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Vatican announces approval of the healing of Marie-Paul Stevens, a Belgian woman, as the miracle for the canonization of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity: March 4, 2016


Photo Credit: Carmel of Dijon

The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis has authorized the canonization of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, a young Carmelite who died at the Carmel of Dijon, France in 1906 at the age of twenty-six.  On Thursday afternoon, March 3, 2016, the Pope received Cardinal Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorized the Congregation to promulgate the decree recognizing as a miracle the cure of Ms. Marie-Paul Stevens.

Story of the Miracle

 Marie-Paul was teaching religion at the Institute of the Marist Brothers in Malmedy, in Belgium, in May 1997, when she began to have trouble speaking and other symptoms.  Some weeks later, after undergoing medical tests on a friend's advice, Marie-Paul discovered that she had Sjogren's disease.  As her illness progressed, the government asked her to retire early.  Many people were praying the novena to Blessed Elizabeth to ask for Marie-Paul's healing.  Although the patient received chemotherapy and other treatment, her health deteriorated.  As Marie-Paul moved closer to death, she requested to go on pilgrimage to the Carmel of Flavignerot to thank Elizabeth for giving her strength during her illness. This was the community of Blessed Elizabeth; the nuns moved in 1979 from Dijon to nearby Flavignerot.  On April 2, 2002 she prayed in the chapel of the Carmel and gave thanks to Elizabeth.  Afterward she rested by sitting on one of the rocks at the edge of the monastery's parking lot.  The two friends who had accompanied her were astounded when, all at once, she stood up, lifted her hands to heaven, and cried out in amazement and happiness "I am no longer sick!"  From that day on she has been well.

Marie-Paul Stevens, the Belgian woman whose cure was accepted as the miracle for the canonization of Elizabeth of the Trinity.  Photo credit: Carmel of Dijon.

History of the Inquiry into the Miracle

The diocesan process to examine this miracle with a view to canonizing Elizabeth was formally opened on July 11th, 2011 in the chapel of the Archbishop of Dijon, Most Rev. Roland Minnerah.  The vice-postulator of Elizabeth's cause, Fr. Antonio Sangalli, O.C.D. (also the vice-postulator for Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin and the postulator for the Servant of God, Leonie Martin, the sister of St. Therese of Lisieux), wrote a letter requesting the opening of the process, and the members of the tribunal were sworn in.  Three Carmelite nuns of Flavignerot were interviewed about the miracle.

The members of the tribunal traveled to Belgium to conduct several sessions of inquiry.  They interviewed more than 40 witnesses, including several physicians.  Everyone was amazed at Marie-Paul's healing and moved by Elizabeth's life and writings.  The successful closing of the process was celebrated at Vespers (evening prayer) in the chapel of the Carmel of Flavignerot (where Marie-Paul had prayed to Elizabeth) on August 25, 2012.  Marie-Paul Stevens herself was present at the solemn closing of the process together with several friends; members of the Chevignard family, descendants of Elizabeth's sister Marguerite, known as "Guite;" and friends of the Flavignerot Carmel.

Father Sangalli was then commissioned to present the voluminous dossier of the tribunal's work to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, which again investigated the healing and recommended that it be recognized as a miracle.

About Elizabeth of the Trinity

Elizabeth Catez was born in 1880.  She entered the Dijon Carmel in 1901 and died there in 1906 at the age of twenty-six. She penetrated the depths of the contemplative life had a profound experience of the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in her soul.  Her spiritual influence has been growing deeper and wider since her death.

Elizabeth of the Trinity and Therese of Lisieux

Elizabeth is one of the earliest and most fervent disciples of Therese.  With her novice mistress, Mother Germaine of Jesus, she was deeply influenced by an early copy of Therese's Story of a Soul.  Her writings are full of quotations and echoes of Therese, easily recognized by those who know Therese.

The Jesuit theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote a book about Therese and Elizabeth: Two Sisters in the Spirit, showing how each one complements the contemplative life of the other.   





Elizabeth's Writings

The critical edition of Elizabeth's writings was edited in three volumes by the distinguished Belgian Carmelite scholar, Fr. Conrad De Meester, who has presented and interpreted Therese so brilliantly.  Two of the volumes, "Vol. I: General Introduction and Major Spiritual Writings" (also called "I Have Found God") and Letters from Carmel, have been published in English. 

I have spent much time meditating on and praying over Elizabeth's letters from Carmel and have found them the best way to get to know her and to understand her profound union with Therese and with God. I recommend them.


If you prefer to read a narrative of her life, consider He Is My Heaven:  The Life of Elizabeth of the Trinity by Jennifer Moorcroft.


 Pope St. John Paul II and Elizabeth of the Trinity

Elizabeth was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 25, 1984.  In his homily he said of her:

This contemplative, far from being isolated, was able to communicate to her sisters and to those near her the richness of her mystical experience. Her message is spreading today with a prophetic force.  We invoke her: the disciple of Teresa of Jesus and of John of the Cross, she inspires and sustains the whole family of Carmel; she helps many men and women, in the lay life and in the consecrated life, to receive and to share the 'waves of infinite charity' she received 'at the fountain of life.'

My translation, from the Vatican Web site.

Canonization of Elizabeth of the Trinity

The date of her canonization, which will no doubt take place later this year, is expected to be announced on March 15, 2016.     

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