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From sr Marie of the Sacred Heart to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - August 10, 1917

From sr Marie of the Sacred Heart to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - August 10, 1917

+ Jesus                                                                                       Friday 10th August 1917


Darling little sister,

Someone is going to Caen this evening and I’m taking the opportunity to quickly give you a little information.

Sr. Geneviève and Sr. Madeleine left at about 8 this morning. A few minutes beforehand, Jeanne met them in the visiting room, fondly hugged Céline and, at a ¼ past 8, accompanied them both to the cemetery in the carriage. Five carriages were waiting outside the Carmel gates: a two-horse carriage for the Bishop, one for the doctors, one for the Court members, one for the priests from Bayeux (Court) whom the Bishop had invited, and one for our two Sisters.

Seeing Sr. Geneviève leave, I admit Our Mother and I were a little anxious, wondering whether the emotions that awaited her up there would be too much, and begging God to give her the necessary strength. I nevertheless thought that little Thérèse would welcome her with her gentle smile and bring something celestial to this seemingly sad ceremony, which she did. At ½ past 11 our two dear Sisters came back to the monastery (before leaving again at ½ past 1) and Sr. Geneviève’s first words to our Mother were, “O Mother, don’t be upset, it was so touching and beautiful!” Then she told us a little about what had just happened; almost all the bones had been found. All fifteen or so priests surrounded our dear little saint’s coffin and gathered the precious bones in their hands with touching respect. Fr. Duboscq was so moved that he was trembling a little, Sr. Geneviève said.

But they didn’t manage to finish the work this morning and now they are wrapping the dear remains, which God already sees fit to glorify, in silk and fine linen.

More than 1500 people were at the cemetery. It was a significant religious event. When the coffin was placed by the side of the grave, the Bishop launched into the Laudete pueri Dominum. According to our Turn Sisters, the silent and reverent crowd was an impressive sight. A soldier not far away scaled the railings and touched his helmet to the coffin. Everyone was trying to pass objects through them. Today the fine 1st class bier is going back to the cemetery, but in vain, because the workers of Mr. Bengol (the man who made the beautiful rosewood coffin) have requested to carry the venerated remains on their shoulders. One of these workers was a prisoner in Germany and owes his return to France to “the little saint” as he calls her.

I almost forgot to tell you that amongst the debris of completely ruined and damp blackened clothes, a white silk ribbon was found intact. It bore these words in gold lettering, “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth. After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.” The ribbon was still white and the letters still bright, which is thought extraordinary and miraculous. The ribbon had been tied around a bouquet of roses that was placed at our little sister’s feet in the coffin at the last exhumation.

I also nearly forgot to tell you that Jeanne went back at 11 am to fetch Sr. Geneviève and Sr. Madeleine from the cemetery, and that on the journey she threw her arms around Sr. Geneviève, saying, “Forgive me, darling little sister, for all the trouble we gave you with regard to Thérèse. We did you a great many wrongs. Oh, how sorely I regret it today! Promise me you’ll put it out of your mind forever.”

I’ve nothing else to tell you, dear little sister. Sr. Geneviève or I will tell you about the rest later on. – We received the little letter you entrusted to the people you mentioned.

Three Carmelite nuns came wearing white capes and their long veils.

It was Mr. Bengol who offered the rosewood coffin.

You said you received a telegram today. If only you had seen our sisters begging Our Mother to send it to you. I tried to tell them I was writing to you anyway, but they paid no attention.

Farewell, darling little sister, I should leave you so as not to miss the opportunity to send you this

                                                                                        Your eldest sister

                                                                                 Sr. Marie of the S. Heart

                                                                                             u. c. n.

Out of caution, Mgr. de Teil says almost nothing in the “La Croix” newspaper. My affectionate respects to your dear Mothers.

Enclosed is a photograph of the little coffin (from three angles). When Mr. Bengol sends us the photo of the rosewood coffin, we will pass it on to you. Our Mother is very sorry to have prevented the Sister who offered to come from attending. We weren’t expecting what happened at all. We didn’t even consider sending our Turn Sisters for a long time.