Witness 12 - Jean-Jules Raoul Auriault, S.J.


Born in Brie (in the diocese of Poitiers) on 19th February 1855, Jean-Jules Raoul Auriault entered the Company of Jesus when he was still young. A Doctor of Theology and a Bachelor of Canon Law, he was a professor of theology at the Catholic University of Paris for over twenty years. At the same time he devoted himself to retreat ministry, which led him to the Carmel of Lisieux on many occasions. He did not know the Servant of God, but his testimony is based on the reports made by people who knew her, particularly the Carmelite nuns of Lisieux, and can be divided into three parts: 1. The character of Thérèse’s holiness, as it appears in her writing; 2. The Servant of God’s reputation for holiness and her truly universal and spiritual influence; 3. The remarkable way in which her influence corresponds with the needs of souls in our time.

It is in fact a study (p. 568r), and a very interesting one at that. It represents the first doctrinal synthesis of Thérèse’s message, clearly highlighting how directly it responds to the necessities of our time. The witness also talks about Thérèse’s reputation for holiness and cites Fr. Longhaye as being one figure who was particularly drawn to the young Carmelite’s character and writings.

Fr. Auriault testified on 7th February 1911, in the 54th session, pp. 566v-572v of our Public Copy.

[Session 54: - 7th February 1911 at 8:30am and at 2pm]

[566v] [The witness answers the first question correctly].

[Answer to the second question]:

My name is Jean-Jules-Raoul Auriault, I was born in Brie, in the diocese of Poitiers, on 19th February 1855, of the legitimate marriage between Jean Auriault and Madeleine Cador. I am a professed priest of the Society of Jesus, a Doctor of Theology and a Bachelor of Canon Law. I was a professor of dogmatic theology at the Catholic University of Paris from 1886 to 1905. Since then I have been an honorary professor and I devote my time [567r] to ministry work in Paris.

[The witness answers the third question correctly].

[Answer to the fourth question]:

I was summoned before the criminal preliminary judge four or five times, as a member of an unauthorized congregation; the cases were dismissed.  

[The witness answers the fifth and sixth questions correctly].

[Answer to the seventh question]:

I am giving this testimony for the glory of God and no human motive can influence my judgment in this case.

[Answer to the eighth question]:

I didn’t know the Servant of God personally, and I never had any direct relations with her. My testi-[567v] mony will be based on reports made by people who knew her, chiefly the Carmelite nuns of Lisieux. Furthermore, I have made a very attentive study of the “Story of her Life” which was written by herself.

[What do you think about the genre and the truth of this work?]:

I don’t doubt that the work expresses, in the most truthful way, the Servant of God’s life and inner dispositions. The evident simplicity and spontaneity with which it is in fact written is most remarkable.  

[Answer to the ninth question]:

I desire and hope that this Cause will be successful because I believe it is in the order of Providence, and that this beatification will have a very effectual influence on souls, encouraging them and guiding them to perfection.

[Answers to questions ten to nineteen]:

I don’t know anything particular about the events that marked the [568r] Servant of God’s life; my study and observations are about the character of her holiness as it appears in her writings.

[Answers to the twentieth and twenty-first questions]:

What determines the traits of Thérèse of the Child Jesus’ holiness, is the special “mission” she received to stir a movement of generous trust towards the merciful love of God, and to pave the way for simplicity and evangelical childhood. Hence natural and supernatural gifts combine in her, giving her divine transparency and rendering her capable of marvelously reflecting God’s beauty and kindness. This leads to the filial feeling that marks her relations with the heavenly Father, a feeling that continuously increases and blossoms: a) into a growing need as she gets older to become increasingly little and childlike in relation to God, which prompts her remarkable devotion for Mary and for the Child Jesus. b) This is the reason for her humility that is so true and so joyful; c) hence her trust, which develops [568v] with a rare intensity to the point of audacity; she certainly has that “faith that moves mountains” (1 Cr. 13:2); d) hence also her freedom, righteousness, and sincerity which give her a wholly beautiful physiognomy conferring her spiritual appeal; e) by means of this very special grace to which she corresponded perfectly, she comes to this excellent love, making her desire and seek suffering as her best treasure, and covet “martyrdom of heart and of body” - MSA 76,b - , as did Saint John of the Cross (“pati et contemni pro te”). This leads her to an habitual state of charity in which she burns as a true holocaust for souls, suffering its fire with the zeal that renders her comparable to Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Teresa. This is really the culmination of her grace that renders her apt for her mission; where, convinced more than ever of her littleness and nothingness, she allows herself to dwell “in the heart of her Mother Church and from there shine with love, through all its members for the entire world” - MSB 3,2 - .This is the reason why, through a trait that is hers alone, she emphasizes her vocation and confirms that her mission will above all begin when she dies, and that she “will spend her heaven doing good on earth” – L.C 17-7 - . The facts therefore confirm the prophecy, it turns out that God manifests himself prodigiously in this young virgin!

[Answers to questions twenty-two to twenty-four]:

I don’t know anything particular about these questions.

[Answers to the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth questions]:

I have been five or six times to her tomb, in the cemetery of Lisieux. There I personally felt especially drawn to practice devotion to the Servant of God, and I received inner graces there that I certainly attribute to her intercession. I also noticed, particularly on my last visits, that group after group of pilgrims go there, and the month of November 1910 was no exception, despite very bad weather. The pilgrims’ attitude was reverential; it was clear that they had come to pray and not out of curiosity.    

[569v] [Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

I have observed from my very numerous and very varied connections, either with people in the outside world, or with religious communities, that the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness and spiritual influence are really universal. Very educated and very serious people admire her heroic virtue and feel its effects. Her reputation for holiness is widespread among the priests in our Society. I know the most educated and experienced people who never tire of rereading and meditating Sister Thérèse’s life story; the Reverend Father Longhaye is an example, well-known by all for his science and levelheadedness. Our young priests are drawn in great numbers to her “way of surrender”.

[Doesn’t her “spiritual way” lead to quietism to a certain extent?]:

All danger of quietism is thoroughly warded off by generous love of humiliation and suffering, and also by very active zeal, which are essential parts of Sister Thérèse’s spirituality.

[570r] [Do you know the cause of her reputation for holiness? Didn’t a degree of industrious zeal contribute to its spread?]:

I think the incredible spread of Sister Thérèse’s reputation for holiness is the result of divine intervention which is fulfilling the Servant of God’s mission to stimulate souls to holiness. The propaganda aiming at spreading her writings and souvenirs seems to be the consequence rather than the cause of believers’ enthusiasm for the Servant of God.

[Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

I haven’t heard anything of note said against her reputation for holiness.

[Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

I know a very considerable number of people from all walks of life who unceasingly pray to the Servant of God and say endless novenas in her honour to obtain either temporal, but mostly spiritual, graces. It is worth noting that, according to some of their [570v] reports, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus works in a particular way on souls to make them better. She hardly grants any temporal graces without accompanying them by some sort of inner sanctification. When temporal graces are not granted, it is rare that spiritual graces do not compensate for this to a certain extent; and I’ve often noticed that in these cases the solicitor of the grace doesn’t complain at all. Here is a case in point: an elderly and profoundly Christian person asked, at the Servant of God’s grave, to be cured of her deafness. She wrote: “What have I drawn from this pilgrimage, Father? The profound impression that on the road to holiness we must suffer and suffer a lot, that the souls whom God calls to perfection are those who have been tried the most, and that suffering is even a sign of predestination. Reading Sister Thérèse’s life story, I had until that day only ever been struck by the simplicity of her life of love for God. But there, before her tomb, I suddenly felt that the only way she reached such a degree of love was by experiencing a lot of unheeded suffering. I felt as if I’d been illuminated with a new light that showed me a life of immolation, a life known to all the saints, and especially to Our Lord, [571r] I understood that I shouldn’t fear suffering, that it is striking proof of God’s love for us, and I felt a desire, no, more like a need, to embark on this path: these are the impressions with which I left Lisieux.”  

One of the priests in our residence, who is 74 years old, said to me: “I certainly owe Thérèse of the Child Jesus one grace in particular: I had no devotion to the Sacred Heart; I asked her for it and I obtained it immediately.” This monk is a good preacher and a man full of good sense. As I said, the facts stunningly confirm the prophecy she made when she promised to “spend her heaven doing good on earth”, and this young virgin makes her influence felt everywhere: 1st through her writings, 2nd through her numerous miracles and conversions, 3rd through effectually calling “little souls” to “the way of surrender and spiritual childhood.” Her influence seems to correspond remarkably with souls’ needs in our time.

If the result of the mission she received is a new type of Christian perfection, [571v] it reveals the extent to which her action must be effectual on today’s generations: a) in a heavily materialist society, she is an angelic being who opens heaven and raises hearts. Especially as through her holy death, she seems to have attained a miraculous existence in our midst, and a function as it were of a helpful sister for the “travelers” on this earth; b) against discouragement and temptations to despair which only too often invade souls who are plunged in an atmosphere of disbelief, she creates a reaction of trust through her filial little way of surrender to God our Father: “Imitatores Dei estote sicut filii charissimi” - *Eph. 5:1 -; c) through emphasizing the spirit of evangelical humility, she destroys the illusion of nature which is the basis of Americanism, a “system” that depreciates so-called passive virtues; d) on the whole, she overturns that pride based on self-reliance and failure to recognize the power of grace; e) she clears the atmosphere for souls, by reducing the method for reaching perfection to its basic principles, clearing the way of everything needlessly obstructing it and leading people both inside and outside the monastery to discover [572r] that the Lord’s yolk is easy and his burden light - *Mt. 11:30 -; f) through the dogmatic realism of her piety and her active relationship with God, Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, Saint Joseph, the Saints, the Church, the Pope, the Bishop, and Souls, she confounds the nominalism of the modernist error and protects people from a misleading transformism that destroys the personality of God and the historically proven mysteries in which we believe.

[Continuation of the answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

g) She is in the right place here at the frontier between two epochs, sent by God [572v] to continue demonstrating the existence of the supernatural world, a demonstration that is progressively becoming established thanks to the Vatican, Lourdes, and Joan of Arc. She is also here to herald a new era in which, in order to fight the prodigious work of the devil, we will need prodigious signs of divine holiness. True to the law of Providence, in order to achieve such immense results, God chooses a fragile child, a simple virgin: “Infirma mundi elegit Deus, ut confundat fortia” - * 1 Co. 1:27 -; c) In addition, as a result of her earthly origin, of the family background in which she was born and grew up, Thérèse’s holiness honours the Christian family, showing it as ideally accomplished by Christianity and highlights the link that exists between Christian perfection and religious perfection. It removes the idea of separation; it establishes the idea of union between religious life and the family as restored by Jesus Christ.

[Continuation of the answer to the thirtieth question]:

I have said all that I know.

[573r] [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.

Signatuni: J. AURIAULT, S. J.