From Céline to Marie of the Sacred Heart. - November 20 , 1887

From Céline to Marie of the Sacred Heart.

November 20, 1887


On November 20, Leo XIII received in audience the pilgrims from Coutances, Bayeux, and Nantes. Thérèse was able to speak to the pope, but matters developed altogether differently from what she and Céline had expected. This is how Céline described the incident twenty years later: "I was struck with dismay; it would be quite impossible to have a more definite setback. We hid it from our father in order not to sadden him, and we hardly ever spoke about it afterward. It was like a memory you wanted to cast far from you. I regarded it so much as a shame­ful humiliation that I used to think interiorly: If later on they write Thérèse's life, this fiasco will mar its beauty, and, when in Carmel Mother Agnes of Jesus gave her the command to write her memories, I said to myself: Poor little thing, she'll have to re­count the audience with the pope which succeeded so poorly."

Dear little Marie,

Today I am crushed; in my head there is an immense void. Oh! how I would like to be at my dear Carmel to tell all my thoughts. Thérèse is going to recount this morning's audience to you. Each time it comes into my mind, it's like a very sharp sword which is being plunged into my heart.

I'm exhausted, dear little' Marie; it's as if this were aimed at me, it's even worse, I believe. We assisted at the Holy Father's Mass; we were supposed to receive Communion from his hand, but they feared to tire him too much, so this did not take place. When our turn came to be at the Holy Father's feet, Thérèse knelt down, but, unfortunately, M. Révérony was with the Bayeux pil­grims, and it was he who was presenting them to the Sovereign Pontiff. When Thérèse made her request, tears in her eyes, the Holy Father bent over and said: "I don't understand very well."

You know, he is so old that it brings tears to your eyes just looking at him; he is as pale as death; he could hardly support himself or speak. He appears to be broken by age but what a kind face! He is truly a Holy Father.


But to return to Thérèse's request, M. Révérony answered im­mediately with a sarcastic tone: "She is a child who is asking to en­ter Carmel at fifteen, but the matter is being examined by the su­periors." Then, after Thérèse's repeated entreaties, the Holy Fa­ther answered: "My dear child, if God wills it, you will enter; leave it up to your superiors." This lasted hardly two minutes, and I came afterward. I had tears in my eyes, but would you believe that I had the audacity to say: "Most Holy Father, a blessing for the Carmel." He blessed me, saying: "Oh, it is already blessed!"

After this request made by me, M. Révérony was careful not to say that I was Thérèse's sister, but he replied, laughing a little: "It is already blessed." The Holy Pontiff, who is so kind, seemed to understand it in another way, and it was then he said to me: "Oh, yes, it is already blessed!..." Then he extended his hand for me to kiss. Papa came afterward with the gentlemen. M. Révérony introduced him to the Holy Father, saying: "This is the father of two Carmelites and a Visitandine," but he did not say that he was Thérèse's father....

The Sovereign Pontiff looked intently at Papa, and he extend­ed his hand to Papa, who kissed it and pressed it lovingly. Papa, when returning, was weeping a little.

Here are the details, but I believe they can be of interest to you. I assure you that I've spent quite a week! It was nothing but nightmares and swords every time I thought of this ....

If we want to lose out a little on the trips, it… [the next page has disappeared].


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