Saint Therese of the Child Jesus
of the Holy Face
Entries in Therese of Lisieux (22)
New information published November 6, 2016: the speech by Bishop Germain which Therese of Lisieux, a pilgrim at Montmartre, heard on November 6, 1887
The Martin family pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre: November 6, 1887
Today, on the anniversary of Therese's visit to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre, I have, thanks to the generosity of the Basilica, the joy of presenting for the first time an English translation of the speech she heard the bishop of Coutances give to the pilgrims that morning. To relive the occasion with Therese, read on:
On Sunday, November 6, 1887, the 14-year-old Therese Martin, with her father, St. Louis Martin, and her 18-year-old sister, Celine, came to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Montmartre, on a hill outside Paris, to assemble, together with 194 other persons with whom they were to go on a pilgrimage to Rome. The pilgrimage had been organized by the diocese of Coutances in honor of the 50th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Pope Leo XIII. It was widely seen as a demonstration of the loyalty of the French church to the Pope, who was more or less a prisoner in the Vatican, and it was covered in the French and Italian press.
The bishop of Coutances, Mgr Abel-Anastase Germain, accompanied the priests and lay persons from his diocese to Rome. Bishop Germain, who strongly encouraged exterior manifestations of the faith such as pilgrimages and processions, was known as an eloquent preacher. The pilgrimage was directed by his vicar-general, abbé Legroux. Therese’s own diocese, that of Bayeux and Lisieux, also participated in this pilgrimage as a diocese. Her bishop was represented by his vicar-general, Msgr. Reverony. Therese hoped that Msgr. Reverony might intercede with Bishop Hugonin to obtain permission for her to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen.
This assembly at Montmartre, where only the crypt of the basilica was completed, was the first time that all the pilgrims had come together. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart, a massive undertaking that took nearly 50 years to complete, was the fruit of a "national vow" made by the French Catholics after the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. Read the story here.
The Martins had arrived in Paris early on Friday morning, November 4, and Louis had spent two days showing his two youngest daughters the sights of the capital. Therese remembered chiefly visiting the Shrine of Notre Dame des Victoires, where she received an important Marian grace.
Discovering What the Pilgrims Did in the Basilica That Day
I knew that all the pilgrims had participated in Mass and other ceremonies at Montmartre on Sunday, November 6, and had been consecrated to the Sacred Heart there before leaving Paris the next morning. I had often wondered whether any record of the ceremony existed, and I wrote to the Secretariat of the Basilica at Montmartre to inquire. To my amazement, the Basilica had a copy of the November 10, 1887 issue of the Bulletin Mensuel de l’Oeuvre du Voeu National au Sacré Coeur de Jésus (Quartorzieme Annee) [Monthly Bulletin of the Work of the National Vow to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Fourteenth Year], T. XII, No. 11. See the cover below:
Recovering Bishop Germain's Speech to the Pilgrims
The November 1887 issue contained a detailed description of the ceremony and the speech, verbatim, that Mgr Germain addressed to the pilgrims. With the utmost kindness the Basilica sent it to me with permission to publish it and other illustrations. I thank the Basilica for the honor of allowing you to read the very words heard by Therese on that Sunday 129 years ago. First, see the original in French below:
Detailed description of the ceremony and transcript of Bishop Germain's speech
Next, the English translation, which is copyright 2016 by Maureen O'Riordan. All rights reserved.
"II. November’s pilgrimages and pilgrims
November’s pilgrimages were not as numerous as the autumn leaves falling from the trees, but they made up in their importance for what they lacked in numbers.
On November 6, 1887, at 9 o’clock in the morning, Mgr Germain, Bishop of Coutances, made his solemn entry into the apse of the crypt where 200 people of the dioceses of Coutances and Bayeux awaited him; these were pilgrims en route to Rome. Mgr Germain had told them “The first station of our great voyage to the tomb of the Apostles will take place in the sanctuary of Montmartre, at the altar of St Peter, erected by the generous gifts of the people of my diocese.”
This altar, placed in the center of the crypt, in a form like the buttress of the Chapel of Purgatory and the pedestal of the great dome. One reaches it via a great semi-circular stairway shared by six ranks of columns. From the altar of St Peter, ornamented with lights and flowers, one sees the pilgrims grouped on the platform or scattered among the seven side chapels.
St Peter, seated at his doctoral rostrum, a facsimile of the statue in Rome, seems to preside over the assembly; one might believe oneself part of a scene in the catacombs amidst a meeting of the first Christians around the first Pope.
After celebrating Mass and distributing Holy Communion to the pilgrims, Mgr Germain, inspired by the place where he found himself, with a heart and in a language full of faith and love for the Sacred Heart and for St Peter, showed how their pilgrimage to Rome was the complete realization of the motto of the national Vow: Sacratissimo Cordi Jesu Cristi Gallix poenitens et devota ["France penitent and devoted to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ"], and how, in their station at Montmartre, the pilgrims from Coutances and Bayeux would learn to make this holy voyage with a spirit of penitence and devotion.
“1. We are gathered in the chapel of St Peter, he said. Isn’t Peter a model of penitence? You know [it] by how many tears, and what tears! He cried during his triple denial… Wasn’t Peter a model of devotions?
---Devotion of Knowledge by faith…. Don’t you hear him say to the Lord: You are the Christ, living son of God?...
--Devotion of the will by obedience… What does he respond to Jesus who commands him to toss out his net after a fruitless night of fishing? Master, you tell me and I throw out my net again.
----Devotion of the heart through love… Don’t you seem to hear coming from this statue paid for by your pennies this response made by the head of the Apostles to the Savior: “Oh, yes, Lord, you know that I love you!”
“During our voyage let us all be moved, like St Peter, by the spirit of penitence, the spirit of faith, the spirit of obedience, and above all by the spirit of love: Oh! Yes, let us love like Peter!
II We are in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.. What shall we learn from the Heart of Jesus if not sacrifice and devotion! Didn’t he love men so much that he died for their torturers… even for the one who plunged the god-killing lance into the Heart of Him who loved him to excess?
III We are on the Martyrs' Hill… Now, who were these martyrs? Their spilled blood cries to us: Penitence, devotion, faith, obedience and love!”
After the greeting, the pilgrims organized themselves into a procession under the leadership of the Abbé Legoux, vicar general. They wandered throughout the crypt singing the Magnificat and proceeded into the upper apse [in the open air] where Monseigneur the Bishop blessed, in the name of the people of his diocese, the decorative molding of an arch placed before the altar of the Holy Virgin. The diocese of Coutances proves itself so generous to the Sacred Heart that there would soon be in all parts of the monument some important evidence of its devotion.
“I am preparing another one for you,” Mgr Germain told us: “upon my return from Rome, I will address my dear diocesans with a new appeal: it will be our honor to donate the statue of St Michael which will crown the pinnacle of the choir. My people are not rich, but I know them: they love the Sacred Heart. and they love St Michael.”
This was a promise, and an episcopal promise, but in his inexhaustible and industrious charity, and with the lively satisfaction of his pious bishop, Abbé Legoux thought that, without prejudice to the promised gift for the future, ……
Can We Find the Missing Page of this 1887 Article?
Here the account breaks off, for, miraculous as it is that this record has been preserved, the next page is missing. The Bulletin Mensuel, which was published from Paris, showed, in 1887, subscription prices for France, Algeria, and foreign countries. If any of you can find a copy of the November 10, 1887 edition that contains the complete account (perhaps in a library or in the archives of a religious order that subscribed), please do let me know, for I hope to publish the complete article in English and to restore it to the Basilica in French.
The Chapel of St. Peter at Montmartre
We know that the Martin family received Communion at this Mass at Montmartre. I believe that they participated in the Mass from the Chapel of St. Peter. Although this art was not there in 1887, that chapel today contains an image of the Sacred Heart based on the one Charles de Foucauld had in his chapel at Beni-Abbes.
The Consecration to the Sacred Heart
Before leaving the Basilica for lunch, all the pilgrims were consecrated to the Sacred Heart and given small badges of the Sacred Heart. Below is a sketch of Therese at the moment of consecration.
Therese wrote that she had asked for a special grace, "the grace," for her cousin, Jeanne Guerin. We do not know what this grace was. For more about the devotion to the Sacred Heart at that time and for Therese's unique experience of the Heart of Jesus, which departed radically from the accepted interpretation of the "Sacred Heart devotion," please read my article "The Abysses of Love and Mercy of the Heart of Jesus: St. Therese of Lisieux and the Sacred Heart."
A plaque on the wall near the altar of St. Peter commemorates the visit of St. Therese, Celine, and St. Louis.
Therese Offered Her Gold Bracelet for a Monstrance for the Basilica
The plaque mentions that when Therese, the jeweler's daughter, returned to Lisieux, she sent her gold bracelet to the chaplains of Montmartre to be melted down in order to form part of the great monstrance for the basilica, a sacramental sign of her desire to keep vigil near the Eucharist day and night. That monstrance is pictured below:
The gold monstrance for which St. Therese sent her gold bracelet
Perpetual Adoration of the Eucharist at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre
Perpetual adoration of the Eucharist in the basilica has continued day and night since 1885, two years before Therese's visit.
If you go: following in the footsteps of St. Therese at Montmartre
Although Therese did not have the chance to adore the Eucharist in the Basilica at night, pilgrims now have that opportunity. If you are staying elsewhere in Paris, you can do so just by getting a ticket at a certain time in the evening that will admit you to the basilica after it closes for the night. If you are seeking a more complete retreat experience, you may stay overnight at the guest house operated by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of Montmartre, whose vocation is to animate the spiritual experience of the pilgrims to the Basilica. You will have the opportunity to sign up for your chosen time of adoration. This is a powerful way to follow in the footsteps of St. Therese in Paris and also to honor her father, St. Louis Martin, and her uncle, Isidore Guerin, who were leaders in the movement of nocturnal adoration at Alencon and at Lisieux. Night and daytime pilgrimages are offered to individuals and to groups.
A Carmelite monastery on Montmartre
The friends of St. Therese will be happy to know that there is also a Carmelite monastery on Montmartre. It was founded in 1927.
I was delighted to see that the Basilica has now described the November 6, 1887 ceremony on its Web site in French.
The relics of St. Therese venerated at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre
Several times the relics of St. Therese have visited the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre in November to commemorate her visit in 1887. See photos and videos of the visit in 2015. Could the devout teenage girl have guessed in 1887 that "she would return, more than a century later, in the form of relics offered for the veneration of the faithful?'
I renew my fervent gratitude to the Basilica for permitting me to share with you these precious texts and images. Please pray for the flowering of the great work of prayer and adoration that takes place there. And please add a prayer for my own ministry for the Martin family, too. If you can visit Montmartre, please share your experience there with me by clicking "e-mail me" at the left side of the Web site. Thank you.
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.
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.
Citing a story in the Catholic Herald, I posted that the date of the canonization of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity was expected to be announced on March 15, 2016. Now, however, the Vatican has announced that on March 15 it will release the dates of the canonization ceremonies for five blesseds, including Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity was not among the five, so it appears that we will need to wait a little longer to know the date of her ceremony. https://zenit.org/articles/pope-likely-to-declare-date-of-mother-teresas-canonization-tuesday/
Read Dr. Anthony Lilles telling the Catholic News Agency in some detail just how Elizabeth of the Trinity was influenced by Therese's Story of a Soul, her Offering to Merciful Love, and her poem Vivre d'Amour.
This morning, at a consistory of Cardinals, Pope Francis announced that Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity will be canonized in Rome on Sunday, October 16th. Thanks be to God!
Forty-four years ago, on December 10, 1968, Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, poet, author, peacemaker, died in Bangkok. Thinking gratefully of him tonight, I remember his great love for St. Therese of Lisieux. He often acknowledged her profound influence on his life. For the anniversary of his death, I share these lines from Merton:
In reading the story of this saint it is not possible to doubt from the very first word about her parents that she was a totally extraordinary saint, more extraordinary than even Saint John of the Cross or Saint Theresa of Avila, who rejoice in heaven in her, their little sister's immense simplicity and love which includes also their love and their wisdom, because all their love and wisdom came from God and was all His.
From "Run to the Mountain, The Journal of Thomas Merton, Vol. I, 1939-1941," ed. Patrick Hart, O.C.S.O. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996.
Marie of the Trinity offers herself to Merciful Love in the Lisieux Carmel: the First Sunday of Advent, December 1, 1895
On the First Sunday of Advent, November 30, 1895, St. Therese confided to her close friend, the novice Marie of the Trinity, that she had offered herself to Merciful Love on June 9, 1895. Marie of the Trinity at once expressed a desire to do the same, and the two agreed that Marie would offer herself the next day. Thinking it over, Marie told Therese that, because she was so unworthy, she needed a longer time to prepare for such an important act. Saint Therese's face "immediately lit up with joy," and she replied:
Yes, this Act is important, more important than we can imagine, but do you know—the only preparation which the good God asks of us? Well, it is that we recognize humbly our unworthiness! And since He has given you this grace, abandon yourself to Him without fear. Tomorrow morning, after thanksgiving, I will kneel near you in the oratory where the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed. And while you pronounce your act, I will offer you to Jesus as a little victim which I prepared for Him.
So Marie of the Trinity offered herself to Merciful Love on December 1, 1895. She was the second disciple of St. Therese to follow Therese in making the offering; Therese's eldest sister, Marie of the Sacred Heart, had offered herself in the summer. About her experience on December 1, Marie of the Trinity wrote:
I was so flooded with graces on that beautiful day, the most beautiful day of my life, that all day long I experienced in a very tangible way the presence of the Eucharistic Jesus in my heart. I confided this to Sr. Therese of the Child Jesus, who was not at all surprised and answered me simply:
"Is not God omnipotent? If we so desire, it would not be difficult for him to make his sacramental presence in our souls remain from one communion to the next. [Therese had, in fact, asked this favor in her offering: "Remain in me as in a tabernacle . . ."] Through this extraordinary feeling that you experienced today, he wishes to give you the pledge that all the requests you have made of him in the Act of Oblation will be granted. You will not always enjoy these feelings, but their effects will be no less real. One receives from God as much as one hopes for."
Therese of Lisieux and Marie of the Trinity, by Pierre Descouvement. Staten Island, New York: Society of St. Paul/Alba House, 1997, pp. 68-69. I recommend this book to everyone who wants to konw Therese as she was in her intimate relationships.
May we, like Marie, let Therese encourage us, in this Advent, to forget our ideas of our own unworthiness and to abandon ourselves to God without fear.
The spirit of gratitude is a vital element of the way of confidence and love of St. Therese of Lisieux. We can't be surprised that the saint to whom "everything is grace" radiated a spirit of gratitude. In reading Story of a Soul, Therese's letters, poems, prayers, plays, and reported conversations, I have noticed again and again how often she spontaneously overflows with gratitude to God, to the person to whom she is writing, to Mary, to the saints, or to anyone she is remembering who has been good to her.
St. Therese's counsel on the importance of gratitude to God
In the words of her sister Celine, writing of the years when Therese was her novice mistress at Lisieux Carmel:
"It is the spirit of gratitude which draws down upon us the overflow of God's grace," our holy Mistress said to me one day, "for no sooner have we thanked Him for one blessing than He hastens to send us ten addiitonal favors in return. Then, when we show our gratitude for these new gifts, He multiplies His benedictions to such a degree that there seems to be a constant stream of divine grace ever coming our way." She added, "This has been my own personal experience; try it out for yourself and see. For all that Our Lord is constantly giving me, my gratitude is boundless, and I try to prove it to Him in a thousand different ways." . . . .
One day, when I was lamenting the fact that God seemed to have abandoned me completely, Therese energetically admonished me:
"Oh! don't speak like that. You know that at times I, too, become perplexed about circumstances or the turn of events, but I try to keep on smiling; I even turn to Our Lord and say 'Thank You.' We are disloyal to His love whenever we do not trust Him completely. Please! never any 'imprecations' against divine Providence, but only, and always, a spirit of deep and lasting gratitude!"
My Sister Saint Therese, by Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face (Celine Martin). Rockford, Illinois: TAN Books and Publishers, 1997, pp. 97-98.
St. Therese on showing gratitude to those around us
Celine speaks of the tender gratitude Therese felt and expressed to anyone who did her the slightest favor;
Even in her human contacts, Therese was always outstanding for this virtue of gratitude, however trifling the favor might be. There was an added dimension to her spirit of gratitude, however, with regard to those priests who, in Our Lord's place, had, from time to time, solved her spiritual difficulties; to these benefactors she was eternally grateful.
My Sister Saint Therese, p. 97.
Celine's remarks about the gratitude Therese showed to the persons around her are echoed by another novice, Marie of the Trinity, who entered in June 1894, shortly before Celine. Therese was her "angel" (in charge of instructing the newcomer in the community's customs), and Marie reports that Therese had done her quite a few favors for which she was grateful, but for which she had never expressed thanks. Then Therese said to her:
You must get used to letting your gratitude be seen, to saying thank you with an open heart for the least little thing. This is the practice of charity, to act this way; otherwise, it is indifference which, even if it is only exterior, freezes the heart and destroys the cordiality that is necessary in community.
Therese of Lisieux and Marie of the Trinity, by Pierre Descouvement. Staten Island, New York: Society of St. Paul/Alba House, 1997, p. 110.
These two sources are a valuable look at St. Therese through the prism of two important relationships. Both were written by novices who lived under her care from 1894 until her death in 1897: Celine, the sister whom she called "the sweet echo of my soul;" Marie of the Trinity, for whom Therese experienced a deep spiritual affection. The translationof Celine's memoir, My Sister Saint Therese, reflects that it was written in the 1950s, but this little book is rich in details of Celine's relationship with Therese and in conversations not reported elsewhere. Therese of Lisieux and Marie of the Trinity, a more contemporary work, tells much about the relationship between the two young women and also about the life story of this early disciple of Therese and of what happened in the Lisieux Carmel after the death of Therese. Which of her counsels to these two novices can you adapt to suit your own formation in the life of the spirit and in community life?
To cultivate the spirit of gratitude so important to St. Therese, consider these two other resources: the TED talk "Want to be happy? Be grateful," by Brother David Steindl-Rast (a 14:30 video accompanied by a transcript) and his marvelous book, "Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer: A Guide to Life in Fullness." He remarks that "it's not happy people who are grateful, but grateful people who are happy."
I rejoice to think of the gratitude St. Therese has inspired in me and in her countless other friends; every day she is, as St. Paul wrote, "increasing the amount of thanksgiving that God receives."