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Ms A 63r

[63r°] in a white cassock, with a cape of the same color, and on his head was a little skullcap. Around him were cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, but I saw them only in general, being occupied solely with the Holy Father. We passed in front of him in procession; each pilgrim knelt in turn, kissed [5] the foot and hand of Leo XIII, received his blessing, and two noble guards touched him as a sign to rise (touched the pilgrim, for I explain myself so badly one would think it was the Pope).

Before entering the pontifical apartment, I was really determined to speak, but I felt my courage weaken when I saw Father Révérony standing by the Holy Father’s right side. Almost at the same [10] instant, they told us on the Pope’s behalf that it was forbidden to speak, as this would prolong the audience too much. I turned toward my dear Céline for advice: “Speak!” she said. A moment later I was at the Holy Father’s feet. I kissed his slipper and he presented his hand, but instead of kissing it I joined my own and lifting [15] tear-filled eyes to his face, I cried out: “Most Holy Father, I have a great favor to ask you!”

[24] The Sovereign Pontiff lowered his head toward me in such a way that my face almost touched his, and I saw his eyes, black and deep, fixed on me and they seemed to penetrate to the depths of my soul. “Holy Father, in honor of your Jubilee, permit me to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen!”

[16] Emotion undoubtedly made my voice tremble. He turned to Father Révérony who was staring at me with surprise and displeasure and said: “I don’t understand very well.” Now if God had permitted it, it would have been easy for Father Révérony to obtain what I desired, but it was the cross [20] and not consolation God willed to give me.

“Most Holy Father,” answered the Vicar General, “this is a child who wants to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen, but the Superiors are considering the matter at the moment.” “Well, my child,” the Holy Father replied, looking at me kindly, “do what the Superiors tell you!” Resting my hands

 


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Ms A 62v

[62v°] boat approach Carmel’s shore, and she was resigned to remain on the stormy sea of the world as long as God willed it. She was sure that she too would approach the same shore which was the object of her desires.

Sunday, November 20, after dressing up according to Vatican [5] regulations, i.e., in black with a lace mantilla as headpiece, and decorated with a large medal of Leo XIII, tied with a blue and white ribbon, we entered the Vatican through the Sovereign Pontiff’s chapel. At eight o’clock in the morning our emotion was profound when we saw him enter to celebrate Holy Mass. After blessing the numerous pilgrims [10] gathered round him, he climbed the steps of the altar and showed us through his piety, worthy of the Vicar of Jesus, that he was truly “the Holy Father.” My heart beat strongly and my prayers were fervent when Jesus descended into the hands of His Pontiff. However, I was filled with confidence, for the Gospel of the day contained these beautiful words: “Fear not, little [15] flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” No, I did not fear, I hoped the kingdom of Carmel would soon belong to me; I was not thinking then of those other words of Jesus: “And I appoint to you a kingdom even as my Father has appointed to me…” In other words, I reserve crosses and trials for you, and it is thus you will be worthy of possessing this kingdom after [20] which you long; since it was necessary that the Christ suffer and that He enter through it into His glory, if you desire to have a place by His side, then drink the chalice He has drunk! This chalice was presented to me by the Holy Father and my tears mingled with the bitter potion I was offered.

After the Mass of thanksgiving, following that of the Holy Father, the audience began. Leo XIII was seated on a large armchair; he was dressed simply

 

 

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Ms A 62r

[62r°] But it was impossible to get any except a small piece of red stone that was detached from a rich mosaic, the origin of which goes back to St. Agnes’s time. She must often have gazed upon it. Wasn’t it charming that the lovable saint herself should give us what we were looking for and which we were [5] forbidden to take? I’ve always considered it a delicate attention on her part, a proof, too, of the love with which the sweet St. Agnes looks upon and protects my Mother!

Six days were spent visiting the principal attractions of Rome; it was on the seventh I saw the greatest of them all, namely, Leo XIII. [10] I had both longed for and dreaded that day! On it depended my vocation. The answer I was supposed to receive from the Bishop hadn’t arrived, and besides I learned from one of your letters, Mother, that he was no longer favorably disposed toward me. My only plank of salvation was in the permission of the Holy Father, but to obtain it I [15] had to ask for it, I had to dare speak to the Pope in front of everybody. This thought made me tremble; what I suffered before the audience only God knows, along with my dear Céline. Never shall I forget the part she played in all my trials; it seemed my vocation was hers.

Our mutual love was noticed [20] by the priests on the pilgrimage. One evening, we were in a large gathering and there were not enough chairs. Céline took me on her knees and we looked so lovingly at each other that one of the priests cried out: “How they love one another. Ah! nothing will be able to separate them!” Yes, we loved each other, but our affection was so pure and strong the thought of separation did not disturb us. We knew that nothing, not even the ocean, could place any distance between us. Céline was watching my little

 


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Ms A 61v

[61v°] I had imagined them when reading the lives of the martyrs. After having spent part of the afternoon in them, it seemed to me we were there for only a few moments, so sacred did the atmosphere appear to me. We had to carry off some souvenir from the Catacombs; [5] having allowed the procession to pass on a little, Céline and Thérèse slipped down together to the bottom of the ancient tomb of St. Cecilia and took some earth which was sanctified by her presence. Before my trip to Rome I didn’t have any
special devotion to this saint, but when I visited her house transformed into a church, the site of her martyrdom, when learning [10] that she was proclaimed patroness of music not because of her beautiful voice or her talent for music, but in memory of the virginal song she sang to her heavenly Spouse hidden in the depths of her heart, I felt more than devotion for her; it was the real tenderness of a friend. She became my saint of predilection, my [15] intimate confidante. Everything in her thrilled me, especially her abandonment, her limitless confidence that made her capable of virginizing souls who had never desired any other joys but those of the present life. St. Cecilia is like the bride in the Canticle; in her I see “a choir in an armed camp.” Her life was nothing else but a [20] melodious song in the midst of the greatest trials, and this does not surprise me because “the Gospel rested on her heart,” and in her heart reposed the Spouse of Virgins!

The visit to the church of St. Agnes was also very sweet to me; she was a childhood friend whom I was visiting in her own home. I spoke a long time to her about the one who carries her name so well, and I exerted all my efforts to get one of the relics of my Mother’s angelic patroness and bring it back to her.

 

 

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Ms A 61r

[61r°] continued to look toward the ruins into which I wanted to descend; I didn’t see any angels, but I did see what I was looking for and I cried to Céline: “Come quick! We can get through!” We crossed the barrier where there was an opening, the fallen masonry hardly [5] reaching up to the barrier, and we were climbing down over the ruins that rumbled under our feet.

Papa stared at us, surprised at our boldness. He was calling us back, but the two fugitives no longer heard anything. Just as warriors experience an increase in courage in the presence of danger, so our joy increased proportionately to the trouble we met with in attaining the object [10] of our desire. Céline had listened to the guide and remembering that he had pointed out a tiny bit of pavement marked with a cross as the place where the martyrs fought, we began looking for it. We soon found it and threw ourselves on our knees on this sacred soil, and our souls were united in the same prayer. My heart was beating hard when my [15] lips touched the dust stained with the blood of the first Christians. I asked for the grace of being a martyr for Jesus and felt that my prayer was answered! All this was accomplished in a very short time; gathering up a few stones, we returned to the fallen walls and began the dangerous ascent. Papa, seeing us so happy, [20] didn’t have the heart to scold us and I could easily see he was proud of our courage. God visibly protected us, for the other pilgrims hadn’t noticed our absence. They were farther away, absorbed in the examination of magnificent arches, the guide calling their attention to “the little CORNICES carrying figures of CUPIDS,” and so neither he nor the priests knew anything about the joy that inundated our hearts.

The Catacombs, too, left a deep impression on me. They were exactly as

 

 

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