Witness 23 - Anatole-Armand-Marie Flamérion, S.J.


Anatole-Armand-Marie Flamérion was born in Paris on 7th October 1851. He joined the Company of Jesus, taught for ten years in various colleges while also devoting his time to preaching, and was nominated Director of “Villa Manrèse”, a Retreat House located in Clamart, near Paris. There he was well-placed to observe the strong appeal that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had for priests. In 1909 he succeeded Father de Haza as the exorcist for the Diocese of Paris.

Father Flamérion underlines the prudence with which obsessed people’s words must be measured.

We recall what Mother Agnès wrote on 12th January 1911 in a letter to the Postulator: “We receive more and more letters from all over the world testifying to the confidence that our little sister’s intercession inspires; she continues to heal bodies and convert souls. In exorcisms, the devil is obliged to acknowledge her. A very sincere Jesuit priest recently wrote in a confidential letter to me: Providence and obedience have it that I have been entrusted with the same mission as venerated Father de Haza, and Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus proves very powerful in the battles I lead against the evil spirit. On several occasions, the devil, seized with fear and forced to make the humiliating admission, has pointed to a spot on the horizon, crying out: “Ah! there she is!” “Who’s that?” “The little Carmelite Sister” “Say her name!” “Thérèse of the Child Jesus!” And, on another occasion, he added furiously: “She is there, the little priest-eater! Oh! She’s snatched so many from me!” (Arch. Gen. OCD, 398d: 9). Father Flamérion would also testify in the Apostolic Trial on 25th August 1916.      

The present testimony was given on 3rd April 1911, in the 74th session, pp. 1175v- 1180r of our Public Copy.

WITNESS 23: Anatole Flamérion S.J.

[Session 74: - 3rd April 1911, at 8:30am and at 2pm]

[1175v] [The witness answers the first question correctly]:

[Answer to the second question]:

My name is Anatole-Armand-Marie Flamérion, born in Paris in the Parish of Saint-François-Xavier, on 7th October 1851, of the legitimate marriage between Nicolas-Alexandre Flamérion, an employee to the town of Paris, and Louise Adélaïde Charlotte Sicart. I am a professed friar of the Company of Jesus. For 15 years I was dedicated to teaching in a college and simultaneously doing religious works and teaching. After that I was mainly devoted to preaching until 1900. At that time, I was called to direct the house called “Villa Manrèse” in Clamart (Diocese of Paris) where series of sacerdotal retreats are given. 18 months ago Mgr. the Archbishop of Paris designated me exorcist of the diocese.

[1176r] [The witness correctly answers questions three to seven].

[Answer to the eighth question]:

I didn’t know the Servant of God, save through reading “Story of a Soul”, but I won’t be using this work in my deposition. The details I would like to make known to the court relate to the graces obtained by the Servant of God since her death, and which I have come to know about through making observations in my ministry as either exorcist or director of priests when I give sacerdotal retreats at “Villa Manrèse”.  

[Answer to the ninth question]:

In about 1906, I made a very hasty, superficial and incomplete reading of “Story of a Soul”, and I drew a rather unfavourable impression from it: to me this Biography appeared soppy and puerile. A few years later, in 1909, upon learning from some sincere and very Christian people that [1176v] reading the same book had done them a lot of good, I decided to study it carefully, and my first impression changed entirely. I found it had a very profound and very strong spirituality. Furthermore I noticed that precious graces had been obtained through the Servant of God’s intercession, either by priests or by other people I directed, or by myself. Since then, I have a great devotion for the Servant of God and I hope her Beatification Trial will have a happy conclusion.  

[Answer to questions ten to twenty-eight]:

I have nothing particular to say for these questions.

[Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

To understand what I have to say about the Servant of God, I must explain in a few words what we call the “Works of the All-Merciful Mother and of the Victims of the Heart of Jesus”. To assist the Church and souls in their fight against a particularly dreadful attack of demons, [1171r] to which the Sovereign Pontiff Leo XIII alludes in the prayer he exhorted us to say after Mass, the Blessed Virgin, the “All-Merciful Mother”, chose a certain number of “voluntary victims’ over whom the demon has powerful possession and who, through generosity, accept to bear these terrible hardships and offer them to our Lord, draining the demons’ power, and thereby serving the Church by preserving or delivering other souls. Father de Haza, my predecessor in the post of exorcist which he held for 36 years, recognized this merciful plan in the very exercise of his ministry. Having been his “socius” for nine years in his function as official exorcist, then his successor since 1909, I myself have observed manifold events that prove the principle to be real. In 1900, Reverend Father de Haza had Mgr. the Archbishop of Tours present a report of his observations to the Holy Office. In 1901, the Holy Office replied to Mgr. the Archbishop of Tours as follows: “We found this work supremely interesting; all that it recounts conforms to the doctrine of the Church. We particularly noticed [1177v] that the whole corresponds to what the prayers exhorted by the Holy Father presuppose in terms of demon attacks.”

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

I must also mention that writers of mystical theology acknowledge that during exorcisms demons are often compelled, despite their inclination to lie, to admit, to their detriment, truths involving the glory of God and the good of souls. The same writers give reliable rules to discern the truth from the lies in these different [1178r] assertions. There are even reliable rules, officially recognized by the Church, to discern divine effects in souls and distinguish them from imaginary phenomena. Now, in the exercise of my ministry as an exorcist, I’ve identified and cannot doubt, either in demons’ admissions that always corroborate with many other exorcisms involving diverse individuals who are completely unknown to each other, or by conforming declarations made by the same people under divine action, as I said, I’ve identified:  

1st. That the Blessed Virgin has very specifically orientated the “Work of Victims”, which I mentioned above, towards the sanctification of priests and the reparation of insults directed against Our Lord during Holy Eucharist by unworthy priests.

2nd. That in this work of mercy and love, undertaken for the sanctification of priests, the Blessed Virgin has, in a very special way, associated herself with the Servant of God Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, who acts: 1st to help those who are working for the sanctification of priests; 2nd to deliver priests from demons who tempt them and even enslave them, by shackling these demons solely to “Victims” whose virtues torment and [1178v] reduce them to powerlessness.

3rd. That demons fear the following as particularly contrary to their undertakings and favourable to souls’ progress: acts of obedience, humility, littleness, trusting surrender and love undertaken in the spirit of Sister Thérèse’s “Little Way”.

To support these assertions, here are just a few of the many facts I’ve highlighted:

A) The demon has declared, through the mouth of several possessed people who were complete strangers, that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus assists me in my ministry, precisely because I work for the sanctification of priests. “Thérèse has been preparing you for a long time - It’s she who’s directing your arm – It’s the Virgin who sent her to you” (Exorcism of 20th January 1910 on J… Paris). “Thérèse is the angel of your priesthood and ministry to priests” (A response I’ve heard from the demon on many different occasions, notably on 30th July 1910). “Thérèse has been given to you, she is yours and always assists you, on account of your priestly mission” (9th February 1911, exorcism of J…). – “Thérèse was given to you on account of your mission… she helps you with [1179r] priests” (Exorcism of M… on 8th December 1810 – M… is completely unknown to J…).

B) The demon has similarly declared that Sister Thérèse had snatched many priests’ souls from him. “She is there, the little Carmelite Sister, Thérèse of the Child Jesus, the little priest-eater:

Oh! She’s snatched so many from me” (Exorcism of J… 25th November 1909 – ditto 27th January 1910: “Thérèse of the Child Jesus! She’s snatched priests from me!”)

C) Another time the demon declared that Thérèse had snatched him from a priest’s soul, and that the Virgin had sent him into the body of a “Voluntary Victim”: “Yes, it’s your Thérèse who snatched this soul from me and who’s the reason I’m imprisoned by the Virgin.”

D) The demon confessed that he finds the way of perfection through humility and obedience taught by Thérèse of the Child Jesus particularly odious: he disdainfully calls it “supreme stupidity”. I said to the demon: “What was it then that attracted the Heart of Jesus to little Thérèse?” He replied “Because she destroyed her soul!... A destroyed soul! Ah! Jesus comes and lives in him; a [1179v] priest with a destroyed soul would save the world; he would be a living Christ” (Exorcism of J… 10th March 1910). “Thérèse reached supreme stupidity”, said the demon one day; and when I asked him: “What do you mean by supreme stupidity?” he replied: “Because she was little.”  

Outside my ministry as an exorcist, I’ve been able to see in my ordinary ministry when giving priest retreats at “Villa Manrèse” that devotion for the Servant of God inspires them with a great desire to progress in holiness. 400 to 500 priests come to “Villa Manrèse” every year, and many of them tell me of their trust in the Servant of God. Some even consider her as an assistant and associate in their ministry and spiritual life.

[Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I have nothing to add.

[1180r] [Concerning the Articles, the witness says he knows nothing other 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 amendment to them and signs as follows]:

Testis deposui ut supra pro veritate, ratum habeo et confirmo.

Signatum: A. FLAMÉRION, S.J.