From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - April 28, 1929

From sr Genevieve (Celine) to sr Francoise-Therese (Leonie) - April 28, 1929   

+ Jesus                                                             Carmel of Lisieux

                                                                         28th April 1929   

Darling little sister,

Your birthday wishes went straight to my heart. Your little letter brought me great pleasure. It was personal and intimate, and will be a lovely reminder of dear Léonie, my companion in misfortune.

O blessed misfortune! God turned it into glory, and in such an ineffable way! Together, “In our thirst, we drank water from the torrent,” and that is why we lifted our heads “in gladness”.

Darling Léonie, we are all in our sixties now. As someone said in a letter to me, we have all reached “the fourth stage in life, the one leading to the great stage that never ends.” When Fr Pichon reached the age of 70, he wrote, “I can glimpse the dawn of the eternal day.”

It’s true, when you are young, only illness can put an end to life, but when you are 60, you are sure that, shortly “old age” will play this role. It’s another guarantee on top of the necessary one I’ve just mentioned: Yes, soon we shall all be reunited in heaven. Little Thérèse wanted us, during our lifetime, to accomplish that which was missing from hers. She didn’t suffer “the martyrdom of old age” herself, but she is suffering it through us, and she will have the reward with us because we share everything.

Reconnaissance à toi, ma Thérèse chérie!                                        Thanks be to you, my darling Thérèse,

Toi, qui n’as pas connu le martyre du temps              Who never knew the martyrdom of aging,

D'achever en ta sœur ce qui manque à ta vie              For fulfilling in your sister what your life lacked,

Et, d'un seul coeur, à Dieu, brûler un double encens,  And, with one heart, burn to God a double offering.

Que maintenant ma rose incolore et fanée                                  Grant that now, my faded and wilted rose

Pende aux rameaux flétris et ne s'effeuille plus              Might lose no more petals as it hangs from the withered boughs.

Qu'elle se ride encor! J'aime ma destinée !             May she grow more wrinkles! I love my destiny!

Mourir tout en vivant, pour mon Epoux Jésus...                      Dying whilst living, for Jesus my Spouse.

Extract from a little poem that I wrote 10 years ago for my 50th birthday.

And now, little sister, I will answer your questions. No, my heels cause me hardly any pain now, except sometimes in very hot weather. My rheumatism is also much better, but my kidneys tire very quickly. – Our Mother doesn’t have migraines any more, either. She is the most active of the three of us. She can still sit back on her heels like a young nun. Instead, it’s her stomach that leaves something to be desired, having sometimes caused her problems since her intestines were a bit damaged during her last illness. If she didn’t look very pale, she would be the most robust of all of us. She is always at prayers in the mornings and at Matins in the evenings. She never rests. We can’t believe it. Poor “rairaine”1 is becoming very infirm. She is our greatest worry at the moment. Her poor ankles are bulging from the swelling. She has lumps the size of eggs around her feet from deformed bones. She is suffering more than anyone else in the community, especially as she is quite “nomadic” in nature. God help us. And now, I’m going to reply to your question about St Margaret. No one is sure whether or not it was St Margaret “the Virgin” who appeared to Joan of Arc. Her older biographies, even the best documented ones, don’t mention it. Remember that our little saint wrote the play without a history book on Joan of Arc! She was no doubt inspired by the pictures that show one of the saints wearing a royal crown. It’s easier to understand why a queen helped her because it was a question of saving a kingdom and rescuing a king. We’ll get to the bottom of all that in heaven. I’m sending you the book on her Spirituality, but the little corrections are imperceptible.  

With love and kisses, your little sister

Sr Geneviève of the Holy Face


1. Marie: a reference to Thérèse’s pronounciation of “marraine” (“godmother”) as a child.