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Witness 8 - Sister Marie-Joseph of the Cross, O. B. S.

 

Marcelline Husé.

Despite its brevity, the eighth witness’ deposition is important for its illustration and its confirmation of many details concerning Thérèse Martin’s childhood and youth.

Marcelline-Anne was born to Norbert Husé and Françoise Baubier in Saint-Samson (Mayenne), in the diocese of Laval, on 19th July 1866. On 15th March 1880, at 14 years of age, she entered the service of Isidore Guérin, Thérèse’s uncle, who had two daughters, Jeanne and Marie. Thérèse was eight at the time. Marcelline was therefore in frequent contact with Thérèse who, together with Céline, was entrusted to her while Mr. Martin and his elder daughters were away.

Marcelline stayed with the Guérins until she entered the convent of the Benedictines of the Blessed Sacrament in Bayeux, under the name of Sister Marie-Joseph of the Cross. She made her profession there on 10th August 1892, and lived there in complete humility in Sister Thérèse’s wake and died on 26th December 1935, after a long and painful illness (Annales 1938,53-56).  

Before joining the Benedictines in 1889, Marcelline visited Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus in the Carmelite convent, and received a precious exhortation. For Thérèse’s profession the following year, on 8th September, the future Saint received a letter from Marcelline sending her best wishes to which she replied on the 28th of the same month.      

Sister Marie-Joseph of the Cross testified in sessions 45-48 on 12th – 15th December 1910, in the visiting room of her monastery, cf. 5I0r-524v of our Public Copy.

WITNESS 8: Marie-Joseph of the Cross O.B.S.

[Session 45: - 12th December 1910, at 9am]

[510r] [The witness correctly answers the first question.]

[Answer to the second question]:

My name is Marcelline-Anne Husé; I was born in Saint-Samson, in the diocese of Laval, on 19th July 1866, from the legitimate marriage of Norbert Husé and Françoise Barbier. I used to be a servant in the family of the Servant of God; I have been a lay sister in the Benedictine Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament of Bayeux for 21 years, under the name of Sister Marie-Joseph of the Cross.

[The witness correctly answers questions three to six inclusive.

[Answer to the seventh question]:

I have come to testify in obedience to Holy Church, having been asked to do so through the intermediary of the court. I am entirely free to say the whole truth as I know it, and that is my intention.

[510v] [Answer to the eighth question]:

In 1880 when I was 13, I entered the service of Mr Guérin, the Servant of God’s uncle, as a servant and nanny. The Servant of God was then 7 years old; she had already been living in Lisieux for two or three years. She came to her uncle’s house every day and I took care of her, as I did of her little cousins, Mr. Guérin’s daughters, Jeanne and Marie. I was involved in their lives and their games. I remained at this post and was in almost daily contact with her until 1889, that is to say one year after the Servant of God entered Carmel. At that time, I left Mr Guérin’s house to enter religious life in Bayeux. I will above all draw what I have to say to the court on my personal memories. Reading the “Story of a Soul” only confirmed my observations.

[Answer to the ninth question]:

I have a particular affection for the Servant of God because I [511r] already loved her very much when in the world, and I love her even more now. But it will not prevent me from saying what is right and true in relation to her beatification. I desire her beatification with all my heart, because she truly deserves it. Even though I lived with her very informally, it is with all my heart that I pray to her, and I will pray to her more and more.

[Answer to the tenth question]:

I know she was born in Alençon; that her mother, Mr. Guérin’s sister, died before Mr. Martin came to Lisieux. The Servant of God had four sisters whom I knew as well as I knew her; she was the youngest of them all.

[Answer to the eleventh question]:

Mr. Martin was esteemed in Lisieux as a “patriarch of old” and as a saint. I witnessed the fervour of his Christian practices. He went to mass every day at six o’clock with his eldest daughters. He was a member of the Association for the monthly nocturnal Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament [511v] as was Mr. Guérin, his brother-in-law; he was also a member of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and visited the poor.

[Answer to the twelfth question]:

I don’t know anything particular on this point.

[Answer to the thirteenth question]:

Mr. Martin was an excellent father, he brought up all his children with great care, and loved them very much. The Servant of God, whom he called his “little queen”, because she was the youngest, was the object of particular affection on his part, but this didn’t lessen the seriousness of her education in the slightest. He wouldn’t have tolerated her lacking in anything. Without being severe, he brought up all his children to be faithful to their duties. I don’t know whether little Thérèse, who was so simple, noticed that she was loved the most, since in that family there was great unity between all their hearts; in any case she wasn’t “a spoilt child” and she didn’t boast about the preference she was shown in the slightest. Her sisters weren’t jealous at all, because they in turn lo-[512r] ved their little sister so much!

[Answer to the fourteenth question]:

The Servant of God was first educated by Miss Pauline, her second sister, whom she called “her little mother” and who could have been about 18 years old. When, in 1882, Miss Pauline entered the Carmelite convent, it was Miss Marie who acted as mother to the Servant of God. In 1881, one year after my arrival in Mr. Guérin’s house, little Thérèse attended, as a half-boarder, the school run by the Benedictine nuns in Lisieux. It was my duty to accompany her as well as the Miss Guérins, her young cousins on their way to school. When she was alone with me on our way there or at home, she was very affectionate and trusting and voluntarily shared her little secrets with me. These intimate conversations dwelt naturally on subjects relating to piety. She was exceptionally intelligent and thoughtful for her age. I can remember one comment in particular, before she had even taken her first communion; on hearing workers blaspheme, she explained, to excuse them, that we mustn’t judge souls, that these people had received fewer graces than we had, and that they were more unfor-[512v]tunate than guilty. She was very joyful and very outgoing with her family and with us. You could see that she was compensating for the restraints that the boarding school environment must have been imposing on her. She had a great deal of esteem for the nuns, her teachers; but with her classmates she felt a sort of shyness, because they weren’t interested in the usual outpourings of her soul, unlike the members of her family. Furthermore, we could only imagine her suffering, because she never accused anyone or complained. At the Abbey she got the best marks in her class. She didn’t enjoy the noisy games the other children her age played. What she enjoyed most was picking flowers and isolating herself in the garden or in the countryside “to play at being a hermit.” She loved nature and birdsong.

[Session 46: - 13th December 1910, at 2pm]

[514v] [Continuation of the answer to the fourteenth question]:

In the Easter holidays of 1883, Mr. Martin went to Paris with his eldest daughters, Miss Marie and Miss Léonie, leaving us to look after the two youngest ones, Miss Céline and Miss Thérèse. Miss Pauline had joined the Carmelites the previous October. This separation was very painful for the Servant of God and I think it provoked a sadness that she tried to suppress, which undoubtedly led, [515r] at least partially, to the illness that suddenly surfaced at that time. After a conversation with her uncle Mr. Guérin, she began shaking all over, resulting in panic attacks and hallucinations that occurred several times a day. Between the attacks, she was very weak and couldn’t be left alone. I think she remained conscious, even during the attacks; and, once the fit had passed, she could remember what had happened. She persisted, however, in saying she would attend her sister Pauline’s receiving the Habit, which was to take place a few days later. Contrary to all expectations, and even though the attacks occurred again with the same intensity the day before, she was fine for the ceremony, taking part in it full of enthusiasm and joy. She appeared to be cured. She returned home to the Buissonnets, her father’s house, where the attacks came back the very next day.

From then on, I only saw her when I visited her from time to time. But I had news of her every day, since her aunt Mrs. Guérin unfailingly went to see her. I learnt that the doctors found the child’s sickness strange, that the vigorous treatments they gave her brought no improvement. [515v] Rather, the sickness seemed to be worsening. I joined her sisters in their very ardent prayers. Suddenly, on Sunday 10th May, news came to Mr. Guérin that Miss Thérèse had recovered. The very next day, she came to see us herself, and there was no trace left of her illness apart from a certain weakness which disappeared very quickly. At the time, no one in her entourage doubted that the Blessed Virgin had miraculously cured her, just as we believed that this sickness wasn’t purely natural. I didn’t know then that she had had a vision of the Blessed Virgin.

The Servant of God took her first communion on 8th May 1884 at the Benedictine Abbey. She had turned eleven years old. But she had already for a long time appreciated and desired Holy Communion. I particularly noticed it watching her attitude and hearing her conversations when her sister Céline and her cousin Marie Guérin took their first communions (1881 and 1882 respectively). I also noticed her disappointment at not accompanying her father and her sisters to the holy table on feast days. As her first communion drew closer, I was careful to observe the attention with which she prepared for it and especially her usual practice of little acts [516r] of self-denial whenever the opportunity arose. I also remember that on the day of her first communion she was more aware of the grandeur of the event than children of her age normally are.  

[Answer to the fifteenth question]:

When she was about 13, the Servant of God suffered from frequent headaches, and her father thought it best to take her out of boarding school. I read in “Story of a Soul” that the Servant of God was beset with scruples; but she didn’t share this with me; I only noticed that she was less communicative and more reserved with me. Back in her father’s house, she was given private lessons to complete her education. We didn’t see each other as often as when she came every day to Mr. Guérin’s house. I noticed at that time however her great piety, her particularly reverential attitude during mass and offices, and her fervour on approaching the holy table which she did at least every Sunday [516v] and probably during the week as well; but during the week, unlike Sundays, I wasn’t present when she took communion.

[Answers to questions sixteen to nineteen]:

I know nothing in particular on these points.

[Answer to the twentieth question]:

Even in the time I spent with her, I was already convinced that her virtue far exceeded that which can be seen in other young girls, even very pious ones. I can’t really explain it any better, but she had a soul which was special and noble, unlike other people’s. There was never cause for me to reproach her in the slightest. You ask me what I think of her faults: I am at a complete loss to think of any. Perhaps one could say she was very sensitive and impressionable, but she controlled her temperament so well that she never showed impatience; sometimes a slight blush indicated the effort she was making to control herself.

[517r] Answer to the twenty-first question]:

Even prior to her first communion, the Servant of God showed a strong religious spirit of faith in relation to the real presence of God. Chosen along with other children to throw flowers during the procession of the Blessed Sacrament, she took care to throw her rose petals high in the air, “so that Jesus can touch them” she said - MSA 17,1 -. People present would notice her piety and her angelic expression, and I heard them admire her on several occasions. I also noticed her tactful charity towards her neighbours. The first time we were introduced to each other at Mr. Guérin’s house, she was seven. She had been told that I felt sad on leaving my mother; so she took it upon herself to console me with all manner of signs of affection. When out walking, she was radiant when she was sent to give alms to the poor. A little later, when she was about 14, she visited and catechized little destitute girls. I took her several times to see these families. I also witnessed the children’s joy and gratitude towards her. Shortly after her first communion [517v], when she was about 12, she talked to me about God, saying he was good to those who loved him, and how he particularly loved us. Since I couldn’t feel all that love, and complained about it, saying that I didn’t love him in this way at all, she explained that love doesn’t lie in feelings at all but in practicing virtue, and that we must always seek to please God in the smallest of our actions without seeking to attract attention.

[Session 47: - 14th December 1910, at 8:30am]

[519v] [Continuation of the answer to the twenty-first question]:

One characteristic of her charity for her neighbour, which I especially remember, is that even before her first communion she devoted herself to performing acts of charity for her little cousin Marie Guérin, who was always ill. How patient she was with her! Even though she was three years younger than her, she lavished her with attention, yielding to her every whim, dispelling boredom and sadness caused by the illness, teaching her to live “like a hermit” and encouraging her to practice virtue. All this bore fruit, since Miss Marie later joined her at the Carmelite convent, where the Servant of God effectively became her novice mistress. When Miss Thérèse was still a very little child, she asked if she could save the cakes and sweets she was given [520r] for the poor.

I have a specific recollection of her devotion for the Blessed Virgin; she was between ten and twelve years old; we were going to spend the month of May in Trouville, at the seaside. The house was a long way from the church of Notre Dame des Victoires. However we usually went there every evening for our May devotions to Mary. If we sometimes hesitated in going because of the distance, or some other impediment, Thérèse insisted we went and never was the day’s weariness a reason for omitting the long journey. She took immense pleasure in going to morning mass in this church devoted to the Virgin Mary; not even cold or bad weather could put her off. Her love for the Blessed Virgin was also noticeable when she was received as a Child of Mary; as to be accepted she had to make real sacrifices in going back to the Abbey that she had left and where she no longer had any friends.  

Her prudence was visible in her wise advice and in the idea she had of holiness. Even before she entered the Carmelite convent, and shortly after her first communion, she already understood the meaning of sacrifice. One day, I told her how I good and perfect I found [520v] her uncle to be and especially her aunt, saying she was a saint:

“It’s true,” she said, “but one day she will be even more saintly, because she suffers and will always suffer; but this suffering, united to the love of God whom she loves so dearly, will make her rise to perfection” '. Later on, during the year that followed her entrance into the Carmelite convent, I shared with her my intention to enter religious life. There again she gave me the best advice. The last recommendation she gave me, in the Carmel’s visiting room, was this: “My little Marcelline, we must always truly love God, and to prove our love to him, make all the sacrifices he asks of us. Don’t worry, I will pray for you. Love God well, so as not to fear him so much: he is so good! Remember also to pray for those who don’t love him so that we may convert many souls.”  

On the subject of her temperance, I noticed when we were together at the chalet of Colomb, in Trouville, and closer to one another, that at the table she would accept any dish, and if she showed any preference, she would choose the one that was the least appetizing.

[521r] [Answer to questions twenty-two to twenty-six]:

I don’t know anything particular on these points, because I left the Servant of God shortly after she joined the Carmelites, and since then I have myself lived as an enclosed nun in Bayeux.

[Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

Our community venerates little Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus to a large extent: we all love her very much; she has granted several personal graces to some of our Sisters. We have been asked several times by people outside the Carmel to pray novenas in her honour for them. As for her reputation for holiness outside the convent, it is well-known and I am aware of it through the stories that come to me from far and wide.  

[Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

[521v] I have never heard any remark said either against the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness, or against the steps taken to make her life better known. Several people, knowing that I knew her personally, have asked me whether her life story was indeed truthful, and I’ve always answered, as my conscience dictated, that it was perfectly accurate.

[Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

I prayed a great deal to the Servant of God for the conversion of my brother-in-law, who didn’t practice his religion for a long while; I sent him one of the Servant of God’s relics. He converted on his deathbed and died in a very Christian manner two years ago. I am still convinced that the Servant of God’s prayers contributed to his return to God.

[Session 48: - 15th December 1910, at 2pm]

[523v] [Continuation of the answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

I learnt from one of my brother’s letters and from hearing the report of Miss Aimée Roger, an eyewitness who lives in Lisieux, that Mrs. Poirier, born Berthe Chopin, from near Ambrières, in the diocese of Laval, and who is my brother’s niece, had suffered for two years from a serious internal illness, whose nature I’m unable to name. During the illness, the doc-[524r]tors stated that the complaint was hopeless on several occasions. Now, following the advice I passed on to her, she prayed to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, one of whose relics I had sent her (a piece of fabric). Recently, contrary to all expectations, she turned up at my brother’s house in Lisieux. My brother was surprised by her trip, because the patient could hardly, a while previously, move from one room to another. She had come to pray at the Servant of God’s grave and thank her for her recovery. I have heard and read about a whole host of other favours, but I didn’t witness them directly.    

[Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I wish to add a few details to my deposition in response to the fifteenth Interrogation involving the Servant of God’s behaviour following her departure from the Benedictine boarding school.

I can confirm in all truthfulness that since her first communion I have seen Miss Thérèse grow in grace and virtue in a most extraordinary fashion; only her love of God and her desire for sacrifice led her to [524v] undertake all the steps she took with relation to her vocation and to overcome all the obstacles she came across to achieve it. Besides, we could tell that here was a soul who continually lived in the presence of God, because if we spoke to her about clothes or other things of that kind, we couldn’t hold a conversation with her for long; but if I spoke about pious things, her soul immediately opened up and she happily poured out her heart.

[Concerning the Articles, the witness says she knows nothing more than what she has already deposed by answering the preceding questions. – Here ends the interrogation of this witness. The Acts are read out. The witness makes no modification to them and signs as follows]:

I have deposed as above according to the truth, I ratify and confirm it.

Signed: Sister MARIE-JOSEPH OF THE CROSS, unworthy nun