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Witness 9 - Thérèse of Saint Augustine O.D.C.

 

An introduction to this witness, Julie‑Marie‑Elisa Leroyer (1875‑1929), can be found in vol. I, p. 396. It is to be remembered that Sister Thérèse of the Child had a natural dislike for her and that, despite this, her smiling amiability was such that she succeeded in having her believe quite the opposite. Refer to Manuscript C, fol. 13v-14r. The nun is obviously not named but the passage does indeed concern her.

The following testimony is almost twice as long as that of the Diocesan (or Ordinary) Investigative Process and was undoubtedly carefully prepared. Many aspects suggest this. The following two can be cited as examples: “Her spiritual life was sustained by God’s presence, which never left her, as she herself said. Her habitual reverence was reflected on her features and struck the other Sisters, even during recreations” (p.861). It is worth noting that the witness draws particular attention to Sister Thérèse’s spirit of reverence when Mother Marie de Gonzague was prioress, which was a trying time (cf. p. 830).

Much of the testimony relates to Thérèse’s renown for holiness following her death and the miracles that were attributed to her.

The witness testified on 2 - 6th September 1915 in sittings 40 to 42 (pp. 813‑856 of the Public Transcription).

[Sitting 40: ‑ 2nd September 1915, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.]

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

[Answer to the second question:]

My name is Julie‑Marie‑Elisa Leroyer. My religious name is Sister Thérèse of Saint‑Augustine. I am a professed Carmelite nun of Lisieux. I was born on 5th September 1856 in La Cressonnière, in the Diocese of Bayeux, to Louis Leroyer, a merchant, and to Elisa Valentin.

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

 [Answer to the sixth question:]

[814] I will say simply what I know. No one has influenced my testimony.

 [Answer to the seventh question]:

I did not know the Servant of God before she joined the convent. Yet from her admittance until her death, not only was I her sister in religion, I was also quite close to her because we were kindred spirits. I have not sought to find out more about her from reading documents. I will simply recount what I myself observed.

 [Answer to the eighth question]:

I was always very fond of the Servant of God, because of the qualities and virtues that I observed in her during her lifetime. Since her death, my devotion has grown seeing the graces that people have obtained through her intercession. I very much hope she will be beatified, for the glory of God first of all, and also for the good of souls, because I believe that it will be a way to bring people to love God.

[Answer to questions nine to eleven inclusively]:

I have no direct knowledge of the life of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus before she joined the Carmel.

 [Answer to the twelfth question]:

Thérèse Martin joined the Carmel of Lisieux en [815] April 1888. She was then fifteen and a half, and by that time I had eleven years of profession. She received the Habit on 10th January 1889. She was professed on 8th September 1890 and received the Veil on 24th September that same year. She saw to the novices’ training despite not having the title of Novice Mistress, title which the Mother Prioress, Marie de Gonzague, had reserved for herself. She also carried out other duties successively, including that of laundry supervisor, portress, refectorian and sacristan. Nuns usually stay in the noviciate for three years following profession, but, upon her request, the Servant of God remained there her whole life.

I can confirm that, no matter what her responsibility, the Servant of God always behaved in an extremely edifying way.

[Answer to questions thirteen and fourteen]:

I never saw her fail in any of her obligations as a Christian or a nun or in any of her legal duties. Right up to the end of her life I considered her a model of all virtues.

WITNESS 9: Thérèse of Saint‑Augustine, O.D.C.

[Answer to questions fifteen and sixteen]:

Nothing could distract the Servant of God from her contemplation during Holy Mass, the Divine Office, or Meditation. If she happened to hear a noise, she would take no notice of it, and if she couldn’t help but be disturbed by it, she would use it to her spiritual advantage. She was always united to Jesus, even amid the most distracting [816] occupations.

[Answer to the seventeenth question:]

The Servant of God’s love for Jesus came through in her devotion to the mysteries of His Holy Childhood and Passion. Affronts to Him and to His Holy Face in particular pained her deeply and moved her to compassion. She would scatter rose petals over the cross in the garden and the feet of her crucifix, because they reflected what she herself wanted to be: a soul surrendered to God’s divine pleasure, that she might satisfy His every desire. She also prayed very frequently to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The duty of sacristan, which allowed the Servant of God to handle the holy vessels and cloths that had been used to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, represented an opportunity for her to draw nearer to Our Lord. She carried out this duty with great respect, for she considered it worthy of angels, which inspired her to strive harder every day to become less unworthy of the important role that had fallen to her.

 [Answer to questions eighteen and also nineteen]:

The Servant of God aspired to uniting herself as closely as possible to Jesus through Holy Communion. Falling ill did not dampen this aspiration, and even after nights of sleeplessness and suffering, she would come to an often early Mass, no matter how cold it was, so as not to be deprived of the bread of heaven [817] she craved. She would prepare to receive it in union with the Blessed Virgin, asking her to clothe her with her own dispositions and to present her herself to her divine Son.

She ardently desired to take Communion every day, but at that time, the Superiors did not allow it. This deprivation pained her deeply, so she was delighted when Pope Leo XIII’s decree took away their right of decision. However this was not the end of the trial. Although our Mother Prioress respected the pontiff’s decision, she refused to fully comply and to leave the confessor free reign. She gave him some freedom, but created so many difficulties that, out of caution, the latter thought it best not to exert his authority. The Servant of God therefore had to resign to continuing a life of deprivations. For the last month of her life, Jesus saw fit that she be unable to receive Him, which added to her suffering. However, ever submitted to His divine will, she yielded gracefully and was at peace. She was anxious to spare us from the martyrdom that she had endured, and shortly before leaving us, she promised that when in heaven, she would let fall a shower of roses upon the community. This shower of blessings was undoubtedly the gift of daily Communion, which we were granted immediately following her death and have enjoyed continuously since.

Whenever the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, she would gaze deeply at it, her eyes aflame. An angel would not have more lovingly contemplated [818] the One whom she now contemplated through a veil made transparent by faith. Her prayer was remarkably ardent for all its simplicity. Though no more than a gaze, it encompassed everything; the interests of God and those of mortals.

[Answer to the twentieth question]:

The Servant of God took delight in Holy Scripture. She was never at a loss for a passage that would perfectly suit a soul, and it was clear that she made it the daily nourishment of her spiritual life. She would readily leave aside most other books, which had no appeal to her as they were unable to fuel her love and give her the insight she sought.

The Imitation of Christ, however, was the exception. She would meditate on the profound thoughts contained in its pages. She greatly appreciated the works of Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross. She would listen with great respect to the teachings of Holy Church and to the directives given by priests, without dwelling on what might be flawed in their preaching.

 [Answer to the twenty-first question]:

She often expressed gratitude to the Most Blessed Virgin, by whom she felt cherished and whom she loved as a mother, and to Saint Joseph, whom she loved as dearly and who had gained her trust through various blessings. The angels and the saints, whom she called her brothers, [819] were also objects of her thanksgiving. We remember that she had asked them to grant her their protection, and she had had several signs that she had not sought their help in vain.

[Sitting 41: ‑ 3rd September 1915, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.]

 [822] [Answer to questions twenty-two to twenty-six inclusively]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had a childlike and unshakable faith in Jesus. She never doubted that her prayers would be answered. Requesting a blessing and being certain of obtaining it seemed only natural to her, for she was addressing an infinitely good and almighty father. She wished to become a saint, and, depending on Jesus to help her reach her goal, she never doubted that she would reach it. She held in high esteem the virtues inherent to childhood and, striving to imitate them, hoped that as long as she became little, the Divine Master would take her in His arms and lift her to the highest summits of love.

WITNESS 9: Thérèse of Saint‑Augustine, O.D.C.

No difficulty or circumstance, no matter how painful, could diminish her trust. Her face was always calm and never betrayed any worry, even amid her life’s greatest hardships. Her love of the cloister made her fear [823] religious persecution, but “I’m just a baby,” she said to me. “I don’t fret and will go where God wishes me to go.”  She lived free of apprehension, not thinking about herself and surrendering herself completely to Divine Providence. I was able to admire this virtue during her illness. “How miserable I’d be,” she confided, “if I was not surrendered to God. One day the Doctor says I am lost, the next that I’m recovering and might live until the end of April. How tiring that alternative would be! But such things do not trouble my soul or disturb my peace!” She joyfully endured the suffering that God sent her, concerning herself only with the present moment and not with what would follow, convinced that, in His tenderness, her heavenly Father would not give her more than she could bear. She gave herself to every divine whim, and even to experiencing the fears that sometimes come with death. “But if I should have them, they would not be sufficient to purify me,” she said naively. “What I need is the fire of love” [SS (Story of a Soul), epilogue].

She was a stranger to discouragement. Throughout her religious life, I was greatly edified by the assiduity with which she would decorate the statue of the Child Jesus under her charge. She always put the same care into the decorating and never showed any lassitude. She was very perseverant. Whenever she began something, she would see it through to the end, without letting anything stop her. When her suffering grew great during her illness, she would pray to the saints, often without receiving any tangible relief. This [824] did not stop her from praying to them, saying, “They want to see how far my trust will extend” [SS, epilogue].

Her thoughts were always turned to God. She longed for the bonds holding her here below to break, but only in order to “love God more and not for my own sake.”  Despite her aspirations, she would readily have remained in exile if it meant this would bring more glory to God. Yet she believed that up above she would have more power “to help souls and to win love for our Love” [SS, epilogue].

She rose above the considerations of this earth and saw everything from God’s perspective. She therefore failed to understand the grief we felt at the death of a Sister, “for it is only a temporary separation,” she said. “We shall all go to heaven and be reunited.” 

 [Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

Love for God was the dominant feature of this angelic soul. She took great care to avoid anything that might halt it, not only voluntary faults, which she deeply abhorred, but also the slightest imperfections.

 [Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

She never sought spiritual solace or delights. She wanted everything to be for God, no matter how great the sacrifice. Her love was pure and disinterested. In her relationship with Jesus, she did not [825] wish to see or feel anything except her own weakness and powerlessness to accomplish anything good. She wanted to delight the Divine Master at the expense of her repose, in pure suffering. She entrusted herself to His love to compensate for any faults that might creep into her actions.

She was a soul of strong mettle and knew no failure in terms of her devotion to the interests of Jesus and souls.

XXIX and XXX [Answer to questions twenty-nine and thirty]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus approached God as a child. She understood nothing of the complicated paths that some follow. According to her, such souls are “trapped in a labyrinth that doesn’t lead anywhere” [Primary source].She walked the straight path of simplicity, considering it to be the shortest and less vulnerable to pitfalls. She said, “A net is spread in vain before the eyes of those that have wings” [*Prov.1-17 and MSC 15,1].

Her spiritual life was sustained by God’s presence, which never left her, as she herself said. Her habitual reverence was reflected on her features and struck the other Sisters, even during recreations. It was clear that she dwelt in heaven and lent only half an ear to conversations. She did so with an amiability that revealed divine love as the motivation for her actions. She wished to make her Sisters happy, and by the same token to please [826] Jesus. When I was with her in the visiting room, I felt a strong spiritual sensation; I could tell that her thoughts were turned to heaven.

Whenever she was with a kindred spirit, she would joyfully follow her natural inclination to talk about God. She did so with such simplicity and discretion that it was impossible to fathom the beauties of her union with God. We glimpsed them only through the ascendency that she exercised over those around her.

 XXXI [Answer to the thirty-first question]:

The Servant of God often expressed her desire to die a martyr. She told me how deeply she regretted being unable to obtain that palm!

WITNESS 9: Thérèse of Saint‑Augustine, O.D.C.

She drew consolation from believing that dying of love would compensate for being unable to shed her blood. She therefore wanted her life to be a perpetual sacrifice, believing herself to be unworthy of the crown unless her daily renunciations constantly broke her will and detached her from earth. She craved martyrdom until she died. She reiterated this longing towards the end of her life, alluding to the signs of imminent religious persecution that were emerging. “You are more fortunate than I, for although I am going to heaven, you may have the grace of martyrdom.”

   XXXII [Answer to the thirty-second question]:

Her heroic love for God naturally gave rise to love for her neighbour. In community [827] life, the Servant of God practised charity to perfection, constantly putting herself aside for her Sisters. She would bear the ill-will or jealousy of those who failed to see her virtue uncomplainingly and without letting her pain show. She would remain patient, gentle, and amiable, greeting every Sister with a gracious smile, and avoiding anything that might pain them. She would try to be pleasant to them, and would always excuse them.

   XXXIII [Answer to the thirty-third question]:

The Servant of God never lost sight of the main reason she joined the Carmel: to obtain the sanctification of priests. She spared no pains in terms of assisting them, whether it was for their own good or the good of the souls whom it was their duty to convert or to guide along the path of perfection. It was with this view that she prayed hard not only for the righteous but also for sinners. She ardently wished to see Father Hyacinthe Loison abjure his errors, and she asked me to join her in praying for his conversion. She would have liked to do missionary work and to fly to faraway countries in order to convert unbelievers. Instead, she offered up many sacrifices to God in order to help missionaries.

 [Answer to questions thirty-four and thirty-five]:

When the Servant of God happened to come across a Sister [828] with whom she did not feel an affinity, she would pray for her and offer to God the virtues that she found in her. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was eager to be of service, remembering Jesus’ words: “What you have done for the least of my brethren, you have done for Me.” When she was unable to assist, she would apologise so amiably that one could not help but thank her anyway. She was therefore generous in God’s sight and never expected anything in return. Some took advantage of her extremely obliging nature, but she did not seek to avoid them because her maxim was that “one should never turn away from any nun likely to seek assistance” [MSC 15,2-17,1].

 [The witness resumes]:

She demonstrated her heroic charity towards [829] a frail Lay nun whom she assisted. The nun all too often showed nothing but ingratitude, but the Servant of God never tired of bestowing kindnesses upon her.

She found ingenious ways of showing compassion to the nuns whom she knew were suffering or in distress. With delightful sensitivity, she would say a few comforting words or simply smile if she could not do more. And her sympathy went straight to the heart. You could tell it was sincere, and an atmosphere of peace surrounded her. It was like being in the company of an angel.

And yet at that time, our religious life was characterised by much unpleasantness! It is a wonder how the nuns bore it and remained virtuous. At criticial times, the Servant of God lost none of her reverence; she would try to forgive if it were possible, otherwise she simply endured the difficulties and prayed. To Mother Prioress, who was the cause of the disorder, she showed the respect that was owed to her authority. She forbade her novices from criticising her behaviour in any way and taught them total submission and immense charity. Later on, when Mother Marie de Gonzague was no longer Prioress, the Servant of God continued to show sensitivity and kindness to her.

  XXXVI [Answer to the thirty-sixth question]:

Although those at risk of not going to heaven were a great cause of concern for Sister Thérèse [830], the souls trapped in purgatory also aroused her compassion. She was eager to put them in possession of Sovereign Goodness, consequently drawing from the treasures of Holy Church and requesting that we would frequently walk the Way of the Cross after her death in order to give her the means to help them.

  XXXVII [Answer to the thirty-seventh question]:

In the trying times under Mother Marie de Gonzague’s government, the Servant of God demonstrated great prudence in avoiding what might have made the already difficult situation worse. She strove to reconcile everyone and to pacify their minds so that peace might be restored and they could return to their all-too-often disturbed spiritual life. As for her, she never put aside her concern for her own perfection: on the contrary, she took advantage of such opportunities to climb nearer to her desired goal.

WITNESS 9: Thérèse of Saint‑Augustine, O.D.C.

However, her ongoing effort to practise virtue was noticed by those closest to her. The priests who came to give spiritual direction to the community had great respect for the Servant of God and often demonstrated deep trust in her.

  XXXVIII [Answer to the thirty-eighth question]:

The Servant of God was very prudent when giving spiritual direction to her novices. She knew when a soul needed more time, [831] and how to encourage them to virtue without pressing them beyond their capacity. When she came across difficult characters, she did not give up; she pointed out their faults to them with firmness and often managed to correct them. Many a time was her courage put to the test! But she was a stranger to weakness, and whilst treading softly to avoid breaking souls, she would reach her goal: the disobedient would return seeking forgiveness for their behaviour, desirous to do better.

  [Answer to the thirty-ninth question]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus considered it bliss to give to God the praise and adoration due to Him. Yet she made special efforts to show Him her gratitude for the countless blessings that she deemed herself indebted to His divine goodness. She knew by experience that God handsomely rewards the spontaneous prayer of a thankful heart. However it was not always desire for reward that prompted her to turn to the Creator of all things good. She felt grateful affection, which she expressed as follows: “Oh, how merciful is the Lord! He bestows His greatest blessings upon us freely” [Primary source].

  [Answer to the fortieth question]:

The Servant of God observed the principles of justice to the letter in the way she behaved [832] towards her superiors; she showed them the respect and submission that was owed to their authority. Remarkably, she did not alter her behaviour when she found herself face to face with a Superior whose faults were blatant and whose conduct was sometimes repulsive. The Servant of God never showed any bias, not even towards her blood sisters. Although her feelings for them did not alter, and the bonds between them grew, if anything, stronger, no one could have noticed this. The Sisters had no idea of the internal struggles she was sometimes forced to face in order to constantly remain within the limits of absolute reserve.

  [Answer to the forty-first question]:

Sister Thérèse was an angel in the sense that she distanced herself from flattery. It was as though she lived outside of time and she took no interest in news or conversations unless the Rule or charity bound her to do so. The gatherings that, alas, could all-too-often be seen under the cloisters left her indifferent: she would walk by without stopping, with her eyes lowered and that reverent bearing that distinguished her from others. She would advise her novices not to waste their time listening to talk that did not concern them, and to go promptly about their duties.

With regards to her blood sisters, even though she loved them dearly, she did not give them the [833] slightest satisfaction. She buried all such pleasures of the heart inside of her. Many a victory did she win over her natural instincts when Mother Agnes of Jesus (her sister Pauline) was elected Prioress. She was admirable! Even under this maternal government, I never caught sight of any slackening in her heroic virtue. She also observed silence perfectly, even with regards to her Mother Prioress, in which respect the Rule was more lenient. Blood ties did not diminish in any way her determination to practise complete detachment.

The Servant of God practised self-mortification relentlessly: she never complained about bad weather, although it caused her much suffering; she would mildly listen to disagreeable comments; she would valiantly practise the mortifications that the Rule imposed and, to make up for being unable to obtain permission to do more penance, she would eagerly seize every opportunity she came across to suffer. At mealtimes, she would invariably eat everything that was given to her, even if the food made her ill. At recreation times, she would choose to sit next to those of whom she was least fond. In her loving nature, she would readily have given herself over to the outpourings of friendship, but constantly refused herself this satisfaction. Leaving to others what was best, at her own expense, brought her joy; one young Lay Sister [834] did not hesitate to take advantage of this and tried her patience. Sister Thérèse consequently showed her a deeper affection and tireless devotion.

Her love of penance reached its pinnacle during her illness. In the last months, her pain became excruciating, and Mother Prioress believed it her duty to refuse her the means to alleviate it. The Servant of God accepted this with her usual serenity. I offered to pray to God to ease her suffering. “No, don’t,” she said quickly. “He must be left to it.” It was not with a view to earning more glory that she said this, because she went on to say, “It’s not for the reward, but for His pleasure.” 

  [Answer to the forty-second question]:

As she said herself, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had much to suffer here below. The cross weighed heavily upon her in many respects. She found at the Carmel what she had come to seek: daily renunciations and humiliation.

WITNESS 9: Thérèse of Saint‑Augustine, O.D.C.

Whenever one encountered her, you could only admire the fifteen-year-old child’s strength. Even early on in her religious life, she was able to find happiness in that which would frighten so many others. When a postulant, she was treated very severely by Mother Prioress. She was never shown any care or attention. The Prioress’ treatment of the Servant of God did not improve over time, yet the mildness and humility with which she accepted the remarks and reprimands never flagged, even when they were [835] undeserved. One mealtime, she had a coughing fit. Sick and tired of hearing her coughing, Mother Prioress said, sharply, “Oh, do go out, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus!” She withdrew with her calmness and serenity intact.

When her father came down with his humiliating illness, her inner strength shone even brighter, to the extent that she elicited the admiration of our venerable elders. They were astonished by her courage and her ability to remain ever reverent.

I was extremely surprised when she told me of her temptations against the faith. It was hard to imagine this serene soul in the grips of such great difficulties. It was assumed that blessings rained down upon her. She acted so naturally that it was as though she could perform whole hosts of virtues effortlessly. Her placid appearance earned her some unfavourable judgements. People did not hesitate to say aloud that the Servant of God had never had any struggles and it was therefore not surprising she was able to perform virtue. When I heard about this, not long before she died, I asked her in person whether it was true that, during her religious life, she had never had to struggle against her nature. She said, “I haven’t always had such an easy-going character. It wasn’t visible to others, but I saw it. I can assure you that I’ve had many struggles and I haven’t gone a single day without suffering, not a single one! Ah, the judgements of creatures! Because they don't see, they don't believe!"  I can confirm from [836] first-hand experience that the Servant of God strove to practise virtue constantly; she did not content herself with expecting all things from God; she acted.

Despite her illness, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus never evaded community exercises or hard labour. She worked without complaining until her strength left her. “I can still walk,” she would say, “I must go about my duties” [Primary source].

The courage with which she bore her sickness inspired admiration in her doctor. “If you only knew what she’s enduring!” he said. “I’ve never seen anyone endure suffering with an expression of such heavenly joy. She’s an angel!” [DEA (Last conversations with Mother Agnes) 24-9.]

[Answer to the forty-third question]:

I certainly never saw her commit a fault, however slight, in this respect.

[Answer to the forty-fourth question]:

As soon as she joined the convent, the Servant of God had to endure the deprivations of poverty. In the refectory, she was placed next to a Sister who, probably by inadvertence, took no notice of her neighbour and consequently she was deprived of what she needed for a long time: she did not let it show, but waited patiently for Providence to come to her aid.

She would choose whatever was ugly and inconvenient for her use, refusing to satisfy her appreciation for fine objects.

[837] She was mindful not to complain if someone took from her something she was using, considering that everything she had, she shared with her Sisters.

She paid special attention as to her use of time, ensuring she did not waste a single minute, in accordance with the Rule.

She did not content herself with these outward practices; she would let others steal her gifts of the mind, of which she had been endowed many, allowing her Sisters to appropriate them as they pleased, and would modestly remain in the background when someone took possession of her thoughts or insights.

 [Answer to the forty-fifth question]:

In her spirit of self-sacrifice, she would fully submit her convictions to the decisions of her superiors, indiscriminately, convinced that she could not put a foot wrong if she acted out of obedience. Once her superiors’ wishes made known, she promptly carried them out without allowing herself to question them in any way. It was not necessary to give her orders; all it took was a suggestion for her to immediately comply. If a recommendation given with the intention of bringing her relief had the opposite effect, she would still conform to it to the letter, practising virtue to a heroic degree.

She would observe the Rule down to the last detail, and other obligations with exemplary regularity.

Although her obedience was already admirable, the Servant of God did not consider that it was enough: [838] she resolved to extend it further by acknowledging in all of her Sisters the right to give her orders. All it took was a word or signal for her to act. Whether this was a desire or an order, whether it was expressed mildly or in a commanding tone that shocked her sensibility, she complied with everyone’s demands exactly, even when they came from someone inferior to herself.

She revealed herself to be no less obliging when she had to endure the Sisters’ insensitive disturbances. She did so with charming grace, preventing anyone from suspecting the series of sacrifices that resulted from her abnegation.

[Sitting 42: - 6th September 1915, at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon]

[841] [Answer to the forty-sixth question]:

The Servant of God was profoundly convinced of her inadequacy and weakness, which is why she constantly turned to God for the light and strength that she believed herself without.

WITNESS 9: Thérèse of Saint‑Augustine, O.D.C.

She spoke little of the blessings she received; what is more, she certainly did not compare herself to the saints. She modestly referred to herself as “a tiny soul upon whom God has poured out His blessings” [DEA 4-8].

Her insignificance brought her joy: it brought her joy to feel she was imperfect and to be recognised as such by her Sisters.

[842] She liked the lowliest place, and to be overlooked, preferring this to being scorned because it dealt her nature worse blows.

She found pleasure in thinking that her glory in heaven would not be dazzling. “God has always fulfilled my desires,” she said to me, “and I’ve asked to be small and insignificant. When a gardener arranges a bouquet, there is always a small empty space between its magnificent flowers, and he fills it with moss. That is what I shall be in heaven: a small snippet of moss, and I shall bring out the beauty of God’s lovely flowers.” 

The Servant of God kindly assisted those who solicited her, for example, she would humour a Sister’s desire that she write a poem, and would write it with simplicity, without pretence or self-interest, with the sole aim of pleasing others.

She demonstrated humility by always accepting criticisms with grace, not only from her superiors but also from her Sisters. The unfavourable judgments that were sometimes directed against her brought her extreme joy. One day, a Sister dared to say, “I don’t know why people talk so much about Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus; she doesn’t do anything remarkable. One doesn't see her practise virtue. You cannot even say she is a good nun.” When this remark was repeated to the [843] Servant of God towards the end of her life, Thérèse replied happily, “To hear on my death-bed that I am not a good nun, what joy! Nothing could give me greater pleasure.” 

  [Answer to the forty-seventh question]:

I believe that heroic virtue consists in the perfect practice of virtue, surpassing what can be observed in good and fervent nuns. I have known and still know many very good nuns, but Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus behaved in a different and superior manner. The difference was noticeable less in her deeds themselves than in the perfect way in which she accomplished them. For instance, there was a constancy and regularity in her perfection that I have seen in no one else. She was always animated by the same fervour. She practised virtues with an ease and generosity that made her appear ever kind and joyful. Furthermore, I have often noticed that good and holy nuns bear criticisms or unpleasant remarks with resignation and patience. Yet I have seen only Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus make them a cause for joy and rejoicing.

  [Answer to the forty-eighth question]:

I never saw the Servant of God behave indiscreetly. She was very wise and good in every way.

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

I am not aware of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus having had any extraordinary spiritual gifts, at least, not of a dazzling nature.

Yet I noted down some of the Servant of God’s words, words that seemed to have been said under the influence of divine action. For example in April 1895, she confided to me, “I shall die soon. I do not say that it will be within a few months, but within two or three years. I feel that, because of all that is taking place in my soul, my exile will soon come to an end.” Her words came to pass, for the Servant of God died two years and five months after our conversation.

On certain occasions, the Servant of God seemed to divine thoughts that were private and had not been shared with her.

She announced to Mother Hermance of the Heart of Jesus that she would die shortly, and the nun died a year later.

The Servant of God seemed able to foresee what would happen after her death, saying, “Little Thérèse will keep Mother Agnes of Jesus busy to the end of her days” [DEA 11-8. On other occasions she stated that nothing extraordinary would happen at her death and burial, because all little souls needed to be able to imitate her. She also suggested that her Sisters carefully gather up the rose petals with which she stroked her crucifix, adding [845] that they might benefit many. I myself did not hear her say the words relating to what would happen following her death. They were noted down by her blood sisters, who heard them, and I’m certain that they were noted accurately.

  L [Answer to the fiftieth question]:

Apart from the events I related in answer to the preceding question, I do not believe Sister Thérèse performed any miracles during her lifetime.

  [Answer to the fifty-first question]:

I know of the Servant of God’s writings, as do many, but I am not particularly aware of the circumstances under which she wrote them.

  [Answer to the fifty-second question]:

I did not nurse the Servant of God during her last illness: this privilege was reserved for the nurses and Mother Agnes of Jesus, but I witnessed her last moments. Her death was sublime and awe-inspiring for its simplicity.

WITNESS 9: Thérèse of Saint‑Augustine, O.D.C.

Before she died, she looked with shining eyes upon something just above the statue of the Blessed Virgin, as though called by some voice from the heavens. I can say, without fear of exaggerating, that for the time it took us to recite the Credo, her features were transformed by rapture. The expression on her face was so moving that I lowered my eyes. By that I do not mean that it was frightening; on the contrary, the divine expression [846] that shone from her face awed me.

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

I noticed nothing out of the ordinary with regards to the state of the Servant of God’s mortal remains or to her funeral ceremony. Many people attended, but that, I believe, can be explained by the fact that the family of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus lived in Lisieux itself.

  LVI [Answer to the fifty-sixth question]:

I am fairly often in the visiting room, because our Reverend Mother is frequently requested there by pilgrims and she sends me in her stead. I hear it said quite often that the burial place of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus is so busy that sometimes one cannot near it. People go there to pray, to weep and to hope, and they come away strengthened and comforted. Real transformations take place there. One person who went there in the grips of despair came away with their faith restored and their face beaming, as though they had just descended from heaven. The numerous visitors include Foreign Missionaries, and at the moment, army officers and soldiers, whose trust in the Servant of God is growing every day and is often rewarded with wondrous blessings.

  [Answer to the fifty-seventh question]:

During the Servant of God’s life as a nun, a small number of Sisters, [847] who were either deceived by her humility or were prejudiced in some way, were unable to recognise the great virtue of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. However, most agreed that she was exceptionally privileged by God and heroically faithful to His grace, as I said in answer to the question relating to the heroic nature of her virtues (answer forty-seven).

Since her death, the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness and miracles has grown by the day. It was Sister Thérèse’s wish to spend her heaven doing good on earth. The first to experience the power of her protection was a nun who had been hurtful to her. When the Servant of God’s body was laid out, the nun in question came to ask forgiveness for having misjudged her, and pressed her forehead against the Servant of God’s feet, praying for her intercession. She was instantaneously healed of cerebral anaemia, from which she had suffered for several years.

Since that time, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus continuous to let fall her shower of roses upon those who pray for her intercession, granting conversions, healings, and spiritual and temporal blessings of all kinds. Accounts of them are sent to the Carmel in their thousands.

As I am often sent by Mother Prioress to meet visiting priests, monastics and missionaries, I have noticed not only their admiration for the Servant of God, but also their boundless trust in her protection: they regard her as a [848] great saint. They say that anyone who asks her for a blessing is sure to be gratified. Also, some entrust their ministry to her, while others surrender to her the spiritual direction of their parishes and consider themselves merely her curates.

There are some who choose her as their spiritual guide, believing she has a privileged knowledge of God’s ways. Some come in order to compensate for at first having refused to recognise the heavenly gifts with which she had been bestowed, and to commit themselves to spreading devotion to her. One such person confided, “I did not want to give in to her, but little Thérèse overwhelmed me: now I cannot even begin to express my admiration for her.” What appeals to people is the intense spiritual life that she led, and the great simplicity with which she led it! Also, many people have expressed their most ardent wishes for her prompt beatification! The dean of a Parish in the north of France told me, “I advocate trust in little Thérèse to many, but I also advise caution to ensure that nothing takes place resembling worship, for it would be most unfortunate that such a fine Cause be compromised.” Large numbers of priests come to ask for the privilege of celebrating Holy Mass in the convent chapel. Between the beginning of 1912 and the end of August 1915, the number of Masses celebrated here amounted to 1395. Over a period of eight months in 1912, 191 priests requested to celebrate Mass in the Carmel, and over a period of eight months in 1915, that number rose to 286.

People from outside the convent have no less trust in the Servant of God than nuns, and are granted no fewer favours. It is touching to note their devotion. They say, “Little Thérèse takes care of absolutely [849] everything.” Consequently, a significant number of Masses are requested to be said either in favour of her beatification, in thanksgiving for blessings received, or in the hope of obtaining blessings, for example conversions, healings, the safeguard of soldiers, the deliverance of souls in purgatory, and so on. The number of Masses requested between the beginning of 1912 and the end of August 1915 amounts to 166,000. Over a period of eight months in 1912, 9594 Masses were requested, and over a period of eight months this year, 1915, the number of requests rose to 56,800.

It is not rare in the visiting room to hear educated pilgrims say, “Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus did nothing extraordinary, it’s true, but what a spiritual life she led! How we wish we loved God as she did!” People treasure as relics the small sachets containing fragments of bed-curtain or other objects that the Servant of God touched. Army officers pin them to their flags, and soldiers are always requesting them as a means of protection. The Carmel distributes such keepsakes in their thousands and still cannot satisfy the demand. Missionaries have told me that unbelievers in the mission lands have great faith in the Servant of God.

WITNESS 9: Thérèse of Saint‑Augustine, O.D.C.

They say, “It’s wonderful the good she is doing for our Black natives.”

  [Was this reputation spread by artificial means?]:

We did absolutely nothing to kindle such zeal. [850] Everything that the Carmel did and published was in response to urgent requests made by the faithful. We even refuse to do some things requested of us.

  [Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I have heard nothing said since the Servant of God’s death that has not been in praise of her holiness.

It is true, as I’ve said, during her lifetime a small minority of nuns were unable to appreciate the extent of her perfection. I said that one Sister even ventured to say, “I don’t know why people talk so much about Sister Thérèse; she doesn’t do anything remarkable. One doesn't see her practise virtue. You cannot even say she is a good nun.”

 [Is the nun who said this still alive?]

No, she is dead. It is the same nun who knelt in front of the Servant of God’s body to ask her for forgiveness for having misjudged her and who was instantly cured of cerebral anaemia.

 [The witness continues as follows]:

It might come as a surprise that a soul as perfect as she was not appreciated by everyone in the community, but sometimes, to put His servants’ virtue to the test, God sees fit to let human passions falsify people’s judgement and to allow the [851] greatest virtues appear as faults. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus endured such a test. Yet I say again that it was a minority who failed to understand her.

 [Were the nuns who were opposed to the Servant of God shining examples of religious perfection and intelligence?]:

They were indeed fervent, or at least appeared to me to be so. I would not say otherwise. Yet as for their sharpness of mind and more importantly the soundness of their judgment, that is a different story!

 [Answer to the fifty-ninth question]:

A few weeks before she died, the Servant of God spoke of beginning her conquests immediately following her death, and of going to seminaries and mission lands. The very next year, 1898, the Annals of the Propagation of the Faith recorded conversion figures that, according to missionaries, were unprecedented. They attributed their successes to the Holy Spirit blowing anew onto [852] some of their missions. In many places, unbelievers came of their own accord for instruction and to be baptised.

The Servant of God reveals her presence quite often through scents of roses, violets, incense, and so on. They have been noticed several times in the community. People outside the convent have also perceived them. Upon some people’s request, she stays by their side like a guardian angel. They are unaware of the delightful fragrance she is exuding until those around them comment upon it and ask where such a pervading scent might be coming from.

Sister Thérèse at times heralds hardship: I know this myself by experience. On 2nd January 1911, as I sat down in the refectory for the evening meal, I noticed on the table in front of me something that looked like an insignificant piece of wood. I glanced at it several times during the meal, without thinking anything of it. I was even on the point of leaving the refectory without discovering what it could be when another Sister sitting nearby motioned to me to pick it up. I did so. Imagine my surprise to discover it was a two-inch long and very sharp thorn. I asked the Provisor why she had put a thorn in my place, and she replied that she had no idea what I was talking about. When asked, the Sisters in the kitchen all said they had had no hand in it. Then I realised that it might be a warning from Sister Thérèse, [853] foreshadowing my mother’s imminent death. I do not know why this thought crossed my mind, because my mother was very well at the time, and nothing suggested that I should be worried about her. Yet my mother did indeed die, less than two months later, on 27th February 1911.

In the visiting room I have heard countless accounts of conversions, healings, and temporal and spiritual blessings. One priest told me, “I’ve come here to give thanks for the healing of my nephew, who used to suffer from typhoid fever with haemorrhages. He was a lost cause according to the doctors, but he had a picture of little Thérèse that never left his side, and he had great faith in her intercession. He has fully recovered now.”

On another occasion, I was told of the conversion of a hardened sinner who refused to see the priest. When he lost consciousness, his family began a novena to Sister Thérèse for him. On the seventh day, the patient recovered consciousness, sent for the priest, was administered Holy Communion and Extreme Unction, and died in the best of dispositions.

There is also the account of an 80 year old Jew; he allowed for his children to be Catholic but he himself stubbornly refused to convert, despite repeated insistence. His family therefore appealed to the Servant of God and, without any pressure being put on the patient, he spontaneously changed his mind and died a Catholic.

[854] Sister Thérèse seems to have a marked predilection for soldiers, given the number of those who have been shown her protection. Some claim to have seen her in the trenches, others on the battlefield.

WITNESS 9: Thérèse of Saint‑Augustine, O.D.C.

All are strengthened by the sight of her, and many are saved from certain death thanks to her protection. Here is what a priest told me a few weeks ago: a military cyclist, whose occupation is extremely risky, saw three comrades at his side get killed by a shell. His own bicycle buckled beneath him from the impact and was projected ten yards from him yet he escaped completely unscathed. His mother attributes his survival to a relic of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus that the young man wore on him. It is not rare that I am recounted events of this kind.

A Belgian soldier who, since October 1914, had suffered from asthma, neuralgia pain in his heart and extreme overall weakness was treated in several hospitals unsuccessfully. At the Bon Sauveur hospital in Caen, Sister Paule, his nurse, gave him a picture and a relic of Sister Thérèse, advising him to pray to her, which he did in great faith. On 30th May 1915, the Bl. Virgin appeared to him. She was standing on a globe dressed in a blue mantle dotted with gold stars and wearing a golden crown upon her head. A few seconds later, Sister Thérèse appeared to the right of the Bl. Virgin. She was very beautiful, dressed in a Carmelite habit and wearing the Order's white mantle. She held in her hand a basket of roses and cast one onto the patient’s bed. He did not, [855] however, find the rose afterwards. The vision lasted for about a minute: the patient then fell asleep and awoke the following day fully recovered. There has been no trace of the ailments ever since. He came to Lisieux on pilgrimage to give thanks and to pray in our chapel, and was awestruck to discover that the statue of the Bl. Virgin standing at the back of the sanctuary was an exact likeness of the vision he had seen. It was during his pilgrimage that the soldier in question, Léon Vandamme, recounted these events to me.

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

I have not directly witnessed any healings of this kind.

 [Answer to the sixty-sixth question]:

I have nothing to add.

[As regards 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: SISTER THÉRÈSE OF SAINT AUGUSTINE, witness. I hereby ratify and confirm that I have testified as above according to the truth.