the Carmel

Therese's trial

This procedure, strictly ecclesiastical, calls on the laity as witnesses, lawyers or experts (doctor for miracles). The proclamation of a new saint is a pedagogy in action of the holiness of the Church in her history, as evidenced by the incorporation of the blessed into the sanctoral. But canonization also obeys political purposes, whether internally (to satisfy a religious family) or externally (to honor a nation).

It is easier to indicate the culmination of Thérèse's trial (1925) than its starting point. Indeed, the ordinary trial opens in 1910; but as early as 1906, it was mentioned in the Catholic press; in 1907, the new bishop of Bayeux, Mgr Lemonnier, made a symbolic gesture, authorizing a prayer to ask for the canonization of the young Carmelite; in 1908, a new prioress, who was not from Thérèse's family, officially addressed the bishop to launch the procedure; in 1909, the choice of the main operators (Carmelite postulator and French vice-postulator, Mgr de Teil) really launched the process. This opened in May-June 1910 with the trial of the writings, at the request of the Congregation of Rites. It ends in September 1911, with the non-cult trial. But a full year (August 1910-August 1911) was devoted to the hearings of witnesses in the main trial relating to the virtues, reputation for holiness and miracles.

The diocesan file, solemnly closed by Bishop Lemonnier on December 12, 1911, was then taken over by the Roman Congregation of Rites on March 13, when it opened the authentic copy of the trial brought by Bishop de Teil. First step taken, the examination of the writings leads to a nihil obstat (December 11, 1912). Then comes the big piece, the main trial. On March 8, 1913, the Roman lawyers of the cause presented the Positio, a strong summary (summarium) of the file, with various annexed documents, for the members of the congregation. A new step: the Congregation of Rites, in January 1914, authorized the continuation of the trial without waiting for the usual period of ten years. As a result, the promoter of the faith, Mgr Verde, made his serious and reasoned remarks (animadversiones) in April, to which the lawyers responded immediately. The congregation of the Rites does not retain the objections. On June 10, 1914, the first official Roman recognition, Pius X signed the introduction of the cause.

The war which begins in Europe does not prevent the congregation of the Rites, in August, from asking the bishop of Bayeux to open the apostolic process, by first hearing the main witnesses and the oldest. This new trial opened in April 1915 and lasted until August 1916. During this time, the Roman congregation did not remain inactive: in March 1916, it ratified the non-cult trial and lightened the apostolic trial with a new inquiry into the reputation of holiness. The multiplicity of testimonies of the faithful and accounts of miracles convinced the judges. The Bishop of Bayeux can therefore continue the apostolic process by hearing the rest of the witnesses (September 1916-August 1917).

We are now entering an exclusively Roman phase. A new obstacle, of size, is removed: according to canon law, the file should have been treated only 50 years after the death of Thérèse, that is to say in... 1947. We make an exception for her. As a result, the outcome is getting closer. On August 14, 1921, the Congregation of Rites recognizes the heroicity of the virtues, but it took a vote three times to repel the objections of the new promoter of the faith, relating in particular to Thérèse's strange illness. The obstacle of the two miracles is also overcome after three examinations. On March 19, 1923, the decree di tuto gave the green light to the beatification. In Lisieux, the following days, the body of Thérèse – we can now speak of relics – is transferred to the chapel of the Carmel. On April 29, 1923, Thérèse was proclaimed blessed. His worship becomes public, with a party on October 1, an office... and statues in churches!

Canonization is in sight. It is only necessary to examine two new miracles, approved on March 19, 1925. On March 30, in a secret consistory, the pope questions the cardinals on the advisability of this canonization. Formality. On April 22, a semi-public consistory, open to all bishops, archbishops, and cardinals present in Rome, allows for broader approval. On May 17, 1925, the solemn canonization of Thérèse of the Child Jesus took place at Saint Peter's in Rome. This is the first canonization of Pius XI. It precedes by a few days that of four other French saints, two 24th century foundresses, Madeleine-Sophie Barat and Marie-Madeleine Postel (May 31), and two priests, Jean Eudes and the Curé of Ars (May XNUMX).

For Thérèse, the official honors will continue. In 1927, the decree extending her feast to the universal church (July) was the prelude to her proclamation as patroness of all the missions (December 14). While waiting for the doctorate, dismissed in 1932, granted in 1997.

By Claude Langlois, historian