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From sr Marie of the Sacred Heart to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) – August 5, 1917

From sr Marie of the Sacred Heart to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) – August 5, 1917

Jesus,                                                                                 Sunday 5th August 1917

Darling little sister,

Sr. Geneviève received your feast day letter and is very pleased she made you happy. If she hasn’t said as much herself, it is because she has a lot to do, so I am going to be the one bringing you our news.

The exhumation will take place on Thursday and Friday because the ceremony takes two days no less.

From 3 to 5 pm on Thursday the coffin will be removed from the grave and placed in the cemetery chapel. The doors will be sealed and two men (Pierre and someone else) will keep guard all night.

At 9 am the following day, Friday, the Bishop, accompanied by all the court members and two doctors (Dr. de Cornières and Dr. Loynel) will go back to the cemetery to identify the remains. What will surprise you is that Sr. Geneviève and Sr. Madeleine will be present, as it is stated that two nuns from the monastery will attend the ceremony and help collect the bones. Sr. Geneviève is happy to go, and we thank God for this, because it requires a special grace to see a beloved sister reduced almost to dust. It’s true that when this sister is a saint, and it is out of veneration that her poor bones are being brought to light, it’s not quite the same.

The blessed bones will be placed in a sort of little reliquary made out of sculpted oak and padded with white satin (dress which Sr. M. Emmanuel, her sister Sr. M. Henriette, and their niece Sr. Thérèse of the Sacred Heart all wore when they took the Habit).

On the cover is a large sculpted cross interlaced with a crown of thorns and attributes of the passion. In the centre of the cross is a Holy Face which Our Mother painted, framed in very beautiful sculptured oak. The little coffin, or rather reliquary which will contain her bones, will be placed in a large lead-sealed coffin (rosewood), which will be lined with silk as well. It wasn’t our Mother who asked for such a fine coffin. Mgr. de Teil was surprised to see this “marvel” (that’s what he calls it), but Mr. Borniol from Paris said, “Vice Postulator, this is the first time we have worked for a saint and we want nothing but the finest for her. The Carmel won’t have anything extra to pay.”

I must tell you that as the cemetery Chapel is a little small, Fr. Duboscq is going to have a bit of empty space just opposite surrounded by planks of wood, and Fr. Bor­niol who generally oversees important exhumations, will come from Paris with 5 men and 2 upholsterers to organise everything.

If dear Didine attends the exhumation, I don’t think she’ll see anything more than a crowd, given that it will be impossible to approach the Carmelites’ cemetery. Fr. Duboscq has arranged with the Mayor of Lisieux to have posts and iron wiring placed along the path at a certain distance from the nearby graves to prevent them from being trampled. Policemen and two of the town’s sergeants will nevertheless be there to maintain order; Fr. Duboscq thinks this is indispensable.

In a few days, dear little sister, we’ll send you a photograph of the little oak coffin. Sr. Geneviève took it especially for you.

I almost forgot to tell you that the pretty lily and rose sprays which will cover the coffin have already been ordered by devotees to our little saint, and Fr. Duboscq has asked for the 1st class bier. It would be impossible for men to carry the coffin, which is very heavy, all the way to the cemetery chapel. We would normally have had the paupers’ bier, but he says saints’ remains must be honoured very highly indeed.

Farewell darling little sister. I am hurriedly leaving you so that my letter goes this evening.

Your Eldest Sister who loves you tenderly

                                                                                 Sr. Marie of the S. Heart

                                                                                             u. c. n.

So the exhumation, or rather the ceremony of taking the coffin to the cemetery, will be at about 4 or 5 pm on Friday 10th August. Fr. Romagny, who made the beautiful frame for the Pope, is willing to spend the night beside the coffin with Pierre. We have just heard this. He is on leave at the moment: can you see a soldier guarding our little saint?… it’s quite eloquent!

Poor little Sr. Geneviève will never have the time to paint the portrait of our Aunt from Le Mans. First of all, we don’t need any more work on top of everything we are doing for Thérèse.