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Father Godefroy Madelaine, Prem. Ord.

LITTLE APOSTOLIC PROCESS OF NAMUR for the questioning of Father Godefroy Madelaine, Prem. Ord.

(1917)

It has already been pointed out that the Premonstratensian Abbot, Fr Godefroy Madelaine, should have been among the witnesses questioned in the ‘Inchoative’ Apostolic Process. In 1915-1916 he was over the age of 70: his testimony was all the more interesting given the nature of this Process “ne pereant probationes” (“lest the proofs should perish”). Unfortunately, as it has already been pointed out, he was in Belgium following the 1903 wave of expulsions; he found himself in occupied territory and it was impossible to contact him, even by letter. This is the reason why, after acknowledging on 25th August 1916, in the 58th sitting, the impossibility of contacting the Abbot, the Court of Bayeux and Lisieux accepted the apology of Mgr de Teil, Vice Postulator, for his absence, and suggested that Father Madelaine might be able to testify in the “Continuative” Process (cf. pp. 1109-1110).

However, 1917 opened once again to the noise of a seemingly endless war. This is why Father Rodrigue de S. François de Paule, Postulator General, asked Pope Benedict XV to allow Fr Madelaine to be questioned in Namur, the diocese where the latter was residing. The Congregation of Rites issued this authorisation in Decree 329 of 10th January 1917 and sent it to the Bishop of Namur in a letter dated 5th February. The letter also contained the pastoral letter dated 30th January and the questionnaire.  The latter was practically identical to that which had been used for the “Inchoative” and “Continuative” Apostolic Process, save for a few minor adjustments allowing the questions to be put to one witness only. Signed by Monsignor Angelo Mariani, Sub-Promoter General of the Faith, these documents provided the framework for the questioning of the witness.                         

Pursuant to the Holy See’s directives, during the summer of that same year, the Court was constituted for the “Processiculus”, that is to say, “Little Process”, in view of the questioning of Father Madelaine. The Bishop, Monsignor Thomas Louis Heylen, chose to preside over the Process in person, as judge, appointing Chancellor Mathias Lecler, who was Fiscal Promoter of the Curia, as Sub-Promoter of the Faith and Father Joseph Bouchat, who was Episcopal Chancellor, as Court Clerk.

The “Little Process” lasted only 4 sittings. These were held in the bishopric on 31st August, 6th September (morning and afternoon) and 29th October 1917. The witness began his testimony in the very first sitting, following the opening judicial statements, and concluded in the third sitting. The 29th October sitting was dedicated solely to the concluding judicial statements.

Godefroy Madelaine, the 14th witness in the Ordinary Process, is very familiar to us.

Born in Torneur (diocese de Bayeux) on 14th November 1842, he was professed in 1864 at the Premonstratensian Monastery of Mondaye (Calvados) of which he would be Prior from 1879 to 1899. During this latter period, he was requested several times to preach and to confess at the Carmelite Convent of Lisieux, where he was appreciated and revered. This is where he met Thérèse of the Child Jesus, although he had heard of her before she joined the Carmel. He also enjoyed the friendship of Louis Stanislas Martin, Thérèse’s father, whom he esteemed highly. Elected Abbot of Frigolet Abbey (Bouches du Rhône) in 1899, in 1903 he suffered the fate reserved for French monastics and was expulsed. He found refuge in Leffe Dinant, near Namur in Belgium, and did not return to France until after the war. He died in Mondaye on 22nd September 1931, with the name of Thérèse on his lips. He had made himself a staunch apostle of her doctrine.

It is moving to read in his testimony, “I would die happy if could but see her (Thérèse) beatified, and I pray she receives such glorification” (f. 24r). God would grant her much more. When he was called to minister at the Carmel, Thérèse introduced herself with the words, “Father, it’s the little soul” [J.J.ANDRE, Prem. O. Analecta Praemonstratensia] and it was the wish of this little soul that he should see the fulfilment of his words spoken in Namur: “God has willed to see humility glorified through her” (f. 38v). Fr Madelaine had the joy of venerating Thérèse as Blessed and Saint, of seeing her be declared Patron of All Missions and of witnessing his Saint’s feast be extended to Universal Church.

Fr Madelaine’s testimony adds nothing of particular interest to his 1911 statement. However, his 1917 declaration appears less studied, fresher and more immediate. Although the Abbot does not hide the fact that Story of a Soul is his primary source of information (he was, as he cares to point out (cfr. f. 23v), a chief architect of its first publication) he is nevertheless keen to emphasise his reliance on his “personal knowledge” in general.

It is thanks to this knowledge that, as in the first Process, Fr Madelaine insists heavily on Thérèse’s trial against the faith. The Abbot alludes to this “martyrdom” from several perspectives. This shows the theological and “modern” understanding that he had of the “little soul” and her embodiment of grace.

It is also worth noting the Servant of God’s attitude and words at this very difficult time: “I saw her at this period in her life: outwardly, no one could suspect her inner troubles. And when I asked her how she managed to hide her suffering, she replied, ‘It is so no one suffers from my troubles.’ Only the Prioress and confessor were allowed to know of them” (f. 27v). It is also delightful to hear Fr Madelaine relate the one criticism he had heard against 15 year old Thérèse. It was spoken by a very estimable priest, who found her too jovial on her trip to Rome (cfr. f. 38v). The elderly gentleman esteems this opinion overly severe, because she was an adolescent, and what is more, “had a friendly and cheerful nature”. United to God in charity and faith, this nature became increasingly meek and a beacon of serenity. “In the community, it was widely said one needed only to see Sister Thérèse to feel God’s peace” (ff. 30v31r).

QUESTIONINNAIRE OF THE PROMOTOR GENERAL OF THE FAITH

[Here, the “Processiculus” lists the 66 articles in the questionnaire, which was signed by the Sub-Promotor of the Faith, Monsignor Ange Mariani. The text was the same as that used in the Apostolic Process of Bayeux and Lisieux save for a few minor adaptations: see text pages 8195].

THE WITNESS’ TESTIMONY

[Sitting 1: 31st August 1917, at 9 o’clock]

[22v] [The witness answers the first question satisfactorily.]    

 [Answer to the second question:]

My name is Godefroy Madelaine. I am originally from Tourneur, in the diocese of Bayeux.

I was born to Jean-Baptiste Madelaine and Marie Hamel on 14th November 1842. I am a Regular Premonstratensian Canon, and Abbot of the Abbey of Saint-Michel de Frigolet refuged in Leffe, having made a vow of poverty.

   [Answer to the third question]:

I go to confession regularly [23r] and celebrate Holy Mass every day.                                   

 [Answer to the fourth question]: I have never been prosecuted for any crime.

 [Answer to the fifth question]: I have never been under censorship, as far as I know.

[Answer to the sixth question:]

No human motive has induced me to appear today; I come through obedience to Holy Church and to testify to the truth, as far as I am able.

Single witness: Father Godefroy Madelaine, Prem. Ord.

I have been instructed by no one as to how I should answer or behave in this examination.

Ad septimum [Answer to the seventh question]:

I personally knew the Servant of God very well. I knew her in my ministry, when I preached numerous retreats to the community of the Carmelite Convent of Lisieux while she was a nun there. I attended her Habit Reception ceremony. I saw her many times. I heard her in confession. I knew her parents and her whole family perfectly well. I know four surviving sisters, three of whom are Carmelite nuns and the fourth is a Visitandine nun. I have heard people speak of her thousands of times, both during her lifetime and after her death, especially her relatives and her sisters, particularly her elder sister, the Prioress of the Carmel of Lisieux. I’ve also heard the nuns of the convent of Lisieux who lived with her speak of her, as well as Father Youf, the chaplain of the Carmel, and the two Bishops of Bayeux, Monsignors Hugonin and Lemonnier. [23v] The former knew her, the latter is involved in her Process.

I have also come to know her through the manuscripts that she wrote herself. Following her death in 1897, her Reverend Mother Prioress wrote to me, saying, “Before flying to heaven, our angel left us a treasure. It is the biographical manuscript that I gave her the order to write. I wanted to send it to you, so that you might read it and tell us what you think of it.” As soon as I received it in the post, I read it. Then I read it again and again, and my astonishment and admiration grew each time I read it. Although I had known her perfectly well, the manuscript revealed many aspects of her I had not seen. Some weeks later, I wrote back to Mother Prioress saying that I thought this biography would benefit many if it was printed. She asked me to request the authorisation and imprimatur of the Bishop. His Lordship made a few objections but ultimately tasked me to write a report on it. Once he had read this, he readily signed the imprimatur, and the first edition of the autobiography of Sister Thérèse was published. Since then, it has appeared in 150 to 160 editions and been translated into many languages. Besides this biography, I have read all her writings, including poems and letters, although these too have been published. The manuscripts must either be at the [24r] Carmel of Lisieux or with the Sacred Congregation.

 [Answer to the eighth question]:

During her lifetime, I held the highest opinion of her, though I did not foresee the holy wonders that came to light later. Simple and modest, she was careful to hide all her virtues. However, since her death, it has pleased God to exalt His Servant’s humility. So many wonders, blessings and favours have been granted through her intercession that I venerate her most actively and affectionately and I have the greatest trust in her. I would die happy if could but see her beatified, and I pray she receives such glorification. I have had the opportunity to give several public conferences on her virtues. I pray to her in absolute faith.

[Answer to the ninth question]:

The Servant of God was born in Alençon, in 1873, to Mr Martin and Mrs Guérin, who lived in Alençon. Her father was a jeweller and enjoyed a certain standing. Her parents were of exemplary piety. Theirs was a model family. The Servant of God’s parents had her baptised the very day after she was born in the Church of Notre Dame d'Alençon. She was given the name Thérèse, I believe. At least, this is what I saw on her baptism certificate. She was undoubtedly confirmed, although I have no information about that. Her parents had eight [9] children, three [2] sons, who died in [24v] infancy, and five daughters, who became nuns. They raised their children in the greatest piety. This information is public knowledge, and I also know it from her autobiography and the conversations I’ve had in Lisieux.

 [Answer to the tenth question]:

The Servant of God spent her childhood at home and at the Benedictine Abbey school of Lisieux. Her father moved to the town, with his children, following the death of his wife, who had been from Lisieux. She was therefore raised primarily by her father, who took a very active role in her education. She was then placed, like her other sisters, in the Benedictine school of Lisieux, where the girls received a good education. She was a model pupil, as we see from her biography, in terms of her relationship with her teachers and schoolmates. She was shy in character and fearful, which led her to become a little scrupulous for a certain time. She was very intelligent. She was meek and helpful, and very charitable to the poor. I don’t know anything else. She was taken ill at the age of eleven or twelve; the illness was very serious and lasted several months. I know little about the illness, its cause, or the opinions of the doctor and people who nursed her. The Servant of God says herself she thought she might die, but that the [25r] statue of the Blessed Virgin in her bedroom came to life and smiled at her, saying, “Have faith; you are cured.” That is all I know and I know it from her biography.

She took her First Communion with great piety at the Benedictine convent, where the nuns have a most edifying memory of her piety. She was always very pious, but I do not know her practice concerning the reception of the sacraments. I know that her father took Communion every day.

[Answer to the eleventh question]:

The Servant of God announced she wanted to become a nun at a very young age. Her elder sisters had given her this aspiration. It was the Carmelite Order which attracted her. With the name Thérèse, she wanted to be a spiritual daughter of Saint Teresa. This idea came to her when she was still a young child. She had barely reached the age of 15 when she attempted to join the convent. The ecclesiastical superior welcomed her warmly, saying, “You are but a child; wait a little longer.” She did not resign to failure, and made the trip to Bayeux to ask His Lordship the Bishop for permission the join the Carmel. Her father was willing to do anything to support her. The prelate gave her a paternal welcome, but told her to wait.

Single witness: Father Godefroy Madelaine, Prem. Ord.

A pilgrimage from France to Rome was being organised; the girl asked her father if they could join it. At the Vatican, when the pilgrims were introduced to the [25v] Sovereign Pontiff, she hurried to kneel before the Pope and made her request. Pope Leo XIII was about to say “Yes”, it seems, when the Vicar General noticed the child was barely fifteen and thought it would undoubtedly be wiser to give some thought to her vocation over the coming months. It was between six and eight months later that the doors of the Carmel were finally opened to her. Besides her age, there was another obstacle to her admission to the Carmel of Lisieux. This was the presence of her three sisters in the community. The ecclesiastical superior was worried about this and spoke to me about it. I know this information from the ecclesiastical superior, and also because it is public knowledge.

 [Answer to the twelfth question]:

The Servant of God was admitted to the Carmel before the age of sixteen. After her postulancy, she began her novitiate. I attended her Habit Reception. When she completed her novitiate, she made her vows. She was remarkable for her abnegation of natural sentiments: although the Prioress was fond of her, she treated her with seemingly extraordinary severity. She was a very conscientious and absolutely exemplary novice. She was made sacristan first and soon she became Assistant Mistress (although she was in fact Mistress) of the Novices. She was only 21 years old, but the Mother Prioress had every confidence in her. I do not know whether she desired these duties. She accepted them out of [26r] obedience. She took her responsibility over the novices very seriously and taught them self-abnegation. I have never heard it said that there was anything reprehensible about her conduct. Despite her young age, she proved equal to her responsibilities. I believed she kept her title of Novice Mistress until her death. Source: personal knowledge.

 [Answer to the thirteenth question]:

Before she became a nun, Mr Martin’s house was considered a small convent. It is no wonder, then, that the Servant of God kept the commandments of God and the Church. In the convent, she observed these commandments and the vows she had made to the letter. She had an extraordinary delicacy of conscience. As far as God’s glory is concerned, she would have liked to be a missionary, and she contributed to the conversion of the unfaithful by offering her prayers and penitence for this intention. She requested to join the Carmel of Indochina. This was refused her on account of her health. Concerning the spiritual well-being of her neighbour, she obtained the conversion of a murderer condemned to death who did not want to be reconciled with God.

Source: personal knowledge

 [Answer to the fourteenth question]:

The Servant of God practised Christian virtues even before [26v] becoming a nun, namely the theological virtues (faith, hope and charity towards God and one’s neighbour), the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, strength and temperance) as well as associated virtues. She persevered in the exercise of these virtues until her death. The closer she came to death, the more she was heroic in the practice of these virtues. Source: personal knowledge.

 [Answer to the fifteenth question]:

Faith: The Servant of God practised the virtue of faith. I always noticed that Sister Thérèse saw things, events and people in the light of God and consequently according to theological faith. One need only read a few pages of her biography to see the spiritual height of her views and inspiration for her conduct. Source: personal knowledge.

 [Answer to the sixteenth question]:

The Servant of God had a burning desire to spread the faith all over the world. This is one of the characteristics of her spirituality. Her autobiography is proof of this. I do not know what she would have done to convert heretics and schismatics, but the idea of zeal comes back constantly in her writings. Source: personal knowledge and the Servant of God’s writings.

 [Answer to the seventeenth question:]

The Servant of God had a particular devotion to the Holy Childhood of Jesus. She refers to it often, either [27r] for her own benefit, or for that of her novices. She comes back to it continually in her poems. As sacristan, she showed sublime sensitivity for everything surrounding Holy Mass and the Holy Offices, and paid great attention to the cleanliness of the chapel and to the altar vestments. The nuns of the Carmel made beautiful church vestments and she contributed largely to their decoration. Source: the same.

 [Answer to the eighteenth question]:

To prove her Eucharistic piety, I can quote one or two of her poems, particularly her poem on the Eucharistic attributes. Her thoughts were not the fruit of her imagination but of her piety. I know nothing particular with regards to her Communions or her practice of adoration. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the nineteenth question]:

Before she joined the Carmel, it is certain that she herself avoided dances, shows and worldly pleasures.

 [Answer to the twentieth question]:

Her writings show she had a profound understanding of Holy Scripture. She must have studied it very ardently, for she quotes it continually and always with relevance. This is quite remarkable for someone who has not studied theology. Everything about her conduct shows the veneration she had for her Bishop and the Sovereign Pontiff. She was Catholic at heart. She recited the Hours in accordance with the Carmel prayer book. Source: [27v] personal knowledge.

 [Answer to the twenty-first question]:

The Servant of God herself recounts how the Blessed Virgin cured her from her illness. Every time she mentions the Blessed Virgin, she speaks from the heart. I’m sure she instilled this devotion in her novices. She had a particular devotion to the Holy Angels and the Saints, especially those who honoured Jesus’ Holy Childhood, namely Saint John the Evangelist, and the virgin saints: Saint Agnes, Saint Cecilia, and Blessed Joan of Arc. Sources: the same.

Single witness: Father Godefroy Madelaine, Prem. Ord.

 [Answer to the twenty-second question]:

HOPE: The Servant of God’s hope was very strong and very deep; but God tested her for 18 months. Her soul experienced spiritual darkness, to the extent that she thought she was damned, and it was at this time that she increased her acts of faith and self-surrender to God. In her biography, she says she made more acts of faith, trust and self-surrender during that time than during the whole of the rest of her life. I saw her at this period of her life: outwardly, no one could suspect her inner troubles. And when I asked her how she managed to hide her suffering, she replied, ‘It is so no one suffers from my troubles.’ Only the Prioress and confessor were allowed to know of them. Source: personal knowledge.

[Sitting 2: 6th September 1917, at 8:30 a.m.]

[29r] [Answer to the twenty-third question]:       

The Servant of God embraced religious life once she heard God’s call. She really felt irresistibly drawn to religious life and we must acknowledge that this feeling was inspired by God. Her own insistence on this point makes this clear. As I explained in answer to question eleven, she entrusted herself to Divine Providence and undertook the trips to Bayeux and Rome in order to follow her vocation. Source: personal knowledge. Also, it is public knowledge.

 [Answer to the twenty-fourth question]:

I do not know whether the Servant of God ever experienced difficulties of a temporal nature. In answer to question twenty-two, I spoke of her inner trials. She shared them with me at that time of suffering and I admired the serenity with which she bore such terrible anguish. It is very likely that Satan had a hand in these tremendous troubles, but I never heard her speak of an outward, tangible obsession. Sources: the same.

[29v] [Answer to the twenty-fifth question]:

I have heard nothing in particular concerning the obstacles she may have encountered in terms of day-to-day life. Her dominant virtue, which pervaded her entire conduct, both inner and outer, was self-surrender to God. This is what she called “her little way” and what she primarily taught to her novices, that is to say, reliance on God and not on His creatures. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the twenty-sixth question]:

As I’ve just said, it is on trust in God that she insisted the most in her direction of the novitiate. This can be seen in her spiritual writings. What was also striking in her life was her desire for death in order to go to heaven where she would enjoy God and love Him with all her heart.

 [Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

CHARITY: The Servant of God’s love for God was extraordinary, even before she became a nun. During her religious life it only grew greater. I think I can say that she never committed a mortal sin, or any venial sin, wilfully. I always noticed her delicacy of conscience, which exceeded that of an ordinary nun. I often thought this when I heard her confessions. Source: personal knowledge.

 [Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

It can be said that the Servant of God never needed to be converted, that is to say, brought back to God. Even as a child, she was already more pious than the average child. [30r] When she took her First Communion, she became more closely united to God and more sensitive, to the point of becoming scrupulous. She had to be reassured and her fears calmed. Once a nun, both in the novitiate and in the community, she became a perfect example of union with God and submission to His Will. I know this for having seen and heard the Servant of God, and for having read it in her biography.

 [Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

The Servant of God embraced the practice of meditation with angelic fervour and made such evident progress in it that the Prioress and community admired her, especially given her youth. To her, everything was a prompt to meditation: the sight of a flower, or the beauty of creation.

Meditation came remarkably easily to her. It was a gift from God. She was not yet five when she would stop her father on their walks to point out the beauty of the sky and of all creation. In her last agony, without raising her eyes from her crucifix, she said to her Prioress: “I look at Him and I love Him!” I know nothing particular concerning her practice of praying aloud. She thought of God at all times and in all places. Her thoughts and words breathed love for God. Everything she said to her novices was steeped in deep spirituality. Her union [30v] with God was such that the community called her “our little angel”. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the thirtieth question]:

The only remark I can make on this point is that the Servant of God avoided doing anything out of the ordinary. She strove to go unnoticed and to remain very simple. Certainly, her reverence was very noticeable, but she could not help this. She sought to spread her love for God to those around her. Becoming Novice Mistress allowed her to do this. She also strove to spread this love to the people outside the convent with whom she spoke. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the thirty-first question]:

The Servant of God believed she had been called by God to atone for the sins committed in the world. This is what prompted her to embrace Carmelite life in all its austerity.

Single witness: Father Godefroy Madelaine, Prem. Ord.

I have already mentioned the conversion she obtained for a murderer at his death. To give you an idea of the love that blazed in her heart, you need only read a few of her poems on the Divine Eucharist, heaven, and so on. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the thirty-second question]:

At home, the Servant of God demonstrated a charity and meekness that made her loved by everyone. In the community, it was widely said one [31r] needed only to see Sister Thérèse to feel God’s peace. Yet her spiritual charity was visible above all in her zeal for repairing sacrileges and scandals, and for obtaining the conversion of sinners. She would have liked to be able to convert unbelievers and to introduce them to God. What drove this charity was love for God; she saw God in her neighbour. Before becoming a nun, she liked to give alms to the poor. She drew pleasure from helping the needy. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the thirty-third question]:

The Servant of God performed acts of spiritual mercy throughout her life, and particularly in the convent. She therefore had no other thought than to show mercy. The redemption of souls was a cause dear to her heart, and to obtain sinners’ conversion she led a very fervent Carmelite life, that is to say, a life of mortification and self-sacrifice for sinners. She was eager to embrace the austerities of Carmelite life and continually encouraged her younger Sisters to strive to give God as many souls as was possible. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the thirty-fourth question]:

Belonging to a cloistered community, she had no opportunity to teach unbelievers outside the community. As I’ve said, she was keen to preach the Gospel among the unfaithful. I know nothing particular [31v] as to the advice she may have given or to the solace she may have brought. In the convent, one Lay Sister gave herself the task of improving her patience. The Servant of God took care to show this nun exceptional goodness. She did not have any enemies, to my knowledge. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the thirty-fifth question]:

I’ve already said that, as a child, the Servant of God demonstrated immense affection to the poor. Nothing made her happier than comforting and helping them. I’m sure she was acting for spiritual reasons, so Christian had her education been. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the thirty-sixth question]:

I know nothing particular concerning this question. However, I don’t doubt the Servant of God’s devotion to souls in purgatory.

 [Answer to the thirty-seventh question]:

PRUDENCE: The Servant of God was always noted for her prudence and maturity beyond her years and this is what prompted the ecclesiastical superior of the Carmel to say that, despite her young age, she had the required maturity to enter the novitiate. Here is an example of her extraordinary prudence: Her Mother Prioress chose her to fulfil the task of Novice Mistress at the age of 20, which she did with admirable wisdom until her death. She drew this wisdom, prudence and spiritual discernment from her union with [32r] God and from meditation. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the thirty-eighth question]:

Not only were her advice and opinions never contrary to prudence, but also, she demonstrated such prudence in the direction of her younger Sisters that her Mother Prioress handed over full responsibility to her for the novitiate. In everything she did, her unique objective was God’s glory, the redemption of souls and her own sanctification, and her whole conduct tended towards reaching these objectives. I don’t think she went beyond the boundaries of prudence even in her austerities, because she let herself be guided at all times by religious obedience. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the thirty-ninth question]:

JUSTICE: The Servant of God practised justice and sought the summit of Christian justice by giving to each what they deserved. With regards to God, her objective at all times was to accomplish His Will and she would always seek ways to bring Him more pleasure. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the fortieth question]:

The Servant of God practiced justice towards men. With regards to her father, she was perfectly obedient. She neglected none of the duties that were entrusted to her. She was so conscientious that she was grateful for blessings received. She herself expressed gratitude to me several times for services I had been called to give the [32v] community. She had a heart of gold and consequently her friendships had to stand up to scrutiny. I do not know whether she was in contact with civil authorities. She had a profound veneration for ecclesiastical authorities. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the forty-first question]:

TEMPERANCE: The Servant of God practised the virtue of temperance. For the first part of her life, she had but one goal, which was to join the Carmel in order to practise self-sacrifice. Once in the convent, she sought no dispensations, despite her youth. She begged the Mother Prioress to let her observe the Rule in its entirety. She ardently embraced all the austerities that Carmelite life involves. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the forty-second question]:

STRENGTH: I know of three occasions on which she needed extraordinary strength. The first was in order to follow her vocation and become a nun before the age of sixteen. The second was when she suffered her trial against the faith. I can still remember that I never would have suspected she was going through such a terrible ordeal when she came to the confessional.

Single witness: Father Godefroy Madelaine, Prem. Ord.

She was calm and remained quite cheerful. And the third occasion was her last illness. Right to the end, she demonstrated truly heroic energy, to the extent that all her Sisters were left speechless. Sources: the same.

[Answer to the forty-third question]:

CHASTITY: In this respect, it can [33r] be said that the Servant of God’s education was such that she was never seen to forget the fragility of purity in any way. She stood out for her reserve. In the Carmel, she married this already perfect purity with mortification of the senses and all the appropriate means to preserve and deepen this virtue. I can confirm that she had temptations against hope, but never against purity. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the forty-fourth question]:

POVERTY: the practice of poverty was very strict in the Carmel, and the Servant of God distinguished herself in Lisieux for her faithfulness in observing it to the letter. She liked using objects that had served others. She would choose the plainest and most worn objects for her own use. She preached this virtue loud and clear to her novices. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the forty-fifth question]:

OBEDIENCE: The Servant of God practised obedience her whole life. At home, she obeyed her father and elder sisters to the letter. As a nun, her obedience was quite remarkable: her Mother Prioress was very severe in the training she gave her to virile virtue, causing her much distress. However, the more she was tested, the more the Servant of God felt her soul rise above itself, and she came to realise that her Mother Prioress had done her a [33v] great kindness by testing her during her novitiate. Later on, she was able to obey without feeling the difficulty of tasks. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the forty-sixth question]:

HUMILITY: This is the Servant of God’s characteristic virtue, and what earned her the name “little Sister Thérèse”. She constantly wanted to be in the shadows and to go unnoticed, to the extent that, after her death, when people began relating wonders obtained through her intercession, many were astonished. Nevertheless, she was greatly appreciated in the Carmel. She never put herself before others. She encouraged others to this virtue in word and deed. Her writings on the subject are worthy of the best ascetic authors. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the forty-seventh question]:

I’m convinced that the Servant of God practised all Christian virtues to a heroic level during her lifetime. I observed her from close quarters and the impression I’m left with is that she lived in perfect union with God, and virtue became almost natural to her. Yet I know from personal experience that she practised the virtues of hope and trust in God to a heroic degree, because, as I’ve said, she confided in me when she was suffering her inner trial. Similarly, the virtue of strength shone brightly in her, particularly when she was admitted to the Carmel, when she endured her temptation and when she suffered her last [34r] illness. The information I have given concerning her humility, spirit of self-sacrifice and other virtues is clear proof that she practised them to a heroic degree. All that I have been told by the Mother Prioress of the Carmel, Mother Marie de Gonzague, and the other nuns, show that they were all convinced of the heroic nature of the Servant of God’s virtues. When she died, they all affirmed she died in the odour of sanctity. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the forty-eighth question]:

The Servant of God was very righteous in judgement and I have never heard it said that she overstepped the limits in terms of practising virtues. Besides, her absolute obedience provided a safeguard against all excesses. I have never heard it said that she practiced corporal mortification in excess. With this, as with everything else, she let herself be guided by perfect obedience. If she died young, it is not due to excess mortification, but to her fragile health. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the forty-ninth question]:

To my knowledge, nothing exceptional happened during the Servant of God’s lifetime. The only spiritual event related in her biography is the vision of the Blessed Virgin she saw at the time of her healing, as I’ve already said. Apart from this, I have not witnessed or heard about any spiritual happenings such as raptures, ecstasies, visions or [34v] apparitions. As for her vision of the Blessed Virgin, she noted it down in her spiritual diary out of obedience to her Mother Prioress. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the fiftieth question]:

To my knowledge, no miracle was recorded during the Servant of God’s lifetime.

 [Answer to the fifty-first question]:

The Servant of God wrote her spiritual diary to obey her Mother Prioress, and it was published under the title Story of a Soul in 1898. She died in 1897. This biography has been translated into every European language. She also wrote religious poems in honour of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin. She wrote them without ever learning the rules of French verse and yet she applies them very well. This can be attributed to her high level of intelligence, and also, in my opinion, to a special gift from the Holy Spirit. She wrote a few letters, which have been collected, and they are full of spiritual reflections. The advice she gave to her novices has also been collected. All this has been published and the manuscripts must be at the Carmel of Lisieux. I have had the opportunity to read all these texts. Not only do they contain nothing that is contrary to the faith or to God’s commandments, but they also radiate an absolutely remarkable love for God and the Church, which explains the [35r] immense success of all her writings.

Single witness: Father Godefroy Madelaine, Prem. Ord.

The Servant of God cannot be accused of vain glory in the writing of these texts, for she wrote them for her Prioress alone. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the fifty-second question]:

The Servant of God died on 17th [sic!] September from a chest condition. I believe the illness started in March with the expectoration of blood. She went to find her Prioress immediately, saying, “I feel great joy. I have heard the first call of my Divine Spouse.” Of course, she had carried the germs of the illness for several years. The illness spread rapidly. From that moment on, she lived on God’s time and the thought of death did not cause her any distress. In fact, it brought her great joy. She followed the treatment prescribed by the doctor. I think I heard, though I cannot remember precisely, that she predicted her death. The Servant of God [sic! instead of The Mother Prioress] wrote to me at the time saying that to walk into the Servant of God’s cell was to breathe the air of heaven. I submitted this letter for the Informative Process. She bore with heroic patience all the suffering that the illness caused her. From Assumption onwards, the Servant of God was at death’s door. It was expected she would die at any moment. She died holding her crucifix and saying, [35v] “My God, my God. Yes, I love You!” She received the last sacraments before dying. Her ecclesiastical superior administrated them, and he told me how touched he had been to see such serenity in the face of death. As long as her health permitted, she took Holy Communion daily. Sources: my contacts with the community; the Reverend Mother Prioress took care to keep me updated.

 [Answer to the fifty-third question]:

In death, there was something angelic about her features. Everyone was struck by it. Her body was laid out in the nuns’ choir, according to the custom of the Carmel. The grate was opened to let the public see the nun’s face without allowing access to the choir. As soon as news of her death spread, a large number of faithful came to pray and had the devotion to touch pious objects to the Servant of God’s body. All social classes were represented among the faithful. Their visits were spontaneous and the result of Sister Thérèse’s reputation. Her funeral was celebrated in the Carmelite chapel. Sources: the same.

 [Answer to the fifty-fourth question]:

The Servant of God was buried in the cemetery of Saint Jacques in Lisieux. Her body remained in the cemetery until the coffin was opened for the Informative Process and her remains transferred to a coffin made of zinc. All that was left of her body was bones. The body had [36r] decomposed naturally. The coffin was put back in the same place, in the plot reserved for Carmelites. Before and after this transferral, a simple wooden cross marked the grave. It read, “Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who died on 17th [sic!] September 1897.” This cross was no different from those of the other nuns. Source: personal knowledge.

[Sitting 3: 6th September 1917, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.]

[37r] [Answer to the fifty-fifth question]:

At the exposition, burial and exhumation of the body, nothing took place that resembled public and ecclesiastic worship. I know that for the exhumation, His Lordship the Bishop of Bayeux took every precaution to ensure nothing would take place resembling religious worship. Source: public knowledge.

 [Answer to the fifty-sixth question]:

I have visited the Servant of God’s grave once. It was in 1913, when I was passing through Lisieux. I decided to go and pray at Sister Thérèse’s burial place on account of my veneration for the Servant of God and I wanted to ask her [37v] to intercede for various intentions. I know that hundreds and thousands of people go and pray at the Servant of God’s burial place. She is trusted. People come from all social classes, and they include bishops, cardinals and high-ranking men. I’ve seen a photograph showing the Cardinal of Paris in the foreground with the Bishop of Bayeux and a crowd of pilgrims. Pilgrims began visiting the grave immediately after the Servant of God’s death. Their number has grown enormously since then and continues to grow today. I have heard people say so although I haven’t been able to verify it. In my whole life, I have never known a burial place attract so many visitors, other than perhaps that of John Vianney, the Curé d’Ars. Since the war began, I hear that the number of pilgrims has only grown. These pilgrimages are absolutely spontaneous. I know that the bishopric of Bayeux has on occasion reproached the Prioress of the Carmel, the Servant of God’s blood sister, for being overzealous. However, I’m convinced that she has not had an influence on the number of visitors to the Servant of God’s burial place. Source: personal knowledge.

 [Answer to the fifty-seventh question]:

During her lifetime, people had a high opinion of the Servant of God. Yet due to her modesty and humility, nobody would ever have thought her name would soon be known the [38r] world over. And this is a sign of her true holiness. Yet since her death, the renown that has spread all over the world concerning her holiness and her life, and the blessings granted through her intercession, keeps growing. I myself have been astonished to see how, even in England, her name is known and invoked with complete trust. The cause of this reputation for holiness is obviously her holy life, but also her power of intercession. People have particular trust in her. I’ve heard these words of hers be repeated time and time again: “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.” Her reputation for holiness is growing and growing, and can be seen all over the world. In all places, the Servant of God is known, prayed to, and regarded as a saint, by priests and laypeople, rich and poor, Catholics and heretics.

Witness Godefroy Madelaine Prem. Ord.

The Cardinal of Paris and the Bishop of Bayeux are among them. Undoubtedly, nothing has been done to create this reputation for holiness, to maintain it or to increase it, or to hide anything that might damage or weaken this reputation. I have pointed out a small reservation, though it has had no influence in this respect. I am convinced of the Servant of God’s heroic holiness and that in His pleasure, God has chosen her to be a model of humility, [38v] simplicity and surrender to God. I am convinced that she is a chosen flower from the mystical garden of Carmel and that God has chosen her to be living proof of His existence in this century of disbelief, and as an instrument of His blessings and favours. Qui se humiliat, exaltabitur: God has willed to see not only humility glorified through her, but also abnegation, self-forgetfulness, and self-sacrifice. Source: personal knowledge.

 [Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I never heard or read anything contrary to the Servant of God’s virtues or reputation for holiness during her lifetime, nor have done since her death. I have never heard anyone doubt the holiness of her life. I would clarify, however, that I once met a very estimable priest who said he found her too jovial on her trip to Rome, when she was but 15 years of age. I myself thought he was too severe in his judgement of this 15 year old child, who had a friendly and cheerful nature. This priest was Reverend Father Lemonier, Superior General of the Missionaries of La Délivrande, who has since died. Source: personal knowledge.

 [Answer to the fifty-ninth question]:

I know that since the Servant of God’s death, countless blessings and miracles have been obtained from heaven through the [39r] intercession of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. The printing company Saint-Paul has published three books that relate favours, blessings, instances of protection, healings, and conversions obtained through the Servant of God’s intervention, together with all the relevant witness declarations and, when they concern healings, doctors’ certificates. Personally, I can relate several blessings that have been obtained through the Servant of God’s intercession.

On 24th August 1914, all the friars of the Abbey of Leffe in Dinant were brutally kidnapped and imprisoned in the barracks of the town’s regimental school by Prussian invaders. We had taken the precaution of hiding the few bonds we possessed at the back of a cellar. In each packet we put a relic of the Servant of God and we entrusted our securities to her protection. When the abbey was invaded, an officer took Father Joseph and demanded to be taken to the cellar immediately. The officer walked around the cellar, poked everything he encountered with his bayonet, moved the packets around and passed on. When we were imprisoned, the civil prisoners were held in the abbey. They were between fifteen and eighteen hundred in number, and they went all over the monastery, even into the cellars. Nobody touched the four packets under the protection of Sister Thérèse’s relics, even though they were highly visible and obvious. A [39v] month later, when we took back possession of the abbey, which had been pillaged from top to bottom, our securities had remained untouched.

When we were held captive in the barracks, we feared being shot at any moment. We made a vow to the Servant of God and, despite all the threats that seemed set to be carried through, four days later we were still alive. On the fifth day, we were taken to be transported to Germany as prisoners of war. After a forced march that lasted a whole day, we arrived in the town of Marche (about 18.5 miles from Dinant). There it was announced we would be released on parole in the Carmelite Monastery. Our imprisonment lasted three weeks. All the prisoners, monastics, clergy members, and Brothers of the Christian Schools prayed a novena to the Servant of God and on the last day of the novena, thanks to the intervention of His Lordship the Bishop of Namur, the governor of the province of Namur arrived, with his general staff, to announce we were free. We all attributed our deliverance to the Servant of God’s intercession.

I can also add the following: two of our English Christian Brothers were imprisoned in Dinant and Namur ready to be sent to Germany. We quickly began a novena to the Servant of God, and we did not finish it before they were returned to us. They are of the firm conviction that [40r] the Servant of God saved them.

Aside the special blessings that I have just related, I personally have not witnessed any other blessings or miracles. I have read and heard about many favours and miracles obtained through the Servant of God’s intercession, but it would be impossible for me to relate in any detail the circumstances surrounding all these favours and miracles. I am however convinced that they are very real and that, among them, there are some absolutely extraordinary miracles. Source: personal knowledge.

 [Answer to the sixtieth question]:

As I have already said, the books I’ve quoted contain numerous certificates of doctors of medicine. I have nothing to report in this respect.

 [Answer to the sixty-first question]:

I can provide no precise information concerning healings that have been attributed to the Servant of God’s intercession, although I am convinced they are real.

 [Answer to the sixty-second question]:

I have nothing precise to say. I refer to what I said in answer to the preceding question.

 [Answer to the sixty-third question]:

I refer to what I’ve just said.

 [Answer to the sixty-fourth question]:

I refer to what I’ve just said.

[Answer to the sixty-fifth question]:

Same answer.

Single witness: Father Godefroy Madelaine, Prem. Ord.

 [Answer to the sixty-sixth question]:

I think we have gone over [40v] everything I have to say about the Servant of God for the purposes of shedding light on her Cause and informing the Congregation. I do not recall there being anything that requires correcting in my testimony. If, when it is read aloud, I notice something to correct, I will say so.

 [Here ends the questioning of this witness. The statements are read out. The witness makes no alteration to them and signs as follows]:

Br. G. MADELAINE, abbas.