Sunday, 13 July 2014

Mother Marie-Joseph of the Child Jesus, O.SS.R. of the Monastery of St. Amand-les-Eaux (1836 – 1903)

Chapter IV. Virtues of the venerated Mother (continued).

I. Her love for her neighbour.

We have already spoken of the zeal that inspired Mother Marie-Joseph for the salvation of souls. We must now speak of her charity in regard to her daughters.

The goodness of her nature was united to grace to make it easy for her to exercise a very maternal charity. Always disposed to help and devote herself with warmth and good humour, she received the Sisters with a great kindness and family spirit. To everyone she showed a great confidence and a sincere affection. In regard to everyone she acted with uprightness, seeking only God and the good of souls.

To a high degree she possessed the spirit of counsel, and in difficulties, she was found to have a prompt and assured decisiveness, given without emphasis and with the affection of a mother. “God and our neighbour” was the usual sense of her recommendations, but, so that no one was deceived, she insisted most particularly on the love of neighbour, as per the example of Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Alphonsus and so many others. She herself saw all her daughters in the Sacred Heart of the Saviour, made everyone most welcome, and showed herself always ready to do them good. It was a grace that she earnestly requested from God, and she obtained it. Also, in the community, we could testify to the fact that she showed everyone a very special care. Whether they were professed, novices, educandes or postulants, no one was excluded from her heart. As soon as she appeared, joy shone on everyone’s faces, and if some cloud of sadness betrayed interior cares, the good Mother was soon able to make them dissipate. How many times did she in all simplicity make the first move to put a soul at ease and give it serenity! How many times did an admitted fault become the title to a more lively affection towards she who had committed it! How many times did we see the revered Mother show a very special charity towards she who had caused her some distress or brought her some difficulty!

In certain circumstances, however, she deployed a rare firmness. Certain faults found no grace with her. One day, she imposed a penance upon a Sister to which she reacted strongly. “I wished for your good,” she told her some time afterwards, “and you will thank me in Paradise.” – “Oh, I never thought about that!” replied the Sister immediately. “Yes, my Mother, you have done me a great good, and I am very grateful to you for it.”

“The care of the sick,” said Saint Alphonsus, “is one of the principal duties of the Superior.” Mother Marie-Joseph in no way forgot it. It was a terrible trial for her maternal heart when, in the space of a little more than two years (11th January 1890 – 22nd May 1892) five Sisters of a little advanced age were taken from her after long illnesses! How much care and time did she devote to these dear invalids, calculating neither fatigue nor inconvenience when she could console or comfort them! She watched with an extreme care to make sure that the Sisters Infirmarian surrounded them with all their care. As for herself, she attached herself particularly to preserving them from sadness, that bad counsellor, and suggested holy thoughts to them. Far from hiding the gravity of their state from them, she encouraged them to unite their sufferings to those of Our Lord, and showed them heaven as their reward. Assisting them right to the end and burying them with her own hands was for her a duty, as she said, and a duty that she did not cede to anyone. Once they had entered into their eternity, she did not forget them. How many were the prayers that she addressed and had addressed to God for them, and on the return of their anniversaries, she never failed to recall them to the memory of their community and have them pray for them. And so the Sisters lived united with each other, even after deaths, and their memory did not perish.

Everything has been said about goodness. When it is good, that is, based on the love of Our Lord, it infinitely passes the natural goodness that is too often allied with weakness. The revered Mother’s goodness of heart drew from the divine love all its sensitivity and constancy, and her daughters have preserved the most delightful memory of this too.

One of them writes: “When I came to present myself to the Convent of Saint-Amand, what struck me the most vividly in Mother Marie-Joseph was her maternal goodness. From the very first instant I felt at ease and easy to open up to her. A postulant whom I knew then came to see me in the parlour, and I admired the touching benevolence that the venerated Mother showed her, and on the other hand, the filial confidence that inspired the young Sister, who was rather feeble and sickly, in her dealings with her Superior. From this moment I was enlightened about the spirit that reigned in that blessed house. I told myself: “Here is a true house of the daughters of Saint Alphonsus. I shall be happy there.”

My presentiments did not deceive me. We know how slow to heal the wound caused by a tenderly cherished child is. Our good Mother excelled in that difficult art. I remember her with my grand-parents who had come full of tears to pour out their regrets and sorrow. The impression caused by the grilles added still further to their torments. They were broken-hearted and grieving, but our venerated Mother knew how to find such good words, and showed herself so sympathetic, so compassionate for them, and so maternal towards me that, from this first visit, they were won over and left less afflicted.

“How can I quote the thousands and thousands of stories about her sensitivity and her goodness? With an incomparable tact, with a rare understanding of the different characters, and the different ranges of spirit and virtue, she knew how to adapt herself, if that is the right term, to the measure of each one, to encourage them, console them in all their pains and give each one of them the best advice. If her intervention was not enough to dissipate certain kinds of anguish, she would call the venerated spiritual Father of the community to her aid, and would seek superior lights from him.”

The Sister to whom we owe these edifying details was one day named Mistress of Educandes. The revered Mother gave her these most wise counsels. “Be united to your Superior,” she told her, “You will not do good except for this condition. As for the Educandes, form them little by little to despoil themselves of the views and habits of the world, and from their too strong attachment to their families, but make them love the yoke of Our Lord. Accustom them to a prompt, simple and entire obedience, and support them in that dilatation of heart which helps them so marvellously to follow the good way. Form them to think habitually of Our Lord, to unite their actions to His, and to imitate His most holy virtues. Nourish in them a great love for the Blessed Virgin, and may they honour her especially on Saturdays. They will go far, if, right from the beginning, they conduct themselves thus according to the views of the faith. So accustom them all to receive everything from God, to offer everything to God, and especially the pains, sufferings and trials of life. Thus they will become the friends of the cross of the divine Redeemer, the only good of our souls and our only true joy here below.”

The revered Mother would forget, if necessary, her own sorrows to sympathise with those of others. The very same day she was struck down by apoplexy, she received, for the Sister whose witness we have quoted, some very painful news concerning the health of her mother. She did not wish to communicate it to her without preparing her first. “At about eight o’clock,” said the Sister, “she had me called, and reading with me, she sympathised greatly about the state of my poor mother, reduced to being not able to express herself except by signs. Her compassion was immense for this kind of trial, so she put all the resources of her great heart into action to console me. I will never be able to forget that last conversation, provoked entirely and uniquely by her maternal goodness, and when, on that very same day, I found that she herself was deprived of language and incapable of saying a single word, you can guess how poignant my feelings were. But the Lord had judged her strong enough to bear this last cross.”

II. Her generosity towards the poor. – Her meekness, her humility, and her spirit of mortification.

The charity of the Reverend Mother Marie-Joseph extended beyond the limits of her Monastery, and when the community was in the position of being able to give a little more, the poor soon felt the effects of this relative ease. Every week, the good Superior would have a certain quantity of bread distributed, and each day she would feed some poor family. The houses in the street at Saint-Amand which she had bought never paid rent. Her goodness led her especially to help the families of Sisters that a reversal of fortunes had tested. It was thus that she invited to the Monastery the two nieces of one of them, whose brother found himself without a position, as his wife was ill. She housed them in the exterior, and these two children were the object of her tender solicitude, until their parents were able to take them back.

She also contributed to good works and helped the priests to do good by providing them with help. She did this one day with a great deal of sensitivity. The brother of one of the nuns in the Monastery had just been named the priest of a parish situated some miles from Paris. When his sister received the news, the Reverend Mother immediately told her: “Child, we must do something for your brother. Embroider a pall, and make it a good one.” A short time later, another sister came to see the nun. Immediately the good Mother wished to know what was lacking in the church, and they told her that there was an old statue of Saint Joseph there, all chipped, that had been relegated to the baptismal font. “I want to give them a new one,” said the Superior, “but your brother must never know where it has come from, and (she added laughing) he must believe it is a miracle.” So she had them make a little bag of white satin on which they attached a piece of parchment with these words: “To do me more honour”, and then they enclosed two bills of a hundred francs. “Go now,” she said to the visitor, “but keep our secret.” As was said, so was done. The good priest could not overcome his surprise when he found what he needed to buy a beautiful statue of Saint Joseph. In his next homily, he did not fail to recommend the unknown benefactor to the prayers of his parishioners. It was only later, on a visit to the Reverend Mother, that he saw the mystery solved.

The question of common recreations in convents is important. The revered Mother wanted them inspired, happy and charitable. The enemy of melancholy, she could not endure it in her Sisters. The conversations there were thus edifying, without being forced, and everyone was able to say her piece. The Reverend Mother had a good memory. From it she drew a mass of instructive stories drawn from the Lives of Saints, and she would recount them with interest. Sometimes she had some little feast organised, and it was filled with much warmth and happiness. Sometimes also, she began a canticle, and they had to continue it, especially if they were sad. The least sadness found no grace with her. And thus it happened that the Sisters would come out of the conversation sometimes more united to God than when they entered it. “It is through humility and meekness,” says Saint Alphonsus, “that a Superior gains the hearts of her Sisters.” The good Mother Marie-Joseph understood this, so one of her great merits was to have a disposition that was always the same. In every circumstance she possessed herself perfectly, and no one ever noticed in her any flashes of impatience or temper. Even in the greatest difficulties she would preserve a calm that recalled the eulogy given of Father Cafaro: “Always the same, Semper idem,” or of that other, applied to another priest: “He is as unchanging as the sun.” But she did not attain this without great humility.

On this point, the good Mother has left us some thoughts in a retreat notebook, the only one which has been preserved, as if providentially, as all the others have fallen victim to the flames. “I must try my best,” she says there, “to seek and aspire only to be scorned and forgotten by everyone. I must regard myself as the sweepings of the convent, which everyone has the right to trample under their feet. As a true Spouse of Jesus Christ, I must desire only humiliations and suffering, and to arrive there, I must try to receive with love and joy the occasions of humiliation, criticism, etc., which the good God will send me. When dame nature cries out, I shall take refuge with Our Lord who has become, for love of me, the opprobrium of mankind, and disowning everything that has happened to me, I shall thank Him and beg Him to aid me with His holy grace. I shall apply myself especially to receive little reproaches with an even temper and in a spirit of humility. If I learn that my conduct is blamed, and I am criticised, I shall not make excuses for myself, and I shall watch especially to be very considerate and charitable towards my Sisters. I recognize that I must apply myself wholeheartedly and not let any occasion pass to humble myself. This virtue is the foundation of the spiritual life, and God has made me see the whole price of it too clearly for me not to feel obliged to apply all my strength to make some progress in it every day.”

While she exercised the office of Housekeeper at Malines, she wrote: “I must try my best to acquire a great love for the cross and suffering. To get there, I shall nourish in myself a true devotion to the Passion, and I shall try to receive the smallest obstacles with respect, as if coming from the hand of God. The state of my health does not permit me to make great mortifications, so I shall apply myself especially to interior mortification, bearing in silence my little failings in the eyes of God, and taking what is given to me, pleasant or not. I shall profit well from the occasions of sacrifice that my work involves, and I shall cheerfully bear its fatigues, being very happy that it gives me some small occasion to suffer.”

Later on, the Reverend Mother had the joy of seeing her health recover, and then she was able to accomplish the mortifications prescribed by the Rule. She even surpassed its measure, but she let herself be guided in everything by obedience.

“Always have,” she said one day to one of her daughters, “a great esteem for suffering. Always accept it generously and unite yourself to Our Lord, but at the same time, ask from Him the strength and courage to bear it well.” She also said: “Let us accept with a good heart, and with love and gratitude, all the crosses that Jesus sends us. If you want to be a true Redemptoristine, you have to suffer.”

The revered Mother, in her position as the Superior, knew a great deal of suffering. Her interior pains were sometimes very great, but she knew that the mystery of the Crown of Thorns belongs most particularly to those persons clothed with authority. And so she united herself interiorly with the Ecce Homo, invoked the aid of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, and sanctified her pains by plunging them, if we are permitted to say so, into these two sources of life.

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Mother Marie-Joseph of the Child Jesus, O.SS.R. of the Monastery of St. Amand-les-Eaux (1836 – 1903)

Chapter III. The virtues of the venerated Mother.

I. Her love for the Rule. – Her Faith, her Hope and her Love for God.

If her care for their temporal administration made the wisdom of Mother Marie-Joseph stand out, then her daughters admired her even more for the zeal and the gentle sweetness with which she strove to inculcate the spirit of Saint Alphonsus in them.

Let us say first of all that her government was mild and sweet, and full of openness and uprightness. The sensitivity of her procedures was exquisite, her conversation simple and very dignified, her nature was bright and open, and at the same time, sensible and generous.

The great preoccupation of the Mother Foundress was to inculcate in her daughters a love of regularity. She herself was the faithful observer of it, and if we can call perfect the religious who observes her vows and Rules exactly, then we can count Mother Marie-Joseph among the number of these chosen souls, who are the pearls of the convents they inhabit. Sometimes she would say to her daughters: “If you do not observe the Rule, I myself shall be your accuser at God’s tribunal”, and also: “A good religious must be a living Rule by her fidelity in observing it in the smallest details and as perfectly as possible, always having before her eyes her divine Model, Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Her faith was a living one. She had an extraordinary esteem for all the maxims of our holy religion, and the most entire submission to the teachings of the Church, of which she loved to proclaim herself as its daughter. One day a person praised a controversial article to her, and encouraged her to read it. “I shall prefer not to”, she replied, “It is enough for me to believe.” She greatly recommended the spirit of faith, and supernatural views: “See Our Lord in all your Sisters,” she would say, “and serve Him in their persons. Seek to give them pleasure, in order to please Jesus Christ Himself.” “Always see everything in God,” she would also say, “and go straight to God in everything.” And at other times: “In all your actions, make sure you address them: Straight to God! And then they will go straight to heaven.” If someone appeared to be cast down: “Sursum corda!” she would tell them, “What is it in the face of eternity!”

To strengthen the spirit of faith more and more in the hearts of her daughters, she employed all the means indicated by the Rule: retreats, instructions, chapters, special talks and everything which could feed piety and stimulate fervour.

Her firm hope and confidence in God sustained her in all her difficulties, and in the midst of her most grave concerns she would say: “Oh, I put all of that into the heart of our good God.” She had a special gift of bringing peace to troubled souls. To one of them she said: “The good God is all love and mercy, and on our part especially, He wishes to be glorified by our confidence and love. Let us always be guided by the thoughts of our faith, and let us count on Our Lord alone. Let us tell Him often: ‘I despair of myself, but I hope for everything in You.’”

She had a very great confidence in the divine Providence, and received unexpected help many times. At the end of one year, when she had nothing to pay the suppliers of the community with, she was suddenly called to the parlour. There she found Reverend Father Darras, given the task by a charitable person of doing a good work in her name. The good Father had the inspiration to bring the sum of three thousand francs to the community, which he was permitted to dispose of. It is unnecessary to say that it was received with the greatest gratitude. It was just equal to the present needs of the community.

Mother Marie-Joseph made the love of God the continual object of her prayers and thoughts. She loved prayer and the contemplative life, she consecrated to it all the moments she could find, and when the days had been overloaded with occupations, she would employ a part of the night for it. In the last times of her life, her long insomnia permitted her to pray a great deal, and rosaries, ejaculatory prayers, meditations and conversations with God succeeded each other with no relaxation. Her devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and the long visits she made to Our Lord, proved her love and maintained this divine fire in her. “I shall nourish”, we read in this respect in her resolutions for her retreat, “I shall nourish in myself a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. May Holy Communion be all my delight and may I always prepare myself for it with more care and love. I shall do a novena on the first Fridays so as to grow in love. May my whole life be a continual preparation for prayer by a complete abnegation of myself. I shall watch attentively to guard my heart so that Jesus alone may reign there, and if creatures wish to enter, I shall give my heart to God, begging Him to forever be its unique possessor.

“I shall recite the Divine Office with great attention and interior recollection. I shall not voluntarily lose a single moment, praying always, be it in coming and going, or in working. I shall often keep company with Jesus in His Passion. When meditating on the love of Jesus, my soul shall learn to find her happiness, her joy, her peace and her treasure in Him. The Passion of Our Lord shall be engraved more profoundly each day upon my soul. The more I shall consider it, the more I shall love this good Saviour. As much as possible, I shall try to be exact in doing the Way of the Cross.”

This was not just a matter of sentiments. Mother Marie-Joseph realised them in practice. She admitted to one of her daughters that, during the first six months of her stay at Kain, she had always lived in union with the Blessed Sacrament, practising the spirit of adoration almost as if she had always been in the chapel. “There are graces,” she added, “that I must not lose by my own fault.”

The divine charity that inflamed the heart of the good Mother had necessarily to be translated by an ardent zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. As a worthy daughter of Saint Alphonsus, her whole life was inspired by this sacred fire. Her works, the Monastery she had founded, the souls formed by her to perfection, the instructions that she had given them, all were the fruit of the divine love that was consuming her soul. Unceasingly she recommended to her daughters to pray for sinners, for the holy Church, the Sovereign Pontiff, the priests and especially the missionaries. The sins of mankind excited her zeal and led her to preach the great duty of reparation. To this effect she established the Association of the Guard of Honour in the Monastery chapel. On every first Friday of the month there was Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during the day with prayers of reparation recited publicly at Benediction. Each year there was a day of Adoration in union with the Basilica of Montmartre, and each week a day specially set aside for prayers of reparation.

And often too she told her daughters: “Remember that you are Redemptoristines, and that this title obliges you to work for the salvation of souls in union with Jesus the Redeemer.”

How could so fervent a spouse of the Lord not be penetrated by the most tender devotion towards the Blessed Virgin? Every day, she recited the Rosary in its entirety, and prepared herself for all the feasts of the Queen of the Angels by novenas, and sometimes even by forty days of prayers. Often, on the day of the feast of her good Mother of Heaven, she would offer her a crown of a thousand Ave Maria's. To do this she used part of the night, as she did not have enough free time to do so during the day. She encouraged her daughters to a great love for the Blessed Virgin. On the vigil of her feasts, she would deliver to the community, gathered together in the evening, some words of edification concerning the feast for the next day, in order to get them to celebrate it piously.

She requested and obtained an affiliation to the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Perpetual Help being established in the Monastery chapel, under the direction of the Chaplain, who assembled the members of the Association each month and gave them a homily. The feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour was solemnised in a very special manner. She established the custom of having a procession in the Monastery on that day, with the chanting of canticles and the recitation of prayers. At the end of the procession, a solemn consecration was made before the picture of the Madonna, by which the Blessed Virgin was established as the Mother and Superior of the community.

The revered Mother also had a great devotion to Saint Joseph, her holy Patron, the head of the Holy Family, under whose patronage she had placed the Monastery of Saint-Amand. She had recourse to him in all her temporal needs, and more than once unexpected help came to justify her confidence. She also invoked him as the Patron of the interior life. We read this passage in her Resolutions: “I shall continue my four exercises each day in honour of Saint Joseph, the good saint who has already obtained many graces for me. I shall do them especially with an interior spirit.” Moreover, in the first years of her religious life, she had received an assurance from a very enlightened lady that she would receive great favours by means of her holy Patron.

As a true Redemptoristine, Mother Marie-Joseph honoured Saint Alphonsus as her Father and did not cease to ask from him, for herself and her daughters, love for the vocation to which he had called them. She wanted everyone to be attached to reading the spiritual books of the holy Doctor, especially his magnificent work: The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, an inexhaustible treasury of doctrine which is as consoling at it is sure, and a masterpiece of piety, wisdom and profound learning.

She herself composed some forty prayers of preparation for the feast of Saint Alphonsus, and for it, she proposed a point of the Rule for her daughters to meditate on and put into practice, every day. The Very Rev. Father Desurmont, such a good judge in these matters, looked over this writing and gave it his full approval. As for the feast of the holy Founder, it was solemnly celebrated every year. The chapel was clad in its best ornaments, and as long as the Redemptoristines were at Saint-Amand, the choir of the College of Our Lady of the Angels would sing the Mass in music.

Another devotion was also very dear to Mother Marie-Joseph, that of the holy Angels. She had a very great confidence in their protection against dangers and accidents. During the building of the Monastery, every day, one after another, a Sister had the task of reciting a chaplet of the Sanctus in their honour. She herself recited it daily, and she often said that every time some numerous occupations prevented her from reciting it, her whole day felt the effect of it. She established the custom of saying the Trisagion every evening in common, and they attributed their protection by the Angels to it, and never having had to lament unpleasant accidents in the sometimes dangerous work necessitated by the building of the convent. It was also to honour the holy Angels that the good Mother fixed 2nd October for taking possession of the new Monastery. It was with the same intention that she had seven lamps placed in the sanctuary in honour of the seven Angels who are unceasingly before the throne of God. For this reason we read in her Resolutions: “I shall pray to these blessed Angels to help me to acquire the despoliation and interior detachment that God wishes to find in my soul in order to fill it with His holy love.”

Let us not forget to say that the good Mother Marie-Joseph had a tender devotion for Saint Amand, the Patron of the town where she had established her Monastery. This devotion inspired in her the idea of renewing a tradition interrupted by the French Revolution, and she had a beautiful candle burning in the convent chapel night and day in honour of the great saint. This custom goes back to the 9th century, and it was established following a marvellous event told the way it happened by Father Maës in his very interesting Popular Life of Saint Amand. [2]

“One evening, after the Office, when the monks had left the church and gone back to their cells, the Brother porter, at the moment of closing the doors, noticed two candles alight near the casket enclosing the relics of the holy bishop. Persuaded that he had extinguished all the candles on the altar, he was astonished, but, believing he was wrong, he retraced his steps and extinguished the two candles. Arriving at the extremity of the church, how great was his surprise to see the candles once again alight!

“He returned to the tomb and again extinguished them carefully. Finally, after assuring himself that there was no one in the church, he observed attentively, and then for a third time the candles lit themselves spontaneously. The poor Brother, now distraught, then called all the religious, and told them of what had just happened, and made them witness the miracle.

“It was in memory of this fact that at the beginning of this era, in the abbey, they let a candle burn day and night at the tomb of Saint Amand, and this custom was perpetuated until the Revolution.” [3]

[2] 1 vol in 18-mo of 240 pages. (Desclée, de Brouwer and Co., Lille – Paris, 1894).
[3] This fact is told by the famous monk Milon, after the account of the Abbot Hilderic, an eye-witness.

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Mother Marie-Joseph of the Child Jesus, O.SS.R. of the Monastery of St. Amand-les-Eaux (1836 – 1903)

Chapter II. Saint-Amand-les-Eaux.

I. Their arrival at Saint-Amand (1875).
The provisional house. – Trials and consolations.

Saint-Amand-les-Eaux is a little town in the Department of the North, famous for its ancient abbey, whose imposing ruins still evoke astonishment from travellers. It is also renowned for its medicinal waters or mud, whose effect is truly salutary. And so, on the evening of 14th October 1875, Mother Marie-Joseph arrived in this town. She was accompanied by Sister Marie-Madeleine of the Cross, the sister of Mr. Prosper Basiez, the pious lay promoter of the new foundation; Sister Marie-Claire of the Blessed Sacrament; Sister Marie-Ange of the Precious Blood; Sister Marie-Augustine of the divine Providence, who belonged to the community of Velp (Holland), and the niece of Sister Marie-Madeleine; and finally two converse Sisters completed the community, which was entirely of French nationality.

The little colony in the company of Rev. Father de Buggenoms, was received at Lille by Rev. Father Darras, of holy memory, with the most touching cordiality. That evening they were at Saint-Amand. In the light of some pale torches, the Sisters were able to see that the house that had been prepared for them bore the heraldry of poverty. This was the first joy to their hearts. They also saw with pleasure that the furnishing of the kitchen, the gift of charitable benefactors, was similar. Some good straw mattresses, on which they would soon enjoy a refreshing sleep, completed the scene.

On the evening of 15th October, the feast of Saint Therese, Father Duriez, the Dean of Saint-Amand, came to bless the little chapel and placed it under the patronage of the Holy Family. The next day, Father de Buggenoms celebrated the Holy Mass and left the Sisters the treasure of treasures, the Blessed Sacrament. On Sunday the 17th, Father Vaillant, the community’s chaplain, began the ministry that he was to exercise for twenty seven years with a devotion above all praise. Finally, on 5th November, the work of taking possession having been completed, the Dean came to proceed to the ceremony of the enclosure. On that day, a Te Deum of thanksgiving united the voices of the founders and foundresses in a concert of praises to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The life of the community began in poverty, as they had foreseen in the beginning, but also in happiness and peace. Their food was rather scanty, and their resources scarcely sufficient, but Mother Marie-Joseph, through her goodness and examples, stimulated their courage. Soon illness came to be added to their privations. Two Sisters fell ill, and the work of the household, already great, now increased. Water invaded the cellars and they had to get rid of it. In short, there was no lack of sorrows, but everyone had their courage for the work.

However, divine Providence, in whom the good Mother placed her trust, never once failed her. Several times, she found that the payment of the least expenses had not made a hole in her purse, and then, the Sisters of Ireland, whose Superior was Mother Marie-Jeanne de la Croix, gave evidence of their fraternal charity by incessant offerings, always received with gratitude. Other offerings could be recalled here if the limits of our account and the modesty of the benefactors did not impose silence on us.

Soon some postulants presented themselves. The first of them made her entry on 29th February of this leap-year 1876. She herself gives an account in these terms of the history of her admission. “On 2nd February, I presented myself to the Reverend Mother Marie-Joseph, and this first interview left me with a very sweet impression. The goodness, courtesy and simplicity of the Reverend Mother charmed me, and from then on I devoted all my affection to her. Some weeks later, I made my entry into the Monastery, which I found in the most complete state of poverty. They took me to the Educandate, which, it seems, they had hardly prepared to receive me, and which was nothing else than a corner in the attic. A tiny altar had been placed against a wall, decorated with fixtures in pearls. I could not prevent myself from laughing when I entered that garret, which reminded me more of Bethlehem than Nazareth. The floor was so worm-eaten that the foot of my chair made a hole in it the first time I sat down. The beams of the roof were laid bare, and in place of a cupboard they were using a corner of the attic into which they had fitted a door. In spite of this extreme poverty, I was convinced that I would find the happiness there promised to the poor in spirit. The example of the Reverend Mother and the Sisters would fortify my courage and inspire me to sacrifice. My expectations were not deceived.”

Other young persons did not delay in presenting themselves, and on 6th February the following year (1877), on the feast of Saint-Amand, the protector of the city, they were able to give the holy habit of the Order to three novices who received the names of Sister Marie-Alphonse of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sister Marie-Paul of Jesus Crucified, and Sister Marie-Josephine of Jesus. On 9th February of the following year, the first two were admitted to holy profession, and Rev. Father Berthe, Redemptorist, gave the customary sermon. The eloquent preacher did not fail to recommend to the Sisters’ prayers the soul of the glorious Pius IX, who had died two days previously (7th February 1878). The community made it their duty to unite their prayers to the entire world. The Holy Sacrifice was offered and the Divine Office celebrated for the holy Pontiff.

The successor to Pius IX was his Holiness Leo XIII. The community soon received his blessing through the medium of Mr. Etienne Basiez, received in audience with the French pilgrims. When he begged the Holy Father to bless the Redemptoristines of France, His Holiness replied: “Yes, I bless these good religious.” The Holy Father, who had met the Redemptoristines of Bruges when he was the Nuncio in Belgium, repeated his blessing some time afterwards, when he gave an audience to the Most Rev. Father Mauron, the Rector Major of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. He added some advice for always maintaining the good spirit and fervour of the Order. This advice was faithfully transmitted to Saint-Amand by the Very Rev. Father Desurmont, the Provincial of the French Province. This holy religious took the keenest interest in the nascent foundation.

II. The New Monastery.

However, the consolations of the present and concern for the future required them to think of leaving a residence that had now become too cramped. Mother Marie-Joseph then turned to His Lordship Mons. Monnier, the coadjutor to Mons. Régnier, the Archbishop of Cambrai, to explain her views and her wish to build a Monastery that would respond entirely to the exigencies of religious life. The venerated Prelate, who for more than forty years did not cease to be the devoted protector of the community, approved the project and gave all the authorisations necessary. Then the good Mother, in the company of two Sisters, went to examine a property situated in Bruille Street, which had been suggested. The sale was completed, and on 21st June 1877, the first stone of the new building was laid. The Monastery was to be constructed according to the plans drawn up by Mr. Leroux, architect, an employee of Mrs. V. Maillard of Tourcoing.

Fifteen months were sufficient for the building, which the good Mother had managed to superintend, and which was constructed under the best conditions. Beginning from 20th September 1878, there was a dispensation from the enclosure to permit the Sisters to tidy up their future convent. On 24th, the Rev. Father Darras, the extraordinary confessor of the community, came to bless the cells, and on 1st October, at five o’clock in the evening, Father Duriez, the Dean of Saint-Amand, blessed the temporary chapel, and it was decided that on the following day the Community would leave Condé Street and move in to their new Monastery. It was not without regret that they were about to say farewell to their little Nazareth, where they had encountered the sweetness of their first trials and their first joys, but they were also happy to have a stable home from now on where they could work without concerns of any kind for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

The departure took place on 2nd October, on the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. Some pious families sent their carriages in which the fifteen religious who formed the community took their place. They then went in procession to the choir in the new Monastery, the Holy Mass was celebrated, and after a fervent thanksgiving, they had a frugal lunch which was shared by some ladies, the relatives or friends of the Sisters.

Some days afterwards, Mons. Fava, the Bishop of Grenoble, accompanied by his secretary and nephew, Father Méresse, came to visit the Sisters and bring them the wonderful news of the Redemptoristines recently being established at Grenoble. Then on 16th October, it was the good Father Darras who came to bless the Monastery clock, the clock, this faithful and vigilant guardian of regularity. Finally, on 31st August 1879, Mons. Monnier came to perform the solemn ceremony of the establishment of the enclosure. The Vicar General, Father Destombes, the Dean of Saint-Amand, Father Sinsoillez, the Superior of the College of Our Lady of the Angels and Father Vaillant enhanced this ceremony with their presence. His Lordship gave the community an excellent sermon. Monsignor reminded the Sisters of the beauty of their vocation and the obligations it entailed. He promised them, in return for their fidelity, the heavenly joys and consolations. This pious solemnity, which finished worthily with a Papal blessing, finally delivered the community to the peaceful and calm life which is its ordinary element.

Mons. Monnier had preached on the love of sacrifice. The first sacrifice which was imposed on the community by Providence was to be separated from one of its best subjects. The house of Grenoble had just lost its worthy Superior and foundress, Mother Marie-Véronique. It asked Saint-Amand for a subject capable of receiving this inheritance. The community’s choice fell upon Sister Marie-Augustine of the divine Providence. The good Sister had rendered immense services to the Monastery during the three years she had spent there. Her cheerfulness, her energy and her extraordinary love of work had sustained their courage and inspired their good will many times. So they separated with regret, but with the sweet thought that God Himself wanted this departure. The new Superior left on 1st February 1880.

Another separation, equally sorrowful, was brought about by the death of the oldest of the founding Sisters (1st February 1883). Sister Marie-Madeleine of the Cross was aged 69, 40 of which were passed in religion. A model of regularity and fervour, this good religious had earnestly asked her Superior not to let her be interred in the cemetery of Saint-Amand, where, as she said, she could find herself beside a hanged criminal, as the graves were mixed together indiscriminately. Mother Marie-Joseph acquiesced with her request, and bought a concession of land in the cemetery of Nivelles, and this is where Sister Marie-Madeleine was interred. Later on they constructed a vault, and it is there that the Sisters went to sleep their last sleep while awaiting their glorious resurrection.

But if the sacrifice was there, then the promised joys were never lacking. Seven professions had increased the number of the Sisters since the opening of the new Monastery. The Archbishopric rewarded this progress by associating the community with the perpetual adoration established in the Diocese. The favour of nocturnal Adoration was also granted (1882).

The 28th April 1884 was a feast day in the Monastery. They celebrated the 25th anniversary of the religious profession of the Mother Foundress. The humility and modesty of the good Mother did not permit them to give this feast the publicity it deserved, but everyone’s hearts were united in the most sincere prayers and expressions of the greatest gratitude. In addition, the community did not neglect any occasion to witness its gratitude to her who was the true Mother of all the Sisters and the support of each one of them: Saint Joseph, her patron’s feast, the anniversaries of her birth, her entry into religion, her taking of the habit, her religious profession and her entry into responsibility were all celebrated with great happiness. At each triennium, they earnestly sought her re-election, and this favour, which was a remarkable thing, was granted right up to the death of the Foundress, a striking witness to the affection of which she was the object.

However, the days were passing by without one of the most dear wishes of Mother Marie-Joseph being realised – the construction of a chapel. After seven years of waiting, divine Providence rewarded her desires by the medium of Miss Eugenie Grimonprez of Valenciennes. When she entered religion on 29th June 1884, Sister Marie-Aloyse of the Eucharistic Jesus brought with her not just the virtues which were to call her one day to the dignity of Superior, but also the dowry which permitted them to elevate to the Lord the chapel they so ardently desired. It was begun on 8th September 1885. This pretty chapel, the work of Mr. J. B. Maillard, an architect of Tourcoing, was blessed on 23rd June following. When they began it, they would never have expected it to be totally completed.

The time for the profession of Sister Marie-Aloyse had arrived, and they could do no better than to celebrate this pious ceremony in the beautiful sanctuary that she had given so generously. Father Prouvost, the Dean of Our Lady of Valenciennes was the presider at the feast and Rev. Father Berthe gave the usual homily.

Mother Marie-Joseph wanted to use it for splendid celebrations of the feasts of the Church, and also the feasts of the great family of the Most Holy Redeemer. One of these last was particularly a subject of joy for her: the celebration of the first centenary of the death of Saint Alphonsus (1787-1887). Mons. Monnier, the Bishop of Lydda, was happy to be the presider at the ceremonies of 31st July, and 1st and 2nd August and also give the address on the day of the holy Doctor’s feast.

The Beatification of the Venerable Brother Gerard Majella was equally well celebrated in the Monastery of Saint-Amand. Three entire days were given to it in November 1893. A Redemptorist Father exalted the newly Blessed and called on all those attending to have recourse to his powerful intercession. On the third day, an imposing ceremony was conducted by Mons. Monnier - the solemn consecration of the beautiful altar all shining with marble and gold. The Venerable Prelate, in an excellent homily, first of all explained the mysterious and symbolic sense of the prayers and benedictions prescribed in these circumstances by the holy liturgy. Then he proceeded to carrying out the sacred rites. Everyone brought away the sweetest memories from these beautiful feasts.

The year 1899 was marked by a very special event. Many projects of foundation had already been conceived without anyone being able to realise them. But that year a new foundation, issuing from Saint-Amand, was inaugurated at Armentières. It was Sister Marie-Alphonsa of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour who was chosen to be its Superior. She left Saint-Amand on 18th September of that year, accompanied by Sister Marie-Berchmans of the Holy Spirit to superintend the works and make the arrangements for the new Monastery. Later on, Mother Marie-Joseph herself brought two other religious, and she continued to help this nascent house with her wise counsels. Today it has become the flourishing house of Maffles (Belgium).

Such were the principal exterior events that marked the twenty five years whose history we have just sketched. But we have said nothing of the interior life of Mother Marie-Joseph. So now, in outlining the virtues of the venerated Superior, we must show how she knew how to govern the Monastery she had founded wisely, and make the beautiful tree she had planted produce the fruits of salvation.

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Mother Marie-Joseph of the Child Jesus, O.SS.R. of the Monastery of St. Amand-les-Eaux (1836 – 1903)

Chapter I. Roubain, Esquermes, Malines.

I. In the boarding school.

The revered Mother Marie-Joseph of the Child Jesus, in the world Miss Marie Wattinne, was born at Roubaix (France) in one of the most honourable families of that town. Her worthy parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wattinne-Prouvost, in spite of the most striking contrasts of nature, demonstrated in themselves the archetype of Christian spouses.

Mr. Fidèle Wattine, of pure Tourcoing descent, preserved a proverbial good humour under the ice of his old age, and very skillful did he need to be to extricate himself from the pleasant stunts he dreamed up. Later on, the account of his bizarre schemes enlivened more than once the monastic recreations of the pious daughters of the Reverend Mother.

Mrs. Wattinne, a woman of duty par excellence, personified in herself the imperturbable calm of her family lineage. When she was a young lady, she was called the good Therese Prouvost. The revered Mother has said more than once that she could never recall having ever seen her laugh, but she well remembered the tears that she saw her shed one day when her little Marie committed one of those trifling indiscretions usual at a young age.

Nonetheless, the most virile faith united these two hearts by bonds that soon the joys of maternity rendered more sacred and more sweet.

Miss Marie was the sixth or the seventh of their thirteen children, six of which died at an early age. She came into the world on 22nd March 1836 and was baptised the following day in the church of Saint Martin. It was also under the auspices of the Thaumaturge of the Gauls [St. Martin of Tours] that she later made her first communion and received Confirmation. She was held over the baptismal font by her great-great-uncle, Mr. Jacques Desmazières, and by her first cousin, Mrs. Jules Desurmont-Wattinne. She was called Marie Laurente Joseph, names which were always dear to her tender piety.

In the example of her divine Mother and Patron, little Marie was devoted to God from the moment she learnt to know Him, and prayer was the habitual recourse of her soul. Under a timid exterior, the effect of her reserve and angelic modesty, flashes were revealed in her private friendships of a lively, outgoing and always lovable nature. A charming simplicity detracted nothing from the niceties of her little pranks. She was readily given the name of miss busy-body, as her natural activity led her to spread animation and life all around her.

The precocity of her judgement made her appreciated by the venerable Dean of Saint Martin, Father Maës. One day when he had gone to pay a visit to Mr. Wattinne, he was told that one of the little girls was ill. “Which one?” he asked. They told him that it was Josephine. “If it had been Marie,” Father Maës replied, “I would have confessed her.” Yet the child was then but scarcely seven years old.

Marie was enrolled successively as a day scholar at the boarding school run by the sisters Guffroy, and then that of the Ridder ladies, and merited to be seen by them as a model of good behaviour. On 6th April 1847, she had the sorrow of losing her excellent mother, whose virtues and examples had sown in the souls of her children the seeds of the most solid piety. Mrs. Wattine, a true type of the strong woman, left behind her the reputation of a saint. The following story will prove the strength of her faith. Fidèle, one of her sons, had a chest complaint and had been given up by the doctor. The following day, when he called again, he found the boy out of danger. “But Madam, what have you done?” the doctor asked. “Sir,” replied the Mother, “I prayed.” The boy recovered and survived until 28th October 1870.

Justine, the oldest in the family, a worthy scion of her virtuous mother, was thereafter in charge of the government of the house. She demonstrated a remarkable ability for it and pushed her devotion to the point of refusing the most suitable young men, until the day when, feeling herself less necessary to the family, she became in her turn a model spouse and mother.

However, the young Marie joyously saw the long-desired day of her first communion approaching. On 3rd June 1847, the day when the Church that year was celebrating the feast of the Blessed Sacrament, the angelic child, now aged eleven, and in the second month of mourning for her mother, received her God for the first time. Some days afterwards, the sacrament of Confirmation was administered to her by Mons. Giraud, the Archbishop of Cambrai. It was doubtless in these memorable days that she heard the first call of the Spouse of virgins in the depths of her heart. A soul so docile and so good was completely prepared for God’s plans.

In addition, she soon saw one of her sisters consecrate herself entirely to God. Two years after the death of Mrs. Wattinne, Sophie, her youngest, obtained permission from her generous father to become a Daughter of Charity. During the last twenty eight years of her religious life she was almost always in charge and died as the Superior of the Orphanage of Providence at Toulon on 6th December 1877, in the fifty first year of her age and the twenty eighth or her religious vocation.

In April 1849, the same year as the departure of her sister Sophie, Marie, now aged thirteen, was sent as a boarder to the Monastery of Our Lady of the Plain, directed by the Bernardine Nuns of Esquermes. Her tender piety, her exactitude and her spirit of piety soon classed her among the most pious Children of Mary in the boarding school. There as everywhere, her sweetness and good behaviour gained hearts for her and merited for her the nickname of little saint which has remained attached to her memory. After four years spent in this blessed house, she had to leave these fervent religious whom she had so greatly edified and whose happy vocation she envied.

II. At the paternal home.

When she came back to the paternal home in the month of August 1853, she gave clear evidence of the fruits of the solid and lovely virtues she had just gathered so abundantly from the vine of the Lord. All her family made it their duty to admire her examples, their law to follow her advice, their need to open their hearts to her, and their happiness to love her.

The following story will prove the greatness of her spirit of conciliation. One of her brothers, who loved her greatly, nonetheless, told her one day: “Marie, I would not like to have you for my wife, because you say ‘yes’ to everything, and I need someone who knows how to rein me in.” The future was to give a response to that remark, and justified sweet Marie by making her a mother as strong as she was tender when duty required it.

Miss Justine married on 29th May 1854 and left the family where for seven years she had taken the place of her mother. Marie, then aged eighteen, replaced her in the government of the house, yet she limited herself in the direction of the household and refused the supervision of the shopping, as she did not wish to make herself indispensable. Besides, her modesty was so great that she made one involuntarily think of her as a religious in the world. And yet she knew how to enjoy the relaxations permitted. On one occasion, the only one perhaps, she had to attend an evening of dancing which was given by her family. She astonished everybody by her joyful spirit, and when later on someone reproached her, she replied: “I assure you that everything happened with the most perfect propriety, and thank heavens, I did not lose my awareness of the presence of God for an instant.”

At the age of nineteen, Marie asked her father, for whom she was his joy and consolation, for permission to leave him in order to embrace the religious life. This request saddened, without surprising, this generous Christian whose faith had never been able to refuse anything to his God. So he authorised his daughter to present herself to the Redemptoristines of Bruges. This was in April 1855.

Thirteen years had scarcely passed since the opening of the first sheep-fold of the Most Holy Redeemer in Belgium, and already the happy flock who had placed themselves under the staff of the revered foundress, Mother Marie-Alphonse, had greatly exceeded the number fixed by the holy Rule.

Mons. Malou, the Bishop of Bruges, judged that the moment had come to establish a new monastery. After discussing it with the Superior, he profited from a meeting with the Belgian Bishops at Malines to ask them to accept this foundation. The suffragan Bishops found difficulties, but Cardinal Sterckx, the Archbishop of Malines, declared that he would be happy to see a house of the Daughters of Saint Alphonsus in Brussels. Mons. Malou went to the Monastery of the Redemptoristines in his episcopal city on 2nd April to himself choose the Sisters destined for the future foundation, and these left Bruges on Monday 16th, and on Wednesday 18th they arrived at the provisional house rented in Josaphat Street, in the suburb of Schaerbeek, Brussels, by Mother Marie-Alphonse.

It was there that our young Marie presented herself on 9th July 1855 to request her admission. Then she went straight back to Roubaix. When she returned to Brussels on 26th November, she stayed at the Monastery for about six weeks as had been arranged with her father. During this time she was so sad and so disappointed that the never ceased weeping. Mother Marie-Alphonse asked her why she was so afflicted. She replied: “I am weeping because everything here displeases me, and yet God wants me to remain here.” Nonetheless the religious, at her departure, asked her if they would see her again. When she went back to Roubaix, she did not say a word to her father about what she had suffered interiorly, but when the time agreed upon had elapsed, she went back courageously to her sheep-fold on 13th May 1856. She was then only twenty years of age.

III. The Novitiate. – Her religious profession. Her first trials.

As in all foundations, the beginnings were hard, and the deprivation of spiritual help was the greatest trial. However, nothing can describe this intimate union of hearts and minds whose memory is inseparable from this poor house in Brussels, where everything was lacking except fervour, good spirits and generosity.

Marie, resolved to belong to God no matter what it would cost, was also sustained by the advice of Mother Marie-Alphonse and the examples of the thirteen professed nuns. This pious community, satisfied with the young postulant, judged her worthy to have the three remaining months of her educandate cut short and admitted her to vesting. This ceremony took place on 19th February 1857. The new novice then received the name of Sister Marie-Joseph of the Child Jesus.

The year of her novitiate was spent in the fervent practice of the religious virtues. The 28th April 1858 was the wonderful day of her profession. This ceremony attracted from the other end of Lorraine the Redemptorist priest who had discerned, hatched and nourished this beautiful vocation. Rev. Father Assemaine [1] left his dear Convent of Saint Nicholas de Port for a moment and came to celebrate the grandeurs and duties of the religious life in a very apostolic discourse. There was a fine feast at the Monastery, and a great joy in the midst of the trials it was going through at this moment.

In fact, they had built the convent on a vast property overlooking the zoological garden in Brussels. Every bit of advice had been requested, and all the approvals granted, but, when the building had nearly reached completion, opinions changed and reproaches fell as thick as hail upon Mother Marie-Alphonse. Why had she chosen an estate so near to a public garden for her Monastery? Why had she given so grandiose an air to a refuge intended for poor religious? The good Mother recalled in vain that she had not chosen the site, and that on different occasions, she had recommended to the architect the most severe economy, but nothing sufficed. The good Mother saw only one refuge – prayer, and she threw herself into it. Throughout the whole Sunday that followed the feast of the Apostles Saint Peter and Paul, the Blessed Sacrament was solemnly exposed. While all the religious were at the feet of the Good Master, the Reverend Mother asked the divine Saviour exposed on the altar out loud to deign to save them in their distress. Her prayer was heard. Cardinal Sterckx suddenly felt, while he was celebrating the Holy Mass, irresistibly drawn to offer the Redemptoristines the Saint Louis Institute at Malines, which he could make available in the month of September. As if there was any need to say it, the Community accepted the offer with joyful gratitude.

“At this time,” says a contemporary, “the bills to pay rained down upon the community. Every ring of the bell brought fear into every heart. The good Mother did everything she could to satisfy the pitiless creditors as much as possible. But all the efforts of her heart, at once so upright and so generous, could not avert the catastrophe. Some time after the installation of the community at Malines, the lawsuit brought against her was won and the debts liquidated. The shareholders of the zoological garden of Brussels (Ixelles) became the owners of our magnificent property and the monastery, at a price below their real value.”

On 6th October 1858, on the feast of Saint Bruno, two special carriages left Josaphat Street, bringing, not into the land of captivity, but to the promised land, the religious victims of this long and harsh trial. Canon Van Campenhout, the Superior of the little seminary of Malines gave the community the most paternal welcome and promised them his most devoted assistance. This promise was kept, in both spiritual and temporal matters, with a benevolence that never decreased. The following day, Cardinal Sterckx came to pay the Sisters a visit. On 13th December he returned, accompanied by a numerous clergy, blessed the new Monastery and established the enclosure.

Sister Marie-Joseph of the Child Jesus spent seventeen years in the Monastery of Malines. There she held the most diverse functions. Equally apt to the government of souls and the management of temporal affairs, she fulfilled in turn the charges of Mother Vicar and Housekeeper, cared for the sick with the greatest devotion in her capacity as Infirmarian, and was named Mistress of Novices. In brief, her charity, discretion and good judgement had many occasions to be exercised, and her virtues gained her every heart. Also, when it was decided that a new foundation would be established in the Diocese of Cambrai, the community was unanimous in entrusting Sister Marie-Joseph with the direction of this enterprise. The very French heart of the good Sister thrilled at this news, and under the auspices of Our Lady of Grace, the patroness of the Diocese of Cambrai, who had smoothed out all the difficulties, she set off resolutely at the head of her little colony.

[1] Rev. Father Assemaine was born at Tourcoing on 21st March 1825, entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer on 15th October 1854 and died at New Orleans on 10th October 1870, after a very apostolic life.

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

Mother Marie-Cecilia of the Child Jesus, O.SS.R. of the Monastery of Gars (1834 – 1890)

Born Angela Druffel

Angela Druffel was born at Wiedenbruck in Westphalia on Christmas Day 1834. She felt herself attracted towards the religious life during the exercises of a mission, but she did not make her choice until she had visited several convents. The Institute of the Redemptoristines pleased her above all the others, and she entered the Monastery of Marienthal on 21st November 1854. The holy habit was given to her the following year on the same day, and in 1856 she took her vows on the same day as the feast of Saint Cecilia, her patron in religion.

What distinguished good Sister Marie-Cecilia first and foremost was her admirable calmness, her recollection, her regularity and a maturity quite unusual for her age. Moreover, suffering had already made its mark upon her, by means of premature fasts in her youth. But her strength of soul made her overcome every fatigue. Miserly with her time, she consecrated it entirely to the duties of her state and to prayer, continually nourishing her spirit and her heart with good thoughts, and profiting from everything to acquire the treasures of the soul. Moreover, the Lord led her by the way of spiritual joy, and the heavenly Spouse habitually gave her His interior assurances, which, as Saint Teresa says, makes us fly rather than walk in the way of perfection.

Her love of prayer, recollection and silence was also the soul of the government of Mother Marie-Cecilia when she was elected Superior. At the same time there could be seen radiating from her person a great prudence and a very delicate charity both in her words and in her judgements, with a great humility and a wise distrust in her own illumination. She was still the Superior when the Convent of Marienthal went up in flames in 1877. Meeting one of the Sisters in the corridor while the convent was all in flames, she said to her with an admirable submissiveness: “This is the will of God, we must be resigned to it. What has happened to us happily is not a venial sin.” These were sublime words which show us all the greatness of her faith. Moreover she attributed this trial to her own sins, but in it we can admire her profound humility even more. In the temporary exile which followed this catastrophe, she showed herself at her very best, sustaining all her Sisters by her maternal charity and her unshakeable confidence in God.

After having been the Superior at Marienthal twice, she was appointed in 1884 to fulfil the same functions at the Monastery of Gars [1] in Austria. It was at the end of her triennium that she manifested the symptoms of the illness that was to bear her away. This illness was long and painful, but she sanctified it by a continual prayer and an unchanging patience. In her last days especially she felt as though she was being devoured by an interior fire. “I would never have thought,” she said sometimes, “that a human creature could suffer so much.” The ardour of her love for God here became even more admirable. With what edification did we not hear her often repeating these beautiful words: “My Jesus who is so good, I thank you for these sorrows!”

Her merit was all the greater because her constantly unwell state made her suffer even more than anyone could see. In her last years, her state became a veritable Purgatory, but her constancy was never shaken. On the night preceding her death, she could be heard offering up this admirable act of love, well worthy of a daughter of Saint Alphonsus: “My God, I wish to suffer as much as You wish, and I wish to suffer not so as to escape Hell, not to acquire Heaven, but simply out of pure love for You, since You merit us suffering for You, and You wish it so. O my God, as often as I make a movement of my finger, then as often do I wish to renew the act that I have just made.” Then, turning towards the Sisters, she said: “God is so good!. How many graces have I not received from Him!”

She invoked her guardian Angel with confidence, and Saint Cecilia, her patron saint, but the thought of Jesus crucified was her thought of predilection: “I have been served so well,” she would say, “but Jesus has no one to serve Him!” It was with these beautiful sentiments that, after receiving the last sacraments of the Church, she peacefully rendered her soul to God on 10th May 1890. At the beginning of the month, she had received this devise on that day as her lot to put into practice: Confidence in the mercy of God! It is this mercy that she now sings forever, we hope, in the splendours of Paradise.
[1] ] The house of Vienna gave birth in 1839 to that of Stein, near Donon. The revolution of 1848 suppressed these two houses and the Redemptoristines of Stein moved to Gard (Bavaria). On 2nd August 1854, the day of the feast of Saint Alphonsus,the community was solemnly installed in its new Monastery.

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Sister Maria-Hedwig of the Flagellation of Jesus, O.SS.R. of the Monastery of Ried (1892 – 1897)

She was also a sweet flower of the Passion, this good Sister Maria-Hedwig who, in the humble condition of a converse, merited the heavenly favours during her life and at her death.

She was born at Wirgen, parish of Brixen, in the Tyrol. While still a child, she gave the signs of a tender piety. And also while still a child, she was as if vowed to the cross. Often, indeed, epileptic attacks would throw her to the ground, and the terrible illness left her as though dead before the eyes of her grieving parents. So her pious mother consecrated her little Elise to the Blessed Virgin, made her touch a picture of Mary three times, and had this picture hung on the privileged altar of Our Lady of the Snows. The attacks ceased completely, and thus the child became very devoted to the most holy Mother of God at a very early age.

Her character was sweet and obliging, so her six brothers and sisters happily benefited from it. Elise submitted to them all and did not neglect any occasion to render them service, as a consequence of becoming spiritually enriched. Later on, she entered service in the hospital in Innsbruck, and it was there that she met the Redemptorist Fathers and expressed her desire to them to enter a convent. In the example of her elder sister, she chose the Order of the Redemptoristines and entered the Convent of Saint Anne at Ried (Upper Austria) on 8th September 1892, on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin.

And so on this wonderful day, as the Chronicle says, she had a new spiritual birth and was admitted to the cradle of religious life. It was with tears of joy and gratitude that she saw her elder sister again, who had taken the veil the preceding year. She cast herself at the feet of the Child Jesus, understanding in advance the words of the Saviour: “unless you be like little children…” and immediately exercised herself, by the practice of humility and obedience, in intimate life with Jesus and Mary. During the ten months of testing in the Postulancy, she climbed, as we may say, the steps of the Temple under the guidance of Mary, and then entered the sanctuary of the Novitiate. She took the veil on 28th September 1893, with the name of Sister Maria-Hedwig of the Flagellation of Jesus.

From then on she gave a good example of all the virtues. For her, work and suffering were the joys of her heart. She set her eyes on only Jesus and Mary and made herself a crown of virtues for the day of her wedding with her beloved Saviour. This much desired day arrived on 28thOctober 1894. Even though she had been greatly elevated by grace, she looked upon herself as the least in the house and made herself the servant of all the Sisters. However, she always remained recollected, absorbed in God, speaking but little, but always courteous and full of kindness. At the end of her Novitiate, the flowers were entrusted to her. She took a very special care of them, without thinking, however, that the divine Gardener would soon come to gather her soul as a flower agreeable to His eyes. Strong and robust as she was, one day she was carrying a heavy burden of flower pots. Suddenly she lost her footing and fell down many of the steps to the green-house. The terrible blow she received soon caused her to start spitting blood, and then pneumonia was diagnosed. This trial was a great one for the community. It was even more so for Sister Hedwig who, having been accepted without a dowry, had promised to make up for this lack of the goods of this world by her devotion and services. But this faithful soul remembered the great law of the will of God, and she generously accepted the cross that her name in religion reminded her of every day. With Mary she had entered, with Mary she had climbed the steps of the Temple, and with Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, she ascended Mount Calvary.

“Her illness made rapid progress. Sister Maria-Hedwig wanted no exceptions for herself and even asked for the soup of the poor. Her true food was doing the will of God, and she never ceased speaking of it. After receiving Extreme Unction, she gave a great witness of her gratitude to God and begged all the Sisters to thank Him with her. At one o’clock in the morning, she was seen to be full of joy and as if transfigured. She opened her arms and cried out: “Ah, here’s Jesus!” And when Mother Superior asked her what she had seen, she replied: “Oh, I am not worthy of such favours. I’m only a poor sinner.” And then she added: “O my Jesus, I love You! What happiness to be able to sacrifice myself!” She continued on like this, with her face all aflame, and did her acts of love and humility until the hour of her death. At the supreme moment she asked for the blessed candle, and radiant with joy, she then expired peacefully. This was on 24th September 1897, at two o’clock in the morning.

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sister Maria-Matilda of the Crucifixion, O.SS.R. of the Monastery of Ried (1874 – 1897)

Sister Maria-Matilda was born on 10th October 1874 at Lebersham, in the parish of Schwannenstadt in Austria. At an early age she gave the signs of a great piety. Her greatest joy was to erect little chapels in honour of the Blessed Virgin, light candles there and pray there devoutly. Her excellent character made her loved by everybody.

Her three sisters entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross, devoted to the care of the sick. She would also have liked to consecrate herself entirely to God, but her parents did not consent at all and entrusted the direction of the paternal home to her. She submitted, but prayed so well to Him who has the hearts of mankind in His hands, that she obtained the object of her desires. Nonetheless, she was required to fix her choice on the Order of the Sisters of the Cross. More attracted to the contemplative life, the young lady refused. For an entire year, they tried to make her enter as per their original plan, and her Sisters did not spare her, but her fierce resistance disconcerted their efforts. A short time afterwards, her father recognized the holy will of God and sacrificed his cherished child, and she joyously took her flight and entered the convent of Ried on 29th September 1894. “Now,” she cried, “I am happy. I have chosen the better part!” From then on, this was the habitual refrain of her life.

After the most fervent of postulancies, Elise received the holy habit, and with it, the name of Sister Maria-Matilda of the Crucifixion. Yet this only caused an increase in her love for Jesus crucified, to whom she had already given her whole heart. The abundant fullness of her soul overflowed willingly in ardent acts, and her tears often betrayed the affections that filled it, especially at the holy table and on the Way of the Cross. Her fellow Sisters often told the Mistress of Novices: “Our Elise is consumed with love, and will not live for very long.” But what does time matter? “You need less time than will power to become a saint” they rightly said.

On 19th October 1896, Sister Maria-Matilda was joined by her holy vows to the Spouse of souls. From then on, she became more and more attached to the practice of that sincere mortification which is the royal road of prayer. Ingenious in tormenting herself, and even more ingenious in obeying, she showed that the love of Jesus crucified had truly penetrated her heart, and that, in the example of her Saviour, she was seeking for nothing else than the will of God. She became unwell, was dispensed from all her work and installed in the infirmary. However, one day the Mistress of Novices said to her: “Sister Maria-Matilda, go and wash the dishes today. The Sisters are so few in number!” Without saying a single word, Sister Maria-Matilda made her way to the door, took some holy water and appeared in the kitchen. But the Infirmarian in her turn then came running: “My Sister,” she said, “this is not necessary. Another Sister will come and do the work. Return to the infirmary.” And the good Sister returned that instant.

The will of God was soon declared in a more precise manner. It was the cross in all its rigour, that is to say, the sacrifice of her life that the Lord was about to impose on His servant. Throughout the whole duration of her illness, Sister Maria-Matilda had only these words on her lips: “The will of God!” Confined to her chair, she communicated every day in Viaticum and heard the Holy Mass every day. At the beginning of February 1897, she received Extreme Unction. “May I die now?” she asked. And the Infirmarian replied: “Yes, you may.”

This reply filled Sister Maria-Matilda with joy. The pneumonia that was consuming her had reached its last stage. In the night of 10th to 11th February, the invalid suddenly lifted up her head as if to listen to some words that she could hear, and then she fainted. They then recited the prayers of the agonising. The invalid came back to herself and smiled as is she had come back from another world. Her eyes were shining with joy and then seemed to fix on a marvellous spectacle, and when her Superior asked her if she could see her beloved Saviour, and her tender Mother Mary, and Saint Alphonsus her glorious Patron, she nodded her head at each one of these blessed names. Then she looked one last time at her Mistress of Novices and if to say one last “thank you”, and rendered her beautiful soul to God.

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sister Maria-Xavier of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, O.SS.R. of the Monastery of Ried (1837 – 1852)

We know nothing of the life that Elisabeth Faust led in the world, except that she was pious and a source of edification for others.

Elisabeth was born on 5th March 1813 at Duren Protring Niedersheim (Prussia). On 19th October 1837, she entered the Redemptoristine Monastery of Vienna, received the holy habit on 7th January 1839, with the beautiful name of Sister Maria-Xavier of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and made her profession on 9th January 1840.

She had spent eight years in the exercise of the virtues of her state when the Revolution of 1848 drove her from her convent. This was on 6th April. On the 15th, she arrived at Aix-la-Chapelle with several of her Sisters and stayed there for some years. On 26th June 1851 we find her at Marienthal, and finally, in October 1852, she was sent with three other Sisters to Ried, in Austria, to establish a foundation there. Six other Sisters soon came there to join her.

It was in this Convent of Saint Anne that the cross of Our Lord especially came to visit our good Sister. With the others, Sister Maria-Xavier happily and joyfully endured the privations of the poverty and inconveniences at the beginning, but a short while afterwards a mysterious dream warned her unawares to the approaching arrival of her heavenly Spouse.

In her dream she saw Our Lord weighed down with His Cross. He was in the street and making His way to the Monastery. Seeing Him at the end of His strength, Sister Maria-Xavier said to Him: “Lord, come in here!” and the Lord asked her: “Do you love Me?” She replied immediately: “Oh, yes, we love you.” And the Lord replied: “Do you also love My Cross?” “Yes, we love it” replied the Sister.

Jesus (we soon saw Him) accepted the invitation that had been given Him. A Sister had caught smallpox in Vienna and was cured of it, but Sister Maria-Xavier then caught the illness and died of it. It was in a matter of three days. On 18th November at one o’clock in the morning, she died quite resigned to the holy will of God and all aflame with the desire to see Him whose cross she loved.

“On Friday,” says the Monastery Chronicle, “she was buried.” Some young ladies in white carried her coffin. On the following Sunday, the Reverend Father gave a sermon in our little church that impressed everyone. “Sister Maria-Xavier was a generous religious, humble and devout, and having in mind only the glory of God. After her several Sisters and the Superior fell ill, but they all recovered. Our Lord had judged Sister Maria-Xavier worthy to be the first victim of the new foundation and to be the first to receive the wonderful hospitality of Paradise.”

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sister Maria-Victoria of Jesus, O.SS.R. of the Monastery of Ried (1805 – 1874)

God had permitted the religious Orders to be particularly persecuted in Vienna in the 18th Century, but this great capital, in the 19th Century, was to give the signal for their relief. The Emperor Joseph II had pursued them with his hatred, but in the very heart of his court there germinated, without him even suspecting it, vocations that were to give religious life an unexpected flowering.

Marie Anne Ernestine Welsersheimb was born at Graz in Styria on 12th January 1805. She was the grand-daughter of Count Godefroid Suardi, chamberlain to Joseph II. The Countess, her mother, a woman of lofty intelligence and great piety, brought up her eight children in a most Christian manner, her “eight beatitudes” as she called them. Then, when she had assured their future, she entered religion, thirteen years after the death of her husband. This resolution caused a great deal of talk and aroused much astonishment. The noble Christian was content to reply: “If someone goes far away, into a foreign country, to gather a rich inheritance and deprives himself for a few years of the commodities he has enjoyed in the midst of his own family, no one would think of being astonished. So from where does it come that people feel the need to speak to a person who is attracted by the magnificent promises of Our Lord and leaves everything to follow Him, and renounce for just a small number of years the pleasures that the world offers him!”

Marie Ernestine was worthy of such a mother. After smiling for some time on the brilliant world that surrounded her, she studied her vocation under the guidance of a holy religious, the Venerable Father Passerat, and on 4th September 1825, at the age of twenty, she went to rejoin, in the cloister of the Redemptoristines of Vienna, that great Christian who had brought her into the world.[1] Beginning from this moment, a complete transformation was worked in her. In the footsteps of the divine Redeemer she took up her cross and bore it courageously for the space of nearly fifty years.

In fact this life of privations, renunciations and immolation was a long way of the cross that finally ended with a holy death! Marie-Ernestine had scarcely left the world when she exchanged her brilliant home for a very poor convent, and her gentle and tranquil existence gave way to a life of work. First of all she was occupied with poor, abandoned children. She taught these poor children reading writing and arithmetic. When these years of testing had ended, her religious profession (30th January 1832) brought a new task to her who was now called Sister Maria-Victoria of Jesus. Was it not a very heavy cross for a religious of twenty seven years of age to have to direct the educandes? This meant receiving, as they left the world, persons of every age and every condition. It meant helping them to leave behind their ideas, their own habits and their own will. In a word, it meant struggling against habits of life already adopted and substituting others for them. This difficult office was one that Sister Maria-Victoria fulfilled with success. Soon she had to bear a cross heavier still. When she became Mistress of Novices, she had the future of her entire Institute in her hands, but her courage was at the summit of her mission.

However, separations came to add their thorns to cares already so grave. In 1841, Sister Maria-Victoria saw die before her eyes that pious, that heroic mother who, in a manner of speaking, had given her life twice. In the same year, she said farewell to Mother Marie-Alphonse who went to found the convent of the Redemptoristines at Bruges in Belgium. Finally there arrived that year 1848 which was so full of turmoil of every kind. On 6th April, the ferocious mob which had chased out the Redemptorist Fathers and thrown them out onto the highway, including, although they did not know it, Father Passerat, weighed down with his seventy six years, that impious mob laid waste to the nuns’ church, and they too had to seek their salvation in flight.

Once the rabble had been satisfied, the way of the cross continued for Maria-Victoria of Jesus. To the friendly offers of help, seductive to a soul less strong, she replied: “What! Abandon the Institute to which God has called me? Never! Even if I have to walk hundreds of miles on foot, or undergo the most severe privations, I shall seek out my Sisters, and I shall live and die in the midst of them.” She took refuge at Aix-la-Chapelle with six of her Sisters, and accepted the hospitality offered to them by the Sisters of Saint Elisabeth. Then Galoppe, in Holland, became her home. Three years of privations and sufferings did not discourage her. Finally, a beautiful convent, graciously called “Valley of Mary”, Marienthal, replaced the provisional house in 1851. Maria-Victoria was filled with the greatest joy, but the two years that she spent there were once again marked by her devotion to the common cause. She was Mistress of Novices, Consultor, and Secretary to the Superior. There were always responsibilities, and if you wish to call them that, honours, but there was always the cross.

In 1853 we find Sister Maria-Victoria of Jesus at Ried. She was there for eleven years as the Superior of a convent of her Order. The material situation there was precarious, but, in the school of adversity, a courageous soul is hardened against obstacles. And we may say more, she found her strength in the cross itself which crushes less generous souls. The 30th January 1854 was for this Servant of God the 25th jubilee her religious life. It was a triumph of a day, a charming feast which was to give way to new sorrows! For an elevated heart, what pains there were in seeing the concordat between the Holy See and Austria denounced, and the war in Italy open a long series of outrages and atrocious crimes! Sister Maria-Victoria keenly suffered these grave wounds given to the faith, both in her dear homeland and in the whole world, and how great was her sorrow in seeing, after the Council, a sect of “Old Catholics” establishing even at Ried, and almost at the door of the convent, its sacrilegious assizes! The “fiat voluntas” of the divine Saviour in the Garden of Olives presented itself unceasingly in the memory of the Servant of God in the midst of these circumstances. We may say more: after such long trials, after such a sorrowful climb up to Calvary, this last blow was truly her death blow.

In the month of June 1874, Sister Maria-Victoria’s strength suddenly ebbed. From then on she concentrated all her thoughts on her approaching end, and on heaven which she had so long desired. On 20th July, a severe crisis failed to carry her off, but her presence of mind did not abandon her. Her eyes were drawn to a picture hanging on a wall near her bed. This picture represented Saint Joseph expiring in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Soon she cried out in a loud voice: “Sedes sapientiae, ora pro nobis” – “Seat of wisdom, pray for us.” A touching invocation, very beautiful in the face of death, and very worthy of this wise virgin who had so faithfully imitated the Queen of Virgins! It seems that at that moment, the prayer that the dying Sister had so often addressed to Mary was heard as it had been for Saint Alphonsus, as the poor invalid suddenly said to the infirmarian: “My Sister, the Mother of God has just won a victory. I have never had an apparition during my life, and now I have had one at the approach of death.” This means in a few words the last temptations of the demon and the miraculous assistance of the Mother of the Saviour. On the same day of her death, 25th July, with the aid of her Sisters she accomplished all the exercises of her Rule – the examination of conscience, the Rosary, and the Way of the Cross. She received the last sacraments. One last time, she renewed her vows of religion, and then she gently inclined her head like her heavenly Spouse on the cross. She had courageously completed her course, and went to receive the crown of life.

The special character of the interior life of Mother Maria-Victoria seems to have been Christian strength. One of our former novices writes on this subject: “Our good Mistress was a soul full of generosity, and a great friend of mortification. She had a particular talent for leading her novices to the practice of this virtue. Her instructions were ordinarily about the dangers that a soul courts with an unmortified life, and she would express herself on this point in the starkest terms. ‘No,’ she would often tell us, ‘you cannot count on going directly to an easy life in Paradise.’ ‘One of the things she inculcated the most into her novices,’ says Father Hugues, ‘was the habit of combating and subduing their natural inclinations. And so she applied herself to humbling them often and testing the promptitude of their obedience by commanding them those things painful to nature. Moreover she had a favourite maxim which she put into practice: ‘With us,’ she would say, ‘prayer and mortification must march in front. The more we advance in mortification, the more we advance in prayer.’ – ‘We only advance in the love of God,’ she also said to us, ‘to the degree that we hate our own selves. We must hate not this or that employment, but our bad inclinations, our sensuality, our bad humour. This is what we must hate, and hate it for the love of God, because we know that this displeases Him.’

A soul so upright could not fail to feel a tender devotion to the Passion of the Saviour. Sister Maria-Victoria was particularly devoted to the mystery of the Agony in the Garden of Olives. When she was the Superior at Ried, she had a little chapel constructed in the garden. It was furnished with a statue representing Our Lord in His agony and fortified by an angel. Her great consolation in her moments of anguish and perplexity was to go and pray in this chapel. There, prostrate at the feet of her divine Spouse, herself delivered to a mortal sadness, she was persuaded that He could not fail to let a look of commiseration fall upon her and come to her aid. Often, after a prolonged prayer in this blessed spot, she would intone a canticle of thanksgiving and would go back to the house with her heart filled with a holy joy. As a true daughter of Saint Alphonsus, the pious Sister had a tender love for the Blessed Sacrament, the Blessed Virgin and the Saints. In particular she loved the martyr Saints. Without doubt in the midst of her innumerable trials she prayed long and hard to these friends of God. Saint Joseph was also the object of her filial confidence, and this great Saint rewarded her more than once for hoping in him.

The desire for heaven always possessed this beautiful soul. She would often sigh and cry out: “When then shall I arrive there finally to sing the eternal alleluia? Oh, how I rejoice in thinking of the first sight I shall have of eternity.” A holy priest advised her one day to take a remedy that cured her, and then awaited her thanksgiving. “Oh my Father,” she told him, “I cannot be grateful to you for that, for my most ardent desire is to die as soon as possible.” It was with the same sentiments that she wrote to Mother Marie-Alphonse in 1868, who was then gravely ill: “I am happy to learn that the doctor expresses the hope of your recovery. But if I rejoice, it is less for you personally than for your community, as you would wish ardently, I am convinced, to be reunited as quickly as possible with your supreme Good. And so, if I come to hear that you have left this earth, my heart will be sensibly afflicted no doubt, but I should not be able to prevent myself from rejoicing with you, and congratulate myself on having so good an advocate in heaven. We shall act in such a way, believe me, that you will not remain for long at the door of Paradise.”

About six weeks had passed since the death of Mother Maria-Victoria, when two religious consultors fell dangerously ill. Overcome with grief, the Superior felt herself brought to pray during the night at the tomb of the venerated deceased. With great confidence she said the following prayer: “Dear Mother Maria-Victoria, you know through your own experience that a Superior will find herself in pain when the consultors of the Monastery cannot fulfil their office, so help me in my distress and obtain for these two Sisters the recovery of their health.” An astonishing thing! A notable improvement was produced immediately, and at the end of five days the two invalids had entirely recovered. Some months before her last illness, Sister Maria-Victoria had written to the Superior of Marienthal that, if she was the first one to die, she would hope to warn by her death two Sisters who were no longer giving her any sign of life. Then on 23rd July 1874, on the same day of the death of Sister Maria-Victoria, a religious of Marienthal heard, at ten o’clock in the evening, a noise very close to her cell. Suddenly she perceived, standing before her bed, a Redemptoristine nun whom she did not know. The apparition was tall. Her veil was of a dazzling white. Her whole cell, which until then had been plunged in darkness, now became ablaze with light. Coming up to the bed of the invalid, the apparition blessed her and told her: “I have come from Purgatory, where I still endure a sharp pain from these two fingers.” And as she spoke, she showed her the thumb and index finger of her right hand. “I am praying for you,” she added, “so that you may go to Paradise.” Then the vision disappeared. The poor rheumatic, more dead than alive, could not close her eyes the whole night. The next morning she hurried to tell her Superior what had happened to her. Three days later, they received the news at Marienthal that Sister Maria-Victoria had died on 23rd July. On that very day, by God’s permission, she had kept her promise and by her own death she had warned her former companions.


[1] See the charming work by Rev. Father Hugues called: Deux religieuses Rédemptoristines [Two religious Redemptoristines], 1 vol. Casterman

This necrology is translated from Fleurs de l'Institut des Rédemptoristines by Mr John R. Bradbury. The copyright of this translation is the property of the Redemptoristine Nuns of Maitland, Australia. The integral version of the translated book will be posted here as the necrologies appear.

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