From Mme Martin to Marie and Pauline CF 119 - June 25, 1874­


From Mme Martin to Marie and Pauline


June 25, 1874

My dear little girls,

I received your letters, and they made me very happy. I hope Marie will be accepted as a “Child of Mary” on July 2. You have to write and tell me about it as soon as you know.

You’d told me that the pilgrimage to Paray-le-Monial was leaving June 25, and I thought the 25th fell on a Friday. If I’d thought it was a Thursday, I would’ve never thought of going because it’s impossible for me to be away that day unless I’m forced to (Thursday is the day when Zélie received her workers, who brought their work for the week). This would cause quite a bit of damage to my business. I would leave my workers with nothing to do for a week, and it would delay my orders. That would do me considerable harm.

I have sad news to tell you. Marie S. died last Monday, June 22, at two o’clock in the afternoon. She’d been getting weaker for quite a while. However, she was still going out. She left the boarding school less than three weeks ago. A week ago today she was still up and about, and she gave that up only four days ago. Quite recently she’d run after the maid to ask her for news of Marie.

This poor child didn’t realize she was dying, and she didn’t suffer very much. Everyone is saddened by her death because she was loved very much. The funeral took place yesterday, Wednesday, at eight o’clock. Léonie, Céline and the maid were there. There were fifty young girls dressed in white wearing a white crown and holding a lily. It was very moving and beautiful. Everyone gathered to see this funeral. Unfortunately, upon leaving the church, a heavy shower was falling, and no one was expecting it nor did they have an umbrella. The young girls in white were in a pitiful state. Their dresses and veils were stuck to them to the point that it made it difficult for them to walk. In addition, at the cemetery, they had yellow mud up to their knees. For a while I’d also wanted you to attend this ceremony dressed in white, but I didn’t regret it afterwards.

There were many tears shed over this death, and several people let out cries of pain. However, the bitterest tears were those of her poor mother, who had no comfort other than this child. She’s not happy with her husband, and her son just enlisted. I pity her with all my heart. Yes, truly, this death saddened me.

The child received the last rites Sunday afternoon. The next morning she didn’t recognize anyone anymore. The doctors understood nothing about this illness. I urge you to pray for her a lot because I believe she needs it. This was a good girl, but she was, like the others, by no means perfect, and she didn’t have time to prepare for death, which she didn’t see coming.

I remember the first time we met her. It was in a field across from the cemetery. Marie was one year old and was there picking daisies with her, who was four months older. I carefully watched to see which one was the prettiest and most advanced of the two, but there was never a big difference. Marie S. was the first in her class. She learned English, German and, lastly, a lot of science.

Your father just installed a swing. Céline is filled with incomparable joy, but you should see the little one use the swing; it would make you laugh. She holds on like a big girl, and there’s no danger of her letting go of the rope. Then, when it’s not going high enough, she cries out. We attach her in front with another rope, and in spite of this, I’m uneasy when I see her perched on it.

Something strange happened to me recently with the little one. I’m used to going to the five-thirty Mass. In the beginning I didn’t dare leave her, but seeing that she never woke up, I ended up deciding to leave her alone. I laid her in my bed and moved the crib so close to it that it was impossible for her to fall. One day, I forgot to move the crib. When I got home I saw the little one was no longer in my bed. At the same moment, I heard a cry. I looked, and I saw her seated on a chair that was close to the head of my bed. Her little head was on the bolster, and there she was sleeping restlessly because she was uncomfortable. I couldn’t understand how she fell seated onto this chair, since she’d been in the bed. I thanked God that nothing happened to her. It’s truly providential. She should have rolled onto the floor. Her good angel was watching over her, and the souls in Purgatory protected her. I say a prayer to them every day for this little one. So that’s how I explain it; … explain it as you’d like! ....

Today I learned there will be a pilgrimage from the Diocese of Séez to Paray-le-Monial. It should leave Alençon on Monday, July 13. I’ve almost made up my mind to go. Léonie doesn’t know how to express her joy over the trip because we’re going on the train! Here’s the little baby who’s coming to stroke my face with her little hand and kiss me. This poor little one doesn’t want to leave me, she’s continually with me. She loves to go in the garden, but if I’m not there she doesn’t want to stay and cries until they bring her back to me….[these 3 paragraphs are quoted by Thérèse in Ms A, folio 5r°]. I’m very happy to see that she loves me so much, but sometimes it’s troublesome!

I have to finish my letter because today’s not Sunday, and I use my time sparingly when I’m working. Give your aunt a big hug for me, and I kiss both of you with all my heart. 

© Society of St. Paul / Alba House


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