Biography of Sr Saint John the Baptist



excellent fruit



jeanbaptiste sign

Always be ready

"My little sister, I want to recommend to you our dear sister Saint John the Baptist, who died Saturday after a short illness, it seemed like a sudden death. Truly one must be willing to appear before the God, because we know neither the day nor the hour when he will call us to him.

"Our poor dear sister from the time she worried us, lost consciousness and has not recovered for a single moment before her death. I have even thought that she would die without the sacraments. A little white veil sister who took care of her once dead, asked interiorly our little Thérèse if still she came to meet Sister Saint John the Baptist and helped her to cross the great passage. At the same time, she smelled a whiff of roses another sister did so. It was a beautiful answer, was not it?

"I will not write any circular for our dear sister, I have several reasons that prevent me, but God wrote his virtues in her heart, that is the main thing." (Letter to Mother Agnès of Jesus to Léonie, October 29, 1917.)
The community needed the "balm of peace" - the perfume in question ¬ - to overcome "the sad nature of this death": an austere death of she who for Thérèse, had been "ordinarily the image of the severity of God "(LT 230).


Three thorns for a rose

From 1871 to 1873. As promised from afar and is fulfilled a lovely rosebud Alençon, January 2, 1873, Providence, infallible in its designs, endowed the Carmel of Lisieux with three postulants who would make up one day the thorns of this rose . Thérèse loves these elders no less than the others. Did she not sing in My Joy : I accept with gratitude thorns mixed with flowers.

These three were Carmelite Sister Saint John the Baptist, entered October 7, 1871, Sister Aimée de Jesus, entered October 11 - " rough bark ... excellent fruit ", said Thérèse (cf. Annals June 1982), and Sister Thérèse of Jesus, entered May 6, 1873. The first of three, Marie- Estelle Dupont, was a refugee from the war of 1870 . Born October 10th, 1847 in Coulsdon ( Seine-et -Marne), she was the daughter of François- Denis Dupont, basket maker and Louise Antoinette Dardenne . The home had two other girls. Marie- Estelle served for a while the Hamel family of Barquerie whose daughter was a nun at the Hospice of Lisieux. During the Prussian invasion, the family of the Barquerie took refuge in Lisieux, bringing along the three Dupont sisters. Estelle entered into relations with the Benedictines. Because of the desire to make that clear, Carmelite Prioress of the Abbey presented her to Fr. Delatroëtte, new Superior of Carmel. Weakened by the foundations of Saigon (1861), Coutances (1866), Caen ( 1868), the monastery has a great need to be bailed out . Mademoiselle Dupont was accepted more easily as appearances are in her favor. She entered October 7th, 1871 and received the name Sister Saint John the Baptist to honor the Superior (Jean- Baptiste Delatroëtte ) . She received the habit March 19th, 1872 together with Sister Aimée of Jesus. In the meantime, Mother Geneviève of Saint Thérèse was re-elected prioress October 27th, 1871.

The two "twins", Saint John the Baptist and Aimée made their vows May 8, 1873 and received the black veil on the following July 16th. Mr. Delatroëtte presided over the ceremony and gave the sermon. The foresight of the latter (appointed September 14th, 1870) should be faulted in 1887-1888, about a postulant named Thérèse Martin. We must say, apologetically: "How many more in 1871?" "All are worth considering,” said the man who saw his booty. "The superiors would one day regret some hasty admissions post-war (1870).


Too great a soul

"If you do not understand me, is because you have too great a soul," would write one day her sister Marie Thérèse, to immediately resume elsewhere (LT 197). The phrase is no fix for Sister Saint John the Baptist. The portrait written by Sister Marie of the Angels in 1893 speaks for itself:

"46 years. First seamstress. Holy hermit who lives as well as its patron saint on locusts and wild honey, always hovering in the hills ... Holy imitator of Bishop Bérulle! ... passionate lover of the Incarnate Word. Soul so absorbed in the Godhead and forgetful things of the earth one day before serving the soup, she could not remember where she had put it; it was discovered after much searching devoutly placed in a cupboard. "(CG, 1173 s.)

On September 24, 1890, she had sent Thérèse, who received the black veil, this inscription on the back of a holy card: "To elevate the soul to holiness, God puts it up on the cross, and to lead it to life, leads it to death. Your most affectionate little sister in Jesus. "
One day during recreation, the mystical seamstress was mending worn out and misshapen wimples. She told Thérèse, sitting beside her, that she reserved these for her "close friends", the converse sisters as additional caps for heavy labor. " Oh then,”begged Thérèse,” consider me, I beg you, among your closest friends! " (PA, 485). Sister Saint John the Baptist complied so well with her request, even for the burial clothing, September 30, 1897, that she gave her a worn toque. Mother Agnès was dismayed: "I wanted to cry, she said, but the smile of my little Thérèse prevented me . She seemed to say in her rest: "What is it to me to have this ugly toque? I am so well dressed up here." (Green Notebooks, 125) .

We know the incident of May 28, 1897. Thérèse was already very sick. Sister Saint John the Baptist just asked her immediate assistance for a painting, for the feast of Mother Marie de Gonzague. Thérèse excused herself. Mother Agnès, who was present, out forth some objections Sister Saint John the Baptist insisted. Thérèse eventually became impatient and the sister withdrew. In the evening, the two sisters met. "Instead of passing by Thérèse coldly, Sister Saint John the Baptist kissed her: "Poor little sister, you made me feel pity, I do not want to tire you out, I was wrong, etc.. etc.. ". In short, "soft and tender words." "I could not believe it," writes Thérèse! Image of your justice of God, Sister Saint John the Baptist, this time, did not condemn ... Thérèse is deeply moved. That night, "the vessel of Divine Mercy has overflowed for me!It had not always been so ...


"If I was novice mistress ..."

Estelle Dupont was great, personable, they told her once. Sister Saint John the Baptist also knew how to embroider admirably (altar linens bear witness yet today in the sacristy of Carmel) and how to work hair in floral motifs.

Father Silverio, Carmelite General decades ago warned religious most "observant" who allowed themselves their fasts or their early rising to denigrate the weaker brethren in asceticism. The dear Sister belonged to this brotherhood ... The novices especially tried her vigilance: "If I was mistress of novices, I would not suffer a single black hair on my sheep’s fleece. "She can only understand that this care falls upon Thérèse, so young, and made her feel her opposition without restraint. One day among others at recreation, she expressed bitterness, telling Thérèse she needed more to direct herself than to direct others. Her passionate air contrasted with the gentleness of her "target", who replied with humility: "Ah! Sister, you are right, I am much more imperfect than you think "(CRM 81).

Seamstress, she stood on her doorstep to monitor the comings and goings of the novices to Sister Thérèse, in the same dormitory. "Our heart was pounding through ..." says Sister Geneviève. Or she came stealthily to the Thérèse’s cell, finding an urgent errand and went to report to Mother Marie de Gonzague, mistress by title (it was under the priory of Mother Agnès) what she saw. In March 1896, the two prioresses have the good taste to replace Sister Saint John the Baptist with Sister Marie of Saint-Joseph, in the linen room, with Thérèse for assistant. Thus the whole dorm Saint Elijah would become, in fact, the wing of the novitiate this year.


Just wait. The truth will be known some day

Needless to say, the sister hardly appreciated that we opened the Cause of Beatification of Thérèse. She shared in all the opinions of her companion, Aimée de Jesus: "It is at the instigation of her sisters that we owe this, do not doubt ... wait! The truth will certainly see the light of day. "Sister Saint John the Baptist did not testify at trial.

But Thérèse did not refuse her favors either. After the exhumation of September 6th, 1910, " the soil collected in the first coffin in the old grave, gave off several times sweet smells of iris root . These emanations were perceived particularly by Sister Geneviève, Sister Aimeé de Jesus, Sister Saint John the Baptist and myself (Mother Agnès), even though we were not thinking in any way of the presence of this earth." (PA 208).
Willy-nilly, the old seamstress was swept into the general movement. She started to make relic sachets from the wool pillow of the Servant of God. One evening at the beginning of "silence" (10 to 11pm) the Pigeon lamp was going to turn off for lack of fuel. She fervently prayed Sister Thérèse : "Oh! I beg you, revive our dying lamp! " " Immediately, she confided then I see it revived with incredible speed and then throw a vivid clarity that it seemed there was a gaslight in our cell, which lasted two or three seconds, and our lamp resumed its ordinary glow that lasted until the hour of Matins . "(Foundation IV, 144).

In early October 1917 - she turned 70 - Sister Saint John the Baptist followed like all the Community the "excellent retreat" of Father Pichon ( Fr. Pichon 75 years, all aged ) . "She seemed less sick and less woozy than many of us, it is not that she would have been designated the first to die" (Sister Geneviève to Léonie, October 29th, 1917). Feeling a sore spot on the right side, she was forced to go down to the infirmary on Oct. 26th. She refused the doctor, fell into a coma the next night and died on the 27th, at 11 am, without any sign of consciousness. But how can we doubt that Thérèse did at the last moment "revive the Lamp" of this wise virgin too? The burial was celebrated on October 29th. The next day, Tuesday, October 30th, Bishop Lemonnier solemnly closed the Apostolic Process in Bayeux Cathedral, on the "heroic sanctity of a soul that is ours and who all admired ." The Church had the full truth and Sister Saint John the Baptist rejoiced at the great day of eternity.


Back to the page of Sr St John the Baptist