From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - July 9, 1908

From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - July 9, 1908

+Jesus     J.M.J.T.                   9th July 1908

Darling little sister,

I can’t tell you how touched I am with the lovely gift that your dear Mother gave me. Please help me to thank her. But as neither of us will be able to do so adequately, I pray that Jesus might do it for me. Little Thérèse won’t refuse to intervene for me either, and will grant her a flood of graces in return for the immense kindness and motherly tenderness that she shows us at every opportunity. I assure you, little sister, here we are all deeply moved by her goodness towards us.

We’re having St Paul Publishers send you 2 volumes of Thérèse’s “Poems” and 2 volumes of her “Thoughts”. They are the two new publications that we have just received. Kindly offer one of each to your dear Mother. We’re sending them to you so as to afford you this pleasure. Read the preface to the Poems. It’s by a great author and a very renowned scholar. The preface to the Thoughts is written by a Trappist Father, a saint whom we love dearly. Our Mother arranged and organised the book of Thoughts while she was sick last year. In the book of Poems, you’ll find a new picture: “St Agnes”. It’s the face of a Bl. Virgin from one of my paintings, “the Annunciation”, which I transformed into St Agnes by giving her a crown of roses. She does look more like a saint than the Mother of Jesus, Mary requiring a more regal face.

Speaking of facial expressions, I’m going to answer your question about the Sacred Heart that we received, and which is yet another blessing from your excellent and beloved Mother. When Sr Marie of the S.H. wrote to you, it hadn’t yet arrived. But you know, poor little Léonie, it’s risky to ask me what I think because if you happen to like it, my criticism could lessen its charm for you. And it’s tricky for me to answer you, as the gift was given to us by the Visitation. But as you have asked me, I’ll try to be honest. You might think I’m being prejudiced, but I assure you, it’s not the case, because I have a great desire to find a S.H. [Sacred Heart] to my taste one day.

Concerning this one, miraculous though it may be, it is far from matching my ideal. The colours are very rich, and very attractive, but there lies all its appeal. I myself imagine Jesus with a majestic Face (see the description of the Son of Man in the Apocalypse), one that exudes a wholly divine pride whilst being tempered by divine tenderness, and that is very intelligent. The one in the picture of the little Polish shepherdess looks like a poor sheep that is expecting a hail of blows. From an artistic point of view, the pose of the arms is stilted. I don’t question the artist’s vision in any way, but for me it has no value in the sense that it doesn’t portray the face I imagine, and I hope that when I see Jesus, once I’ve left this world, I’ll see Him as He is engraved in my heart and not as He appears in this picture.

Forgive me, my Léonie. Since the print comes from your monastery, my brutal criticism is going to hurt you. Incidentally, we heard about it from a holy curate (from Chicheboville), who is passionate about it and spreading it widely. He sent us a copy and it’s his I’m criticising, not yours, because since yours comes from the blessed Visitation, it is imbued with so many charms that it is beautiful in the eyes of my heart. To this day, all the pictures of the S.H. that I’ve come across, both statues and prints, have elicited this cry from my heart: “Sorry Jesus! Sorry!” This is how little I think we understand Him. But you know, don’t upset yourself. This reproduction is quite adequate enough to appeal to the crowds. That’s the important thing. It will therefore achieve the good that God meant for it.

I’m enclosing two little notes that Fr Pichon sent us. The Pope accepted to attach indulgences to his prayer, which offers 300 days of indulgence.

With regards to the photographs (the last one of us 3), I wanted to tell you that I don’t entirely share your view. Pure realism isn’t always what is best and the most life-like. The fact is that, to obtain the photo we sent you, we first had to develop several shots of “monstrosities”, even though it really was us who had posed. The portrait of us 6, for example, showing us coming of age, is the most realistic of all. After all, the Bl. Virgin is never portrayed old, and nor is St John. It’s enough that the people are recognisable. Well, it’s perfectly easy to put a name to our faces. For example, Fr Pichon recognised all of us including Ninette, and a Portuguese friar, to whom we sent three headshots (cut out from group photos), was also able to put a name to all of our faces. I think this is the best proof of resemblance. We have a fine 13 x 18 cm print (of the portrait of us 6), so we’ll send it to you when we have the opportunity.

With my love, beloved little sister, and 10,000 kisses.

Your Céline

Geneviève of St Teresa u.c.n. 

Don’t trouble yourself to thank us for the books. The next time you write to us will be a good time to tell us whether you received them and whether you like them. We were the ones who designed the figures on the covers that are drawn by Jouvenot.