“QUOD JOANNES VIDIT”
Here is the first page of the brief, parchment paper that has withstood the bombardments from 1944 but bent under the effect of the heat.
[The original text is in Latin]
Read in Latin at the Beatification Ceremony.
29 APRIL 1923
PIUS XI, Sovereign Pontiff
For perpetual memory
SAINT John saw, on the Mountains of Sion, the choir of Virgins who follow the Lamb wherever he goes, and he heard a very sweet Canticle that no one could repeat. This shows how much God esteems the flower of Virginity, that is, that kind of life which conforms more to the angelic nature than to the human nature. This life, precious above all, due to the grace of the Gospel, a great number of young girls have embraced it with zeal, following the Augustus Virgin, Mother of God, who is rightly regarded as the Author of Virginal Beauty. They wear their white robes in the Church of God. They despise the fleeting delights and seductions of the world, for the Celestial Goods which do not pass away. So we see, in the Catholic Church, the white lilies of the Virgins mingle with the purple roses of the Martyrs. Both form that splendid crown with which the Immaculate Spouse of Christ is adorned.
Now, in our time, there has stood out, in this choir of Virgins, THERESE OF THE CHILD JESUS, professed nun, glory and ornament of the Order of Carmel, who, in a few years, has fulfilled a long race and raised the virginal candor which she had dedicated to the Divine Lamb, by the brilliance of the most beautiful virtues.
It was in Alençon, in the diocese of Séez, that the Servant of God was born; she was the last of nine children; her parents were Louis-Joseph-Stanislas Martin and Marie-Zélie Guérin, who enjoyed wealth and above all the qualities of a truly Christian life.
She was born on January 2, 1873; she was baptized on the 4th of the same month and received the first names of MARIE-FRANÇOISE-THERESE. At the time when the Servant of God was born, her father, who had honorably acquired sufficient fortune to leave his business as a jeweler, had devoted himself entirely to the education of his children; his companion and help in this work was his wife, who, it is said, expressed the wish that her five daughters should consecrate their virginity to God, as they did in fact, one after the other.
In this abode of piety, the child was barely two years old when she already showed the use of reason; she was immediately taken with the beauty of virtue. She therefore began to love the Child Jesus with all her heart so as never to displease him. She was four and a half years old when the untimely death of her beloved mother caused her great pain and completely lost her natural cheerfulness. His elder sisters, Marie and Pauline, took charge of his education; she was submissive to them and obeyed them in everything, as she had done to her mother.
She had no taste for the games and amusements of her age, and hid herself in the house to devote herself to the contemplation of celestial things. Her father, who had become a widower, wanted, in order to provide more care and education for his daughters, to go and live in Lisieux with his whole family. It was then that the Venerable Servant of God was placed under the discipline of the Benedictine nuns of the city. Endowed with an intelligence far above her age, she made rapid progress, especially in historical studies; as for the catechism, she learned it so well that he was called the little doctor. Favored by an excellent memory, she learned the whole book of the Imitation by heart. It will not possess less well, later, the Sacred Scripture.
When she fulfilled all her duties of piety, she put so much devotion and modesty into it that she was a model for others and an encouragement to imitate her. However, she was visited by an illness whose character remained unknown to the doctors themselves. The opinion of the members of the family, which is not without foundation, is that this evil was caused by the demon who foresaw the defeats that she would inflict on him; they confirmed themselves in this opinion, when they saw the admirable cure with which they were instantly favored, after prayers addressed to the Most Blessed Virgin.
The child, who burned with the greatest love of God, had long desired to receive Holy Communion; but, according to the diocesan regulations, she still remained far from it because of her age: she was barely ten years old. Finally came the longed-for day of May 8, 1884, when it was given to him to see his wishes fulfilled; so it was with incredible joy, accompanied by the sweetest tears, that she received, burning with love, the Bread of the Angels. Shortly thereafter, she prepared herself admirably to receive Confirmation and the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
The elder sisters of the Venerable Servant of God having said goodbye to the world, to enter Carmel, their departure from the paternal house caused deep pain to the child. So her father saw fit to withdraw her from the Bénédictine boarding school, to make her complete her studies at home. But, visited then by troubles of conscience, she often shed tears and never ceased to beg God to come to her aid... God allowed himself to be touched by the prayers of his child. On Christmas Eve 1886, after having attended the Solemn Mass, she felt freed from all her intimate anxieties; all his fears disappeared and the movements of his soul were animated by entirely new feelings. From then on, she seems to run with giant strides in the way of holiness; she goes with more zeal to works of piety and charity, and directs her thoughts more than ever towards the cloister of Carmel.
Her pious father, who had already given three of his daughters to God, did not refuse THERESE the authorization to follow her Vocation, despite all the grief that the separation must have caused her. As for the ecclesiastical superiors, they absolutely refused to subject a young girl, barely fifteen years old, to the rigors of religious life. Firm in her desire, the Venerable Servant of God resolved to have direct recourse to the Holy See. So she joined, with her father, her compatriots who went on pilgrimage to Rome. As soon as she found herself in the presence of Our Predecessor, the Sovereign Pontiff LEON XIII, she overcame her natural shyness and threw herself at his feet, to show him the desire of her heart. But the Pontiff handed over the supplicant to the good pleasure of his Superiors.
Frustrated in her hope, the heroic Virgin bore her sorrow courageously and submitted to the divine will, until the Bishop, touched at last by so much virtue, granted the desired authorization.
On the 9th of April 1888, the Servant of God entered the Carmelite Monastery of Lisieux. She had finally reached the goal she had so longed for. From the first days of her religious life, she appeared so elevated in holiness that her Mistress confessed that she had never seen such a fervent novice. She pronounced her vows on September 8, 1890, and was providentially called THERESE OF THE CHILD JESUS, as if to signify, by this name, the particular kind of holiness which she was to follow with ardor, and this perfection which is called the spiritual childhood, according to these words of uncreated Wisdom: "If you do not convert and become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven" (Matt., XVIII, 3).
And, in fact, just as the child rests, tranquil, on its mother's breast, so the Servant of God places herself entirely in the arms of divine Providence. Simple as the dove which places its nest on the edge of the cavity, it looked only towards the sky, and it preserved without blemish the white robe of Baptism.
Three years after her Profession, it seemed good to the Superior of the Monastery (the Reverend Mother Agnès of Jesus, her sister), to better ensure the good of the Novices, to entrust them to THERESE, giving her the task of helping the Mistress. Thus, the Servant of God was twenty years old when she received this very important office, which she exercised until her death, and which she fulfilled with remarkable prudence and abnegation, no less than with the greatest and the most beautiful spiritual fruits. She devoted herself entirely to the good of her Novices; she was for them a mother and a sister, of an angelic sweetness.
Pious, gentle, humble, obedient, very faithful to her Rule, what she taught by words, she confirmed by example. All the virtues flourished in her, but she excelled in the Love of God. His soul, like that of Saint Francis of Assisi, exhaled a canticle of perpetual love. She expressed in poetry her intimate feelings, and composed the most beautiful stanzas to sing the mysteries of divine Love. On the order of her Superiors, she wrote, for the edification and salvation of many, the Story of her Soul, in order to show the way which leads to the fullness of Love. Our Predecessor, of happy memory, the Sovereign Pontiff PIUS X, did not hesitate to affirm that, in this account of his Life, spread today throughout the universe, the Virtues of the Virgin of Lisieux shine so bright that it is his Soul, in a way, that one breathes there.
Now, the end of the Servant of God was approaching, and the Lord himself seemed to give the omen of it in that men thought that a Virgin, of such candor, and so angelic, could not remain long on earth. . She had already passed her twenty-three years when she was attacked by a disease of the chest; but she omitted nothing of the austerities of the Rule, until she was exhausted and obliged to stay in bed. For five months she endured the greatest suffering, but her face was always cheerful and her patience admirable. She offered her sufferings to Christ, desiring to die and be with Him. She seemed consumed more by divine Love than by illness, and this bed, where the Servant of God rested, was like a pulpit from which she preached holiness to all her religious family. Finally, on September 30, 1897, after having been favored by a celestial vision, she had a very sweet death, and flew away to the Wedding of the Celestial Bridegroom. A religious funeral was given to him and he was buried in the cemetery of Lisieux.
Soon the name of the Holy Virgin began to resound throughout the Catholic Universe, and her tomb became glorious. (Ps. xi, 10.) The renown of his holiness increased day by day; it has been vindicated by wonders and miracles. The Cause of Beatification began to be introduced near the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Lawsuits were made, according to custom, in Lisieux and Rome to examine its Virtues. When all the proofs were made legally and well weighed, Our Predecessor, of happy memory, Pope BENEDICT XV, published, on Calends 19 of September 1921, a solemn Decree, by which he declared that the Virtues of THERESE OF I. CHILD JESUS had arrived at a heroic degree.
We then began, without delay, to examine the Miracles which God, it was said, had worked at his intercession, and, when all the legal formalities were completed, We Ourselves, on the 3rd of the Ides of February of the present year 1923, published a Decree where We recognized the reality of two Miracles.
Once the judgment had been passed on the Heroicity of the Virtues and on the certainty of two Miracles, it remained to be discussed whether the Venerable Servant of God could be surely placed among the Blessed in Heaven. This is what our Venerable Brother Antoine, Cardinal Vico, Bishop of Porto and Saint Rufina, Rapporteur of the Cause, did in the General Congregation which was held in Our presence at the Vatican on March 6th. Now, all the Cardinals belonging to the Sacred Congregation of Rites, and all the Father Consultants present answered in the affirmative. For We have deferred the manifestation of Our advice, in order that in so important a matter We may obtain by earnest prayers the celestial Light. We have requested it earnestly. Then, on the happy day on which this year was celebrated the feast of the Holy Patriarch Joseph, Illustrious Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Patron of the Church, after having offered the Eucharistic Sacrifice, We have, in the presence of the same Bishop, Cardinal Antoine Vico, Reporter of the Cause and Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, together with Our dear Sons Ange Mariani, General Promoter of the Faith, and Alexandre Verde, Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, decreed that we can, in complete safety, proceed to the solemn Beatification of the Venerable Servant of God, THERESE OF THE CHILD JESUS.
This is why, moved by the prayers of the entire Order of Discalced Carmelites, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority and these Letters, We allow the Venerable Servant of God, THERESE OF THE CHILD-JESUS, Religious to profess of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites, be called BLESSED, that her body and her relics be presented for the public veneration of the faithful, provided however that they are not carried in solemn supplications.
Moreover, again by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, We authorize, each year, on the appointed day, the recitation of the Office and the celebration of the Mass, approved by Us. However, We only concede the celebration of this Mass and the recitation of this Office in the diocese
of Bayeux and Lisieux, as well as in all the temples and oratories of the Discalced Carmelite Order, to all the Regulars and Seculars who are held at the Canonical Hours and, as regards the Mass, to all the Priests who will go to the churches where the feast will take place. Finally, We grant that the solemn feasts of the Beatification of the Venerable Servant of God, THERESE OF THE CHILD JESUS, be celebrated in the above-mentioned diocese and temples, with the Office and the Mass, under the double major rite; and We ordain that this be done on the days that the Ordinary shall appoint in the year, when these solemn feasts shall have been celebrated in the Patriarchal Basilica of the Vatican.
Notwithstanding the Constitutions and Apostolic Ordinations, as well as the Decrees published on non-worship, and all other things to the contrary.
But We want Copies of these Letters, even if printed, to enjoy the same authority which would be accorded, in legal disputes, to the manifestation of Our will in these Letters, provided that they are signed by the Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Rites and bearing the Seal of the Prefect.
Given in Rome, near St. Peter, under the Ring of the Fisherman, on April 29 of the year 1923, of Our Pontificate the second.
BY SPECIAL MANDATION OF HIS HOLINESS.
P. CARDINAL GASPARRI, Secretary of State.