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Officially appointed witness 2 - Alcide Ducellier

 

Alcide-Leonida Ducellier was born in Chicheboville (Diocese of Bayeux) on 14th November 1849. Ordained a priest in 1874, he was successively curate of Saint Gervais’ in Falaise (1874-1877) and of Saint Pierre’s of Lisieux (1877-1884). He was then parish priest of Mathieu (1884-1892), dean and parish priest of Trévières (1892-1899) and archpriest of Saint Pierre’s in Lisieux from 1899 until his death (20th December 1916).

When he was parish priest of Saint Pierre’s in Lisieux, he was friends with the Martin family. He heard Thérèse’s first confession when she was about seven years old - MSA, 16,2 – and remained her confessor until she entered the Abbey of Notre-Dame du Pré as a day pupil. He was Pauline’s spiritual director, and preached at her Taking of the Habit, and did so as well when Céline took the Habit and Veil. As dean and parish priest of Trévières, he stayed in contact with the Martin family and on 30th July 1897, Thérèse tactfully thought: “Don’t tell Father Ducellier that I’ve only a few more days to live; I’m still not weak enough to die, and after these visits when I continue living, others are ‘kaput.’”(This has the meaning of ‘confused’, ‘puzzled’, ‘embarrassed’.) LC/1 [30.7.13].

Father Ducellier testified in both Theresian Trials. In the present testimony, he relates his memories of Thérèse’s childhood and briefly concludes with her renown for holiness.

[Session 76: - 3rd May 1911, at 8:30am]

[1195r] [The officially appointed witness answers the first question correctly].

[1195v] [Answer to the second question]:

My name is Alcide-Leoida Ducellier, I was born in Chicheboville, in the Diocese of Bayeux, on 14th November 1849, to Louis-Adolphe Ducellier, a masonry contractor, and Céleste Philippe. I am a priest and was ordained in 1874. I first exercised the holy ministry as curate of Saint Gervais’ in Falaise (1874-1877), then of Saint Pierre’s in Lisieux (1877-1884); After that I was parish priest of Mathieu; then dean and parish priest of Trévières, and finally I’ve been archpriest and parish priest of Saint Pierre’s of Lisieux since 1899.

[The witness answers questions three to seven correctly].

[Answer to the eighth question]:

When I was curate of Saint Pierre’s in Lisieux (1877-1884), I had the opportunity of getting to know the Servant of God’s family; but, if truth be told, I only really knew her father, Mr. Martin, and her two eldest sisters, Miss Marie and Miss Pauline, for I was their confessor. When I arrived, the Servant of God was only four and a half years old, and she was 11 when I left Lisieux. When [1196r] she was seven, I heard her first confession. After that, she became a boarder at the Benedictine Abbey in Lisieux. Since I’ve been back at Saint Pierre’s of Lisieux as archpriest and parish priest (1899), I’ve been able to observe what is said about the Servant of God in town. I’ve partially read “Story of a Soul”, but I won’t use it in my testimony.  

[Answer to the ninth question]:

I have a real devotion for the Servant of God; I pray to her every day. I desire and hope that she will be beatified, because I’m convinced of her holiness and the power of her intercession.

[Answer to the tenth question]:

The Servant of God was born in Alençon, (Diocese of Séez); she only came to Lisieux when she was four and a half years old (in 1877), after her mother died. Her father, Mr. Martin, wanted to be nearer to the Guérin family, so that Mrs. Guérin, who was aunt to his daughters, could serve as mother to them.

[1196v][Answer to the eleventh question]:

I knew Mr. Martin well: he was the archetypal man of faith, and very loyal, with elevated sentiments. This he showed me when his daughters entered religious life. He certainly suffered from these separations, and yet he always appeared joyful.

[Answer to the twelfth question]:

She must have been baptized in Alençon, but I can’t be precise on that point.

[Answer to the thirteenth question]:

The Servant of God was at first educated above all by her second sister, Pauline. From a religious point of view, her education was as perfect as it could be. The child was much loved by her father and sisters, but I’m convinced that this affection didn’t harm her instruction in the slightest. It was at that time (1880) that I heard the Servant of God’s [1197r] first confession, when she was seven years old. I also saw her with her family every Sunday at the parish services. Little Thérèse left me with the impression of being a very pure soul, very pious, and very fearful of offending God in the smallest of things.

[Answer to questions fourteen to twenty-five]:

I left Lisieux when the Servant of God was 11 years old, and only came back after her death. I therefore personally know nothing on all these points. I can only repeat what I have since learnt from a few conversations with her Carmelite sisters, which will add nothing to the Trial.

[Answer to the twenty-sixth question]:

I know that the number of pilgrims who visit the Servant of God’s tomb is constant and considerable. Many priests, who pass through Lisieux, make it their duty to go to the cemetery two kilometres away, and pray on her grave. I know this thanks to talking to several preachers whom I had invited [1197v] on various occasions to preach at my parish church; and also to Mgr. Monnier, the Bishop of Troyes, who would occasionally come to Lisieux and make this pilgrimage as well. During the week of Easter, many people came to pray at the cemetery, including four groups: 1stly the youth club for girls of Grenelle (Paris); 2ndly the orphanage of Rugles (Diocese of Evreux) directed by the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul; 3rdly a group of young girls from Serquigny (Diocese of Evreux); and finally 4thly, five nuns who were directors of the asylum in Trouville.

[Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

Apart from the very numerous testimonies that the Carmel receive every day, and of which a record is kept in the monastery, I can confirm from my personal observations that the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness is generally known by the faithful in my parish and the town. People from all social classes recommend themselves to her prayers, in order to obtain temporal and spiritual graces through her intercession.

[Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

I’ve never heard anyone [1198r] criticize the Servant of God’s holiness.

[Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

The fact that praying to Sister Thérèse has become so universal shows that she has a reputation amongst the faithful for obtaining exceptional miracles and favours from God. The Carmel receives a large number of such reports every day. Personally, I’ve had direct knowledge of several cases of extraordinary favours. Mr. La Néele, a doctor in Lisieux, told me the following story: “Called to assist a young man suffering from peritonitis in Glos, near Lisieux, I recognized a perforation of the intestine and I declared the case hopeless. In the face of such a severe injury, I thought of applying one of the Servant of God’s relics, but I held back, convinced that the patient would be dead by the following day. Now, the following day, his condition was better, and a fortnight later he had recovered; it’s the only case I know, in the medical annals, of a healing from an injury of this kind.

[1198v] [Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I’ve said everything I know.

[Concerning the Articles, the officially appointed witness says he knows nothing other than what he has already deposed in answer to the preceding questions. – Here ends the interrogation of this officially appointed witness. The Acts are read out. The officially appointed witness makes no amendment to them and signs as follows]:

Ego testis ex officio deposui ut supra pro veritate, ratum habeo et confirmo.

Signatum: DUCELLIER, Archpriest of Saint Pierre.