her own spiritual biography. All these texts were gathered together with the relevant witness statements and submitted to the judgement [500] of the Congregation of Rites.

I will relate the origin of her autobiographical manuscript, which is the most significant of her writings.

One winter’s evening at the beginning of 1895, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was recounting some of her childhood memories for us. Upon Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart’s suggestion, I ordered the Servant of God to write down, for our eyes only (those of her sisters), all of her childhood memories.

As I was her Mother Prioress, she had to obey. She used only her free time to write and handed me her notebook on 20th January 1896. The narrative was incomplete. The Servant of God had focused heavily on her childhood and early youth; her religious life barely featured at all. This first manuscript made up the first eight chapters of Story of a Soul (pages 1 to 149 of the published in octavo published in 1914) [MSA].

As by this time Mother Marie de Gonzague was once again Prioress, I persuaded her to order the Servant of God to continue her story: this was on 2nd June 1897. The Servant of God therefore addressed the following part of her narrative to Mother Marie de Gonzague; it forms chapters 9 and 10 of Story of a Soul (pages 151 to 205) [MSC].

This part was written straight-off during that month of June 1897 with no crossings-out. The Servant of God was constantly interrupted in her writing by the comings and goings of the nurses and novices, who wanted to make the most of her last days. She said to me, “I do not know what I’m writing, [501] the ideas do not follow on from each other . . . You will have to revise all this.” 

On another occasion, she said, “Mother, whatever you see fit to remove or add to my life’s notebook, I’m the one who removes or adds it. Remember this later on and have no scruples on this point” [LC 11-7].

She finished writing in early July 1897. The section that follows in the published version (chapter 11, pages 207 to 222) [MSB] was written by the Servant of God during her 1896 retreat at the request of Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart.

After the death of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Mother Marie de Gonzague consented to publishing these three separate manuscripts in one volume, but on the condition that they were modified so as to imply that they had all been addressed to herself. These modifications in no way alter the content of the story. Moreover, in April 1910, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart restored the manuscript to its original state, and a true copy of it was sent to the Vatican. In addition, in the most recent, published in octavo published in 1914, the three manuscripts are presented as being distinct from one other.

 [When she set to writing her text, did the Servant of God expect it would be made public?]

The thought had certainly not crossed her mind when she wrote the first part, which was intended only to recall her childhood memories for her sisters. Nor did she believe, in my opinion, that the 1896 manuscript addressed to Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart [502] would be published. Yet when, in June 1897, she wrote what would constitute chapters 9 and 10 to Mother Marie de Gonzague, she knew I was planning to make the text known after her death. She also knew (in the last months of her life) that I would use at least a part of what she had written on her childhood and youth for this publication. This is why she said, “You can remove or add to my life’s manuscript as you see fit.”

On her deathbed, she attached great importance to the future publication and saw is as a way of evangelising. She said one day, confidently, “You must publish the manuscript without delay once I am dead. Should you wait too long, or should you be careless enough to speak of it to anyone other than Mother Prioress, the devil will set you hundreds of traps to prevent this very important work from being published. However, if you do everything in your power not to let him impede it, then you’ll have no reason to fear the difficulties you come across. Through my mission, like the one of Joan of Arc, the will of God will be accomplished despite mankind’s jealousy.” “You think, then, it will be through your manuscript that you will help souls?” “Yes, it’s one of the means God will use to answer my prayer. It will help all sorts of people, except those called to extraordinary paths.”

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

“But what if Mother Prioress throws it on the fire?” “Well, I won’t be upset in the slightest, or have the slightest doubt as to my mission. I will simply think that [503] God will fulfil my desires in another way.” 

Moreover, even concerning the part written for Mother Marie de Gonzague, the thought that her manuscript might be published in no way inhibited her spontaneous writing style. In this part, as in the two others, she bears her entire soul.

 [Answer to the fifty-second question]:

In about 1894, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus began suffering from a persistent throat ache, which was treated with cauterisations and silver nitrate. She was in a great deal of pain.

On Good Friday, 4th April 1896, she coughed up blood for the first time. She was administered creosote and throat sprays.

Later that year, in June or July 1896, she developed a small dry cough. Doctor de Cornière, the community’s doctor, examined her and concluded that for the moment her condition was not serious. He prescribed nothing other than fortifiers.

Before the end of Lent 1897, she fell seriously ill. She was administered several blistering plasters, and rubbings with an exfoliating glove, but they did not help. She lost her appetite and soon could not digest anything. Her temperature would run very high from 3 o’clock onwards every day. She had several cauterisations on her chest; she was also given iodine tincture.

On 6th July 1897, she suffered further [504] haemorrhages. The doctor diagnosed very serious pulmonary congestion. He prescribed complete rest, ice, mustard poultices, cupping glasses, and so on. She had a very bad night on her hard mattress, and suffered from a high fever. She found breathing very difficult, and was suffering from exhaustion. Abundant perspiration weakened her further.

Two days later, on 8th July, she was brought down to the infirmary.

Until the first day of August, she would cough up blood two or three times a day, and suffer terrible choking fits. She would inhale ether, but her breathing difficulties were so acute that the treatment had no effect.

She was consumed with a burning fever every day. She would say it was as though she was in purgatory.

On 30th July, she took Extreme Unction and Holy Viaticum with admirable faith and piety. She begged for the community’s forgiveness in such touching terms that the Sisters could not hold back their tears.

She still had two more months of martyrdom to endure on earth; she bore them with heroic perseverance.

She was so emaciated that her bones poked through her skin in several places, and two very painful wounds developed.

During Doctor de Cornière’s five week holiday, Mother Prioress called for Doctor La Néele on just [505] three occasions, even though the latter had said she needed to see a doctor every day.

She had a very painful chest and shoulder, and an ardent insatiable thirst. “When I drink,” she said, “it’s as though I’m pouring fire on fire” [Primary source].

On 17th August, Doctor La Néele remarked that both lungs were infected, and gave her only a few days to live.

Between 17th and 30th August, she did not see a doctor despite suffering serious complications. For example, on 22nd August, she was struck with atrocious intestinal pain, pain that would increase when the nurses sat her upright to ease her breathing during her coughing fits, which would last for hours. She said it was like “sitting on sharp spikes,” [Primary source] and begged us to pray for her.

 “O Mother,” she eventually said, “If I had no faith, I would despair. I can easily understand why those without faith kill themselves when in so much pain. When you have patients beset with such violent pain, be sure not to leave treatments nearby that are poisonous. I assure you, when suffering as I am, it takes only a moment to lose reason.”

As Doctor de Cornière was still away, we telegraphed Doctor La Néele in Caen on 30th August. He said that what she was enduring was [506] dreadful. He admired her patience.

Doctor de Cornière returned in early September. He paid the patient frequent visits, and suggested morphine injections, but Mother Prioress would not allow them. She was given only small doses of morphine syrup, and rarely, because Mother Prioress was still biased against this tranquilliser.

On those last few days, her spittle was purulent. Its smell strongly indicated that her lungs were decomposing.

The community doctor praised her highly for her perseverence. “Do not wish her to live longer in this condition,” he said. “What she’s enduring is awful! What an angel she is! And she always greets me with such a sweet smile!” [LC 24-9]

Soon she could breathe only from letting out little involuntary cries from time to time. For the last three hours of her agony, her face and hands turned a violent purple. She trembled from head to toe and perspired so heavily that her mattress, pillow and all her clothes became soaked through.

Throughout her illness, the Servant of God edified us with her constant meekness, patience, and her full acceptance of the immense suffering God sent her. She did not ask for more suffering, as some saints are said to have done, but she did not want to suffer less, either. And her surrender and faith grew in proportion to [507] her pain and suffering. She liked to recite this psalm verse: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for you are with me, Lord” [Ps 23:4].

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

She received Communion for the last time on 19th August, Feast of Saint Hyacinth, and offered it for the conversion of poor Father Hyacinth, the Carmelite priest who had been ex-communicated.

On account of the vomiting, she was deprived of the grace of Communion until her death. What a hardship this was for her! In the evening of 5th August, Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, we left beside her bed a large picture of the Holy Face surrounded with flowers and lit by a lamp. That night, her trial against the faith reached its peak: “O Mother,” she said to me, “How I was tempted last night! However I did not look away from the Holy Face and performed many acts of faith” [LC 6-8].

On top of this spiritual trial, the pain caused by her illness increased and became atrocious. One day, she said, “Pray for me, Mother! If you only knew what I’m suffering! Pray that I do not lose patience. I need God’s help. And there was I desirous of every type of martyrdom! Ah, one has to experience it to know!” [LC 4-8]

However, the darkness in her soul did not affect her smile or amiable simplicity. She was still as gracious as a little child. She remained peaceful and serene [508] aided by God’s grace. It was then that she shared with me her immense desires for after her death, and her hope that they would soon be realised. “At present, I am in irons like Joan of Arc in her prison,” she said. “But soon I’ll be delivered, and the time will come for my conquests” [LC 10-8].

On 29th September, the eve of her death, Father Faucon came to hear her confession (as Father Youf, our ordinary confessor, was sick) and I can remember him saying as he left the infirmary, “She is a most beautiful soul! It’s as though she is bathed in grace.”

She spent that day and the following night in extreme pain and suffering. That was the only night she consented to someone watching over her.

The morning of the 30th, I stayed with her during Mass. She was gasping for breath and said only a few words as she gazed upon the statue of the Blessed Virgin that had smiled at her as a child. “Oh, how fervently I have prayed to her! But this is pure agony, with no hint of solace.” There was no bitterness in her complaint and I could tell that God was giving her strength.

That afternoon, her breathing became easier, and she unceasingly begged us to pray for her. “My God, in your goodness, have mercy on me! My God, I accept everything! I’m willing to suffer like this for months and even years if that is what you want of me.”

At 3 o’clock she crossed her arms over her body. The chalice is filled to the brim!” She told us. “I cannot explain what I’m enduring except by the ardent desires I have had to [509] save souls. But I do not regret surrendering myself to Love.”

At about half past 4, her face suddenly grew pale, and I understood her last agony had come. The whole community gathered round her bed. She held her crucifix so tightly that it had to be prised from her hands once she had died. Her face and hands, which were at first a deathly pale, soon turned a ruddy purple. Sister Geneviève stepped forward to wipe the perspiration rolling down her cheeks. She thanked her with a smile and a gaze more beautiful than anything else on this earth.

Believing her condition to be stable, Mother Prioress dismissed the community at about 7 o’clock. “Is this not the last agony? Am I not going to die?” sighed the Servant of God. When Mother Prioress answered that she may have a few more hours yet to live, she gave the soft, plaintive cry of a lamb. “Well. . . Alright! . . . Alright! Oh, I would not wish to suffer for less time.”

Her breathing suddenly became more shallow and rapid. She fell back against the pillow, her head leaning to the right. The supreme moment of death had come.

The infirmary bell sounded. Hardly had the Sisters had time to kneel around her bed when she distinctly pronounced her last act of love. “Oh! . . . I love Him! . . . .” she said, looking at her crucifix. A second later, “My . . . God! . . . I . . . love . . . You!!” [LC 30-9]

[510] We thought it was all over when suddenly she raised her eyes, which were aflame with life and a happiness “that surpassed all her hopes . . . .”

Sister Marie of the Eucharist approached with a lit torch, to look more closely at her sublime expression, which lasted for about the time it took for us to say a Credo. In the light of the flame, there was no movement from her eyelids.

Everyone witnessed her ecstasy, her vision of heaven. But it was a vision that filled her heart with so much love and gratitude that, unable to withstand the “transports of delight”, she was burst free of her chains. It was 20 minutes past seven.

She then closed her eyes and her face regained the lily-white complexion it had always had in life. Even in death, she was ravishingly beautiful, and her sweet smile seemed to say, “God is but love and mercy.”

[Sitting 20: - 16th July 1915, at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon]

[513] [Answer to the fifty-third question]:

We did not need to close her eyes, as she closed them herself following her ecstasy. Mother Prioress [514] dismissed the community. Sister Aimée of Jesus, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and I took it upon ourselves to shroud the Servant of God’s body. She didn’t seem any more than 12 or 13 years old.

WITNESS: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

Once dressed and laid out upon her mattress, we placed, as is customary at the Carmel before removing the body, a palm in her hands along with her crucifix and rosary. On her bedside table, we placed the miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary.

The Servant of God looked the same as when she had died. Her head leaned to the right, and a smile played on her lips, giving the impression she was merely asleep.

The following afternoon, Friday, she was taken to the choir, where she was laid out in front of the grate until Sunday evening. On the Saturday and Sunday, many people came to pray to her and to touch pious objects and even jewellery to her mortal remains. I must say, however, the same happens whenever one of our Sisters dies: it’s a popular custom.

On the Monday morning, the body showed signs of decomposition. Although she was still beautiful, veins stood out the Servant of God’s forehead and the ends of her fingers were turning black. We were not surprised by this, because when she was sick and the novices had said that her body would be preserved after death, she affirmed the contrary several times, and wanted her body to decompose “so that little souls would have no reason to envy her” [LC 8-7].

[515] Before closing the coffin, Mother Prioress replaced the crucifix in the Servant of God’s hands with a small wooden cross. We left the palm there, together with the paper with the wording of her vows on it and a copy of her Prayer of Self-Offering.

 [Answer to the fifty-fourth question]:

The burial took place on Monday 4th October, unaccompanied by any extraordinary happenings. The Servant of God was buried in the town cemetery, in a plot that our uncle Mr Guérin had recently bought for the Carmelite nuns. The first grave, which happened to be that of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, was dug at the bottom right-hand corner of the plot as you enter. It was 11 feet 6 inches deep, because it was thought that two other coffins would be placed on top of it later on, although this was not what happened.

On 6th September 1910, Monsignor Lemonnier, Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, had the Servant of God’s remains exhumed, with the aim to preserve them and not to exhibit them for veneration by the faithful. The body was placed in another grave built out of bricks and situated a few yards from the first.

Naturally, as I am a cloistered nun, I did not attend the exhumation (6th September 1910). I derive my knowledge from hearsay. Also, the original report was filed with the documents of the first trial process, and an accurate account was inserted on page 555 of the published in octavo [516] of Story of a Soul published in 1914.

Only a few planks of wood from the first coffin were removed and brought to the convent. One piece of wood fell off the head of the coffin without anyone noticing, and was found a few days later in the cemetery and this was also brought to the convent. Although totally unaware of the presence of this piece of wood, several nuns were alerted to it by a scent of incense. Sister Marie of the Trinity and Sister Thérèse of the Eucharist, who is Sub-Prioress today, were among them.

The soil collected from underneath the first coffin, in the old grave, emanated the scent of iris roots several times. These scents were perceived by many, including Sister Geneviève, Sister Aimée of Jesus, Sister Saint John the Baptist and myself, even though we had given no thought to the soil’s presence.

 [Answer to the fifty-fifth question]:

I am not aware of anything having taken place resembling worship. In any case, I have not attended any such ceremonies.

[Answer to the fifty-sixth question]:

Over the past few years, particularly since 1911, and more than ever since the war, the number of pilgrims visiting the Servant of God’s burial place has greatly increased. I am not a direct witness of this, but our three Extern Sisters and also foreign visitors to the Carmel have often told me [517] that people pray at Sister Thérèse’s burial place, much like at Lourdes, and on some days it is nigh impossible to near it. The sight is so moving, I am told, that at times, unbelievers who have come through curiosity, such as one ungodly soldier about whom I’ve been told, feel compelled to fall on their knees. Among the pilgrims who have come over the past few years, we have counted many bishops, both from France and abroad. These have included Monsignor Bonnefoy, the Archbishop of Aix (France). In a letter sent to me in 1913, the Roman Prelate said, “My visit to the Carmel of Lisieux has left me with an indescribable feeling of peace. My thoughts keep returning to your little ‘queen’; it seems now that my soul is inextricably linked to hers, and I can feel the benefits of her influence upon me.”

In 1913, there was a military pilgrimage to the Carmel and the Servant of God’s grave. One was supposed to take place again in 1914, but was prevented by the break-out of the war.

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

When I used to go into town with little Thérèse, I noticed that people looked at her in an special way. I heard people say many times that this was not because of her beauty, but for something extraordinarily pure and heavenly that she had in her expression.

One of our former house-servants, Victoire, said to me one day in the visiting room, “True, Miss Thérèse was no ordinary girl. I loved you all, but Miss Thérèse had something that none of you others had. She was like an angel, I was struck by it.”

Miss Philippe, a venerated spinster respected by the whole parish who looked after the sacristy at the church of St Pierre in Lisieux, often saw Thérèse at church. One day, she said, “That little Thérèse Martin is a true angel. I would not be surprised if she did not live long. If she does live, you will hear about her later on, because she’ll become a saint.”

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

When she joined the Carmel, seeing nothing more than a child despite having been informed of her young age, the Sisters were moved to respect in her presence. They admired her extremely dignified and modest demeanour, and her thoughtful and resolute expression.

Though she had been very opposed to the admission of such a young postulant, one such nun, Sister John of the Cross, said a little while afterwards, “I thought you would soon regret having laboured so hard to bring [519] your little sister to us. I said to myself, ‘They will both be very disappointed!’ I was very much mistaken! Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus is extraordinary; she has showed all of us a thing or two.”

To justify her severity, Mother Prioress said to the Novice Mistress, “A soul of such mettle is not to be treated like a child or with kid gloves all the time.”

The sacristan held her in high esteem and said she was not like the other Sisters. Whenever he came to work in the convent, he would always recognise her despite the long veil over her face from her dignified way of walking.

Father Delatroëtte, our Superior, who had been so unfavourable to her admission, changed his mind a few years later. One day when he came to the convent and had the chance to see her and hear her speak on spiritual matters, he could not hold back his tears and told Mother Prioress afterwards that the young nun was an angel.

Father Youf, our chaplain, spoke to me admiringly of her very often. “And to think,” he said to me one day, “I am not at liberty to allow such a perfect nun daily Communion!”

He also said, “Seeing your sister so close to me in the cloisters when I bring Communion to the sick nuns, she always reminds me of those candles that burn in churches [520] in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The mere sight of them inspires prayer and reverence.”

Despite the truth of these testimonies, it is fair to say that, although the nuns who lived with her esteemed and respected her like no-one else, they did not, during her lifetime, think that one day the question of her beatification would arise. Even I, who came to regard her as nothing less than a saint, particularly after her last illness, did not dream that she would ever be canonised. I was convinced that for this to happen, she needed to have performed miracles and dazzling deeds during her lifetime.

The nuns who were her contemporaries and are still alive today can see perfectly now, in light of events, the great heroism that was hidden in the life they witnessed.

I will read you a few quotations from the elderly nuns who were the Servant of God’s companions.

In May last year, following the death of our most senior nun, Sister Saint-Stanislaus (aged 90), I found in the elderly nun’s cell an envelope containing the following note: “I confirm that, having held the same duties as Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus for several years, I observed her practice virtue to a heroic degree, and found no imperfection in her. Never did she question what I asked her to do, and her perfect regularity was a constant source of edification. Concerning [521] her father, she suffered a great deal, but in silence, and in all the difficult circumstances I saw her endure, I admired her great strength of character. In the illness that led to her death, I saw nothing in her expression that betrayed her immense pain and suffering, and never did I hear her utter a single complaint. I have written this in case I should die, in order to make known these facts for the glory of God and the glorification of his Servant, on the eve of the Feast of the Sacred Heart in the year 1906.”

This document therefore predates the Ordinary Trial Process by four years.

 [The witness produces the handwritten document, which the judges and Vice-Promoter verify against the preceding testimony.]

Sister Marie of Jesus says the following: “Despite her young age, Sister Thérèse proved to be a perfect nun from the moment she joined the Carmel. Never did I witness her commit even the slightest infidelity. That which was most striking was her humility. She was always very self-effacing. What characterised her above all was her perfect even-temper. She would always greet us with her usual sweet smile. Moreover, on the days we had permission to speak, everyone would seek a few moments with her, for her soul reflected much purity and emanated great holiness even then.”

One of our elderly nuns, Sister Marie-Philomène (aged 74) wrote this testimony: “Our human nature is such that I believe it impossible to be less self-seeking [522] or more even-tempered than the Servant of God as I knew her . . . . Her soul burned with love for God, such as I’ve never seen before . . . . I often tell myself that her ‘little way’ is truly the opposite of pride as we see it today. This is because she wanted to relate all things to God, to see only Him in all things and to hope, with immense filial trust, for all things from His infinite goodness.”

[Sitting 21: - 19th July 1915, at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon]

[525] [Continuation of the answer to the fifty-seventh question]:

A year after the Servant of God’s death, in October 1898, the manuscript of Sister Thérèse was published under the title of “Story of a Soul”. The book has made known to people outside the convent the very soul of the one who lived hidden in its cloisters. As soon as it was published, we began receiving letters expressing admiration for the Servant of God’s perfect virtues, and gratitude for blessings received through her intercession.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

[526] These letters also requested prayer novenas and relics or keepsakes. Every year the number of letters increased. Towards 1911, we would receive an average of 50 a day. In the following years we respectively received 200, 300 and 400 a day from all over the world. Since the war (August 1914), despite it having become impossible to communicate with various countries, we have on certain days counted 500 letters or more.

It is important to note that the various books we have published are not the result of a propaganda initiative on our part: we published them only to meet demand, and we are still behind in terms of satisfying requests from believers.

Here are few figures to give you an idea of believers’ eagerness to engage with the Servant of God, whom they consider a saint. The letters they write prove this is truly the way they feel. Between 1898 and 1915, therefore, we published as follows:

211,515 complete editions of Story of a Soul.

710,000 editions of her abridged Life.

111,000 copies of Shower of Roses and collections of letters relating blessings obtained.

8,046,000 portrait pictures and 1,124,200 keepsake-sachets.

These figures do not take into account the books and pictures published abroad. The biography of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus has now been translated into 35 languages [527] and dialects. Again, these translations were not published through our initiative; we were asked to authorise them.

A few figures will suffice to show the rapid spread of the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness to all corners of the world.

In the first twelve years after 1898, we had to publish 47,000 complete editions of Story of a Soul and 24,000 copies of her abridged Life.

In the five years that followed (1910 à 1915), we published 164,000 complete editions of her Story and 686,000 copies of her abridged Life.

In just one year (July 1914 to July 1915) we had to give out 472,000 keepsake-sachets, without managing to satisfy all the requests.

In four years (1911‑1915), for the fabrication of keepsake-sachets (which contain a few fragments of material having touched the Servant of God) we had to buy 160,459 yards of ribbon to make 1,760,000 sachets. The supply and production cost amounted to 88,000 francs.

In under a year, we had to print 2,291,000 portraits of the Servant of God.

When the newspaper “La Croix” launched a campaign to collect portable altars for soldier-priests, it collected, among other donations, over a hundred altars given in the name of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

[528] Since the war, accounts testifying to soldiers’ trust in her have abounded. Some superior officers have entrusted their regiments to the Servant of God, and send us or have promised to send us their medals as ex-voto offerings.

In several batteries, the name “Sister Thérèse” is written in large letters on the cannon carriages. One colonel we know hung a relic (keepsake-sachet) from his flag, etc. Every day we archive letters relating conversions, examples of her protection and healings in favour of soldiers.

We have at times been criticised for having published booklets or leaflets announcing the price of various publications concerning the Servant of God; people say that these adverts resemble commercial propaganda. Yet such leaflets are necessary to answer the questions that we are asked over and over again: we cannot possibly write out this information every time.

Certain ornaments that are sold in various shops and bear the Servant of God’s picture on them were produced without our knowledge at first, and against our will, especially in England and Austria. We have always done everything in our power to protest against the production of medallions and statues, but it is not up to us to effectively shut down certain shop owners’ undertakings. We have often had to content ourselves with protesting to the ecclesiastic authorities.

I am convinced that the success of Story of a Soul is not a result of the [529] work’s literary perfection. It is not, as it has at times been described, “a bestseller”. Readers of the book are sure to come to know the Servant of God’s whole soul; she represents a very fine model of heroic holiness, and God has blessed the enterprise. This for me is the secret of its success. Then there are the blessings that have been obtained. Beneficiaries, I know, relate them to those around them, communicating their faith to others, and therefore further increase the number of book buyers.

 [Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I know of no serious opposition to the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness. As I’ve said, during her lifetime, the sublimeness of her life could have escaped most of the nuns in the convent due to her simplicity and humility. But this does not constitute actual opposition. Furthermore, she could sometimes be a victim of partisanship or jealousy among the community on account of the simultaneous presence of “the four sisters”; but such ill-will was directed against the “mass” alone, not the Servant of God personally, and still less her virtue.

When Story of a Soul was issued (1898), three Carmelite Prioresses out of the totality of our convents made a few remarks. The Prioress of the Carmel in Rue d’Enfer in Paris pointed out certain assertions in Sister Thérèse’s spirituality that, she said, “would undoubtedly have altered with age [530] and experience.” Yet shortly after making this declaration, she changed her mind completely. The Prioress of the Carmel in Avenue de Messine in Paris thought that this “Biography” was childish and contrasted with the Order’s austerity. I believe that the Prioress of the Carmel in Avenue de Saxe was of the same opinion. The said Prioresses are all dead today and their communities share the widespread admiration for the Servant of God.

WITNESS: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

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

Following the Servant of God’s death, a few extraordinary events took place in the convent in favour of certain nuns, but these events were relatively minor and are quite difficult to prove, such as perceptions of scents, etc. However there is something to which I attach great importance, and that is the community’s obvious, overall and constant progress in perfection under [531] the Servant of God’s influence. For all the nuns, elderly and young alike, the memory of Sister Thérèse and her example prove a very effective incentive to generosity in the service of God. The whole community has become very fervent and observant of the Rule; it’s a veritable transformation.

Reading Sister Thérèse’s biography has attracted elite candidates to our convent, and as admission requests have become too numerous, we are now redirecting them towards other Carmelite convents. Among the candidates whose admission we consider a result of the Servant of God’s protection, I wish to quote two nuns in particular, both of whom are dead today: Mother Marie-Ange, who died in 1909 aged 28 and Mother Isabelle of the Sacred Heart, who died last year aged 32. When Prioress in 1908, the former requested and obtained from Monsignor Lemonnier, Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, permission to submit the Cause of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus to Holy Church. The latter, in her position as Sub-Prioress, continued Mother Marie-Ange’s work and gave it her full devotion. Both died saintly deaths.

I have not directly witnessed any miraculous healings. However, in the mass of correspondence I mentioned earlier, relations of varyingly miraculous favours abound. Some have been published in editions of Shower of Roses. It would not be possible here to study in detail the contents of these countless files. I’ve prepared [532] a summative analysis of 54 such accounts. I hereby present this analysis to the court and, at the same time, submit to you the original case files, which represent just a handful among many.

 [The witness reads the following text, which, once duly verified, is filed with the Acts of the Process]:

Excerpts from the files of miracles attributed to the intercession of the Servant of God, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

1. Sister Joséphine (aged 41), a Lay Sister in the Carmel of Nîmes - exiled in Florence, Italy (Villa Dolgorouky) - was promptly cured of infectious pneumonia at the end of January 1907. The file contains two certificates by Doctor Maestro, from Florence. One of them states that the nun was “cured suddenly, contrary to my expectations, thanks to assistance from up-above” (underlined by the doctor).

2. Reine Fauquet, from Lisieux (aged 4 and a half), was promptly cured of phlyctenular keratitis on [533] 26th May 1908 following a vision of Sister Thérèse. On 6th July 1908, Doctor Decaux from Lisieux reported her complete recovery, which was confirmed on 7th December that year by Doctor La Néele, also from Lisieux.

(See Shower of Roses, excerpts I and II, page 7.)

3. Miss Chabaud from Issy-les-Moulineaux (Seine, France) (aged 24), was promptly cured of a round stomach ulcer on 28th February 1905. Upon observing her recovery, Doctor Tison from Issy-les-Moulineaux wrote, “This prompt recovery from a round ulcer is all the more astonishing given that, usually, progress is slow and recovery long in coming.” Following a further examination of the benefactress, he again confirmed her prompt recovery on 18th May 1909.

(See Shower of Roses, excerpts I and II, page 13.)

Miss Chabaud made a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Lisieux.

4. Mrs Dorans from Glasgow (Scotland) was promptly cured of a cancerous tumour on 26th August 1909.

This healing was investigated in the first trial process. In June 1912, in a conference to Catholic Youth presided by the Archbishop of Liverpool, Doctor Colvin quoted this healing as being an example of a thorough and [534] indisputable miracle.

(See Shower of Roses, excerpts I and II, page 23.)

5. Brother Marie-Paul (aged 42), a Lay Trappist friar from Tárrega (Spain), was promptly cured of a stomach ulcer of a cancerous nature on 4th May 1909.

Doctor Ubach, from Tárrega, reported his prompt recovery. His certificate is dated 15th June 1909.

 (See Shower of Roses, excerpts I and II, page 18.)

6. Brother Paul from the Trappist monastery of Rogersville (Canada) was promptly cured of a serious knee injury in January 1910 following a vision of the Servant of God.

On 22nd April 1910, Doctor Bourret of Rogersville issued on a medical certificate concluding as follows:

“The patient’s recovery from this injury, the like of which very frequently causes subsequent frailties, was so swift that I believe it must be attributed to a wholly spiritual cause.”

7. Ferdinand Aubry (aged 60) from the asylum of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Lisieux, was cured of tongue cancer on 28th September 1910. Doctor Viel of Lisieux issued a lengthy medical report confirming his recovery.

8. Miss de Leusse (aged 36), from [535] Bourgoin (Isère, France) was promptly cured of sciatica, eczema and phlebitis on 29th April 1911.

The medical certificate dated 6th May 1911 by Doctor Chaix, from Bourgoin, merely confirms her recovery.

(See Shower of Roses, excerpts I and II, page 51).

Miss de Leusse made a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Lisieux.

9. Sister Marie of Calvary (aged 66), from the Carmel of Mangalore (West Indies), was promptly cured of pneumonia complicated by a liver condition and a kidney infection on 29th March 1909.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

The medical certificate dated 31st July 1909 by Doctor Fernandez, from Mangalore, confirms her prompt recovery.

(See Shower of Roses, excerpts I and II, page 96.)

10. A dying Madagascan boy was, according to the boy’s mother, promptly cured following a vision of Sister Thérèse.

Also reported was the prompt healing of a Madagascan girl who had wounds all over her body.

Reverend Mother Saint‑Jean Berchmans, Superior and Foundress of the Congregation of Divine Providence in Madagascar related several healings.

These healings were confirmed by Monsignor Cazet, Vicar Apostolic of Madagascar.

(See Shower of Roses, excerpts I and II, page 99.)

[536] 11. Father Weber from Saint‑Jean‑de‑Luz (Basses‑Pyrénées, France), who suffered from cataracts and, according to his eye-specialist, required an operation, was cured in May 1909.

(See Shower of Roses, excerpts I and II, page 104.)

Father Weber made a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Lisieux.

This case caused a sensation.

12. Miss Clémentine Derenne (aged 17) from Laval (Mayenne) was promptly cured of albuminuria, meningitis and pulmonary tuberculosis following a vision of the Servant of God on 2nd February 1911.

Doctor Pivert from Laval confirmed her recovery that very day.

An inquiry led by Monsignor de Teil confirmed the accuracy of the facts.

(See Shower of Roses, excerpts I and II, page 69.)

13. Mr Charpentier (aged 73) from Saint‑Jean‑de‑Boisseau (Loire‑Inférieure, France) was cured of epithelium of the lower lip in August 1912, as confirms Doctor Provist from Pellerin (Loire‑Inférieure).

(See Shower of Roses III, page 283, n° 369.)

14. Miss Marie Bidaux (aged 12) from Croix (region of Belfort, France), was promptly cured of acute peritonitis on 11th June 1912.

The medical certificate dated 24th August 1912 [537] confirms her full recovery.

(See Shower of Roses III, page 468, n° 544.)

15. Miss Parent from Montreal (Canada) was promptly cured of an internal illness on 6th June 1911.

Doctor Deslauries from Montreal “acknowledges that divine intervention had a hand in her recovery” (certificate dated 28th June 1912).

(See Shower of Roses III, page 328, n° 416.)

16. Reverend Mother Marie‑Cécile from the Servants of the Poor Congregation in Angers (Maine‑et‑Loire, France), aged 59, was promptly cured of a liver and stomach condition complicated by enteritis in January 1912.

In his medical certificate, Doctor Quintard from Angers acknowledged the recovery after having declared the illness extremely serious.

(See Shower of Roses III, page 330, n° 418.)

17. Miss Blachère (aged 20) from La Prade (Hérault, France) was promptly cured of chronic appendicitis with muscular atrophy in June 1912.

On 10th January 1913, Doctor Lenail from Largentière (France) declared that the patient was miraculously and immediately cured following a novena prayed to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

 (See Shower of Roses III, page 335, n° 421.)

[538] 18. Following a spiritual manifestation on 23rd September 1912, Mr Chapuis (aged 76) from Paris was promptly cured of a varicose ulcer in his left leg from which he had suffered for 37 years.

The doctor from Hospice Debrousse where the patient was treated issued a report that same day. This report is currently in the hands of Monsignor de Teil.

(See Shower of Roses III, page 92, n° 450.)

19. Mrs Enguchard (aged 29) from Equeurdreville (Manche, France) was cured of paraplegia on 2nd December 1912.

Doctor Hussenstein from Cherbourg acknowledged on 23rd January 1913 that “this swift and almost instantaneous recovery involved a divine phenomenon that cannot be attributed to medical intervention, which had hitherto been inefficient, but to Providential intervention.”

(See Shower of Roses III, page 337, n° 423.)

This healing caused a sensation throughout the region; various newspapers gave a succinct report of it.

20. Miss Catherine Macaluso (aged 17) from Palermo, Italy, was promptly cured of exophthalmic goitre in January 1912.

On 27th February 1912, Doctor Monori Patti from Palermo declared that “only a miracle could have accomplished this marvel.”

[539] (See Shower of Roses III, page 351, n° 431).

21. Mrs Langlois (aged 24), from Levallois‑Perret (Seine, France), was cured of mastoiditis in May 1912.

The account given on 21st November 1912 by Doctor Dumont from Levallois‑Perret acknowledges that “this recovery is certainly most extraordinary and has come as a great surprise to the specialists; only surgery could save the patient’s life.”

On the same day, a second specialist, Doctor Jacob from Lavallois‑Perret, declared that the recovery took place spontaneously and in an unusual manner, without the need for intervention.”

The account was legalised by Monsignor Odelin, from the Archdiocese of Paris.

Mrs Langlois made a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Lisieux.

(See Shower of Roses III, page 354, n° 433.)

22. Mr Francisco Morfin from Guadalajara (Mexico) was cured of a burn to the eyes in November 1911.

Doctor Enrique Avalos from Guadalajara declared his recovery “miraculous” on 10th November 1911.

(See Shower of Roses III, page 357, n° 435.)

23. Mrs Poirson (aged 57) from Anrosey (Haute‑Marne, France) [540] was cured of an incurable liver infection on 1st July 1912.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

On 20th July 1913, Doctor Vauthrin from Anrosey certified that “her recovery came about suddenly, without any medical intervention.”

Doctor Malingre from Chaumont stated on 6th August 1912 that as far as he was concerned, “this recovery was quite miraculous.”

(See Shower of Roses III, page 370, n° 443.)

Mrs Poirson made a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Lisieux in July 1915.

This affair caused a sensation.

24. Miss Bigot (aged 17) from Domfront (Orne, France) was cured of Addison’s disease or tuberculosis of the suprarenal capsules on 14th February 1912.

The medical report dated 18th May 1913 by Doctor Vézard from Domfront concludes as follows:

“I cannot explain this recovery in scientific terms. It seemed absolutely extraordinary and disconcerting.”

(See Shower of Roses III, page 375, n° 444.)

Miss Bigot made a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Lisieux.

25. Agatina Arcese di Pannicia (aged 3) from Ceprano (Italy) was promptly cured of double pneumonia in November 1912 following a vision of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

Doctor Figoli from Ceprano confirmed her full recovery.

[541] (See Shower of Roses IV, page 184, n° 160).

26. Julienne Fouilloul (aged 11) from Hautes‑Foletière (Orne, France) was cured of tubercular peritonitis in November 1912, on the last day of a novena. Her recovery followed a vision of Sister Thérèse.

Doctor Lebossé from Flers (Orne) issued a certificate on 1st December 1912 confirming “the hopelessness of her case” and her recovery.

(See Shower of Roses III, page 511, n° 576.)

27. Mrs Rancoule (aged 60) from Carcassonne (Aude, France) was cured suddenly, as it were, of a varicose wound of an ulcerous nature in October 1912.

Two medical certificates from Doctors Combéléran and Paul Vidal from Carcassonne acknowledge her illness and recovery.

28. Miss Germaine Roullot (aged 17) from Langres (Haute‑Marne, France) was promptly cured of bone decay in the foot on 13th April 1913.

The certificate of Doctor Brocard from Langres dated 21st April 1913 confirms the young lady’s prompt recovery.

(See Shower of Roses IV, page 8, n° 4.)

This caused a huge sensation.

29. Mrs Pailliés (aged 68) from Chalabre (Audej, France) was promptly cured of cancer of the oesophagus [542] in June 1911.

Doctor Lemosy d’Orel from Chalabre declared that all traces of the “incurable” cancer had completely disappeared.

(See Shower of Roses IV, page 13, n° 5.)

30. Mrs Muzard (aged 29) from Santenay‑les‑Bains (Côte‑d’Or, France) was promptly cured of a stomach ulcer on 15th July 1913 following a vision of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

Doctor Missery from Chagny (Côte d’Or) confirmed her full recovery on 11th December 1913.

(See Shower of Roses IV, page 185, n° 161.)

31. Mrs Sirven de Haro (aged 70) from Havana (Cuba) was cured of cancer of the face in July 1913.

On 27th August 1913, Doctor José Manuel de Haro from Havana confirmed that “for about 4 years, Mrs Sirven de Haro suffered from face cancer, which spread to her right eye, and was completely cured of it after praying to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.”

(See Shower of Roses IV, page 31, n° 17.)

32. Mrs Duval from Le Havre (Seine Inférieure, France) was promptly cured of phlebitis on 30th September 1913.

On 3rd October 1913, Doctor Louis Marlou from Le Havre confirmed the following: “Mrs Duval’s condition [543] improved so significantly that she was able to walk without pain or difficulty on 30th September 1913, the anniversary of the death of Sister Thérèse, to whom she had prayed. I therefore consider Mrs Duval’s recovery to be definitive and miraculous.”

(See Shower of Roses IV, page 36, n° 22.)

33. Left alone by her mother on the morning of 9th September 1913, Anne‑Marie Henry (aged 2 and a half) from Mesnil‑sur‑Belvitte (Vosges, France) set fire whilst playing to the bed in which she was lying. Her mother found her safe and sound amid the flames. She had entrusted her daughter to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the child prayed to her of her own accord every day.

After an inquiry, Monsignor de Teil gathered convincing witness statements.

(See Shower of Roses IV, page 118, n° 104 and the supplement.)

34. Miss Carrigan (aged 19) from Dublin (Ireland) was promptly cured of pulmonary tuberculosis following a vision of Sister Thérèse on 7th May 1913.

On 24th September 1913, Doctor W.N. O’Donnell from Dublin declared, “I have had a long experience of hospitals and especially sanatoriums, and I have never seen a case of immediate recovery as wondrous as this one.”

(See Shower of Roses IV, page 163.)

35. Louis Auguste (aged 10) from Paris was cured [544] of persistent impetiginous eczema, from which he had suffered for six years, on 24th January 1913 following a spiritual manifestation.

Doctor de Backer from Paris wrote a lengthy medical report on 10th October 1913, which concludes as follows:

“I believe it would be difficult here to attribute this healing to some therapeutic emotion caused by the child’s blind faith, and I think it would be simpler to acknowledge that a wholly divine intervention prompted this recovery, one that no treatment was able to induce over the previous 6 years. That which we doctors were not able to achieve through ordinary means was accomplished by an extraordinary and supernatural force, and I unhesitatingly ratify this as a miraculous recovery, granted through the intercessory prayer of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus of Lisieux.”

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

(See Shower of Roses IV, page 166 n° 147.)

36. Joseph Lhote (aged 3) from Sarzeau (Morbihan, France) was cured of double bronchopneumonia with serious symptoms of meningitis.

Doctor Lahaye from Sarzeau issued a detailed report on 29th May 1914 that ends as follows:

“In light of the events, I, a Catholic doctor, willingly issue the enclosed certificate, convinced that an intervention from above must have brought about the unhoped-for recovery of the child Joseph Lhote, and it is in all [545] sincerity that I sign it.

Sarzeau, 29th May 1914.

Signatum: Doctor J. Lahaye.”

37. Mrs Faber (aged 50) from Prague (Bohemia) was promptly cured of stomach ulcers. This recovery was accompanied by a divine manifestation of the Servant of God that took place on 6th December 1913.

The certificate of Doctor Daneck (written in Bohemian) states that Mrs Faber made a full recovery.

38. Miss Marie Thédenat (aged 10) from Minié (Aveyron, France) was promptly cured of infectious flu on 30th January 1914.

On 31st May 1914, Doctor Sinège from Saint-Geniez-d’Olt, France, stated as follows:

“The prognosis was looking serious when, on the fifth or sixth day, she suddenly recovered. Her fever left her in the night. Her general condition became excellent, and ever since, the young lady has enjoyed good health.

39. Sister Dorothée Bertrand, a nun from the Congregation of Saint Joseph of the Apparition in Beirut (Syria) was promptly cured of pulmonary tuberculosis of the second degree in September 1912.

Subjected to a further medical examination by an Egyptian doctor, Doctor Essély from [546] Beirut on 30th March 1914, the latter once again confirmed her “full” recovery.

40. Sister Marie Madeleine de Pazzy (aged 38), a Carmelite nun from Vienna (Austria) was promptly cured of appendicitis on 19th March 1914.

The certificate of Doctor Vojesik, from Vienna, dated 28th April, confirms that an operation was “urgent and indispensable”, and that the patient “recovered without the operation”.

41. Miss Philomène Le Gouez (aged 32), who lives in Lambezellec (Finistère, France) was cured of a tubercular ulcer on her right thigh in March 1914.

On 28th May 1914, Doctor Hérébel from Lambezellec issued a detailed certificate, which concludes as follows:

"The findings of this report affirm the full and definitive recovery (within one month) of a serious lesion, the like of which takes a long time to recover in usual conditions. It also confirms the coincidence of this recovery with the patient’s reading of a book which she found greatly edifying [Story of a Soul].

I personally was very surprised at the speed of this recovery and I told Miss Le Gouez of my astonishment before being informed that it may have been due to divine intervention. I conclude that, while a natural recovery was possible, the speed of the recovery (within one month) was extraordinary [547] and far surpasses what could rightfully be hoped for from normal treatment.”

42. Mrs Barthélemy (aged 23) from Laval (Isère, France) was promptly cured of bronchopneumonia and peritonitis on 23rd December 1913.

The Prognosis of Doctor Serrus from Lancey (Isère) had been very serious, yet he declared on 2nd March 1914 that her current health was perfect.

43. Jean Hervy (aged 7 and a half) from Pouliguen (Loire‑Inférieure, France) was promptly cured of tubercular meningitis on 22nd February 1914. It took place at the beginning of a Mass said for the beatification of Sister Thérèse with a view to his recovery.

The medical report signed by Doctor Légier from Pouliguen, dated 11th March 1914, confirms his recovery.

44. Mrs Hardy (aged 75), from Amiens (Somme, France), was cured of a varicose ulcer that she had had on her left leg for 15 years.

The medical certificate of Doctor Quertant from Amiens dated 31st March 1914 confirms her recovery.

45. Sister Hélène of Jesus, a Carmelite nun from Saragosse (Spain), was cured of rheumatoid arthritis and swelling in her right knee joint within the space of four days in early 1913.

Doctor Burbano from Saragosse concludes his [548] medical report by saying, "I am pleased to have to record that, scientifically speaking, I consider such a swift recovery as surprising and prodigious.

22nd February 1914."

46. Mrs Gestas (aged 77) from Anan (Haute‑Garonne, France) was promptly cured of brain congestion on her deathbed on 30th April 1914. The account was related by the Mayor of Anan.

The certificate of Doctor Ducasse from Isle‑en‑Dodon (Haute‑Garonne) dated 22nd June 1914 confirms her prompt recovery.

47. Renée Mulsant (aged 14) from Bourg-de‑Thizy (Rhône, France) was promptly cured of osteoarthritis on 11th September 1914.

Doctor Irmann from Thizy confirmed her recovery on 18th November 1914.

48. In his medical report of 24th April 1914, Doctor Bernard from Cormeilles (Eure, France) declared that Georgette Toutain (aged 2) from Pin (Eure) was cured of bronchopneumonia at the end of February 1914. The doctor adds:

"The extremely serious pulmonary lesions in both lungs disappeared for good within the space of 24 hours. This recovery was extraordinary and completely unforeseen. In fact, it seemed [549] there was nothing to be done but wait for the child to die.”

49. Reverend Father Bergerot, a Lazarist priest (aged 52) from Monastir (Serbia) was promptly cured of epidemic typhus, which he contracted treating Austrian prisoners. He recovered on the last day of a novena.

WITNESS 6: Agnes of Jesus O.D.C.

In his certificate dated 19th May 1915, Doctor Michel Zamaoulil from Monastir, who is of Greek religion and Greek-speaking, declared the illness fatal but the patient’s current health very good.

50. Paul Millet (aged 31), a soldier of the 287th infantry of Lyon, France, who was treated at the Red Cross hospital in Lorient in September 1914 was cured of a severe case of tetanus in October 1914 following a novena.

His recovery was confirmed by the Nurse Major, three other nurses and two Sisters of the Congregation of Charity.

51. Soldier Robert Labitte from Paris, who was treated at the institute of Saint Jacques in Hazebrouck, France, for a leg injury that had perforated the tibia and broken the fibula, suffered from widespread infection and haemorrhages. It was expected he would die on 5th November 1914. The doctor, soldiers and nurses witnessed the patient’s “incredible” improvement, the remarkable healing of his wounds overnight, and the unexpected disappearance of the haemorrhage.

[550] This account was signed by the soldier’s mother, the Father Superior of the hospital, three nurses, and the doctor, who added, “At present, I am still under the shock of how fast things have happened for injured Robert Labitte. How is it that he is still alive? I cannot explain it, but thanks to God’s help, everything has worked out. In a case like this one, we count for so little!

Signatum: Doctor Deneleau, Chief Medical Officer.”

The account is dated 15th December 1914.

52. On 25th May 1915, Doctor Foucher from Berck-Plage (Pas‑de‑Calais, France) confirmed having treated Soldier Duprieux from Rochefort (Landes) in December 1914 for typhoid fever and endocarditis (the soldier was suffering from fatigue following several months of campaign).

The prognosis was hopeless according to the doctor, yet a great improvement came about suddenly, overnight, at the moment when his condition seemed the most hopeless. He made a full recovery.

53. Soldier Julien Viquesnel from Fontaine‑la‑Louvet (Eure) was evacuated in September 1914 to the hospital of Limoges. A bullet, which he had received to the head, had shattered his jaw bone and exited by the nose, half-breaking his carotid artery. He was considered a lost cause, but he prayed fervently to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

On 3rd November, while his wife was on pilgrimage to the nun’s burial place on his behalf, the many [551] clamps binding together the mutilated flesh of his jaw and ear fell off of their own accord. From that moment, the soldier was able to move and take nourishment, and the danger was passed.  

This account is signed by his nurse, the soldier himself, two nurse priests, one of whom described his recovery as “truly extraordinary”, and two hospital sisters. It was sent to us by the Carmel of Limoges.

A medical certificate signed by Doctor Rousseau is appended to the file.

54. Omitted from the healings listed in chronological order:

Father Anne (aged 23) from Lisieux was cured of rampant tuberculosis.

Doctor La Néele from Lisieux concludes his certificate dated 7th March 1909 as follows:

“His recovery is absolutely extraordinary and inexplicable from a scientific point of view. Medical history has seen the most diverse forms of tuberculosis heal naturally, but never when they present a character as serious as the aforementioned case.”

This miracle was examined in the first trial process.

[552] [Answer to the sixty-sixth question]:

I can think of nothing to add to my testimony.

[With regards to the Articles, the witness claims to know nothing other than what they have already stated in response to the preceding questions. – Here ends the questioning of this witness. The Acts are read out. The witness makes no alteration to them and signs as follows]:

Signatum: SISTER AGNES OF JESUS, u.c.n., prioress, witness. I have testified according to the truth. I ratify and confirm this testimony.