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From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - June 4, 1911

From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - June 4, 1911

+ Jesus                                4th June 1911

Darling little sister,

I wish you a happy birthday. I thought of you yesterday, and my Communion was for you. You know well that I never forget any of your anniversaries, so when one comes round, you can always be sure that my heart will be one with yours.

Yesterday was a very emotional day for us. Our dear former chaplain, Father Chêné, died in Louvain in Doctor Denys’s clinic (the man who invented the serum for tuberculosis that Francis uses). He had been there for eight months and Fr Prévost had sent him there for treatment. But as the tuberculosis was in the larynx, nothing could save him.

We haven’t yet received the details of his death. We know only that he departed yesterday, 5th June, at noon, asking for the Carmel’s prayers. He edified all those around him during his long illness through his piety, spirit of abnegation, and gentleness. You know we were very grateful to him, because he significantly helped our dear Little Mother in some inextricable and thorny community difficulties in poor Mother Marie de Gonzague’s time. After that, he grew so fond of us that he became a father to Thérèse. You know what that means, because if he was our father, then he was yours at the same time. I beg of you, take some Communions for him. Join your little sisters in offering him a few days’ worth of good deeds.  

However I’ll admit that we believe he is in heaven. Yesterday evening, as the Pentecost Office lasted a very long time, we didn’t get back to our cells until half past 11. I needed to leave the cell, and the dormitory was in complete darkness because the little lamp no longer works and hasn’t yet been replaced. I was therefore walking quite hurriedly when, thirty paces in front of me, I caught sight of a white shape like a column. It was in the middle of the darkness and touched neither the walls nor the floor. At first, I took no notice of it, and continued on my way with my back to it. Then I felt something spiritual inside, as if someone had said to me, “Pay attention to what you have just seen.” I turned around and saw the bright vision appearing and disappearing while inwardly, I thought, “It’s very bright. Am I dreaming?” Thinking that perhaps it was the lantern I was holding that was projecting the light, I moved it from left to right, but the cloud had disappeared and the lantern gave out only a weak light around me like an ordinary lantern. But just as the white shape disappeared, the part of the dormitory where I was standing was filled with the exquisite scent of flowers. Slow to believe, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, I paid no further attention to what had happened. Then a quarter of an hour later, having forgotten about it, and walking past the same point, I was brought to my senses, as it were, by a wonderful perfume. It smelt stronger in front of the door that leads to the archives, where we collected all of Thérèse’s relics, including wood from the coffin, the palm leaf found in her tomb, and the cross from the 1st grave, which our poor father and brother would visit so often when Francis still lived in Lisieux. Surprised, I made to enter our cell, and as I opened the door, I was met with the sweet scent of incense. Then that was all. I went to bed feeling reassured, and I felt even more reassured this morning when Our Mother unhesitatingly believed that this was a sign from Thérèse to show that our chaplain was in heaven. Poor Marie began to weep, because she had begged for a sign that he was happy.  

And so, Léonie, that’s my story. It will hardly interest you because you didn’t know him. Now I’ll tell you some other news. Did you know that our dear little Mother Sub-Prioress (the one who presented herself as a candidate at your monastery) is sick? This veritable treasure of virtue and intelligence, and our Mother’s right hand, coughed up blood twice last week. We were deeply dismayed. I felt sorry for our poor Little Mother. As for Mother Sub-Prioress, seeing as she is feeling a bit better, she fears she’ll miss the train and weeps with sorrow. We’re obliged to assure her that she won’t recover, and that she will die within the next three months, to satisfy her. Still, the long and the short of it is that we are very distraught. We were just beginning to breathe again after the burdensome chore that the trial represented, and now one of us is dying, leaving our Mother in sorrow and with little support. That’s life, so I always brace myself now, and don’t expect a single day of peace and quiet.

I’m still working constantly. I’ve done a pretty oil painting of Thérèse (the one from the beginning of the book). We’re currently having it publishing in colour by Desclés. It has turned out very well. The gentlemen of the court are so proud of it that they’ve asked to put it in their magazine "Le Monde Catholique” which they send to prelates all over the world. Mgr de Teil is delighted. He paid me great compliments. I have never received so many, because Uncle didn’t spoil me with them when it came to my poor drawings and paintings. Still, it doesn’t change anything for me. What pleases me most is seeing God glorified through our darling Thérèse.

This picture will illustrate the new set of articles. When I have some, I’ll send them to you. In other news, we’re writing a version of Thérèse’s biography for children. Pray hard that we succeed in this venture, and then that we’ll be given the bishopric’s imprimatur. We must quickly finish what we have to do, because when the Process goes to Rome, we won’t be able to publish anything anymore. I also have some drawings to do and some others to finish. Don’t forget me, darling Léonie. Pray for me. This is a very busy year for me. Give my respects to your dear Mothers. Your little sister, who sends you all her love

Sr Geneviève of St Teresa u.c.n 

P.S. The house Les Buissonnets resembles a little palace. Apparently, the Hassebroucq family will go on a retreat on the 19th, I think. Will you be pleased? Don’t worry about Mother Sub-Prioress being ill, because there are still enough of us to help our dear Little Mother.

Written by Sr Marie of the Sacred Heart:

Darling little sister, your eldest sister has come to say hello on Sr Geneviève’s letter. I’m not writing today because I have lots of work to do for little Thérèse. I, too, remembered your birthday. Soon we’ll celebrate all together in heaven, where, one by one, those we love are going. Thank your dear Mother for the brochures she sent us.

Little Mother is still overworked and our poor Mother Sub-Prioress, who has been such a great help to her, has fallen sick. God certainly doesn’t spare his friends the Cross.

M. of the S.H

Written by Mother Agnes of Jesus:

Hello beloved little sister, I send you all my love. . . .

Your little sister and mamma

Sr Agnes of Jesus

u.c.n.