the Carmel

Biography of Sister Anne of the Sacred Heart

Maria de souza 1850–1920

"Nothing to say about her"

L'Story of a Soul was certainly a revelation for Sister Anne of the Sacred Heart, in her distant monastery in Saigon. The prodigies soon obtained through the intercession of his former companion, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, left no doubt about her heroic virtue. So Sister Anne had been able to share the daily existence of the Little Sister, for seven years, without suspecting anything? This is at least what her invariable answer to her Mother Prioress suggests when she was asked: “Tell us about little Thérèse! Always the same conclusion: “There was nothing to say about her; she was very kind and very self-effacing, no one noticed her, I would never have suspected her holiness. (Note from Saigon sent to Lisieux, December 21, 1947.) And yet, there is always something to say and write about the Carmelite of Lisieux...

Back to basics

Maria de Souza was born in 1850 in Macao, the daughter of a Portuguese father and a Chinese mother. She entered the Carmel of Saigon in 1874, founded thirteen years earlier by a swarm of Carmelites from Lisieux, in truly heroic conditions. The two columns of this first mission Carmel were Mother Philomena of the Immaculate Conception and Mother Xavier of the Heart of Jesus, two Normans. In 1874 precisely, the second, who had to leave Saigon, founded the Carmel of the Pater in Jerusalem.

Sister Anne takes the habit on 1er May 1875 (day when Sister Thérèse of Saint-Augustin entered the Carmel of Lisieux) and made her profession on September 8, 1876. But the desire grew in her to be part of the French Carmel. Lisieux opened its doors to her in June 1883: “This dear Sister was happily received in our monastery as a double bond that unites us to our dear foundation in Saigon” (Chronicle of the monastery).

Going from the scorching sun of Saigon (LT 225) to the Lexovian mists is no small feat. Of average height and without great physical strength, Sister Anne never acclimatized.

Sister Marie des Anges underlines her aptitudes and her fervor in May 1893:

“Coming from Saigon. True Chinese type, whose mother was Chinese and the father Portuguese. Filled with wit, science, talents, working wonderfully, but whose lack of strength does not allow her to have jobs. Fervent as a seraphim and very edifying by her courage and her piety. (CG II, pp. 1174 s.)

Charitable too: didn't he sometimes, in winter, throw a bucket of hot water into the iced washhouse, to warm up the washing machines a little?

Finally, wisdom imposes the return "to the religious cradle". Sister Anne left Lisieux on July 29, 1895 (the day Thérèse performed, with two novices), her fourth “pious recreation”: Jesus at Bethany). She died in Saigon on July 24, 1920.

I will go soon

On April 17, 1888, a few days after Thérèse entered the Carmel, Sister Anne signed a picture for her: “Union of prayers and sacrifices”. The subject must have pleased Thérèse: “The crib, the first altar of sacrifice under the new law of love”. Later, she will use this model (squared by her) to paint her little picture: the Dream of the Child Jesus (CG II, p. 745).

On May 2, 1897, Thérèse — who now knew she was lost — made a point of sending a word of farewell to her former companion: “The last time I went out with our good Mother, we talked about you and dear Carmel of Saigon...” We always count on Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, over there, in case she recovers!

She continues: “I remember with happiness the years that I spent in your company and you know it, for a Carmelite, to think of a person whom one loves is to pray for them. I ask the Good Lord to shower you with his graces and to increase his holy love in your hearts every day. I have no doubt, however, that you possess this love to an eminent degree. The blazing sun of Saigon is nothing compared to the fire that burns in your soul. 0 my sister! I beg you, ask Jesus that I too love him and that I make him loved; I would like to love Him not with an ordinary love but like the Saints who did follies for Him. Alas! how far I am from resembling them!...

“Ask Jesus again that I always do his will, for that I am ready to cross the world... and I am also ready to die! (LT 225).

Thérèse died five months later. Since then, she has continued to cross the world in all directions.

On September 2, in the infirmary, Sister Geneviève said to her: “When you think that you are still expected in Saigon! And fuser's response:

“I will go soon; if you only knew how quickly I would have made my turn! »

Who would prevent her, today as yesterday, from visiting her sisters over there?...

 Sr Cecile ocd