Witness 8 - Geneviève of Saint-Teresa

Reference can be made to volume 1, pp. 261-262 for an introduction to Céline.

As for the Ordinary Process, the testimony of Sister Geneviève (Thérèse’s soul sister) is once again one of the longest and, without a doubt, one of the richest and best-researched statements of the second Process. It is a presentation that was prepared and thought through in great detail, as prove the Preparatory Notes for the Apostolic Process conserved in the Archives of Lisieux.

Being Thérèse’s elder by only three years and eight months, Céline certainly had a deeper intimacy with her than her older sisters: they lived a shared life, in terms of both ideal and sentiment. Céline points this out herself (p. 630). In this respect, what she says concerning her younger sister's childhood is more vivacious and more spontaneous than what her other sisters report. Céline was not only a witness to her life, but, from a spiritual point of view, it can be said she played a part in it.

She would stay at home in order to look after her father. The latter died on 29th July 1894 and his daughter joined the Carmel the following 14th September. During that delay, which filial piety dictated, she showed constant loving affection to the revered elderly man, and this providential arrangement has brought us the finest collection of letters by Thérèse to a same correspondent.

At the Carmel, Thérèse and Céline’s intimacy deepened further, but in a new, quite different direction to the one they shared in Rue Saint‑Blaise and Les Buissonnets. Firstly, Thérèse had become the elder, because, as assistant to the novitiate, her duty was to train Céline for Carmelite life, and secondly, in cloistered life, their blood ties had in many ways become two-fold, representing opportunities for greater generosity in faithfulness. Thérèse did not joke in the matter of sentimental detachment.  She was as demanding of herself and Céline as she was of the others. It was in Jesus and for Jesus that she loved and wished to love her neighbour. Sister Geneviève was therefore in good hands. The Process is rich with information on this point.

Thanks to the thoughtfulness of none other than Mother Marie de Gonzague, the then Prioress, Céline had the comfort of being assistant-nurse to her seriously ill sister. This was the providential source of many of the precious details that have been left to us by Novissima Verba (1926), Counsels and Reminiscences (1952) and Her Last Conversations. The collection provides much information as to Thérèse’s faithfulness to inspirations of the Holy Spirit, both in terms of her spiritual life and her guidance of others.

Regarding the following testimony, points of interest include what is said concerning Thérèse’s faith and her difficult trials against this theological virtue (pp. 653‑654, 681, 722); her reading of Holy Scripture (p. 663) and of liturgy (p. 665); her life of prayer, which is well presented in its various aspects (pp. 687‑694); her charity and apostolic zeal (pp. 704‑713); spiritual childhood in its various components (pp. 724‑727) and her spirit of mortification (pp. 734‑739).

It is worth noting however that certain statements relating to Thérèse’s last illness and the conduct of Mother Marie de Gonzague at that time need reviewing and correcting (pp. 649 et 741). Reference can be made to what Father Guy Gaucher wrote in his well-documented book The Passion of Thérèse of Lisieux.

It is also worth emphasising Sister Geneviève’s clear and precise stance on Thérèse’s “mystical” or extraordinary gifts. She declares statements nos 239- 242 and 244 of the Articles greatly exaggerated. Despite this, she does not fail to acknowledge certain facts and words of Thérèse put forward by the same Articles, but she stresses very strongly that her life was one of extreme simplicity, in humble line with faith and charity (p. 774).

Céline would die on 25th February 1959, aged eighty-nine and ten months. With her ended the Martin family line on earth. She and Mother Agnes of Jesus were the two primary witnesses of the life of the one whom Saint Pius X describes as “the greatest saint of modern times.”

Sister Geneviève testified from 27th July to 2nd September 1915, in sittings 27 to 39 (pages 630‑810 of the Public Transcription). Ironically, she had been summoned to give evidence at this “Inchoative” Process for health reasons although she was not yet fifty years old. The Process gives us the diagnosis that Doctor Francis La Néele provided at the time on Céline’s state of health (cf. pp. 609‑611).

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

[Sitting 27: ‑ 27th July 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 o’clock in the afternoon]

[630] [The witness answers the first question satisfactorily.]

 [Answer to the second question:]

My name is Marie-Céline Martin. I am sister to the Servant of God. I was born in Alençon, Parish of Saint‑Pierre, on 28th April 1869 to Louis-Joseph Aloys-Stanislas Martin, a jeweller, and Marie‑Zélie Guérin. I am a nun of the Carmel of Lisieux, where I was professed on 24th February 1896.

 [The witness answers questions three to five inclusively satisfactorily].

 [Answer to the sixth question:]

I hope to have true purity of intention in my testimony, and I do not believe that my fondness for the Servant of God will prevent me from testifying according to the truth.

[Answer to the seventh question]:

I know the Servant of God very well, because she is my sister. Furthermore, as she and I were the youngest in the family, we shared a particular closeness. I therefore saw her in a different light to our elder sisters, for they acted as mother to us. For the first six years of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus’ [631] religious life, I stayed at home and corresponded with her through letter. I would also go to see her in the visiting room. In 1894, I joined her in the Carmel, and spent my novitiate under her direction. We did not part again until she died. My testimony will primarily bear on my personal observations rather than on the study of the Servant of God’s writings.

[Answer to the eighth question]:

I wish for Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus to be beatified solely in order that her way of going to God or rather “her little way” might be beatified, and as a consequence trustingly followed by the host of souls who feel drawn to it. I believe this will result in a growth of love for God in souls and a better understanding of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

 [Answer to the ninth question]:

The Servant of God was born on 2nd January 1873 at 11 o’clock in the evening, in Rue Saint‑Blaise, Alençon, Parish of Notre-Dame. I was then 3 years and 8 months old. Our parents had by then left their jewellery business and retired to the house in Rue Saint‑Blaise, which belonged to my grandparents on my mother’s side. From our new house, my mother continued making and selling lace. The Servant of God was baptised on 4th January 1873 in the church of Notre‑Dame d’Alençon. Her godmother was our eldest sister, [632] Marie, aged 13, and her godfather was Paul Albert Boul, the son of one of my father’s friends. She did not receive the sacrament of confirmation until much later on, 14th June 1884 to be precise, in the Benedictine convent of Lisieux.

The Servant of God was the ninth and last child of our family. Out of the nine children, four children, two little boys and two little girls, died very young. Those who survived were:

Marie (Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart, Carmelite nun).

Pauline (Mother Agnes of Jesus, Carmelite nun).

Léonie (Sister Françoise Thérèse, nun of the Visitation Convent of Caen).

Céline (Sister Geneviève of Saint Teresa, Carmelite nun).

Thérèse (Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Carmelite nun).

I made a mistake in the Ordinary Process when I said that one of my father’s first names was Marie. Furthermore, we discovered that our mother was born in Saint‑Denis‑sur‑Sarthon, not Gandelain.

My father was very upstanding. He was the righteous man par excellence; when I want to imagine Saint Joseph, I think of my father. The principle virtues that I witnessed at home were Sunday observance and a distrust of the world. My father was a stranger to the sin of human respect; he was a very mortified man. Yet as much as he was hard on himself, he was very loving towards us. His affection for us was immense and he lived but for us: there is no mother’s love which could surpass his. On top of this, he showed no weakness: everything was well-ordered and fair. His charity in terms of helping a neighbour in need [633] and in terms of what he said was also remarkable; he always excused the wrongs of others. His respect for priests was such that I’ve never seen anything like it. I remember that when I was small, I assumed priests were “gods”, so accustomed was I to seeing them be ranked apart.

Like my father, my mother was very detached from earthly things. She was highly intelligent and had extraordinary energy: difficulties were nothing to her. Her spirit of faith was remarkable and helped her to endure life’s many hardships. When she lost her children, she knew immediately where they would be and overcame her immense grief. She wrote, “I wanted to have many children in order to bring them up for heaven”[CF 192].

Through their work, my parents earned a fortune which, without being immense, conferred them a very honourable status.

[Answer to the tenth question]:

Young Thérèse was nursed by her mother until March 1873, when, according to the doctor, our mother’s health obliged her to send her to a wet-nurse in the country. She was entrusted to a very honest woman who had already nursed one of my little brothers. Young Thérèse came home again for good on 2nd April 1874. (I made a mistake in the first trial when I said she came home in March).

My mother died on 29th August 1877.

 WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

Thérèse was [634] 4 years and 8 months old. My father left Alençon and came to live near my mother’s brother in Lisieux. Our eldest sister, Marie, who was 17, became mistress of the house, whilst Pauline, who was one year younger than her, saw to our education. Thérèse called her “my little mother”. She continued instructing her until the age of 8 and a half, which is when she came to join me at the Benedictine Abbey of Lisieux.

My father was particularly fond of his last child, looking after her as would a mother. Yet although it’s true that young Thérèse was, as she said, “surrounded by love” [MSA 4,2], it’s also true that she was never spoilt. What proves that my father did not spoil her is the fact that we did not do as she wanted at home. She would always remember this and she recounts in her manuscript being severely scolded for not leaving her toys at my father’s first call.

[635] [Answer to the tenth question continued]:

A little later on, when we lived in Lisieux and she was about six, nothing made her happier than taking our father the newspaper every morning. One day, I wanted to take it to him instead, but Thérèse was quicker and had already picked it up, and when I complained, Papa criticised Thérèse for not giving it to me and reprimanded her severely, so severely in fact that I felt terrible.

My sisters did not spoil her either. Never did they go back on their word or give her a higher mark for her studies if she wept.

If the housemaid happened to blame her for anything, it was first assumed that the servant was in the right, and the girl had to apologise, sometimes undeservedly. This was to teach her submission to adults.

Our clothes were not fancy either. We would put curls in Thérèse’s hair only to please our father because he liked it that way. Our sisters told Thérèse she was not at all pretty so often that she became convinced it was true.

The Servant of God’s extremely sensitive nature was the primary source of her suffering. Following our mother’s death, her sensitivity grew at the expense of her vigour. Outside the small circle of Les Buissonnets, [636] she was excessively shy. She preferred to remain hidden, sincerely believing she was inferior to others. Only in our company did she regain her cheerfulness and openness. This shyness meant she seemed hesitant and indecisive, which was misleading given her natural energy. Hidden beneath this apparent weakness, those of us who were close to her saw an extraordinarily strong will. She could conquer herself perfectly, and already had great self-control over her actions. I never saw her act out of character or utter a harsh word. Her mortification was also constant: she sought opportunities to make sacrifices in even the smallest of things.

Her shyness and hyper-sensitivity disappeared suddenly when, on Christmas night 1886, she received a heavenly blessing. She called it “her conversion” [MSA 45,1].

Between her previous state and the lively, decisive attitude that followed and which lasted for the rest of her life, the contrast was radical and immediate.

As I’ve said, at the age of 8 and a half, the Servant of God came to join me at the Benedictine Abbey. She suffered a great deal at the hands of her schoolmates, who had neither the same tastes nor aspirations as her, and many were unruly. For wanting to do everything well out of love for God, she was teased by a few other schoolmates. Thérèse loved studying and was very good at it. Even though in a class of pupils older than herself, many [637] of whom were as old as thirteen, she always came first in competitions. History and French Composition were her favourite subjects. Grammar and Mathematics were dry to her. She retained the overall meanings of things rather than word for word definitions, and so reciting catechism was difficult for her. However she put so much heart into it that she succeeded perfectly well and never let the other children surpass her. One of the means she adopted to retain catechism definitions was to study instead of playing, and so, with her schoolmistresses’ permission, she would walk about with her book in her hand at recreations.

At the age of ten, the Servant of God contracted a strange illness, which was undoubtedly a product of the devil’s jealousy. She was tormented by frightful visions that terrified her. She would say things she didn’t want to say and seemed to lose the use of her senses, although she was not deprived of her reason for a moment: she said so herself later on. The doctor said he had never seen a case like it in a child so young and that science was powerless. I was only thirteen at the time and couldn’t fully grasp what was happening to her. Her face would look pale and almost transparent. In her fits, she would stare at us intently. If we showed fear, her fits would intensify; she would hit her head against the wood of her bed. She would assume postures and perform strange gymnastic [638] movements on her bed without, however, her modesty ever being compromised. On one occasion, she threw herself over the bed railing and onto the bedroom’s flagstones without hurting herself. In her fits, pious objects never provoked revulsion in her; on the contrary.

Her illness lasted for about six weeks. It began in Holy Week 1883, and promptly ended when the Blessed Virgin fully cured her in a miraculous vision. After that, nothing that even vaguely resembled that attack ever arose again. Her character and temperament were always well-balanced and the complete opposite to neuroticism.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

Once recovered, the Servant of God returned to the Abbey and continued her schooling. She took her First Communion on 8th May 1884 at the age of 11 and 4 months, and prepared for the big day with extraordinary fervour. Her preparation consisted in using a little book that Sister Agnes of Jesus had made for her, and which encouraged her to make sacrifices; she made a huge number of them. On the day of her First Communion, she looked more like an angel than a mortal creature. She received the sacrament of confirmation in no less fervent dispositions on 14th June that same year.

The Servant of God had to leave school at the end of the first school term (end of December 1885 or January 1886). She went back to the Abbey alone, for by then I had finished my schooling. This isolation proved so detrimental to her health that our [639] father had her brought back to Les Buissonnets, where she finished her education under a private tutor.

 [Answer to the eleventh question]:

Even very young, the Servant of God said she would become a nun and consecrate herself to God, and nobody around her was surprised. She said she wanted to withdraw to the desert in order to belong to God alone. When our sister Pauline was admitted to the Carmel and the Servant of God heard what life inside was like, she realised it was in the Carmelite Order that her aspirations would be fulfilled.

You ask whether she prayed to God and sought counsel in order to resolve the problem of her vocation. I don’t think there was ever a problem of vocation for her. She never questioned whether or not she should consecrate herself to God. The answer was obvious to her. She wondered only how to reach her goal. With regards to this, she sought counsel from Mother Agnes of Jesus, whom she would visit at the Carmel. The Jesuit priest Father Pichon, our family’s spiritual director, also encouraged her at this point. On Pentecost Sunday 1887, Thérèse shared her desire to become a Carmelite with our father. Marie, our eldest sister, had joined Pauline at the Carmel on 15th October 1886. With saintly faith and simplicity, our father gave her his consent, but our uncle and Thérèse’s legal guardian, Mr Guérin, was opposed to it. He said she should wait until she was a least 17. However he soon yielded, God having softened his heart [640] in this matter.

[Sitting 28: - 28th July 1915, at 9 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon]

[646] [Answer to the eleventh question continued]:

There remained other difficulties to overcome: the ecclesiastical superior of the Carmel, Father Delatroëtte, refused to admit her because he considered her too young. Thérèse [647] therefore had to appeal to the bishop. With this in view, she went to Bayeux with our father, but when she received only an evasive response, she decided that on her imminent trip to Rome, she would ask His Holiness Pope Leo XIII for the authorisation she sought. She made this trip with our father and myself. The Holy Father did not give her a clear answer either and referred the matter back to the Superiors of the Carmel and Providence. Once back in France, Thérèse gave herself entirely over to the advice of her sister Pauline in the matter of her vocation. She wrote to his Lordship the Bishop of Bayeux, and on 28th December 1887, he replied and gave her the authorisation she sought. However, desirous to appease the still protesting Superior, the Mother Prioress of the Carmel delayed her admittance until after Lent. It was therefore not until 9th April of the following year, 1888, that Thérèse stepped over the threshold to the cloister, accompanied by her father and the rest of her family.

 [Answer to the twelfth question]:

The Servant of God began her postulancy at the age of 15 and 3 months. She should have received the Habit six months later, in October, but because she was so young, and again to appease the Superior, her reception was postponed until 10th January 1989. On 11th January the following year, 1890, the canonical period required prior to the pronouncement of vows being over, she could have been professed, but she was held back again, on the pretext of her youth, even though she was 17 years old. She didn’t pronounce her vows until 8th September 1890. Three years later, [648] in the year 1893, the Servant of God was tasked by our Mother Prioress, then Reverend Mother Agnes of Jesus, to help train the novices. Mother Prioress skilfully persuaded Mother Marie de Gonzague, the Novice Mistress, to accept the Servant of God’s help. Besides, at that time, the Servant of God’s duty consisted only in giving advice to two Lay novices. I can report only by hearsay the events that took place between Thérèse’s admittance to the Carmel and 14th September 1894. This is because I stayed at home for that period. However I often came to the visiting room. In September 1894, following my father’s death, I joined the Carmel. Two other novices arrived at approximately the same time; there were therefore five of us novices under the real, although non-official, direction of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. In 1896, Mother Marie de Gonzague became Prioress again. She remained Novice Mistress and kept the Servant of God as assistant in this duty. Yet Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had to exercise her authority with much discretion upon pain of awaking Reverend Mother Prioress’ dark jealousy.

In 1896, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was placed in charge of the sacristy, a position that she had held before my admittance. At the beginning of her illness, she became laundry assistant, until she was dispensed from all work when her strength failed her. [649] She always fulfilled her various duties out of obedience and with apparent indifference. She would have liked to be a nurse, however, in order to practice charity, but she was never called upon to perform this role.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

Contrary to the assumptions of those who believed that a 15 year old postulant would be pampered at the Carmel, the Servant of God went unnoticed at first due to her humility. Then, her presence bringing the number of sisters from a same family to three provoked some jealousy in the community. Although the Servant of God was not targeted personally, she nevertheless had to endure it.

I heard it said that, as a novice, she was often tested by Mother Prioress, who treated her particularly severely. Yet, as I’ve said, I was not a direct witness of her first years at the Carmel. Instead, I observed what happened during her last three years. At the beginning of her last illness, she was not shown the care she deserved, because she never complained. For instance, she was left to recite the Divine Office until her strength failed her. She would be left in her cell without a mattress following blistering and cauterisation treatments. She wasn’t made exempt from the common chores of washing and cleaning until she was at death’s door, and would hang out the washing with her back and chest burning from recently applied blisters. Even at the end of her life, when she enjoyed a certain influence in the community, no one ever thought to place her in possession of her right and [650] permit her to attend chapter meetings. Of course, she wouldn’t have had the right to vote, because the rules did not allow for two sisters of the same family to do so, but she could have sat in on the meetings. Instead of that, like the punished nuns, she would stand with the novices and admit to her faults after the Lay Sisters before humbly withdrawing from the assembly.

 [Answer to the thirteenth question]:

The Servant of God always observed God’s commandments and the Church’s precepts exactly, without anyone, to my knowledge, ever seeing in her the slightest breach of faithfulness. Not only did I never witness any serious faults in her conduct, but I also never saw her commit the smallest wilful fault. Similarly, she fulfilled her religious vows with minute observance.

[651] [Answer to the fourteenth question]:

Even as a child, the Servant of God strove to practise all the virtues. It’s difficult to know which to praise the most, because they all shone very brightly within her, yet with an originality that was deeply personal. In this sense, among the theological virtues, it’s her love for God that primarily stands out by virtue of her boldness and delicacy of sentiment. She loved God as a child cherishes their father, and with spectacular shows of tenderness.

The cardinal virtues in the Servant of God were no less praiseworthy. Humility in particular rose to new heights in her, and to become humbler and smaller, she followed the “way of spiritual childhood,” or rather it was through faithfully following this way that made her as humble and simple as a small child.

Thérèse had little faults, of course, especially in her childhood, notably hypersensitivity. Yet well-suppressed faults become as jewels, and as she was always able to control herself, her physiognomy took on a greatness and strength that I found ravishing. Her acts of renouncement were spontaneous and numerous. She had a tenacious energy that was deployed noiselessly and not halt at obstacles.

However, everything about her was simple and natural, so the heroic nature of her virtues went unnoticed by most of the nuns.

[652] [Answer to the fifteenth question]:

The Servant of God’s faith was keen and constant. She avoided even those little expressions that are contrary to the faith and which sometimes escape our lips without us thinking them deep down. She even criticised me once for grumbling against Providence.

Although she was no more than 4 years old, my mother said of her, “This dear little one will be good; we can already see the seed. She speaks of nothing but God” [CF 192]. Later on, her school homework bore the stamp of piety, even in subjects of little interest to her. Her pages of writing were filled with pious sentences and aspirations.

She loved to hear our eldest sister Marie talk about God and Christian suffering.

Aged 14, we would spend evenings watching the sky together in our father’s belvedere. The conversations we shared there delighted us, and remind me a little of the painting of Saint Monica and Saint Augustine.

As a Carmelite, she continued conversing with me via letter. These letters talked exclusively about God. Not one is trivial. Father Domin, the chaplain of the Benedictines, told me that it was these letters, most of which were written when she was 15, which had struck him the most about the Servant of God and had convinced him as to her holiness.

She loved the poetry of nature; it delighted her soul and transported her to heaven.

Everything brought her closer to God, even evil. She turned [653] all things into steps by which to reach God, including futile prints in fashion catalogues. Even worldly customs turned her thoughts to God. When our cousin was marrying, opposite the wedding invitation, she sent me an invitation to her own spiritual wedding to Jesus.

Her union with God was perpetual. Nothing could distract her from Him. She said she had never gone three minutes without thinking of God, and yet she remained natural and simple.

This spirit of faith, which illuminated the Servant of God’s entire life, was nonetheless submitted to a long series of trials. Firstly, the best part of her religious life was spent in almost continuous spiritual drought. “Jesus is instructing my soul,” she wrote. “He speaks to it in the silence and shadows” [MSA 83,2]. Yet her greatest test of all was a terrible trial against the faith, a temptation that began two years before she died and ended only with her life. These spiritual attacks bore mainly on the existence of heaven. She mentioned them to no one, for fear of communicating her indescribable torment to others. She was a little more forthcoming with Mother Agnes of Jesus, although only by way of a few unfinished sentences.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

In Story of a Soul, she says she bore her cruel suffering in order that God might show mercy to poor souls who had lost faith. She would have been glad to find a confessor who supported her in her struggle, but our chaplain almost unsettled her by [654] stating that “her situation was very dangerous.” She also consulted Reverend Father Godefroy, I believe, or perhaps another extraordinary confessor, and upon their advice wrote out the Credo in her blood on the last page of the book of Gospels that she constantly wore on her heart. She told me she had pronounced a great many acts of faith in protest against the dire impressions. Her faithfulness and fervour were in no way diminished by her trial and it was in truth that she proclaimed:

 “Then, if He hide, my love to test, I only love Him all the more” [PN 45].

[Answer to the sixteenth question]:

The Servant of God ardently desired the spread of the faith. She heard it said that, when she was born, our parents were resting their last hopes for “a little missionary” upon herself. She resolved not to deceive their expectations. After reading a few pages of missionary nuns’ annals at the age of 14, she put down her reading and said to me, “I don’t want to know about this. My desire to be a missionary is already so strong that it doesn’t need to be kindled further by learning of the ministry’s success! I want to be a Carmelite nun” [Primary source]. She then explained her reasoning to me: “It is to endure more suffering and, by so doing, to save more souls” [Primary source]. In August 1892, she wrote to me saying, “Is not the ministry of prayer more elevated, so to speak, than that of the [655] word? Our mission as Carmelites is to train evangelical workers who will save thousands of souls, and we shall be these souls’ mothers” [LT 135]. The Servant of God’s desire to spread the faith was such that she joyfully welcomed the request to be united in prayer with two specific missionaries. She called them “her brothers”, respectfully encouraged them in their tiring work and wished martyrdom for them. Martyrdom, in fact, was always the ultimate ambition for Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus: she wished to shed her blood for God; she told me so many times.

 [Answer to the seventeenth question]:

Even as a child, the Servant of God ardently desired to learn the sacred mysteries. She questioned Pauline on all sorts of religious subjects, loved studying sacred history, and was always top of the class in catechism.

Each evening at Les Buissonnets, together we would read The Liturgical Year and she developed an appreciation for beautiful Church ceremonies.

She knew The Imitation of Christ by heart. As a Carmelite, she learned to appreciate the works of Saint John of the Cross, and grew particularly fond of them. The Foundations of the Spiritual Life by Father Surin was of much benefit to her, as was Monsignor Ségur’s work La piété et la vie intérieure (“Piety and Inner Life”).

The Servant of God particularly loved [656] the mystery of Christ’s Nativity. It was on this subject that the Child Jesus revealed to her all His secrets on simplicity and surrender. As a child, she would carefully prepare for the Feast of Christmas by way of a novena of sacrifices. As a Carmelite, she took pious care of a statue of the Child Jesus that stands in the cloister. She would always decorate it with pretty fresh flowers of the sort that children love. Nothing brought her greater pleasure than placing wildflowers around it. She sang praise of “holy lowliness” in her poems, all of which overflow with faith and love. The name Thérèse of the Child Jesus, which was given to her when, at the age of nine, she expressed her desire to become a Carmelite, remained relevant always, and she constantly strove to be worthy of it. She prayed, “O Little Child, my only Treasure! I abandon myself to your Divine Whims. I want no other joy than that of making you smile. Instil in me your childlike virtues and graces so that on the day of my birth into Heaven, the angels and saints may recognise in me your little bride, Thérèse of the Child Jesus” [Prayer 14]. The “childlike virtues” to which she aspired had fascinated the austere Saint Jerome before her, and yet he is not accused of being puerile.

The Servant of God could not separate the mystery of Christ’s Passion from that of His Nativity. Consequently, to her name “Thérèse of the Child Jesus”, she chose to add “the Holy Face”. The Servant of God’s devotion to Christ’s Passion dates back to when, at the age of five, the Servant of God said she understood a sermon [657] on the Passion for the first time. Later on, as a Carmelite, she would strew flowers over the cross in the courtyard, and when she was sick, she would scatter the freshest rose petals she could find over her crucifix. Furthermore, she had no wish to show signs of faith or love to fellow creatures. Consequently, when she was given flowers once to strew over someone as a token of her affection, she refused.

As a Carmelite, she would walk the Way of the Cross several times a week. It was on one such occasion, a few days after making her “Self-Offering to God’s Merciful Love” that she was wounded by a dart of love. In her self-offering, she had asked to see shining in her body, in heaven, the sacred stigmata of Christ’s Passion. I must say that the Way of the Cross was not a devotion dear to the Servant of God. Her fervour was usually wilful rather than natural. The extraordinary blessing she received in the form of a dart of fire, which I have just mentioned, was unique in her lifetime and lasted only for a few seconds.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

[Sitting 29: - 29th July 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 in the afternoon]

 [Answer to the eighteenth question]:

The Servant of God’s spirit of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist revealed itself when still very young. When we were children, I asked her one day, “How can [661] God be in such a small host?” Thérèse, who was only four, replied, “It’s not surprising since He is all-powerful” [MSA 10,1 and CF 201]. In Lisieux, from the age of five, she would strew flowers over the Blessed Sacrament during Feast of Corpus Christi processions. She herself recounts how she felt then, and how happy she was whenever her rose petals touched the holy monstrance.                                                                                                         

She wished to take her First Communion early. It was when I took mine that she expressed this desire. Pauline would take me aside every day to help me prepare for it. Little Thérèse would beg to attend our discussions, saying “four years was not too long to spend preparing to receive Our Lord” [MSA 25,1]. She was only seven years old at that time and would have to wait until she was 11, as was customary. As she was born on 2nd of January, she found herself held back a year and said, regretfully, “To think that if I had come into the world just two days earlier, I’d have been able to take my First Communion a year sooner” [The Spirit of Blessed Thérèse]. When the time came for her First Communion, she prepared for it by offering to God a bouquet of sacrifices and acts of love every day, counting them in a small notebook: she noted down 818 sacrifices and 2773 acts of love. Her union to Our Lord on that day was such that the Servant of God called it “a fusion”. “We were no longer two,” she wrote. “Thérèse had disappeared like a drop of water lost in the immensity of the ocean. Jesus alone remained — He was the Master, the King” [MSA 35,1]. On the day of her First Communion and the following day [562], she seemed far above earthly things: an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity surrounded her. She was not indifferent to the family celebration, however, because she was simple and conforming in every way. Her desire to take Communion was great in a world in which the delay between Holy Communions seemed extremely long to her! As a Carmelite, she prayed fervently that God might put an end to the custom of abstaining on principle from receiving Communion daily.

Her thanksgiving prayers following Communion were very fervent, of course, but to my knowledge, she never experienced “rapture” at such moments, or at any other time of her life for that matter. Besides, the Choir in the Carmel is in complete darkness during Mass and thanksgiving. No one, therefore, would ever have seen her facial expression as she received Communion, as Article 34 seems to imply.

Her love for the Holy Eucharist meant she fulfilled the duties of sacristan with great fervour. Nothing made her happier than when a fragment of the Blessed Host remained on the paten or corporal. One day when the ciborium had not been sufficiently cleaned, she beckoned several novices to follow her to the Oratory, where she placed the vessel down with indescribable joy and respect. She told me how delighted she had been when the Blessed Host had once fallen from the priest’s hands and she had held out her scapular to catch it. She said that she had had the same privilege as the Blessed Virgin, since she had carried the Child Jesus in her arms.

[663] When preparing the sacred vessels for Holy Mass, she said she loved to see her reflection in the chalice and paten. She would imagine the divine species resting upon the same gold that had reflected her features.

 [Answer to the nineteenth question]:

I have nothing to say on this point.

 [Answer to the twentieth question]:

Although the Servant of God appreciated certain pious books, it is also true to say that her spiritual nourishment came above all from Holy Scripture and mainly the Gospels. She wore her book of Gospels on her heart at all times and requested that we do the same. When meditating upon Holy Scripture, she would examine each word closely in order to discern “God’s character”, to use her expression [CSG]. She would copy out passages from the Gospels to compare events according to the four evangelists. The differences between translations troubled her and she said that if she had been a priest, she would have learnt Greek and Hebrew in order to read God’s thoughts as they were expressed in our earthly language.

Her spirit of faith gave her a deep respect for priests. No one esteemed their ministry greater than she. Many times during her lifetime did she say she regretted not being able to be a priest. Feeling very unwell in June 1897, she said to me, “God shall [664] come for me before I would have had the time to be a priest, had I been able to be one [DEG (Last Conversations with Céline) p.619]. She was fascinated by the fact that Saint Stanislas Kostka had been brought Holy Communion by Saint Barbara: “Why wasn’t it an angel?” she asked me. “Why wasn't it a priest but a virgin instead? Oh, what wonders shall be revealed to us in heaven! I believe that those who desire the privileges of priesthood on earth, for example touching the Blessed Host, will enjoy them up above” [CSG].

She took pleasure from talking to the priests who led our retreats and obeyed them in every way. This was the reason why she did not trust the “Offering to Love” that she had written before it was revised by a theologian. Similarly, she followed a spiritual director’s advice when he told her to write out the Credo and wear it upon her heart in response to the temptations against the faith that were tormenting her.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

Her spirit of faith towards Mother Marie de Gonzague when she was Prioress was also irreproachable and all the more meritorious given the Prioress’ strongly reprehensible conduct. She did not allow the novices to criticise her behaviour. She was glad to die in the arms of Mother Marie de Gonzague rather than under obedience to Mother Agnes of Jesus because it demanded a greater spirit of faith.

The Servant of God was absolutely intransigent when it came to obeying Church authority. She had enjoyed reading a certain book but upon hearing that the author had said something against a bishop, she dismissed his writings and would hear no more about him.

[665] Her change of mind was later justified when the author’s sham was exposed (Leo Taxil, alias Doctor Bataille). The book was entitled Miss Diana Vaughan: Memoirs of an ex-Palladist (monthly periodical) published in octavo, Paris 1895-1897.

As a Carmelite the Servant of God was particularly drawn to reciting the Liturgical Office. She liked being hebdomadarian and praying aloud. On her deathbed, she reflected, “I don’t think anyone has had a greater desire than I to recite the Divine Office well, without making any mistakes. [DEA (The Yellow Notebook of Mother Agnes) 6-8]. She taught us to keep our composure during the Office on account of the dignified task we were fulfilling.

 [The witness continues their testimony. Answer to the twenty-first question:]

Thérèse was not yet four years old when she developed a love for praying before Mary’s altar. She would clap her hands and jump for [666] joy when there were lots of flowers on it.

Later on, she enjoyed creating her own altar for the month of May, decorating it with flowers and candles.

Her devotion grew when, at her first confession, the priest encouraged her to love the Blessed Virgin dearly, and again at the age of 10, when she was promptly cured by Mary from a reputedly incurable illness.

She considered it a great honour to have recited aloud the act of consecration to the Blessed Virgin on the day of her First Communion. At that time, she resolved to recite the Memorare every day, which she did without fail. Later on, she began reciting the rosary daily. She did not miss a single day whilst living at home. However these outward practices were but a pale reflection of the intimacy she shared with her Heavenly Mother, whom she called “Mamma”.

When she left school before she was old enough to join the Association of the Children of Mary, she agreed to return to the Benedictine Abbey twice a week, even though this condition to her admission cost her dearly. She was admitted to the association on 31st May 1886. When she joined the Carmel, the Blessed Virgin’s Order, her first poetic work was in praise of Mary. In it, she celebrates the mystery of the virginal milk and she asked me to paint a small picture on the subject: this was in 1894.

Several years earlier, she had said in a letter to me, [667] “With regard to the Blessed Virgin, I must share with you one of my simple ways with her. I sometimes catch myself saying to her, ‘I find I am more blessed than you, for I have you for Mother, and you do not have a Blessed Virgin to love . . . .’ No doubt, the Blessed Virgin must laugh at my naivety, and yet what I’m saying to her is really true!” [LT 137]

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was already very sick when she told me, “I have one more thing to do before I die. I’ve always dreamt of expressing all my thoughts on the Blessed Virgin in a song dedicated to her.” And so she wrote her hymn “Why I Love You, O Mary!” [PN 54] (This was in May 1897). It delighted her to think of the Blessed Virgin walking beaten paths. She proclaimed:

“I know, indeed, at Nazareth, O Virgin rich in graces!

As the lowly live, so thou didst live, and sought no better things;

Of ecstasies and wonders there, our eyes can find no traces,

O thou who daily dwelt beside the incarnate King of Kings!

On earth, we know, is very great the number of the lowly;

With neither fear nor trembling now we dare to look on thee.

By common lot and humble path, our Mother dear and holy,

Thou wast content to walk to heaven, and thus our guide to be” [PN 54].

During her last illness, she spoke of the Blessed Virgin constantly. She said that the saints often kept us waiting before bestowing blessings upon us, whereas the Blessed Virgin replied immediately.

She also prayed to her Heavenly Mother in her last agony. The last words she ever wrote were in tribute to the Blessed Virgin. [668] On 8th September 1897, in a trembling hand on the back of a picture of Our Lady of Victories, she wrote, “O Mary, if I were the Queen of Heaven and you were Thérèse, how I would wish to be Thérèse that you might be the Queen of Heaven!!!” [Prayer 21.]

Her devotion to Saint Joseph was very keen. It was a repayment of a long-owed debt, for when she was just a few months old, the great saint had cured her and saved from death. In the house was a statue of Saint Joseph holding the Child Jesus is his arms, on whom young Thérèse would lavish her attention. Later on, on our trip to Rome, she told me not to be fearful of what we might see, because she had entrusted herself to Saint Joseph’s protection. She then taught me to recite every day the prayer beginning, “Saint Joseph, Father and Protector of Virgins”.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

As a Carmelite, she prayed Saint Joseph to grant us Holy Communion more often. She attributed Pope Leo XIII’s liberating decree to his intercession. 

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had a strong devotion to the holy angels. At the Benedictine school, she would sign all her assignments with the words “Thérèse, child of the holy angels.” At Les Buissonnets, a little statuette representing her guardian angel stood on her bedroom table. She attributed to him preservation from sin, as proves her letter dated 26th April 1894, which she wrote to me from the Carmel when I was [669] still at home. “Jesus has placed near you an angel from heaven and he is always looking after you; he carries you in his hands lest your foot strike against a stone. You do not see him, and yet he is the one who for twenty-five years has preserved your soul from sin . . . Céline, do not fear the storms of earth. Your guardian angel is sheltering you with his wings” [LT 161]. In the Carmel, she advised her novices to always keep a dignified and composed posture in honour of the holy angels surrounding us.

Thérèse had always loved the saints deeply. Her school assignments always ended with a log series of initials representing her favourite patron saints. She considered the saints her protectors and friends.

Among her preferred saints were, first and foremost, her patrons Saint Teresa, Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Martin. When she became a Carmelite, she added Saint John of the Cross. Those whom she counted as “friends” included Saint Cecilia, Blessed Joan of Arc, Blessed Théophane Vénard and the Holy Innocents. She called Saint Cecilia “the saint of self-surrender” [LT 161] for she had kept singing in her heart even in great perplexity. She wrote several poems in honour of Blessed Joan of Arc. She liked Blessed Théophane Vénard because, according to her, “He is a very simple little saint who loved the Bl. Virgin and also his family very much, but most of all because he lived a life of loving surrender [670] to God” [HA (Story of a Soul) 12). She was providentially given a portrait of him and some relics during her last illness, and they did not leave her side for the rest of her days in exile. Concerning the Holy Innocents, it was her admiration for their childhood virtues that compelled her to take them as models. She also wrote a delightful hymn on St Agnes, whose words found an echo in her own virginal heart.

Lastly, when she wanted to obtain fullness of love, she said, “I presented myself before the company of the Angels and Saints and addressed them thus: ‘I am the least of all creatures. I know my mean estate, but I know that noble and generous hearts love to do good. Therefore, O Blessed Inhabitants of the Celestial City, I entreat you to adopt me as your child. All the glory that you help me to acquire will be yours” [MSB 4,1]. She often addressed fervent prayers to the saints during her illness. When her prayers went answered, she said, “I believe they want to see how far my trust will extend” [DEA 7-7]. She also said, “The more the saints appear deaf to my prayer, the more I love them” [Primary source].

 [Answer to the twenty-second question]:

Even as a young child, Thérèse had an ardent desire to go to heaven. She once said she wished death upon her parents, and when reprimanded she was quite astonished, answering, “But I want you to go to Heaven, and you say we must die to go there” [MSA 4,2].

A little later on, on her evening walks with our father [671], she loved to contemplate the starry sky, and there she saw the first letter of her name shaped by a constellation of stars.

The Servant of God often said she did not labour for a reward, but only to please God. For instance, in a letter to me on 16th July 1893, she wrote, “It is not for the purpose of weaving my crown, or gaining merits; it is in order to please Jesus” [LT 143]. Yet this sentence, along with many other similar ones, point to the exclusion of mercenary love. Many other events in her lifetime and many other passages from her writings show that in fact she desired to go to heaven and used this hope to stimulate her effort. For example, in October 1889, she wrote in a letter to me, “Life is a treasure: each moment is an eternity, an eternity of joy in heaven” [LT 96]. In July that same year, she wrote, “No, the heart of man cannot know what God sets aside for those who love Him. And it will be revealed soon. Let us hurry to fashion our crown; let us stretch forth our hand to seize the palm” [LT 94].

Very early on, the Servant of God was able to sentimentally detach herself from created things. She had the opportunity to spend a fortnight with very rich friends at the age of ten or thereabouts, and seeing their luxurious house awakened no desires in her heart. She merely said later on that she counted herself fortunate “to have known something of the world so that she might choose more deliberately the way to God” [MSA 32,2].

Our father gave her a little lamb but it died shortly afterwards. She came to the conclusion herself [672] that “the most innocent things fail you at the moment when you are least expecting it. It is only what is eternal that can content us” [LT 42].

The Servant of God never desired to be loved or appreciated by others. She told me that she had asked God to keep the novices from developing a humanly fondness for her. Nothing could move her or unsettle her. The threat of persecution and the cataclysms here below lifted her thoughts to a higher plane.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

She expressed such thoughts in a stanza from one of her poems:

“The little bird, on singing bent

- No troubles in his life appear:

A grain of millet - he’s content!

He never has to sow it here” [PN 43].

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus would often say, “The soul obtains from God all that it hopes for from Him” [Saint John of the Cross, Dark Night, book 2, ch. 21].

She based her hope not on her own strength but on the merits of Jesus Christ. On one of the last days she was able to recite the Divine Office, I noticed she was deeply moved. “Listen to what Saint John wrote,” she said. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ.” As she spoke these last words, her eyes filled with tears.

The doctrine of the transferability of merit among the saints was also a great source of hope for the Servant of God. “When our inability to good gives us pain,” she said to me, “our only resource is to offer up the good works [673] of others, and in this lies the benefit of the Communion of Saints. Tauler said, ‘If I love the good that is in my neighbour as much as he loves it himself, then that good is as much mine as it is his, and if I love it more it is more mine than his.’ Through this communion, I can enrich myself with all the good that there is in heaven and on earth, in the angels, in the saints and in all those who love God.”

[Sitting 30: ‑ 30th July 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 o’clock in the afternoon]

 [676] [Answer to the twenty-third question]:

Even as an adolescent, the Servant of God aspired to becoming a great saint, hoping that God would help her. Her ambition was like a pearl lost in the immensity of God’s treasures. After that, not even the highest of hopes seemed too bold to her. In May 1890, she told me in a letter, “I shall tell you not to aim for seraphic sanctity, but rather to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect! Ah, Céline! Our infinite desires are not, then, either dreams or fancies, since [677] Jesus Himself has given us this commandment” [LT 107].

One retreat preacher astonished her by saying he feared her aspirations to sainthood were presumptuous. Fortunately another preacher (Franciscan Father Alexis) reassured her later on, and, according to her, “launched her full sail upon that ocean of confidence and love” [MSA 80,2].

Although the Servant of God walked a path of blind trust and absolute self-surrender, a path she called “her little way” or “way of spiritual childhood,” she never disregarded individual participation, to the point that her life was filled with ongoing and generous deeds. This was part of her doctrine and she constantly taught it to her novices.

Upon reading the following passage from Ecclesiastes one day: “Make way for every work of mercy, for every man shall find according to his works,” I asked the Servant of God why it said “according to his works,” for Saint Paul speaks of “being justified freely by grace”. She enthusiastically explained to me that self-surrender and trust in God are nourished by sacrifice: “It means doing one’s all, giving unreservedly, and constantly renouncing ourselves; in a word, proving our love by performing all the good deeds in our power. Yet, if truth be told, all of this counts for very little. Once we have done everything we think we need to do, we must acknowledge ourselves as powerless servants, hoping that, through grace, God will give us all that we desire. In this lies the hope of little souls [678] who run in the way of childhood: I say ‘run’ and not ‘rest’.”

Sister Thérèse was intrepid when she needed to be, preferring for example to brave the wrath of Mother Marie de Gonzague and even risk being sent away from the community, rather than to let a novice stray down the dangerous path of harbouring a natural affection for the Mother Prioress. It was the same when she was a child: she was neither indolent nor apathetic. Her nature was exactly the opposite of nonchalant. She was meek only because she was able to conquer herself. She reached perfection only by deploying great strength of character. I witnessed her continuous effort, both at home and in the cloister. She expressed her feelings on this subject in the following stanza:

 “To live of love, 'tis not to fix one's tent

On Tabor's height and there with Thee remain.

'Tis to climb Calvary with strength nigh spent,

And count Thy heavy cross our truest gain.

In heaven, my life a life of joy shall be,

The heavy cross shall then be gone for aye.

Here upon earth, in suffering with Thee,

Love! let me stay” [PN 17].

She reveals more of her character in the following prayer, which was inspired by a picture of Joan of Arc. “Lord, God of hosts, in the Gospel you told us, ‘I have not come to bring peace but the sword.’ Arm me for battle; I burn to fight for your glory. Joan, your chaste and courageous bride, [679] said, ‘We must fight so that God may give the victory.’ O my Jesus, I will fight then, for your Love, until the evening of my life. As you did not wish to rest on earth, I want to follow your example” [Prayer 17].

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

At the age of 16, she wrote in a letter to me, “Let us not believe we can love without suffering, without suffering much . . . Our poor nature is there, and it isn't there for nothing! Our nature is our wealth, our means of earning our bread” [LT 89].

I said that when she was 14, all of our conversations in the belvedere were on the theme of suffering and scorn, and of never tiring of making sacrifices for God.

Here are a few other passages from her letters on this subject: “Sanctity does not consist in saying beautiful things, it does not even consist in thinking them or feeling them!... It consists in suffering” (26th April 1889) [LT 89]. On the subject of our father's illness, she wrote, “Oh, let us not let pass by the trial that Jesus is sending us, it is a gold mine to be exploited” (28th February 1889) [LT 82]. And again, “Let us love Jesus enough to suffer for Him whatever He pleases. Ah, let us seize the shortest moments; let us act like misers, and let us jealously guard the littlest things for our Beloved” [LT 101]. It was not by resting that she hoped to save souls. In a letter to me on 8th July 1891, she wrote, “Suffering alone can give birth to souls for Jesus. It is His wish that saving souls depends on our sacrifices” [LT 129]. Lastly, the crowning moment of the Servant of God’s life of activity [680] was her promise to “spend her heaven doing good on earth” [DEA 17-7]. In a letter to one of her spiritual brothers dated 24th February 1897, she wrote, “You must think it very strange to have a sister who seems to want to go and enjoy eternal repose and leave you working alone. . . . But rest assured, the only thing I desire is God's will, and I admit that if in heaven I were no longer able to work for His glory, I would prefer exile to the homeland” [LT 220].

 [Answer to the twenty-fourth question]:

In life’s troubles, the Servant of God’s hope was invincible. When it came to the very thorny issue of her vocation, I saw her weep but not lose courage. She saw her ambitions through, without letting anything hinder her. Not even our uncle's refusal, the Father Superior’s refusal, the Bishop’s evasive answer or that of the Pope could dash her hopes, and from Rome she wrote, “My little boat is having a lot of trouble reaching port! For a long time, I have seen the shore and yet I still find myself far off; but it is Jesus who is guiding my little boat, and I am sure that on the day when He wills it, it will safely reach the port” [LT 43, A-B].

Her hope in God sustained her, even when she stumbled. This is what she wrote to me: “What does it matter, my Jesus, if I fall at every moment; I thereby see my weakness and this is of great benefit to me. You can thereby see what I can do and now You will be more tempted to carry me in Your arms . . . . If You do not, it is because it pleases You to see me on the ground . . . . [681] Then I will not fret, but I shall always stretch out my arms, beseeching and filled with love! I cannot believe that You would abandon me” [LT 89].

 [Answer to the twenty-fourth question continued]:

When the Servant of God fell ill, and bodily suffering was added to her feeling of spiritual abandonment, the higher part of her soul lost none of its serenity. When her fervent prayers to God or the saints went unanswered, she thanked them all the same, saying, “I believe they want to see how far my trust will extend” [DEA 7-7].

A few weeks before she died, she said amid cruel suffering, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, Lord” [LT 262].

[682] She always sensed she would die young, and this made her distrust perishable things. She said that whenever she wished to verify that her love and her hope for heaven had not diminished, she would ask herself whether death still held as much appeal. Any overly profitable day or source of deep joy was burdensome to her because they tended to weaken her desire to die.

During her last illness, she was asked whether death frightened her. “It does,” she replied. “It frightens me very much when I see it represented on pictures as a spectre, but that is not what death is. That idea of it isn’t true. To chase it away, I need only remember what I learnt in catechism: death is the separation of the soul from the body. And I’m not afraid of a separation that will unite me forever with God” [DEA 1-5].

When the doctor said that, out of a hundred people with her condition, only two recovered, she said cheerfully, “If I was one of those two, how unfortunate it would be!”

 [Answer to the twenty-fifth question]:

In charge of the novices, feeling it was impossible to do anything on her own, she placed herself in Jesus’ arms: “Dear Lord,” she said, “You see that I am too small to feed Your children, but if through me You will give to each what is suitable, then fill my hands. And indeed,” she added, “my hope has never been deceived; I have always found my hands filled when sustenance [683] was needed” [MSC 22,1-2].

When I would go to see her in the visiting room, the time would sometimes run out before we could finish our conversation, and I would leave downhearted.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

Sister Thérèse would ask Jesus to tell me what she wanted to say, and on my next visit, I would share with her what inspiration I had had. It happened to be precisely the advice that she would have liked to give me.

 [Answer to the twenty-sixth question]:

In my answers to preceding questions, I have quoted a great many passages in which the Servant of God preaches nothing but hope and emotional detachment from others. Here is another example: when I was the only child living at home after her admittance to the Carmel, she insisted more than ever on protecting me from becoming attached to others. In a letter dated 20th October 1888, she said to me, “Life will be brief, eternity will be endless: let creatures touch us but in passing . . . . I was thinking the other day that we should not attach ourselves to what is around us since we could be in another place other than where we are; our affections and our desires would not be the same” [LT 65]. In May 1890, she wrote, “Ah! Little sister, let us detach ourselves from this earth, let us fly to the mountain of Love where the beautiful lily of our souls is to be found . . . . Let us detach ourselves from the consolations of Jesus in order to attach ourselves to Him” [LT 105].

 [Answer to the twenty-seventh question]:

[684] Although Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus practised all the virtues to an exceptional level, the one that shone brightest in her and conferred her her unique character was charity for God. Love was her lifetime goal and the motive for all her actions. Furthermore, in her case, it took on the distinctive form of an extraordinary self-surrender to God, which she called her “little way”.

As a child, Thérèse was mindful to avoid the smallest of faults. It was pointless to scold her; we needed only to tell her she had pained God. Every evening, before going to sleep, she would ask Pauline whether God was pleased with her. Had the answer been anything but yes, she would have spent the night weeping.

Her fear of offending God became so great, in fact, that at twelve or thirteen years of age the Servant of God was assailed without respite by scruples; but they were put to an end by a blessing from heaven.

In the Carmel, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus’ great preoccupation remained not displeasing God. On the day she was professed, she carried the following prayer on her person: “O Jesus, take me before I can commit the slightest voluntary fault” [Prayer 2]. She found life almost unbearable until Father Alexis told her that her faults (or what she called her faults) had not caused God pain.

It was once again to avoid displeasing God that she wished to remain a child, because, just as little blunders do not upset childrens’ parents, [685] so the imperfections of humble souls cannot seriously offend God.

 [Answer to the twenty-eighth question]:

One of the fruits of her love was perfect conformity to God’s will, or rather, total surrender, and it was in this that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus excelled.

Amid difficult negotiations at home surrounding her admittance to the Carmel, and her difficulties growing greater, she said, “I felt deep down in my heart a wondrous peace, because I knew that I was only seeking the Lord’s will” [MSA 55,2].

When her profession was postponed, she demonstrated the same self-surrender, using the time that was left to her to better prepare for her divine union.

When I asked her why God demanded more sacrifices of some than of others, she said, “I myself am always pleased with what God asks of me. I worry myself not with what He asks of others, and I do not consider myself more deserving because He asks more of me. What pleases me, and what I would choose were I free, is that which God wants of me. I always find my lot delightful. Even though others shouldhave more merit by giving less, I would rather have less merit by doing more, if by doing so I was accomplishing the will of God” [CSG].

In 1894, she said to me in a letter, “We do not know how to ask for anything as we ought, but the spirit pleads [686] within us with unutterable groaning” (St Paul). We have, then, only to surrender our soul, to abandon it to our great God” [LT 165].

She did not wish for deliverance from her temptations against the faith, and instead proclaimed,

“My peace is hid in Jesus’ breast, -

May His sweet will alone be done!

What fear can mar my perfect rest,

Who love the shadow as the sun” [PN 45].

Her boundless self-surrender was completely devoid of self-interest. She wrote (6th July 1893), “Let Jesus give and take what He pleases. Perfection consists in doing His will and surrendering oneself to Him entirely” [LT 142]. She couldn’t understand why the disciples awoke Jesus during the storm, and proclaimed,

“To live of love, it is when Jesus sleeps

To sleep near Him, though stormy waves beat nigh.

Deem not I shall awake Him! On these deeps

Peace reigns, like that the Blessed know on high” [PN 17].

She would never ask God for consolation, and accept everything God dealt out with the same joy. She wrote to me saying, “Whosoever says peace does not say joy, or at least not felt joy. In order to suffer in peace, it suffices to accept everything Jesus wills” [LT 87].

Her perfect conformity to the will of God was visible even in her features: she was always smiling and cheerful.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

Anyone who was not close to her could easily believe her life to be very easy and full of divine consolations. This is why [687] certain readers of her autobiography fail to discover the meaning behind her smile; they do not see the cross carefully hidden under the flowers. They forget that King David said, “Those who look to God are radiant” (Ps. 34, v. 6).

[Sitting 31: - 23rd August 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 in the afternoon]

[690] [Answer to the twenty-ninth question]:

The Servant of God’s appreciation of prayer dates back to her tenderest childhood. She was not even three when our mother wrote, “The little one wouldn’t miss saying her prayers for anything” [MSA 11,1].

At Les Buissonnets, evening prayer would be said all together. Thérèse would always kneel beside our father, needing only to look at him to know, according to her, how to pray to the saints. Seeing her, from the age of four years and eight months, praying in this way at our father’s side, I cannot recall her ever being distracted or rebellious like most children are. She was reverent and would pray [691] with all her heart.

Even at that age, she would pay her visit with our father every day to the Blessed Sacrament and was not bored at church.

A little later on, she asked Marie, our eldest sister, for permission to do some meditation. Finding her too pious, the latter allowed her to do only a quarter of an hour. Thérèse would therefore hide herself away in an empty space that she could close off with her bed curtains, and there she would think of God, the fleeting nature of life, and eternity, as she herself explains in her autobiography.

When she would go fishing with our father, she liked to sit a little way off and meditate. The great book of nature would transport her soul to God.

At the Benedictine school, as we had a quarter of an hour free before our sewing lessons, Thérèse was one of the few children who spent it in the chapel instead of playing.

She didn’t use a prayer book. She would avoid noisy games. There was, however, one game she enjoyed, and which she invented herself. This was “the game of solitaire”, and she would play it above all because it gave her the means to pray.

Later on, when she attended the Abbey for sewing lessons, she would go to the chapel rostrum as soon as the lesson ended, and there spend long hours waiting for our father to come and fetch her.

 At that time, she would attend Mass every morning [692] and take Communion when she had her confessor’s permission.

She was cured of her intense scrupulosity by praying fervently to our four little brothers and sisters who had gone to heaven at a young age.

Thérèse was confirmed on 14th June 1884. I can remember her preparation for it clearly. When I saw her during her retreat, she appeared as though transformed. Her outward appearance and her words breathed an almost spiritual bliss. When I expressed surprise, she immediately explained to me that she had come to understand the virtue of the sacrament, and regretted that more attention was not paid to it and that less care was put into preparing for it than First Communion.

When it came to the very thorny issue of her admittance to the Carmel, I witnessed her spirit of prayer. All her trust was in God.

As a Carmelite, her trust in prayer grew greater. She put a holy audacity into praying. She told me that when we prayed, we should imitate fools who do not know when to stop making requests and repeat them with no regard for manners. They sometimes ask for things that one would never think to give them, and are granted them for some peace and quiet. We should say to God, “I’m very aware that I shall never be worthy of what I desire, but I’m holding out my hand like a beggar, sure that You will answer my prayer in full, because you are infinitely good.”

The Servant of God prayed in this way [693] when venturing her bold desires for sainthood. She wrote, “My only excuse is my claim to childhood: children do not grasp the full meaning of their words. Yet if a father or mother were on the throne and possessed vast treasures, they would not hesitate to grant the desires of the little ones who are more dear to them than life itself” [MSB 4,1].

With regard to temporal graces, Sister Thérèse was very circumspect. She believed that God would not refuse her anything, and therefore exercised great reserve in her prayers, for fear, according to her, God would feel obliged to answer them. Consequently, whenever she prayed for a consolation or for relief, it was to please others, and even then, she would pray through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, explaining her approach as follows: “Asking the Blessed Virgin for something is not the same as asking God. She knows what is to be done with my desires, and whether or not she should speak to God about them. So it’s up to her to see that God is not forced to answer my prayer, and to allow Him to do everything He pleases” [DEA 4-6].

When she expressed her wish to do good on earth after her death, she placed upon it the condition of “fixing her gaze upon God” [MSB 5,2] in order to discern whether or not it was His will. She had us understand that such self-surrender imitated the Blessed Virgin, who at Cana, contented herself with saying, “They have no wine left.” Similarly, Martha and Mary said merely, “The one whom you love is sick.” They were content with expressing their desires without making a request, leaving [694] Jesus free to do His will.


Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

Outside of her intimacy with her sisters, Thérèse found no echo to her feelings and would inwardly converse with God. Referring to her time spent at the Benedictine school, she wrote, “To Jesus alone could I open my heart; all conversation with creatures, even on holy subjects, wearied me. I felt it was far more valuable to speak to God than about Him, for there is so much self-love intermingled with spiritual conversations!” [MSA 40,2-41,1.]

When we were still living together at Les Buissonnets, we did not speak about trivialities or dress. We were happiest talking about God. Referring to our conversations in the belvedere, she wrote, “Already Faith and Hope had given place to Love, which led us to find Him whom we sought, even on this earth” [MSA 48,1].

When the Servant of God was asked how she could not go three minutes without thinking of God, she replied simply, “One naturally thinks of someone one loves” [CSG].

I once saw her in her cell sewing very quickly yet deep in reverence, and I asked her what she was thinking about: “I am meditating on the 'Our Father,'” Thérèse answered. “It is so sweet to call God 'Our Father!'” [CSG.]

[695] [Answer to the twenty-ninth question continued]:

Her love of God was tender and caring. She would therefore never complain that the weather was too cold or too hot. She said, “In His immense love for us, God finds it hard enough to leave us on earth to complete our time of trial, without us constantly telling Him that we are unhappy here. We should appear not to notice, and say at all times, ‘Lord, You fill me with joy in all that You do’” [CSG].

Standing in front of a bookcase one day, she said with her usual cheerfulness, “Oh, how miserable I’d be if I had read all these books! They would have given me a headache. I would have lost valuable time that I’ve spent simply loving God” [Last Conversations with Céline].

When in charge of the novices, the Servant of God placed all her trust in her union with God: “My one interior occupation was to unite myself more and more closely to God, [696] knowing that the rest would be given to me over and above” [MSC 22,2].

Sister Thérèse’s union with God was simple and natural, as was her way of speaking of God. I saw her become emotional only on rare occasions. Moreover, there was usually nothing out of the ordinary about her.

 [Answer to the thirtieth question]:

I’ve replied to this question in answer to preceding questions.

 [Answer to the thirty-first question]:

At just 14 years of age, she prayed ardently for the conversion of sinners. She prayed with such insistence and faith that she obtained nothing short of a miracle when, following her request to God for his salvation, a great criminal named Pranzini unexpectedly converted.

Sister Thérèse’s love for God was a generous love. She spent her entire life offering Jesus the flowers of her sacrifices. She said to me, “It is a characteristic of love to sacrifice everything, to give indiscriminately, to be wasteful, to never be calculating, and to quash hope of gathering fruit when picking flowers. Too often, though, we give only after careful thought and hesitate to sacrifice our worldly and spiritual interests. That’s not love. Love is blind, a torrent which sweeps everything away” [Primary source]. In 1888, she told me, “Jesus does not look so much at the grandeur of deeds or even their difficulty as at the love which goes into performing those deeds” [LT 65]. She also [697] wrote, “It is complete self-sacrifice alone that constitutes loving” [Spirituality of St Thérèse].

Her generous love fuelled her wish to die a martyr. As early as her trip to Rome, upon visiting the Colosseum, she asked God that one day she might be a martyr for Jesus. In the Carmel, her desires became greater still. On the day she was professed, she wished to offer Jesus “martyrdom of heart or of body, or rather of both” [Prayer 2]. And later on, when discussing the various torments of saints, she stated that, to be happy, she would need to suffer all of them. However, the Servant of God did not seek suffering for suffering’s sake: she desired it because it was a way for her to prove her love to Jesus. This was so that she might resemble Our Lord, who willingly shed His blood as a token of His own love, even though doing so frightened Him in His human nature. Furthermore, when she told God of her desire to suffer greatly for Him, she always subordinated this prayer to the designs of Providence on her. Even at the end of her life, her total surrender to God’s pleasure predominantly influenced her soul, compelling her to declare, “I no longer wish either for suffering or death, yet both are precious to me. Now, the spirit of self-abandonment alone is my guide. I know not how to ask anything with eagerness, save the perfect accomplishment of God's designs upon my soul” [MSA 83,1].

The tender and caring love that Sister Thérèse [698] had for God was her inspiration for her prayer of self-offering to God’s Merciful Love. It was on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, 9th June 1895, that she felt compelled to offer herself as a victim to God’s Love, in preference to His Justice, because it pained her to see God was never compensated for His unreturned love. After Mass, she beckoned me to follow her and asked Mother Prioress for permission for both of us to make the offering. Mother Prioress accepted.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

The Servant of God then wrote a prayer of consecration, which was submitted and approved by a theologian.

In this prayer, she asked God to bestow upon her all the love that He wished to pour out onto the earth and which mankind refused to accept, pledging to be worthy of it through her total self-sacrifice. She therefore adopted love as the centre of her spiritual life, confirming what she had long previously written to her cousin Marie Guérin: “I myself know of no other means of reaching perfection but love” [LT 109].

Her love for God the Father extended to filial affection. Speaking about God one day during her last illness, she mixed up her words and called Him “Papa”. We began to laugh, but she countered, deeply moved, “Oh, yes! He is indeed my ‘Papa’ and it’s so sweet to call Him by that name” [DEA 5-6].

Jesus meant everything to her. When she wrote about Jesus Christ, she always capitalised “Him” and “He” out of respect [699] for His adorable person. Also, out of affection, she addressed Him as “tu” in her private prayers.

The Servant of God’s devotion to the Sacred Heart was real, but more underlying than demonstrative. Writing to me when I was away in Paray-le-Monial, she explained her understanding of the devotion as follows: “I consider that the Heart of my Spouse is mine alone, just as mine is His alone, and I speak to Him then in the solitude of this delightful heart to heart, while waiting to contemplate Him one day face to face” [LT 122].

Her devotion to Our Lord usually bore on His whole Humanity. She was nevertheless fond of contemplating Him in His childhood and His passion. It is for this reason that she requested to add ‘the Holy Face’ to her name ‘Thérèse of the Child Jesus’.

She offered herself to the Child Jesus as His “little plaything,” an image that symbolised her complete self-surrender as well as her desire to please God. Her devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus compelled her to remain hidden in the eyes of others and of herself.  It was by contemplating the disfigured Face of Jesus and His humiliations that she learnt humility, love of suffering, generosity in sacrifice, zeal for saving souls, worldly detachment, and all the other active, strong and vigorous virtues that we witnessed her practise. She said her devotion to the Holy Face came from chapters 53 and 60 of Isaiah, which relate Christ’s suffering and humiliation. [700] She depicted the Holy Face on many paintings she did, notably on a chasuble that she decorated. She surrounded the adorable Face with lilies representing all her family members; she represented herself in a flower half-hidden under the veil.

I am convinced that the Servant of God inspired my initiative to reproduce the Holy Face after the Turin Shroud, and that I owe its success to her, even though I painted it in 1904, seven years following the Servant of God’s death.

[Sitting 32: - 24th August 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 in the afternoon]

[703] [Answer to the thirty-second question]:

While it is true that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus stood out for her love of God, she did not neglect the correlating precept, which is charity for one’s neighbour. She even received divine insight on this virtue, practising it to a high level of perfection.

When she noticed one novice’s tendency to withdraw into herself, she actively battled against it. One day, she said, “To withdraw into oneself is to render the soul fruitless. We should seize every opportunity to do charitable works.

[704] Whenever she saw one of us commit a real fault, she would, whilst excusing the culprit as best she could, inwardly hasten to offer up to God their good intentions and also call to mind their virtues. She would think that, although they had stumbled once, they may well have won a great many victories and hid them through humility.

She said we should always judge others charitably, because very often what appears in our eyes to be negligence is in fact heroism in the eyes of God.

When she was ill, she also pointed out to me that the nurse always gave her soft cloths, to make her a little more comfortable: “You see,” she said, “We must take the same care of souls. Oh, often we don’t think of souls, and we harm them. Why is this? Why shouldn’t they be treated with the same care as bodies?” She also told us that all physical penances weighed nothing in comparison to charity.

 [Answer to the thirty-third question]:

Aged fourteen, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was filled with a burning thirst to save souls. The first sinner she desired to purify was a notorious murderer named Pranzini who had been condemned to death for a triple murder. As this was her first step on the road she wished to pursue, Thérèse asked for a tangible sign of the criminal’s repentance. Her prayer was answered to the letter. Pranzini mounted the scaffold without confessing [705] but then, apparently in answer to a sudden inspiration, he asked to kiss the crucifix held by the priest. Thérèse’s emotion upon learning this news was indescribable, and from then on her zeal took on new ardour.

As a Carmelite, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus would sew medallions of the Blessed Virgin into workers’ clothes, carefully hiding them in the lining.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

At the Carmel, she asked me to take a photograph of her holding a scroll on which she had copied Saint Teresa’s words, “I would give a thousand lives to save a single soul!” [Way, ch. 1.]  Suffering cruelly from her last illness, she said, “I ask God that all the prayers being said for me might not serve to ease my suffering but be applied to sinners.”

Moreover, the Servant of God had herself declared in her canonical examination prior to her profession that she “had come to the Carmel to save souls and especially to pray for priests” [MSA 69,b].

In a letter to African missionary Father Bellière dated 21st June 1897, she wrote, “I try not to be preoccupied with myself in any way, and I abandon myself to what Jesus sees fit to work in my soul, for I have not chosen an austere life to expiate my faults but those of others” [LT 247].

She was no more than 16 when she wrote the following to me: “There is only one thing to do during the night of life, and this is to love Jesus with all the strength of our heart [706] and to save souls for Him so that He might be loved” [LT 96].

The following verses, which are from a poem that she wrote for me shortly after I joined the Carmel, express all her thoughts on the subject of ministry:

 “Recall that feast of angels in delight,

That harmony of heaven's kingly host,

The joy of all those choirs of spirits bright,

When one is saved, once counted 'mongst the lost.

Oh, how I would augment that joy and glory there!

For sinners I will pray with ceaseless, ardent prayer.

To win dear souls to heaven,

My life and prayers are given.

Remember Thou!” [PN 24.]

Yet the main goal of Sister Thérèse’s vocation, that which appealed to her above all, was praying for priests. She called this type of ministry “wholesale trading, because by way of the head she could attain the limbs” [CSG].

- This desire to sanctify priests and, through them, convert sinners, was truly her life’s motive.

[707] [Answer to the thirty-third question continued]:

In the hymn that she dedicated to me in the Carmel, she proclaimed,

“That soon may come for Thee Thy glorious harvest day,

I immolate myself, I offer prayers always. I give my joys, my tears,

For thy good harvesters.

Remember Thou!” [PN 24.]

In the same way that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus prayed particularly for Pranzini, among other great sinners, there was one fallen priest to whom she directed many thoughts and sacrifices specifically: this was excommunicated Father Hyacinthe, former Superior of the Discalced Carmelite monastery of Paris. His conversion was so dear to her heart that it was a constant subject on her lips and in her letters. In a letter to me dated 8th July 1891, she wrote, “He is really guilty, perhaps more guilty than any other sinner who has ever been converted. But cannot Jesus do once what He has not yet ever done? And if He were not to desire it, would He have placed in the heart of His poor little spouses a desire that He could not fulfil? A day will come when he will open his eyes. Trust works miracles. Let us not cease to pray, in order that our brother, a son of the Blessed Virgin, will return vanquished to throw himself beneath the mantle of the most merciful of Mothers” [LT 129]. She never forgot this [708] great cause, and she offered her last Communion here below, on 19th August 1897, the feast of Saint Hyacinth, for this poor prodigal son. Father Hyacinthe died on 9th February 1912, apparently impenitent. Yet a letter from Mr d'Orgeval Dubouchet dated 17th April 1912 assures us that upon dying, the poor sinner murmured the words, “My sweet Jesus!”

 [Do you know the source of this testimony and if it is reliable? - Answer]:

Unfortunately I did not think to ask for more information concerning this person.

 [Answer to the thirty-fourth question]:

Even in her youth, the Servant of God proved assiduous in giving spiritual alms. At the Benedictine school, she chose for friends those who were less happy at home and to whom she could be of some comfort. There was one pupil in particular who possessed few gifts, and to whom she paid much attention in order to draw them to God. Fraternal charity alone could guide her in this little ministry, since it held no natural appeal for her. At home, she would give lessons to pauper children so that they might love God. Although very shy at that time, she would strike up conversation with the maids who came to our house in order to talk to them about God. There was one chambermaid who was ungodly, and young Thérèse had no success with her save persuading her to wear a Blessed Virgin medallion [709] until she died. She gave her the medallion from her own chain necklace.

Lastly, Thérèse was so good at heart, and could forget herself so utterly, that she was not only the pride and joy of the family but also the servants’ favourite. She had much esteem for the latter, for she found it unfair that children of a same father should serve one another. This condition of human society instilled within her a desire for heaven, where everyone would be treated according to their worth.

In the Carmel, her charity was much the same: I never saw her complain when she had cause for personal suffering.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

She would bear all things in silence to avoid causing pain. For example, on washing days, when a clumsy or distracted washer happened to spray her with water, she would say nothing.

She would seek the company of the Sisters who were least kindly. I always saw her sit with them at recreations. In order to cheer one Sister who was plagued with black thoughts, she asked to be her assistant, a duty that nobody was able to sustain because of her unsavoury character. One day, at a loss to open my eyes to fraternal charity and to the effort it requires, she told me of her struggles to overcome her natural dislike for a certain Sister. When I heard the Sister’s name, I was surprised, because it was the Sister to whom she seemed the closest, to the extent that Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart was jealous of her. One mentally sick nun, who was otherwise well-educated and intelligent, drove all the nurses away with her many eccentricities. Discussing her one day, Sister Thérèse said [710] to me, “The duty of Nurse is the one that appeals to me the most. I would not request it, fearing this to be presumptuous, but were it given to be I would count myself very privileged” [CSG].

One could almost say her charity extended to sacrificing her spiritual interests. She found a very helpful book once, and she passed it on to other Sisters before finishing it, so she never read the end, despite her wish to do so.

She would sacrifice her personal tastes for the good of her neighbour, even in terms of spiritual practices. For instance, striving to enlighten her fellow noviciate, she encouraged the Lay Sister to virtue by feigning that she needed the same complex set of practices as the Sister. These techniques, however, were not to her taste. She wrote me a letter on 23rd July 1893, when I was still at home, saying, “I am obliged to have a chaplet of practices; I did it out of love for one of my companions. I am trapped in nets that do not appeal to me” [LT 144]. Yet she condescended to her companion's needs with such good grace that the latter could well think that she was the one encouraging Thérèse.

She had a talent for cheering Sisters who were feeling sad; she would use her friendliness, good grace, and affectionate smile. If she did not succeed, she would ask God to comfort them Himself. She would welcome those who came to [711] disturb her, never displaying annoyance or tiredness, and she did not need to be asked for help twice.

The Servant of God always strove to make the other nuns forget that her blood sisters lived in the same convent. She said that we needed to be forgiven for living under the same roof. To give you just one visible example of her charitable discretion, I invite you to look at the group photographs of the community; she is always surrounded by nuns other than her sisters. When she fell ill, she said she was fortunate to be in a cell where nobody could hear her cough, and when she moved down to the infirmary, she couldn’t bear anyone staying up with her at night. She would not even let us kill the flies bothering her, saying that they were her only enemies and that she forgave them in obedience to Jesus’ commandment.

[Answer to the thirty-fifth question]:

As a child, Thérèse had a touching compassion for the poor. She could not bear to see the less fortunate suffer, and would take them alms with such tender respect that it was moving. She said later on that, had she been free to do what she liked with her wealth, she would have ruined herself, because she couldn’t see a pauper in need without immediately giving them what they needed. When an elderly cripple declined her alms one day, she was so upset to have offended him by taking him for [712] a beggar that, to compensate him, she decided she would give him her afternoon cake. Unable to find him, she resolved to pray for him on the day of her First Communion, which was as yet four years away.

As she was too young to practice material charity to the poor, she devoted herself to performing inner charity, where the scope was immense. Her one preoccupation was finding ways to please those around her; her only sorrow was to cause pain.

This spirit of charity towards her neighbour compelled her to pray that she might spend her heaving doing good on earth.

As a Carmelite, she entreated me to nurse the sick lovingly, and to not carry out the task as I would any other. I should do it with care and sensitivity, as though I were nursing God Himself. One day, she wrote the following note to me: “Earlier you were carrying little cups left and right. One day, Jesus in turn will come and go in your service” [CSG].

 [Answer to the thirty-sixth question]:

The Servant of God would help the souls in Purgatory by every means possible, mainly by obtaining indulgences. She prayed the “Heroic Act of Charity” and placed in the Blessed Virgin’s hands all the merits she earned every day [713] to use as she saw fit. The same went for all the prayers that would be said for her after her death. The only prayers she allowed to be applied to one specific intention were those said for Pranzini, the sinner whom she converted through her own prayers and sacrifices. Every time our family offered to give her something for feast days or her birthday, she would ask for money, and, with Mother Prioress’ permission, would have Masses celebrated for the peace of Pranzini’s soul.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

“He’s my child,” she said. “I mustn't forget him now” [CSG].

On the day she was professed, she asked God to empty the prisons of Purgatory.

Every day, she would recite the prayer “O kind and most sweet Jesus”, the six Our Fathers and Hail Marys of the Scapular of the Immaculate Conception, and one other devotional practice that she had been told was a rich source of indulgences, and she did this until she died.

As she was too sick to recite prayers aloud, Mother Prioress consented to dispense her of praying the latter, but she protested, begging, “It’s the only thing I can still do for those in Purgatory, and it doesn’t tire me in the least” [DEA 18-5]. Mother Prioress yielded. As long as she was able, she faithfully walked the Way of the Cross several times a week.

[Sitting 33: - 25th August 1915, at 10 o’clock and at 2 in the afternoon]

[717] [Answer to the thirty-seventh question]:

The Servant of God always stood out for her prudence. She never gave free rein to her first instincts. She adopted the method of silence. In this, she followed the example of the Blessed Virgin, for whom she was filled with admiration, especially when she preferred to be suspected for infidelity rather than face Saint Joseph by revealing to him the mystery of the Incarnation. She often brought up this subject, encouraging me to appreciate her very simple and yet very heroic conduct. Like Mary, she chose to meditate things in her heart; joys and sorrows alike. This reserve was her strength and also the starting point for her rise to perfection, as was her outward conduct, and her moderation in this respect singled her out.

Even as a small child, she would prudently remain silent and say only what she meant to say. She wrote, “I made a practice of never complaining; even if I was unjustly accused, I preferred to keep silence” [MSA 11,2]. Yet although she remained silent to avoid making excuses, she had the wisdom to speak out when she was to blame. Whenever she showed want of tact, for example, she would quickly own up and say so.

Her perfect balance of faculties was noticeable at home. Her self-control reigned supreme inside her; she was responsible and judicious. When [718] our mother died, although she was not yet five, the Servant of God displayed incredible tact and sensitivity. I chose Marie, our eldest sister, to be my second mother. Thérèse threw herself into Pauline’s arms, saying, “And Pauline will be my Mother” [MSA 13,1]. She told me later that she had chosen Pauline in order that she would not feel upset and abandoned. I was astonished to see such presence of mind, for Marie was her godmother and had until then taken care of us, whereas we saw little of Pauline as she was at boarding school.

This outstanding tact could only grow given her extremely gifted nature. When we lived in Lisieux, and I was almost fourteen and she had just turned ten, we were as close as could be. We shared the same bedroom and the same bed. Our age difference meant I noticed her great discretion and extreme reserve.

Her prudence also came to light at school when, seeing her schoolmates seek the affection of certain teachers, she immediately discerned the vanity of such relationships and distanced herself from them with holy fear.

She was no less prudent in the negotiations that were to open the door to the Cloister to her at the age of fifteen. She had to face strong opposition and overcome her extreme shyness, to the point of asking the Sovereign Pontiff for the object of her desires. Despite this, she was always calm and patient, and directed no bitter words against those who thwarted [719] her plans.

In the Carmel, the Servant of God had plenty of occasions to practise prudence.  She spent her entire religious life under the disconcerting government of Mother Marie de Gonzague. Whether Prioress or not, the latter couldn’t bear anyone else holding authority. One cannot imagine the diplomacy that was needed to avoid scenes. The Servant of God was able to turn these difficulties into opportunities to practice virtue whereas others found them to be pitfalls. In the general confusion, she remained constantly united with God, and preoccupied with her personal perfection. While it is true that her deference to authority remained absolute with regards to this Mother Prioress, it is also true that the Servant of God saw all of her faults. She regretted them and strove to prevent them from having adverse effects on the community. She therefore courageously intervened in order to free one nun from a natural and servile affection that she had developed for Mother Marie de Gonzague. She demonstrated remarkable wisdom in this instance, and was able to offer sensitive guidance without diverting the Sister from the obedience and respect that were due to the Prioress. Moreover, I still admire her ability to reconcile perfect faith in authority with an accurate knowledge of the faults of the person holding it.

I must also describe the prudence she showed in her faithfulness to seek counsel during the [720] difficult times of her life.

In my testimony at the Ordinary Process, I said, “strictly speaking, the Servant of God never had a spiritual director.” By this I meant she never felt the need for regular guidance outside confession, as it is customary to have in France, but she was mindful to ask for advice whenever a difficulty presented itself in her spiritual life.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

For example, at the age of ten, she sought counsel on some concerns of conscience: “I told my confessor of them, and he tried to reassure me,” reads Story of a Soul [MSA 28,2]. Later on, when she took her First Communion, our sister’s director, Jesuit Reverend Pichon, wrote to the Servant of God. Four years later, the same priest was made aware of the matter surrounding her vocation, and gave her encouragement. In the Carmel, she eagerly took advantage of the extraordinary confessor’s visit every three months. On retreats, or whenever a priest came to the convent, she would avidly seek the preacher’s advice.

This is how she perceived the role of directors: “I know God has not need of anyone to help Him in His work of sanctification,” she wrote, “but as He allows a clever gardener to cultivate rare and delicate plants, giving him the skill to accomplish it, while reserving for Himself the right to make them grow, so does He wish to be helped in the cultivation of souls” [MSA 53,1].

[721] In her autobiography, she recounts not only the joy she felt when Reverend Pichon S.J. assured her that “she had not lost her baptismal innocence” [MSA 70,1], but she also describes the peace that filled her heart when Reverend Alexis “launched her full sail upon that ocean of confidence and love in which she had longed to advance” [MSA 80,2]. She showed her deference once again when, according to one director’s advice, she wrote out the Credo and wore it against her heart to refute temptation against the faith.

 [Answer to the thirty-seventh question continued]:

While on the subject of directors, it may be noted that all those to whom she successively confided matters of conscience have invariably spoken of her with the highest esteem.

It is true that their advice sometimes proved trying for her. For instance, Father Blinot S.J. [722] told her it was presumptuous to aspire to sainthood. Then, towards the end of her life, the chaplain told her that her temptations against the faith put her in a very dangerous situation. Although these misfortunes had undoubtedly been permitted by God, it was on their account that she turned to Jesus, “the Director of directors” [MSA 71,1], and learnt not to rely on help that could fail you at the very moment you needed it.

 [Answer to the thirty-eighth question]:

The wisdom of her advice was visible especially in the guidance she gave to the novices.

When directing them, she was very vigilant to seek God’s help in prayer. Having been one of her novices myself, I constantly observed her deep renunciation and her patience when listening to us and teaching us, which she did without seeking any comfort whatsoever for herself. “I did not try to be liked,” she told me in a conversation shortly before she died. “I did not concern myself with what might be said or thought of me. I tried only to do my duty and to please God” [Primary source]. Her prayer that no novice would ever develop a natural affection for her was answered, and yet we all sought and trusted her guidance. Even a few senior Sisters noticed her heavenly prudence and sought her counsel in secret.

She did not ask the same sacrifices of all the Sisters. “When directing others, we must forget ourselves, and put aside our tastes and ideas, and guide [723] souls not by our own way, but along the path which Our Lord points out” [MSC 22,2].

Here are a few of her recommendations: “In a community, everyone must try to be self-sufficient, and not ask for help when it can be done without.” “To know whether to request an exemption or a privilege is absolutely necessary, ask yourself what would happen if everyone asked for the same. You will at once see the resulting chaos and the balance that must be struck” [Primary source]. Although she advised us to do everything to the best of our ability, she also said that we must first and foremost conform to customs, because sometimes indiscrete zeal can harm oneself and others. She said, “Often, we feel tired only because others forget to sympathise. If a Sister was told, ‘You are very tired, get some rest!’ she would immediately not feel tired” [Primary source]. I said to her one day, “I am willing to be reproached if I deserve it. When I am not at fault, I can’t bear it.” “For my part,” she replied, “I prefer to be accused unjustly because, having nothing to reproach myself with, I gladly offer this little injustice to God” [CSG]. She explained to me on another occasion how easy and natural it is to accept suggestions made by oneself, while there are always ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ when we have to adopt the ideas of others. “We view help given to others in a good light when we are the ones to [724] have given it, but if we have had no part in it, then we are filled with temptation and we find fault with all that we have not procured” [Primary source].

Her whole spiritual doctrine and her advice can be summarised in what she called “her little way of childhood.” It comes down, in my opinion, to two general concepts: self-surrender and humility. The latter concept struck me the most, and I therefore studied it at depth in the instructions that Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus gave to her novices.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

“To walk in the ‘little way,’ you must be humble, poor in spirit and simple” [CSG].


When giving individual guidance to the novices, she always came back to this virtue. The basis of her teachings consisted in encouraging us to not lose hope when we saw weakness, but rather to exult in our frailties. “You should rejoice when you fall,” she said one day, “for if, when you do so, God is not offended, you should fall deliberately in order to become humble. You are striving to climb a mountain, but God wants you to go down to the bottom of a valley, where you will learn self-contempt.” For her part, instead of making apologies for her imperfections, she used them to plead her cause and to prove to God how much she needed His help. She wrote, “I recount in detail all my infidelities, thinking in the boldness of my full trust that I will acquire in even greater [725] fullness the love of Him who came to call not the just but sinners” [MSB 5,1]. Similarly, she proclaimed:

 “My peace, ‘tis like a child to be,

That doth not plan, nor understand,

So when I fall, Christ raiseth me,

And leads me gently by the hand” [PN 45].

She counted herself among the weak, hence the expression “little souls”. She wrote me a note on 7th June 1897, shortly before she died, reading, “Let us line up humbly among the imperfect, let us esteem ourselves as little souls whom God must sustain at each moment. When He sees we are very much convinced of our nothingness, He will extend His hand to us. If we still wish to attempt doing something great even under the pretext of zeal, Jesus will leave us alone” [LT 243].

Spiritual Poverty

In the same way that little children have no possessions and fully depend on their parents, she wanted us to live from day to day, without making spiritual provisions.

Her perpetual aim was to reach a state of complete destitution. As early as 1889, when she was 16, she wrote the following of herself: “The grain of sand wants to get to work, without joy, without courage, without strength, and it is all these things which will facilitate its undertaking” [LT 82]. Observing her immense tenderness for God one day, I expressed regret at not being more like her, and she told me to pray as follows: “My God, I am thankful I do not have a single tender [726] feeling and I rejoice to see them in others.”  I said I wished I had a good memory and could recall passages of Holy Scripture, and she replied, “Ah, there you go again wanting to possess riches! It’s like going too near the stove; you’ll burn yourself” [CSG]. In 1896, when I was her novice, I received this note written as though by the Blessed Virgin: “If you want to peacefully bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, you will give Jesus a pleasant home; true, you will suffer since you will be at the door of your house, but do not fear, the poorer you are the more Jesus will love you” [LT 211].


On 25th April 1893, she wrote me a long letter in which she compared Our Lord to a wildflower and our souls to dewdrops: “Blessed little drop of dew that is known only by Jesus! Do not envy even the clear brook . . . No doubt its murmur is very sweet, but creatures can hear it, and then the calyx of the wildflower would be unable to contain it. To be for Jesus alone, one must remain little, little like a drop of dew! Oh! how few are the souls who aspire to remain little in this way! ‘But,’ they say, ‘are not the river and the brook more useful than the drop of dew?’ Undoubtedly these people are right, but they do not know the Wildflower that willed to live on our earth of exile . . . Our Beloved has no need of our beautiful thoughts or our dazzling works . . . He became the Wildflower only in order to show us how [727] much He cherishes simplicity . . . What a privilege to be called to so lofty a mission! But to respond to it, how simple we must remain!” [LT 141.]

[Sitting 34: - 26th August 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 in the afternoon]

[730] [Answer to the thirty-ninth question]:

I believe to have said all that I know on the subject in response to the questions on faith and love for God.

 [Answer to the fortieth question]:

The Servant of God always had great respect for her relatives.

I never heard her say anything to sadden them, even when scolded undeservedly.

When I was living at home and would send her flowers at the Carmel, she was mindful not to appropriate them for herself, even though as Portress she would receive them directly. She would rather have let them wilt than arrange them around her [731] statue of the Child Jesus without Mother Prioress’ express permission. When she was sick and our relatives sent her some fruit, she said, “These grapes are delicious! But I do not like what comes from my family.” And yet, no one cherished her family more than Sister Thérèse.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

She would demonstrate her deep affection for us in private. Having read that some saints distanced themselves from their relatives for the sake of perfection, by ceasing or altering their relationship with them, she said she was fortunate that “there were several rooms in God’s house,” for she would live not with the great saints but with little saints who deeply love their family.

Even as a very young child, the Servant of God was remarkably sincere. She would confess to the smallest of faults. Our mother wrote, “The little one wouldn’t lie for all the gold in the world” [MSA 11,1].

Shortly before our mother died, we would be sent to spend the day at a relative’s house. I remember that, on one such day, we hadn’t recited our prayer. I asked Thérèse, “Should we tell the lady we haven’t said our prayer?” “Oh, yes!” she replied, resolutely, even though she knew as well as I did that the lady wasn’t pious [MSA 12,1].

Later on, as a Carmelite, her love for justice and truth grew further and reached a truly [732] heroic level. For example, she would have preferred to fall from the grace of Mother Marie de Gonzague and be banished from the community than fail in her duty to prevent a fellow novitiate from developing too human an attachment for the Prioress. She was fair to the novices to the extent that everyone was treated equally, and even the most naturally disadvantaged could believe they were deeply loved.

The Servant of God often said that “everything is grace” [DEA 5-6]; she therefore entertained a constant feeling of deep gratitude in her heart, towards either God or people.

Moreover, her whole “Story” is a hymn of gratitude. It begins as follows: “I shall begin therefore to sing what must be my eternal song: ‘the Mercies of the Lord’” [MSA 2,1]. She greatly appreciated the blessing of a religious vocation, telling me in a letter, “There are moments when I wonder whether I am really and truly in the Carmel; sometimes I can scarcely believe it. What have I done for God that He should shower so many graces upon me?” [LT 47.] When I in turn joined the Carmel, I felt I was giving up a great deal for God, for the Rule seemed very austere. I asked Sister Thérèse to write a hymn for me summarising all the sacrifices I had made, the stanzas of which would end with the words, “Jesus, Remember!” Imagine my surprise to find she had inverted my meaning: in her hymn, she portrayed Jesus as the benefactor and the soul [733] as the indebted.

 [Answer to the forty-first question]:

At the age of three or four, the Servant of God already knew how to endure difficulties and deprive herself of things. For example, in order to stay in my company when Marie gave me my lessons, she would shut herself in the room with us for whole hours without saying a single word, as per the condition to her admission to the lessons. She was always patient, and never fidgeted like other children. She kindly let others take what was hers. At that age, she made many sacrifices, which we would call “practices”. She had a little chaplet with moveable beads and would count off a bead each time she renounced herself. These “practices” were such an important part of her childhood that she would talk to me about little else, greatly intriguing one neighbour who overheard our conversations. Later on, Thérèse did not give up this pious habit and prepared for her First Communion by way of a whole host of little sacrifices. By the time she was 9 years old, her self-control was such that, without arguing, she accepted to forego drawing lessons with me when Marie said she was not interested in learning. By that time, she had mastered the habit of putting down her book at the predetermined time, even in the middle of an interesting passage. Similarly, when she was older and would read history and science books for enjoyment, she set aside only a certain amount of time for studying. [734] At every opportunity, she would choose the last place and the least practical things for her use, both at home and away. It was at this time that she overcame her great sensitivity by way of a truly extraordinary act of bravery. She fought back her tears and feigned cheerfulness in the face of a harsh remark made by our father. This happened on Christmas night 1886.

The Servant of God did not seek to mortify herself by way of extraordinary deeds, and was not even absolutely rigorous in terms of the satisfactions she allowed herself. In this respect, as with everything else, she was simple and did not refuse to praise God for His works. For instance, she liked the touch of fruit, and admired the velvety skin of peaches in particular. Similarly, she enjoyed comparing flowers’ scents. Yet she stopped herself from procuring natural pleasure even from innocent things, and faithfully kept her resolution until the end. On her deathbed, she said she had done nothing in her life to reproach herself for, save just once smelling a bottle of perfume that had been given to her on a trip.

Here are a few details concerning her mortification practices.

She faithfully observed our Rule’s precept of maintaining modesty of the eyes, but free from constraint. During her illness, I was brought a baptism box with a pretty [735] decoration on it; we admired it in front of her then placed the box on the table, forgetting to show it to her. She did not ask to see it. During meditation, she would refrain from glancing at the clock right in front of us: “What good would it do me,” she said, “to know whether there are five or ten minutes left. I would rather go without knowing” [Primary source].

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

 [Answer to the forty-first question continued]:

Whilst living at home, she couldn’t understand why people invited friends to meals, for she thought the act of eating was undignified. She said we should go into hiding or at least stay at home, taking comfort only in the remembrance that Our Lord was subject to the same necessities. She seized every harmless opportunity for self-mortification, depriving herself at all times and in all places. Such sacrifices were very negligible, it’s true, but [736] God demonstrates His immense power in the creation of both the infinitely small and the infinitely big, and I think Sister Thérèse actually revealed her strength by way of the many insignificant and, if you will, microscopic deeds she performed. At mealtimes, for example, if her knife or spoon handle was not clean and felt sticky, she would not put it down despite desperately wanting to. Whilst on the subject of mortification of the senses, I watched her one day during her illness drink a disgusting tasting medicine extremely slowly. I said, “Hurry; drink it in one go!” She replied, “I’m deliberately savouring it. I must seize every sacrifice that presents itself, must I not, since I’m not allowed to make big ones?” [Primary source.]

The Servant of God took great care not to settle into comfortable routines. For instance, she would not lean against the back of a chair or cross her legs when sitting down, etc. When it was hot, she avoided being seen to wipe her brow, saying that doing so drew attention to one’s discomfort. Similarly, in winter, she didn’t rub her hands together to keep them warm or walk with her head bowed. She severely reprimanded a novice one winter for pinning her sleeves closed against the cold.

Concerning penitentiary instruments, I told her it was natural to avoid unnecessary movements when wearing a hair shirt and to stiffen under the discipline [whip] against pain. She looked at me in astonishment, and said, “I myself think there is no point in doing [737] things by halves. When I use the discipline to harm myself, I want it to hurt as much as possible. I therefore bend forwards so that my body is relaxed and the blows sting more.” She whipped herself at such a rate that she attained as many as 350 blows per Miserere. She said the more pain she felt, the more she smiled. This way God could see from her face that she was pleased to suffer for Him.

As for mortifications of the mind and will, the Servant of God was always faithful in controlling her passions. Despite her active imagination, she did not work herself up, and took extreme care not to act on her first impulse. I noticed that she never asked for news; if she happened to see some nuns grouped together and Mother Prioress seemed to be telling them something interesting, she mindfully stayed away. She did the same when it came to visits, always finding a way to avoid meeting someone when she thought doing so might be pleasurable. Once, one of Sister Thérèse’s poems was sent to someone. A laudatory letter of thanks arrived at the convent but she did not hear it read out because she was absent from the community at that moment. Without thinking, she asked me to give her the letter afterwards, but a few days later, I realised she had not read it. When I urged her to do so, she told me that she would never read it to punish herself for having asked for it.

It was with heroic patience that the Servant of God endured disturbances. One day I even [738] discovered her strategy, which was to cross the path of any nun who was likely to seek her assistance. In my duty as nurse, which occasioned frequent disturbances, she taught me to do the same. “The infirmary bell should be for you as heavenly music,” she said, “and you ought purposely to pass by the windows of the sick that it might be easy to summon you. Answer cheerfully, promising to return, and look pleased, as though it was you who was being helped. You see, thinking fine and holy thoughts, or writing books or saints’ lives is not as worthwhile as answering an untimely call of the infirmary bell. Only the mortified can refrain from sewing one more stitch when summoned; I know this from practice and have experienced the peace it brings” [CSG].

The Servant of God excelled in all forms of mortification and therefore did not neglect mortification of the heart. She practised this by means of missing her turn to see Mother Prioress (her dear Pauline, “her second mother”) for spiritual direction. I was astonished at her detachment. She ardently desired to be sent to the Carmel of Hanoi, and even pleaded to go, “not so as to be useful there,” she said, “but to suffer exile of the heart” [CSG]. Upon my admission to the Carmel on 14th September 1894, she kissed me as did all the Sisters and was making to leave when Mother Prioress asked her to show me to the cell that was to be mine. She would not have done so had she not been commanded. When [739] Sister Marie of the Eucharist, our first cousin, took the Habit, she deprived herself of accompanying her to the door to the convent to be reunited with her family. When I reproached her for her absence, she told me that she had not gone precisely because she had wished to. During her illness, she said to all three of us (Mother Agnes, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and myself), “When I’m gone, take care not to lead a family life” [DEA 3-8].

Sister Thérèse summarised her many acts of renouncement when she said, “Since I have abandoned all thought of self-seeking, I live the happiest life possible” [MSC 28,1].

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

 [Answer to the forty-second question]:

Until the age of 14, young Thérèse was, in her own words, “extremely sensitive” [MSA 13,1], but she was able to control her sensitivity in order to comfort others.

I do not recall ever seeing her lose her patience either as a child or later on. At school, Thérèse was bullied by some classmates who were older than her and jealous of her success. She would weep in silence, without telling me the cause of her tears because she knew I would have straightened out the matter, and she preferred to suffer in secret out of love for God.

She took care to check her tongue and unfailingly did services for others without setting store by them.

[740] On Christmas night 1886, I witnessed her perform an act of bravery that she described as the starting point of her conversion. In this instance she completely overcame the hypersensitivity that had hampered her since our mother’s death. She relates the event in her “Story” (pages 74‑75, published in octavo in 1914) [MSA 45,1]. She adds, “Since that blessed night I have not lost a single battle” [MSA 44,2].

The Servant of God showed great strength of character in the family separations that she endured by God’s callings. When her two “mothers”, Marie and Pauline, successively joined the Carmel, she accepted these very painful sacrifices with resignation, but her health took a serious blow, and grief was in all likelihood a cause of the illness she contracted in 1883. When she in turn joined the Carmel, she left her beloved father behind without shedding a single tear, even though her grief was so intense that she wondered if she were going to die.

As a Carmelite, she had many opportunities to practise her courage. In fact, the conditions in which her religious life was spent increased the difficulties she had to overcome. This was because she lived under the constant supervision of Mother Marie de Gonzague. At that time, everything depended on a moment's whim, rules were made and unmade, and appalling scenes would break out for no apparent reason, although jealousy was [741] always the mainstay. Although such government was a continual source of temptations for the Sisters because it is difficult not to grumble in the face of injustice, the Servant of God’s strength of character shone through. She mildly endured the resulting inevitable evil and made no bitter criticism against the one in authority.

During her serious illnesses, the Servant of God suffered adversities that could easily have been avoided had the convent’s management been well-ordered. Her suffering was all the greater given herself-forgetfulness and we had to force her to accept the care that she never requested. The first time she coughed up blood (Good Friday 1896), she was delighted to be permitted to continue observing the austere Lenten fast. She was so fervent that I did not suspect what had happened to her. I found out later she had found that year’s fast very difficult, but as usual, she had not complained. Similarly, she did not seek to alleviate the extreme weariness that came of reciting the Divine Office every day at the very time when her fever was highest. One evening following cautery treatment (I counted as many as 500 points one day), she readied herself for sleep on her straw mattress. Not having permission to give her a proper mattress (I was then nurse), I had no choice but to fold my large blanket into four and place it under her bed sheet. The Servant of God was grateful but uttered [742] no word of complaint as to the way in which the sick were treated. Towards the end of her illness, she went for a month without seeing a doctor. When the community doctor (Doctor de Cornière) went on holiday, he entrusted his patient to Doctor La Néele, the Servant of God’s cousin. But the former had not taken into account the jealous character of Mother Marie de Gonzague who, seeing Sister Thérèse in her family’s care, refused to let the replacement doctor inside the convent. Not only did the Servant of God not complain, but she also refused to let us vent our righteous indignation.

A ploy was also needed in order to administrate her with morphine syrup, Mother Marie de Gonzague holding the theory that it was shameful to give pain relief to a Carmelite. She never allowed injections to be given.

[Sitting 35: - 27th August 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 in the afternoon]

[745] [Continuation of the answer to the forty-second question]:

The Servant of God also sought to instil the virtue of strength in her novices. One day I told her, “I used to have passion and [746] zeal in my heart. I was eager and, for the glory of God, I would have fearlessly gone to the ends of the earth, whereas today, I feel extenuated and all those deep feelings have died.” “Such is youth,” she replied. “True courage is not a moment’s ardour compelling us to go and win souls at great risk, the danger of which only adds to the dream’s appeal. True courage consists in seeking the cross when our heart is gripped by fear, and at the same time rejecting it, so to speak, as did Jesus in the Garden of Olives” [DEA 6-7]. 

Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

She wrote, “When I am feeling nothing, when I am INCAPABLE of praying or of practicing virtue, then is the moment for seeking opportunities and trifles that please Jesus more than world power and even martyrdom suffered with generosity. They include a smile, a friendly word, when I would want to say nothing or appear annoyed. When I do not have any opportunities, I at least want to tell Him frequently that I love Him; this is not difficult, and it keeps the fire alive. Even when this fire of love would seem to have gone out, I would like to throw some kindling on it, and Jesus could then relight it” (Letter dated 16th July 1893) [LT 143].

She said, “Today the praise directed to Judith came to mind: ‘You have acted with manly courage, and your heart has been strengthened.’ Let souls then exert a great effort. Afterwards, the heart is strengthened and one goes from victory to victory” [DEA 8-8]. Feeling discouraged one day, I made the excuse [747] that I was tired. She said, “Let us never believe when we do not practice a virtue that it is due to natural causes such as illness, the weather or sadness. We should in all humility take our place among the imperfect, and look upon ourselves as little souls because we too are weak when it comes to practising virtue” [CSG].

When, on one of Mother Prioress’ feast days, the Servant of God played the role of Joan of Arc on the pyre, she was almost burned alive when a fire accidentally broke out. Upon Mother Prioress’ order not to move whilst others strove to extinguish the fire around her, she remained calm and still amid the danger, offering to God the sacrifice of her life, as she went on to say.

The hardest ordeal of the Servant of God’s lifetime was our father’s illness. She always referred to it as “our great trial”. Of course, others endure similar tragedies, but suffering is measured less by the brutal effect that produces it than by the value of the person affected, and there are few fathers who are so deserving of their children’s gratitude. His whole life he showed nothing but tender devotion to us. We did not only love him; we worshipped him. When our dear father suffered gradual paralysis of the brain, we were obliged to put him into an asylum. This humiliating trial lasted for five years. During that difficult time, the [748] Servant of God constantly kept up our strength with words of faith and hope. She embraced the terrible ordeal as though a royal gift from God. She wrote, “It was time that such a faithful servant receive the reward for his works, and it was right that his wages resemble those which God gave to the King of heaven, His only Son” [MSA 71,2]. In February 1889, she wrote, “What a privilege Jesus has granted us by sending so great a sorrow. Ah, eternity will be too short to thank Him” [LT 83]. She also wrote, “In His immense love, Jesus has sent us the best, most select Cross that He could find . . . How can we complain when He Himself was looked upon as a man struck by God and humbled” [LT 108]. Lastly, her strength in moral suffering came through in not only her letters but also her words, for her lips spoke but praise for God. The Servant of God ranked this trial among her greatest blessings, and noted down the date followed by the words, “Our great treasure”.

 [Answer to the forty-third question]:

Purity shone from the face of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. She had the look of a heavenly virgin and her saintly soul mirrored its image. I often called her “an angel incarnate” because that is how I thought of her. When she was small, those who looked at her found her enchanting. Other children were as pretty as she was, but there was something in her eyes that I never saw in others. People frequently [749] said that “there was heaven in her eyes.” Yet in my opinion Article n° 216 is exaggerated: she never emanated any “heavenly perfumes”. To us, she was every bit as lovely as one, but much more down to earth, and it was precisely this alliance of the spiritual with the natural that gave Sister Thérèse her delightful and unique charm. Referring to that time in her life, she said “she was ashamed of her body” [DEA 30-7] and later on, the one thought that reconciled her to having one was that Jesus had been willing to become a man like us.

Fearful of being exposed to evil on her trip to Italy, she recommended her purity to the Blessed Virgin in the church of Our Lady of Victories in Paris. She also entrusted herself to Saint Joseph’s protection by reciting a prayer to him every day. Consequently, she was shocked by nothing she saw on the trip, either in the public squares or the many museums we visited.

Alighting the train in Bologna, we encountered a crowd of students; one of them picked up Thérèse in his arms before we could remove her from the tumult. She prayed to the Blessed Virgin and threw her perpetrator such a look that he took fright and immediately let her go.

In the Carmel, where the threat of persecution always made us feel as though we were living on a volcano, she was anxious to know the extent to which we could risk our life to remove ourselves from harm’s way. I [750] know that she discussed the matter with several spiritual directors. However, she was not scrupulous. Her steadfastness and perspicacity had brought her knowledge of all things, and everything was beautiful and pure in her eyes.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint Teresa O.D.C.

What is more, she was a stranger to evil thoughts. She praised God for all His works, and found that every one of them, without exception, bore the hallmark of divine purity. Everything about her, including her outward appearance, conveyed purity. As for her personal conduct, she told me that when alone, she had always acted with the same reserve and discretion as if she was in someone’s presence.

Although she loved all the saints, she placed herself under the particular protection of those who were virgins, and pointed out to me that she had chosen her reliquary to contain only relics of virgins.

In her motherly solicitude for my spiritual welfare, she suffered a great deal, as she says in her manuscript, knowing that outside the convent I was exposed to dangers which had been unknown to her.

One day, when I was to attend a wedding dance party that evening, the Servant of God fretted to the extent that she wept as she had never wept before, and requested I come to the visiting room so she could give me her advice. When I said she was being a little excessive, because there was no risk of us “making fools of ourselves”, she looked indignant and said forcefully, “O Céline! Consider the three young Hebrews who preferred to be thrown into the fiery furnace than bow down before the golden statue. You are Jesus’ spouse (I had taken a vow of chastity). [751] Do you really want to fraternise with the modern era by engaging in risky pleasures? Remember what I’m telling you in the name of God! And upon seeing how He rewarded His servants’ faithfulness, try to imitate them.”

 [Answer to the forty-third question continued]:

I had no desire to worship the world’s golden statue, because I naturally abhorred such forms of entertainment. Therefore for much of the evening I kept to her advice but at the cost of many problems; I even offended several people. Then, at the end of the evening, I was literally carried away by one young dance partner. Yet, to our great surprise, were unable to dance a single step! We tried in vain to follow the music, and I did my best not to humiliate him, but ultimately, tired of our attempts, we had to settle for a “very religious walk”. [752] Once he had led me back to my seat, blushing with shame, the poor man slipped away and did not reappear for the rest of the evening. The people I knew had never seen the like, and neither had I, and I attribute the strange incapacity to dance to the Servant of God’s prayers.

Despite her angelic purity, the Servant of God thought of temptations against the virtue of chastity in these terms: “Pure hearts are sometimes surrounded by thorns,” she wrote. “These lilies believe they've lost their whiteness; they think the thorns surrounding them have succeeded in tearing their petals! Yet the lilies in the midst of thorns are the loved ones of Jesus. Blessed is he who has been found worthy to suffer temptation!” [LT 105.] She told me in the Carmel that she “regretted not having endured temptations against chastity, in order to suffer all forms of martyrdom for God” [Primary source]. She considered there to be as much glory in having suffered them as in having been preserved from them.

There was another form of virginity to which she called me; that of complete detachment from all things created. She wrote to me saying, “Virginity is a profound silence from all cares of this earth, not only from futile cares but from all cares. To be a virgin we must think only of Jesus. Céline, let us make of our heart a little garden of delights where Jesus may come to rest. Let us plant only lilies in our garden, yes, lilies, and let us allow no other flowers, for other flowers can be grown by others, but it is virgins alone who can give lilies to Jesus” [LT 122].

[753] [Answer to the forty-fourth question]:

Or course, the Servant of God was not indifferent to earthly things by any means. She liked all that was beautiful and tasteful. She was interested in painting and sewing, and to imagine her so indifferent as to appreciate nothing would be to not know her. She did not like using broken or damaged objects. I noticed this one day when I had stained her hourglass, and another time when the legs of a freshly painted table had left marks on her cell floor. She confesses to her meticulousness in her “Story” when she says that at the beginning of her life as a nun, she liked to have nice things to use and to find everything needful ready to hand. She therefore had to make a significant effort before reaching the point of selecting “whatever was ugly and worn,” [MSA 74,2] although she came to succeed perfectly. Here are some examples:

I saw her, despite being in a hurry, unstitch the border around her sewing basket, which she thought too pretty, and replace the strip of fabric with an ugly one. She broke the pearl head off a pin to make it more uncomfortable to use. She scolded a novice for polishing the furniture in her cell with linseed oil and had her wash it with a brush.

The Servant of God treasured not only plain objects but also impractical ones. For instance, throughout her religious life, she would use a [754] little oil lamp whose wick could be raised only with a pin. When I joined the Carmel, she gave me her writing case and stoup, which were in an acceptable condition, and went to look for some old ones for herself in the loft.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

She would use her plumes until they were beyond repair, and during her illness, she would dip them in milk to soften them.

She wrote the first part of her manuscript in cheap notebooks, the paper in which was of the worst possible quality. For the second part, she had to be forced to space out her lines adequately on a squared paper notebook she had been given. She would write her poems on used letter envelopes or scraps of paper.

In winter, when it was not too cold, she would relentlessly smother the heater that the doctor had prescribed. She also deeply disliked well-fitting clothes; not that she dressed carelessly, but she would take clothes as she was given them. She had one habit that looked dreadful on her, but she said that she cared no more than if it belonged to a nun in China. In the refectory, she would eat all the leftovers she was given, considering herself a pauper. During her last illness, she would refrain from requesting icy water or grapes, saying she could not ask for what would simply bring her relief and was not necessary. She considered herself fortunate to not possess any copies of her poems, giving them all away as she wrote them, although she was glad to have a copy to sing from [755] when working.

The Servant of God was mindful not to hold spiritual belongings any dearer than temporal ones. At recreation one day, when one Sister borrowed her thoughts, she had a momentary inner struggle before offering the sacrifice to Jesus and realising that “the thought belonged to the Holy Spirit, not to herself” [MSC 19,2]. She told me of this incident herself. She often recited the following passage from one of her poems addressed to the Blessed Virgin:

 “All, all that He has granted me, oh! tell Him He may take it!

Tell Him, dear Mother! He may do whate'er He please with me” [PN 54].

One day during her illness, we said to her, “Perhaps when you die there will be a heavenly vision to comfort us in our grief.” She immediately answered, “Oh, no! Never have I wished for any extraordinary blessings. That is not what ‘my little way’ is about! Remember what I’ve always proclaimed:

‘I know, indeed, at Nazareth, O Virgin rich in graces! As the lowly live, so thou didst live, and sought no better things; Of ecstasies and wonders there, our eyes can find no traces, O thou who daily dwelt beside the incarnate King of Kings!’” [PN 54.]

The Servant of God taught others to practice poverty to the same perfection as herself. Here is some advice she gave me on the subject. When I told her someone had taken a safety pin from me and that I missed it, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus said, “Oh, you are rich indeed! You therefore cannot [756] be happy.” She added, “I’ve noticed people are still willing to give quite freely, but few are those who let others take what belongs to them, and yet the Gospel teaches us: ‘If someone takes what belongs to you, do not ask for it back” [CSG].

On another occasion, she said, “Earlier you complained that your basket had been left in a mess and that things were missing from it. You should instead be glad, and say to yourself, ‘I am poor, so it is only natural I lack things. Whoever took them was right to do so because they were not mine’” [CSG]. One day during her illness I said to her, “I would like to have this picture of yours.” “Ah,” she said, “still you desire belongings! When I am with God, do not request any of my belongings. Simply accept what you are given. To do otherwise would be contrary to our vow of poverty.” In honour of my profession, she designed a coat of arms for me with the motto “Whoever loses wins” [LT 183]. She explained to me that on earth we had to lose everything, and let everything be taken from us in order to become poor in spirit.

 [Answer to the forty-fifth question]:

Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was perfectly obedient. She let herself be guided, and not only did she never impose her will, but she also never even made it known. Towards the end of her life, she said, “God will do my every will in heaven, [757] because I have never done my will on earth” [DEA 13-7].

Thérèse was submissive both at home and at school. She was never heard to object, contradict or grumble, even by way of a joke.

In the Carmel, I never saw Sister Thérèse commit an irregularity, and she held all our observances in high esteem. What is more, she couldn’t bear anyone criticising them. She always responded to the first ring of the bell. When she was bell ringer, I saw her leave recreation seven and a half minutes before the regulatory time, as dictated by the “Paper of Exactions”. Such conduct is heroic, because we are given a certain freedom in this respect, and many leave at the last minute.

When she was hebdomadarian for the Divine Office, she performed her duties with such care that it astonished me. She said, sadly, “Oh, how few perfect nuns there are! How few there are who do everything to the best of their ability!” [DEA 6-8]

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

And she begged me not to become a careless nun.

Three years after their profession, novices leave the novitiate and take their place among the chapter members, and are no longer bound by the same demands. For example, novices request their general privileges every week, while others request them only once a month. With her nine years of religious life behind her, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus should have been exempt of the novice rules, [758] even though she had no right to vote in the chapter being the third blood sister in the convent. Yet nobody ever thought to tell her this, and she was careful not to remind Mother Prioress to do so. Consequently, she continued requesting her privileges every week.

She wrote her poems whilst continuing to work all day, waiting for our free time in the evenings to commit her thoughts to paper. We found this out only shortly before she died. I told her this was excessively severe, and that she would easily have obtained permission to write during the day. She said, “I refrained from seeking privileges that would have made my religious life easy and pleasant. If God did not allow for Mother Prioress to grant me them herself, it’s because He wanted me to go without” [CSG].

Just as it is written that broken stalks from the broom should be picked up, so she carefully set aside her pencil shavings. Great care had to be taken as to what was said in her presence, because she could take a suggestion made by Mother Prioress as an order until the day she died. At that time such obedience was particularly heroic because, with poor Mother Marie de Gonzague’s changeable character, rules were made and then fell into disuse without her dreaming of revoking them, and I witnessed the Servant of God observe such instructions several years after they were made even though everyone else had forgotten them.

[Sitting 36: ‑ 30th August 1915, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon]

[762] [Answer to the forty-fifth question continued]:

The Servant of God had permission to speak to me because I was her novice. I often noticed that she refrained from talking to me freely on personal matters because she had not been given express permission to do so. She exercised a truly heroic vigilance in order not to overstep what she believed to be the bounds of obedience.

The heroic nature of her obedience also came through in her last illness, when she went for a month without seeing a doctor despite suffering atrocious pain. At times we voiced our indignation at Mother Marie de Gonzague’s jealousy, which was the cause of the patient’s abandonment.

“Little sisters,” she said, “do not question the will of God: He has seen fit that our Mother should not bring me relief” [DEA 30-8].

The Servant of God adopted the habit of obeying every one of her Sisters, even to the detriment of herself. For example, during her illness, after laboriously accompanying the community to the Hermitage of the Sacred Heart, she sat down during the opening hymn. One Sister motioned her to join in. Despite being exhausted and unable to stand, she rose immediately. When I reprimanded her after the gathering, [763] she simply said, “I have adopted the habit of obeying every Sister as though it were God speaking to me” [CSG].

One Lay Sister who found her virtue irritating could but pay her tribute in one instance. The nun in question (Sister Saint Vincent de Paul, now deceased) related the matter to me herself, desirous that it be published for the glory of Sister Thérèse.

When the Servant of God was sacristan, she was arranging bunches of flowers around Mother Geneviève’s coffin, naturally placing the most beautiful ones at the front, when Sister Saint Vincent de Paul grumbled, “I see that the bouquets sent by the poor are once again going to be set aside!” [HA 12] Smiling, Sister Thérèse placed them in pride of place despite the resulting lack of cohesion.

One day during her last illness, burning with fever, she asked the head nurse to remove a blanket from her bed. Very elderly and slightly deaf, the latter thought she was cold and covered her up completely. When I came in, I found her covered from head to toe, dripping with perspiration. Smiling sweetly, she told me what had happened without uttering a word of discontent. In fact, she told me she had accepted the gesture joyfully, in a spirit of obedience. Seeing her smile, the Sister continued bringing more blankets, believing she was being helpful.

She expressed her thoughts on obedience in a poem:

 “The proud, proud angel, in the realms of light, [764]

Cried out, rebellious: ‘I will not obey!’

But I shall cry, throughout earth’s dreary night,

‘With all my heart, I will obey alway!’

With holy boldness all my soul is steeled,

Against hell’s wild attacks I bravely dart;

Obedience is my firm and mighty shield,

The buckleron my valiant heart.

O conquering God! no other prize I seek,

Than to submit with all my heart to Thee;

Of victories th’ obedient man shall speak

Through all eternity” [PN 48].

 [Answer to the forty-sixth question]:

The Servant of God tended naturally to humility. I do not think she had to work hard to acquire it, for she herself was simple and honest. “Humility is truth,” [CSG] she said. I have never met a soul more sincere than she.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

She seemed completely free from illusions, even as a child.

At the age when most children want to grow up, she regretted being unable to remain small. Similarly, in the Carmel, she was joyful to note that, despite her nine years of religious life, she had always stayed in the novitiate, was not a chapter member and was regarded as “little”.

At home and at school, she avoided showing off and ran from any praise. She could, however, have elicited praise at little cost, because what she had to say was interesting, and she could be quick [765] and witty.

As a young lady, “she would not have been indifferent to praise” [MSA 38,1]; at least, this is what she wrote. However, I was living with her at that time, and I never noticed any vanity in her. She seemed unaware that she was pretty and did not linger in front of the mirror.

Later on, in the Carmel, when she suffered the humiliating ordeal that was our revered father’s illness, she showed in practice that her desire for contempt was sincere: “What a joy it is to be humbled!” she wrote to me. “It is the only thing that makes saints” [LT 82]. It was then that her attraction for contempt inspired her with devotion for Jesus’ Holy Face. In semblance to her Spouse, she wished not only for her face to be hidden from all eyes, but also to go unrecognised on earth. For her profession, she wore on her heart a note that read, “Grant that no one may pay attention to me; that I may be trodden underfoot as a little grain of sand” [PRAYER 2]. This designation - a little grain of sand - became a favourite of hers. She would sign off letters with it.

Humility made her accept reprimands joyfully, even when they were undeserved. For example, she would respond calmly and humbly whenever Sister Saint Vincent de Paul addressed her with hurtful or ironic remarks, and whenever Sister Marie of Saint Joseph (a poor neurasthenic nun who has since left the convent) kicked up a dreadful fuss, peppering her with criticism and even insults. Sister Thérèse appeared indifferent to what people thought of her, even when others were scandalised by some apparent inobservance. For example, a few minutes before [766] meals she was obliged to go and take her medicine. One senior Sister saw an opportunity to find fault with her and complain. She needed only to say a word to excuse herself, but she refrained from doing so, glad to be ill-judged.

The Servant of God was humble in the face of criticism not only when it was undeserved, but also when it was deserved, which is even more difficult. One day during her illness when her features betrayed a faint flush of emotion, she humbly asked us to pray for her, saying, undeterred, “Oh, how happy I am, not only to see that people find me imperfect, but also to feel I am imperfect, and to have such need of God’s mercy at the moment of my death” [DEA 29-7]. Sister Thérèse took true pleasure not from her faults, of course, but from them being acknowledged. “It was of benefit to her,” she said, “and as things should be” [CSG].

The Servant of God was convinced that, without God’s help, she would not have attained salvation. She wrote, “With such a disposition I feel sure that had I been brought up by careless parents I should have become very wicked, and perhaps have lost my soul” [MSA 8,2]. It was her belief that all possible sins, from which she had been only preserved, had been forgiven her in advance, because she felt capable of succumbing to them. In a letter to me in July 1891, she wrote, “If Jesus said to Magdalene that ‘To whom more is forgiven he loveth more,’ we have all the more [767] reason to say it when Jesus has forgiven sins in advance” [LT 130]. At a later date, she wrote, “Jesus wishes me to love Him, because He has forgiven me not only much, but all. He has forgiven me in advance, preventing me from stumbling” [Unidentified text].

She considered her early vocation as a grace of preservation. On 23rd July 1888, she wrote in a letter to me, “Because it was weak, Jesus had to take His lily before its flower opened” [LT 57].

She esteemed others far superior to her in terms of intelligence and virtue. The very year she died, she explained to one of her spiritual brothers in a letter how Jesus alone would sanctify and save her. Speaking of her Sisters in religion, whom the missionary had termed “great souls,” she said, “Jesus in His mercy has willed that among these flowers there should grow littler ones; never will I be able to thank Him enough, for it is thanks to this condescension that I, a poor flower without splendour, find myself in the same garden as the roses, my Sisters. Oh, Brother! I beg you to believe me. God has not given you as a sister a great soul but a very little and a very imperfect one” [LT 224].

If she acknowledged there was some goodness inside her, or if she showed some goodness to others, she attributed it all to God. To the same missionary, she wrote, “Do not think that it is humility that prevents me from acknowledging God’s gifts. I know He has done great things in me, and I proclaim this each day with joy” [LT 224]. In August 1893, in response to my expression of admiration and gratitude for some good advice she had given me, she wrote to me saying, [768] “I believe that Jesus is very good to allow my poor letters to do you some good, but, I assure you, I am not under the misapprehension of thinking I have anything to do with it.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

“Even the finest discourses of the greatest saints would be incapable of eliciting a single act of love from a heart that Jesus did not possess. He alone can play His lyre . . . however, Jesus uses all means; all creatures are at His service, and He loves to use them in order to hide His adorable presence, but He does not hide Himself in such a way as to not allow Himself to be divined” [LT 147].

Referring to her responsibilities over the novices, and to the gifts that shone forth within her and which earned her the esteem of a few, she said, “All this does nothing for me, and I am really only what God thinks I am. As for Him loving me more because He allows me to be His mouthpiece, I do not think this is true. Humanly speaking, the most privileged ones are those whom God keeps for Himself alone. As for the souls whom He puts on display, it takes almost a miracle of grace for them to retain their freshness” [Primary source]. She also said, “You envy me! Yet you know well that I’m very poor! God gives me everything needful in good time” [Primary source].

Shortly before she died, we were discussing the blessings she had been given, when she said humbly, “Often have I thought that I may owe all the blessings I’ve received from God to the prayers of someone [769] whom I shall know only in heaven” [DEA 15-7]. She expressed the same thoughts in Story of a Soul: “Even were all creatures to draw near the Little Flower to admire and flatter it, that would not add a shade of idle satisfaction to the true joy which thrills it, on realising that in God's Eyes it is but a poor, worthless thing, and nothing more” [MSC 2,1].

[Sitting 37: - 31st August 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 in the afternoon]

[772] [Answer to the forty-sixth question continued]:

The Servant of God practised humility perfectly, and taught the novices to do the same. What I’m going to say may seem puerile, but it will give the court an idea of the practical way in which she seized every opportunity to encourage us to virtue. She therefore taught me to place my lamp on the last plank intended for this purpose. She also taught me not to kneel taller than the Sister facing me, but a little smaller, because it was more humble.

Here are a few other pieces of advice she gave me: “In order to be humble,” she said, “we must be willing for everybody else to command us. When someone asks you for assistance, or you fulfil a duty to the sick and they are unkind, consider yourself as a slave whom everyone has the right to command” [Primary source].

[773] A few weeks before she died, on 22nd July 1897, she wrote a note to me in pencil commenting on a verse from psalm 141. It reads, “I cannot be broken, tried, except by the just, since all my Sisters are pleasing to God. It is less bitter to be broken by a sinner than by a just man; but out of compassion for sinners in order to obtain their conversion, I ask You, oh, my God! that I be broken for them by the just souls who surround me. I ask You, too, that the oil of praise so sweet to nature may not weaken my head, that is, my mind, by making me believe I possess virtues that I have practised but a few times” [LT 259]. In 1894, when I was still living at home, she wrote to me saying, “Jesus is happy that you are feeling your weakness; He is the one placing in your soul sentiments of self-mistrust . . . The apostles worked all night without Our Lord and they caught no fish . . . He willed to prove to them that He alone can give us something” [LT 161]. On another occasion, I said, “I am in a frame of mind where it feels impossible to think anymore.” “That doesn’t matter,” she said, “provided you are humble, you will be happy! Remember that you are very little, and when we are very little we don’t have fine thoughts. God infers the fine thoughts and clever ideas that we would like to have. He is a father and we His little children” [CSG]. She also said, “If we all make a little effort, if we place all our hope in God’s mercy and not our meagre deeds, we shall receive as big a reward as the greatest saints” [Primary source]. She claimed that it was better if our victories [774] were partial because, instead of thinking on them with pride, the memory of them would be shameful to us.

 [Answer to the forty-seventh question]:

The Servant of God consistently practised virtues to a heroic degree because she stood out among even the strongest of nuns for the high level and continuity of her effort. We can see this clearly from everything that I’ve hitherto said.

[Answer to the forty-eighth question]:

I always found her to be well-balanced in every way. Her virtue was not at all stiff. Her company was very pleasant and she undertook all her duties in a broad-minded spirit.

 [Answer to the forty-ninth question]:

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

I owe it to truth to say that Article numbers 239, 240, 241, 242 and 244 seem exaggerated to me, and imply that certain occurrences happened frequently in her lifetime and were usual when they were in fact only very rare. I myself would rather she not be beatified than provide what in all consciousness I believe to be an inaccurate description of her. Furthermore, to receive frequent divine favours in her lifetime would have been contrary to what she claimed were the designs of God on her soul. Her life had to be simple in order that “little souls” could imitate it. When our Reverend Mother Foundress spoke words to her that corresponded perfectly to her spiritual needs, the Servant of God asked [775] what revelation Mother Geneviève had had. The latter assured her that she had had none. The Servant of God later wrote, “This only made me admire her the more, for it showed how intimately Jesus dwelled in her soul and directed her words and actions. Such holiness seems to me the most true, the most holy; it is the holiness I desire, for it is free from all illusion” [MSA 78,1]. She would often say she wanted to remain little so that weak souls who looked to her would see an easy way of loving God and not be frightened to follow the right path. Shortly before she died, she explicitly declared, “my entire life should be nothing but very ordinary, and all that will be left of me will be bones in order that little souls might have no reason to envy me” [DEA 8-7].

During her illness, Mother Agnes of Jesus asked her, “Have you any intuition as to when you will die?” She replied, “Ah, Mother! Intuitions! If you only knew how poor I am! I know but what you know. I understand nothing but what I see and feel” [DEA 24-9].

[776] [Answer to the forty-ninth question continued]:

It is true that the Servant of God prophesied her death two years beforehand, but she said clearly, “I know it because of what is taking place in my soul” [HA 12]. It was therefore a deduction based on the spiritual work that Jesus was carrying out in her. Her words did seem divinely inspired at times, so well did they correspond to states of mind of which she was supposedly unaware. However, referring to one particularly apt remark, she wrote, “Unwittingly — for I have not the gift of reading souls — I had spoken as one inspired” [MSC 26,1].

Subject to putting into proportion the divine gifts that Sister Thérèse received, which were rare, there are nonetheless a few events that suggest a spiritual intervention outside the common means of grace.

When, a few weeks old, she contracted the same intestinal illness that had taken our two brothers and was declared a lost cause by two doctors, she was cured through the intercession of Saint Joseph. One day when our mother went to church and left Thérèse in her big bed, and forgot to move the crib closer to stop her from falling, for she moved a great deal in her sleep, she returned to find the child sitting on a chair, unable [777] to explain how she had gotten there.

When she was ten, she was instantaneously cured of a serious and painful illness by the Blessed Virgin. At the very instant of recovering her health, she was blessed with a vision of the Queen of Heaven. This healing is related very accurately on pages 48 and 49 of Story of a Soul [MSA 30,1-2]. I was 14 at the time. When I saw her gaze upon the statue of Mary, her eyes shining as though in rapture, I was in no doubt that the Blessed Virgin had appeared to her. My conviction was such that I cannot remember asking her to tell me about it, because I knew it as well as she did.

I’m convinced it was due to a spiritual blessing that she was able to paint, without having taken lessons, the mural in the oratory, which depicts a group of little angels each holding an attribute. She had to paint it in a place so dark that even an expert would have found it challenging, and it is not a copy of an existing work but an original composition, which is absolutely astounding.

Heaven also fulfilled one of her wishes during the summer following her admission to the Carmel. She greatly missed seeing wildflowers in the meadows, yet she told nobody of this. Now on the window ledge outside, the Portress found, without knowing who placed it there, a magnificent spray of wildflowers. She quickly brought it inside the convent. It was composed of the very flowers that Sister Thérèse loved best, and it was decided they be arranged around the [778] statue of the Child Jesus that was in the Servant of God’s care.

I was living at home when Sister Thérèse experienced her week-long “flight of the spirit”, when she felt as though high above the earth. I found out about this blessing only after she died from Mother Agnes of Jesus.

Concerning the wound of love that struck her when walking the Way of the Cross following her Self-Offering to God’s Merciful Love, I do not remember her ever speaking to me about it: I heard of it from Mother Agnes of Jesus.

Among the graces of a prophetic nature that she was granted, the most significant is the vision she had as a child of our father bowed by age and wearing a thick veil over his head. The vision came to pass exactly as she had seen it, because at the beginning of his illness, our father kept covering his face. But the Servant of God didn’t understand the meaning of the vision at the time. It was revealed to her only after our father died. I was away when she had the vision, but I’ve heard my sisters talk of it often.

The Servant of God said that, after her death, we would be granted daily Communion, which we were, because the obstacles put up by Mother Marie de Gonzague fell away immediately, as she had predicted.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

In 1894, a year prior to my admission to the Carmel, she spoke of her death in these terms: “Come, we shall suffer together . . . and then Jesus will come; He will take one of us, and the others will stay for a short while in exile and tears” [LT 167]. [779] Her words came true, but I cannot believe that she had a real revelation on the subject.

I heard her, many times and in many different ways, promise to “let fall a shower of roses from heaven,” [DEA 9-6] that is to say, express her desire and determination to do good once she died. She described what she intended to do, and how she would call souls to God by teaching them her way of trust and total self-surrender. She even promised us, her novices, not to allow us to continue along her little way if it was wrong. She would come back and tell us to take another road. With reference to this last promise, we note what the Servant of God said in a vision to Reverend Mother Carmela of Gallipoli: “My way is safe and I made no mistake in following it.” 

Towards the end of her life, she seemed to, and I believe she did, foresee her glorification. With delightful simplicity, she gave me her nail trimmings to keep as well as any dry skin from her lips and even eyelashes when they fell into her handkerchief. She would also help us to gather up rose petals she had strewn over her crucifix.

A few days before she died, she said, “You are aware that you are nursing a little saint.” I think I heard her say this with my own ears, for my sisters and I were constantly by her side, and being her nurse, I was with her even more than the others. However, I didn’t note the words down in my notebook and it may well be that I heard them only from my sisters.

Concerning her allusions to imminent glorification, [780] I noticed similarities with two other saints, although there must be many others:

1. The Life of Saint Benoît Labre reads, “He foresaw a gathering of people venerating his remains.”

2. In the Life of Saint Felix of Cantalice, we read that when some people kissed his clothes, he said: “Satisfy your devotion, my daughters; one day soon this habit will be held as precious, and people will fall over themselves to have a piece of it.”

Thérèse predicted that after her death, her body would decompose. I said, “You have loved God so much that He will work miracles for you, and your body will remain intact.” She immediately replied, “Oh, no! That miracle is not for me! It would not be in keeping with my way of humility. Little souls must have no reason to envy me; expect therefore to find nothing left of me but bones” [LC 8-7]. And bones were indeed all that was found on the day of her exhumation, 6th September 1910.

A few days before she died, she said to me, of this I am absolutely sure, “After me, the Carmel will harvest a rich crop of youngsters” [Primary source]. True to her word, in the years immediately following her death, no young Carmelites died in the convent. Yet her prophecy was fully fulfilled when, in 1905 (8 years after her death), we began receiving an abundant crop of not only young, but also excellent, candidates.

[781] [Answer to the fiftieth question]:

To my knowledge, she never performed any miracles in her lifetime.

 [Answer to the fifty-first question]:

The Servant of God wrote her life story, poems and letters.

She wrote her life story through obedience to Mother Agnes of Jesus, Prioress, and she recorded her memories from her early childhood for our pleasure.

[Do you know whether, when writing her manuscript, the Servant of God foresaw it being published?]:

I can assure you she had no idea that the account would ever be published. Had she even suspected it, she would not have related the trivial events of her childhood with so much simplicity and self-surrender.

Writing the second part upon the request of Mother Marie de Gonzague, the Servant of God was already seriously ill. At that time, I believe she expected not that her notes would be published as they stood, but that they would be revised and used to produce a book that would reveal her way to God and encourage others to follow her.

[Answer to the fifty-second question]:

When I joined the Carmel in September 1894, the Servant of God was already being treated for a very inflamed throat. However her illness did not become a cause for concern until April 1896. She concealed even from us, her [782] sisters, the haemorrhage she suffered on Maundy Thursday, which she said was “Jesus’ first call, like a sweet, distant murmur, heralding His joyful approach” [MSC 5,1] and we found out about it only later on. She kept the secret so well that, despite her pallor, we suspected nothing, because she fully participated in all aspects of our austere community life, including fasting, reciting the long Offices of Holy Week, and carrying out tiring manual labour.

In the months following this April 4th incident, she developed a persistent cough. She was soon assigned to the sacristy, but was subsequently dispensed from this duty.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

Then, upon her request, she was tasked to work in the laundry room as assistant to Sister Marie of Saint Joseph, the poor nun whom nobody could tolerate. Regarding medication, she underwent a series of rubbing treatments, which she found very tiring, and blistering and cupping treatments. She was also administered iodine tincture and creosote, which she took in its pure form with a spoon instead of in pills as we do now. I can still see her going to take her medicine at the appointed time. She never forgot because it was unpleasant.

During Lent 1897, she fell ill and had a fever every day. She also couldn’t digest anything. She then endured several series of cautery treatments. On 6th July that same year, she suffered more haemorrhages and shortly afterwards was brought down from her cell to the infirmary, where she was administered Extreme Unction on the 30th of the same month.

The last few weeks of her illness were particularly trying. The physical suffering she endured was atrocious, because in addition to her chest illness, she had tuberculosis in her intestines, which provoked gangrene. Also, [783] she developed wounds due to her emaciation, wounds that went untreated because Mother Marie de Gonzague left the patient for a month without a doctor.

I grew very close to my dear little sister during her illness because, being her nurse, I was entrusted with watching over her. I would sleep in an adjoining cell and leave her side only for Offices and to administer treatments to other patients. At such times, Mother Agnes of Jesus would replace me and record in a notebook all of the Servant of God’s words as she spoke them. It is thanks to this reliable documentation that facts have been preserved and have remained as fresh as on the day they were noted.

[Sitting 38: ‑ 1st September 1915, at 9 o’clock and at 2 in the afternoon]

[786] [Continuation of the answer to the fifty-second question]:

The last months that the Servant of God spent on earth were an echo of her life. She did not for a moment waver from her affectionate self-surrender to God, her patience or her humility. Her face bore an expression of indescribable peace. It was clear that her soul had reached the culmination of her life’s desires, and that its unique goal had now been attained. Before dying, in an echo of Jesus’ words, she said solemnly, “All is good, all is accomplished; love alone is what matters” [CSG].

[787] As for her charitable acts, she did not make anything of them and, with her usual charming grace, humbly said, “My patron saints are those who have stolen Heaven, like the Holy Innocents and the Good Thief. The great saints have earned it through their deeds; as for the poor little soul that I am, I will have it by ruse, a ruse of Love which will open its gates to me and to poor sinners. The Holy Spirit encourages me, saying in the Book of Proverbs, ‘O little one, come, learn subtlety from Me” [Prov. 1:4 and CSG].

Yet whilst she claimed to have no works of her own, she told us that “since the age of 3, she had refused God nothing” [CSG]. When I exclaimed, “You really are a saint!” she replied, “No, I’m not a saint. I have never accomplished the deeds of saints. I am a little soul on whom God has showered blessings. You’ll see in heaven that I’m telling the truth” [DEA 4-8].

She said to me, “Our Lord once said to the mother of Zebedee’s sons, ‘The places at my right and my left belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father’ (*Mt. 20:23). I imagine that these places of honour denied to great saints will be allotted to little children” [CSG].

When I quoted the following words of a saint, “Even when I have lived many long years in penitence, while I have breath left in me, I will fear being damned,” she immediately said, “I cannot share that fear. I’m too little to be damned. Little children are never damned” [DEA 10-7].

[788] Although spiritually speaking she was by choice very small and very young, she had the maturity of a senior nun, and followed the rough road to Calvary unquestioningly, it would seem. Her desire for heaven was calm, tempered as it was by her ongoing trial against the faith. Despite her terrible doubts as to the existence of eternal life, she yearned for death in order that, once her bonds were broken, she would be free to “win love for our Love” by revealing her “little way” to the whole world. As I read her a passage on the beatitude of heaven one day (on 22nd July 1897, two months before she died), she interrupted me, saying, “It is not that which appeals to me. It is love! To love, to be beloved, and to return to earth to win love for our Love!” [HA 12.] If there was a heaven, as she was convinced there was, she “wanted to spend it doing good on earth” [DEA 17-7].

Were God to grant her the object of her desires, she would “let fall a shower of roses” [DEA 9-6]. I asked her one day, “Do you believe, then, you will save more souls in heaven?” “Yes,” she replied. “The proof is that God is letting me die when I have an immense desire to save souls for Him” [CSG]. Another time, I said, “You will watch over us from up above, won’t you?”

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

“No,” she immediately replied. “I will come back” [DEA 9-7].

When the darkness in her soul had lifted a little, and she could glimpse eternal light dawning, her desire to see God became even more disinterested. She said, “If God were to ask me, ‘If you die right now, you shall have great glory; if you die at eighty, your glory will not be as great, [789] but it will please Me much more,’ I wouldn’t hesitate to answer, ‘My God, I want to die at eighty, for I do not seek my own glory but simply Your pleasure’” [DEA 16-7].

She expressed her wish to die of love in similar terms. “I’m willing to be sick all my life if this pleases God, and I even consent to my life being very long. The only favour I desire is that it be broken through love” [MSC 8,1-2].

She proclaimed her wish to die of love in all her poems. She had hitherto lived of love in order to win love, and she continued to do so. She exercised her love in the same way she had always done, in complete self-surrender in suffering. She acknowledged that “it was often just when she cried to Heaven for help that she felt most abandoned.” When we expressed surprise at this, she said, “But I do not give in to discouragement. I turn to God and all His Saints, and thank them all the same; I believe they want to see how far my trust will extend. But the words of Job have not entered my heart in vain: 'Even if God should kill me, I would still trust in Him’” [DEA 7-7].

She also said, “Last night I asked the Blessed Virgin to stop me from coughing so that Sister Geneviève could sleep, but I added, ‘If you do not, I shall love you all the more’” [DEA 15-8].

Despite enduring ever increasing bodily suffering in addition to her spiritual trials, she wrote, “I cannot say, ‘The agonies of death have surrounded me,’ but I cry out in my gratitude, ‘Even though I walk [790] through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, Lord” (3rd August) [LT 262].

Faithful to her way of surrender, she would not complain. However, when her pain was intense and her breathing became laboured, she would moan and unconsciously say, “I’m suffering! I’m suffering!” with each breath, which seemed to help her to catch her breath. One time she said, “Every time I say ‘I’m suffering,’ you must reply, ‘So much the better!’ I don’t have the strength, so you complete what I want to say” (21st August). 

The statue of the Blessed Virgin that had smiled upon her when she was a child was placed opposite her bed. She could not gaze upon it without weeping, and to give her heavenly Mother one last token of her filial love, on the back of a beloved picture of Our Lady of Victories, she wrote in a trembling hand, “O Mary, if I were the Queen of Heaven and you were Thérèse, how I would wish to be Thérèse that you might be the Queen of Heaven!!!” These were the last words she wrote here below (8th September) [PRAYER 21].

She would tenderly caress her crucifix with flowers. One day when I saw her very carefully touch flowers to the crown of thorns and nails, I asked her, “What are you doing?” Embarrassed at being seen, she replied, “I’m taking out the nails and removing His crown of thorns.” 

One night, shortly before she died, I found her with her hands clasped together and eyes looking heavenward. “What are you doing?” I asked. “You should try and sleep!” “I can’t,” [791] she replied. “So I’m praying.” “And what are you saying to Jesus?” “I’m not saying anything; I’m simply loving Him” [CSG].

During her illness, she prayed with heroic perseverance. She was so meek and so gracious that one could easily have been mistaken as to the reality of her spiritual troubles and even to the state of her health. One day I asked her why she was smiling, and she said, “It’s because I have a very sharp pain in my chest; I’ve made it a habit to always greet suffering warmly.”

Although the visits she was paid by the other Sisters were untimely, she never showed the slightest irritation. Her patience and her courage were unfailing and, without consideration for her own peace and quiet, she continued in her duty to the novices. She corrected them until the end, regardless of the growing pain that the effort caused her. She also bore several of Mother Marie de Gonzague’s arduous scenes with the same meekness. She did not request any treatment, either, and accepted what was given to her. At night, she would summon me only as a last resort, or rather, never, instead waiting until I came of my own accord, which I did whenever I awoke naturally (and I might add that what was quite extraordinary is that I would rise three times at regular intervals, and fall asleep immediately afterwards, which is most unusual for me, since I have always had great trouble falling asleep).

The last night before she died, Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart and I stayed with her, despite her insisting that we should rest in a neighbouring room as usual. When Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart happened to doze off [792] after giving her something to drink, she kept hold of her little glass until one of us reawoke.

Her peace was serene; she took delight in the preparations surrounding her death.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

For example, she asked to see the lilies that would decorate her coffin when she was laid out in the choir, and the aspersorium that would be used when she died. The Servant of God suffered no physical attacks from Satan, except on one occasion, when she was subjected to his assaults for a whole night. She told me about it. In the morning, I found her looking pale and shaken with pain and fear. Jesus had asked her to suffer on someone’s behalf, and Satan decided to oppose. Startled, I lit the blessed candle and she soon regained her calm, although her physical suffering continued.

It was on the evening of 30th September at 20 minutes past 7 that the Servant of God expired. That afternoon, she experienced strange pains in all of her limbs. She rested one arm on the shoulder of Mother Agnes of Jesus and gave me the other to hold, and remained this way for a few moments. Just then, the clock struck three and we had to fight back our emotion because her position reminded us of Jesus on the Cross.

Shortly afterwards, her last agony began. This, too, resembled that of Jesus in terms of its anguish and pain. She said, “Oh my God! O sweet Virgin Mary! Come to [793] my aid! The cup is full to the brim! Never would I have thought that it was possible to suffer so much . . . no, never! Yes, God, all You want. But have mercy on me!” [DEA 30-9.]

Her lamentations, which showed the utmost resignation to God’s will, were harrowing. God seemed to have abandoned her as He had Jesus. Then suddenly, her breath came in pants, her face became bathed in a cold sweat, soaking her clothes, pillows, and even the blankets, and she began to shake. The community was summoned. The poor martyr greeted the Sisters with a smile. Then, gripping her crucifix tightly in her hands, she appeared to surrender herself entirely to suffering, but said nothing more.

A few days previously, we were discussing to whom she would destine her last gaze, and she said that if God left her to act freely, her farewell gaze would be directed towards her Prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague. Now, during her agony, I wiped the perspiration from her brow, and she rewarded me with a delightful smile that sent a shiver through the whole community. She gazed at me long and hard. Then lowering her eyes, she looked around for Mother Prioress, but the brightness from her eyes had gone.

[794] [Continuation of the answer to the fifty-second question]:

Believing that her agony might last longer, Mother Marie de Gonzague dismissed the community. It was a cruel trial for the dying patient to see the moment of her deliverance be delayed. However, faithful in her absolute self-surrender, she said in a soft, plaintive voice, “Well, alright . . . alright. Oh, I would not want to suffer for a shorter time!”

A second later, and the sweet victim felt life leave her. Then, looking at her crucifix, she said, “Oh, I love Him! . . . My God, I . . . love . . . You!!!” (DEA 30-9.)

These were her last words. No sooner had she said them than she fell back against the pillow, her head leaning to the right. But she suddenly straightened up again, as though called by some voice from the heavens. She stared at a spot a little above the statue of the Blessed Virgin, and stayed like that for a while (a few minutes), her expression one of rapture.

I thought that we must have witnessed her judgment. On the one hand she had, as it is said in the Gospel, “been found worthy to stand before the Son of God” (Lk 21:36), and on the other, she could see [795] that the riches to be bestowed upon her surpassed her immense desires. In fact, her expression of indescribable surprise was mingled with another. It seemed she could not bear the sight of so much love, like someone who is attacked over and over again and wants to fight, but, through weakness, is left the lucky loser.

[Answer to the fifty-third question]:

In death, a reflection of eternal beatitude illuminated the Servant of God’s face, and she had an angelic smile. Yet what I found most extraordinary is that, from under her closed eyelids shone such life and happiness that she did not look dead. I’ve never seen the like at other deaths.

Her body was laid out in the choir, her head adorned with a crown of roses as is customary. Many people came to see her and to touch objects to her body, but again, this is not rare. And it was natural that, being from the town where her family still lived, visitors were numerous.

 [Answer to the fifty-fourth question]:

Her funeral took place on 4th October 1897. Many priests attended it. Nevertheless, the cortege of faithful who accompanied her remains to the town cemetery was very small. It was a very modest convoy. She was buried in the first grave dug in the [796] new Carmelite cemetery. A wooden cross was placed on her grave reading, “Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, 1873‑1897.” Mother Agnes of Jesus, who had painted the cross, had initially inscribed it with the words,

 “I long, Divinest Star! To bear Thy flames afar. Remember Thou!” [PN 24.]

But this inscription was rubbed off by a worker who carried the cross when the paint was still wet. Mother Agnes of Jesus saw it as a sign from God and replaced the blurred inscription with another, one that has remained ever since: “I want to spend my heaven doing good upon earth.”

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

She had not dared write this inscription at first for reasons of discretion.

The Servant of God’s remains were exhumed in the presence of His Lordship the Bishop of Bayeux on 6th September 1910, and reburied in a leaden coffin not far from the first grave.

 [Answer to the fifty-fifth question]:

I noticed nothing out of the ordinary with regards to the funeral honours paid to the Servant of God. She was treated no differently than other nuns.

[Answer to the fifty-sixth question]:

I do not leave the convent and I know only by hearsay what takes place at the Servant of God’s burial place. We are told there are always people at her grave and that it’s a place of fervent prayer. People [797] make the pilgrimage not only from the town and surrounding area but also from all over the world.

[Answer to the fifty-seventh question]:

As I’ve said, everything about the Servant of God’s life was very simple. Her humility and simplicity meant that the best part of her merits went unnoticed. It was clear to me personally that she was a saint, and I’ve treasured all the letters she wrote me. However, it is my affection for her that is the principal reason for my care in keeping these reminders of her. When I was given them, I had no doubt as to the value they would acquire after her death as a result of the Servant of God’s renown. Here are a few appraisals that people gave of the Servant of God during her lifetime.

As a child, there was something angelic about Thérèse. Even our mother noticed it. She said so in the letters she wrote when Thérèse was still very small. A little while later, once we had moved to Lisieux, several people were struck for the same reason.

Barely a few days following my admission to the Carmel, Sister Saint Pierre summoned me to the infirmary, saying she had something very important to tell me. She had me sit down on a small bench opposite her and told me of the great charity Sister Thérèse had shown her. Then, in a serious tone, she said mysteriously, “I keep my thoughts on her to myself . . . but that child will go far. I am telling you this because you are young and you can tell [798] others after me. Such acts of virtue must not be kept under a bushel.”

Another elderly nun (Sister Marie-Emmanuel) said to me, “Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus is so mature in terms of virtue that I would vote her for Prioress if she were older than 22.”

Two other elderly nuns turned to her for advice. Mother Hermance of the Heart of Jesus held her in high esteem and, during Sister Thérèse’s illness, would slip me little notes to give her when I saw her, which was very often in my nursing duties. She also gave me no end of messages from which I could infer her high opinion of my sister’s virtue.

I have often heard it said that Father Youf, our chaplain at that time, appreciated the Servant of God highly and had great trust in her. Similarly, our Superior, Father Delatroëtte, appeared to esteem her highly.

Our sacristan, who was also the convent gardener, said that he could recognise her even when veiled for her solemn and reverent bearing.

Father Faucon, who replaced our chaplain when the latter fell ill, was deeply moved after confessing her shortly before she died, saying that “she was confirmed in grace.”

Doctor de Cornière was deeply edified by her patience and angelic smile amid the intense suffering of her illness. The same was true of our Extern Sisters [799] who would come to look after her on Sundays during Mass. I do not need to mention myself or my sisters, who have always considered her a saint, although we were far from imagining how illustrious her reputation for holiness would become later on.

When the Servant of God died, instead of sending the Carmelite monasteries an ordinary letter as is customary, we published her autobiography (Story of a Soul) once it had been revised by the Premonstratensian Friars of Mondaye. It was like lighting a fuse. We ran out of stock immediately, and the Carmel was flooded with insistent requests for reprints: new editions followed in rapid succession. Readers were drawn by Sister Thérèse’s doctrine and her path to God. What comes through from all the letters we then received is that she appeared as a providential saint, one who was sent at the time when faith and love were disappearing from the earth. Since this first impression, the opinion as to the book’s value has remained unchanged. All souls of goodwill are touched by it; the learned and unlearned alike, mothers and nuns, nonbelievers and priests. All find in it the nourishment they need for their aspirations. It is still the Servant of God’s disposition of spiritual childhood that appeals, and people hope that her glorification will quickly lead to “her way of self-surrender and humility” being sanctioned by the Church.

The fact that her lessons and examples correspond perfectly to the needs of souls is the reason for the extraordinary [800] success of her Life Story, a story which is now renowned worldwide.

I do not need not mention the numerous bishops who come to the Carmel to visit the humble Carmelite's cell or the constant flow of pilgrims to her burial place.

I am not responsible for receiving and checking the correspondence that the Carmel receives; I know what happens only by what I’m told at recreations. Mother Prioress then tells us of any particularly interesting news concerning the Servant of God. The books entitled “Shower of Roses” have made known the most remarkable events.

Here are a few statistics concerning objects that have been sent to the Carmel in token of people’s veneration and gratitude to Sister Thérèse.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

Being tasked with receiving these objects, I’ve been able to count them.

At the first Process, in September 1910, I said I had received 26 marble plaques; that number has today risen to 321. They were all sent spontaneously, without any prompting on our part. As they are in the form of votive offerings, we keep them locked away inside the convent.

Similarly, I have lamps and candles lit in front of the picture of the Blessed Virgin situated near Sister Thérèse’s cell. We have never encouraged people to send requests of this nature; quite the opposite, because it is very disruptive. Despite this, we are inundated. The number of such requests has increased as follows:

[801] In 1910, we were requested an average of 19 candles per month; in 1915, the average was 344 per month; in August this year, we received 620 requests.

Regarding lamps, we now burn an average of nine lamps every 24 hours.

I also receive many votive offerings of all sorts. I’ve been given 13 medals, which include 5 from various military orders, 2 war medals, and 6 Legion of Honour crosses. One was sent directly from the battle front, addressed only, “Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Carmelite Convent, 8th June 1915.” We also receive lots of jewellery, precious stones, lace etc., swords, bayonets, and engagement rings. And people bring all sorts of objects for us to place momentarily in the Servant of God’s cell.

We have received five pairs of crutches, not counting the many that have been left on her grave. The number of written prayers addressed personally to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus is so high that they can be placed in her cell only briefly. I filled a large, 4 feet 3 inch deep bag with them. And that’s not counting the countless letters and photographs that are left on her grave.

[Sitting 39: ‑ 2nd September 1915, at 9 o’clock.]

 [805][Answer to the fifty-eighth question]:

I have heard only praise for the Servant of God.

[Answer to the fifty-ninth question]: 

I will speak of only the miracles of which I’ve had direct knowledge in some way. Many others are related in the editions of “Shower of Roses”. Following the Servant of God’s death, all remaining hostility among the Sisters turned to veneration. Nobody was more keen to keep reminders or portraits of her than Sister Saint Vincent de Paul, the Lay Sister who had caused her suffering. She said she owed her recovery from cerebral anaemia to her, and came to each of us in turn to relate to us the humility that the Servant of God had shown when decorating Mother Geneviève’s coffin with flowers. Another Sister wrote a prayer to her to be recited daily. Mother Marie de Gonzague’s attitude improved significantly; she received a manifest grace whilst contemplating a portrait of Thérèse as a child. Afterwards, she could not look at the picture without weeping. I witnessed her emotion once and she said through her tears, “I alone know how much I owe her! Oh, to think what she said to me, and all that she reproached me for! But she did it so gently!” Other Sisters were shown different favours, which included several [806] heavenly scents.

I personally have received a few such favours, but mostly spiritual blessings. The most significant temporal blessing I’ve received is when I saw a bright circle in the sky drawn in what looked like living flames. This circle began from the right side of the moon, which was full, and went round the top of it before disappearing into the left side. I was filled with a very deep inner grace in the form of a sudden understanding of many things that the Servant of God had once told me. This happened a fortnight after she died. I was convinced that it was my little sister’s soul revealing itself to mine. On a few occasions, she has made her presence felt to me by way of scents. But this has happened only a few times and has always emphasised an inner blessing or a particular event. For instance, on 5th February 1912, the anniversary of my Habit Reception and the day on which the Diocesan Process arrived in Rome, I awoke in the night to the very strong scent of mock orange blossom, and I heard what sounded like the flutter of a dove landing on my pillow, but I could not see it. In the morning of 17th March this year, 1915, the day on which the Apostolic Process began and the anniversary of my Veil Reception, I went into her cell to open the window to find the room filled with the scent of roses. As I’ve said, such occurrences are rare and happen when I’m least expecting them. In the past five years they have happened no more than five or six times.

Some soil from under the first coffin was brought to the convent following the exhumation and sealed away in refuse bags. The bags were taken up to the loft and [807] simply left there to dry out. They remained there for a long time, rotting away from damp and then cracking under intense heat until I passed by them (on 22nd March 1911) and caught the delightful scent of iris roots. I realised that the soil was not being shown the respect it deserved and Sister Thérèse was asking me to take the matter in hand. However I did nothing. A month later, on Saturday 22nd April and Monday 24th, I smelt the scent again. When another Sister noticed it too, we had the soil taken out of the bags, compacted by two men over several days and finally stocked honourably. Also, a wooden plank from the coffin emanated the scent of incense immediately after the exhumation and several Sisters were able to smell it. I personally was not shown this favour.

The Servant of God said that she would watch over the novitiate, it being her little nursery of souls who had been consecrated to God’s Merciful Love. She sent us many candidates, yet called several of the most deserving to heaven.

WITNESS 8: Geneviève of Saint-Teresa O.D.C.

The first of these “little victims” was her cousin, Sister Marie of the Eucharist. She died a saintly death on 14th April 1905, aged 34. Reverend Mother Marie‑Ange of the Child Jesus followed. She was Prioress of the convent and died aged 28 after taking the first steps to introduce Sister Thérèse’s Cause at the diocesan level. Finally there was honourable Mother [808] Isabelle of the Sacred Heart, who was Sub-Prioress and died at the age of 32. Her work threw new light on the nun who had inspired her. All three admirable souls remained here below just long enough to leave a luminous trail in the wake of their angelic model.

Lastly, Mother Prioress once invited me to the visiting room to hear a soldier relate a vision of Sister Thérèse that he had seen on the battle field, and which had converted him. His tale was touching and very sincere. The soldier’s name was Auguste Cousinard. Similarly, on 15th July 1915, I heard the account of Soldier Roger Lefèvre of the 224th Infantry Regiment, aged 29. He too had seen a vision of the Servant of God on the battle field. She had picked him up when he was bathed in his own blood. He said, “My wish is that all those who do not believe have a similar vision. It will change their minds!” We asked him whether she had been beautiful. “Oh, yes!” he replied, “Much more so than on her pictures.” I was party, albeit indirectly, to another soldier’s vision. It took place on 30th September 1914, at the beginning of the war. I felt sure that, on the anniversary of her death, the Servant of God would provide our troops with some kind of sign to guide them. At seven o’clock in the evening, I went up to the loft. I felt it was then, at the very moment of Sister Thérèse's death, that I would see a sign on the horizon showing my prayer had been answered. Mother Prioress felt for me, and thought, “Poor child; I don’t know what put [809] such an idea into her head!” I saw nothing, of course, but lost none of my faith. And then eight months later, in June 1915, we happened to receive news from Father Charles, Parish Priest of Bagnolet (Seine, France), that a soldier from his parish, André Pelletier of the 43rd Colonial Infantry Regiment, had, at exactly 7 o’clock in the evening on 30th September, seen Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus urging them onwards when they were launching an attack in the woods. Nobody but the soldier saw her, apparently. He looked several times, believing her to be a figment of his imagination, but she was really there. He recognised her and was consequently filled with confidence. The infantry did indeed take control of the position, against all odds, and the soldier, who had been very far away from God, was converted.

 [Answer to questions sixty to sixty-five inclusively]:

Aside from the events in which I was directly involved and which I have related in answer to the previous question, I do not have sufficient knowledge of the accounts sent to the Carmel to describe in any real detail the many miraculous events that people have related to us. I will leave this task to the care of those in possession of the documents.

[Answer to the sixty-sixth question]:

I can think of nothing to add or to change in my answers. [810]

[As regards the Articles, the witness claims to know nothing other than what they have already reported in response to the preceding questions. - Here ends the questioning of this witness. The Acts are read out. The witness makes no alteration to them and signs as follows]:

Signatum: SISTER GENEVIÈVE OF SAINT TERESA, u.c.n., witness. I have testified as above according to the truth. I hereby ratify and confirm it.