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Circular of Sr Fébronie of the Holy Childhood

 

Julie-Marie Malville   1820-1892

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January 4, 1892

Peace and very humble salutations in Our Lord Jesus Christ, whose always adorable will has taken from our religious affection at the time we were celebrating the joyous feasts of the Nativity, our dear Mother Sub-Prioress, Sister Fébronie of the Holy Childhood, 72 years and 2 months old, and in religion 49 years and 6 months. This beloved sister, my Mother, was born in Paris to Christian parents.

Orphaned at age 2, her excellent father remained a widower with two children. One of them was only a few days old. Her father entrusted these two delicate plants, Julie and Pauline to a friend of their virtuous mother who was taken so young from the affection of her husband and the tenderness of her two angels!... They received the utmost maternal care under this friendly roof. However after several months little Julie’s father felt the need to give his poor children a second mother who was worthy of that name by her goodness and the delicacy of her heart.

The new family came to live in Rouen. Julie and Pauline were then left in the care of religious souls. They grew up in age, wisdom and in knowledge. Our dear and beloved sister above all loved studies and took such care regarding that that she preferred her books to games which were normally so attractive to boarding school students. Reading became a passion with her but God never permitted a single bad book to fall into her hands.

Divine Providence, my very worthy Mother, which always watches lovingly over its/her children soon inspired the head of the family to leave Rouen and come to live in Lisieux. One of the young girl’s first concerns was to choose a director. God whose plans are admirable, guided her steps toward Father Sauvage who had just founded our dear little Carmel but 5 years earlier. This wise and enlightened spiritual father took little time in recognizing a religious vocation in his young penitent whom he tried for several months, seeking to turn away her desire to embrace an austere lifestyle. The dear child persevered in her attraction and Father Sauvage gave in to her entreaties. Notifying her respected father, she entered the blessed ark only a few days after the death of Our Reverend Mother Elisabeth, of blessed memory, and was received by our late lamented and beloved Mother Geneviève of Saint Thérèse.

Our very dear Sister Fébronie, Reverend Mother, was from her entrance a model of regularity, of silence and of piety. This was truly an interior soul who loved solitary life and to be hidden in God. Our good older Mothers recognizing the young religious as someone filled with qualities that bring joy and hope to the community, received her with happiness during the grace of the reception of the habit and Holy Profession during Ordinary Time.

Our good sister after having become friends with Jesus, carried out the duties in the infirmary, the laundry and wardrobe with very great charity, remarkable skill and unlimited devotion. Her in-depth knowledge of rubrics made her valuable to us in her position of Sub-Prioress that she held for 14 years on several occasions. In this especially, Reverend Mother, she was the happiness and joy of her Mother Prioresses, remaining always united with them in the same views and sentiments/feelings.

We were, however, not the only ones to be able to appreciate the deeply spiritual mind of our beloved sister. Many times in letters she left, we could see how she edified one of our dear Carmels intimately united with ours, where in a particular situation she had spent several months. Learning of her sudden death a few weeks ago, we received from the Reverend Mother Prioress a new proof of a good remembrance that they have of her in that beloved Community.

We hardly expected, Reverend Mother, the disaster we just went through. This terrible epidemic that has wreaked havoc everywhere, came to take our respected Doyenne from us. Twelve of our very dear daughters were already stricken when our good Mother Sub-Prioress was stricken as well on December 31st while returning from accompanying our excellent doctor to the convent door. His untiring devotion leaves us with a debt of gratitude that you would like us to repay, Reverend Mother.

The best care was given to our dear Mother but they were not able to avert the harm. We were detained in the infirmary for the last few days and were told she was condemned to leave this exile. We then placed her in the hands of our devoted infirmarian…alas, our souls will only meet again in Heaven.

With your permission, my very worthy Mother, may we speak just a word of our pain? In 6 days we saw the three eldest sisters of our Community leave without having had the consolation of showering them with care, of helping them, of giving them a last maternal kiss. What a heartbreak! We heard an echo of the wish of our daughters calling us to their bedside to console and fortify them in the supreme moment of leaving…but, alas! We were to remain far from them…..Our good Mother Sub-Prioress heroically accepted her trial, crying out in her agony, “Yet another sacrifice!...O my Jesus, I offer this to you…”

We do not doubt, Reverend Mother, that the Adorable Heart of the Good Master found agreeable the double sacrifice of these daughters and the Mother….Ah, may he have opened Heaven to these beloved souls.

However as one must be very pure to appear before God , we beg you, Reverend Mother, to add to the intercessory prayers already requested a communion from your fervent community, the indulgence of the Way of the Cross, seven Our Fathers/Paters and whatever your charity brings to mind.

Our beloved Mother Sub-Prioress and her two dear companions will be very grateful to you as well as we who have the grace to say it to you in the love of Jesus crucified, my Reverend and very honored Mother.
Your very humble sister and servant,
Sr. MARIE DE GONZAGUE,
R.C. ind.

Of our Convent of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Conception of the Carmelites of Lisieux, January 6, 1892

P.S. We beg our good Mothers and Sisters to receive our most profound gratitude for all the gestures of sympathy received during these days of such difficult ordeals. It is a great consolation for our broken hearts to feel we are members of the large family of Carmel to which Our Holy Mother Teresa passed on her so tender and compassionate charity.

We are getting requests from everywhere for the circular of Our Honored Mother Geneviève; the sad days we have recently experienced have prevented us from taking care of it but we hope soon to answer the wishes so fraternally expressed.

 

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