Witness 6 - Lucien-Victor Dumaine


The sixth witness is Lucien-Victor Dumaine, Vicar-General of the Diocese of Séez.

Born in Tinchebray (Orne) on 8th September 1842, he was ordained priest in Séez on 15th June 1867. He was first nominated Vicar of La Lande-Patry in 1868, then of the Church of Notre Dame in Alençon; it was here that he baptized Thérèse Martin on 4th January 1873. He had particular esteem for Mr. Martin and his friendship for his family didn’t stop when they moved to Lisieux. Successively Curate of Tourouvre and Montsort, and then Archpriest of the Cathedral of Séez, he went on to become Vicar-General in 1899.

Learned and pious, devoted to religious historical research in the region, he enjoyed looking after the soldiers he was in contact with during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and became their chaplain. He died in Séez on 25th September 1926, therefore after the canonization of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus (V.T. October 1961, pp.36-40). Father Dumaine was above all able to testify on the Martins’ family background in Alençon, and also on Thérèse’s reputation for holiness in the diocese of Séez.

He testified on 25th November 1910, in the 40th session, pp. 457r-464v of our Public Copy.

[Session 40: - 25th November 1910, at 8:30am and at 2pm]

[457v] [The witness answers the first question correctly].

[Answer to the second question]:

My name is Dumaine Lucien-Victor; I am 68 years old, having [458r] been born in Tinchebray, in the diocese of Séez, on 8th September 1842. I am a titular Canon of the Cathedral of Séez and honorary Vicar-General to his Excellency the Bishop of Séez, after having been titular Vicar-General from March 1899 to January 1910.

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

[Answer to the seventh question]:

I am prompted to give this testimony by my desire for God’s glory and the particular affection I have for the Servant of God, whom I baptized myself.

[Answer to the eighth question]:

1st As Vicar of Notre Dame Church in Alençon (June 1868 to June 1876), I knew the Servant of God’s family intimately, and kept up close relations with them; I heard the confessions of several members of the family and I was fortunate enough to baptize the Servant of God myself. These relations continued until Mr. Martin [458v] and his children left for Lisieux, after the death of Mrs. Martin.

2nd Since they left, I haven’t had any more direct contact with the family.

3rd When the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness spread after her death, I decided to learn about her by attentively reading the book entitled “Story of a Soul”. Moreover, I got in contact with the Carmel of Lisieux, and have been kept up to date by the Prioress and nuns about everything that has happened concerning the Servant of God.

4th His Excellency the Bishop of Séez asked me to exhibit to the court everything involving Sister Thérèse’s reputation for holiness and her miracles in the diocese of Séez. I am well informed by my numerous connections among the clergy and by the faithful in the diocese and from attentively observing peoples’ frames of mind on this subject.  

[Reply to the ninth question]:

I desire very much the success of this Cause for the glory of God, the honour of the two dioceses of Séez and Bayeux and for the general good of souls who, I’m [459r] sure, will obtain very precious graces through invoking the Servant of God.

[Answer to the tenth question]:

The Servant of God was born in Alençon, in the parish of Notre Dame, on 2nd January 1873. Her father, Mr. Louis Martin, lived until about 1871 in the parish of Saint Pierre de Monsort, in Alençon, where he worked as a jeweler and watchmaker. He had acquired a very honourable position and quite a handsome fortune. He left his business to go and live in rue Saint Blaise, in the parish of Notre Dame. It’s there that the Servant of God was born. Her mother, Mrs. Martin, born Guérin, engaged in lace-making, called point d’Alençon (Alençon lace). Mr. and Mrs. Martin already had eight children before Thérèse was born. Several of them died at a young age. I knew those who survived very well: Marie, Pauline, Léonie and Céline. I believe that when Thérèse was born, her elder sisters could have been between 12 and 13. At first the Servant of God was fed and brought up by her mother; but when the child fell ill, she was sent to a wet-nurse in Semallé, near Alençon. She recovered her health and went back to the family. Mrs. Martin [459v] took it upon herself to educate the child, until her premature death when Thérèse was about four and a half years old. Her elder sisters, Marie and Pauline, then tended to the bringing up of their young sister. Shortly after Mrs. Martin’s death Mr. Martin moved to Lisieux; as for me, I was nominated in 1878 to another post and I lost sight of this family a little.      

[Answer to the eleventh question]:

Mr. Martin got married rather late in life. The reputation for piety and fervour in his Christian life led people in the town to believe that he had made a vow of celibacy. His religious practices were very marked. He went to church a great deal, went to mass even during the week, took communion frequently (especially at that time) and was a member of the Association for the monthly nocturnal Adoration of the Holy Sacrament. His character, which was serious and a little melancholy on the outside, was gentle and joyful among family and friends. In his spare time he enjoyed fishing, often in the company of his curate, and he usually sent the product of his fishing to the nuns [460r] at the Poor Clares convent in Alençon. He knew how to be benevolent in the managing of his wealth and was widely esteemed: he was considered a perfectly honest gentleman. I was not so familiar with Mrs. Martin. She was reserved (and a housewife). She was very pious and very good. The unity within the family was remarkable, both between the spouses, and between parents and children.

[Answer to the twelfth question]:

I baptized her myself on Saturday 4th January 1873, in the evening, in Notre Dame Church in Alençon, as proves the baptism certificate which, since the Servant of God’s death, has been photographed and distributed among the public. Following the vice-postulator’s wishes, I added an apostil to the copy of the baptism certificate that he intends to include in the Trial: “I bless God for having granted me the grace to open through holy baptism the door to heaven unto the future little Carmelite Saint of Lisieux; I am pleased to testify in particular to the profoundly Christian and good background in which she was born and grew up. Signed: LUCIEN DUMAINE, Vicar-General of Séez (September 1909). Cum sigillo.”

[460v] [Answer to the thirteenth question]:

My friendly connections with the different members of the Martin family during the years I spent in Alençon allowed me to observe the behaviour and habits of the parents and children. The young daughters were, from a young age, trained in a very serious and fervent piety. Their attitude demonstrated that their human and Christian education was led very well.  

[Answer to questions fourteen to nineteen inclusive]:

I don’t know anything about these points, apart from what is written in the “Story of a Soul”.

[Answer to the twentieth question]:

If I judge her life on my attentive reading of her autobiography, I can’t help but believe that her virtue is completely out of the ordinary. It seems to me that her great simplicity, her profound self-denial, her constant mortification and her extraordinary love of God exceed even that of profoundly Christian souls.

[461r] [What do you think about the genre and the truth of the “Story of a Soul” and therefore about what this writing tells us about the Servant of God, her childhood and death?]:

My conviction is that this book was really written before God and that it is perfectly sincere. I know that on some occasions traits of a certain sentimentality have been pointed out, at least that’s several people’s opinion. But these details appeared to me as negligible in relation to the ensemble of positive acts that constitute her life and demonstrate the authenticity of her virtues.

[Answer to questions twenty-one to twenty-four inclusive]:

Only knowing these details indirectly through reading her life story, I believe that my testimony wouldn’t be of great benefit in a trial where first-hand witnesses must abound.

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

I went to cemetery of Lisieux last year (15th November 1909). As soon as I arrived, the guardian of the ce-[461v]metery spontaneously said to me: I know why you have come: it’s for the little Saint, take the left alley, etc.” I found the tomb decorated with flowers and different pious objects attesting to the frequency with which visitors come and to their trust. I’ve learnt that since then there has been, as there was prior to my pilgrimage also, a considerable and regular flow of people to the grave. To prove it I have the letters and conversations not only from the Carmel of Lisieux but also from people who themselves went to the grave on different occasions. The corroborating reports were given to me by not only simple and less educated people, but also by grave and well-educated people, and even by venerable priests who are the epitome of dignity, including Canon Guesdon, former Archpriest of the Cathedral of Séez and former professor at the Seminary of Séez where he taught for about 30 years.    

[462r] [Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

Since the Servant of God’s death and the publication of the “Story of a Soul”, I have, on many occasions, and in all the regions in the diocese of Séez, observed that people are unanimous in their conviction that she was heroically holy. I can safely say that I saw, among the faithful and priests everywhere, trust that was expressed in prayers, and in veneration of her pictures and souvenirs. I have been frequently approached and asked to intervene to obtain one or other of these objects from the Carmel. If, as I will say so later, I have heard people question the appropriateness of one or other means employed to make her better known, never in my knowledge have I heard people doubt the crux of the matter, that is to say [462v] her heroic virtues.    

[The Promoter of the Faith asks whether such a reputation for holiness might stem from exaggerated and excessive admiration. The witness’ answer]:

I can confirm that on the whole it is not so. Among those who have told me about their admiration and trust, there are many who are particularly learned and levelheaded and whose judgment is based on a carefully thought-out and impartial observation of the facts. I don’t think it is irrelevant to note at this point that out of the many religious communities in the diocese, I haven’t found a single one that wasn’t altogether convinced of the holiness of this young Carmelite nun. Now, all those who have experience of living in a community know that a certain emulation prevails between them guaranteeing the value of any testimony relating to members of other communities. I can mention among other learned and prudent figures who confirm Sister Thérèse’s heroic life: 1st all my canon colleagues at the Cathedral of Séez; 2nd the three curates of the parishes of Alençon (Notre Dame, [463r] Saint Pierre and Saint Léonard); 3rd the Archpriest of Argentan, who knew the family well in the past, being Vicar of Saint Pierre de Monsort, the parish where Mr. Martin then lived; 4th the Archpriest of Mortagne, and former Curate of the Church of Saint Léonard in Alençon; 5th the Most Reverend Father of the Trappist Monastery; 6th the Superior of the Major Seminary of Séez who, while having some reservations about the “sentimentality” that he finds in the “Story of a Soul”, unhesitatingly admits the Servant of God’s heroic virtues.      

[Doesn’t her reputation owe its growth and expansion to a certain industrious zeal on the part of her family?]:

Distributing the “Story of a Soul" and pictures and souvenirs of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus has undoubtedly contributed to making her better known, but I think that it is only what could be called artificial publicity. Very often I have noticed that it was those who were already convinced of Sister Thérèse’s holiness who wished to possess one of her objects or read the detailed story of her life. I myself have handed out some souvenirs or copies of her life story that were given to me [463v] by the Carmel of Lisieux, but I can confirm that the Carmelite nuns never asked me to actively distribute them, something I only did with discretion.    

[Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

I have never heard anyone make a contrary remark with regard to the substance of the Servant of God’s reputation for holiness. On the odd occasion, but they were very few, I have heard some criticism directed towards the way the distribution of her story and souvenirs was undertaken; some found that “too much fuss” was being made in her memory. The two or three people that I heard say this are decent and recommendable people, but I think that in their case their remarks weren’t the result of a well-pondered appreciation; they were rather what we would call “small-talk” or “an impression”.

[Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

I have observed on many occasions that in their veneration and trust of the Servant of God, [464r] the faithful were convinced not only that she was holy, but also that, through her prayers, she obtained a large number and a variety of different prodigious graces. They have faith in the words she once uttered: “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth” – DEA 17-7 -. Consequently, she is invoked everywhere for healings, conversions, for solving temporal and spiritual difficulties, and so on. I have indirectly heard of several favours that were obtained though her intercession and reported to the Reverend Mother Prioress of the Carmel of Lisieux. I personally knew a lady who had received one of these favours and who recounted it to me as follows (Miss Louise Alexandre, who is about 50 years old and lives in Saint Front de Collière): “I was suffering from a serious eye complaint that the doctor had noticed and treated. When I prayed at Sister Thérèse’s tomb, I was suddenly and completely cured.” A detailed report of this event was sent by Miss Alexandre to the Reverend Mother Prioress of Lisieux, and I who knew this lady very well, didn’t hesitate in attesting, at the bottom of the document, that this very Christian person was very honourable, sensible, and worthy of credence.  

[464v] [Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I can’t see anything to modify in my deposition.

[Concerning the Articles, the witness says he only knows what he has already testified by answering the preceding questions. – This marks the end of the interrogation of this witness. The Acts are read out. The witness makes no modification and signs as follows]:

Ita pro veritate deposui, ratum habeo et confirmo.

Signatum: LUCIEN DUMAINE, canonicus, vicarius generalis sagiensis.