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Witness 7 - Marie of the Sacred Heart

 

Reference can be made to vol. 1, pp. 235-236 for an introduction to this witness, Marie, who was the eldest daughter in the Martin family and godmother to Thérèse (1860‑1940). As in the Diocesan (or Ordinary) Investigative Process, her testimony is once again characterised by sobriety. It is explicitly neither a biographical reconstruction nor the presentation of a doctrine. Instead, it is a collection of memories which, with finesse and simplicity, shed light on both the life and message of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. It is worth noting the valuable details provided on the Martin family home, her parents’ virtues, and Thérèse’s childhood. Everything is conveyed very naturally, and without pretension. The witness often goes over what she said in 1910, but not always. She is sure of her assertions. This testimony has the great advantage of revealing what the witness, to whom we owe Manuscript B, felt about her holy sister’s message.

For example, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart recalls very vividly Thérèse’s childhood illness, and also her recovery through the intervention of Mary Immaculate (pp. 562‑565); she provides useful details on the origin of Manuscript A and the addressee of Manuscript B (herself); referring to the publishing of Story of a Soul, she states, “Neither she [Thérèse] nor we thought these recollections would ever be published; they were just family notes. Only during the last months of Sister Thérèse’s life did Mother Agnes of Jesus think that the publication of these recollections might serve to bring God glory. She said as much to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who accepted the idea with her usual simplicity and righteousness. She hoped the manuscript would indeed be published because she saw it as a means to make God loved, which she considered her mission” (p. 613); the witness more than once emphatically evokes Thérèse’s faith and trust in the transferability of merits and the communion of saints (cf. p. 576). It is also worth remarking Thérèse’s discretion: Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart only discovered her younger sister’s spiritual trials against the faith through reading Story of a Soul (p. 589).

After relating certain details verging on the miraculous or preternatural, the witness explains, “These events have always seemed to me of the spiritual order. Yet they are only rare exceptions in the Servant of God’s life, which was generally characterised by great simplicity” (p. 606). This, as well as other statements given during her testimony, confirm what Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart wrote on 11th March 1915 to her sister Léonie (Françoise‑Thérèse, a Poor Clare in Caen) [i.e. Visitandine] with regards to the content of the Articles of the Apostolic Process, which she judged as being partially ill-adapted to the case of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus: “The advocate from the Vatican was unable to draw up a simple enough description and still portray her as a saint. We shall put things back to rights, because every saint must be true to themselves, not others” (S. Piat: A Free Soul: Marie Martin).

A simple and passionate soul, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart remained cheerful and full of concern and attention for others until her death. Afflicted by severe rheumatism, she spent her last years almost completely paralysed, and fully dependent upon her sisters, whom she called her guardian angels. Paraphrasing the words spoken by the Bl. Virgin at the wedding at Cana, she wrote to Mother Agnes of Jesus at the beginning of her painful ordeal, “I, too, have run out of wine! In my youth, I always had wine; I knew neither disability nor sickness. But today, I am destitute; I have no more wine! Heavenly Mother, ask your divine Son, my Spouse, to take pity on me in my distress (. . .) Yet, would it be true to say that He has served me the best wine in the past? No . . . Today, certainly, He is serving me the best. It is the wine of suffering. Therefore, as the banquet of my life comes to an end, He has made no mistake; He has kept the best wine for now” (Annals 1940).

These words date from 1929. The nun would live until 19th January 1940. She accepted the long martyrdom in the manner of a humble and simple child, fully surrendered to her Father’s loving will.

The witness testified from 20th to 26th July 1915, in sittings 21 to 26 (pp. 555‑625 of the Public Transcription).

[Sitting 22: ‑ 20th July 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 o’clock in the afternoon]

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

[Answer to the second question:]

My name is Marie Louise Martin. I am sister to the [556] Servant of God. I was born in Alençon (Parish of Saint‑Pierre de Monsort) on 22nd February 1860 to Louis-Joseph Aloys-Stanislas Martin and Marie‑Zélie Guérin. I am a nun of the Carmel of Lisieux, where I was professed on 22nd May 1888 under the name Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart.

 [The witness replies satisfactorily to questions three to five inclusively.]

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

[Answer to the sixth question:]

Despite my great affection for my sister, I will dutifully speak the truth. No one influenced me in the preparation of my testimony.

 [Answer to the seventh question:]

Being the Servant of God’s eldest sister, I observed everything involving her very closely. I came to know her all the better when, after our mother’s death, my sister Pauline and I took care of her education. She then came to the Carmel, where I had preceded her two years previously, and we did not part until she died. I already knew, from personal observation, much of what the Servant of God wrote in relation to her life, apart from a few details about her spiritual life, such as her trials against the faith for example, which I discovered from reading her writings.

 [Answer to the eighth question:]

Apart from the very deep natural affection that I have for my [557] little sister, I have a great devotion to the Servant of God, because I believe she is a saint. I hope and pray she will be beatified, because I am convinced it is God’s will she be so, and that it will bring Him glory. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus teaches us to go to God through trust and love. When the Church recognises her life of trusting surrender, which is of great benefit to souls, I believe a great many will come and march under the banner of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, for she is the apostle of Love.

 [Answer to the ninth question]:

The Servant of God was born on 2nd January 1873 in Alençon, Parish of Notre-Dame, and baptised on 4th January. She was the last in a line of nine children, who were:

Marie Louise, 1860.

Marie Pauline, 1861.

Marie Léonie, 1863.

Marie Hélène, 1864, who died in 1870.

Marie Joseph Louis, 1866, who died in 1867.

Marie Joseph Jean‑Baptiste, 1867, who died in 1868.

Marie Céline, 1869.

Marie Mélanie Thérèse, 1870, who died in 1870.

Marie Françoise Thérèse, who is the Servant of God. She was confirmed on 14th June 1884.

My father was born in Bordeaux in 1823. My mother, Marie Zélie Guérin, was born in Saint‑Denis (Orne) in 1831. In the Ordinary Process, we mistakenly gave the town of [558] Gandelain, which is next to Saint-Denis, as our mother’s birthplace. Our parents were models of every virtue; they attended Holy Mass every day, rising at 5 o’clock in the morning to do so. They would fast throughout Lent without slackening. They observed Sunday rest very faithfully. They would not have taken the liberty to arrange a trip on a Sunday, even a needful one. My father lost many sales opportunities because, unlike the other jewellers in town, he refused to open his shop on Sundays, even though his confessor left him free to do so.

My father had a generous character and placed human dignity above all else. He would never pass by a church without bowing, in whoever’s company he was. He would faithfully attend Night Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every month, and when he moved to Lisieux, he obtained permission to establish the practice in the town. My father and mother had a deep faith, and to hear them talk together about heaven, though we were very young, we came to consider the things of the world as pure vanities.

My mother watched over the spiritual life of her children very carefully, and the smallest of faults would never go unchecked. She very much hoped to see signs of future sainthood in us. Referring to Thérèse, she said, “As for Thérèse, I do not yet know what she will be; she is so small! However, she has an intelligence that I haven’t seen in any of my children, and she always wears an angelic [559] smile” (MSA 7,1).

My father and mother had a great devotion to the Bl. Virgin. That’s why they gave the name Mary to all their children, both boys and girls. Before he married, my father placed a statue of the Bl. Virgin on a path in his garden, and later it would become very dear to the whole family. It was this very statue that was in Thérèse’s childhood bedroom and which came to life and smiled at her when she was very sick. Praying at the foot of the same statue, my mother was granted very great favours. My parents were very helpful to the poor. When a servant happened to fall ill with rheumatoid arthritis, my mother treated her herself, day and night, for several weeks, not wishing to send her back to her parents because they were poor.

 [Answer to the tenth question:]

My mother died a saintly death on 28th August 1877. My father bore the ordeal with great faith, and showed more concern for us than ever. Out of devotion to us, he left Alençon and came to Lisieux to assure we would have the wise guidance of our aunt, Mrs Guérin, and to distance us from the more worldly friends we had in our home town. He took great care of our spiritual life, advising us to carefully avoid anything that could taint the purity of our hearts. I sometimes found his wise advice rather austere, and for fear of him [560] becoming even more austere, I would prevent him from reading The Lives of the Desert Fathers, for example, because I had noticed that he would want to practice too much self-mortification afterwards.

I can relate, right now, how adversity came to crown my father’s very righteous and pure life. In a surge of generosity, he offered himself as a victim to the Lord, who appeared to accept his sacrifice. He contracted cerebral palsy, and the last years of his life were nothing but a long martyrdom.

He died on 29th July 1894. At the moment of his death, he seemed to regain possession of all his mental faculties once more.

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

He cast a deep and grateful gaze into the eyes of his daughter Céline, who had been an angel to him in his painful old age.

I will close this parenthesis and return to the Servant of God’s story. At the age of one and a half, it would seem she was granted extraordinary protection by her guardian angel. Coming home from morning Mass, my mother was terrified to find the crib where she had left little Thérèse empty. But she soon saw the child asleep on a tall chair. She had fallen from her crib, and as it seemed impossible for her to have climbed the chair herself, my mother was in no doubt that God had intervened.

At the age of three, Thérèse would attend the lessons I gave Céline, and already had enough self-control to refrain from saying a word during the two-hour long lessons.

[561] She was extraordinarily straightforward: she had a need to spontaneously admit her slightest faults, and would tell our mother of them straight away. She would not have lied for all the gold in the world. She was about six when, in response to the housemaid’s playful little fibs, she said, “You know, Victoire, what you have said offends God” (MSA 11,1 and Ordinary Process testimony 3). At about the age of four, Thérèse adopted the practice of tallying the little sacrifices that she made for God on a sort of rosary with movable beads. At the time, my mother said of her, “She speaks about only God and would not miss saying her prayers for anything” (MSA 11,1). At the death of our Mother, the ceremony of Extreme Unction marked her deeply. Later, as a Carmelite, recalling this event from her earliest childhood, she said to me, “It would seem I considered things then as I do today” (Primary source.) I found her an extremely serious child, it’s true, but I was careful not to ask what she thought, so as not to encourage the deep feelings she talked about, because I esteemed her too mature for her age.

After our mother died, Thérèse was raised by her sister Pauline and myself. Until the age of eight and a half, she was taught by nobody but us. When she was eight and a half, she became a day boarder at the Benedictine Abbey where our sister Céline was already schooled. She suffered much there. Her extremely sensitive nature was keenly affected by the contact she had with a few [562] coarser-natured pupils. She was very knowledgeable for her age, and was put into a class of pupils older than herself. She nevertheless became and remained top of the class. Young Thérèse found herself a victim of others’ jealousy, although she never complained.

At the age of 10, Thérèse contracted a strange sickness that, in my opinion, could have come only from the devil due to the spiritual phenomena that occurred. The sickness came to light a few months after Mother Agnes of Jesus joined the Carmel, towards the end of March 1883.

From 7th April to 10th May, the day on which the Blessed Virgin healed her, she remained in a sorry state. Several times a week, she had fits of terror so severe that a learned doctor, Dr Motta (Notta), who is now dead, said he had never come across a case like it. I heard him admit his powerlessness to our father. He even said, “Let people call it what they will. In my opinion, this is not hysteria.”

[563] [Answer to the tenth question continued]:

The plainest of objects would take the form of horrible monsters in her eyes and she would scream with fright.

She was frequently compelled by an unknown force to throw herself head first off her bed onto the flagged floor. At other times, she would violently knock her head against the wood of the bed. At times she would make to speak to me, but no sound would come from her lips. She could only articulate words and not pronounce them.

One detail that I found particularly striking was that on various occasions, under that devilish influence, which is what I believe it was, she would suddenly kneel down, lean her head against the bed and, without using her hands, try to bring her feet forwards. Now, in this unfailingly unladylike posture, she would always remain modestly covered, to my great surprise. Unable to explain it, I attributed it to divine intervention.

Her fits would leave her utterly exhausted.

The most terrible fit of all was the one she mentions in her autobiography. I thought it would kill her. Seeing that her struggle was exhausting her, I tried to give her something to drink, but she cried out in terror, “They’re trying to kill me; they’re trying to poison me!”

It was then that my sisters and I threw ourselves at the foot [564] of the statue of the Blessed Virgin and begged her to have mercy on us. However, heaven appeared deaf to our prayers. I repeated the same prayer three times. The third time, I saw Thérèse stare at the statue of the Blessed Virgin; her eyes beamed, as though she were in rapture. I realised she was seeing not the statue but the Blessed Virgin herself. The vision seemed to last for four or five minutes, then two large tears fell from her eyes, and she gazed upon me lovingly, her expression sweet and limpid. I had not been mistaken; Thérèse was cured. Once alone with her, I asked why she had wept. She was reluctant to share her secret with me, but realising that I had surmised what had happened, she said, “Because I could not see her anymore.”

 [Did any symptoms of this sickness resurface during the Servant of God’s lifetime?  Answer]:

No trace of the sickness, or of anything similar, ever reappeared. Afterwards, she was neither impressionable nor fretful.

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

Once Thérèse was healed, our uncle Mr Guérin, who was a chemist, told me to take great care not to upset her, yet I couldn’t help but upset her at times, and nothing untoward ever resulted from it.

 [During her fits, did the Servant of God lose reason, such as when, for example, she cried out, “They’re trying to kill me; they’re trying to poison me”? - Answer]:

I am certain that, even in the severest of fits, the Servant of God retained full use [565] of her faculties; she lost control of her senses, but never lost her self-awareness. I realised this upon observing her, and she herself assured me afterwards that during her fits she could hear and understand all that was being said around her. She also said that, in her last fit, which lasted for about an hour, she did not cease praying inwardly to the Most Blessed Virgin.

Thérèse took her First Communion at the Benedictine Abbey of Lisieux on 8th May 1884 at the age of 11 and four months. At that time, the school admitted only children who were aged 10 on 1st January to take their First Communion. As Thérèse had been born on 2nd January, she found herself put back a year for the sake of two days: she failed to understand such a severe rule.

Upon seeing Monsignor Hugonin, the Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, in town one day, her wish was to go and ask him for permission to take her First Communion early. When I told her that in early Christianity, even little children received the Holy Eucharist, she said, “Why is it not like that now?”  When Céline, who was 4 years her elder, took her First Communion, she wanted to hear the exhortations she was given, saying that 4 years was not too long to spend preparing to receive God.

She put great fervour into her [566] forthcoming preparation. She increased the number of acts of virtue she performed, assimilating them to flowers that she offered to Jesus. She listened avidly to my advice. Her eyes shone with holy enthusiasm, and on the day of her First Communion, she looked more like an angel than a mortal creature.

At about that time, she asked me for permission to do half an hour of meditation every day. I refused, so she asked if she could do a quarter of an hour only; I permitted not a minute more. I found her so pious that I was afraid, so to speak. I feared God might take her from us too soon.

The following year, during the retreat prior to her Second Solemn Communion at the Benedictine Abbey, Thérèse began to be tormented by scruples. I attempted to reassure her, because the so-called faults that she shared with me were mere trifles.

When I joined the Carmel (1886) and she had no one to confide in, she prayed to our brothers and sisters who had preceded her to heaven, and shortly afterwards her peace was restored.

In the years between her First Communion and her admittance to the Carmel, she would take Communion as often as her confessor allowed, which was three or four times a week, I believe, although she would have liked it to be more.

[567] [Answer to the eleventh question]:

For a long time, I knew instinctively that, due to her great piety, Thérèse would become a nun and even a Carmelite. However, I personally would have preferred this to happen much later on, due to our father and also her young age. This was why, when aged 14 she told us in the visiting room of her desire to join us the following year, I let Mother Agnes of Jesus encourage her. I for one would have tried to prevent her, but because my conscience would have reproached me for it, I refrained from saying anything. Mr Guérin, our uncle, and Fr Delatroëtte, the Superior of the Carmel, opposed her admittance with all their might. Yet nothing would weaken her resolve, and she overcame all the obstacles with heroic courage.

 [Answer to the twelfth question]:

The Servant of God joined the Carmel on 9th April 1888, and took the name Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Her Habit Reception took place on 10th January 1889. Lastly, she was professed on 8th September 1890. She died at the Carmel on 30th September 1897. During her religious life, she held the duty of sacristan for a while, and was also responsible, in an unofficial capacity, for training the novices.

Her religious life was characterised by a great faithfulness in the accomplishment of its Rule, a constant even-temperedness, and an always friendly and [568] smiling charitableness. This was despite her hidden trials, the almost constant spiritual dryness she had to endure, and lack of support and comfort from the Mother Prioress, Marie de Gonzague. The latter displayed little sympathy for the young postulant, and often scolded her or otherwise paid no attention to her. Mother Prioress was accustomed to being idolised by everyone and, as Sister Thérèse did not seek to come into her good graces by this means, she went unnoticed, or rather, was met with nothing but coldness.

Sister Thérèse wrote to me of these troubles when still a postulant: “The poor little lamb can say nothing to Jesus, and, above all, Jesus says absolutely nothing to it. Pray for it so that its retreat be pleasing just the same to the Heart of Him who alone reads into the depths of the soul! Why seek joy on earth? I admit to you that my heart has a burning thirst for it, but this heart sees that no creature is capable of quenching its thirst. I know another spring; it is the one at which, after one has drunk, one is still thirsty, but with a thirst that is not panting. It is very sweet, on the contrary, because it has something satisfying in it, and this spring is the suffering that is known to Jesus alone!” [LT 75]

WITNESS Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

[Sitting 23: ‑ 21st July 1915, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon]

[572] [Answer to questions thirteen and fourteen]:

Concerning her virtues in general, I have nothing else to say, other than that, even as a small child, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus seemed to me like an angel that God had sent to earth in a mortal body.

What she called her imperfections, or faults, were nothing of the sort. I never saw her commit the slightest fault. Where she excelled most, however, was in her love for God. This was so trusting and so tender that towards the end of her life, just as I had heard her call the Blessed Virgin ‘Mamma’, so I heard her, with idealist candour, call God ‘Papa God’. Referring to her suffering, she said, “Let Papa God do as He will. He knows what His tiny baby needs.” I said, “Are you a baby, then?” In a very serious tone, she replied, “Yes, but a baby who thinks long and hard; a baby who is old” [Primary source]. I realised at that moment better than ever how much vigour her way of childhood hid, and I thought it very apt that in her manuscript she appropriated the words of David: “I am young in years, and yet I have become wiser than the old” [Primary source].

 [Answer to the fifteenth question]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had an ardent [573] faith. Her habit of considering everything from God’s perspective was above all visible in adversities, which she regarded as blessings. She called the difficult ordeal of our father’s illness, “Our great treasure” [MSA 86,1].

 [Answer to the sixteenth question]:

She avidly read the lives of missionaries, because in them she found the expression of her own desires. She would have liked to be a missionary in order to announce God’s love in all places.

 [Answer to the seventeenth question:]

Sister Thérèse thought of God constantly. One day I asked her, “How do you manage to think of God all the time?” She replied, “It’s not difficult. One naturally thinks of someone one loves.” I said, “Does His presence ever leave you?” “Oh, no!” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever gone three minutes without thinking of Him” [CSG (Counsels and Reminiscences)].

 [Answer to the eighteenth question]:

Following her First Communion, she would have liked to receive Communion every day. Being deprived of daily Communion proved so hard for her that I’ve always believed it is through her intercession that frequent Communion was granted to the faithful, and that small children may take their First Communion [574] so young. Besides, I think I recall her saying to us before she died, “You’ll see, when I’m in heaven, there will be a change in the Church’s practice regarding Holy Communion” [Primary source]. I can remember perfectly her telling Mother Marie de Gonzague, who was opposed to the practice of daily Communion, “Mother, when I’m in heaven, I’ll make you change your mind,” which is what happened.

 [Answer to the nineteenth question]:

I have nothing particular to say on this point.

 [Answer to the twentieth question]:

Her spirit of faith towards her superiors was very great. The month preceding her death, she suffered a very painful fit. The doctor of the community was absent. Our Mother Prioress refused to let another doctor into the convent instead. When we complained about this, the Servant of God said, “Do not question the will of God: He has seen fit that our Mother should not bring me relief” [LC (Her Last Conversations) 30-8].

Merely reading a few lines of criticism in a book against the Pope or bishops made her distrustful and meant she discarded it.

 [Answer to the twenty-first question]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had a very great [575] devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. On the eve of her profession, she wrote to me, “I will be the bride of Him whose Face was hidden and whom no one recognised” [LT 116]. She wished to comfort Jesus for the ingratitude of those who did not recognise Him in His humiliation. It was in this spirit that she wrote:

“Yes, I know you, all veiled in tears. Face of the Eternal One, I discover your charms. Jesus, all the hearts who gather Your tears, Remember” [PN 24].

When she created herself a spiritual coat of arms, she painted a Holy Face on it. She also wrote a prayer in honour of the Holy Face, to which Pius X attached indulgences.

She also had a touching devotion to the Child Jesus and would decorate His altar with care. In summer, she would be brought huge bunches of wild flowers. Even though very tired, she would spend her hour of free time, which was allocated for rest, arranging them.

The Servant of God loved the Blessed Virgin dearly. As a young child, she would pray to her before a small altar she had made. She loved decorating pictures of the Blessed Virgin with garlands and crowns of flowers.

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart

Even on her deathbed, she weaved two crowns of cornflowers with which to decorate the Blessed Virgin’s statue. One day, she said, “When we pray to the Saints, they keep us waiting for a while, for they must present their request to God. Yet when I ask the Blessed Virgin for a blessing, the response is [576] immediate . . . Try it for yourself; you’ll see.” Upon my request, she wrote her last poem “Why I Love You, O Mary!” She told us, “My little hymn expresses all my thoughts on the Blessed Virgin and everything I’d say about her were I a priest.” The faith of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus in the transferability of merits was such that she believed in even the transferability of natural blessings through prayer. Consequently, during her illness, she would offer up the treatments that she was administered, and which she considered ineffectual, that they might benefit a missionary who had neither the time nor the means to treat themselves. Having contemplated the mystical body of Holy Church, she wished to be a priest, doctor, and so on, but her powerlessness did not discourage her: “I cannot preach the gospel,” she wrote, “or shed my blood; but what does it matter since my brothers work in my stead. I love in my brothers’ place while they do the fighting” [MSB 4,1]. For her, heaven was peopled with souls who cherished her as their child. This was the basis of her devotion to the saints.

 [Answer to the twenty-second question]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus always stood out for her great detachment from all things created. Aged 14, recalling a little lamb that our father had given her, she wrote: “You don't realise, dear Godmother, how much the death of this [577] little lamb made me think. Oh, yes! On this earth we must attach ourselves to nothing, not even the most innocent of things, for they fail you at the moment you are least expecting it. Only what is eternal can content us” [LT 42]. During the retreat prior to her Habit Reception, she wrote in a note to me, “I admit that my heart has a burning thirst for joy, but I see that no creature is capable of quenching this thirst” [LT 75]. A little later, during her retreat prior to profession, she wrote, “Are there any joys of the colour pink left here below for little Thérèse? Oh, no! There are no longer for her anything but heavenly joys, joys in which everything created, which is nothing, leaves room for the uncreated, which is reality” [LT 116].

 [Answer to questions twenty-three to twenty-five inclusively]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus attributed all that was good in her to God, recognising that it was a completely free gift. Explaining her “little way” to me, she said, “However imperfect we may be, Jesus will transform us into flames of love, if we have blind hope in His goodness” [LT 197].

When she was ill, she said, “These words from Job, ‘Even were God to kill me, I would still trust in Him’ [13:15] have delighted me since I was a child. It took me a long time to reach this degree of surrender. Now I am there; God has placed me there” [LC 7-7]. It is on this feeling of absolute trust and not on the purity of her heart that she based [578] her hopes. She wrote, “If weak and imperfect souls like mine felt what I feel, none would despair of reaching the summit of the Mountain of Love, since Jesus does not ask for great deeds, but only for gratitude and self-surrender” [MSB 1,2].

However, the trust that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had in God was coupled with a fear that was full of love; fear of offending Him. As a tiny child, she said to our Mother one day, “Mamma, if I was bad, would I go to hell? I want to be good, like a little angel, so that I’ll go to heaven” [FC (Family Correspondence) 170 and MSA 5,2]. She kept her resolution; she said so herself during her last illness: “Since the age of three, I have refused God nothing” [CSG].

The last part of Story of a Soul, which is nothing other than a long letter addressed to me and dated September 1896, is the complete expression of her blind hope in God’s grace.

 [Answer to the twenty-sixth question]:

In all the letters and words of advice that I’ve quoted in response to the preceding question, the Servant of God strove specifically to instil in me her feelings of perfect trust in God. Here is another example that shows her deep desire to inspire us with such feelings of detachment from created comforts. Noticing that whenever my patience wore thin, I would seek comfort from our [579] Mother Prioress, she said to me, “You are not helping your soul by doing this. You are taking away its strength. We should rise above what the other Sisters say and do. We should act as though we were staying in our convent for just two days: then we would refrain from saying what displeases us, knowing we will soon leave” [Primary source].

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

[Sitting 24: ‑ 22nd July 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 o’clock in the afternoon]

[582] [Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

She abhorred sin. The fear that she may have offended God kept her in a state of anguish. She found peace only when a retreat preacher and confessor assured her that what she called her faults did not aggrieve God. It’s true that she committed nothing more than faults of inadvertence.

 [Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

Charity for God characterised her holiness. She wished to love God as no one had loved Him before, and feeling powerless to fulfil her immense desires, she became like a little child, so that the Lord would have mercy on her, take her in His arms and lift her Himself to perfection. In the part [583] of her manuscript addressed to me, she relates how, after seeking her place in the Church and failing to identify with any of the members or saints who make it illustrious through their glorious deeds, she found the key of her vocation in the Love she had for God: “Yes,” she said, “I have found my place in the bosom of the Church: in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be LOVE” [MSB 3,2]. Her love for God inspired such conformity to God’s every desire that she said, “I was obliged to ask for Papa’s recovery on the day of my profession; but it was impossible for me to say anything but this: “My God, I beg you, let it be Your will that Papa is cured” [LC 23-7].

A love of suffering burned continually in her heart, that she might resemble Jesus, who accepted suffering to atone for our sins. She desired even martyrdom in order to prove her love to God. During her last retreat, she wrote down her inner dispositions in the form of a prayer to Jesus: “I would like above all else, O my Saviour, to shed my blood for You, unto the last drop. I feel the need to accomplish the most heroic deeds for You. Open, O Jesus, the Book of Life, in which are written the deeds of Your Saints: all the deeds told in that book I long to have accomplished for You” [MSB 3,1].

She put these dispositions into practice and, through her great fidelity, made her religious life a true martyrdom. She wished to perform every little deed through love, [584] not letting a single look, word or sacrifice pass her by, however small. Comparing her acts of virtue to flowers, she wrote, “Not one shall I find without scattering its petals before You, Jesus. And I will sing . . . I will sing always, even if my roses must be gathered from amidst thorns; and the longer and sharper the thorns, the sweeter shall be my song” [MSB 4,2].

Her love of God was pure and selfless. Shortly before she died, she said to me, “If God were to say to me, ‘If you die right now, you shall have great glory; if you die at eighty, your glory will not be as great, but it will please Me much more,’ I wouldn’t hesitate to answer, ‘My God, I want to die at eighty, for I do not seek my own glory but simply Your pleasure.’ The great saints worked for the glory of God, but I’m only a little soul. I would work without Him being aware of it, were it possible. I’d be glad to bear the greatest of sufferings if, by this token of my love, I could make Him smile only once” [LC 16-7]. A few months before she died, she wrote, “I’m willing to be sick all my life if this pleases God, and I even consent to my life being very long. The only favour I desire is that it be broken through love” [MSC 8,1-2].

 [Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

I said in response to the 17th question that the life of the Servant of God was one continual prayer, [585] and that she was able to confirm to not having gone three minutes without thinking of God.

 [Answer to the thirtieth question]:

All the conversations and letters that I have related are obviously intended to communicate to others the love that burned within her.

 [Answer to the thirty-first question]:

It was with a view to atone for sins that she loved suffering. She saw it as one of the most efficient means to redeem souls. On the day she died, in indescribable agony, she said, “I can explain the suffering I am enduing only by the great desire I’ve had to save souls” [LC 30-9].

 [Answer to the thirty-second question]:

Love for God led Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus to love her neighbour. One day I said to her, “One is very pleased to die after spending a life loving God.” “That’s true,” she replied, “but to spend one’s life loving God, one must not lack neighbourly charity” [Primary source].

The proof that she did not love her neighbour for human reasons is the fact that she specifically sought to help those with the least appealing temperaments. For example, she asked to be laundry room assistant to a Sister whose character was such that she drove [586] everyone away. It is true that the Sister in question was plagued with dark thoughts and did almost nothing. Similarly, she devoted herself to the service of a poor Lay Sister, Sister Saint-Pierre, who was known for her crotchety character.

 [Answer to questions thirty-three to thirty-five inclusively]:

Her neighbourly charity meant she was industrious when it came to helping others.

WITNESS 7: Marie of the S.H. O.D.C.

She would console the afflicted and excuse, as much as possible, the most unbearable faults of her neighbours. For instance, the poor Sister whom she assisted in the laundry room, Marie of Saint Joseph, moved her but to tender compassion. “If only you knew,” she said to me, “how important it is that we forgive her, and how worthy she is of mercy! It’s not her fault she is not gifted. Therefore have mercy. Oh! How important it is we practice charity towards our neighbour!” 

In the infirmary was one neurasthenic nun whose incurable boredom was torture for the one who had to keep her company. When I expressed annoyance once, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus said, “How I wish I had been a nurse! It wouldn’t have been by natural inclination, but I’d have put so much love into the work thinking of Jesus’ words, “I was sick and you visited me” [LC 20-8].

As a child, she enjoyed helping the poor and giving alms to beggars.

Her charity led her to forget herself in all circumstances. In the long months of her last illness, [507] she refused to allow anyone to watch over her at night.

One day when she was wearily walking in the garden out of obedience, she reminded me of her doctrine on the transferability of merits and of even the simplest of deeds: “I’m walking for a missionary,” she said. “I am thinking that somewhere, far away, a missionary is weary of his ministry, so I am offering my own exhaustion to God in order to reduce his.”

She concerned herself with practising charity even after her death. Having prayed a novena to Saint François-Xavier one day, she said to me, “I asked for the grace to do good after I die, and I’m sure my prayer will be answered.” Alluding to the Life of Louis de Gonzague, which we were reading in the refectory: “After I die, I, too, will let fall a shower of roses” [LC 9-6 and Ordinary Process testimony 3].

 [588] [Answer to the thirty-sixth question continued]:

She was mindful to pray for the deceased, in order to clear their debts to divine justice. She prayed constantly for the conversion of sinners, whom she called, “her children” [MSA 46,2]. Even when her protégés were dead, she took an interest in them and had Masses celebrated for the repose of their souls.

When our dear father contracted cerebral palsy, she said that “he was serving his purgatory” [Primary source], even though she considered him a saint. She did not cease to fear for the little imperfections that escaped even the righteous. This is why she asked our Mother Prioress to have Masses said for his intention at that time.

 [Answer to the thirty-seventh question]:

If prudence is to be understood as spiritual wisdom, I can say that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had a heavenly wisdom. She never fell into excess; she was neither presumptuous nor inconsiderate. She considered all things of the earth as pure vanities, and her prudence shone through in all that she did. She even prayed to obtain this grace, as shows this verse from her poem“Jesus, Remember!”

 “Make me wise in the ways of Heaven” [PN 24].

Although she was inclined to practise selfless love, she always thought of heaven’s reward to encourage her in life’s adversities. At the time of our great trial, [589] our father’s illness, she wrote the following note to me: “Jesus says that on the last day He will dry all the tears from our eyes, and I have no doubt that the more tears there are to dry, the greater the reward shall be” [LT 117].

I noticed her prudence with Mother Marie de Gonzague whenever the latter was suddenly seized by jealousy, for example upon realising that the novices trusted the Servant of God. On one such occasion, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus showed such prudence that she disarmed the poor Prioress even though the latter was in the most violent throes of jealousy.

 [Answer to the thirty-eighth question]:

The Servant of God was also very prudent when giving advice to others. In a private conversation (Easter 1897), she asked me whether I had ever experienced any temptations against the faith. I was surprised by her question, because I was unaware of her spiritual trials. I found out about them only later, principally from reading Story of a Soul. I asked her whether she had any such trials herself, but her answer was vague and she changed the subject. I realised she did not wish to tell me anything for fear of communicating her temptations to me, and I was struck by her prudence in this instance.

She attached great importance to individual participation in the work of redemption. On 17th December 1896, [590] she wrote in a letter to me, “Jesus wills to give us His heaven gratuitously” [LT 197]. She considered our own deeds as insignificant, attributing glory to divine mercy alone, in the same way as Saint Paul when he said redemption does not depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. This, however, did not prevent her when advising us from emphasising the necessity of work. For example, when I said to her one day, “When we offer ourselves to merciful love, can we then hope to go straight to heaven?”

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

“Yes,” she replied, ”but we must also practise neighbourly charity” [Primary source].

On another occasion, she wrote, “How I thirst for heaven, for that blissful shore where we shall love Jesus without bounds! But we must suffer to reach it . . . Well, I’m willing to suffer everything my Beloved desires. He can do what He pleases with me (7th September 1890) [LT 116].

 [Answer to questions thirty-nine and forty]:

I believe that her love for God and for her neighbour, about which I've spoken at length, implicitly encompasses her faithful practice of the virtue of justice.

 [Answer to the forty-first question]:

Even as a child, despite her highly sensitive nature, she bravely overcame her susceptibility and natural vivacity.

[591] I have said that, aged three, she wanted to attend the lessons I was giving to Céline, and already had enough self-control to refrain from saying a single word during those two-hour-long lessons.

She never made excuses for herself. One day, our father gave her a severe reprimand that she didn't deserve, and she accepted it without saying anything.

At the age of 10 or thereabouts, she saw her sister Céline take drawing lessons, and grew keen to learn this art herself. Our father offered them to her, and she needed only to say the word for her wish to have have been granted. When I remarked that lessons would not be worthwhile, she kept silent and led us to believe they held no interest for her. Later on, at the Carmel, she told us that this had represented a great sacrifice for her. I told her that she should have spoken up. “Perhaps,” she said, “but I didn’t want to refuse God anything.”

For the examination prior to the profession of Sister Marie of the Eucharist, we were allowed to accompany her to the convent door, where our aunt was awaiting her. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus deprived herself the pleasure of this rare opportunity to be reunited with her family. “Since Mother Prioress has left us free to choose, I would rather not go” [Primary source].

She would not lose her temper if others were bitter to her. On the day of a certain funeral ceremony, she was arranging bouquets of flowers when a Lay Sister said to her, “Why are you placing the flowers from your family at the front and those from the poor at the back?” Without answering back, and in the mildest of manners, [592] she deferred to the Sister’s desire and placed the more ordinary flowers sent by the poor at the front.

 [Answer to the forty-second question]:  

The Servant of God had remarkable strength of character. She bore the most difficult hardships with smiling amiability, thereby concealing her suffering.

When our father was sick, she bore her grief in silence without ever seeking comfort from us, and yet at her age, sharing her feelings with those in whom she trusted so deeply would have brought her inestimable consolation.

The day after she coughed up blood for the first time, Maundy Thursday 1896, she looked very pale yet was working as usual. I asked her whether she was ill, and offered to help her with her chores. She thanked me without mentioning what had just befallen her, about which I found out only later.

She was strong when experiencing spiritual dryness, as prove the letters she wrote to me at the time of her Habit Reception and Profession: “Your little daughter hardly hears the heavenly harmonies. Her honeymoon is very arid. My only solace is a feeling of great strength and deep peace. Also, I trust I am as Jesus wants me to be” [LT 111].

She was able to overcome natural antipathy so successfully that, at one time, I thought she loved a certain nun [593] over me, even though the nun's character was very different to hers. I discovered later that she had shown her such consideration through virtue.

In 1896, Mother Agnes of Jesus and Sister Geneviève were preparing to leave for the Carmel of Saigon. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus confessed to me that she was saddened by their leaving. “It's because,” she said, “I’m sure it is not God’s will” [Words noted by Marie]. However, she would not say a word to hold them back. She wrote in her manuscript at the time: “My heart is naturally sensitive, and because this is a cause of much suffering, I wish to offer Jesus whatsoever it can bear” [MSC 10,1].

Her strength of character was particularly visible in her last illness. Even when running a high fever, she did not request refreshment if it were not offered to her. When I reminded her that Mother Prioress had obliged her to request anything she needed, she replied, “I ask for what’s necessary, not what might bring me relief” [LC 27-8].

 [Answer to the forty-third question]:

During the illness she suffered at the age of 10, the doctor prescribed medicinal showers. I can clearly remember, when the time came for her daily shower and I would make to undress her, the little angel would plead, “Oh, Marie!” and, with large tears spilling from her eyes, she would implore me to let her be. It was torture for her.

As she grew older, she saw things from a greater perspective, and remained as pure as a lily yet [594] very simple. She had surmised the realities of life but, as she says in her book, experienced that “to the pure all things are pure” [MSA 57,1].

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

[Sitting 25: 23rd July 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 o’clock in the afternoon]

[597] [Answer to the forty-fourth question]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus practised poverty to perfection, and never complained of the excesses she witnessed in the convent with regards to the performance of this virtue.

Towards the end of her life, she confessed to having suffered from the cold at the Carmel to the point of dying. However I had not once heard her complain.

Knowing how virtuous she was, the Sister in charge of the cooking served her what the others would not accept, and even refused her a hardboiled egg if eggs were expensive. Mother Agnes of Jesus noticed this mistreatment and was saddened by it, but Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus said, “Don’t worry about me, I beg you, I’m treated too well as it is” [Primary source].

The Sister in charge of repairing our espadrilles was the same. Anything was good enough [598] for Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. She would add to them piece by piece, making the soles so heavy that no one would have wanted to wear them. Yet not even this contented Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus: she herself darned the canvas on them so many times that the original fabric was no longer visible. When she died, I noticed the worn state of her espadrilles and picked them up with the intention of keeping them as relics. However the Lay Sister saw me and said, “Don’t keep those dirty things!” and, snatching them from my hands, threw them onto the fire.

She has told me many times since how much she regrets burning them and how glad she would have been to have them today, in order to show how far her poverty extended.

The Servant of God said that poverty consisted in depriving oneself of not only the finer things but also needful things. For instance, when others took from her what she was using, she did not complain. When one Sister inadvertently took away her little lamp, she remained in darkness for the whole evening, unable to work and enduring the discomfort tranquilly.

She refused to take expensive treatments, even when they were sent by family members, because, she said, she ought to be treated like a pauper. If, however, they were provided from others out of charity, she would humbly accept them.

 [Answer to the forty-fifth question]:

The Servant of God was never the slightest bit disobedient. Following our mother's death, she did exactly [599] as our sister Pauline and I instructed. Although she loved reading, she would not read even a line more once her allotted time was up.

When suffering from scruples, she followed my advice to the letter.

At the Carmel, witnessing her faithfully obey even the slightest instruction, one Sister concluded, on this fact alone, she was a saint. The Sister told me so herself. It is not advised we open books that are not at our disposition, or look at pictures or magazines, and so on. The Servant of God told me she had admitted in confession to having looked at a page in a fashion magazine. I said that doing so was not strictly forbidden. She replied, “That is true, but the confessor said it was better to deprive ourselves. And yet,” she added, “when I could see the world’s vanity, it actually raised my soul nearer to God. But now, when I come across such pictures, I don’t look at them.”  

I often tried to take her aside in order to tell her something I thought useful. Sometimes I said it was because I needed to teach her how to look for the day’s Office. Barely three weeks after she joined the Carmel, she said to me on some such occasion, “Thank you, I have found it today; I would love to stay, but I must decline, because we are not at home anymore” [Primary source]. [600] At the first ring of the bell, she would stop whatever she was writing, even mid-word. I have a note from her that ends: “I must leave you now, the 9 o’clock bell is rin...” (ringing) [LT 49]. One day, upon seeing me finish writing a line after the bell had rung, she said, “It would be better to lose that habit and observe regularity. If we only knew how important it is!”

On her deathbed, when she was burning with fever, I made to remove the blanket from over her feet. She said, “That might not be permitted.”  

 [Answer to the forty-sixth question]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus liked to go unnoticed. Like the Blessed Virgin, she “pondered all things in her heart” and no one realised what treasures were hidden there.

At the Carmel, her humility reached startling heights, since she had many opportunities to practise the virtue and she let none pass her by.

As a postulant, she found a way during recreations to sit with a fellow novice, a Lay Sister, who took pleasure from tastelessly teasing her. The Servant of God would humbly listen to all her nonsense, and instead of fleeing her company, would go and sit with her every day.

I also witnessed her listen with deep humility and great meekness as a postulant heaped unfair criticism upon her.

[601] On 29th July 1897, when she was very sick in the infirmary, one Sister brought her a small child’s toy to entertain her. Astonished, she accepted it unenthusiastically, saying, “What would you have me do with this?” 

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

Slightly offended, the Sister made it clear that she did not find her reaction appropriate. Therefore with deep humility, the Servant of God replied, “You are right. Oh, how far I am from reaching perfection! Yet I am pleased to feel so wretched!” [LC 9-7] Furthermore, despite how tired and exhausted she felt that day, she greeted all the Sisters who came to see her with a smile.

The Servant of God filled all the letters she wrote to me with her sentiments of humility. Here are a few passages:

“My desires for martyrdom are as nothing. They are, to tell you the truth, the spiritual riches that render one unjust when one rests in them complacently. . . these desires are a consolation that Jesus grants at times to weak souls like mine . . . I know well that it is not because of them that God takes pleasure in my soul. What pleases Him is seeing me love my littleness and my poverty” [LT 176].

[Answer to the forty-sixth question continued]:

In 1888, she wrote, “Pray for the weak ‘little reed’ at the bottom of the valley. The slightest breath of wind makes it bend! Ask that you little daughter always remain a little grain of sand, truly unknown and hidden from all eyes, that Jesus alone might be able to see it, and that it may be reduced to nothing” [LT 49].

And later, in 1896: “Jesus has shown me the only path that leads to the furnace of divine love: ‘Whosoever is a little one, let him come to Me,’ said the Holy Spirit. He also said, ‘To him that is little, mercy is granted’. Ah, if weak and imperfect souls like mine felt what I feel, none would despair of reaching the summit of the Mountain of Love” [MSB 1,1].

Her humility did not prevent her from acknowledging the blessings God had given her, but she always attributed them to Him. In 1896, during her last illness, she said to me, “This evening, leaning forwards slightly, I could see through the window the setting sun casting its last rays upon nature, and the tree-tops appeared as though gilded. So, likewise, my soul appears to you all shining and golden because it its [603] exposed to the rays of Love. But should the Divine Sun no longer shine thereon, it would instantly be sunk in gloom” [CSG].

 [Answer to the forty-seventh question]:

Speaking of her virtues, I have already said and proven that she was always even-tempered, in times of joy and sorrow alike. I considered her absolute and unfailing consistency in virtue as heroic. I have never seen the like in anyone else.

 [Answer to the forty-eighth question]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was composed in every way, to the extent that I assumed moderation came naturally to her. She was never excessive. She was inclined, through love for God, to practise self-mortification, but did so restrainedly, guided by her inner prudence and wisdom. I have already spoken of her moderation in answer to the questions on the virtues of prudence and temperance.

[Answer to the forty-ninth question]:

On several occasions, I was of the impression that she could read my state of mind. For example, shortly before she died, I experienced despair at the thought of losing her. This feeling had all but passed when I later joined her in the infirmary, my expression [604] betraying no sadness. However, as soon as she saw me, she said, “We must not weep like those who have no hope” [LC 18-9].

A week before she died, I said to Mother Agnes of Jesus, “She chose you to be her second mother when she was young: I am not jealous of this, and yet I brought her up, too, and I wish she loved me as she does you.” That afternoon, when the two of us were alone at her bedside, she gazed at us both thoughtfully and said, “Little sisters, you are the ones who raised me . . .” [LC 23-9]. She had, to my astonishment, fulfilled a wish I had not made known to her.

Certain characteristics of the strange sickness that she suffered at the age of 10, the circumstances of which I described in answer to the tenth question, may also be considered as spiritual blessings. For instance, she never hurt herself when the mysterious condition compelled her to hit her head hard against the bed or floor. I’ve also described how her modesty was mysteriously maintained in certain postures. But most importantly, I must mention her vision of the Blessed Virgin, which miraculously put an end to the illness.

The Servant of God’s life was marked by one other vision, and several seemingly prophetic remarks. The vision took place when she was a child, towards the age of seven. It foretold [605] the terrible illness that would beset our father in his old age. She saw our father through a window looking onto the garden although he had been away for several days. My sister Pauline and I heard Thérèse call out anxiously, “Papa! Papa!” We tried to reassure her, reminding her that our father was away, but she was sure she had seen him walking at the end of the garden, his head covered in a dark cloth. We took her out into the garden to show her that no one was there; yet she remained convinced she had seen our father under the mysterious veil. I have described how our father’s last years were a martyrdom for him.

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

In 1889, he contracted cerebral palsy and lost all his faculties. What is remarkable is that, at the beginning of his illness, he was often seen to cover his head. Much later on, at the Carmel, when Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and I were discussing her childhood memories on a day when we had licence to speak, she felt compelled to recall the extraordinary vision, and its meaning became clear to us. Towards the end of her life, I told her I would find it difficult to comfort Mother Agnes of Jesus in her grief when she died. “Do not worry,” she said, “Mother Agnes of Jesus won’t have time to grieve because, for as long as she lives, I will keep her so busy that she will won't even get all the work done.” 

In about August 1897, about six weeks before she died, Mother Agnes of Jesus, Sister Geneviève and I were at her bedside. Suddenly, and [606] quite out of the blue, she looked at us with a heavenly expression in her eyes and said very distinctly, “You are aware that you are nursing a little saint.” 

[Did the Servant of God explain or qualify her remark? - Answer]:

I was very moved by what she said. I was under the impression I had heard a saint predict what would happen after their death. Struck by her words, I walked away from her bed, and do not remember hearing anything else.

During her life as a nun, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus also experienced an extraordinary blessing whilst walking the Stations of the Cross, and she told Mother Agnes of Jesus about it. I don’t remember her ever mentioning it to me. She recounts the event in her autobiography.

Lastly, she died in a transport of love.

 [Were such wondrous events frequent during the Servant of God’s lifetime, and charactistic of her life? Answer]:

These events have always seemed to me of a spiritual order. Yet they are only rare exceptions in the Servant of God’s life, which was generally characterised by great simplicity. 

 [Answer to the fiftieth question]:

To my knowledge, nothing of this nature took place during her lifetime.

[Sitting 26: 26th July 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 o’clock in the afternoon]

[613] [Answer to the fifty-first question]:

Upon my request, Mother Agnes of Jesus, then Prioress, asked Sister Thérèse to write down her childhood memories for her sisters. With great simplicity, she did so towards the end of 1895. In 1897, Mother Marie de Gonzague, the new Prioress, ordered the Servant of God to write down her memories of her religious life, which made up the second part of her Story. Lastly, in September 1896, I asked her to write down for me a description of her “little way of spirituality”. She did so and these pages form the end of Story of a Soul.

 [When writing her manuscript, did the Servant of God foresee it being published? - Answer]:

Neither she nor we thought her recollections would ever be published. Only during the last months of Sister Thérèse’s life did Mother Agnes of Jesus think that the publication of these recollections might serve to bring God glory. She said as much to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who accepted the idea with her usual simplicity and righteousness. She wanted the manuscript to be published because she saw it as a means to make God loved, a task which she considered her mission. She also said, “If Mother Prioress were to burn all these notebooks, it would not upset me in the slightest. God would use other means” [LC 17-7].

[614] [Do these pages accurately reflect the Servant of God’s true life, or are they instead the result of an ideal and imaginary conception of it? - Answer]:

Instead of there being anything imaginary in her memoires, I’m certain they do not quite meet the reality.

Besides the main manuscript, the Servant of God also wrote poems for our feast days and for Sisters who requested them. She also wrote a considerable number of letters. However, neither the poems or letters were written with a view to publication.

 [Answer to the fifty-second question]:

During the last three months of her life, the Servant of God endured very cruel suffering, yet she bore it with heroic perseverance and in absolute surrender to God’s will. This being so, she did say to me, “If you only knew what I’m suffering! Ah, one has to experience it to know!” I said, “I prayed you would not suffer much, and this is how God answers my prayer!” She replied, “I begged God not to hear any prayers which would prevent the accomplishment of His designs for me” [LC 10-8].

When we pointed out that we were therefore praying for her in vain, she said, “The more the saints appear deaf to our prayers, the more I love them. 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.”

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

“You don’t want them for your own consolation?” [615] “No!” [LC 22-8]. “What saddens me,” I said one day, ”is the thought that your suffering is not over.” “I am not sad,” she replied, “because God will give me the strength to bear it” [LC 4-7].

On another occasion, I said, “Are you not afraid of death at all?” In a very serious tone, she replied, “No, not as yet. But I may well become afraid like everyone else, for its a formidable passage. Yet I surrender myself to God” [LC 9-7].

On 8th July, the day when Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus moved into the infirmary, we placed by her bed the statue of the Blessed Virgin that had miraculously cured her when she was a child. Gazing at it, she said, “Never has she looked so beautiful to me! But today, it’s the statue I see, whereas before, as you know, it was not the statue.” 

On 22nd August, I heard Sister Geneviève say to her, “The angels will come for you. Oh, perhaps we shall see them!” “I don’t think you will see them,” she said, “but that doesn’t prevent their being there. I want to die a saintly death for you. I have asked this of the Blessed Virgin. I haven’t asked God, because I want Him to do as He pleases. Asking the Blessed Virgin for something is not the same as asking God. She knows what is to be done with my desires, and whether or not she should speak to God about them. So it’s up to her to see that God is not forced to answer my prayer.” [LC 4-6]

One day, she said, “If you only knew the plans I’ve made; the things I shall do when I’m in heaven!” “What plans do you have?” “I shall begin my mission to make God loved as I love Him. I shall help priests, and the whole Church. I shall go out there to help missionaries and prevent little children from dying before being baptised” [LC 13-7].

On another occasion, I heard her say to Mother Agnes of Jesus, “I’m happy to die in the arms of Mother Marie de Gonzague because she represents God for me. With you as Prioress, there would have been a human element, and I would prefer there to be only the divine” [LC 13-7].

Two days before she died, she asked us for some holy water, saying, “Oh, how I’m suffering! I cannot move at all; I feel as though I’m being held in an iron grip! Oh, do pray for me! The devil must be worsening my pain to make me despair. I’m not suffering for myself, but for another, and the devil doesn't like it” [Words noted by Marie].

We stayed up with her the night before she died. She worried constantly about us feeling tired and tried to do things herself so as not to bother us.

In the morning, she gazed at the statue of the Blessed Virgin and said, “Oh, how fervently I prayed to her last night!! Oh, this is pure suffering, because there’s no hint of solace. No, not one” [LC 30-9].

Her tongue was parched and her suffering was such that Mother Prioress allowed all three of us to stay with her. It was as though both heaven and earth had forsaken her. “Yes, God,” she said, “as much as you please . . . but have mercy on me! I’m reduced [617] to nothing! No, never would I have believed it was possible to suffer so much. It’s because of my desire to save souls” [LC 30-9].

She said nothing more after five o'clock, but at the moment of her death, at a quarter past seven that evening, and in a broken voice, she pronounced her last act of love, gazing upon her crucifix. She was at the height of her agony, and it must have been an immense effort for her to pronounce, not only in her heart, but also with her lips, the words: “My God, I love You . . . ” [LC 30-9]. It was then that she had her vision. Seeing her gaze heavenward, I was transported back to her childhood, when the Blessed Virgin had appeared to her and cured her. It was something divine and beyond description. One of the Sisters held up a lighted candle to her face, but she seemed not to notice, because she was already, I’m sure of it, enjoying heaven’s brightness.

She lifted her head, which until then had been leaning to the side. Her face was no longer flushed as it had been during her long agony, but transparent white and remarkably beautiful. She stayed that way for several minutes, then she leaned her head to the side and, in her transport of love, gently exhaled. It was Thursday 30th September 1897. I had seen proof that God had answered her prayer and that love had broken her human chains as per her wish.

 [Answer to the fifty-third question]:

After she died, I asked to stay with Mother Agnes [618] of Jesus and Sister Aimée of Jesus, who were tasked with enshrouding her. The Servant of God’s features reflected an unspeakable grace; she looked no more than twelve or thirteen years old. When her body was transported from the infirmary to the choir the following day, she was of a beauty so perfect that I couldn't take my eyes off her. It was as though her face was a reflection of heaven’s glory. Once in the choir, in front of the grate where she was laid, her expression became more solemn. She no longer resembled a child. Yet I noticed that on the morning of 4th October, when the coffin was closed, despite the signs of decomposition that were already beginning to appear, the childlike expression that I had seen in the infirmary returned.

 [Answer to the fifty-third question continued]:

Many people attended the Servant of God’s funeral, but this can perhaps be explained by the fact that our family lived in Lisieux [619] itself and were known there.

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

People touched rosaries, medallions and so on to her body, but this has happened at funerals of other Carmelite nuns, although to a lesser extent.

 

[Answer to the fifty-fourth question]:

I attended neither her burial nor the exhumation. Yet it is widely known that the Servant of God was buried in the Lisieux town cemetery, in a plot reserved for the Carmelite convent, and that on 6th September 1910, under the surveillance of his Lordship the Bishop of Bayeux, her remains were transferred to a tomb made of bricks not far from the first grave.

 [Answer to the fifty-fifth question]:

I am not aware of there having been, on this occasion or any other, a service of worship held to the Servant of God.

 [Answer to the fifty-sixth question]:

Naturally, I have not seen for myself what takes place at the cemetery, but I have heard it said many times by our Extern Sisters, sacristan and visitors to the Carmel that for many years now, there has been a steady flow of pilgrim visitors to Sister Thérèse’s grave, and that the affluence is growing daily. People place all sorts of objects on the grave in token of faith and gratitude. Several times a week, our sacristan [620] has to clear the grave of the objects covering it. A few days ago he brought back three large basketfuls of photographs, prayers, pictures, flower bouquets, and so on.

 [Answer to the fifty-seventh question]:

During her lifetime, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus went unnoticed. Apart from us, her sisters, and a few novices, few knew her. She prayed that she might be “trodden underfoot, forgotten, as a little grain of sand” [PRAYER 2], which is what happened at the Carmel. However, although her Mother Prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague, was jealous of her at times, she also said that there were none in the community like her. Others noticed her for her obedience to Mother Prioress’ every instruction. One Lay Sister who had unfairly humiliated her saw what virtue she showed in this instance and declared her a saint.

When she was small, she stood out for the grace that emanated from her whole demeanour. One lady we knew said, “Heaven shines out of that child’s eyes.”  Even though accustomed to seeing her every day, I myself often thought, “How beautiful she is!” and I wondered what God would make of her one day.

Later on at the Carmel, when I saw how great her virtue had become, and its extraordinary simplicity, I thought with a sigh, “And to think that no one will ever know her!”

Now that Story of a Soul has made the Servant of God known to many, testimonies of admiration come to us from all over the world. It would take forever [621] to list them. A large number of priests, and even bishops, visit the convent chapel out of devotion to the Servant of God.

 [Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I have never heard anyone, either in the community or outside, utter an unfavourable opinion as regards the Servant of God’s holiness.

 [Answer to the fifty-ninth question]:

Since the Servant of God died, almost everyone in the community has, at one time or another, perceived mysterious scents. I have been shown such a favour many times. The first time was in winter. There wasn’t a single flower left in the garden, and yet, on my way to the Blessed Virgin’s oratory for the novena that we pray every evening for people recommended to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, I noticed a very sweet scent of flowers. It was as I passed the statue of the Child Jesus, to whom she had so great a devotion. Often, it is as though she is saying thank you for some good deed we have done. Mother Agnes of Jesus, another Sister and I were working one day when suddenly we caught a scent of incense. I went several years without noticing any mysterious scents until a short while ago when, having practised an act of obedience and charity that cost me dearly, I was suddenly enveloped by a strong [622] scent of many different flowers, and the scent followed me to our cell. I had the very strong feeling that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was present, showing me how pleasing these virtues were to God.

I omitted to mention at the last trial process, because it was a blessing of a very private nature, that, having accomplished an act of charity the day after she died, I felt her soul's presence near me again, conveying indescribable happiness.

Sister Jeanne-Marie, who has great faith in Sister Thérèse, prayed to her one day when she had a great deal of work to do. Despite her heavy workload, she agreed to help the cook fill the oven boiler with water. She poured a first pitcher of water into the container, which could hold four. She went to fetch a second pitcher when, to her astonishment, she found the boiler full.

Concerning the miracles that are accomplished outside the convent, the letters we receive every day relate a very large number of them, and the most remarkable have been published in editions of “Shower of Roses”.

We have received, among others, numerous accounts of her protection of missionaries. Here are a few examples:

Reverend Father Irénée, an apostolic missionary in Wei Hsien (China), wrote to us saying, “I must tell you that our dear little flower is highly honoured in our vicariate.

WITNESS 7: Marie of the Sacred Heart O.D.C.

There is a free clinic here that has already sent [623] thousands of Chinese children to heaven thanks to an initiative to baptise those in danger of death. This year, an epidemic in the region allowed for two thousand to be baptised in two months. During that time I hired carriages to the baptisers and they would travel round the villages. I will add that, on their travels, the baptisers prayed to Sister Thérèse and gave her name to most of the little girls.”

Monsignor Wittner wrote to us in November 1912 as follows: “I have nominated ‘little Thérèse’ coadjutor of the apostolic vicariate in Eastern Shantung.”

A Mother Superior of the Mission in Mousso (Ivory Coast) wrote in April 1912: “Sister Thérèse is of significant help to us: in our ministry work, we can feel an invisible hand leading us into the hidden recesses of peoples' huts, and there we find souls in suffering . . . We speak to them about God . . . and soon afterwards, these pagans wish to be baptised.”

Father A. Van Aken, a White Father from Africa, wrote the following from Tabora in December 1910: “I have had a picture of her (Sister Thérèse) placed in almost all of our Christians’ huts. I have placed her picture in every catechism room. Everyone asks me who this little bikira (virgin) is, and I’m obliged to tell them about her life. About three or four months ago, I called together my catechists and, in a few simple words, explained to them who Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was, and how she must have found great favour with God. I then distributed pictures of her [624], advising everyone to pray to Sister Thérèse for the conversion of the entire country. They did so, and since that day, pagans have come to catechism lessons not individually but in droves, to the point that on Sundays the yard of this mission house is packed with people . . . Note that a large number of these poor black people come from villages that I have never been to, and have hitherto been either hostile or, at the least, completely indifferent to us missionaries. Pessimists would have me believe that this wondrous movement of conversion will not last. I am firm in the belief that Sister Thérèse won’t abandon me and will push our poor black people into the Church in their thousands.”

Before she died, the Servant of God promised to help missionaries and obtain baptism for children. The letters I have quoted, which are just a few among thousands of others, prove that her prophecy has been fulfilled.

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

I have not directly witnessed any healings.

 [Answer to the sixty-sixth question]:

I have nothing to add.

[With regards to the Articles, the witness claims to know nothing other than what they have already reported 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: I, SISTER MARIE OF THE SACRED HEART, a witness, have testified according to the truth. I ratify and confirm my testimony.