the Carmel

Circular from Mother Geneviève, the foundress

Claire Bertrand 1805-1891

My Reverend and Most Honored Mother, 

Peace and most humble salvation in Our Lord Jesus Christ.   

We had just tasted great consolations at the feasts of the third Centenary of Our Father Saint John of the Cross, when it pleased the Divine Master to share with us the bitterness of his chalice and to plunge us into deep sorrow by withdrawing from the midst from us, on December 5, 1891, our venerated Mother Marie-Claire Radegonde-Geneviève of SAINTE THERESE, aged 86 years 4 months 17 days, including 60 years 4 months and 14 days of religious Profession. 

It is with trembling, my Reverend Mother, that we take up the pen to speak to you of this dear relic, true treasure of our Carmel.... Perhaps you will find that we have sometimes exceeded the limits of discretion by revealing some mysteries of this beautiful soul. There are many things that we would indeed have passed over in silence, if we were not certain that, in her great simplicity, our humble Mother had not herself reported them to several of her daughters; which God undoubtedly permitted for your edification and the glory of this elite soul. O beloved Mother! above all bless your daughter, and forgive her, if, despite your expressed wishes not to have a circular, she consecrates out of obedience these few pages to the remembrance of your virtues. Sleep in peace, my Mother, in your humility. 

Our venerated Mother, born in Poitiers from an eminently Christian family, received at Baptism the name of Claire. This blessed child foretold from the cradle what she would one day be: she never cried, which greatly astonished her good mother. At the age of two, having fallen ill, she never stopped smiling and making heard, instead of cries, a graceful and childish song, a prelude to this strength of soul and this joy in suffering that we will admire. soon, no longer in a cradle and on a mother's lap, but on Calvary, on the bloody Cross of Jesus. 

In the meantime, let's follow our little Claire in the springtime of her beautiful life: a bright day, the sunset of which must have cast so much splendor! A few traits only will suffice to reveal the rare qualities with which heaven had endowed her. Still very young, she was entrusted to a teacher who, unfortunately, was not beyond reproach. The child's amiability and grace only gave him, it seems, the right to mistreat her further; and the young pupils, believing themselves authorized by the example of their mistress, made a game of assailing her. But the Lord had planted in his soul the seed of charity, that heavenly plant which was to grow with age and become the most beautiful tree in that delicious garden: that is why, instead of complaining and revenge, she constantly testified to the kindness and delicacy of her heart. One of her little companions was crying one day because the ball of wool from her knitting had fallen into a pit: with grief!" she cried. "Oh, don't cry!" said Claire to him; then, pulling out the soiled wool and wiping it as she went with her little apron, she returned the platoon to him, happy and proud of her exploit. Spiritual and very serious, she knew how to read perfectly, barely three and a half years old. Already the Holy Spirit was illuminating her young intelligence, as the following trait proves: While the children were playing and running around in the garden, Claire often retired to one side and read... - "There are undoubtedly beautiful images in this book, and it must be very interesting, isn't it my dear?" said a lady, very surprised to see her so attentive. - "Yes, Madam, she answered, this book is very interesting, because it is the Imitation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

From that time, my Reverend Mother, this pious child had attracted the gaze not only of God, but of one of his saints. We want to speak of the venerable priest of the parish of Saint Pierre, the Abbé de Beauregard, later bishop of Orléans, whose interesting Memoirs of his deportation to Cayenne make it clear that if he missed martyrdom, this he was not the one who failed in martyrdom. This admirable confessor of the Faith, who had baptized the dear little one, never saw her pass without giving her the marks of a particular affection. Often even, taking her in his arms, he carried her to his room and showed her his paintings and pictures. The child was shaking! - "You are trembling, sinner!'' he said to her, smiling; then he looked at her with complacency. A prophetic gaze no doubt, and which explains this word from one of his letters: "From your earliest childhood, I have seeing that there was enough in you to make a saint, but that you would have to go through crosses” 

However, the poor little girl always remained under the direction of this mistress of whom we have spoken, and her mother, believing her to be in very good hands, did not worry. Years passed like this, until the moment of First Communion, when the good Lord allowed everything to be discovered. Surprised by her daughter's silence, Madame asked her why. "Mother," replied this angel of peace, "how could I speak ill of my mistress to you? an age still so tender. 

Seeing this precocious virtue, my Reverend Mother, it is easy to judge with what fervor the young child approached the Divine Banquet for the first time. Moreover, it was her good Father de Beauregard, as she called him, who prepared her for this great action, and himself gave her the Bread of Heaven. From then on, he never stopped cultivating this beautiful lily, watching with jealous care that nothing earthly came to tarnish its whiteness. One day, seeing her hair curly and raised with grace: "Why, child, he said to her, all these curls? Do your hair more simply. With headbands, you would be much better; ask your mother for darker colors ." And to humiliate her, he added: “Besides, you are not pretty, you are not rich, and you do not look pleasant; who do you pretend to like?” 

There was nothing to reply! the next day, the young girl's hair was smooth and formed two flat bands, to the stern director's taste. But when my mother saw me, she told us, there were endless exclamations; very happy with his displeasure, I resumed my first hairstyle and apologized to my Father de Beauregard, saying to him: "Father, I saw that this upset Mum..." This innocent defeat proves enough that the young penitent was not insensitive to the attractions of her age. Of a lively and ardent character, she even knew enthusiasm. When the noble daughter of Louis XVI came to Poitiers, all the great ladies of the city, in their most brilliant attire, found themselves in her path. Claire slipped in front of them, and exclaimed "Long live the Duchess of Angoulême!" Even before responding to the greetings of the great ladies, the princess looked at the young girl, gave her a sign of friendship and smiled graciously. The latter, in the transport of her joy, kept saying to her brother: “Jules, are you thinking about it? the Duchess of Angoulême who smiled at me!” 

But the hour was approaching when Our Lord was also preparing to smile at this elite soul, and as Jesus' smiles are only for crucified souls, He began by giving him his Cross. Madame Bertrand fell seriously ill, and it was Claire, then aged 16, who urged her to make the sacrifice of her life. Listening to the advice of this angel of the earth, this pious mother soon after gave up her beautiful soul to God, abandoning her children to Divine Providence, happy to leave exile, and in feelings of the liveliest piety. Monsieur de Beauregard was still there, at the bedside of this dying mother, which made him later write to our beloved Mother these words which always touched her: "Remember, my child, that it is I who have brought your mother to Heaven, and that I have been her friend!"

However, my Reverend Mother, this so cruel mourning brought very painful changes in the life of the poor child. She was the eldest and understood the importance of her task. Her excellent father made her feel it well, when the very day of her death, taking her mother's ring, he put it on her finger, saying: "My daughter, it is now you who will replace your mother." Following the example of Our Mother Saint Thérèse, she addressed herself from that day on to the Queen of Heaven, asking her to help her in her new duties; but all was sadness in this hearth, yesterday still so joyful! Financial embarrassments soon coming to join the regrets of the maternal absence, there was talk of selling the house, this house so dear, guardian of so many memories. The poor father concealed his fears badly, his daughter guessed everything. Submerged in an ocean of sadness, she did not even know how to cry out to Heaven; but the desperate hours are the hours of divine help, that of grace was about to strike.

 "One evening," she said, "my father having gone out to sell the house, I was left alone with my youngest brother, then seven years old. The sobs choked me, but I did not want to cry, for fear of to afflict this poor little one, who loved me beyond words. Already seeing clearly that I was sad, he showered me with caresses, which pierced my heart! To use my countenance, I took a book which was under my hand, and opening it at random, my eyes fell on a small image representing Jesus, Savior of the world. In an instant this image became luminous, there took place in my soul a sudden and admirable revolution; the price of crosses, the merit of sufferings were shown to me in such vivid clarity, that I was quite delighted and out of myself. My tears flowed in abundance, but I no longer hid them, for they were tears of joy... I felt completely transformed and ready, if necessary, to beg my bread for the love of Jesus. 

Our Lord was content with accepting the sacrifice, and Divine Providence came to the aid of the father and the orphans. Through a devoted cousin, the Very Reverend Mother Aimee of Jesus, then Prioress of the Carmel of Poitiers (known in the world under the name of Mademoiselle d'Ulys), took a keen interest in this tried family; she appointed Monsieur Bertrand as steward of her immense fortune and saved him from a too justly apprehended ruin. They kept the house, and confidence, peace, almost joy came to be reborn in these desolate hearts. A year then passed without any serious event. Claire fulfilled all her duties with great perfection and thought of the future only to commend it to God, thinking well that he would not refuse her his light at the appointed time. She was not mistaken, Our Lord was already at the door, ready to completely conquer this young heart. We will still let her speak for herself: “I was about to reach my seventeenth year; one day when I was alone in my room, kneeling to say my morning prayer, suddenly the apartment disappeared from my eyes, I don't know where I was, if I had a body or if I didn't. had more... Immersed in a dazzling light and in an indescribable joy, I heard the sound of a voice so melodious that all the concerts here below cannot give the faintest idea. This voice said or rather sang, leaving between each word a mysterious interval: TO BE THE WIFE OF A GOD.... WHAT A TITLE...... WHAT A PRIVILEGE!......  

"Then everything disappeared... silence fell, I found myself flooded with tears and in an intoxicating happiness, like a person who would return from Heaven after having contemplated its splendours and penetrated its unfathomable secrets." From that memorable day , which we may well call the day of the divine betrothal, the happy child thought of Carmel and, unable to suffer any delay, she soon presented herself. But her visit was prevented by that of her Father, who alleged such just reasons as he was granted the case, with a promise never to deprive him of his treasure. Knowing nothing, the poor little girl was full of hope. "Oh! what joy I felt, she told us, in this parlor of Carmelites! Luckily, there was a small hole near the gate, I looked into it, and soon I saw the Beloved Mother of Jesus appear...... My heart was beating to breaking point... She said to me " How old are you, my child? 

- My Mother, I answered, I am very old, I am 17!     

- That's fine, my child, but you want to take a vow of obedience, don't you? So you will begin to practice it by returning to your father, I will let you know when you must come in." 

Judge of my surprise and pain! I understood that I would have to wait for my father's death. I was broken. But little by little calm returned to my soul, thinking that I would do the will of God.

Claire therefore returned to her father's house, seeking to console herself for not being a Carmelite by practicing all the virtues of the cloister. Soon Our Lord demanded of her a new sacrifice; Monsieur de Beauregard was appointed Bishop of Orleans and although he promised never to lose sight of her, what support, what less help! It was necessary to choose a Director, the young girl had already cast her eyes on the Abbé de Rochemonteix, superior of her dear Carmel; but to accustom herself to obedience and to the resignation of herself, she entrusted this affair to Mademoiselle Thérèse, her old and holy cousin, whose wise advice she always followed. "Alas! said the poor child to herself, of course my cousin Thérèse is going to refer me to some good old canon of the cathedral." She was wrong, God blessed her act of renunciation and the Superior of Carmel was rightly offered to her. This wise Director, my Reverend Mother, saw at first glance that he did not have before him a vulgar soul. Consequently, he did not spare her, humiliated her and corrected her in every encounter. Despite this, it must be said, this soul, moreover so perfect, deceived his vigilance on a slight point. This is the time to make known the little infidelity of her youth, "her great infidelities", as she called them. We cannot support this word, and yet, for a soul filled with so many favors, is it any wonder that the Lord should be jealous? We will see with what rigor he made him expiate later this imperfection which we are going to tell the story.

Rejected for a long time it seemed in the world she wanted to leave, adorned with all the moral qualities, full of spirit, of perfect judgment, of a very calm imagination, it is true, but of a loving heart and sensitive to the highest degree, this young girl soon attracted eyes and fixed attention; in spite of her modest position, she was sought after in all societies; advantageous matches were offered to him. "For the wedding, she tells us, I always showed myself unshakable, I even remained simply dressed and did not think of pleasing. Only, for my personal satisfaction, I kept in my way of dressing a little research: We m I had given a very beautiful shawl, and instead of tying it with a pin, I let it float freely and gracefully. An inner voice was asking me to sacrifice this pin. But I did not want to hear it. I refused Jesus a pin! What ingratitude!... Monsieur de Rochemonteix himself seemed to warn me in the name of Our Lord, for the first time I spoke to him, he reproached me: there is about you, my child, a certain harmony which I would like to see disappear.—Father, I replied then, I cannot dress myself more simply, see: I have a brown dress, and this shawl is given to me. gave, must I not wear it?" Surprisingly and worthy of note, Monseigneur de Beauregard was never informed of this infidelity of which Our Mother alone was aware and years later, he wrote to her at the Carmel: "Humble yourself, keep yourself small, remember that you you once wore a shawl that displeased God and me."

But, aside from this slight failing, Claire was a model of all virtues. Her father loved her so dearly that he couldn't bear the thought of even unwittingly causing her the slightest pain. One day, after having asked her for money for household needs, he found himself unable to satisfy her, guessing the anguish of the paternal heart, she secretly shed a few tears, but her red eyes betrayed: "How unhappy I am, cried this good father with pain, I made my daughter cry!

This darling daughter was really also the mother of her two brothers, and the examples she gave them, the gentle empire she exercised over them, always kept them in the paths of duty.

She still used her blessed influence, not only within the family, but in the midst of the world. One Sunday, several ladies had invited her to come for a walk not far from town. As soon as we arrived, we went to Mass; but what a temple! an abandoned barn, the water was falling on the altar. And what an altar! poorer than the crib! The priest's vestments in tatters, the sacred vessels unworthy of the name... Leaving the Divine Office, the pious young girl, heartbroken, followed the ladies to the hotel, unable to utter a single word.

"What's the matter with you, Miss?" he was asked. - Ladies, she answered immediately, I am surprised that you do not share my sadness, and I wonder how it is possible that you could without pain attend such a Mass, covered with lace, with magnificent hats, during that Our Lord is worse lodged than a street beggar and worse dressed than your servants. This word produced its full effect and soon an elegant chapel replaced the poor barn.

In the country, where his father had to spend long months every year, his presence was still marvellous; she instructed the children of the village with astonishing success. "Mam'zelle," said a poor woman to her, "don't refuse me to take charge of my daughter, I warn you that she is bad as an owl and half stupid, but that doesn't matter, you can give her some Mind, it's up to you to want it.” This naive confidence was not deceived, the little idiot became intelligent, pious and good, and later went to Carmel to thank her benefactress.

Visiting the poor, doing them good, these were all Claire's pleasures. One Christmas party, after Midnight Mass, the ladies of the neighboring chateau wanted to hold her back; but she had already promised good peasants and refused the invitation. "Oh! how much happier I was in the house of these poor people, she told us, they sang until the day of old Christmases in the patois of the country, and I sang with them; my heart grew hot in their company, they showed such great faith, such lively piety, that I thought I was in Bethlehem."

She still exercised her charity by a heroic silence when it was necessary. One of her aunts invited her to come and spend some time with her in Poitiers. She went there all joyful; but his piety soon displeased the dark and gruff uncle. Seeing her returning from church one morning, he said loud enough to be heard: "If I had a daughter like that, I would kick her out of my house." Returning to her room, the poor child burst into tears; her good aunt herself, deeply pained, advised her to return to the country as soon as possible, but this angelic soul did not think so; such a hasty departure would have made known to his father what had just happened and doubtless broken the union of the two families. She remained therefore all the agreed time, showed herself more amiable than ever towards her uncle, and kept silence. O marvelous power of charity! This hard man was touched by such behavior, and from a wolf he became a lamb; he allowed himself to be guided later in the ways of God by the advice of his admirable niece.

But the time was approaching, my Reverend Mother, when the doors of Carmel would finally open. The dear aspirant had reached her twenty-fourth year when her excellent father was called back to God. It was time to fly to the cloister. Monsieur de Rochemonteix, to test him, then pretended not to believe in his vocation. One day, however, he sent her a little book in which, on the corners of the first page, he had written these words: Do not pity the pain... the reward will be great... Nothing less than Heaven for your home... God Himself will make you happy. 'Oh! she said to herself, that is to say that I will be a Carmelite: "God himself will make you happy!" and incessantly she repeated these words. Indeed, on March 26 of this same year 1830, our sweet dove entered joyfully into the blessed ark.

It was the Very Reverend Mother Beloved of Jesus. her benefactress and her second mother, who received her at the threshold of the cloister and called her Geneviève de Sainte Thérèse, a prophetic name, for was she not to become one day on the mountain of Carmel, shepherdess and guardian of several flocks? Here are the first words addressed to her by this good Mother: "My child, if you want to be holy and always happy, remember this well: Let no one ever know what pleases or displeases you, what is pleasant or disagreeable to you, what whether you like it or not.” This lesson was followed to the letter and our beloved Mother reaped the fruits of peace.

The Monastery of Poitiers then had venerable elders, perfect types of the perfect Carmelite. These good Mothers, for the most part, had seen the disasters of the Revolution and suffered in a thousand ways during those dreadful days. A perfume of heroic holiness escaped from their persons, and the young postulant was at first perfumed with it. She never forgot this first impression, and when, at the time of the licenses, the novices, her companions, agreed on an hour to go together to visit them, she always excused herself and went there alone, wanting to enjoy at leisure their experience and advice. Guided by such examples, Our Mother set off with rapid steps on the path of religious perfection, and God, who watched over this soul and wanted to raise it so high, began by lowering it in his own eyes and to the eyes of her sisters, sending her a humiliation that the most skilful mistress could never have given her. She had been called the second dressmaker and surprisingly, this young girl who in society had given proof of a great aptitude for manual work could not even manage to sew a coat belt. Powerless to handle the needle, she tossed and turned the work in such a clumsy way that her companion was exhausted. No longer able to do absolutely anything, she had a very heavy heart when the feast of her beloved Mother Prioress came: having nothing to offer her but canvas for the sacristy!... At the moment of receiving in her turn the blessing and the maternal kiss, she held back her tears... but the good Mother Aimee of Jesus said to her in a low voice: "Console yourself, my child, for you are the daughter of the heart" Very tender words that put balm on the wound.

However, my Reverend Mother, this apparent nullity was compensated by such great qualities, that no other objection was made to receiving her to take the habit, other than to represent to her the uncertainty of the future. It was 1830, on the eve of a new revolution; but the fervent postulant answered without hesitation, that she would be too happy to follow her Mothers and sisters in prison and to death... Seeing her so determined, they gave her the Holy Habit. It was then a new impetus towards the good. Six months thus passed in happiness and joy; all the exercises of religious life seemed to her more and more delicious. Returning from the parlor, she lovingly kissed the walls of her cell; solitude had so many attractions for this soul of meditation and prayer! She was living in an atmosphere of peace, when suddenly this beautiful sky darkened... We will let her tell this terrible ordeal herself, while despairing of giving the accent with which, in the intimacy of our souls , she entrusted it to us so many times.

“Six months before my profession, Monsieur de Rochemonteix preached the retreat to us, and in one of his sermons, he gave us a striking picture of the three states in which souls in this life can find themselves. In the picture of imperfect souls, still less in that of fervent souls, I could not recognize myself: but when he came to describe the state of souls in mortal sin, I felt deeply moved; as he spoke, I recognized myself more. Troubled beyond expression, I returned to our cell almost reduced to despair... Not knowing what to do, unable to pray, I sat beside myself near our bed, (it was late, it was after Matins ), when, in the silence of the night, a voice which seemed to me to come from outside said to me very loudly and distinctly: "YOU COULD... AND YOU DIDN'T WANT! Seizing my crucifix, I presented it to the place from where I had heard this voice and I answered: "Forgive me, my God, forgive me!....Here is my surety...  

I then remained all night in mortal anguish, under the influence of divine justice ready to precipitate me into the abyss... In the morning, I went to confession, and what was my surprise when I heard myself give for penance a novena of communions! I approached the Holy Table in a desperate state and on the verge of exclaiming: “I am damned”. But no sooner had the Holy Host touched my lips than I felt the tears rise to my eyelids and flow in torrents...peace was restored to me, and I no longer retained from my sins anything but a sweet and deep. Some time later, thinking of what I had suffered, I naively addressed my complaints to NS, I said to him: Why my Jesus did you allow such a storm? Oh that was awful! Tell me why did you do that? – The answer was not long in coming: “If I allowed it, it was only out of love.....and to spare you 10 years of Purgatory! “

This revelation is very mysterious: When God has chosen a soul, when he has informed it of his graces, what fidelity does he not ask of it! Wife of Songs “You have hurt my heart, my sister, my wife, with just one of your hairs! “What were the faults of our beloved Mother's youth? And yet by what purifications Our Lord made him expiate them! even giving him to understand that they had deserved 10 years of purgatory...... Which also shows the merciful goodness of our God, who is willing to pay himself for an hour of suffering in this life, to spare us the rigors of his justice in the other.

Thus passed this dreadful storm; but when the day of his Profession came, new anxieties; not only did our dear Mother not feel the consolation of being the wife of a God, but this God whom she loved so tenderly seemed to reject her far from HIM... then sinking into the depths of his nothingness, the poor little professed in the bitterness of her soul begged the divine master to be good enough only to suffer her in his holy house in the midst of his faithful wives. “Keep me, she said to him with tears, keep me as your little slave! » and confiding her pain to her Mother Prioress, she begged her to entrust her with the office of third nurse, to become the servant of her sisters; what was given to him. At that time there were many invalids in the monastery; among them a poor sister whose wounds exhaled a fetid odor. Sr. Geneviève never left her day or night, although the Doctor himself was only able to visit her very quickly. The day before the death, on leaving the poor cell, he said with admiration: “The one who cared for this nun is obviously a SAINT. smell.

The heroic novice still found a way to satisfy himself. In the height of summer, in front of a blazing fire, she was drying clothes for another patient who required special care; this every day and long enough to have the face inflamed and almost alive. But carefully hiding this fatigue, no complaint escaped his lips. It was still too much for her humility not to be driven from the house of God; she suffered everything in silence and repressed her anguish, singing unceasingly pious hymns to the glory of her Jesus...

Finding her always amiable and smiling, people were surprised at only one thing: to see her in the refectory eating very little and with extreme difficulty. “My sister Geneviève, they told her, the joy of having made profession must not prevent you from eating. “Alas thought the poor novice, I must therefore take it upon myself to make all my sisters believe that I have joy in my heart!” Finally, little by little, Our Lord allowed himself to be touched; He said nothing to her this time, but gently and invisibly, his divine hand parted the clouds; the sun, not of consolation but of filial trust, illuminated her soul, the humble wife wished for nothing else. His life was to be a life of the cross, not of ecstasies. Doubtless many more times she will hear the gentle voice of the Bridegroom; but most often his soul will be immersed in the mysterious silence of faith. Who can say, Reverend Mother, the progress of the young novice during that dark night she had just passed through! She had become all humility, charity, detachment and obedience.

A priest who had known her in society asked her this question in the parlor: “My child, tell me what is your attraction? Do you have a particular taste for penance or prayer? - Mr. priest, she replied timidly, I feel inclined only towards the penance of rule and in use at the monastery; I also like prayer very much and the Holy Office recited in choir, but I have no particular attraction except for obedience. - Courage, my child continued the good priest very edified, with this attraction you will go far. 

There would be many examples of his other virtues to report, particularly his great courage to conquer himself in all things, his detachment and his charity. In a circumstance where she had an extreme need to see the Abbé de la Rochemonteix, her superior, it happened that several nuns having also requested it, she waited until evening at the door of the confessional, without having had her turn, which caused him a violent headache. “Ah!” she said to herself, “it is thus thus, Sister Geneviève, that you are giving yourself such a great headache to satisfy your will... but this is the last time, I am going to know how to cure you. ." And the next day she addressed herself to the ordinary confessor, not wanting to suffer anything that might disturb her peace.

Another time, having been ill for a long time, it happened that a certain little woolen cap which she wore in the infirmary, made one of the pleasant visitors laugh and joke a great deal. Deep in her heart, the dear little patient felt bored and a slight wound in her self-esteem. But, recognizing him immediately, her decision was taken: the first day that she returned to recreation, she gravely took the famous little bonnet from her pocket, and putting it on her head, she said laughingly: "Look, my good sisters, how well my hair looks with this bonnet!....We had so much fun the other day about it, that I didn't want to deprive the community of this little distraction....... ...." Everyone indeed laughed at the expense of our humble Mother who was then triumphant, and blessed God in her heart.

Here is an example of her detachment and interior freedom: When the Reverend Mother Aimee of Jesus fell ill, the justly alarmed community witnessed great pain. Little sister Geneviève suffered a lot too, she "the daughter of the heart"!" But to prepare for the ordeal of an approaching separation, she withdrew apart, shedding her complaints and her tears, not outside , but in the presence only of her Beloved, for she knew by experience what the author of the Imitation says: "The pious man carries with him everywhere Jesus, his comforter!" A young sister of the white veil, her companion in the novitiate, attracted by the charm of her virtue, joined her; the two then encouraged each other...'They said to themselves that having left the world for God, this God of goodness would always remain with them, that elsewhere it was quite right that their dear Mother should soon receive the crown, having worked and suffered so long to acquire it... when one is in Carmel, said our venerable Mother later, one must not be too sorry at death of his mothers and his sisters; have we not come here to die, and soon shall we be have you all gathered in Heaven?

While this good Mother Aimee of Jesus was in the infirmary, Sister Geneviève was asked to look after her. One day when the latter was about to wash her feet, the patient's face became sad and pensive: "What's the matter, my dear Mother?" said his little nurse. - ''O my child, answered the holy Prioress, must I confess it to you?... I am afraid that your affection for me will make you lose the merit of this action. - Don't be afraid, Mother. resumed the young professed, and forgive me if I dare to tell you that with as much joy, I would wash the feet of the last of my sisters. Soon, alas! this beloved Mother was found worthy of the eternal reward... Mademoiselle Thérèse then came to the parlor, all in tears, and said to her cousin: "Well! what will become of you now? how unhappy you are going to be! –" but I came here for God who will never miss me, so I will always be happy."

After the death of her good Mother, our virtuous novice was named provisional. All the sisters were edified and charmed by her exquisite charity in this office which she said, perhaps more difficult to fulfill well and even more meritorious than that of nurse, because one is not only in charge of the sick. , but in a way from the whole Community.

A nun having caused her pain, she immediately resolved to avenge herself on it in the manner of the saints. there was something better in everything else. And recounting this later, she said with such a sweet and humble accent that went straight to the heart, without raising the slightest doubt: “This time, I did not act like this to overcome myself, but really out of affection... since that this dear sister had caused me pain, I loved her more''... Well, my little children, she added, see how advantageous it is to forgive, not to get angry, to be considerate and kind with those who offend us: the sister who was displeased with me, seeing that I was doing everything to please her, was not long in coming and throwing herself at my feet, and kissing me tenderly: "O my sister Geneviève she exclaimed, we can tell you nothing, I am overcome by your charity, forgive me!

We would not finish, my Reverend Mother, if we had to recount all the edifying features of these eight years spent in the blessed Carmel of Poitiers. We have only shown a few precious pearls of this incomparable setting; but, not knowing the wealth of it ourselves, we end with this word from the Songs: "Behold the beauty of the Bride without what is hidden within,"

Our beloved Mother was therefore ready for the great mission which was about to be entrusted to her. When it came to the question of founding a Carmel in Lisieux, she felt a strong desire to be part of it "to taste the sweetness of poverty..." But the fear of acting by a movement of her own will, 1 prevented from asking anything. "If God wills it, she thought, he will be able to inspire her to Superiors." The Reverend Mother Prioress, in fact, had cast her eyes on her daughter Geneviève, and Father Sauvage, our founder, having obtained permission for the two benefactresses and their companions to come to Poitiers to do their novitiate there, Reverend Mother Pauline resolved to appoint her mistress of novices. Before telling her, wanting to test her, she called out to her in the middle of recreation: "My sister Geneviève, it is not the habit in Carmel to stay here without a word. say sad and gloomy as a nightcap, try to be more cheerful." The next day, complete change! But then, on leaving the heating room, the good Mother, pretending to be more displeased than the day before, said to her: "Really, my sister Geneviève, if you continue like this, I will soon be forced to keep quiet to listen to you; you Here we are, like a village rooster at recess!" Without answering a word, without showing the least annoyance, this true nun kissed the ground and withdrew. Reverend Mother Pauline was satisfied and Our Lord was even more so, for, during evening prayer, he himself announced to her the event of the next day with these words: "MY DAUGHTER, WE WILL ALLOW YOU TOMORROW TO T 'UNITE TO ME BY COMMUNION; THEN THE MOTHER PRIORY WILL CALL YOU, AND AFTER HAVING MADE YOU READ THE SERMON YOU COPYED ON OBEDIENCE, SHE WILL APPOINT YOU MISTRESS OF NOVICES.'

“I was very disturbed, Our Mother told us, and believing that the devil alone could put such a thought in my mind, I chased it away with all my power. But the next morning, on the command of my Mother Prioress, I approached the Holy Table and went to her cell: "My child, she said to me, take the notebook you have written and read it to me. sermon on obedience." I read it in a trembling voice and then she named me mistress of novices. So it was Our Lord who had spoken to me, I no longer doubted it, and remained well consoled".

She understood then that she would go to the foundation and was delighted... with a very supernatural rejoicing no doubt because we were able to realize the immense sacrifice she had to offer to God by leaving her dear religious cradle and her country that she loved so much! But all his affections, weighed against poverty, could not outweigh this cherished virtue. Strengthened by her obedience, happy to still have to practice it with regard to the Reverend Mother Elisabeth, named Prioress of the little Colony, this generous soul, this angel, as Mother Pauline called her, took flight towards Lisieux.

We won't tell of the trip, my Reverend Mother, any peculiarity, except the passage to Orleans. The two Founding Mothers being the spiritual daughters of Monseigneur de Beauregard, we went to the episcopal palace. The venerable Bishop, aged 88, was sick at the time and was in bed. When he learned the names of the visitors, who were impatiently awaited from day to day, he got up, and with a staggering step but a joyful heart, advancing first towards his daughter Geneviève, he took her head. his two hands: "Ah! there you are, he cried, the smallest of the people of God." The conversation began, we almost forgot the hour of the diligence, the holy Bishop was radiant. "Little one, he said again to our dear Mother, at the moment of departure, do not fail to write the history of your foundation and put in it above all the pleasure that your visit gives me... I would say so “my Nunc dimittis.” After making a generous offering to them, he blessed them with all the affection of a father and dismissed them.

This blessing was a good omen; God kept and protected his chosen ones in the midst of many dangers; finally, we arrived at Lisieux. The lover of poverty was then able to satisfy herself; the temporary house was thatched and the interior so badly laid out, the rooms so small, so low, that she gave it no other name than that of her little Bethlehem. We stayed like that for a few months... the time needed to prepare another house, still very poor, but larger, where we settled more or less regularly, while waiting for the monastery and our lovely chapel which was built under the first priorate of our dear Mother. God blessed these beginnings, the subjects were not lacking and these young plants cultivated by the hands of a saint, instructed even more by her example than by her words, became true Carmelites, virile souls, capable of immolation in all things for the glory of Our Lord. "I always recognize, said one of the confessors of the Monastery later, the novices formed by the holy Mother Geneviève."

Hardly four years had passed since the foundation when our good Mother Elisabeth was called back to God. This event required an election; All eyes were already on Mother Sub-Prioress when Father Sauvage received a letter from Poitiers. Incomprehensible thing in such a circumstance; believing that it was a question of the recall of Mother Geneviève (who had only been loaned to Lisieux), he was careful not to open the missive, but came in all haste to Carmel, exposed the Blessed Sacrament for the three usual days, and presided over the elections which realized his wishes by confirming his hopes.

Now, on the evening of the first day, Our Lord was good enough to approach his humble and very little servant to let her still hear his sweet voice. He said to her: "IT IS YOU I HAVE CHOSEN TO GOVERN THIS HOUSE... OPEN YOUR HEART TO YOUR DAUGHTERS AND I WILL OPEN MINE TO YOU... AND JUST AS I REST IN MY FATHER, THE HOLY TRINITY WILL BE YOUR SUPPORT”.

O beloved Mother! You were able to enjoy the sublime reward that was promised to you, because we know how faithful you were to the recommendation of the Divine Master... Yes, during your twenty-seven years as priorate you opened your heart to us. and what a heart! The benignity of Jesus had descended there completely: it was a sky of peace, an abyss of charity, a powerful dam where the waves of all the storms came to break and die.

But what did this letter of which we have spoken contain? She hid a heavy cross.... From this election of which he had seemed so happy, our good Father Sauvage was no longer the same with regard to the new Prioress. She, who had hitherto enjoyed his full confidence, was now deprived of it. As for the guidance of souls, he had seen it at work and did not doubt its capacity: but for the exterior, he guided it, watched it like a child, without giving it latitude even for the slightest expense. . What acts of humility and obedience must have been the fruits of this painful situation!

On the death of Abbé Sauvage, 11 years later, they came to ask our good Mother to look through his correspondence, and God allowed the mysterious letter to fall into his hands. It contained these words: "Do not appoint Geneviève Prioress because she is not capable of fulfilling this difficult task... Our humble Mother therefore had to be very skilful in hiding her talents and her merit in this dear convent of Poitiers to that the good Mother Pauline (who later recognized her error) allowed herself to be deceived. Be that as it may, while making him understand what had hitherto seemed inexplicable to him, this revelation did not distress him at all. our Mother.. On the contrary, she knew how to find in it a source of joy and made no mystery of it. She recounted her adventure aloud, adding with happiness: "If I am Prioress, it is therefore only by the sole will of my God!! Thus was realized this prophecy of Monseigneur de Beauregard: “You are not going to Lisieux to build there a house of material stones, but to erect there in honor of God an edifice of living stones which are souls. »  

Since the venerable name of the holy Bishop of Orléans returns to our pen, allow us, my Reverend Mother, to transcribe here a single fragment of his delightful letters. In 1841 he had left exile, so it could only be in a supernatural light that he wrote in 1839, when our Mother Geneviève was only Sub-Prioress and mistress of novices: "Read more once the XXth chapter of the first book of the Imitation... This admirable chapter of wisdom recommends solitude. How will you be able to keep her, since she seems better made for a hermit than for a Prioress, who must open her heart, her cell and her mouth to everyone and at all times? However, you need a little corner where you will be alone with the Alone. My child, you will have to find in the corner of your heart a small place, very small, where you will be sure to find this One, worthy of your love, of your thoughts. But, what furniture will you put there? It takes two: faith, love, and nothing else. I do not like when you write to me, that you speak to me of your sins; God has long forgotten that shawl for which you paid so dear! And I, who have been happy enough to have shown you the right path, declare to you that all your sins have been abundantly remitted to you... hold it therefore as true and certain... God is not a disputer, he Easily excuse souls... He loved you with such an extraordinary love that I would regard it as a lack of faith to worry about you henceforth. Oh my God! how merciful you are to give my daughter Geneviève such a beautiful place in your heart! My daughter, sink into a sea of ​​gratitude and often keep at the feet of Jesus the silence of respect and a holy astonishment of what God has done for you, and what happiness he is preparing for your poor heart...

“Whether I tell you, or whether I remain silent, I will remain united in heart, in prayer, in memory, to the shrub of Carmel withdrawn from the Garden of Poitiers. It is something said and written in my heart. You have been my daughter for so long!... I bless you like a good old father."

What consolations must have brought to our venerable Mother the reading of such lines! However, we must say it in praise of her detachment and the delicacy of her heart: Two years before the death of the holy Prelate, she deprived herself of this correspondence, because her letters often contained only a single word to the address of Reverend Mother Elisabeth, and that she wanted in future to leave her alone the consolation of receiving answers. The sacrifice was shared, as we have the proof of by this bitter complaint of the worthy and noble old man on his deathbed: "I used to receive letters from Geneviève which gave me so much pleasure! Why does she no longer write to me? “He knows it now!” she replied with an angelic smile, when she was made aware of this touching detail.

To return to Our Mother's first priorate, the three years expired, Reverend Mother Pauline called for her angel... Fr. Sauvage said nothing to the community; it was agreed with the Superiors of Poitiers that the elections would be held, and that if Mother Geneviève remained without office, she would be returned to her first monastery as soon as possible. It is easy to judge the result of the election: with one common voice, our good Mother was re-elected for three years, in the exercise of a charge which she had so perfectly fulfilled. At the end of this time, new requests from the Superiors of Poitiers, new entreaties from Father Sauvage and his poor little Carmel. Monsieur de Rochemonteix wrote in these terms to our very dear Mother: "The sisters are in a hurry to have you come, it is hard for them to see you again, they are afraid that the loan they have made will degenerate into a donation; I had very difficult to calm them down. I answered them that if your presence in Lisieux was considered necessary, it would not be wise to withdraw you at this time. I repeat it to you: we all have a great desire to to see you return to Poitiers, but if your Superior, if you yourself in all frankness and simplicity, think that it is necessary to extend the permission that I have given you, I will do my best so that your sisters do not no obstacles.

This decision, which was to be sent back to the Superior and to the Community of Lisieux, was quickly given... The Carmel of Poitiers granted another three years, when at the end of the second year, our good Mother being ill, it took advantage of the opportunity for a definitive recall. How will this beloved Mother respond? No doubt, she was strongly inclined towards the return... but a crushing ordeal then weighed on the foundation and repressing her dearest hopes, she wrote these beautiful words: "Now that the Cross is planted in the Carmel of Lisieux, how could I run away from her?" Our venerable Founder, for his part, pleaded his case so eloquently that he won it.... Mother Geneviève remained forever in Lisieux, and on September 15, 1849, Monseigneur Robin, then Bishop of Bayeux, himself announced to his dear Carmelites, the happy news. Thus, we owe to our Mothers of Poitiers this signal favor of having known a saint... They were good enough to deprive themselves in order to enrich us; but today our heritage is common... and the same gaze that watches over Lisieux is directed towards Poitiers!... Mother Pauline's Angel spreads its wings over its dear cradle and will never leave it again...

Since September 15, 1849, until the death of our beloved Mother, what events, lights, graces received! It would take a volume to give the interesting detail... The events are known to our dear Carmels; we know that from the small shrub removed from the garden of Poitiers, weak branches have still detached themselves, trees in full vigor today, Saigon, Coutances and Caen.

Saigon above all was the work of Our Mother, an indirect work no doubt, since she entrusted this noble enterprise to one of her dear daughters; but the innumerable sorrows, the contradictions and humiliations of all kinds which she then suffered, will always make her regarded as the first Mother of this humble Carmel; moreover, the venerable Foundress, Mother Philomena of the Immaculate Conception, of such holy memory, did not see it otherwise. Let us also hasten to say that the pains of which we have just spoken were well compensated on the side of heaven... Didn't the illustrious Founder of the new Carmel, Monsignor Lefebvre, Apostolic Vicar of Cochinchina and cousin of Mother Philomène seen in the dark dungeon where he was detained by an unjust sentence, the radiant vision of our Holy Mother Thérèse, asking him to establish his Order in Annam, because God would be greatly served and glorified?

We will limit ourselves, my Reverend Mother, to speaking to you now of the hidden life of our Saint, of her virtues, which can be summed up in a single word: love. She loved her God with all the strength of her soul; that is why she loved us so much! why she so loved the Church, France, poor sinners, and sacrificed herself for them.

Not stealing a single atom of his heart from Jesus: this is the interior work of his entire religious life. Jealous also of that of her daughters, she prayed to God that he would not allow anyone to become attached to her through a feeling of human affection. His greatest caress, apart from the motherly kisses of our family celebrations, consisted simply in placing his hand on our heads; still, this was a well-marked sign of contentment! And yet, what tenderness! Our sorrows were her sorrows, our joys, her joys... She was interested in each of the members of our families and commended them earnestly to God. Her approach was gentle, easy; her extreme indulgence She did not hurry souls, but knew how to wait for them and always won them over. Calm in all circumstances, with a prudence full of wisdom, she did not smash difficulties, only sought to make peace reign, preaching unceasingly the union of hearts and charity. She had, like the Bride of Songs, "honey and milk under her tongue". His exhortations from the Chapter were admirable; you could feel the fruit of her prayers, she spoke of the abundance of the heart, of a heart on fire that wants to spread its flames... and what a stimulus to hear these words: ''Our Lord asked me to make this known to the Community... He wants you. my children, such and such a thing... One day, she assured that of all her dear daughters present, not one would miss the rendezvous of heaven... When she received the vows of the novices, it was never without to shed tears... one would have said that the mystery of the divine Wedding was shown to his eyes without veils!... Happy are the hearts which have offered themselves to Jesus through such hands!!!...

She also knew how to introduce them to the Eternal Wedding... And in the first years of the foundation, this case was, alas, all too frequent. One of these young nuns, subject of hope and greatly dear to Our Mother, was waiting, it seems, at the hour of her agony, for her permission to fly away to heaven. Then, in a voice broken by tears, this courageous Mother said to him: My child, you have always lived in obedience, die in an act of obedience..." And his soul immediately, breaking its earthly bonds, went to reunite to the Bridegroom of Virgins!

But to know our incomparable Mother well, you had to see her relieved of the heavy burden of superiority: it was then the humble little sister Geneviève of Poitiers, so hidden, so obedient, that one would have taken her rather for a novice than for a former prioress and foundress. Such a soul had to go to God by way of filial trust. In fact, she had no other relationship with Him than that of a child with the most tender of Fathers. "Here's one who knows how to pray!" said our good Father Sauvage. Indeed, Our Mother obtained everything from God because she knew how to pray! On difficult occasions, when the means of human prudence were offered to her, she replied: "Yes, that is good... but above all prayer, oh! prayer!” It was enough to see her in prayer to realize that she was very close to God, and as if in his ear... We really felt then that she was not only listened to, but answered. confidence and his faith penetrated the Heavens. And why should we be surprised? since Our Lord Himself said: "If your faith were equal to only a mustard seed, I tell you jump into the sea, she would do it immediately.” This is why the graces received in this fervent prayer were often miraculous. We will take the liberty, my Reverend Mother, of citing a few examples among a thousand.

At the beginning of the foundation when poverty was so great, we ran out of butter.... After having listened to the complaints and seen the deep pain of our good sister Madeleine, of such sweet memory, Mother Geneviève answered her: " My daughter, I don't have a penny... But if you still have a little butter left, always take it and put our trust in God. our dear cook sister, very astonished, said to her: "Finally, my Mother, I don't understand anything about it, my little leftover butter is still in the same state; what does that mean, since I didn't have enough for two days? Now I take it, it does not diminish!. - Don't worry, Our Mother continued with a smile, your little provision is about to run out." And a few days later, the Community having received alms, Sister Madeleine found the pot empty.

How many times did Divine Providence still respond to her trust, with unexpected help, arriving at the right time, and often just the amount requested! But, what seems to us more admirable and perhaps even more touching, are the little miracles of kindness granted on so many occasions to her filial prayer! Thus, for our laundry, she always got us good weather, so much so that, in the first years, people of the world came to ask, long in advance, what day we would do the laundry at Carmel... And during the winter, what solicitude! This good Mother was in anguish when she saw us suffering from the cold. One morning of heavy washing, this cold being very intense, her heart could not stand it... she went to the foot of the Tabernacle... and during her absence, the frost ceased, the weather became so mild, that e could have thought we were in spring, if the thick ice in the washhouse hadn't reminded us of winter. 

Even less long ago, she took to telling one of our sisters naively the following story, which happened in the same year, and which proves that many things of this kind were hidden from us by her humility: "He had frozen very hard, they came to tell me: "My Mother, the beautiful apricot tree that you loved so much is lost, there will not be a single apricot. - I then addressed my complaints to my good Jesus, I said to him:" Is it possible that you are not giving our sisters anything to cool off this summer? - An interior voice answered me: BE QUIET, THERE WILL BE APRICOTS.... When the time comes, they take me to the garden, and without saying anything about my business, I ask that they make me go through the alley of my apricot tree. What was my surprise and my joy in finding it so laden with fruit that one could hardly see the leaves! I felt moved to tears “Oh! my daughter, she added, who can say how good Our Lord is! How admirable his condescension!”   

A new proof of this infinite goodness was given to Our Mother at the time of her Golden Wedding. A few months earlier she had come to be distressed, even troubled, contrary to her habit, because it would be necessary to lift the veil and show herself to the world. But the divine Spouse, who did not want clouds at this great feast, said to her during her preparatory retreat: "FEAR NOTHING, MY DAUGHTER, I WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO BE TROUBLED, FOR I WANT TO GIVE YOU THIS DAY, WHAT I REFUSED YOU, 50 YEARS AGO, ON THE DAY OF YOUR PROFESSION. IT WILL EVEN APPEAR ON YOUR FACE SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY WHICH WILL BE THE REFLECT OF WHAT I WILL OPERATE IN YOUR HEART." Indeed, from the dawn of this blessed feast, a river of peace, according to his expression, flooded his soul... On his face, this something extraordinary appeared to all eyes; Mother Geneviève seemed rejuvenated, of an unknown beauty; incomparable reflection of his inner sky It was the fulfillment to the letter of the divine word. The happy jubilee was not the only one to rejoice... In all our hearts, what joy!... Our dear Carmels and our friends wanted to take part in this celebration by showering us with the most delicate attentions. Our Monastery had never seen such a light shine! It was transformed under the most graceful decorations... , and one of them sang the Calende announcing this blessed day, during which so many tears of joy were shed! -even, nineteen years old, presented our offering to the Lord! And what sweet emotions on hearing the touching words of our good Father Superior on this text chosen by her: "The Lord's yoke is easy and his burden light"! 

It seems, my Reverend Mother, that after the story of so many graces, there is nothing left for us to say. However, the picture of this beautiful life would be incomplete if, after having spoken of Our Mother's love for Jesus, we did not add something of her love for the Cross. 

It was in 1849 that the cruel illness that took her from us made her feel her first attacks. They did not hide from her the long and cruel sufferings that she would have to bear. "At this announcement, she said later, my heart was flooded with delight; it was the feast day of Saint Andrew: while reciting his office, I repeated with transport: O good cross that I have desired so long and which is finally granted to my desires, I come to you with confidence and joy, receive the disciple of Him who has been tied to your sacred wood. ‑ Lord, you know it, I would have thought myself rash in asking you to suffer, I would have been afraid of my weakness, but since you find me worthy of it, be blessed a thousand times over. the charitable hand that would rub with force and make clean and shiny this dull and unbeautiful vase. 

Seeing this heroic acceptance of the cross, joined to such profound humility, one can imagine the invincible patience and courage that Our Mother displayed during these years of martyrdom. As long as she was able to walk, God alone was her witness, except in cases of crisis, when we sometimes found her stretched out on the roads, unconscious and almost lifeless. One day, among other things, when it was freezing cold that she hadn't thought she should dispense with hanging out the laundry, she fainted and fell in the snow. But Divine Providence did not abandon her... At the same moment, our dear Sister Adelaide, of such holy memory, heard a voice in her cell saying to her: "Go to the garden....Go to the garden.," She immediately obeyed and saved Jesus' beloved from this imminent danger. 

To these dangerous crises were often added strong migraines in which, by the violence of the illness, a cord in the shape of a crown had come round her head, the first resemblance of the bride to the crucified Bridegroom. I am surprised that our dear Mother, despite this painful state, was able to follow our holy Rule and almost all our exercises until 1849 towards the end of her last Priorat. It was then that the considerable swelling of her legs no longer allowing her to stand up, we carried her in an armchair from the infirmary to the choir, and from the choir to the discharge of the heating room, which she had nicknamed the Saint. -Balm; she remained there until evening, working with ardor, praying and sacrificing herself in silence under the gaze of God and his Angels. There was only one step to take to come to our recreations; this good Mother was their joy: she animated them with her gaiety and her kind words; there she spoke to us of the adventures of her youth, of the Carmel of Poitiers, of the holiness of the first Mothers... Which of us has not heard from her mouth the report of some traits of virtue piously preserved in her memory and even better in his heart? On this subject, she never stopped... And we liked to provoke her expansion, knowing full well how to cause her a joy which immediately brightened her face. "Oh! how holy these good Mothers were! she repeated. You see, my poor children, we must not fear our pain on earth; we must follow in their footsteps and make use of everything to raise ourselves to God." How many times in this regard did she repeat to us the verses composed by one of these fervent Carmelites (Mother Victoire, sister of Monseigneur d'Aviau, Archbishop of Bordeaux. This Nun died in the odor of holiness at the age of 80) on the view she enjoyed at the window of her cell! We transcribe them here in their simplicity.

                                 All along the river

                                  From morning till evening,

                                  A poor washerwoman

                                  Raises and lowers his beater.

                                 Ah! strike me out of tenderness

                                 Lord don't spare me

                                 Purify me constantly,

                                 Until the day of my death.

                                   Further, as far as the eye can see

                                  In a rather large field,

                                  With his share and his plough,

                                  A man goes, furrowing...

                                   He does not spare his pain,

                                  Because he knows that the wheat

                                  In a very short time, a hundred...

                                    Turn, turn the earth

                                   From my heart, divine Spouse...

                                  You are the owner

                                  From this field... it is yours.

                                  Scatter the seed there,

                                  Multiply it, Lord.

                                  enjoy abundance,

                                  I will sing my happiness!... 

By thus exalting these venerable ancients, Our Mother had no idea that she was drawing a faithful portrait of herself! But, since it is a question here of the subjects of her preference, here is another who had the talent to make her cry and smile at the same time: it was no longer a mother who charmed her, it was a known sister. and darling: the little shepherdess of Domrémy, Joan of Arc. At that time, we did not speak, as today, of the valiant and gentle martyr: also the affection, one could say the tender devotion of Mother Geneviève for our heroine France sometimes surprised us and seemed to us almost like the enthusiasm of another age.... We forgot that in her heart, so full of love for God and detached from all things, also flowed "the blood of France ", and now that the praise of the Venerable Jeanne resounds from all sides, we see with happiness and gratitude that our humble Mother was right... 

Also, despite her growing infirmities, she did not know how to withdraw into herself. We even noticed that the more she suffered, the happier she was! which is all the more admirable in that during those years the good Lord deprived her of all kinds of consolations, leaving her only faith and the ineffable memory of her benefits... But in 1888, when for the first time she failed us to be taken away, He made her feel his presence again. Provided with Extreme Unction, favored by the blessing of the Holy Father, she seemed in deep peace, very great security... and on our expressed desire to know the cause, she replied: "My Mother, how could I be afraid of death? Our Lord gave me the grace never to judge anyone; I count on his promise: Do not judge and you will not be judged "It was then that the divine Master showed him in Heaven the image of the cross, luminous and all resplendent, and revealed to him that the sight of this cross brought joy and glory to the elect. Believing herself on the eve of contemplating her in her turn, Our Mother was radiant and as if transfigured. Poor Mother! it was only the eve of his martyrdom. Before this luminous cross, a bloody cross awaited him.....four more years of immolation before the eternal Passover! 

Whatever it costs us, my Reverend Mother, we will say nothing of this long and painful vigil, to dwell more on the day of the Passion itself. It began, with that of Jesus, on Maundy Thursday 1890. Early in the morning, at Holy Mass, during her thanksgiving, this privileged soul heard these sweet words: "MY DAUGHTER, NO LONGER YOU WILL COME TO I, IT IS I WHO WILL GO TOWARDS YOU!" It was indeed the last time that she would come to the choir, that she would receive Holy Communion there! She was then in her usual state, and nothing foreshadowed the dreadful day of the following day, when suddenly, while we were singing the Office of Darkness, a violent crisis broke out; the evil made terrible progress during the night, and on Friday morning, our good Father Superior came to administer it. We were just waiting for the last moment. Our beloved Mother was panting... incessantly asking for a drink... and nothing could quench her thirst!... Hearing this cry: I am thirsty! seeing that face disfigured by pain, those feet where iron nails seemed to be driven in, we thought we were on Calvary, and we were able to understand something of Mary's anguish when she saw her Jesus tied to the cross!... In front this faithful image of the dying Saviour, witness of so much suffering, we longed to hear three o'clock strike, hoping that then all would be consummated, and that that very day, it would go with Jesus to Paradise!... But our thoughts were not God's. In his impenetrable designs, he reserved it for longer battles... like those valiant martyrs, who finding themselves miraculously healed of their wounds, generously offered their bodies to new tortures!... And likewise that the blood of the martyrs was a seed of Christians, its pains were to give birth to souls to God! This God of goodness will no doubt make him go through his purgatory in this world; she will pay for her, as it was revealed to her... but first, and above all, she will immolate herself for souls because she was told again on the evening of this day of agony: "MY DAUGHTER, IT IS IS TIME, OFFER YOURSELF AS A VICTIM. “O victim full of gentleness, who can say to what degree of heroism your patience has risen!... 

A few days after that painful Good Friday, against all human anticipation, the gangrene disappeared. But unfortunately! in what state our poor Mother remained! and what ravages the twenty months of her martyrdom wrought upon her! Her horribly swollen legs became nothing more than a sore. Little by little frightful cracks formed on her feet, several fingers and the heel of the left foot fell into rot... We cannot imagine such a spectacle!... Let us add to this picture the interior evil which devoured her , and after a few months the loss of sight with excruciating pain... All this without being able to make the slightest movement in his bed, having absolutely no freedom except his arms. There had to be something extraordinary in this state for our pious and learned Doctor to admit it himself: "I defy, he told us, any of my colleagues to have ever encountered such a case; one cannot live like this without a miracle!" Edified to the highest degree to see such torments suffered with a smile on his lips, he knelt down one day near our Mother's bed, asking her to bless him , him and his large family; and silent tears ran down his cheeks. 

By saying that our holy martyr had a smile on her lips, it's not enough... She did more than smile, she was joyful!... Many times tossed between life and death, she pleasantly joked about this journey of Eternity that she could not accomplish, and we were deeply moved (knowing her ardent desires), to see her beg Our Lord not to call her to Him, when she glimpsed a family celebration: ours , for example, not wanting to disturb our small solemnities with his death. During her sleepless nights, constantly occupied with her Jesus, she composed charming couplets, but always with a cheerful note, as in this one:

                             Blessed impotence,

                             who makes my pain

                             Evening and morning,

                             My daily bread!...

                             But the cross is a divine bridge,

                             She shortens the way

                             I pass... and go to Heaven,

                             Farewell, farewell, my good friends!.....

 When her sufferings were excessive, she cried out: “Look, my good Jesus! aren't you going to come to the aid of your poor Geneviève?...To put it all in a nutshell: one can never imagine a patient more forgetful of herself, more compassionate for the slightest sufferings of others, more grateful for any service. We can well apply to her this praise that the Venerable Mother Anne of Saint-Barthélemy made of Our Mother Saint Thérèse: "She was such a beautiful soul, that she gave marks of it in all things." We never approached her reads without feeling closer to God. What she had learned from the very mouth of the Divine Master, she repeated to us at such opportune moments that we were left in the greatest astonishment. Thus, my Reverend Mother, one morning when her second nurse had not been able to come to prayer because of the overload of her job, and she was grieving within herself, Mother Geneviève called her: "My child , she said to him, "do you know what Our Lord has just revealed to me? Here are his own words: "IT IS NOT THE SOULS WHO HAVE ALL THEIR TIME TO PRAY TO ME ONLY WHO PROVE THEIR LOVE TO ME BY MAKING SACRIFICES.... IT'S ALL IN SACRIFICE AND OBEDIENCE!” 

We let this dear sister herself recount the following trait: "Seeing Our Mother one day talking to several of our sisters and passing close to her, I was tempted to stop. such interesting things! But Our Lord asking me to sacrifice it, I ignored it. As soon as I entered the infirmary, Mother Geneviève called me and said: "I have a little secret to confide to you, a secret for to be always happy and to please Our Lord. Never seek, my child. to know what is going on... You see a small gathering; instead of stopping, make the sacrifice for your good Jesus.... In the life of the Fathers of the desert, did you not read that a certain brother being always in the air and for that arriving at nothing, we end up nicknaming him "brother fly"? Well! don't do like him, don't be “sister fly” ..... The good Mother spoke to me in this sense for more than a quarter of an hour, and I listened to her without communicating any of my impressions to her; but in the end, unable to bear it any longer, I said to her: Mother, did you see me? It seems that you followed me, for I have just met literally the occasion of which you speak to me: "I have not seen you, no doubt, she replied smiling, but it is Our Lord who allow me to tell you this to do you good. Come on now.... Here is my little secret." 

Another of her daughters finding difficulty in accomplishing a certain point of obedience, without her having opened up in any way, our holy patient said to her: "O my daughter! if we understood well what this is only obedience!... This morning, after Holy Communion, my good Jesus made it known to me. Remember well this teaching which does not come from me, but from Him alone: ​​"LIKE THE BIRD WHICH SPREAD ITS WINGS AND FLY FREELY THROUGH THE AIR, THUS THE OBEDIENT SOUL TAKES OFF TOWARDS ITS BELOVED AND IT IS LIKE A HEAVEN WHERE GOD FINDS HIS DELIGHTS! 

We could cite many more examples of this kind and also relate some of the admirable lights that were given to him on the Holy Eucharist, but the limits of a circular, already well exceeded, do not allow us to do so. We asked her one day what was this voice that instructed and consoled her, and how it made itself heard in her soul... Without the slightest hesitation, she replied with an ingenuous smile and her usual simplicity: "My good Mother, this voice I hear, I feel it is a FRIENDLY VOICE, but I don't know anything else...”

The day of his sixtieth approaching, we did our best to make this celebration very solemn. The infirmary became a veritable oratory: all the statues of saints in the monastery took their place there; garlands of white and red roses, symbol of virginity and martyrdom, adorned the curtains of the bed, at the bottom of which we had hung a magnificent picture of the agony of Our Lord. On the altar, adorned with a brilliant adornment, was placed the crown from the dear Carmel of Poitiers... Poitiers flowers also adorned the stick and the blessed candle. And the sweet victim, still on the cross, hearing only our preparations, (his eyes being closed to the light here below) called us towards evening, and said to us with the accent of the liveliest gratitude: "The here is the slave!..." We understood that she was referring to her great ordeal of July 21, 1831, from which 60 years of grace separated her... 

When everything was ready, the Community went to the infirmary. She asked for forgiveness in the most touching terms and spoke to us some delightful words about purity of intention and charity, repeating with Jesus on the evening of the Last Supper: " My little children, love one another as I have loved you.” The next day cannot be described... This passage of Our Lord in the middle of the cloister strewn with greenery and flowers!. the infirmary resplendent with lights This ineffable Communion!...the touching little speech of our good Father Superior!Finally, the vows of our venerable Mother, renewed once again in our hands with such great fervor!....We still have this together a very celestial memory... However, we noticed something serious on the features of our holy jubilee. On this beautiful celebration of these Diamond Weddings, would she be experienced as on the first day of the divine alliance?... Yes.....and maybe more! alone near her bed, she repeated, clasping her hands with an inexpressible accent: "Oh no! the greatest sufferings are nothing but not seeing God!., being deprived of God!...  

We thought we heard the complaints of a soul at the end of life, when it sees itself plunged into an abyss of fire, whose torments do not seem severe to it compared to the deprivation of its God. It was no longer Mother Geneviève was it a soul from purgatory?... No doubt, my Reverend Mother, in calling this state a trial, we are mistaken... Was it not rather a signal grace than this last purification, which gave her the assurance of flying straight from his deathbed to Heaven?... Also, when wes We said to this happy victim: Courage, my Mother, you are making your purgatory in this world, she replied with humility and confidence: "Oh! I hope so!" Asking him one day if the desire to be delivered from his cruel sufferings had not had something to do with his ardent sighs towards death, she pronounced these beautiful words: "I do not wish to die in order to suffer no more, but only to see my God."   

The blissful moment was approaching when his eyes would at last be opened to this divine and eternal beauty! .....We were preparing for our great solemnities of the Centenary, when our beloved Mother was worse off.'' It is time, Lord, she cried like another Thérèse, it is time, take me with you!...” But, for fear of disturbing our celebrations, she only asked for a reprieve of three days, which Our Lord granted her. On the 24th, feast of Our Father Saint John of the Cross, His Lordship Our Bishop, presiding over the ceremonies, was kind enough to enter and honor him with a special blessing, accompanied by a few words of which his paternal heart has the secret! We seemed to see in the person of this venerable Pontiff, with hair whitened by age and the noble labors of the episcopate, Monseigneur de Beauregard himself, coming to encourage, bless and console his beloved daughter on the eve of the last combat , and show her the palm and the crown in advance!... The next day, after the closing of the Triduum, our dear Mother, being at her worst, received Extreme Unction for the third time... The excess of her suffering wrung weak groans from her to which we mingled our tears; she was worried: "To complain like this, isn't that lacking in patience? she asked Our Father Superior. Ah! that would be very unfortunate! My children, pray!.... ..ask the good Lord to give me Patience.”                             

Around six-thirty, she said to us in private: “It is 61 years today that my great forgiveness was granted to me and perhaps this evening, Heaven! I hear softly: STILL A FEW HOURS! A FEW HOURS STILL!..... Poor  Mother, that friendly voice didn't cheat on her not, but the hours must have been very long .. and more numerous than she had thought! Soon we found her a little better; so many times we had seen her at death's door that we had a little hope. It was at the time of the mass, we went there more reassured. Our holy martyr, who had heard us speak in this sense to the nurse, immediately complained to Our Lord, in these naive and touching terms: "My Jesus! since Our Mother finds me better and I suffer so much, show me so what it is to be better!” At the same moment, and as with the hand all her pains were taken away from her... no more the least suffering! She did not recognize herself! finding herself like a person in full health, who rests gently in a soft bed... This better lasted the whole time of the mass, that is to say half an hour... Oh, how true it is that the Lord does the will of those who love him in everything! 

After this rest of a moment, a prelude to eternal rest, the pains of our poor Mother did not leave her a single instant of respite... Her crucifixion was complete... This gentle victim lacked nothing to be entirely in conformity with his Jesus than the supreme test of abandonment. This last trait of resemblance will also be given to him. On Friday morning, December 4, her suffering became such that, unable to bear it any longer, she called her charitable nurses at all times to lift her up a little in their arms... But nothing relieved her! As we watched her in silence through our tears, she exclaimed in a soft and plaintive voice: "My good Jesus, have you therefore abandoned me?" At the same moment, her face lit up with a beauty celestial, a smile touched his lips and seemed to contradict his words. We could have applied this verse of the psalm to him: "I helped you in the day of the tribulation, . I answered you secretly during the storm. It was agony, and Jesus was silent... Jesus, who so many times had made his friendly voice heard... What a mystery!... This very morning, our venerable Father Superior came in to give him a last blessing How touching it was to see him on his knees praying fervently to obtain help and strength from on high for this dying saint! Our devoted and pious chaplain, who had her full confidence, came in his turn to console her and renew to her the absolution and indulgence of the Order. Finally, in the afternoon, our good Doctor arrived. sighed!” She smiled softly and thanked him.

We will not attempt, my Reverend Mother, to recount to you the cruel night which followed this day of agony. No expression can convey what we saw! Our poor Mother seemed plunged in an ocean of pure suffering without any admixture of consolation...darkness enveloped her Calvary!...Towards morning, as we supported her failing head in her arms, she sighed this bitter complaint: " And I who always said to you: IN TE DOMINE SPERAVI!...» and tears shone like diamonds on her closed eyelids!... But her sweet face breathed calm and peace... She said again with a touching voice: "Oh!... how long my exile is! Jesus, Mary. Joseph, make me expire peacefully in your holy company!...Virgin Mary...help me!!!...» 

The Blessed Virgin heard his prayer and from the dawn of this Saturday, at the first sound of the Angelus, she showed him her God. The victim was immolated "everything was consumed!" At the moment when this white dove broke her mortal bonds, all her daughters were gathered around her bed... Alas! and among them, the three privileged ones destined soon to form his procession in Heaven!.... realizing these words of the Holy Spirit: "Virgins... his companions will be brought to him, they will be presented to him with joy they will be brought into the temple of the sovereign King."

This triple mourning being hidden from us, we then thought only of our beloved Mother.... To the pain caused by her departure, was added the pain of sending away her venerated remains.... Our good Father Superior, not being able to resign himself to it, made us try several steps, the result of which seemed far from announced in our favour... But the Lord who had looked at the humility of his servant now wanted to raise her in proportion of his abasements and the greatness of his sufferings. He allowed Mr. Target, former deputy, ex-Minister Plenipotentiary, to take this cause in hand, with a devotion that we will never be able to recognize enough, and that he carried it out despite the apparently insurmountable difficulties.

The alternations of fear and hope, of yes and no, imposed on us the sweet obligation of keeping for three whole weeks the one who seemed unwilling to leave us, and earned her three most solemn services. At the first of these services, celebrated by Father Hugonin, brother of Monsignor, vicar general of Bayeux, Father Rohée, parish priest of Saint-Pierre de Lisieux, took it upon himself to speak. In what true, touching and eloquent terms he exalted Our Mother! One felt that he had known and appreciated her, as these words proved: "I can say, having been the happy witness, that I have never met a soul so equal, so serene, so calm as the soul of the one that the public voice calls the saint of Carmel..."

This voice, my Reverend Mother, we have heard it ourselves... During the five days that Our Mother remained exposed to the grille of the Choir, the crowds were considerable. Those of us who looked after the dear Remains hardly found time to pray, so great was the number of objects of piety: crucifixes, medals, rosaries, etc... that they had to make her touch. The newspaper of our city had moreover announced this death as "a public mourning" in an admirable article, which the most lively faith alone could have inspired. 

We waited impatiently for the evening to freely surround our beloved Mother! Impossible to render the impressions of grace felt near her! His features, so gentle and so calm, invited us to trust... How many favors had already been obtained by his dear relics! People came constantly to ask us for something that would have touched the saint... were it only for a petal of the Christmas roses which covered her... Monsieur le Docteur de Cornière, who during these days of anxiety gave us signal proofs of his attachment and veneration for Our Mother, observed each evening with touching happiness which his wounds exhaled no odor!....When the authorities forced us to seal the lead coffin, eight days later, we kissed his feet with pious emotion while wetting them with our tears....Now, Alas! we will no longer see our saint... But what an immense consolation to know her near the Tabernacle!.... She is there. on the left side of the Altar, a stone's throw from our gate!.... It is today that she can well exclaim in the transport of her gratitude: “So there she is, the slave!” Yes , there she is! no longer a servant, but Spouse and Queen in the palace of her Husband, the King of Kings!... 

O beloved Mother, allow us to address to you, in closing, this prayer engraved on the marble of your tomb: "Look at us from the height of Heaven! See and visit the vine that your right hand has planted, and give it the perfection!" 

We cannot doubt, my Reverend Mother, that the one we mourn is close to God... She was so humble, so hidden, she loved so much and suffered so much!... But as on earth her happiness consisted in doing good to all, she will be very grateful to you for the prayers that you will kindly add to the votes of the Order, reserving their distribution, if, as we have every reason to believe, her blessed soul enjoys the glory of Heaven. .

We have the grace to say to each other, my Reverend and very honored Mother

Your most humble sister and servant,

Sr MARIE DE GONZAGUE.rcind.

From our Monastery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Conception of the Carmelites of Lisieux, December 5, 1891                                                          

Although the circular bears the date of the death of the venerated Mother, it was written later, as evidenced by the note attached to the circular of Sister Fébronie of the Holy Childhood, on January 6, 1892: the circular of our venerated Mother Geneviève; the sad days that we have just passed (influenza epidemic) have prevented us from taking care of it, but we hope soon to respond to the wishes so fraternally expressed".   

DEATH of MOTHER GENEVIEVE (December 5, 1891)

Here are the terms in which the Reverend Mother Marie de Gonzague, then Prioress, announced this death to the Monasteries of her Order and promised them her circular:

JMJT

My Reverend and Most Honored Mother,

Peace and very humble greetings in Our Lord Jesus Christ who has just removed from our tenderness our dear and Venerable Mother Marie-Radegonde-Claire Geneviève of Saint Thérèse, Professed of Poitiers, Foundress of our Carmel. Our beloved Mother was 86 years, 4 months, 17 days old, including 60 years, 4 months and 14 days of Religious Profession. His departure plunges us all into the deepest pain; this venerated Mother was a relic for our little Carmel, the accomplished model of religious virtues. We will endeavor later, my Reverend Mother, to talk to you about the examples that she leaves us as a precious heritage, despite her expressed desire not to have a circular. Today, we would simply like, my Reverend Mother, to claim the suffrages of our Holy Order for Our Beloved Mother, adding to it, according to her intentions, a Communion in reparation, an honorable amend to the Most Blessed Sacrament, one to the Blessed Heart of Mary, and a Plenary Indulgence, asking that these Suffrages and other prayers be applied to the Souls in Purgatory.   

It is at the foot of the Cross that we dare to say to ourselves, My Reverend and Most Honored Mother, Your very humble Sister and Servant, Sr Marie de Gonzague, RC ind.

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Circular of Reverend Mother Gnevieve of Ste Thérèse

co-founder of the Carmel of Lisieux

Claire BERTRAND 1838-1891

My Reverend and Most Honored Mother,

Peace and most humble salvation in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

We had just tasted great consolations at the feasts of the third Centenary of Our Father Saint John of the Cross, when it pleased the Divine Master to share with us the bitterness of his chalice and to plunge us into deep sorrow by withdrawing from the midst from us, on December 5, 1891, our venerated Mother Marie-Claire Radegonde-Geneviève of SAINTE THERESE, aged 86 years 4 months 17 days, including 60 years 4 months and 14 days of religious Profession.

It is with trembling, my Reverend Mother, that we take up the pen to speak to you of this dear relic, true treasure of our Carmel.... Perhaps you will find that we have sometimes exceeded the limits of discretion by revealing some mysteries of this beautiful soul. There are many things that we would indeed have passed over in silence, if we were not certain that, in her great simplicity, our humble Mother had not herself reported them to several of her daughters; which God undoubtedly permitted for your edification and the glory of this elite soul.

O beloved Mother! above all bless your daughter, and forgive her, if, despite your expressed wishes not to have a circular, she consecrates out of obedience these few pages to the remembrance of your virtues. Sleep in peace, my Mother, in your humility.

Our venerated Mother, born in Poitiers from an eminently Christian family, received at Baptism the name of Claire. This blessed child foretold from the cradle what she would one day be: she never cried, which greatly astonished her good mother. At the age of two, having fallen ill, she never stopped smiling and making heard, instead of cries, a graceful and childish song, a prelude to this strength of soul and this joy in suffering that we will admire. soon, no longer in a cradle and on a mother's lap, but on Calvary, on the bloody Cross of Jesus.

In the meantime, let's follow our little Claire in the springtime of her beautiful life: a bright day, the sunset of which must have cast so much splendor! A few traits only will suffice to reveal the rare qualities with which heaven had endowed her. Still very young, she was entrusted to a teacher who, unfortunately, was not beyond reproach. The child's amiability and grace only gave him, it seems, the right to mistreat her further; and the young pupils, believing themselves authorized by the example of their mistress, made a game of assailing her. But the Lord had planted in his soul the seed of charity, that heavenly plant which was to grow with age and become the most beautiful tree in that delicious garden: that is why, instead of complaining and revenge, she constantly testified to the kindness and delicacy of her heart. One of her little companions was crying one day because the ball of wool from her knitting had fallen into a pit: with grief!" she cried. "Oh, don't cry!" said Claire to him; then, pulling out the soiled wool and wiping it as she went with her little apron, she returned the platoon to him, happy and proud of her exploit. Spiritual and very serious, she knew how to read perfectly, barely three and a half years old. Already the Holy Spirit was illuminating her young intelligence, as the following trait proves: While the children were playing and running around in the garden, Claire often retired to one side and read... - "There are undoubtedly beautiful images in this book, and it must be very interesting, isn't it my dear?" said a lady, very surprised to see her so attentive. - "Yes, Madam, she answered, this book is very interesting, because it is the Imitation of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

From that time, my Reverend Mother, this pious child had attracted the gaze not only of God, but of one of his saints. We want to speak of the venerable priest of the parish of Saint Pierre, the Abbé de Beauregard, later bishop of Orléans, whose interesting Memoirs of his deportation to Cayenne make it clear that if he missed martyrdom, this he was not the one who failed in martyrdom. This admirable confessor of the Faith, who had baptized the dear little one, never saw her pass without giving her the marks of a particular affection. Often even, taking her in his arms, he carried her to his room and showed her his paintings and pictures. The child was shaking! - "You are trembling, sinner!'' he said to her, smiling; then he looked at her with complacency. A prophetic gaze no doubt, and which explains this word from one of his letters: "From your earliest childhood, I have seeing that there was enough in you to make a saint, but that you would have to go through crosses”

However, the poor little girl always remained under the direction of this mistress of whom we have spoken, and her mother, believing her to be in very good hands, did not worry. Years passed like this, until the moment of First Communion, when the good Lord allowed everything to be discovered. Surprised by her daughter's silence, Madame asked her why. "Mother," replied this angel of peace, "how could I speak ill of my mistress to you? an age still so tender.

Seeing this precocious virtue, my Reverend Mother, it is easy to judge with what fervor the young child approached the Divine Banquet for the first time. Moreover, it was her good Father de Beauregard, as she called him, who prepared her for this great action, and himself gave her the Bread of Heaven. From then on, he never stopped cultivating this beautiful lily, watching with jealous care that nothing earthly came to tarnish its whiteness. One day, seeing her hair curly and raised with grace: "Why, child, he said to her, all these curls? Do your hair more simply. With headbands, you would be much better; ask your mother for darker colors ." And to humiliate her, he added: “Besides, you are not pretty, you are not rich, and you do not look pleasant; who do you pretend to like?”

There was nothing to reply! the next day, the young girl's hair was smooth and formed two flat bands, to the stern director's taste. But when my mother saw me, she told us, there were endless exclamations; very happy with his displeasure, I resumed my first hairstyle and apologized to my Father de Beauregard, saying to him: "Father, I saw that this upset Mum..." This innocent defeat proves enough that the young penitent was not insensitive to the attractions of her age. Of a lively and ardent character, she even knew enthusiasm. When the noble daughter of Louis XVI came to Poitiers, all the great ladies of the city, in their most brilliant attire, found themselves in her path. Claire slipped in front of them, and exclaimed "Long live the Duchess of Angoulême!" Even before responding to the greetings of the great ladies, the princess looked at the young girl, gave her a sign of friendship and smiled graciously. The latter, in the transport of her joy, kept saying to her brother: “Jules, are you thinking about it? the Duchess of Angoulême who smiled at me!”

But the hour was approaching when Our Lord was also preparing to smile at this elite soul, and as Jesus' smiles are only for crucified souls, He began by giving him his Cross. Madame Bertrand fell seriously ill, and it was Claire, then aged 16, who urged her to make the sacrifice of her life. Listening to the advice of this angel of the earth, this pious mother soon after gave up her beautiful soul to God, abandoning her children to Divine Providence, happy to leave exile, and in feelings of the liveliest piety. Monsieur de Beauregard was still there, at the bedside of this dying mother, which made him later write to our beloved Mother these words which always touched her: "Remember, my child, that it is I who have brought your mother to Heaven, and that I have been her friend!"

However, my Reverend Mother, this so cruel mourning brought very painful changes in the life of the poor child. She was the eldest and understood the importance of her task. Her excellent father made her feel it well, when the very day of her death, taking her mother's ring, he put it on her finger, saying: "My daughter, it is now you who will replace your mother." Following the example of Our Mother Saint Thérèse, she addressed herself from that day on to the Queen of Heaven, asking her to help her in her new duties; but all was sadness in this hearth, yesterday still so joyful! Financial embarrassments soon coming to join the regrets of the maternal absence, there was talk of selling the house, this house so dear, guardian of so many memories. The poor father concealed his fears badly, his daughter guessed everything. Submerged in an ocean of sadness, she did not even know how to cry out to Heaven; but the desperate hours are the hours of divine help, that of grace was about to strike.

"One evening," she said, "my father having gone out to sell the house, I was left alone with my youngest brother, then seven years old. The sobs choked me, but I did not want to cry, for fear of to afflict this poor little one, who loved me beyond words. Already seeing clearly that I was sad, he showered me with caresses, which pierced my heart! To use my countenance, I took a book which was under my hand, and opening it at random, my eyes fell on a small image representing Jesus, Savior of the world. In an instant this image became luminous, there took place in my soul a sudden and admirable revolution; the price of crosses, the merit of sufferings were shown to me in such vivid clarity, that I was quite delighted and out of myself. My tears flowed in abundance, but I no longer hid them, for they were tears of joy... I felt completely transformed and ready, if necessary, to beg my bread for the love of Jesus

Our Lord was content with accepting the sacrifice, and Divine Providence came to the aid of the father and the orphans. Through a devoted cousin, the Very Reverend Mother Aimee of Jesus, then Prioress of the Carmel of Poitiers (known in the world under the name of Mademoiselle d'Ulys), took a keen interest in this tried family; she appointed Monsieur Bertrand as steward of her immense fortune and saved him from a too justly apprehended ruin. They kept the house, and confidence, peace, almost joy came to be reborn in these desolate hearts. A year then passed without any serious event. Claire fulfilled all her duties with great perfection and thought of the future only to commend it to God, thinking well that he would not refuse her his light at the appointed time. She was not mistaken, Our Lord was already at the door, ready to completely conquer this young heart. We will let her speak for herself again:

“I was about to reach my seventeenth year; one day when I was alone in my room, kneeling to say my morning prayer, suddenly the apartment disappeared from my eyes, I don't know where I was, if I had a body or if I didn't. had more... Immersed in a dazzling light and in an indescribable joy, I heard the sound of a voice so melodious that all the concerts here below cannot give the faintest idea. This voice said, or rather sang, leaving between each word a mysterious interval:

TO BE THE WIFE OF A GOD.... WHAT A TITLE...... WHAT A PRIVILEGE!......

"Then everything disappeared... silence fell, I found myself flooded with tears and in an intoxicating happiness, like a person who would return from Heaven after having contemplated its splendours and penetrated its unfathomable secrets."

From that memorable day, which we can well call the day of the divine betrothal, the happy child thought of Carmel and, unable to suffer any delay, she soon presented herself. But her visit was prevented by that of her Father, who alleged for such just reasons that he was granted his case, with a promise never to deprive him of his treasure. Knowing nothing, the poor little girl was full of hope. "Oh! what joy I felt, she told us, in this parlor of Carmelites! Luckily, there was a little hole near the gate, I looked into it, and soon I saw Mother Aimée appear. of Jesus...... My heart was pounding... She said to me "How old are you, my child?

- My Mother, I answered, I am very old, I am 17!    

- That's fine, my child, but you want to take a vow of obedience, don't you? So you will begin to practice it by returning to your father, I will let you know when you must come in."

Judge of my surprise and pain! I understood that I would have to wait for my father's death. I was broken. But little by little calm returned to my soul, thinking that I would do the will of God.

Claire therefore returned to her father's house, seeking to console herself for not being a Carmelite by practicing all the virtues of the cloister. Soon Our Lord demanded of her a new sacrifice; Monsieur de Beauregard was appointed Bishop of Orleans and although he promised never to lose sight of her, what support, what less help! It was necessary to choose a Director, the young girl had already cast her eyes on the Abbé de Rochemonteix, superior of her dear Carmel; but to accustom herself to obedience and to the resignation of herself, she entrusted this affair to Mademoiselle Thérèse, her old and holy cousin, whose wise advice she always followed. "Alas! said the poor child to herself, of course my cousin Thérèse is going to refer me to some good old canon of the cathedral." She was wrong, God blessed her act of renunciation and the Superior of Carmel was rightly offered to her. This wise Director, my Reverend Mother, saw at first glance that he did not have before him a vulgar soul. Consequently, he did not spare her, humiliated her and corrected her in every encounter. Despite this, it must be said, this soul, moreover so perfect, deceived his vigilance on a slight point. This is the time to make known the little infidelity of her youth, "her great infidelities", as she called them. We cannot support this word, and yet, for a soul filled with so many favors, is it any wonder that the Lord should be jealous? We will see with what rigor he made him expiate later this imperfection which we are going to tell the story.

Rejected for a long time it seemed in the world she wanted to leave, adorned with all the moral qualities, full of spirit, of perfect judgment, of a very calm imagination, it is true, but of a loving heart and sensitive to the highest degree, this young girl soon attracted eyes and fixed attention; in spite of her modest position, she was sought after in all societies; advantageous matches were offered to him. "For the wedding, she tells us, I always showed myself unshakable, I even remained simply dressed and did not think of pleasing. Only, for my personal satisfaction, I kept in my way of dressing a little research: We m I had given a very beautiful shawl, and instead of tying it with a pin, I let it float freely and gracefully. An inner voice was asking me to sacrifice this pin. But I did not want to hear it. I refused Jesus a pin! What ingratitude!... Monsieur de Rochemonteix himself seemed to warn me in the name of Our Lord, for the first time I spoke to him, he reproached me: there is about you, my child, a certain harmony which I would like to see disappear.—Father, I replied then, I cannot dress myself more simply, see: I have a brown dress, and this shawl is given to me. gave, must I not wear it?" Surprisingly and worthy of note, Monseigneur de Beauregard was never informed of this infidelity of which Our Mother alone was aware and years later, he wrote to her at the Carmel: "Humble yourself, keep yourself small, remember that you you once wore a shawl that displeased God and me."

But, aside from this slight failing, Claire was a model of all virtues. Her father loved her so dearly that he couldn't bear the thought of even unwittingly causing her the slightest pain. One day, after having asked her for money for household needs, he found himself unable to satisfy her, guessing the anguish of the paternal heart, she secretly shed a few tears, but her red eyes betrayed: "How unhappy I am, cried this good father with pain, I made my daughter cry!

This darling daughter was really also the mother of her two brothers, and the examples she gave them, the gentle empire she exercised over them, always kept them in the paths of duty.

She still used her blessed influence, not only within the family, but in the midst of the world. One Sunday, several ladies had invited her to come for a walk not far from town. As soon as we arrived, we went to Mass; but what a temple! an abandoned barn, the water was falling on the altar. And what an altar! poorer than the crib! The priest's vestments in tatters, the sacred vessels unworthy of the name... Leaving the Divine Office, the pious young girl, heartbroken, followed the ladies to the hotel, unable to utter a single word.

"What's the matter with you, Miss?" he was asked. - Ladies, she answered immediately, I am surprised that you do not share my sadness, and I wonder how it is possible that you could without pain attend such a Mass, covered with lace, with magnificent hats, during that Our Lord is worse lodged than a street beggar and worse dressed than your servants. This word produced its full effect and soon an elegant chapel replaced the poor barn.

In the country, where his father had to spend long months every year, his presence was still marvellous; she instructed the children of the village with astonishing success. "Mam'zelle," said a poor woman to her, "don't refuse me to take charge of my daughter, I warn you that she is bad as an owl and half stupid, but that doesn't matter, you can give her some Mind, it's up to you to want it.” This naive confidence was not deceived, the little idiot became intelligent, pious and good, and later went to Carmel to thank her benefactress.

Visiting the poor, doing them good, these were all Claire's pleasures. One Christmas party, after Midnight Mass, the ladies of the neighboring chateau wanted to hold her back; but she had already promised good peasants and refused the invitation. "Oh! how much happier I was in the house of these poor people, she told us, they sang until the day of old Christmases in the patois of the country, and I sang with them; my heart grew hot in their company, they showed such great faith, such lively piety, that I thought I was in Bethlehem."

She still exercised her charity by a heroic silence when it was necessary. One of her aunts invited her to come and spend some time with her in Poitiers. She went there all joyful; but his piety soon displeased the dark and gruff uncle. Seeing her returning from church one morning, he said loud enough to be heard: "If I had a daughter like that, I would kick her out of my house." Returning to her room, the poor child burst into tears; her good aunt herself, deeply pained, advised her to return to the country as soon as possible, but this angelic soul did not think so; such a hasty departure would have made known to his father what had just happened and doubtless broken the union of the two families. She remained therefore all the agreed time, showed herself more amiable than ever towards her uncle, and kept silence. O marvelous power of charity! This hard man was touched by such behavior, and from a wolf he became a lamb; he allowed himself to be guided later in the ways of God by the advice of his admirable niece.

But the time was approaching, my Reverend Mother, when the doors of Carmel would finally open. The dear aspirant had reached her twenty-fourth year when her excellent father was called back to God. It was time to fly to the cloister. Monsieur de Rochemonteix, to test him, then pretended not to believe in his vocation. One day, however, he sent her a little book in which, on the corners of the first page, he had written these words: Do not pity the pain... the reward will be great... Nothing less than Heaven for your home... God Himself will make you happy. 'Oh! she said to herself, that is to say that I will be a Carmelite: "God Himself will make you happy!” and she repeated these words unceasingly. Indeed, on March 26 of this same year 1830, our sweet dove entered joyfully into the blessed ark.

It was the Very Reverend Mother Beloved of Jesus. her benefactress and her second mother, who received her at the threshold of the cloister and called her Geneviève de Sainte Thérèse, a prophetic name, for was she not to become one day on the mountain of Carmel, shepherdess and guardian of several flocks? Here are the first words addressed to her by this good Mother: "My child, if you want to be holy and always happy, remember this well: Let no one ever know what pleases or displeases you, what is pleasant or disagreeable to you, what whether you like it or not.” This lesson was followed to the letter and our beloved Mother reaped the fruits of peace.

The Monastery of Poitiers then had venerable elders, perfect types of the perfect Carmelite. These good Mothers, for the most part, had seen the disasters of the Revolution and suffered in a thousand ways during those dreadful days. A perfume of heroic holiness escaped from their persons, and the young postulant was at first perfumed with it. She never forgot this first impression, and when, at the time of the licenses, the novices, her companions, agreed on an hour to go together to visit them, she always excused herself and went there alone, wanting to enjoy at leisure their experience and advice. Guided by such examples, Our Mother set off with rapid steps on the path of religious perfection, and God, who watched over this soul and wanted to raise it so high, began by lowering it in his own eyes and to the eyes of her sisters, sending her a humiliation that the most skilful mistress could never have given her. She had been called the second dressmaker and surprisingly, this young girl who in society had given proof of a great aptitude for manual work could not even manage to sew a coat belt. Powerless to handle the needle, she tossed and turned the work in such a clumsy way that her companion was exhausted. No longer able to do absolutely anything, she had a very heavy heart when the feast of her beloved Mother Prioress came: having nothing to offer her but canvas for the sacristy!... At the moment of receiving in her turn the blessing and the maternal kiss, she held back her tears... but the good Mother Aimee of Jesus said to her in a low voice: "Console yourself, my child, for you are the daughter of the heart" Very tender words that put balm on the wound.

However, my Reverend Mother, this apparent nullity was compensated by such great qualities, that no other objection was made to receiving her to take the habit, other than to represent to her the uncertainty of the future. It was 1830, on the eve of a new revolution; but the fervent postulant answered without hesitation, that she would be too happy to follow her Mothers and sisters in prison and to death... Seeing her so determined, they gave her the Holy Habit. It was then a new impetus towards the good. Six months thus passed in happiness and joy; all the exercises of religious life seemed to her more and more delicious. Returning from the parlor, she lovingly kissed the walls of her cell; solitude had so many attractions for this soul of meditation and prayer! She was living in an atmosphere of peace, when suddenly this beautiful sky darkened... We will let her tell this terrible ordeal herself, while despairing of giving the accent with which, in the intimacy of our souls , she entrusted it to us so many times.

“Six months before my profession, Monsieur de Rochemonteix preached the retreat to us, and in one of his sermons, he gave us a striking picture of the three states in which souls in this life can find themselves. In the picture of imperfect souls, still less in that of fervent souls, I could not recognize myself: but when he came to describe the state of souls in mortal sin, I felt deeply moved; as he spoke, I recognized myself more. Troubled beyond expression, I returned to our cell almost reduced to despair... Not knowing what to do, unable to pray, I sat beside myself near our bed, (it was late, it was after Matins ), when, in the silence of the night, a voice which seemed to me to come from outside said to me very loudly and distinctly: "YOU COULD... AND YOU DIDN'T WANT! Seizing my crucifix, I presented it to the place from where I had heard this voice and I answered: "Forgive me, my God, forgive me!....Here is my surety...

I then remained all night in mortal anguish, under the influence of divine justice ready to precipitate me into the abyss... In the morning, I went to confession, and what was my surprise when I heard myself give for penance a novena of communions! I approached the Holy Table in a desperate state and on the verge of exclaiming: “I am damned”. But no sooner had the Holy Host touched my lips than I felt the tears rise to my eyelids and flow in torrents...peace was restored to me, and I no longer retained from my sins anything but a sweet and deep. Some time later, thinking of what I had suffered, I naively addressed my complaints to NS, I said to him: Why my Jesus did you allow such a storm? Oh that was awful! Tell me why did you do that? – The answer was not long in coming: “If I allowed it, it was only out of love.....and to spare you 10 years of Purgatory! “

This revelation is very mysterious: When God has chosen a soul, when he has informed it of his graces, what fidelity does he not ask of it! Wife of Songs “You have hurt my heart, my sister, my wife, with just one of your hairs! “What were the faults of our beloved Mother's youth? And yet by what purifications Our Lord made him expiate them! even giving him to understand that they had deserved 10 years of purgatory...... Which also shows the merciful goodness of our God, who is willing to pay himself for an hour of suffering in this life, to spare us the rigors of his justice in the other.

Thus passed this dreadful storm; but when the day of his Profession came, new anxieties; not only did our dear Mother not feel the consolation of being the wife of a God, but this God whom she loved so tenderly seemed to reject her far from HIM... then sinking into the depths of his nothingness, the poor little professed in the bitterness of her soul begged the divine master to be good enough only to suffer her in his holy house in the midst of his faithful wives. “Keep me, she said to him with tears, keep me as your little slave! » and confiding her pain to her Mother Prioress, she begged her to entrust her with the office of third nurse, to become the servant of her sisters; what was given to him. At that time there were many invalids in the monastery; among them a poor sister whose wounds exhaled a fetid odor. Sr. Geneviève never left her day or night, although the Doctor himself was only able to visit her very quickly. The day before the death, on leaving the poor cell, he said with admiration: “The one who cared for this nun is obviously a SAINT. smell.

The heroic novice still found a way to satisfy himself. In the height of summer, in front of a blazing fire, she was drying clothes for another patient who required special care; this every day and long enough to have the face inflamed and almost alive. But carefully hiding this fatigue, no complaint escaped his lips. It was still too much for her humility not to be driven from the house of God; she suffered everything in silence and repressed her anguish, singing unceasingly pious hymns to the glory of her Jesus...

Finding her always amiable and smiling, people were surprised at only one thing: to see her in the refectory eating very little and with extreme difficulty. “My sister Geneviève, they told her, the joy of having made profession must not prevent you from eating. “Alas thought the poor novice, I must therefore take it upon myself to make all my sisters believe that I have joy in my heart!” Finally, little by little, Our Lord allowed himself to be touched; He said nothing to her this time, but gently and invisibly, his divine hand parted the clouds; the sun, not of consolation but of filial trust, illuminated her soul, the humble wife wished for nothing else. His life was to be a life of the cross, not of ecstasies. Doubtless many more times she will hear the gentle voice of the Bridegroom; but most often his soul will be immersed in the mysterious silence of faith. Who can say, Reverend Mother, the progress of the young novice during that dark night she had just passed through! She had become all humility, charity, detachment and obedience

A priest who had known her in society asked her this question in the parlor: “My child, tell me what is your attraction? Do you have a particular taste for penance or prayer?

- Mr. priest, she replied timidly, I feel inclined only towards the penance of rule and in use at the monastery; I also like prayer very much and the Holy Office recited in choir, but I have no particular attraction except for obedience.

- Courage, my child continued the good priest very edified, with this attraction you will go far.

There would be many examples of his other virtues to report, particularly his great courage to conquer himself in all things, his detachment and his charity. In a circumstance where she had an extreme need to see the Abbé de la Rochemonteix, her superior, it happened that several nuns having also requested it, she waited until evening at the door of the confessional, without having had her turn, which caused him a violent migraine.

“Ah!” she said to herself, “it is thus thus, Sister Geneviève, that you are giving yourself such a great headache to satisfy your will... but this is the last time, I am going to know how to cure you. ." And the next day she addressed herself to the ordinary confessor, not wanting to suffer anything that might disturb her peace.

Another time, having been ill for a long time, it happened that a certain little woolen cap which she wore in the infirmary, made one of the pleasant visitors laugh and joke a great deal. Deep in her heart, the dear little patient felt bored and a slight wound in her self-esteem. But, recognizing him immediately, her decision was taken: the first day that she returned to recreation, she pulled

gravely from her pocket the famous little bonnet, and putting it on her head, she said laughing: "Look, my good sisters, how well my hair is in this bonnet!....We had so much fun the other day about her, that I did not want to deprive the community of this little distraction ........... " Everyone laughs indeed at the expense of our humble Mother who triumphed then, and blessed God in his heart.

Here is an example of her detachment and interior freedom: When the Reverend Mother Aimee of Jesus fell ill, the justly alarmed community witnessed great pain. Little sister Geneviève suffered a lot too, she "the daughter of the heart"!" But to prepare for the ordeal of an approaching separation, she withdrew apart, shedding her complaints and her tears, not outside , but in the presence only of her Beloved, for she knew by experience what the author of the Imitation says: "The pious man carries with him everywhere Jesus, his comforter!" A young sister of the white veil, her companion in the novitiate, attracted by the charm of her virtue, joined her; the two then encouraged each other...'They said to themselves that having left the world for God, this God of goodness would always remain with them, that elsewhere it was quite right that their dear Mother should soon receive the crown, having worked and suffered so long to acquire it... when one is in Carmel, said our venerable Mother later, one must not be too sorry at death of his mothers and his sisters; have we not come here to die, and soon shall we be have you all gathered in Heaven?

While this good Mother Aimee of Jesus was in the infirmary, Sister Geneviève was asked to look after her. One day when the latter was about to wash her feet, the patient's face became sad and pensive: "What's the matter, my dear Mother?" said his little nurse. - ''O my child, answered the holy Prioress, must I confess it to you?... I am afraid that your affection for me will make you lose the merit of this action. - Don't be afraid, Mother. resumed the young professed, and forgive me if I dare to tell you that with as much joy, I would wash the feet of the last of my sisters. Soon, alas! this beloved Mother was found worthy of the eternal reward... Mademoiselle Thérèse then came to the parlor, all in tears, and said to her cousin: "Well! what will become of you now? how unhappy you are going to be! –" but I came here for God who will never miss me, so I will always be happy."

After the death of her good Mother, our virtuous novice was named provisional. All the sisters were edified and charmed by her exquisite charity in this office which she said, perhaps more difficult to fulfill well and even more meritorious than that of nurse, because one is not only in charge of the sick. , but in a way from the whole Community.

A nun having caused her pain, she immediately resolved to avenge herself on it in the manner of the saints. there was something better in everything else. And recounting this later, she said with such a sweet and humble accent that went straight to the heart, without raising the slightest doubt: “This time, I did not act like this to overcome myself, but really out of affection... since that this dear sister had caused me pain, I loved her more''... Well, my little children, she added, see how advantageous it is to forgive, not to get angry, to be considerate and kind with those who offend us: the sister who was displeased with me, seeing that I was doing everything to please her, was not long in coming and throwing herself at my feet, and kissing me tenderly: "O my sister Geneviève she exclaimed, we can tell you nothing, I am overcome by your charity, forgive me!

We would not finish, my Reverend Mother, if we had to recount all the edifying features of these eight years spent in the blessed Carmel of Poitiers. We have only shown a few precious pearls of this incomparable setting; but, not knowing the wealth of it ourselves, we end with this word from the Songs: "Behold the beauty of the Bride without what is hidden within,"

Our beloved Mother was therefore ready for the great mission which was about to be entrusted to her. When it came to the question of founding a Carmel in Lisieux, she felt a strong desire to be part of it "to taste the sweetness of poverty..." But the fear of acting by a movement of her own will, 1 prevented from asking anything. "If God wills it, she thought, he will be able to inspire her to Superiors." The Reverend Mother Prioress, in fact, had cast her eyes on her daughter Geneviève, and Father Sauvage, our founder, having obtained permission for the two benefactresses and their companions to come to Poitiers to do their novitiate there, Reverend Mother Pauline resolved to appoint her mistress of novices. Before telling her, wanting to test her, she called out to her in the middle of recreation: "My sister Geneviève, it is not the habit in Carmel to stay here without a word. say sad and gloomy as a nightcap, try to be more cheerful." The next day, complete change! But then, on leaving the heating room, the good Mother, pretending to be more displeased than the day before, said to her: "Really, my sister Geneviève, if you continue like this, I will soon be forced to keep quiet to listen to you; you Here we are, like a village rooster at recess!" Without answering a word, without showing the least annoyance, this true nun kissed the ground and withdrew. Reverend Mother Pauline was satisfied and Our Lord was even more so, for, during evening prayer, he himself announced to her the event of the next day with these words: "MY DAUGHTER, WE WILL ALLOW YOU TOMORROW TO T 'UNITE TO ME BY COMMUNION; THEN THE MOTHER PRIORY WILL CALL YOU, AND AFTER HAVING MADE YOU READ THE SERMON YOU COPYED ON OBEDIENCE, SHE WILL APPOINT YOU MISTRESS OF NOVICES.'

“I was very disturbed, Our Mother told us, and believing that the devil alone could put such a thought in my mind, I chased it away with all my power. But the next morning, on the command of my Mother Prioress, I approached the Holy Table and went to her cell: "My child, she said to me, take the notebook you have written and read it to me. sermon on obedience." I read it in a trembling voice and then she named me mistress of novices. So it was Our Lord who had spoken to me, I no longer doubted it, and remained well consoled".

She understood then that she would go to the foundation and was delighted... with a very supernatural rejoicing no doubt because we were able to realize the immense sacrifice she had to offer to God by leaving her dear religious cradle and her country that she loved so much! But all his affections, weighed against poverty, could not outweigh this cherished virtue. Strengthened by her obedience, happy to still have to practice it with regard to the Reverend Mother Elisabeth, named Prioress of the little Colony, this generous soul, this angel, as Mother Pauline called her, took flight towards Lisieux.

We won't tell of the trip, my Reverend Mother, any peculiarity, except the passage to Orleans. The two Founding Mothers being the spiritual daughters of Monseigneur de Beauregard, we went to the episcopal palace. The venerable Bishop, aged 88, was sick at the time and was in bed. When he learned the names of the visitors, who were impatiently awaited from day to day, he got up, and with a staggering step but a joyful heart, advancing first towards his daughter Geneviève, he took her head. his two hands: "Ah! there you are, he cried, the smallest of the people of God." The conversation began, we almost forgot the hour of the diligence, the holy Bishop was radiant. "Little one, he said again to our dear Mother, at the moment of departure, do not fail to write the history of your foundation and put in it above all the pleasure that your visit gives me... I would say so “my Nunc dimittis.” After making a generous offering to them, he blessed them with all the affection of a father and dismissed them.

This blessing was a good omen; God kept and protected his chosen ones in the midst of many dangers; finally, we arrived at Lisieux. The lover of poverty was then able to satisfy herself; the temporary house was thatched and the interior so badly laid out, the rooms so small, so low, that she gave it no other name than that of her little Bethlehem. We stayed like that for a few months... the time needed to prepare another house, still very poor, but larger, where we settled more or less regularly, while waiting for the monastery and our lovely chapel which was built under the first priorate of our dear Mother. God blessed these beginnings, the subjects were not lacking and these young plants cultivated by the hands of a saint, instructed even more by her example than by her words, became true Carmelites, virile souls, capable of immolation in all things for the glory of Our Lord. "I always recognize, said one of the confessors of the Monastery later, the novices formed by the holy Mother Geneviève."

Hardly four years had passed since the foundation when our good Mother Elisabeth was called back to God. This event required an election; All eyes were already on Mother Sub-Prioress when Father Sauvage received a letter from Poitiers. Incomprehensible thing in such a circumstance; believing that it was a question of the recall of Mother Geneviève (who had only been loaned to Lisieux), he was careful not to open the missive, but came in all haste to Carmel, exposed the Blessed Sacrament for the three usual days, and presided over the elections which realized his wishes by confirming his hopes.

Now, on the evening of the first day, Our Lord was good enough to approach his humble and very little servant to let her still hear his sweet voice. He said to her: "IT IS YOU I HAVE CHOSEN TO GOVERN THIS HOUSE... OPEN YOUR HEART TO YOUR DAUGHTERS AND I WILL OPEN MINE TO YOU... AND JUST AS I REST IN MY FATHER, THE HOLY TRINITY WILL BE YOUR SUPPORT”.

O beloved Mother! You were able to enjoy the sublime reward that was promised to you, because we know how faithful you were to the recommendation of the Divine Master... Yes, during your twenty-seven years as priorate you opened your heart to us. and what a heart! The benignity of Jesus had descended there completely: it was a sky of peace, an abyss of charity, a powerful dam where the waves of all the storms came to break and die.

But what did this letter of which we have spoken contain? She hid a heavy cross.... From this election of which he had seemed so happy, our good Father Sauvage was no longer the same with regard to the new Prioress. She, who had hitherto enjoyed his full confidence, was now deprived of it. As for the guidance of souls, he had seen it at work and did not doubt its capacity: but for the exterior, he guided it, watched it like a child, without giving it latitude even for the slightest expense. . What acts of humility and obedience must have been the fruits of this painful situation!

On the death of Abbé Sauvage, 11 years later, they came to ask our good Mother to look through his correspondence, and God allowed the mysterious letter to fall into his hands. It contained these words: "Do not appoint Geneviève Prioress because she is not capable of fulfilling this difficult task...

It was therefore necessary that our humble Mother was very skilful in hiding her talents and her merit in this dear convent of Poitiers so that the good Mother Pauline (who later recognized her error) allowed herself to be deceived there. Be that as it may, while making her understand what had hitherto seemed inexplicable to her, this revelation did not distress our Mother. On the contrary, she knew how to find in it a subject of joy and made no mystery of it . She recounted her adventure aloud, adding happily: "If I am Prioress, it is therefore only by the sole will of my God!! Thus was realized this prophecy of Monseigneur de Beauregard: "You are not going to Lisieux to build there a house of material stones, but to erect there in honor of God an edifice of living stones which are the souls.

Since the venerable name of the holy Bishop of Orléans returns to our pen, allow us, my Reverend Mother, to transcribe here a single fragment of his delightful letters. In 1841, he had left exile, so it could only be in a supernatural light that he wrote in 1839, when our Mother Geneviève was only Sub-Prioress and mistress of novices:

“Read more than once the XXth chapter of the first book of the Imitation... This admirable chapter of wisdom recommends solitude. How will you be able to keep her, since she seems better made for a hermit than for a Prioress, who must open her heart, her cell and her mouth to everyone and at all times? However, you need a little corner where you will be alone with the Alone. My child, you will have to find in the corner of your heart a small place, very small, where you will be sure to find this One, worthy of your love, of your thoughts. But, what furniture will you put there? It takes two: faith, love, and nothing else. I do not like when you write to me, that you speak to me of your sins; God has long forgotten that shawl for which you paid so dear! And I, who have been happy enough to have shown you the right path, declare to you that all your sins have been abundantly remitted to you... hold it therefore as true and certain... God is not a disputer, he Easily excuse souls... He loved you with such an extraordinary love that I would regard it as a lack of faith to worry about you henceforth. Oh my God! how merciful you are to give my daughter Geneviève such a beautiful place in your heart! My daughter, sink into a sea of ​​gratitude and often keep at the feet of Jesus the silence of respect and a holy astonishment of what God has done for you, and what happiness he is preparing for your poor heart...

“Whether I tell you, or whether I remain silent, I will remain united in heart, in prayer, in memory, to the shrub of Carmel withdrawn from the Garden of Poitiers. It is something said and written in my heart. You have been my daughter for so long!... I bless you like a good old father."

What consolations must have brought to our venerable Mother the reading of such lines! However, we must say it in praise of her detachment and the delicacy of her heart: Two years before the death of the holy Prelate, she deprived herself of this correspondence, because her letters often contained only a single word to the address of Reverend Mother Elisabeth, and that she wanted in future to leave her alone the consolation of receiving answers. The sacrifice was shared, as we have the proof of by this bitter complaint of the worthy and noble old man on his deathbed: "I used to receive letters from Geneviève which gave me so much pleasure! Why does she no longer write to me? “He knows it now!” she replied with an angelic smile, when she was made aware of this touching detail.

To return to Our Mother's first priorate, the three years expired, Reverend Mother Pauline called for her angel... Fr. Sauvage said nothing to the community; it was agreed with the Superiors of Poitiers that the elections would be held, and that if Mother Geneviève remained without office, she would be returned to her first monastery as soon as possible. It is easy to judge the result of the election: with one common voice, our good Mother was re-elected for three years, in the exercise of a charge which she had so perfectly fulfilled. At the end of this time, new requests from the Superiors of Poitiers, new entreaties from Father Sauvage and his poor little Carmel. Monsieur de Rochemonteix wrote in these terms to our very dear Mother: "The sisters are in a hurry to have you come, it is hard for them to see you again, they are afraid that the loan they have made will degenerate into a donation; I had very difficult to calm them down. I answered them that if your presence in Lisieux was considered necessary, it would not be wise to withdraw you at this time. I repeat it to you: we all have a great desire to to see you return to Poitiers, but if your Superior, if you yourself in all frankness and simplicity, think that it is necessary to extend the permission that I have given you, I will do my best so that your sisters do not no obstacles.

This decision, which was to be sent back to the Superior and to the Community of Lisieux, was quickly given... The Carmel of Poitiers granted another three years, when at the end of the second year, our good Mother being ill, it took advantage of the opportunity for a definitive recall. How will this beloved Mother respond? No doubt, she was strongly inclined towards the return... but a crushing ordeal then weighed on the foundation and repressing her dearest hopes, she wrote these beautiful words: "Now that the Cross is planted in the Carmel of Lisieux, how could I run away from her?" Our venerable Founder, for his part, pleaded his case so eloquently that he won it.... Mother Geneviève remained forever in Lisieux, and on September 15, 1849, Monseigneur Robin, then Bishop of Bayeux, himself announced to his dear Carmelites, the happy news. Thus, we owe to our Mothers of Poitiers this signal favor of having known a saint... They were good enough to deprive themselves in order to enrich us; but today our heritage is common... and the same gaze that watches over Lisieux is directed towards Poitiers!... Mother Pauline's Angel spreads its wings over its dear cradle and will never leave it again...

Since September 15, 1849, until the death of our beloved Mother, what events, lights, graces received! It would take a volume to give the interesting detail... The events are known to our dear Carmels; we know that from the small shrub removed from the garden of Poitiers, weak branches have still detached themselves, trees in full vigor today, Saigon, Coutances and Caen.

Saigon above all was the work of Our Mother, an indirect work no doubt, since she entrusted this noble enterprise to one of her dear daughters; but the innumerable sorrows, the contradictions and humiliations of all kinds which she then suffered, will always make her regarded as the first Mother of this humble Carmel; moreover, the venerable Foundress, Mother Philomena of the Immaculate Conception, of such holy memory, did not see it otherwise. Let us also hasten to say that the pains of which we have just spoken were well compensated on the side of heaven... Didn't the illustrious Founder of the new Carmel, Monsignor Lefebvre, Apostolic Vicar of Cochinchina and cousin of Mother Philomène seen in the dark dungeon where he was detained by an unjust sentence, the radiant vision of our Holy Mother Thérèse, asking him to establish his Order in Annam, because God would be greatly served and glorified?

We will limit ourselves, my Reverend Mother, to speaking to you now of the hidden life of our Saint, of her virtues, which can be summed up in a single word: love. She loved her God with all the strength of her soul; that is why she loved us so much! why she so loved the Church, France, poor sinners, and sacrificed herself for them.

Not stealing a single atom of his heart from Jesus: this is the interior work of his entire religious life. Jealous also of that of her daughters, she prayed to God that he would not allow anyone to become attached to her through a feeling of human affection. His greatest caress, apart from the motherly kisses of our family celebrations, consisted simply in placing his hand on our heads; still, this was a well-marked sign of contentment! And yet, what tenderness! Our sorrows were her sorrows, our joys, her joys... She was interested in each of the members of our families and commended them earnestly to God. Her approach was gentle, easy; her extreme indulgence She did not hurry souls, but knew how to wait for them and always won them over. Calm in all circumstances, with a prudence full of wisdom, she did not smash difficulties, only sought to make peace reign, preaching unceasingly the union of hearts and charity. She had, like the Bride of Songs, "honey and milk under her tongue". His exhortations from the Chapter were admirable; you could feel the fruit of her prayers, she spoke of the abundance of the heart, of a heart on fire that wants to spread its flames... and what a stimulus to hear these words: ''Our Lord asked me to make this known to the Community... He wants you. my children, such and such a thing... One day, she assured that of all her dear daughters present, not one would miss the rendezvous of heaven... When she received the vows of the novices, it was never without to shed tears... one would have said that the mystery of the divine Wedding was shown to his eyes without veils!... Happy are the hearts which have offered themselves to Jesus through such hands!!!...

She also knew how to introduce them to the Eternal Wedding... And in the first years of the foundation, this case was, alas, all too frequent. One of these young nuns, subject of hope and greatly dear to Our Mother, was waiting, it seems, at the hour of her agony, for her permission to fly away to heaven. Then, in a voice broken by tears, this courageous Mother said to him: My child, you have always lived in obedience, die in an act of obedience..." And his soul immediately, breaking its earthly bonds, went to reunite to the Bridegroom of Virgins!

But to know our incomparable Mother well, you had to see her relieved of the heavy burden of superiority: it was then the humble little sister Geneviève of Poitiers, so hidden, so obedient, that one would have taken her rather for a novice than for a former prioress and foundress. Such a soul had to go to God by way of filial trust. In fact, she had no other relationship with Him than that of a child with the most tender of Fathers. "Here's one who knows how to pray!" said our good Father Sauvage. Indeed, Our Mother obtained everything from God because she knew how to pray! On difficult occasions, when the means of human prudence were offered to her, she replied: "Yes, that is good... but above all prayer, oh! prayer!” It was enough to see her in prayer to realize that she was very close to God, and as if in his ear... We really felt then that she was not only listened to, but answered. confidence and his faith penetrated the Heavens. And why should we be surprised? since Our Lord Himself said: "If your faith were equal to only a mustard seed, I tell you jump into the sea, she would do it immediately.” This is why the graces received in this fervent prayer were often miraculous. We will allow ourselves, my Reverend Mother, to cite a few examples among a thousand:

At the beginning of the foundation when poverty was so great, we ran out of butter.... After having listened to the complaints and seen the deep pain of our good sister Madeleine, of such sweet memory, Mother Geneviève answered her: " My daughter, I don't have a penny... But if you still have a little butter left, always take it and put our trust in God. our dear cook sister, very astonished, said to her: "Finally, my Mother, I don't understand anything about it, my little leftover butter is still in the same state; what does that mean, since I didn't have enough for two days? Now I take it, it does not diminish!. - Don't worry, Our Mother continued with a smile, your little provision is about to run out." And a few days later, the Community having received alms, Sister Madeleine found the pot empty.

How many times did Divine Providence still respond to her trust, with unexpected help, arriving at the right time, and often just the amount requested!

But, what seems to us more admirable and perhaps even more touching, are the little miracles of kindness granted on so many occasions to his filial prayer! Thus, for our laundry, she always got us good weather, so much so that, in the first years, people of the world came to ask, long in advance, what day we would do the laundry at Carmel... And during the winter, what solicitude! This good Mother was in anguish when she saw us suffering from the cold. One morning of heavy washing, this cold being very intense, her heart could not stand it... she went to the foot of the Tabernacle... and during her absence, the frost ceased, the weather became so mild, that e could have thought we were in spring, if the thick ice in the washhouse hadn't reminded us of winter.

Even less long ago, she took to telling one of our sisters naively the following story, which happened in the same year, and which proves that many things of this kind were hidden from us by her humility: "He had frozen very hard,

they came to tell me: “My Mother, the beautiful apricot tree that you loved so much is lost, there will not be a single apricot. - I then addressed my complaints to my good Jesus, I said to him: "Is it possible that you will not give our sisters anything this summer to refresh themselves? - An interior voice answered me: BE QUIET, THERE WILL BE APRICOTS ....When the time came, I was taken to the garden, and without saying anything about my business, I asked to be led through the alley of my apricot tree. What were my surprise and my joy on finding it so laden with fruit that you could barely see the leaves! I was moved to tears, "Oh! my daughter, who can say how good our Lord is! How admirable his condescension!"

A new proof of this infinite goodness was given to Our Mother at the time of her Golden Wedding. A few months earlier she had come to be distressed, even troubled, contrary to her habit, because it would be necessary to lift the veil and show herself to the world. But the divine Spouse, who did not want clouds at this great feast, said to her during her preparatory retreat: "FEAR NOTHING, MY DAUGHTER, I WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO BE TROUBLED, FOR I WANT TO GIVE YOU THIS DAY, WHAT I REFUSED YOU, 50 YEARS AGO, ON THE DAY OF YOUR PROFESSION. IT WILL EVEN APPEAR ON YOUR FACE SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY WHICH WILL BE THE REFLECT OF WHAT I WILL OPERATE IN YOUR HEART." Indeed, from the dawn of this blessed feast, a river of peace, according to his expression, flooded his soul... On his face, this something extraordinary appeared to all eyes; Mother Geneviève seemed rejuvenated, of an unknown beauty; incomparable reflection of his inner sky It was the fulfillment to the letter of the divine word. The happy jubilee was not the only one to rejoice... In all our hearts, what joy!... Our dear Carmels and our friends wanted to take part in this celebration by showering us with the most delicate attentions. Our Monastery had never seen such a light shine! It was transformed under the most graceful decorations... , and one of them sang the Calende announcing this blessed day, during which so many tears of joy were shed! -even, nineteen years old, presented our offering to the Lord! And what sweet emotions on hearing the touching words of our good Father Superior on this text chosen by her: "The Lord's yoke is easy and his burden light"!

It seems, my Reverend Mother, that after the story of so many graces, there is nothing left for us to say. However, the picture of this beautiful life would be incomplete if, after having spoken of Our Mother's love for Jesus, we did not add something of her love for the Cross.

It was in 1849 that the cruel illness that took her from us made her feel her first attacks. They did not hide from her the long and cruel sufferings that she would have to bear. "At this announcement, she said later, my heart was flooded with delight; it was the feast day of Saint Andrew: while reciting his office, I repeated with transport: O good cross that I have desired so long and which is finally granted to my desires, I come to you with confidence and joy, receive the disciple of Him who has been tied to your sacred wood. ‑ Lord, you know it, I would have thought myself rash in asking you to suffer, I would have been afraid of my weakness, but since you find me worthy of it, be blessed a thousand times over. the charitable hand that would rub with force and make clean and shiny this dull and unbeautiful vase.

Seeing this heroic acceptance of the cross, joined to such profound humility, one can imagine the invincible patience and courage that Our Mother displayed during these years of martyrdom. As long as she was able to walk, God alone was her witness, except in cases of crisis, when we sometimes found her stretched out on the roads, unconscious and almost lifeless. One day, among other things, when it was freezing cold that she hadn't thought she should dispense with hanging out the laundry, she fainted and fell in the snow. But Divine Providence did not abandon her... At the same moment, our dear Sister Adelaide, of such holy memory, heard a voice in her cell saying to her: "Go to the garden....Go to the garden.," She immediately obeyed and saved Jesus' beloved from this imminent danger.

To these dangerous crises were often added strong migraines in which, by the violence of the illness, a cord in the shape of a crown had come round her head, the first resemblance of the bride to the crucified Bridegroom. I am surprised that our dear Mother, despite this painful state, was able to follow our holy Rule and almost all our exercises until 1849 towards the end of her last Priorat. It was then that the considerable swelling of her legs no longer allowing her to stand up, we carried her in an armchair from the infirmary to the choir, and from the choir to the discharge of the heating room, which she had nicknamed the Saint. -Balm; she remained there until evening, working with ardor, praying and sacrificing herself in silence under the gaze of God and his Angels. There was only one step to take to come to our recreations; this good Mother was their joy: she animated them with her gaiety and her kind words; there she spoke to us of the adventures of her youth, of the Carmel of Poitiers, of the holiness of the first Mothers... Which of us has not heard from her mouth the report of some traits of virtue piously preserved in her memory and even better in his heart? On this subject, she never stopped... And we liked to provoke her expansion, knowing full well how to cause her a joy which immediately brightened her face. "Oh! how holy these good Mothers were! she repeated. You see, my poor children, we must not fear our pain on earth; we must follow in their footsteps and make use of everything to raise ourselves to God." How many times in this regard did she repeat to us the verses composed by one of these fervent Carmelites (Mother Victoire, sister of Monseigneur d'Aviau, Archbishop of Bordeaux. This Nun died in the odor of holiness at the age of 80) on the view she enjoyed at the window of her cell! We transcribe them here in their simplicity.

                                 All along the river

                                 From morning till evening,

                                 A poor washerwoman

                                 Raises and lowers his beater.

                                Ah! strike me out of tenderness

                                Lord don't spare me

                                Purify me constantly,

                                Until the day of my death.

                                  Further, as far as the eye can see

                                 In a rather large field,

                                 With his share and his plough,

                                 A man goes, furrowing...

                                  He does not spare his pain,

                                 Because he knows that the wheat

                                 In a very short time, a hundred...

                                   Turn, turn the earth

                                   From my heart, divine Spouse...

                                  You are the owner

                                  From this field... it is yours.

                                  Scatter the seed there,

                                  Multiply it, Lord.

                                  enjoy abundance,

                                  I will sing my happiness!...

By thus exalting these venerable ancients, Our Mother had no idea that she was drawing a faithful portrait of herself! But, since it is a question here of the subjects of her preference, here is another who had the talent to make her cry and smile at the same time: it was no longer a mother who charmed her, it was a known sister. and darling: the little shepherdess of Domrémy, Joan of Arc. At that time, we did not speak, as today, of the valiant and gentle martyr: also the affection, one could say the tender devotion of Mother Geneviève for our heroine France sometimes surprised us and seemed to us almost like the enthusiasm of another age.... We forgot that in her heart, so full of love for God and detached from all things, also flowed "the blood of France ", and now that the praise of the Venerable Jeanne resounds from all sides, we see with happiness and gratitude that our humble Mother was right...

Also, despite her growing infirmities, she did not know how to withdraw into herself. We even noticed that the more she suffered, the happier she was! which is all the more admirable in that during those years the good Lord deprived her of all kinds of consolations, leaving her only faith and the ineffable memory of her benefits... But in 1888, when for the first time she failed us to be taken away, He made her feel his presence again. Provided with Extreme Unction, favored by the blessing of the Holy Father, she seemed in deep peace, very great security... and on our expressed desire to know the cause, she replied: "My Mother, how could I be afraid of death? Our Lord gave me the grace never to judge anyone; I count on his promise: Do not judge and you will not be judged "It was then that the divine Master showed him in Heaven the image of the cross, luminous and all resplendent, and revealed to him that the sight of this cross brought joy and glory to the elect. Believing herself on the eve of contemplating her in her turn, Our Mother was radiant and as if transfigured. Poor Mother! it was only the eve of his martyrdom. Before this luminous cross, a bloody cross awaited him.....four more years of immolation before the eternal Passover!

Whatever it costs us, my Reverend Mother, we will say nothing of this long and painful vigil, to dwell more on the day of the Passion itself. It began, with that of Jesus, on Maundy Thursday 1890. Early in the morning, at Holy Mass, during her thanksgiving, this privileged soul heard these sweet words: "MY DAUGHTER, NO LONGER YOU WILL COME TO I, IT IS I WHO WILL GO TOWARDS YOU!" It was indeed the last time that she would come to the choir, that she would receive Holy Communion there! She was then in her usual state, and nothing foreshadowed the dreadful day of the following day, when suddenly, while we were singing the Office of Darkness, a violent crisis broke out; the evil made terrible progress during the night, and on Friday morning, our good Father Superior came to administer it. We were just waiting for the last moment. Our beloved Mother was panting... incessantly asking for a drink... and nothing could quench her thirst!... Hearing this cry: I am thirsty! seeing that face disfigured by pain, those feet where iron nails seemed to be driven in, we thought we were on Calvary, and we were able to understand something of Mary's anguish when she saw her Jesus tied to the cross!... In front this faithful image of the dying Saviour, witness of so much suffering, we longed to hear three o'clock strike, hoping that then all would be consummated, and that that very day, it would go with Jesus to Paradise!... But our thoughts were not God's. In his impenetrable designs, he reserved it for longer battles... like those valiant martyrs, who finding themselves miraculously healed of their wounds, generously offered their bodies to new tortures!... And likewise that the blood of the martyrs was a seed of Christians, its pains were to give birth to souls to God! This God of goodness will no doubt make him go through his purgatory in this world; she will pay for her, as it was revealed to her... but first, and above all, she will immolate herself for souls because she was told again on the evening of this day of agony: "MY DAUGHTER, IT IS IS TIME, OFFER YOURSELF AS A VICTIM. »

O victim full of sweetness, who can say to what degree of heroism your patience has risen!...

A few days after that painful Good Friday, against all human anticipation, the gangrene disappeared. But unfortunately! in what state our poor Mother remained! and what ravages the twenty months of her martyrdom wrought upon her! Her horribly swollen legs became nothing more than a sore. Little by little frightful cracks formed on her feet, several fingers and the heel of the left foot fell into rot... We cannot imagine such a spectacle!... Let us add to this picture the interior evil which devoured her , and after a few months the loss of sight with excruciating pain... All this without being able to make the slightest movement in his bed, having absolutely no freedom except his arms. There had to be something extraordinary in this state for our pious and learned Doctor to admit it himself: "I defy, he told us, any of my colleagues to have ever encountered such a case; one cannot live like this without a miracle!" Edified to the highest degree to see such torments suffered with a smile on his lips, he knelt down one day near our Mother's bed, asking her to bless him , him and his large family; and silent tears ran down his cheeks.

By saying that our holy martyr had a smile on her lips, it's not enough... She did more than smile, she was joyful!... Many times tossed between life and death, she pleasantly joked about this journey of Eternity that she could not accomplish, and we were deeply moved (knowing her ardent desires), to see her beg Our Lord not to call her to Him, when she glimpsed a family celebration: ours , for example, not wanting to disturb our small solemnities with his death. During her sleepless nights, constantly occupied with her Jesus, she composed charming couplets, but always with a cheerful note, as in this one:

                            Blessed impotence,

                            who makes my pain

                            Evening and morning,

                            My daily bread!...

                            But the cross is a divine bridge,

                            She shortens the way

                            I pass... and go to Heaven,

                            Farewell, farewell, my good friends!.....

When her sufferings were excessive, she cried out: “Look, my good Jesus! aren't you going to come to the aid of your poor Geneviève?...To put it all in a nutshell: one can never imagine a patient more forgetful of herself, more compassionate for the slightest sufferings of others, more grateful for any service. We can well apply to her this praise that the Venerable Mother Anne of Saint-Barthélemy made of Our Mother Saint Thérèse: "She was such a beautiful soul, that she gave marks of it in all things." We never approached her reads without feeling closer to God. What she had learned from the very mouth of the Divine Master, she repeated to us at such opportune moments that we were left in the greatest astonishment. Thus, my Reverend Mother, one morning when her second nurse had not been able to come to prayer because of the overload of her job, and she was grieving within herself, Mother Geneviève called her: "My child , she said to him, "do you know what Our Lord has just revealed to me? Here are his own words:

« IT IS NOT THE SOULS WHO HAVE ALL THEIR TIME TO PRAY ME WHO ARE MOST PLEASANT TO ME: BUT ONLY THOSE WHO PROVE THEIR LOVE FOR ME BY MAKING SACRIFICES.... EVERYTHING IS IN SACRIFICE AND OBEDIENCE ! »

We let this dear sister herself recount the following trait: "Seeing Our Mother one day talking to several of our sisters and passing close to her, I was tempted to stop. such interesting things! But Our Lord asking me to sacrifice it, I ignored it. As soon as I entered the infirmary, Mother Geneviève called me and said: "I have a little secret to confide to you, a secret for to be always happy and to please Our Lord. Never seek, my child. to know what is going on... You see a small gathering; instead of stopping, make the sacrifice for your good Jesus.... In the life of the Fathers of the desert, did you not read that a certain brother being always in the air and for that arriving at nothing, we end up nicknaming him "brother fly"? Well! don't do like him, don't be “sister fly” ..... The good Mother spoke to me in this sense for more than a quarter of an hour, and I listened to her without communicating any of my impressions to her; but in the end, unable to bear it any longer, I said to her: Mother, did you see me? It seems that you followed me, for I have just met literally the occasion of which you speak to me: "I have not seen you, no doubt, she replied smiling, but it is Our Lord who allow me to tell you this to do you good. Come on now.... Here is my little secret."

Another of her daughters finding difficulty in accomplishing a certain point of obedience, without her having opened up in any way, our holy patient said to her: "O my daughter! if we understood well what this is only obedience!... This morning, after Holy Communion, my good Jesus made it known to me. Remember well this teaching which does not come from me, but from Him alone: ​​"LIKE THE BIRD WHICH SPREAD ITS WINGS AND FLY FREELY THROUGH THE AIR, THUS THE OBEDIENT SOUL TAKES OFF TOWARDS ITS BELOVED AND IT IS LIKE A HEAVEN WHERE GOD FINDS HIS DELIGHTS!

We could cite many more examples of this kind and also relate some of the admirable lights that were given to him on the Holy Eucharist, but the limits of a circular, already well exceeded, do not allow us to do so.

We asked her one day what was this voice that instructed and consoled her, and how it made itself heard in her soul... Without the slightest hesitation, she replied with an ingenuous smile and her usual simplicity: "My good Mother, this voice I hear, I feel it is a FRIENDLY VOICE, but I don't know anything else...”

The day of his sixtieth approaching, we did our best to make this celebration very solemn. The infirmary became a veritable oratory: all the statues of saints in the monastery took their place there; garlands of white and red roses, symbol of virginity and martyrdom, adorned the curtains of the bed, at the bottom of which we had hung a magnificent picture of the agony of Our Lord. On the altar, adorned with a brilliant adornment, was placed the crown from the dear Carmel of Poitiers... Poitiers flowers also adorned the stick and the blessed candle. And the sweet victim, still on the cross, hearing only our preparations, (his eyes being closed to the light here below) called us towards evening, and said to us with the accent of the liveliest gratitude: "The here is the slave!..." We understood that she was referring to her great ordeal of July 21, 1831, from which 60 years of grace separated her...

When everything was ready, the Community went to the infirmary. She asked for forgiveness in the most touching terms and spoke to us some delightful words about purity of intention and charity, repeating with Jesus on the evening of the Last Supper: " My little children, love one another as I have loved you.

The next day cannot be described... This passage of Our Lord in the middle of the cloister strewn with greenery and flowers!. the infirmary resplendent with lights!. This ineffable Communion!...the touching little speech of our good Father Superior! Finally the vows of our venerable Mother, renewed once again in our hands with such great fervor!.... We still have a celestial memory of this ensemble... However, we noticed something serious on the features of our holy jubilee. On this beautiful celebration of these Diamond Weddings, would she be tested as on the first day of the divine covenant?.... Yes..... and perhaps even more! When we were alone near her bed, she repeated, clasping her hands with an inexpressible accent: "Oh no! the greatest sufferings are nothing. but not seeing God!., To be deprived of God!... 

We thought we heard the complaints of a soul at the end of life, when it sees itself plunged into an abyss of fire, whose torments do not seem severe to it compared to the deprivation of its God. It was no longer Mother Geneviève was it a soul from purgatory?... No doubt, my Reverend Mother, in calling this state a trial, we are mistaken... Was it not rather a signal grace than this last purification, which gave her the assurance of flying straight from his deathbed to Heaven?... Also, when wes We said to this happy victim: Courage, my Mother, you are making your purgatory in this world, she replied with humility and confidence: "Oh! I hope so!"

Asking him one day if the desire to be delivered from his cruel sufferings had not had something to do with his ardent sighs towards death, she pronounced these beautiful words: "I do not wish to die in order to suffer no more, but only to see my God."

The blissful moment was approaching when his eyes would at last be opened to this divine and eternal beauty! .....We were preparing for our great solemnities of the Centenary, when our beloved Mother was worse off.'' It is time, Lord, she cried like another Thérèse, it is time, take me with you!...” But, for fear of disturbing our celebrations, she only asked for a reprieve of three days, which Our Lord granted her.

On the 24th, feast of Our Father Saint John of the Cross, His Lordship Our Bishop, presiding over the ceremonies, was kind enough to enter and honor him with a special blessing, accompanied by a few words of which his paternal heart has the secret! We seemed to see in the person of this venerable Pontiff, with hair whitened by age and the noble labors of the episcopate, Monseigneur de Beauregard himself, coming to encourage, bless and console his beloved daughter on the eve of the last combat , and show him in advance the palm and the crown!...

The next day, after the closing of the Triduum, our dear Mother, being at her worst, received Extreme Unction for the third time... The excess of the sufferings tore from her weak groans to which we mixed our tears; she was worried: "To complain like this, isn't that lacking in patience? she asked Our Father Superior. Ah! that would be very unfortunate! My children, pray!.... ..ask the good Lord to give me patience.”                             

Around six-thirty, she said to us in private: “It is 61 years today that my great forgiveness was granted to me and perhaps this evening, Heaven! I hear softly: STILL A FEW HOURS! A FEW HOURS STILL!..... Poor  Mother, that friendly voice didn't cheat on her not, but the hours must have been very long .. and more numerous than she had thought! Soon we found her a little better; so many times we had seen her at the gates of death that we had some hope. It was at the time of the mass, we went there more reassured. Our holy martyr, who had heard us speak in this sense to the nurse, immediately complained to Our Lord, in these naive and touching terms: "My Jesus! since Our Mother finds me better and I suffer so much, show me what it's like to be better!”

At the same instant, and as with the hand, all his pains were taken away from him... no longer the slightest suffering! She didn't recognize herself! finding himself like a person in full health, who rests gently in a soft bed... This improvement lasted all the time of the mass, that is to say half an hour... Oh! how true it is that the Lord does in all things the will of those who love him!

After this rest of a moment, a prelude to eternal rest, the pains of our poor Mother did not leave her a single instant of respite... Her crucifixion was complete... This gentle victim lacked nothing to be entirely in conformity with his Jesus than the supreme test of abandonment. This last trait of resemblance will also be given to him. On Friday morning, December 4, her suffering became such that, unable to bear it any longer, she called her charitable nurses at all times to lift her up a little in their arms... But nothing relieved her! As we watched her in silence through our tears, she exclaimed in a soft and plaintive voice: "My good Jesus, have you therefore abandoned me?" At the same moment, her face lit up with a beauty celestial, a smile touched his lips and seemed to contradict his words. We could have applied this verse of the psalm to him: "I helped you in the day of the tribulation, . I answered you secretly during the storm. It was agony, and Jesus was silent... Jesus, who so many times had made his friendly voice heard... What a mystery!... This very morning, our venerable Father Superior came in to give him a last blessing How touching it was to see him on his knees praying fervently to obtain help and strength from on high for this dying saint! Our devoted and pious chaplain, who had her full confidence, came in his turn to console her and renew to her the absolution and indulgence of the Order. Finally, in the afternoon, our good Doctor arrived. sighed!” She smiled softly and thanked him.

We will not attempt, my Reverend Mother, to recount to you the cruel night which followed this day of agony. No expression can convey what we saw! Our poor Mother seemed plunged in an ocean of pure suffering without any admixture of consolation...darkness enveloped her Calvary!...Towards morning, as we supported her failing head in her arms, she sighed this bitter complaint: " And I who always said to you: IN TE DOMINE SPERAVI!...» and tears shone like diamonds on her closed eyelids!... But her sweet face breathed calm and peace... She said again with a touching voice: "Oh!... how long my exile is! Jesus, Mary. Joseph, make me expire peacefully in your holy company!...Virgin Mary...help me!!!...»

The Blessed Virgin heard his prayer and from the dawn of this Saturday, at the first sound of the Angelus, she showed him her God. The victim was immolated "everything was consumed!"

At the moment when this white dove broke her mortal bonds, all her daughters were gathered around her bed... Alas! and among them, the three privileged ones destined soon to form his procession in Heaven!.... realizing these words of the Holy Spirit: "Virgins... his companions will be brought to him, they will be presented to him with joy they will be brought into the temple of the sovereign King."

This triple mourning being hidden from us, we then thought only of our beloved Mother.... To the pain caused by her departure, was added the pain of sending away her venerated remains.... Our good Father Superior, not being able to resign himself to it, made us try several steps, the result of which seemed far from announced in our favour... But the Lord who had looked at the humility of his servant now wanted to raise her in proportion of his abasements and the greatness of his sufferings. He allowed Mr. Target, former deputy, ex-Minister Plenipotentiary, to take this cause in hand, with a devotion that we will never be able to recognize enough, and that he carried it out despite the apparently insurmountable difficulties.

The alternations of fear and hope, of yes and no, imposed on us the sweet obligation of keeping for three whole weeks the one who seemed unwilling to leave us, and earned her three most solemn services. At the first of these services, celebrated by Father Hugonin, brother of Monsignor, vicar general of Bayeux, Father Rohée, parish priest of Saint-Pierre de Lisieux, took it upon himself to speak. In what true, touching and eloquent terms he exalted Our Mother! One felt that he had known and appreciated her, as these words proved: "I can say, having been the happy witness, that I have never met a soul so equal, so serene, so calm as the soul of the one that the public voice calls the saint of Carmel..."

This voice, my Reverend Mother, we have heard it ourselves... During the five days that Our Mother remained exposed to the grille of the Choir, the crowds were considerable. Those of us who looked after the dear Remains hardly found time to pray, so great was the number of objects of piety: crucifixes, medals, rosaries, etc... that they had to make her touch. The newspaper of our city had moreover announced this death as "a public mourning" in an admirable article, which the most lively faith alone could have inspired.

We waited impatiently for the evening to freely surround our beloved Mother! Impossible to render the impressions of grace felt near her! His features, so gentle and so calm, invited us to trust... How many favors had already been obtained by his dear relics! People came constantly to ask us for something that would have touched the saint... were it only for a petal of the Christmas roses which covered her... Monsieur le Docteur de Cornière, who during these days of anxiety gave us signal proofs of his attachment and veneration for Our Mother, observed each evening with touching happiness which his wounds exhaled no odor!....When the authorities forced us to seal the lead coffin, eight days later, we kissed his feet with pious emotion while wetting them with our tears....Now, Alas! we will no longer see our saint... But what an immense consolation to know her near the Tabernacle!.... She is there. on the left side of the Altar, a stone's throw from our gate!.... It is today that she can well exclaim in the transport of her gratitude: “So there she is, the slave!” Yes , there she is! no longer a servant, but Spouse and Queen in the palace of her Husband, the King of Kings!...

O beloved Mother, allow us to address to you, in closing, this prayer engraved on the marble of your tomb: "Look at us from the height of Heaven! See and visit the vine that your right hand has planted, and give it the perfection!"

We cannot doubt, my Reverend Mother, that the one we mourn is close to God... She was so humble, so hidden, she loved so much and suffered so much!... But as on earth her happiness consisted in doing good to all, she will be very grateful to you for the prayers that you will kindly add to the votes of the Order, reserving their distribution, if, as we have every reason to believe, her blessed soul enjoys the glory of Heaven. ..

We have the grace to say to each other, my Reverend and very honored Mother

Your most humble sister and servant,

Sr MARIE DE GONZAGUE.rcind.

From our Monastery of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Conception of the Carmelites

of Lisieux, December 5, 1891

Although the circular bears the date of the death of the venerated Mother, it was written later, as evidenced by the note attached to the circular of Sister Fébronie of the Holy Childhood, on January 6, 1892: the circular of our venerated Mother Geneviève; the sad days that we have just passed (influenza epidemic) have prevented us from taking care of it, but we hope soon to respond to the wishes so fraternally expressed".

Although it bears the signature of the Reverend Mother Marie de Gonzague, the drafting of this circular, apart from the introduction which seems to be in her style, had been entrusted by her to the young Sister Agnès of Jesus , a year before his first Priorat. (1892)

An edition in the form of a 21/½ x 14 booklet appeared in 1896, dated June 21 of the same year, 1892, and a revised edition around 1923 including Thérèse's relationship with the foundress.

DEATH of MOTHER GENEVIEVE (December 5, 1891)

Here are the terms in which the Reverend Mother Marie de Gonzague, then Prioress, announced this death to the Monasteries of her Order and promised them her circular:

JMJT

My Reverend and Most Honored Mother,

Peace and very humble greetings in Our Lord Jesus Christ who has just removed from our tenderness our dear and Venerable Mother Marie-Radegonde-Claire Geneviève of Saint Thérèse, Professed of Poitiers, Foundress of our Carmel.

Our beloved Mother was 86 years, 4 months, 17 days old, including 60 years, 4 months and 14 days of Religious Profession.

His departure plunges us all into the deepest pain; this venerated Mother was a relic for our little Carmel, the accomplished model of religious virtues.

We will endeavor later, my Reverend Mother, to talk to you about the examples that she leaves us as a precious heritage, despite her expressed desire not to have a circular. Today, we would simply like, my Reverend Mother, to claim the suffrages of our Holy Order for Our Beloved Mother, adding to it, according to her intentions, a Communion in reparation, an honorable amend to the Most Blessed Sacrament, one to the Blessed Heart of Mary, and a Plenary Indulgence, asking that these Suffrages and other prayers be applied to the Souls in Purgatory.

It is at the foot of the Cross that we dare to say to ourselves, My Reverend and Most Honored Mother,

Your very humble Sister and Servant, Sr Marie de Gonzague, RC ind.