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1st designated witness Jeanne-Marie of the Child Jesus, O.D.C.

WITNESS XVII (DESIGNATED WITNESS I)

JEANNE-MARIE OF THE CHILD JESUS, O.D.C.

The first designated witness is a humble Lay Sister of the Carmelite Convent of Lisieux. She was a conquest of Thérèse, though she did not know her during her lifetime.

Her name is Jeanne Marie Halgand. She was born in Crossac (diocese of Nantes) on 17th October 1886. Cured of her scruples by Thérèse, she was inspired by her to join the Carmel of Lisieux on 11th November 1905. She received the Habit on the feast of Saint Teresa, 15th October 1906, and was given the name Jeanne Marie of the Child Jesus. Her profession took place on 17th October the following year. Her admittance to the Carmel therefore coincided with the moment when Thérèse’s influence began to make itself felt in the world more strongly.

The humble nun’s testimony reveals a mysterious aspect of this influence: a spiritual aid on the path to God. As the nun states, it involves experiencing Thérèse’s presence as it encourages us to seek God through the generous practice of surrender and theological charity.

The interventions of the saint, who continued educating and training her Sisters even after her death, recalls the wonder of Gallipoli and the “sure way” she indicated (cfr. I, p. 561). Sister Jeanne-Marie, too, gives us the concrete indication of a path. She reiterates the objectives of faithfulness and generosity, and invites us to give of ourselves peaceably and constantly to the ever-present Lord.

This is why it is thought that, although she didn’t know the saint in her lifetime, Sister Jeanne-Marie’s words carry particular value. They show that Thérèse became a Carmelite truly in order to encourage others to holiness, and that the memory of her, far from encouraging sentimentalism, promoted strength, which was the main characteristic of her teaching here below.

The witness testified on 29th September 1916, in the 66th sitting, and her testimony is found on pages 1307-1313 of the public transcription.

[Sitting 66: 29th September 1916, at 9 o’clock.]

[1307] [The witness answers the first question satisfactorily.]

 [Answer to the second question:]

My name is Jeanne Marie Halgand. I was born in Crossac in the diocese of Nantes on 17th October 1886 to Denis Halgand, a fisherman, and Marie Modeste Poulo. I am a nun of the Carmelite Convent of Lisieux, where I was professed on 17th October 1907.

 [The witness answers questions three to five satisfactorily].

 [Answer to the sixth question:]

I am prepared to speak the truth as I know it.

[1308] [Answer to the seventh question:]

I never knew the Servant of God, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, in person. I know nothing about her save what our Sisters in the community have told me. Yet she showed me a favour which I can relate to you.

 [Answer to the eighth question]:

I have affection and a devotion to the Servant of God because I’ve noticed that the more closely united I am to her, the more I love God. I hope with all my heart she will be beatified, because I believe it will bring God glory.

 [After omitting questions nine to fifty-eight inclusively, the designated witness is asked questions fifty-nine to sixty-five, which concerned the reason she was summoned. Answer]:

Before I became a nun and came to know my beloved little Thérèse of the Child Jesus, following nothing more than a nod to a picture of her that I had been given, she gave me the grace to bear, with strength and resignation, the trial of scruples and temptations against the faith that was making me suffer to the extent I believed I was damned. I did not ask her to remove my suffering, but for the grace to suffer with resignation and love. She answered my prayer and on that very day gave me the conviction that I would soon be a nun in her dear Carmel. This came to pass on 11th November that same year.

[1309] It is also true that the following year, in 1906, I prayed to her that God might remove these temptations from me (in order that I might glorify Him more), and she answered my prayer on the evening of my Habit Reception, the 15th October 1906.

In 1909, I was again assailed by temptations for a few months, and the thought that I should not take Holy Communion became a real martyrdom. I prayed Sister Thérèse to deliver me, not from my suffering, but from the risk of losing my Communions. Again, she answered my ardent prayers.

In October 1907, when two of my fellow Sisters were sick, I was tasked with all the work in the kitchen for a fortnight.

DESIGNATED WITNESS I: Jeanne Marie of the Child Jesus, O.D.C.

When all three of us were working assiduously, I could barely complete my own tasks if I didn’t waste any time. Now it is true that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus helped me in such an extraordinary way that I was easily able to complete both my work and that of my two Sisters without feeling tired.

Returning to our cell every morning to tidy it, I would find it perfumed with a very sweet smell of incense, and would feel not only renewed courage but also the tangible presence of my little Thérèse, who gave me the ever-increasing desire to do more for God.

One evening in 1909, I took a quarter of an hour out of meditation time to perform an act of charity. On the way, I felt an invisible [1310] force hold me back and a gentle voice inside of me distinctly say: “Oh, don’t wait for meditation time to unite yourself with Jesus: He’s here, in your soul. Think of Him always... He loves you!”

Before meditation that same day, I had prayed to Sister Thérèse to enlighten me as to God’s Will. The following day, during meditation, I hear her voice inside of me say clearly, “All you need to do is expose your soul to His divine rays. That is to walk in His presence always. It’s so simple and easy for little souls who are willing to acknowledge their insignificance and weakness to humble themselves and to lose themselves in Him.”

One day in the week of Christmas 1910, I busily prepared little paper sachets containing keepsakes of the Servant of God (this was the gift I was preparing for the feast of our Reverend Prioress). I needed 900 to 1000 authenticating stamps, and I had only about a hundred. Whilst working, I chatted simply to little Thérèse; I talked about my spiritual life and also told her that she must help me and even work a small miracle so that I might be able to finish my meagre little gift. It was 9 o’clock in the morning. At 10 o’clock, I left my work and when I returned to our cell at 3 in the afternoon, I found the box that had been almost empty filled to the brim with exactly the right number of authenticating seals to finish my gift. I felt compelled to kneel and thank Sister Thérèse joyfully. Yet a moment later, [1311] fearing I had been deluded, I went to ask Mother Prioress whether one of the Sisters had wanted to surprise me by filling up the box. But none of them had had time to work for me, and Mother Prioress believed that Sister Thérèse had indeed worked a little miracle. The latter strengthened my own inner conviction by having me perceive a balmy scent of violets no less than three times while I was relating the event to our Reverend Mother.

On 23rd February 1910, I was busy cleaning the kitchen windows when the idea came to me to fill up the stove boiler, which I knew was almost empty, out of charity for my fellow Sister. My little Sister Thérèse, to whom I had grown accustomed to turning for help, inspired me to do this kindness. My Sister then came in and said, “First, empty all the hot water that’s still in the boiler. I’ll clean it and then we’ll fill it up.” I therefore emptied the boiler completely, and after cleaning it myself, I poured a first pitcher of water into it while my Sister went to the pump to fill up other pitchers, which we would then pour into the boiler. But as I was about to pour the second pitcher of water in, I noticed the boiler was full to the brim. I had the feeling that Divine Providence had intervened. I called to my companion, Sister Marie-Madeleine: “Come and see,” I said. “The boiler contains four pitchers of water. I’ve only put one in and it’s full! Did you fill it up?” Sister Marie-Madeleine had stayed by the pump and had not [1312] poured any water into the stove reservoir. What is more, we were alone in the kitchen. We said to one another, “We know well who has filled it up: it’s our beloved little Thérèse, she who so loved charity. All that’s left for us to do is thank her.”

On 9th May 1912, I had to resign myself to a great sacrifice, and I thought it was beyond my strength, so much so that I risked seriously breaching the rule of obedience by not generously accepting what was asked of me. I prayed fervently to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and asked her to help me not to let my sorrow show. I can confirm that the following morning, 10th May 1912, I was awoken by the gentle but firm voice of Sister Thérèse saying, “The time has come for you to love Jesus with tenderness! Do you really want to refuse Him this sacrifice?... What about saving souls? What about His glory? Be more generous!”

My devotion and faith in Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus grows deeper every day, because I feel that the more I love her, the more I love God. Ever since 9th June 1915, when in prayer I definitively entrusted myself to her protection and surrendered myself to her, my soul has but one ardent desire: to glorify God in all ways through complete self-sacrifice. I often feel the real presence of my heavenly protectress: turning my thoughts to her increases my fervour in the practice of virtue.

[1313] [As regards the Articles, the witness claims to know nothing other than what they have already declared in response to the preceding questions. - Here ends the questioning of this designated witness. The statements are read out. The witness makes no alteration to them and signs as follows]:

Signatum: I, SISTER JEANNE MARIE OF THE CHILD JESUS, witness, have testified as above according to the truth. I hereby ratify and confirm my testimony.