the Carmel

Devil's advocate

When the Catholic Church makes a beatification process
or canonization, there is always a person who is
responsible for arguing against the canonization of the candidate
or the candidate for holiness. This is the promoter of
faith, colloquially nicknamed the devil's advocate.
For Thérèse's cause, Bishop Verde was appointed.

The objections of Monsignor Alexandre Verde

at the canonization of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus

Any canonization within the Catholic Church is the culmination of a long, complicated procedure governed by the precise rules of canon law. During a series of trials, judges rule on the files presented on the one hand by lawyers favorable to the cause of the "canonizable", on the other hand by a titular objector, the Promoter of the Faith, responsible for list everything that can hinder the recognition of holiness.

Bishop Verde, from January 1914, fulfilled this function for the cause of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. A man of apparatus - he had been a promoter of the Faith since 1902 - he had already distinguished himself by the rigor with which he carried out his task. This jurist does not intend to allow himself or be seduced by the charm that emanates from the story of a soul nor be impressed by the rain of miracles attributed to the little Carmelite nun of Lisieux or by the important popular movement that is manifesting itself in favor of canonization. It is incumbent on him to enforce without laxity the norms enacted by Benedict XIV for any recognition of authentic holiness. He works in the Administrations (objections to the trial) ended in April 1914. His argument, to be brief, does not lack consistency.

We can group his objections into a first series around the story of a soul. Who, without the testimony that Thérèse gives there about herself, could have guessed a heroine of the faith, in the nun who died at 24? No doubt those around her had noticed her great piety, but the young girl had accomplished nothing extraordinary. Her holiness had gone unnoticed by many of her convent companions. It is embarrassing that Thérèse wrote an autobiography that was to be used as a "self-advocacy", even if the intention of the narrator was not to show her personal merits but the grace of God at work in the smallest of souls. Better would have been the objective testimony of a director of conscience foreign to the Martin family. It is embarrassing that witnesses often refer to this work to interpret their own memories or to maintain the idea that Thérèse is a saint. Their admiration comes from reading and not from direct observation. Finally, it is embarrassing that the convent of Lisieux published the manuscripts so quickly and that it organized a whole propaganda campaign (indulgences, images, brochures...) to spread the Teresian message. Verde insinuates that the servant of God is a self-proclaimed saint who is admired mainly from her account.

The other set of objections centers on the virtue of humility. The promoter of the Faith does not fail to quote the remarks reported by his blood sisters on the relics that should be collected, Thérèse would have said, on her deathbed: this is hardly a mark of abasement. Above all, according to the standards of Benedict XIV, the virtues of the servants of God must have a heroic character. However, the many small banal humiliations voluntarily experienced by Sister Thérèse do not present this heroic character. Certainly the Carmelite was able to convince herself that her little way, made up of small daily sacrifices, pleased the Child Jesus just as much as flashes of heroism. But that she proposes, so young and on her own initiative, an innovative doctrine in matters of holiness, this reveals an assurance that is incompatible with extreme humility. What's more: at the same time as she advocated humility, she exposed her merits to the view of others, not without taking a certain literary pleasure in writing that she said she was doing out of obedience to the Superior. Moreover, a few discordant testimonies suffice to affirm that her not very sublime existence did not make her a unanimously accepted example of holiness.

In sum, the Promoter suggests the idea that there are two types of holiness. The first is lived in obscurity by pious servants of God whose intimate value only the heavenly Father knows: the criteria of Roman judgment ignore it, however authentic it may be. The second manifests itself in an extraordinary and visible way from the outside. It immediately attracts a veneration that owes nothing to biased publications. It is to this that the Church bestows the glory of the altars after the confirmation of miracles. Thérèse belongs to the first type of saints despite the graces she bestows from heaven. Verde concludes that this file must be dismissed, except to modify the usual rules.

The advocates of the cause of canonization knew how to skillfully respond to these objections, placing on their side the God of the Magnificat who elevates the humble, the obscure, the little ones in the person of the Virgin. So Pius X gave his consent for the introduction of the Cause. Subsequently, having become Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, Bishop Verde agreed, in 1921, with the opinion of the new Pope, Benedict XV, according to whom "the universal diffusion of the story of a soul testified to an unmistakable sanctity. He followed with real interest the subsequent stages of the trial and signed the official documents in favor of canonization.                                                                        

Anne Langlois
Associate Professor of Classics - having translated Bishop Verde's objections from Latin.

Full objections

translated for the first time since 1914

Who is this young woman?

It is first appropriate for the members of the congregation of the Rites to identify the case they have to examine: a young woman, who entered the Carmel at the age of fifteen, died after nine years of religious life, whose reputation for holiness s quickly spread around the world. Verde, in the first two numbered paragraphs, drawing on the Articles of Mgr de Teil, summarizes the biography of Thérèse by insisting above all on the episodes prior to her religious life: her illness and her miraculous cure, her Christmas conversion, for which he gets somewhat confused in the chronology, her request to Leo XIII. For life in the Carmel, he retains above all his function as mistress of novices.

1. It concerns the celestial honors [beatification] to be rendered to a young nun who, having entered the Carmel of Lisieux at barely fifteen years of age, died there after having spent nine years there. His death was followed by such a reputation for holiness - especially after the publication of his autobiography - that, as the advocates of his cause [MM. Toeschi and Guidi], “like the famous mustard seed of the gospel which grew to the size of a tree, it spread rapidly over the whole earth. So there is almost no country that does not resound with her praise, where there is not devotion to the Servant of God, where her many benefits are not spread. » (Inform. page. 1 § 1).

She was born in Alençon, in the diocese of Sées, in 1873, on January 2, of pious and honorable parents, very concerned to give her a Christian education. From her tender childhood, she showed an extraordinary character and an exceptional religious fervor. But, still very small, she was deprived of her mother and seemed to lose all joy of living as a result of this misfortune. So his father moved with the whole family to Lisieux where he established his domicile.

When the Servant of God reached her ninth year, she began to receive instruction from girls of her condition with the Benedictine nuns and she easily obtained first place in two subjects: catechism and sacred history. At this time she was tried by a serious illness which was said to be attributed to the malignant works of the devil. She was finally delivered by the help of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and in May 1884 she was admitted to Holy Communion for her greatest joy.

2. Two years later, attending the Holy Sacrifice on Christmas Day, after feeling freed from all the anguish from which she suffered in her flesh and in her spirit since three of her four sisters had entered the convent, and after having felt the beginnings of an unusual fervor – what she later called her conversion – she decided that there was no longer any reason to hesitate to celebrate her wedding with the celestial Spouse to whom she had already given herself entirely since then. already a long time.

This is why she opened up about her decision to her father who granted her, despite her grief, permission to enter the Carmelites. However, she was refused by the ecclesiastical authorities, because she had just reached her fifteenth year. However, she did not give up on new attempts. Having thrown herself at the feet of His Holiness Leo XIII, she communicated to him the wishes of her heart and begged him to remove all obstacles as he had the power to do by his Apostolic authority. The Pontiff in his great wisdom told him to submit to the decision of the Superiors for such a serious matter; so back in her country, despite the failure of her hopes, she did not let go of her former fervor.

When at last the bishop had given his consent, she was admitted, on April 9, 1888, as a novice of the Carmelite convent of Lisieux and, as she had given visible signs of religious perfection, she pronounced her solemn vows on September 8, 1890. Three years later she was appointed assistant mistress of novices; she acquitted herself of this function with the greatest care until she was forced to take to her bed, consumed by a slow illness. His death occurred in 1897, on September 30, and his last words were words of love for God.

Aren't there irregularities in this lawsuit?

Therese identified, the Promoter of the faith must first examine the acts of a trial which took place quickly (sixteen months) despite the fifty witnesses heard. He must first check whether it took place according to the rules. This was the case with a few irregularities. The only one examined here concerns translations: the popes had set rules, recently recalled by the Congregation of Rites. Not only should the translator have been appointed by Cardinal Ponent, responsible for the dossier at the Congregation, and ratified by Verde himself, but the said cardinal should also have appointed a "supervisor" responsible for verifying the translation on site. The diocesan judges chose the translator on their own... and ignored the supervisor. No need to look for this file in the edition of the ordinary trial (1973). The latter stuck to the publication of the testimonies and ignored everything concerning the procedure of the trial.

3. Thirteen years after his death, on August 3, 1910 [date of the constitution of the tribunal], the episcopal authority of Bayeux began to examine the files of a trial relating to his reputation for holiness and his virtues. Although a significant number of witnesses were called, - in fact the Postulator of the cause called forty-five people, plus two witnesses selected ex officio to whom were added two other co-witnesses also summoned ex officio - l he entire training ended on December 2 of the following year, 1911.

However, if we examine these files, we can easily see that some irregularities have been committed in relation to our legal standards, but I pass them over in silence, for reasons of brevity, especially since they cannot create serious difficulties in this judgment. There will be a more opportune moment to discuss it in detail, if one day the validity of the information is debated in a particular session [in the event of continuation of the procedure]. I will give just one example illustrating what goes visibly against the decrees, both ancient and recent, of our Congregation. As the postulator of the cause had summoned two English-speaking witnesses [Taylor and Grant], the most reverend judges appointed as interpreter RD Théodore Hébert, priest, former professor of English (proc. Crazy. 1240, to).

This way of designating an interpreter is unquestionably irregular, since Innocent XI " decreed that in future, in any trial, the interpreter be designated by the Eminent Cardinal Ponent, once the Reverend Father of the Faith has been heard; and as an additional precaution, that after the translation of the interpreter, the latter be reviewed by an impartial expert who will have to be carried out in all discretion by the same Cardinal Ponent » (Benedict XIV., book I, chap 19, n° 10). In 1889, the Sacred Congregation, considering too frequent " the serious irregularities in the way of carrying out the ordinary and apostolic trials which take place outside Rome to judge the beatification and canonization of the servants of God issued a decree in which, among other things, the following was ordered: the translators and revisers of the trials which have been written in the vernacular must be chosen and appointed by Monsignor Cardinal Ponent of the cause and in no case by the judges of the trial itself. »

It's all a family story

And now Verde is tackling the bottomHis first reproach concerns the preponderant place taken in the depositions by the sisters of Thérèse, but also their excessive preparation, a reproach confirmed by their correspondence with the vice-postulator. Such a practice takes away all spontaneity, leads the said sisters to make abundant quotations in particular of the words of Thérèse and even more leads them to manifest a frank partiality, unworthy of nuns who have sworn to stick to the strict truth. However, these oriented depositions have no counterpart since the Carmelites who could have testified in the opposite direction died, like Marie de Gonzague, or were dismissed.

4. Among the witnesses cited in this Cause, we can distinguish four sisters of the Servant of God, three of whom had made profession of religious life in the same Carmelite convent of Lisieux, namely witnesses I [Mother Agnès], III [Marie of the Sacred Heart] and IV (Sr Genevieve]. The other, witness VII [Sr Françoise-Thérèse], had taken her vows in the Order of the Visitation of Caen. It is easy to realize that their testimonies occupy a very large place in the Summarium; the same observation is made by leafing through the trial documents. It is very clear that all [the sisters] had actively prepared for the examination, arranging with great zeal in their cells the depositions which they would give before the judges. Moreover, one of them [Sr Françoise-Thérèse] candidly admits: "The reading of the story of a soul also helped me to prepare my deposition" (Sum. p. 7 § 9 [OP, p. 341]).

For almost all questions, on any subject, they provide many quotations from the words of the Servant of God, from her writings, from her letters, either whole or in small fragments. In order not to omit anything that could concern the holiness of their sister and turn to her glorification, they repeatedly present extracts from the story of the life that the servant of God had written herself, so as to highlight the virtues of the latter. The second witness [Mother Agnès], who spreads even more abundantly in praise than her other sisters, adds nevertheless: "if I told all that I observed and all that she told me, it would be a lawsuit which would last until Eternity" (Ibid. p. 186 §19 [OP p. 158]). One will allege to excuse them the excess of their affection, but this excuse is not admissible because it must be considered above all that the women who make these remarks are nuns who, moreover, must respect the sanctity of the oath.

The prioress Mother Marie de Gonzague [who died in 1904] might have moderated their praise if she had been called to testify in such a trial and if she had been listened to attentively; Their tone would also have been different if other nuns, who had not conceived a favorable opinion about Thérèse's holiness, had been able to testify following the Prioress. But, as witness XVIII [Sr Marie-Madeleine] notes, "most of the Sisters who held her in low esteem during her life are dead" (Sum, p. 502 § 150 [OP, p. 481]).

The confessor is dead and we learn that Thérèse managed on her own

Verde now touches on an essential point. There course of action of Thérèse – to be understood as her specific type of holiness – excludes any manifestation that is visible from the outside. In such a case, the testimony of the confessor would have been essential, but he died at the same time as Thérèse. More generally, this one, which considered itself capable of making the right decisions for its interior, seemed resistant to any direction. In his defense, according to a witness, visiting confessors gave him contradictory instructions. Verde bases her accusation both on the way Thérèse expresses herself in her autobiography (Jesus as sole director) and on the testimonies of her Carmelite sisters who, without seeing the danger, force the line by painting a Thérèse out of any clerical control. The conclusion is without appeal, presumptuous behavior and above all risk of quietism.

5. It would have been very useful and even absolutely necessary to have the testimony of a man, the priest who was confessor in the convent of the Servant of God. Indeed, the latter drew on its own initiative a course of action which did not include anything extraordinary on a human level, nothing visible to outsiders; she always held to it and she could only please God by interior sacrifices. So only a person who would have known his conscience well for having examined it could have testified validly.

We also know that Sister Thérèse did not lend herself easily and docilely to the choice of a director of conscience: "God allowed, according to a witness [Mother Agnès], that she experienced great difficulty in making known her feelings and that for several years she could not find the Director she was looking for. A first [P. Pichon] barely hears him and has to leave for Canada from where he writes a few lines to him once a year. Another [Fr. Blinio], astonished of the boldness of his aspirations to supereminent conduct, told him that it is pride to want to equal and even surpass Saint Thérèse. Finally, another [Fr. Alexis], in 1891, assures her that she does not offend God and that she can safely follow her life of trust and abandonment. From that moment on she was quiet" (Sum. p. 238 § 1[PO p. 164]).

Already before entering the convent, she had the habit of relying more readily on her own judgment than being guided by a director of conscience, we learn from witness IV [Sr Geneviève]. “She didn't have, strictly speaking, a spiritual director; she saw so clearly what she had to do that she didn't feel the need to ask" (Why.fol 344, verso [PO p. 270]). And two years before dying, in the year 1895, she wrote: “Never have I heard (Jesus) speak, but I feel that he is in me. At every moment, he guides me and inspires me what to say or do. I discover, just when I need them, lights that I had not seen before; it is not most often during my prayers that they are most abundant, it is rather in the middle of the occupations of the day” (summ, p. 140, towards the end [according to Mother Agnès, PO p. 152]).

Any wise man understands well that this way of directing his life can be subject to serious errors; he will easily judge that the Servant of God was absolutely not immune to quietist error when he carefully reads what follows: “Speaking of prayer, she says [according to Fr. the divine office, I don't have the courage to look in books for beautiful prayers, I do like children who can't read, I simply tell the Good Lord what I want to tell him, and he always understand. For me, prayer is a surge of the heart, a simple gaze cast towards heaven, a cry of gratitude and love, in the midst of trial as in the midst of joy, something elevated and supernatural that expands the soul and unites it to God" (ibid. p. 260 § 73 [PO 520]).

A shame: Thérèse is the main witness at her trial

Continuing the criticism of the testimonies, Verde comes to a recurring argument in the Theresian file: the nun, through the publication of theStory of a soul, is the principal witness in his own trial and such testimony is null and void, the conclusion of this article is clear on this point. The Promoter of the Faith advances two different arguments: the first underlines the literary quality of a work intended to conquer the reader almost in spite of himself; the second goes to the bottom of the file: only Thérèse's revelation about her spiritual intimacy made it possible to know the sanctity of her life, which even her Carmelite sisters were unaware of since their correspondence with Léonie, during Thérèse's lifetime, was silent on this subject.

6. To come back to the collection of proofs, it cannot be disputed that much has been made of the story of her life which the servant of God wrote with her own hand and that the dissemination of this text is at the origin of the reputation of holiness which has spread widely.

It's that the narration [in] is charming, written and elaborate, to the point that it seems that a literary concern has been put into it, so that it not only flatters the mind and charms the heart, but that it arouses the admiration of readers. Witness V [P. Elie of the Mother of Mercy] candidly admits: “It was while reading this admirable and ravishing autobiography of Sister Thérèse or, to put it better, while devouring it with my eyes, that I felt taken of such enthusiasm for this little Sister, ignored until then, that from then on I developed the most tender devotion for the Servant of God, with the certainty that one day very soon she would be beatified by the Church”. (Summ. p. 4, towards the end [PO, p. 320]).

If the servant of God had not related in her writings the celestial elevations which Christ Our Lord had granted her in the intimacy of her heart, and if she had not revealed the treasures of her soul, with great in her assertions, no one, probably, would ever have thought that she was a saint and that she had heroic virtues. One of her sisters [Sr Françoise-Thérèse, Visitandine] bears witness to this: “The study of this book taught me many details of her life that I did not know. I knew she was very virtuous, but not living with her, and moreover never having penetrated much before into her intimacy., I did not suspect that his heroism rose to this degree (Proc., fol 487 [PO p. 349]).

Even if this witness no longer had the opportunity to live with the servant of God after the latter had entered the convent, the three other sisters often sent her news. Those who lived in the same monastery as Thérèse would not have kept silent about her progress in the path of virtues if they had noticed something admirable.

In any case, if anecdotes cannot constitute adequate proof for the reputation of holiness, to follow the indications of the doctrine of Benedict XIV (Book II, chap. 40, n°1), the biography that the Servant of God wrote of itself has even less value in this respect.

A reputation for holiness only after his death

Verde continues his demonstration on the importance ofStory of a soul. Two different witnesses make the same observation, whether in English-speaking countries or in Lisieux itself: it was only after the publication of the work that Thérèse's reputation for holiness developed. The other testimony put forward seems out of place here since it reports an initially hostile reception (a rose-water sanctity, like the novels of the same name) which then turns out to be favorable, the person concerned not resisting to a deeper study of spiritual doctrine.

7. “As soon as the life of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had been read by a few people, it was like a spark that lit the fire everywhere” (Sum. p. 470 § 50 [Sr Geneviève, PO, p. 313]). “In my country (according to witness II [Thomas Nimmo Taylor]), the story of a Soul was translated into the English language in 1901; the publication of this book was the starting point of the reputation of holiness of the Servant of God in English-speaking countries, as far as America. This reputation grew slowly at first, perhaps because of the relatively high price of this publication” (ibid. p. 462 § 24 [OP, p. 228]).

Witness XVII [Mary of the Trinity] reports: "There are even some who did not at first appreciate Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, calling her out of disdain 'a child', 'a saint with rose water" ; but after a more profound study of his life and of his little way of childhood, they have become his warmest admirers and his most fervent friends” (ibid. p. 502 § 149 [OP, p. 473]).

We owe the first influx of devotees to the tomb of the Servant of God to this diffusion, according to what witness XX [her cousin, Jeanne La Néele] makes us understand: “This contest of people began around the time where the publication of the Story of a Soul made known the Servant of God; it has increased a lot since the ordinance of the Bishop of Bayeux for the research of the writings of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus [which marks the official opening of the trial], and it is developing every day” (ibid. p. 506 § 163 [OP, p. 498]).

Divine intervention or sentimentality?

We have come to the heart of a capital objection that Benedict XV in 1921 will still need to refute publicly, so tenacious it is, and to which the lawyer for the cause had chosen to respond in anticipation. The rapid spread of Thérèse's reputation for holiness is such, according to the latter, that it cannot be explained by "some natural cause", but that it testifies well to the intervention of Providence. Where the lawyer pleads for a demonstration of "divine power", Verde is content to point out the effectiveness of "human action" and intends to demonstrate this amply in the following articles.

8. Since the Servant of God's reputation for holiness spread - much more widely and with much more brilliance than one might have imagined - after the distribution of her printed autobiography, the Advocate [of her cause] anticipated the difficulty caused by the encouragement given to this propagation; he writes: “No sensible person would attribute such a spread to any natural cause, as soon as the story of the Servant of God's life was broadcast; the Prioress of Lisieux had the text sent, once printed, to the other Carmelite monasteries in place of the circular letter which, since a long-established tradition in this congregation, is sent after the death of a nun of this Order. Who, comparing this fact with its astonishing and universal consequences, would not understand that there is no naturally explicable proportion between these and their cause? » (Sum. p. 156 § 190).

He adds, next, the testimony of some pious men in order to better persuade that one cannot explain rationally that the reputation of holiness has become universal by the sole influence of such a biography. I will not invoke as a defense the authority of the director of the major seminary of Sées, according to which the avidity to read the said biography rests, in large part, "on the eminent sentimentality that he finds in the History of 'a soul " (Sum. p. 479, at the beginning [Testimony reported by Canon Dumaine, PO, p. 336]). One can also advance other arguments which demonstrate quite clearly that what the Advocate would prefer to attribute to divine power must be attributed to human actions.

Isn't HA's success due to indulgences?

The first argument used to show the role of human action in the dissemination of the Story of a Soul may give rise to a smile, since it is the incentive effect of indulgences too widely dispensed by the Portuguese bishops at the time of the translation of the Story of a soul. Tricky ground. Verde also highlights, on the contrary, the hesitations of the Archbishop of Westminster to do the same because he did not want to support the activism of the Carmel. Eventually, but Verde doesn't say it - and perhaps he doesn't know it - Bourne also granted the requested indulgences.

9. Indeed, how could the number of readers not increase day by day, since each, thanks to the reading of such a story, could attract sacred indulgences? "The Portuguese edition [of 1906], (says the witness XVI [Isabelle of the Sacred Heart]), composed by Father de Santanna, a Jesuit well known in this country for his science and his eloquence, was indulged by thirteen Bishops or Archbishops" (Sum, p. 498 § 133 [OP p. 441]). Everyone sees what is exaggerated in this favor given to the servant of God.

It is worth listening to Witness II [Father Taylor]: “I had sought from SG Mgr Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster, the grant of an indulgence for the reading of the [new] English translation of the History of a Soul, like what had been done in several dioceses in Portugal. The priest who was my intermediary first sent me a favorable promise, but as the Archbishop was delaying in actually sending me this concession, I asked the priest who was acting as intermediary if he knew the reason for this delay. He replied that the Archbishop had heard that perhaps they were too hasty in this affair of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus; he had also heard that the family's part in this affair might compromise its success in Rome. As a result, the Archbishop thought it would be wiser to wait” (Why. mad. 186, verso [PO, p.229-230]).

Holiness or propaganda?

Verde, continuing his demonstration, now brings together several converging testimonies, coming from people who criticized the activism deployed around Thérèse, particularly by the Carmel. And to add to it, with some perfidy, the proofs given by ardent propagandists of Thérèse who are and the Abbé Taylor for the Anglo-Saxon countries and especially Mother Agnès, in Lisieux, who brandishes like trophies the important prints of the images and books distributed by him.

10. The Archbishop of Westminster is not alone in hearing objections to the overzealousness of all this. In fact, Witness VI [Canon Dumaine] also: “Only in a few cases, and very few in number, did I hear a few criticisms made concerning the form given to the dissemination of his story and his memories; we thought it was happening too much noise around his memory. The two or three people I have heard speak thus are good and recommendable" (Why. mad. 463 back [PO, p. 337]).

Likewise witness XXIV [Father Madelaine]: “I have only heard sometimes dispute the opportunity for a Carmel to publish the autobiography of one of its members. We have especially blamed, in some Carmels, the intensity of the propaganda made by the Carmel of Lisieux" (Ibid. mad. 1221 back [PO p. 524]). And again Witness IX [Father Roulland]: “I heard some remarks made on the timeliness of the very numerous publications relating to Sister Thérèse” (Ibid. mad. 535 [OP, p. 376]). Speaking of himself, Witness II [Father Taylor] expressed himself thus: “I applied myself to making known the Servant of God, either by multiplying and spreading her images, or by spreading the book of her life, especially in Great Britain, in the English Colonies and in the United States” (Ibid. mad. 180 back [PO, p. 227]).

The best proof of such eagerness can be found in the number of stories and images of the Servant of God, whose witness I [Mother Agnès] counted: "To give a simple overview of the accounts kept for the books, images, memories and correspondence relating to the Servant of God, I would say that since the publication of the Story of a Soul until today, the total of the copies taken from the Life of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus amounts to 62.815 for the full life, and 80 for the abridged life. The total number of copies sold is 000 for the complete edition, 45.715 for the abridged edition. As for images and memories, we are asked more and more of them. In 56.405 months, that is to say from July 12 to July 1909, we were asked for 1910 images and 183.348 memories” (summ. p. 460 § 17 [OP, p. 221]).

An ordinary death and an invisible holiness

Verde returns to the essence of his demonstration. Thérèse's reputation for holiness dates back to after her death, as the Carmelite Elijah of the Mother of Mercy still testifies. But above all he advances two new arguments. First a death - the test of truth - where nothing extraordinary happens, against many saints. Does he think of Saint Benedict Labre, unknown during his life, but whose glory bursts forth in Rome at the time of his burial in 1783? And, in the Carmel, contrasting testimonies which show that, apart from the novices, his holiness remained barely visible at best.

11. In conclusion, it is not surprising that the Servant of God's reputation for holiness spread long and wide; on the other hand, the legitimacy of its origin and its mode of propagation is more doubtful.

Nothing can be found in the death of the Servant of God which constitutes an indication or proof of her extraordinary holiness, according to the general opinion expressed at the time: "She remained exposed (witness I [Mother Agnès]) according to the custom of the Carmel, in the choir of the nuns, near the gate. On Sunday evening, October 3, the coffin was closed after some symptoms of decomposition had appeared. The burial took place on Monday, October 4, without anything extraordinary happening” (summ. p. 356 § 25 [OP, p. 180]).

The manifestations of deference and veneration would not have been lacking, by which one pays homage at the moment of their death and their burial, to those who pass away, surrounded by a reputation of particular holiness, if really, at least the part of his companions, his heroic virtues and his holiness had been the object of a well-established belief.

“This reputation (witness V [P. Élie de la Mère de Miséricorde] clearly states) develops spontaneously by reading his life” (Ibid p. 477 § 70 [OP, p. 324]). The [same] witness V adds: "I have noticed during these 11 years that I have known Sister Thérèse: all those who carefully read theStory of a Soul, become admirers of the Servant of God” (Why fol 446 [PO, p. 325-326]). It is therefore evident that the reputation of holiness did not begin to develop until the autobiographical account written in his own hand had been printed and widely disseminated.

As for what they thought of her in her convent during her life, here is what another of her companions, witness XIII [Thérèse of Saint-Augustin], said: "During the life of the Servant of God in monastery, I have heard various opinions about it. Those of the nuns who knew her best, and especially the novices under her direction, admired the sublimity of her virtue. For others, it went unnoticed, because, I believe, of its simplicity. Finally, some gave rather unfavorable judgments. So some accused him of coldness and pride.Proc. mad. 585 back [PO, p. 403]).

Such a diversity of opinions clearly shows that the Servant of God did not acquire her reputation for holiness among those who lived with her in the convent, as happens in contact with a continuous practice of heroic virtues which forces the admiration even of the recalcitrant.

The heroism of virtues did not strike the eyes

Verde and Thérèse's lawyer both have their eyes turned towards the introduction of the case. A reputation for holiness which manifests itself after death, the lawyer tries to plead, has more value, even if the latter gives, clumsily, as much weight to the adversity encountered during his lifetime by the candidate for sainthood as to the chosen pattern of hidden life. Verde does not budge and sticks to the principle on which canonization is based: to put it another way, the heroic practice of the virtues must blind the eyes... or blind the screen.

12. This embarrassed the Defence, who, seeking to extricate themselves, stated: "A reputation which has taken on substance after death deserves more consideration and has more value, as often happens, either because servants of God have led a life hidden from the eyes of others, either because of enmities and denigrations, that a reputation in the eyes of contemporaries is limited in space and time and even suffocated withers. So the Commission which has the signature of the Sovereign Pontiff, for introduce the cause of the servants of God, is quite right to pay attention above all to a reputation for holiness which develops after the death of the Servants of God. Indeed, an authentic virtue, although it has been the butt of the jealousy and calumny of contemporaries, triumphs once it escapes view and receives universal homage.Inform. p. 151 § 185).

I readily accept the argument. However, when we have to seek the origin of this reputation and know if it comes from the brilliance of the heroic virtues - these virtues alone give all the glory of true holiness - the reputation of holiness would lose its foundation if those who shared the life of the Servant of God did not notice in her what cumulative virtues are needed to deserve the name of saint.

Still trying to overcome the objection, the Advocate adds: “At the convent, what happened to the Servant of God, as far as we know, happened to many saints, men or women; as, in search of humility, they strove to hide their merit, they did not meet among their companions all the admirers who could have proclaimed their holiness” (Ibid p. 152 § 187).

However, it is characteristic of heroic virtue to strike the eye with its beauty and grandeur, to delight the mind, and to arouse a glowing veneration even in those who wish to keep their eyes closed.

Marie de Gonzague would have been a good witness

Verde returns to the divergent judgments of the Carmelites on Thérèse by evoking the case of Marie de Gonzague, who died in 1904. He starts from the crucial testimony of Taylor: the prioress who had received Thérèse in the Carmel was at first not very favorable to her canonization and, if she had then changed her mind, it was less because of a better appreciation of her virtues than because of the miracles which were beginning to be attributed to her. Verde was well aware that the trial had depicted a Marie de Gonzague with a changeable and easily influenced character. He even reports this unfavorable judgment while avoiding quoting the woman who presented it in this way (Sr Geneviève, PO, p 272-273). But he ignites a counter-fire by evoking the testimony of Father Madelaine, a good connoisseur of the prioress, who, on the contrary, testified to the righteousness of his judgment and the affection the community had for him. The Marie de Gonzague affair begins, a trial within a trial; it will rebound during the apostolic process with the testimony against Mother Agnès.

13. Let's add this. No one saw more deeply the riches of his spirit and could more justly evaluate his acts than the prioress of the convent [Mother Marie de Gonzague] who, because of their continual relations, had the possibility of exercising , more than the others, her spirit of attentive observation towards the Servant of God. Now "when I spoke (witness II [Father Taylor] tells us) to the Reverend Mother Prioress of this convent, about the life of Sister Thérèse, SHE STARTED TO LAUGHand told me that we might as well have all the Carmelites of his house canonized. It was around 1904, and in any case before the great devotional movement that has since developed” (Why. mad. 184 [PO, p. 229). Admittedly, the witness adds that the said Prioress subsequently changed her opinion; but it was not the effect of the memory of his virtues and the consideration of their excellence; it was what was said of the celestial benefits attributed to her intercession which effected this change.

“The current prioress who was sub-prioress around 1904 [what is incorrect], herself testified to me of this change caused by the knowledge of the graces obtained through the intercession of the Servant of God” [Suite de deposition de Taylor, PO, p.229]. It may be objected that the character of the prioress was apparently changeable and easily influenced; however, it cannot be said that she did not judge the nun correctly, or even that she deliberately underestimated her, she who had had frequent opportunities to experience the merit of the Servant of God .

Moreover, concerning her character, we must hear the witness XXIV [Fr. Madelaine] who, questioned on what he knows of the character of the Prioress Mother Marie de Gonzague, replies: “I knew her particularly well; I had many relations with her, either by correspondence or by conversations in the visiting room. She seemed to me to have a particularly straight judgment. In the administration of her Community, she was very desirous of the good. Judging by the external relations that I had for a long time with her, her character seemed to me excellent... Her numerous re-elections as Prioress have always led me to believe that the Sisters favorably appreciated her way of governing” (Ibid. mad. 1218 back [PO, p. 521-522).

A shared community about Thérèse

Verde continues the examination of the depositions of the Carmelites on the reputation of holiness. Two of them, unequally close to Thérèse, but having known her well in the novitiate, Marie-Madeleine and Marie de la Trinité, both report on the sharing of the community on Thérèse's holiness. And Mother Agnès herself mentions anonymously the case of two sisters not very favorable to Thérèse, one who has since left the community - no doubt Sr Thérèse of Jesus of the Heart of Mary - and the other, Sr Saint-Vincent-de -Paul, who wondered, faced with such a smooth life, what could be said of her in her death notice.

14. The opinion of the nuns was not very different from that of the Prioress. Witness XVIII [Sr Marie-Madeleine] reports: “Among the other nuns, about half said: That she was a good little nun, very gentle, but who had nothing to suffer and whose life was rather insignificant. The rest of the Community, sharing the party animosities of which I have spoken [PO, p. 478], showed herself to be rather unfavorable, saying that she was spoiled by her sisters, without articulating, moreover, any very specific reproach" (Why. mad. 1108 [PO, p. 481]).

Witness XVII [Mary of the Trinity] goes in the same direction: “During her life in Carmel, the Servant of God passed almost unnoticed in the Community. Only four or five nuns, and I was one of them, penetrating further into her intimacy, realized what perfection was hiding behind her humility and simplicity. For the masses, she was considered a very regular nun and there was no fault to be found in her. She had to suffer from a certain feeling of jealousy which animated a good number of nuns against this group of four Martin sisters” (summ. p. 500 § 144 [OP, p. 471]).

Witness I [Mother Agnès] adds: “Nuns, to my knowledge, however, judged otherwise. One of them said that it wasn't difficult to be a saint when, like her, you had everything you wanted; that we lived in family and in honors. Certainly the witness remarks: "that this nun, who had been professed for a long time, was not of sound judgment, that she wanted to leave the monastery, and that she has now returned to the world"; but one must not, for that, despise his judgment on this point, especially when it is completely confirmed by the judgment of others.

“Another, (according to the same witness [Mother Agnès]), during her illness said: “I wonder what our Mother Prioress will be able to write about Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus? What do you mean by a person who has been pampered all the time and who has not acquired virtue like us through struggle and suffering. She's sweet and good, but it's natural for her.Proc. crazy. 241 [OP, p. 177]).

superficial piety

Continuing “in the same vein”, which is visibly exhausted, the promoter of the faith returns to two anecdotes intended to illustrate Thérèse's humility in which she responded with serenity to severe remarks uttered in front of her. He sticks to the stated grievances. But it should be noted that, for the second case, contrary to what Verde says, the anecdote was reported by Thérèse herself to the sister who included it in her deposition. And for the third, that, contrary to what he would suggest, the scene takes place not in Lisieux, but ... in Canada and in an active congregation.

15. In the same vein, what Witness XVII [Marie de la Trinité] recounts: “There was in the kitchen a Sister [probably the same as before] who did not like her and spoke of her with contempt (this Nun is dead); seeing the Servant of God coming, she said: “Look at her walking; she is in no hurry! When will she start working? She's no good!” » (summ. p. 355 § 65 [OP, p. 480]).

Witness XIII [Thérèse of Saint Augustine] makes similar comments: “I also heard, a few days ago, a Sister who said to another: I don't know why we talk so much about Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, she does nothing remarkable, we do not see her practicing virtue, we cannot even say that she is a good nun. » (summ. p. 329 § 38 [OP p. 403]). Certainly the witness warns: “I know that this Sister said that in a fit of bad humor”; however, we do not know what she would have answered if she had been questioned during the trial on this subject.

Witness X [P. Pichon] after having said: "A Nun, who is now dead, considered that Sister Thérèse's piety was childish and quite superficial", adds: "This Nun whom I knew well, was steeped in rationalism and human sense” (Why. mad. 551 [PO p. 383]). But this nun was not the only one to think so about the Servant of God.

childish and unmanly

The ultimate testimonies on the reputation of holiness concern the Carmelite family. First two Carmels: visiting that of Lourdes, Taylor reports the unfavorable opinion of an Irish sister; in that of Trévoux, in exile in Rome, it is the Carmelite Elijah of the Mother of Mercy who hears a prioress - the current or the former, he no longer remembers - finding Thérèse unmanly, no doubt with regard to the great Therese. The same witness also mentions the words of a Carmelite from his Italian community who considered Thérèse's life too childish, but who retracted in view of an act of virtue by Thérèse, very small according to the promoter of the faith. .

16. In fact, here is what witness II [Taylor] tells us: “At the Carmel of Lourdes, I spoke these last days to an Irish nun whose name I have forgotten, but who is the only Irish woman in this House. She told me that reading the story of a soul left her suspicious" (Why. fol 184 [PO, p. 229]).

Similarly, witness V [Elie of the Mother of Mercy] states: "One day, several years ago (around 1905), I was in the parlor of the Carmelites of Trévoux, exiled in Rome, with all the Community ; then the Reverend Mother Prioress, who died piously a few years ago, or else the ex-prioress, Mother Marie-Louise, I do not remember which of the two, speaking to me of theStory of a soul, said some word to me that showed not to appreciate this book too much. I do not now remember the precise words, only I have the idea that this History was considered by my interlocutor as unmanly"(Ibid. fol 444, verso [PO, p. 325]).

The same [witness] relates: “About a month ago, Fr. Franco, aged 43, was reading or heard reading in the refectory of our novitiate in Concesa, near Trezzo d'Adda [between Bergamo and Milan], the story of a soul ; and afterwards, in recreation, criticized this life as too childish, and did not find much in the holiness of our Sister Thérèse [PO p. 325]”. But the same witness adds that Fr. Franco in question had become, shortly afterwards, an admirer of the Servant of God; however, examine and consider what was the cause of such a reversal: “A few weeks later, a few days before my departure for Lisieux, while reading himself one evening, in the refectory, this same life, the passage where the little saint recounts that being in the laundry room, she quietly received, without moving from place to place, the dirty water that one of the Sisters threw in her face while washing handkerchiefs, then, afterwards, in recreation, Fr Franco retracted his first appreciation, and said that truly it took a heroic virtue to silently and patiently endure such actions, and became a great admirer of Sister Thérèse” (Ibid. fol 445 verso [PO, p. 326]).

A holiness so hidden is without proof

Verde opens this important paragraph with a first rigorously articulated conclusion: as, faced with a completely hidden sanctity - he was not convinced by the lawyer -, it is impossible in this case to provide legally admissible testimonies, one cannot therefore put forward reasons justifying the continuation of the canonical process. Thérèse's holiness is not in question, but the proofs of the heroicity of the virtues are concealed in the face of the omnipresence of the testimony that Thérèse bears on herself. And then, as if nothing had happened, Verde continues his detailed review by proposing a new objection, the negative judgment of some Carmels during the publication of theStory of a soul.

17. It will be said that the origin of the difference of opinion concerning the Servant of God - which the witnesses point out on several occasions - must be sought in the fact that her conduct offered nothing, seen from the outside, which could have passed for heroic or extraordinary and that all his holiness remained hidden in his heart, invisible to the eyes. Let's admit it.

But as the Church does not pronounce its judgments on the basis of private life, it would be futile to launch the investigation that should lead to the introduction of the Cause. Certainly Sister Thérèse will be holy before the face of God; but in the absence of obvious proofs recognized as juridically indispensable to proclaim his sanctity, in particular in the absence of acts of typically heroic virtues, perceived and reported by witnesses as well as of elements which would have given his reputation a solid foundation and origin, it is the main talking point for the legal debate that would be lacking.

Moreover, in my opinion, the doubts are not due only to shortcomings, but they also relate to words and some actions of the Servant of God which make her holiness ambiguous and uncertain. “During the first publication (according to witness I [Mother Agnès]) of the Story of a Soul (1898), most Carmels recognized in this life the expression of an exceptional virtue. Two or three Carmels, however, transmitted to us observations which I can summarize as follows: “This nun so young should not have asserted so absolutely his views on perfection. Age and experience would no doubt have changed them. The Reverend Mother Prioress should not have allowed her to express them thus and even less should not have published them herself” [PO, p. 222]”.

The witness [still Mother Agnès] reports that these nuns then revised their judgment and added: “I know it from the letters they write to me”. But because these letters were not produced, we remain in the dark about the motivation for their change of mind and the importance of it. The witness continues: "Another Prioress, who has since died, said that when speaking of her graces, Sister Thérèse perhaps expressed herself with simplicity, but that one could also see pride there" (Proc. fol 295, verso [PO, 222]).

The future saint found herself a saint

Verde goes a step further in his argument. Not only was Thérèse the only one to bear witness to her virtuous interior, but she also had the audacity, at the end of her life, to declare herself a saint, in particular by encouraging the conservation of relics concerning her. It is Mother Agnès who, out of her desire to show her sister's extraordinary gifts – here the anticipation of her action after her death – unwittingly brings on a platter the essence of the grievances of the promoter of the faith. And it is all the more serious as the questioning of Thérèse's remarks risks leading to disqualification. for the small way which Mother Agnès held so dear.

17 [bis] Among the many examples I could give, I will select a few that prove that the Servant of God openly affirmed her great holiness.

Witness I [Mother Agnès] gives us these facts worthy of being related: “Towards the end of her life (the last three months) while my two sisters and I were near her bed, she showed us with great simplicity , strange forebodings of what was to happen to him after his death. She made us understand that after her death, her relics would be sought and that she would have to accomplish a mission in souls, spreading her “little way of trust and abandonment”. In particular she recommended keeping carefully, even to the clippings of one's fingernails,. In the last weeks of her life, we brought her roses to pluck on her Crucifix; if petals fell to the ground, once she had touched them, she told us:Don't lose this my little sisters, you will make pleasures with these roses ".

And she also says: “The manuscript (the story of his life) will have to be published without delay after my death. If you delay, the devil will lay a thousand pitfalls for you to prevent this publication, however very important”. I said to him: “So you think that it is through this manuscript that you will do good to souls?” – “Yes it is a means that the good Lord will use to answer me. He will do good to all sorts of souls, except those who are in extraordinary ways” (Proc. mad. 238 verso [PO, 175-176]).

Witness III [Marie du Sacré-Coeur] adds: “One day she told us with a gracious air : My little sisters, you know very well that you are caring for a little saint "(Ibid. fol 324 [PO, p. 255]).

His assurance of salvation, divine or diabolical?

Verde now wants to hear Marie du Sacré-Coeur, still on the knowledge that Thérèse had of her activity after her death. The passage retained is all the more important as the witness reveals the origin of the formula - already famous - on the rain of roses. But above all he finds there the opportunity to return to the substance of the debate. Where does Thérèse come from “the assurance of benefiting from divine favor and obtaining eternal beatitude”? From God, they say. So be it, but, retorts Verde, find me the experienced confessor who will prove that it was not a question of a diabolical temptation, pushing the young Carmelite woman to pride? Always this absent and yet indispensable witness in such a delicate enterprise of discerning minds. Find me too, he continues, the enlightened priest whom the Carmelite before her death should have consulted when she was contemplating the publication of her writings. Mother Agnès had gone too far on this file and the trap was in danger of turning against Thérèse.

18. Moreover, the same witness [Marie du Sacré-Coeur] reports: “On July 18, 1897, she said to me: if you knew how much I plan, how many things I will do when I am in heaven! – What projects are you doing? I said. “I will begin my mission... I will go there to help the Missionaries and prevent the little savages from dying before being baptized” (Sum. p. 425 § 251 [OP, p. 256]).

The same [Marie du Sacré-Coeur], again: “I read [publicly] in the refectory a passage from the life of St Louis de Gonzague, where it is said that a patient who sought his healing saw a rain of roses falling on his bed, as a symbol of the grace that was about to be granted to him. – Me too, she then told me during recess, after my death, I will make it rain roses (Proc. fol. 314 [PO, p. 248]).

I leave aside what, in the account of her life, the Servant of God recounts of the graces of which she thought her Heavenly Spouse had judged him worthy; I wonder, however, where such assurance of divine favor and eternal bliss came from. Assuredly of the only revelation of God. But what could have made her so sure that it was really divine revelation, when one must fear the deception of the demon, very difficult to avoid, even with the help of experienced confessors? ? Did the Servant of God have recourse to the advice of her spiritual director when she asked her Sisters to have the story of her life disseminated?

What presumption!

Verde here gives the impression, for lack of anything better, of returning to a judged file. In fact, he took up a criticism of the censor of Thérèse's writings (December 6, 1912), which was immediately dismissed since the approval of the writings was immediate (December 11, 1912). In fact, he takes up the criticism on his own and again quotes Mother Agnès. This time, the prioress delivers a personal appreciation of two delicate formulas of the Act of Offering, evoking two exceptional graces which had already given rise, during the trial, to a request for an explanation made by the devil's advocate concerning the doctrine, the Sulpician Dubosq. The “realistic” interpretation of Mother Agnes was dangerous. Verde does not seek to conclude: the facts speak for themselves and demonstrate Thérèse's presumption.

19. The theologian, censor of the writings of the Servant of God, notes this tendency to exaltation and transports of devotion which, for lack of essential knowledge and the guarantee of prudent advice, led her to erroneous ways of speaking. and to remarks that deserve the observations and criticisms of the censor. Among other points which he raised and which would, according to him, deserve some explanation, here are two: they are two requests which she made [at the end of the Act of Offering of 1895] as being insignia favours, as her sister, witness I [Mother Agnès] teaches us: - “1° the favor of preserving in her the real presence of Our Lord, between her communions. – Stay in me as in the tabernacle. – 2° The favor of seeing the stigmata of the Passion shine in heaven on her glorious body [PO, p. 158]”.

These requests seemed so unusual that the Fiscal Promoter [Canon Dubosq] saw fit to question the witness: did she know if these terms: “ Real presence in the interval of communions, and Stigmas on his glorified body, had been used orally and in writing by the Servant of God, in a kind of metaphorical amplification, or if they were to be taken stricto sensu [PO p. 158-159]”. The witness answered: “She often developed these thoughts in conversation and I am sure that she meant them in the literal sense. Moreover, her loving confidence in Our Lord led her to a kind of limitless boldness in her requests” (Why. mad. 209, verso [PO, p. 159]).

Childish and insignificant

Change of accusation, change of register too. The "puerility" - even the insignificance - of Thérèse's remarks. Verde had, so to speak, only to bend down, drawing either from the too admiring comments of Thérèse's sisters or directly from the Advice and Memories of the 1907 edition of theStory of a soul. A question that concerns Thérèse sacristan: the quoted words have only an appearance of childishness, since they translate something essential for her, her relationship to the priesthood. Did Verde realize this by choosing to denounce them? A more general remark: the accusations advanced here show how thin the border is between denouncing childishness and praising simplicity.

20. The following examples show how much the Servant of God took pleasure in childishness. [According to Sr Geneviève] “She liked to consider Jesus in her childhood; she said: It would be nice if I died on March 25 [Annunciation Day], because that is the day that Jesus was the smallest” (Sum. p. 195 towards the end [PO, p. 279]).

When she was a sacristan, “while preparing the mass for the following day, she liked to look at herself in the chalice and the paten; it seemed to him that the gold having reflected his image, it was on it that the divine Species would rest” (ibid p. 151, at the end [same witness, PO, p. 290]. [Concordant testimony of Mother Agnès]: “During her illness, they brought her the chalice of a young priest who had just said his first Mass. She looked at the inside of the sacred vase and told us: my image is reproduced at the bottom of this chalice where the blood of Jesus descended and will descend so many times. I liked to do this in the chalices when I was a sacristan” (ibid p. 141 towards the middle [PO, p. 165-166]).

Another anecdote related by one of the novices [Marie de la Trinité] whom she was responsible for leading to the fulfillment of their religious vocation: “I bitterly repented of a fault I had committed. She said to me: “Take your Crucifix and kiss it”. I kissed her feet. - “Is this how a child kisses her Father? Quickly, put your hands around his neck and kiss his face...” I obeyed. "That's not all. You have to get his caresses back”. And I had to put the crucifix on each of my cheeks; then she says to me: “It is good, now all is forgiven” (Story of an Anima, etc. p. 278 [Original text HA 1907, p. 278]).»

Lack of moderation

From the accusation of insignificance Verde slips to that of lack of moderation. He talks at length about Thérèse's behavior, complaining every day of stomach aches because her mistress had told her to confess...and had forgotten her advice, taken literally by a novice. scrupulous, hence a long misunderstanding. Youthful mistake, yes. But Thérèse, mistress of novices in turn, used this example as an argument to force Marie de la Trinité to draw the consequences of her own complaints, with the aim of encouraging her to choose instead to suffer the daily ills in silence. Verde did not see or wanted to see the end of the story.

21. Also insignificant is what witness IV [Sr Geneviève] ranks among acts of outstanding virtue. "She didn't wipe her sweat, because she said it was to agree that we were too hot and a way of letting people know" (summ. p. 287 § 13 [OP, p. 295]). This is an external phenomenon that could not escape anyone's sight.

As regards the accomplishment of orders received, she also lacked that moderation without which the brilliance of all virtue is dulled. “One day, said witness XVII [Mary of the Trinity], that I had a violent headache, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus wanted me to go and tell our Mother; as I opposed it, alleging that it would be a way of asking for relief, she said to me: What would you say if the obligation was imposed on you that I had been given when I was a postulant and a novice? Our Mistress commanded me to tell her whenever I had a stomach ache. But this happened to me every day and this commandment was a real torture for me. When the stomach ache took hold of me, I would have preferred to receive a hundred blows from the sticks, rather than go and say it; but I said it every time out of obedience.

Our Mistress who no longer remembered the order she had given me, said to me: My poor child, you will never have the health to do [Understand follow] the Rule, it's too much for you! or else she would ask Mother Marie de Gonzague for some remedy, who replied displeased: But that child is always complaining! one comes to Carmel to suffer, if she cannot bear [for endure] her woes, let her go! Yet I continued for a long time out of obedience to confess my stomach ailments at the risk of being fired. (ibid. p. 306 § 38 [OP p. 465]).

She would have done better to remind the Mistress that she herself had given her this order, so as not to receive an unjust punishment because of an oversight on her part.

A hyper-sensitive

A new front, Thérèse's extreme sensitivity. The first two testimonies relate to Thérèse as a child, and Mother Agnès assures us that later this defect had disappeared. Not so sure, replies Verde, who relies on the testimony of Aimee of Jesus to show that in Carmel, in February 1896, Therese could still react with vivacity. Had she not publicly challenged a decision by Marie de Gonzague, then mistress of novices? This is not the place to tell this complicated story - Marie de Gonzague would have liked to delay the profession of Sr Geneviève for a few weeks to do it herself in anticipation of her probable election as prioress - but rather to ask ourselves what is the purpose of the Verde's remarks: highlight a delicate point to undermine Thérèse's file or warn the lawyer of the need to provide the desired clarifications?

22. We must also remember what Witness XXIX [Sr André, Benedictine who reports the words of the sisters of her community] declares: “She was excessively sensitive which caused her to be unduly upset” (Why. fol 1289 [PO, p. 544). And her sister [Mother Agnès]: “She was extremely sensitive by temperament; a child and already grown up, she wept with extraordinary ease. That's the only fault I've known of him" (summ p. 285 § 4 [OP, p. 169]).

She adds, it is true, that she had managed to be “a perfect mistress of herself [Idem]”; however, co-witness I [Aimée de Jésus], cited ex officio, reports a sufficiently important fact for it to be noticed: "Only once did I see my sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus come out of this calm: her sister (Geneviève de Ste Thérèse) had had a great annoyance a few weeks before her profession, which she could not conceal; this pain had come to her from Mother Marie de Gonzague, then mistress of novices. I did not know exactly why Sister Geneviève had been humiliated, but I say in general to my Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus: Mother Marie de Gonzague has the right to test my Sister Geneviève, why surprise? – With that, the Servant of God replied with emotion: This is a kind of test that should not be given.- This answer surprised me then and seemed to me the effect of an affection that was too natural” (Proc. fol 1116 [PO p. 573]).

Let's reject this file

We always come back to the reputation of holiness. The promoter of the faith puts forward in conclusion two complementary arguments to advise rejecting the file: the division of the opinions of the Carmelites of Lisieux who knew Thérèse during her lifetime and a reputation for holiness which took shape after Thérèse's death thanks to the publication of the'Story of a soul. There can be no question of highlighting the graces received by the faithful by invoking Thérèse. These can onlyillustrate the divine will to use the Carmelite as a channel of graces and therefore in no way replace the inability to to prove the heroic virtues of Thérèse. Illustrate ou demonstrate, two people conflicting perspectives suggesting two different interpretations for this hostile conclusion. From the legal point of view, it is advisable to respect the rules and not to interfere with the judgment of God, manifested by graces and miracles, with the opinions of men who must be taken into consideration in priority to define the heroicity of the virtues. , the basis of the reputation of holiness. From a more theological perspective, more spiritual perhaps, Verde says he is convinced of the holiness of Thérèse, even if the most important testimony is that which the Carmelite gave of herself. However, this type of hidden holiness does not correspond to the classical norms, based on the demonstration of the heroicity of the virtues. But isn't it topical, as Thérèse's success shows? It is up to the court to make an informed choice.

23. Whereas it has been clearly seen that, during her lifetime, the Servant of God was not surrounded by an authentic reputation for holiness, that this began to spread not because of the evidence of her heroic virtues but because of the dissemination of the story of her life that she had personally written; given that a certain number of nuns who had lived very close to her for a long time, as well as others, had doubts about her holiness, without it being possible to refute their opinions in the trial, the bases on which rests the present debate seem to me to be very shaken.

It is not useful to answer that the companions of the Servant of God who had an unfavorable opinion later changed their minds, because if this happened, the cause must be attributed to the benefits they felt they had received. of God through his intercession, as the RM Mary of the Most Holy Trinity clearly teaches us [mistake on the name, it is Sr. Marie-Madeleine]: “The unanimity that has been achieved among us on this subject seems to me to be determined by the certainty that we have all acquired of the effectiveness of his protection and of his intercession with God” (Sum. page 502 at the end [OP, p. 481]). No one in this tribunal is unaware that bounties from on high are not proofs of holiness, but serve only to illustrate it after it has been fully demonstrated by legally admitted means.

Moreover, in the midst of the innumerable people - men and women - who attest to having benefited from the protection of the Servant of God, there arises the complaint of one of her cousins ​​[Jeanne Guérin La Néele] who, publicly, before the saint Bayeux court declared: "I invoke the Servant of God, but I see that she sends me crosses rather than consolations" ( Proc. fol 1145 verso [PO, p. 492]).

 The April 8 1914  

Alexandre Verde, Advocate of the Sacred Congregation, Promoter of the Holy Faith