Witness 11 - Jean-Auguste Valadier

Born in Paris on 20th October 1851, Jean-Auguste Valadier was a priest in the diocese of Paris, and held the post of vicar in Nogent-sur-Marne and Neuilly-sur-Seine consecutively (1876-1887). He was then chaplain of the Blind Sisters of Saint Paul, and at the same time, responsible for assisting the condemned inmates at the prison of La Roquette (1889-1899). He became a curate in the parish of Notre-Dame-des-Vertus d’Aubervilliers (1899-1909), before being nominated Canon of Notre Dame de Paris. He died on 24th October 1915.

He did not know Thérèse, but was able to speak about her reputation for holiness and provided interesting details on the execution of Pranzini, which he attended on 31st August 1887 assisted by Father Faure, his predecessor at La Roquette.

The witness testified on 3rd February 1911, during the 53rd session, pp. 557r-561r of our Public Copy.

[Session 53: - 3rd February 1911, at 8:30am]

[557r] [The witness answers the first question correctly].

[Answer to the second question]:

My name is Jean-Auguste Valadier, born in Paris on 20th October 1851, of the legitimate marriage between Jean-Baptiste Valadier and Julie Périgault; I am a priest; I was first a vicar in the parishes of Nogent-sur-Marne and Neuilly-sur-Seine (diocese of Paris) (1876-1887). I was subsequently chaplain of the Blind Sisters of Saint Paul, and simultaneously chaplain at the prison of La Roquette, responsible for assisting the condemned prisoners at their execution. I held this last post from 1889 to 1899. [557v] Then, I was a curate in the parish of Notre-Dame-des-Vertus d'Aubervilliers in the diocese of Paris until 1909, and since then I have been Canon of the Eminent Metropolitan Church of Paris.

[The witness correctly answers questions three to six inclusive].

[Answer to the seventh question]:

I am happy, in coming to testify, to contribute to the glorification of the Servant of God; my motivation is wholly spiritual, and I’m not prompted by any human motive.

[Answer to the eighth question]:

I didn’t know the Servant of God personally, and I wouldn’t have anything to say about what is common knowledge to everyone. My testimony will apply to only two or three specific facts of which I was explicitly informed and I will explain, when I recount them, how they came to my knowledge.

[Answer to the ninth question]:

Yes, I have a sincere [558r] devotion for the Servant of God; I pray to her, and when I preach I readily quote her example. I think it is desirable for her Cause to succeed, for the glory of God and the good of souls, because I’ve noticed that her influence is particularly beneficial and appealing.  

[To questions ten to fourteen inclusive he says he doesn’t know anything].

[Answer to the fifteenth question]:

It is here that I can provide some details on the episode of the murderer Pranzini’s execution (31st August 1887), episode to which the Servant of God alludes in “Story of a Soul” (chapter 5, page 77, published in 8000 copies, 1910) - MSA 45,2-46,1 - . The Servant of God tells of how she had asked Our Lord to give her a sign that her prayers for the conversion of the criminal had been answered. She adds that this sign was given to her and that she recognized it when she read in a newspaper how Pranzini had at the last minute seized a crucifix offered to him by the chaplain, etc. Now, the chaplain was Father Faure, my predecessor in the function [558v] of chaplain to the condemned prisoners. I would converse with him about our common ministry, to which God had drawn me.

In 1890, before I knew Thérèse at all, Father Faure recounted Pranzini’s last moments to me. The interview left me with the impression that Pranzini had refused to accept any religious act until the last minute; I even expressed this sentiment in private conversations. But, having these past few days read the printed Memoires of Fr. Faure (Souvenirs de La Roquette, published in 12000 copies, Paris, s.d., pages 142 onwards), I found details indicating that Pranzini conversed not only willingly, but also more and more intimately with the chaplain in his cell. Whether this is true or not, Pranzini’s last gesture was recounted to me in very great detail by the chaplain himself who assisted him. He couldn’t have “seized” the crucifix, as the Servant of God may have read in the newspaper, since the prisoners have their hands tied behind their backs at that moment; but what is perhaps even more striking, is that Pranzini himself, insisting energetically, demanded the crucifix which the chaplain presented to him, and he lovingly kissed it several times.      

[559r] [In answer to questions sixteen to twenty-five inclusive, he says he doesn’t know anything].

[Answer to the twenty-sixth question]:

I visited the Servant of God’s tomb in Lisieux cemetery in about September 1910. During the three quarters of an hour I spent in the cemetery, five or six people came to pray at her grave. The guardian, with whom I briefly spoke, said that there were normally considerably more people who came and that his young daughter was constantly busy leading the pilgrims to the Servant of God’s tomb. I gathered several little notes and pictures that pilgrims had left at the foot of the cross that stood over the grave. On the notes were written prayers and messages of thanksgiving. In one of them, a young girl attested to having been healed of a sore knee as a result of a cataplasm made with earth taken from the grave. A few days later I returned to the cemetery accompanied by a lady I knew. We saw a family [559v] of

five or six come to the cemetery. The family very fervently asked for the healing of a little girl whom they had kneel and pray on the grave.

[Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

I hear people everywhere talk about the Servant of God’s holiness and about the graces that are attributed to her.

[Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

I have never heard anyone criticize the Servant of God in the slightest. Instead she inspires universal sympathy and a sort of enthusiasm among those who study her life.

[Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

I myself have great trust in Sister Thérèse’s intercession and feel strongly drawn to pray to her. When I visited her tomb last year, I felt compelled to do so in a particularly fervent way. Therefore, at her grave, I confessed to a fellow priest who was accompanying me, and I persisted in imploring [560r] the Servant of God’s help in obtaining a grace that was particularly important to me. I can also testify that appealing to Sister Thérèse brought about a change that I’m not afraid of describing as marvelous in the character and inner dispositions of a person whose conscience I direct. Lastly, I am going to present the court with a letter which similarly attests to the effectuality of the Servant of God’s prayers:  

“Paris, 2nd February 1911.
Reverend Canon,
How grateful I am to you for having introduced me to the Life Story of little Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Nothing captivated me more than reading this, to the extent that I now identify with her. She is always present in my mind, I feel the need to seek her advice about everything; she has become indispensable to me; her name comes into my head when I ask for a favour, a grace, etc.; she helps me pray to Jesus so that he may always hold out his hand to me. Having felt the extremely constant effects of her protection, I feel the need to make her known, by spreading her ‘Life Story’. I feel how powerful her intercession is with God! As for me, I have been granted many graces, [560v] a few of which I can describe as follows. Suffering from a painful foot a few months ago, following a fall, I was worried enough to ask advice from a doctor who didn’t conceal the fact that I could need an operation. Very concerned about this perspective, without saying anything I put a little relic of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus on my foot. The very next day I noticed a very real improvement: the bad part of the bone, which had been very sensitive the day before, had become painless, I could even walk, and since then I haven’t felt any pain whatsoever. I was able to put the Servant of God’s credibility to the test a second time regarding a very delicate family affair that needed resolving. Not knowing what course of action to pursue, I put the affair into the hands of Sister Thérèse, praying her to find a solution. Thanks to an unexpected turnaround in the dispositions of the people I had to deal with, the affair was resolved in the way I wished, and I can only attribute this success to Sister Thérèse’s intervention. I could continue like this forever, if I wanted to list all the graces I’ve received, the consolations I’ve obtained, the situations that have been settled, as well my complete peace of mind when I absorb myself in this angel’s ‘Life Story’ but I will content myself with certifying that what is written above is true, not wanting to go too far, etc.
Signed: THE COUNTESS OF LOUVENCOURT, 94, rue de Courcelles, Paris.”

[Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I am not aware of having forgotten anything.

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

Ita pro veritate deposui, ratum habeo et confirmo.

Signatum: A. VALADIER.