Monday, 12 July 2010

Sr Marie Madeleine of Jesus Host, O.SS.R. (1868-1933)

Sr Marie Madeleine was born at Poperinghe, Flanders, on 2 June, 1868. She was baptised Helen Marie Cornelia Coevoet. Entering the Redemptoristine Order she received her religious name which may seem a little odd to English speaking readers, but the name "Jesus Host" is reasonably commonly given to French nuns in honour of the Eucharistic Jesus. She died piously at the Redemptoristine Convent of Bruges in the 33rd year of her monastic life on 11 March, 1933. †
(From Sister's mortuary card.)

The Servant of God Mother Marie Gabrielle of the Most Holy Trinity, O.SS.R. (1808-1868)

Redemptoristine of the Monastery of Malines

Maria Victoria Eder was born on 22 December, 1808, in Vähring, near Vienna, Austria. While still young she had a pronounced, even though innocent taste for apparel. One day, her mother having refused to garland her hair with roses, she went off in a fit of tears. The Redemptorist St Clement Mary Hofbauer having heard about this said to her: “Come on, don’t cry any more my child, you will soon receive a crown of roses from me.” The next day she better understood the lesson when she received a rosary from the saint. And in fact from that time on she bade farewell to the vanities of the world and gave herself up to piety. On the advise of St Clement she accepted the position of lady-in-waiting to Princess Poniatowska, grand-daughter of King Stanislaus Poniatowski. After the death of St Clement she took the Venerable Fr Passerat, C.SS.R. as director of conscience.

Soon Maria Victoria was to enter the Redemptoristine Convent of Vienna. She was professed there on 17 May, 1835. Having made remarkable progress in sanctity she departed, with the Servant of God Mother Marie-Alphonse of the Will of God for Belgium where she participated in the foundations at Bruges, Brussels and Malines. It was in this last foundation that Mother Marie Gabrielle died a death precious in the sight of the Lord on 1 February, 1868. She announced her own death – appearing miraculously at the same moment in several distant places. †
(From Memorial Alphonsien.)

The Servant of God Mother Maria-Anna-Josepha of the Resurrection, O.SS.R. (1772 - 1841)

Born at Gretz in Styria on 22 January, 1772, the Servant of God, daughter of Count Godefroy Suardi, was named Antonia. Her father, after having occupied an important charge in Styria, was created Chamberlain to the Austrian Emperor. She received an accomplished education at the hands of the Visitandine nuns - having the perfect possession of five languages and the added achievement of a piano virtuoso. She married the very honorable Count Joseph Welsenheimb and was widowed in 1811. Thereafter she gave herself to works of piety.

She met in Austria, Eugenie Gauvenet, the future Mother Marie Alphonse of the Will of God, penitent of Ven. Fr. Passerat, and joined her in the projected Redemptoristine Foundation. In order, like Mother Marie Alphonse, to drink of the spirit of the institute at its source, the two were sent by Fr Passerat to the Redemptenstine Convent at St-Agatha-of-the-Goths in Italy to make their novitiate. After having received the religious habit at Rome and having venerated the Sanctuary of Loretto, they returned to Vienna.

They made their perpetual vows and set about the foundation of the Redemptoristines over the Alps. Later Mother Maria-Anna-Josepha had the joy of welcoming the youngest of her 8 children within the walls of her monastery in Vienna. She fell asleep peacefully in the Lord on 25 February, 1841. †

(Translated from "Memorial Alphonsien" and typed with thanks to Mrs Trisha Jones.)

Mother Marie-Alphonse of the Most Blessed Sacrament, O.SS.R. (1913)

Who died in the odour of sanctity at the Monastery of St Alphonsus in Malines (Flanders) on 12 December, 1913.

Prevented from her most tender youth by choice graces, the venerated Mother Marie-Alphonse radiated above all her great purity and simplicity which became in her the principal of the admirable gift of piety which is to be found throughout her life. God, the Church, her Order, souls, were there unchanging objects of her love. As superior for 25 years she edified all by her perfect regularity, her maternal devotion and her angelic recollection. As spouse of the Divine Redeemer, called like Him to ascend the steep heights of Calvary, God wished to mark her with the Royal Seal of the Cross. She passed the last 12 years of her life upon a bed of sickness. Always smiling, she put up with her cruel sufferings with an heroic patience, until the day when, attaining her Divine Ideal, she expired – a veritable holocaust, consumed in the furnace of pain, in order to go, we are confident, to enjoy her Eternity for unending ages.†
(From Mother’s mortuary card.)

The Servant of God Mother Marie Celeste of the Will of God, O.SS.R. (1875-1922)

We here present a longer and more substantial life of this holy Redemptoristine Nun.

Chapter I
Birth, Girlhood and Vocation

In one short sentence Our Lord summed up for us the whole scope and meaning of his life on earth: "I am come to do the will of him who sent me."

In these few words He has traced for us the most complete and most accurate portrait of each and all of the saints, whether they be the martyrs of the early Church watering the earth with their blood that the seed of the Word of God might spring up amid the ruins of a decayed civilisation; or the wonder-workers of the Middle Ages, raising their voices above the clash and din of warfare, and startling men by the very force of their miraculous powers; or the gentler race of men, such as St Francis de Sales or St Alphonsus Liguori, combating error by the milder weapons of their pens and persuasive eloquence, none has ever done other than the will of Him who sent them. But times change, and in each varying scene of the world, sanctity, like everything else, has donned a different outward garb.

When the great French Revolution swept away nearly all the old landmarks, the generation of saints who arose, seemingly from the very force of that mighty social earthquake, differed widely from the saints of old, not, indeed, in their essential holiness, but in its outward expression and the setting amidst which their sanctity was worked out.

They were no longer men set apart from their fellows, marked by unmistakable signs and tokens; they lay, as it were, hidden, the leaven leavening the mass. In most cases it was death alone that drew back the curtain that hid their virtues from an indifferent or scoffing world. To few was it given to attain a world-wide reputation like the Curé d Ars; but who shall count the number of hidden lives, already crowned by the Church, or about to be so honoured?

Such was the life of Sister Marie Celeste of the Will of God, whose years on earth were passed in the seclusion of her own home, or the still more restricted solitude of the cloister. But the fact that since her death God seems to be making known His Will, by evident signs, that he wishes her to emerge from her hiddenness, has made it appear desirable that the doors of the cloister that sheltered her should be opened, and that the varying scenes of her life therein should be shown as an encouragement to those, both within and without the walls of the convent, who have to live an ordinary life amidst more than ordinary trials and contradictions.

Most lives of cloistered nuns seem of little if any help to others, for the grille is kept hermetically sealed after as before their death, and a very distorted picture of the soul's pilgrimage is all that is given, from the very fact that it is merely a series of vignettes on a colourless background, with no discernible surroundings. For this reason we have determined to take our readers in spirit behind the grilles, and to show them Sister Marie Celeste as she lived and moved amongst her Sisters, and the scenes amidst which she worked out her salvation, and, incidentally, her sanctification. There may be shadows as well as sunshine; there are both in every true picture. Only in heaven shall we have the true land where it is always afternoon.

In the Gospels themselves we have side by side the portrait of the wholly perfect Man-God, and the first apostate priest, his own friend. The visible presence of the Light of the world did not produce a shadowless picture. The cockle is to be allowed to grow with the wheat. Why should we pretend that there is no such thing as a weed? No matter how deep the shadows in any living picture, even before the end, the sunshine will creep in and absorb the darkness. Half-truths are nowhere so unconvincing as in a biography, and any attempt to paint a picture of even a short life, leaving out the shadow of the Cross, will surely be a failure.

Sister Marie Celeste, Marie-Jeanne van Eeckhoudt, was born on August 7, 1875, at Brussels, and found an elder sister Mathilde and an elder brother Jules waiting to receive her in the old house in the Rue Haute, where her parents had a large stationery business.

John Baptist van Eeckhoudt and his wife Catherine Kebers belonged to old and highly respected bourgeois families. Two of little Marie's maternal uncles were distinguished public servants; one was a well-known lawyer, and the other the director of customs, and during the world-war did good service for his country as Director-General of Finance. Several of her cousins have risen high in the professions of engineering and medicine. But above and beyond all worldly honour and advancement, Monsieur and Madame Eeckhoudt prized their century-old devotion and service to the Church, and their one desire was to see their children carrying on the same honourable traditions. In the bringing up of their young family Catherine seems to have stressed the sterner views of life, while we find the good-natured John Baptist, sometimes even surreptitiously, providing games and innocent amusements for the little ones, whose daily round included not a few pious exercises.

In his youth M. Van Eeckhoudt had dreamed dreams, which he confided to the good Curé, whose delight he was by the piety and the devotion with which he served at the altar, and between them they succeeded in getting permission for little John to begin studying art in the studio of a well-known painter. But alas! The death, within a short time of each other, of his protector and the artist shattered his dreams, and he was obliged to return to his father's house, and to take his place in the business which was to be his inheritance; but he never lost the debonair manner which he had acquired by his short-lived experience of a mild Bohemia.

Later on he loved to take his children out on Sundays or holidays, and to show them the many beautiful objects of art in Brussels, and to teach them how to know and love everything beautiful. To Mathilde and Jules all this was sheer joy, but little Marie did not share her father's tastes, and said frankly more than once, "Thank you, papa; I like much better staying with mamma."

The children might well have been spoiled if the calm, stolid figure of Madame had not been there to counteract any such tendency on the part of her husband. Not that she was a hard woman, far from it, but she did not know such a word as disobedience, and to her duty summed up each hour of the day. What she lacked in imagination and intellectual gifts she made up for in sound common sense.

We have only to look at the photograph of little Marie, aged eight, or, again, as we see her at twelve years old, to be able to analyse her mother's character to a nicety. Strong, sensible stuff clothes, made without a frill or furbelow; thick woolen stockings, and uncompromisingly solid lace boots; the hair drawn straight back from a wonderfully beautiful forehead - all proclaim the sensible, hard-working mother, who loved her children most sincerely, but had no time to spend on trimmings.

She was a woman of very deep feelings, and the love of her life was her little Marie; but she did not spoil her, and expected her to obey without demur, and when the little girl, as not infrequently happened, we are told, was inclined to sulk, her mother's surprised tone as she said, "Well, Marie, are you going to sulk over such a trifle?" soon brought the smiles back, and sunshine once more reigned.

Perhaps the person who brought most joy into the lives of the children at this time was the old grandmother, Madame Kebers; and it gives a very charming touch to the family picture to be told by Mathilde that Grandmamma always understood that Jules wanted plenty of space to kick his feet about in, even in the parlour, and would never allow him to be suppressed.

Madame van Eeckhoudt was, however, a little jealous of the children's love for the old lady, and if the visits were prolonged too much she sent to call them home, especially the little Marie, whom she could not bear out of her sight.

If their mother was somewhat austere in her views concerning their bringing up, she was the first to give the children the example of what she taught. Long before anyone else in the house was astir she was on her way to daily Mass, and only on her return did she wake her little ones, and hear them say their prayers.

The prayers were evidently said opposite a statue or picture of the Child Jesus crowned with flowers; for one of the three tells us that the first prayer they learned, and which have ever since recited, was, "Little Jesus, crowned with flowers, come into my heart and stay there."

Little Marie seems to have profited well by her mother's example and teaching. We are told that very early she began to make great efforts to overcome her naturally impetuous and quick temper, so that the outbursts became less frequent, and never degenerated into real quarrels with her sister and brother, who both loved her very much, and very soon began to give way before her more virile and decided character. It says much for the amiability of her nature that neither of them showed the least jealousy of the decided partiality shown by their mother for her.

Madame van Eeckhoudt early accustomed her children to take their part in all household duties, and encouraged them to make clothes for the poor and themselves, and even sent them occasionally to serve in the shop, in order to teach them good manners and politeness in dealing with others. But she did not encourage them to make friends outside their own family circle, and they visited no houses except those of their relations. Marie and her sister were sent to the excellent school kept by the Sisters of Charity, in the Rue de Poincon, and, in 1892, Marie passed with honours the Government examination in music, domestic economy, and free-hand drawing. Music was always her favourite study, and it was the delight of her father and old grandmother to hear her play or sing, for she had a really beautiful voice.

Study had never any attractions for her, and she often expressed her astonishment at the interest her sister found in books of travel, and, indeed, in all kinds of reading. She never had more than one prayer book, so that already, as a child, she was evidently drawn to the more contemplative way of prayer. She seems always to have been silent and reserved, somewhat of a dreamer we are told, but very amiable and thoughtful for others. The home in the Rue Haute seems to have been a very happy one, and though to modern children it would have been singularly devoid of amusements, perhaps the little van Eeckhoudts enjoyed the yearly treat of the Akermesse, or fair of Brussels all the more from its being such a rarity. Marie took her full share of riding on the roundabouts, and of the various other amusements.

So her happy childhood wore on, and her tenth year dawned, which was to bring with it one of the most important days of her life, her first Communion. Sister Mary Edward, the Mistress of School, set herself to prepare her dear "Mariekin" for this great event. Marie, on her side, redoubled her fervour by placing herself more particularly than ever under the protection of her heavenly Mother and her chosen protector, St Joseph.

With her admission into the class of first communicants, Marie set herself more earnestly than ever to correct her faults, especially her quick temper and her wilfulness, which it had always been the aim of her mother to overcome. When she was still a little child, her brother and sister experienced what one of them expressed naively: "When Marie says 'I will,' the thing must be done." Now, however, we find the little girl gaining more and more the mastery over herself, and winning the love and esteem both of her mistresses and her companions, so that she left a lasting impression on them of a singularly lovable and amiable character, always ready to give in to others and to help them in every way.

According to the prevailing custom in Belgium, Marie made her first Communion on Passion Sunday, April 11, 1886, in her parish church of Notre Dame de la Chapelle. Few details remain to us about this day, of which Marie later on said, "Oh! That was indeed a day of heaven for me."

One of the curates of the church, a very holy priest, said to Madame van Eeckhoudt: "Madame, your little Marie is a saint. When I saw her coming back from the Holy Table I could not take my eyes off her, for I have never seen such an expression on the face of a child. It was that of an angel adoring the Divine Majesty." It was perhaps at that moment that the little girl was listening to the call to follow the Lamb, which, we know from her own lips, resounded in her heart that day for the first time.

In spite of her great piety and eagerness in the performance of her religious exercises, Marie was not at all a goody-goody child. She loved games, and was the first at recreation to take the lead in any amusement, and entered into the spirit of them with her whole heart. What did astonish her companions was that she, who was the life and soul of the game, should on a sudden, at the first stroke of the bell, lay aside the ball, or other plaything, and become at once the staid little girl, whose one preoccupation in life seemed to be the stocking she was mending, or the exercise that had to be carefully written. Marie was already following in her mother's footsteps and learning to place duty before everything else. Even so early she had acquired the habit of knowing no hesitation when the call of obedience summoned her.

A short time after Marie's first Communion the happy home in the Rue Haute was visited by much trouble and anxiety. The business was rapidly declining, and in order to keep pace with the times a whole new plant would have to be introduced, an expense which the worthy proprietors could not face. There seemed nothing to be done but to give up the whole concern, and try and regain part of their losses in a much humbler way of business. It was with bitter sorrow that the poor mother faced the prospect of selling the home, in which all her married life had been spent, and where her dearly loved children had come to add fresh joy to her life. She shared her sorrow with her eldest daughter, Mathilde, then little more than a child herself, and together they wept and prayed. "Let us pray harder, mother," the girl said after one particularly trying day; "and we will get Marie to pray with us." Madame was almost beside herself at the thought that, young as they were, she might be forced to send her children out to earn their own livelihood, but at the mention of her dearly loved Marie her courage returned. She answered quickly, "No, no; say not a word to her; I forbid you; let her remain happy." All her mother's heart went out to shield the baby from too early a sorrow.

Happily, prayer succeeded when all human efforts had failed; an unexpected turn in the tide of fortune put the business again on its feet, and the happy life continued as before. Marie became more and more the sunbeam in the old house, and each day Madame van Eeckhoudt depended more and more on her, especially when, at the age of seventeen, she left the school, and took her place as her mother's right hand in all household affairs. For this she was well qualified, for she had gained her diploma, with honours, for domestic economy. It was in the year 1892 that Marie came home for good. Her mother's health was beginning to fail; doubtless she herself felt already the first beginnings of the fatal malady that was so soon to carry her off. Marie was all in all to her, but even she could not stay the progress of the dreadful cancer, and, in 1894, Madame van Eeckhoudt died after a painful operation, from which she never recovered.

Of a less virile and more emotional temperament than his wife, Monsieur van Eeckhoudt sank under the sorrow that made his house desolate, despite the love and affection of his children, whom he adored. He never seems to have recovered sufficient strength or courage to apply himself seriously to business again, and the home was more or less broken up. Jules entered another firm, and Marie went to live with her grandmother, Madame Kebers, and her two aunts who had a flourishing drapery house at the other side of Brussels.

Foreseeing her own death, and knowing what would then happen, Madame van Eeckhoudt had already sent Marie to learn business with these good ladies. She had acquired great proficiency in book-keeping and the management of affairs, but she came home every evening, and one of the few joys remaining to her relations was her music. As soon as the evening meal was finished, Marie seated herself at the piano, and the sound of her lovely voice, for some few hours at least, drove sorrow away from those she loved. At her mother's death, however, Marie went to live entirely at her grandmother's, only returning on Sundays to spend the day with her father and Mathilde.

To her aunts this arrangement was a sheer joy; their niece had become almost indispensable to them, and they welcomed her most cordially, as did her grandmother, whose favourite she had always been. To the young girl herself, however, it was a sad life; she felt keenly her mother's death and the separation from her father, feeling his sacrifice almost more than that entailed on herself. Above all, she missed the old quiet home life, where she had been accustomed to so much liberty for the performance of her religious duties, and where she was able to indulge her love of solitude and silence.

Now, of necessity, she was from morning till night in the shop, where her winning manners and bright happy smile attracted many customers, and the business increased wonderfully. The very way she bowed to acquaintances in the street made them eager to see her again, and many came to buy who were drawn there by the charm of the niece rather than by the goods of the aunts.

In order to secure her daily Mass and Communion, Marie had to rise very early, and a friend of those days tells us how each morning, sometimes even before daylight in winter, she used to see the young girl hurrying along to the Church of the Madeleine, either alone or accompanied by a servant with whom she had already been to the market for the household provisions. It was at the Madeleine that Marie first became acquainted with the Redemptorist Fathers, one of whom especially was to have so much influence on her and her future life.

Old Madame Kebers was nearly at the end of her long life, and Marie devoted herself particularly to cheering the lonely hours of the old lady and to mending her gloves, for it had become a joke in the family how she was continually wearing out her gloves. One day Marie said to her laughingly, "Grandmother, I know how you wear out so many gloves; it is because you are saying your rosary from morning till night, in the streets as well as the long time you stay in church." The grandmother flushed very red, saying, "Well, say nothing to the others; I will go on saying the Aves and pray for you, and do you go on stopping the holes."

To her grandmother also Marie's music was a great solace, as it was to an old aunt, a sister of Monsieur van Eeckhoudt's, whom she often visited. Though not really old, this aunt was quite blind, and her life was very desolate; the visits of her niece became her one joy, and she seemed to spend her whole time listening for Marie's step upon the stair.

In 1900 the second big sorrow of her life came to Marie; her father died. Though perhaps the void made by his loss was not so great as that when her mother was taken from her, yet she felt the loss keenly, and, as in the former case, her grief was all the more profound that it was the more undemonstrative.

Her sister tells us that up till now Marie had said little or nothing about her religious vocation, knowing how much pain her decision would cause her parents. On her declaring her intention at the time of her mother's death, her aunts had vigorously combated the suggestion and she had much to suffer in consequence.

Still more alone when the house in the Rue Haute was finally given up, she again made known her intention, and her resolution was backed by the authority of her director, Father Strybol, C.SS.R., who stood high in the opinion of all Brussels for his sanctity and rectitude of judgement. All was to no purpose, and Marie had still many a bad quarter of an hour to pass through before she could spread her wings and fly away to the desert.

In 1899 Mathilde van Eeckhoudt married, and not long after her brother-in-law wished to make the ties between the two families still stronger by himself marrying Marie, and for this purpose he sought the mediation of her sister; but more forcibly than ever she declared her intention of never having any other spouse than a Heavenly one. She waited and prayed, and showed her aunts more deference and amiability than ever, and at last even they became convinced that it was useless any longer to thwart her desires. Yet it was not without much pain and many regrets that they at last gave way before the persuasion of Marie's director, and gave their consent to the niece's entering a convent.

Unknown to them, she had already four years previously paid a hurried visit to the home of her choice; this was the convent of the Redemptoristines at Malines. A friend of Marie's tells us that she had for some years marked her separation from the world by dressing herself like a servant. This can have been no small mortification for a young, sensitive girl in a stylish capital like Brussels.

At last, on February 18, 1900, Marie, accompanied by her Aunt Bertha, set out for the promised land, where two other young ladies were to join her and together start on the road of religious life. So great was the young girl's joy at arriving at her destination that her aunt was quite overcome at the thought of how by every means, gentle and otherwise, they had tried to hinder the achievement of this object. "Oh, Marie!" she exclaimed, "we did behave badly; if I had to live this time again I would behave very differently."

Marie always entertained great affection for her aunts, especially Mlle. Bertha, and never, even to the one who was the confidante of her most intimate thoughts, did she ever complain or cast any reflection on the two ladies. †

Monday, 5 July 2010

The Servant of God Mother Maria Rafaela of Charity, O.SS.R. (1699-1778)

First Superior of the Redemptoristines of

Born at Naples on 5 March, 1699, of a very honourable family, Matilda de Vito entered the monastery of Scala at the age of 20 upon the advise of Fr Thomas Falcoia of the Pious Workers. She spent nearly half a century there and was elected superior several times.

While she is not the founder of her Order, she became one of its principal supports. The Convent of St-Agatha-of-the-Goths to which she was called by St Alphonsus, who was then Ordinary of the place, and from which other Redemptoristine Convents would come forth, owes to her alongside its existence, the traditions of fervor which it perpetuates.

When the buildings of Scala where falling into ruin, it was Mother Maria Rafaela who raised a new monastery. The spiritual edifice demanded of her no less care and ability. The virtuous nun contributed a great deal, on her part, to its establishment. Mother Maria Rafaela was a witness of the anguish and conflicts of Venerable Mother Maria Celeste Crostarosa, shared her pain and her “enuis” and was herself favoured with Heavenly gifts. Her strong mind and perfect docility preserved her from all “ecart” on this difficult road.

St Alphonsus gave witness later, in a most surprising manner, to the esteem in which he held her. She put all her care into guiding her spiritual daughters on the road of perfection by imitating the virtues and examples of Our Lord Jesus Christ. She possessed the gift of prayer in a very high degree. One of the principal cares of the Servant of God was to work for the salvation of sinners. She died at the age of 79 having spent 58 years in religion.

On the occasion of her death, St Alphonsus, then Bishop of St-Agatha-of-the-Goths, in order to affirm the lessons which the holy nun had given to her daughters throughout her long career, left to them, among other advices, this which reveals her great apostolic soul:
..... “I instruct you most especially to pray for sinners and above all for the infidels and others who live separated from the Church. The nun who does not pray for sinners proves thereby the little love she bears to Jesus Christ; those who love the Sweet Saviour wish to see Him loved by all the world. I recommend to you, therefore, sinners and the souls in Purgatory.”

Qui converti fecerit peccatorem…salvabit animam ejus. [St James V,20] †
(After the Memorial Alphonsien.)

The Servant of God Mother Marie Celeste of the Will of God, O.SS.R. (1875-1922)

Sister Marie Celeste, Marie Jeanne van Eeckhoudt, who was born on August 7th, 1875, at Brussels, was the youngest child of John Baptist van Eeckhoudt and Katherine Kebers—both belonging to old and highly respected bourgeois families who had rendered public and important services to their country.

Mathilde and Jules welcomed their little sister to the old house in the Rue Haute and there they passed a very happy, if, to modern ideas, a somewhat dull childhood. To Madame van Eeckhoudt life was but a round of duties to be faithfully accomplished, but Jean Baptist, who had aspired in early youth to make art his profession, was more genial and pleasure-loving, and nothing gave him more joy than to provide little amusements for his children.

Marie was the delight of her mother’s heart but she was not on that account spoilt, and an incesant war was waged by the good woman against the fits of temper or sulks in which the little girl cometimes indulged, in spite of her otherwise gentle and winsome nature which made her the sunbeam of the old house, and cherished by all who came in contact with her.

The maternal grandmother was, perhaps, the person who brought most joy into the children’s life and, being quite unlike her daughter, understood their childish ways and needs—for instance, that Jules must be allowed “plenty of space to kick his feet about, even in the parlour.”

Marie profited well by her mother’s advice and example, and very early began to make real efforts to overcome her impetuosity and over-sensitiveness, and it says much for her amiability and sweetness of character that her brother and sister loved her devotedly and showed no jealousy of the partiality shown by their mother. Indeed, from the first they were slaves to the little Marie, whose word was law. As her sister remarked naively, “When Marie says ‘I will’ the thing has to be done.”

One of the great factors in the successful training of her children was that Madame van Eeckhoudt asked nothing of them that she did not do herself. Long before others were up in the morning she was on her way to an early Mass, and only on her return did she wake her little ones and bid them go and make the offering of their day during the great Sacrifice. She taught them also her own love of prayer, and to this day the elder sister tells us that she still repeats the first prayer they learned kneeling before the statue or picture of the Child Jesus—“Little Jesus, crowned with flowers, come into my heart and stay there.”

The year before Marie’s First Communion she went to the Convent kept by the Sisters of Charity in the Rue de Ponigon. Here she won the esteem and affection of mistresses and companions alike, who all noticed the remarkable sense of duty already developed in her. The first and most ardent in the games at recreation, the moment the bell rang Marie left all to take up whatever duty was assigned to her, and to mend a stocking or learn a task seemed to be the absorbing interest. Study never had any attraction for her, but she passed with honours the examinations for domestic economy and freehand drawing. Music was her one passion and she possessed a really beautiful voice.

We have no details of her First Communion which she made, according to the Belgian custom, in her parish church of Notre Dame de la Chapelle on Passion Sunday, April 11th, 1886. Later on she used to say “O that was indeed a day of heaven for me.” One of the priests of the parish said to her mother, “Your little Marie is a saint. When I saw her coming back from the Holy Table I could not take my eyes off her, for I have never seen such an expression on the face of a child. It was that of an angel adoring the Divine Majesty.” It was, perhaps, at that moment that Our Lord was calling His little child to follow Him more closely.

Financial worries brought much more anxiety and sorrow to the household in Marie’s twelfth year, but prayer overcame the difficulties and once more joy reigned there till, in 1894, Madame van Eeckhoudt died after a painful operation for cancer. Her husband sank under the sorrow that made his house desolate and the home was broken up. Jules entered another firm, Marie went to learn business with two of her aunts who had a flourishing drapery business, while Mathilde stayed to help her father, who, however, never recovered the shock of his great loss and died in 1899. Mathilde married, and Marie now declared her resolve to be a nun.

She experienced much opposition from her aunts who had come to lean almost entirely on her in their business. After much suffering, prayer triumphed and Marie entered the home of her choice—the Convent of the Redemptoristines at Malines. Her director had been a Redemptorist, famous for his holiness and judicious direction; this, and the report of the sanctity of more than one of the sisters at Malines induced Marie to decide on her entrance there. She had already cut herself adrift from the world by her manner of dressing and life of retirement, and on February 18th, 1900, she bade it a final farewell.

The Order of the Most Holy Redeemer, of which Marie desired to become a member, was founded at Scala in the Kingdom of Naples in 1731. A number of young ladies had assembled there in hopes of reviving within the walls of a once fervent and flourishing monastery the religious life which had become extinct. Among their number was the Vereable Maria Celeste Crostorosa to whom Our Lord revealed the rules of the new Order which He wished established there, and also the fact that a young Neopolitan priest, Don Alfonso Maria de Liguori, was to be the founder, not only of the order of nuns, but of a congregation of Missionary Priests, now known the world over as the Redemptorists, esteemed for their zeal for souls and their fervour as religious. The convents of Scala, and that founded at St. Agatha of the Goths by St. Alphonsus when he was named Bishop of that see, languished for nearly a century, continually harassed by the regalist Government and at times threatened with total extinction.

But God was watching over them and in 1830 a call came from far-off Vienna for a foundation of the Sisters. St. Clement Hofbauer, C.SS.R., had been succeeded as Superior by the Venerable Joseph Passerat, and he it was who brought about the foundation. From Vienna new foundations were made in Austria, and later on the Order spread to Belgium, France, Holland, Spain, England, Ireland and North and South America. Foundations continue to be made and there are now 25 houses of the Order and close on 1,000 nuns.

The Rule, though strict, does not make impossible demands on the modern constitutions. The religious rise at 4 or 4.30, according to the season, and the climates in which they live. Matins and Lauds, followed by Meditation, Prime, Terce and Mass, fill the time before breakfast. Then follow the little Hours of the Divine Office, manual work, the Examen and a short spell of free time before the bell summons the nuns to their early dinner, after which they enjoy an hour’s recreation. Three hours’ strict silence is prescribed from 12.30 till after Vespers in memory of Our Lord’s agony on the Cross. This time is divided between work, spiritual reading and the second half-hour’s Meditation appointed for each day. Work in the cells, Benediction, Compline, the third half-hour’s meditation and half an hour’s free time come before Supper, after which there is another recreation. Night prayers bring to an end a well-filled day and all retire to rest at 9 o’clock. The Postulancy lasts one year for both Choir and Lay Sisters, and the Novitiate one year for Choir and two years for the Lay Sisters, the perpetual vows being made by both three years after the temporary profession.

Marie found life in the Convent far more soul-satisfying than she had ever dreamed of, and she told her director that on this side she had no difficulties, but exteriorly many things were very hard for her. Obedience did not come easily to one accustomed to decide everything for herself, and to be taught the convent ways of sweeping, dusting, etc., must have been a sore trial to an accomplished housewife. She who had been looked up to and consulted by all whom she loved, now found herself among total strangers, and one of a band of novices all much younger than herself. Twenty-six seemed a venerable age to some of them, who could not resist teazing the “Angel of the Novitiate,” as they called her, about her old-maidish ways. She had much real suffering also to endure from the jealousy of one companion, who later on had to leave the convent on account of mental trouble.

In spite of all drawbacks, however, Marie was really loved by her fellow-novices, and one and all agreed that her virtue was very real and above the ordinary.

A companion who knew her well tells us that they sometimes tested the genuineness of her holiness in somewhat drastic fashion. She recalls an occasion when on seeing Marie hurrying in order to be in time for recreation, and knowing her horror of unpunctuality, she got in front of her and on each step of the stairs paused to say, “Jesus meek an humble of heart make my heart like unto Thine.” The prayer was evidently successful as far as Marie was concerned, for when they arrived at the top “she said nothing and was only a little red.” Sometime, however, the old imperious manner would assert itself, and then no one deplored the sally more than the novice herself, whose almost excessive humility was not a little trying to others, especially to the object of the outburst. In fact they begged of the Novice Mistress to tell Sister Marie Celeste to apologize once for her fault and then to have done with it.

On February 12th, 1901, Marie was clothed in the red and blue habit, and on April 23rd, 1902, made her Profession, and a year later joined the Community. Her fervour, far from diminishing, seemed to increase each day, and with it her love of humiliation which God saw fit to indulge to the full. Without any fault on her part, Sister Marie Celeste fell under the displeasure of her Superior and sisters, and for some years lived a very hidden and retired life, having no important charge in the Community though well fitted to be entrusted with them.

She had chosen for her name Sister Marie Celeste of the Will of God, and to that alone she looked. Sorrow or joy, digrace or applause, were one to her so long as they were hall-marked with the seal of the Divine Will. During these years God was preparing His servant for the work He meant to entrust to her. They were her Nazareth where she learned submission and meekness in order that she might be fitted to govern others.

In one of her notebooks she has left us a sketch of what her life’s programme was during this time. “I wish to be a Redemptoristine all for God, even to the sacrifice of my blood, my comfort, my health, my judgment, my will, my affections, my self-love. I wish to belong entirely to the Order, my Mother, by my love and devotedness for her welfare and her glory; by my submission to my superiors and my love for my sisters; by my ardent zeal for souls, especially the most abandoned. What matter how great the sacrifices I shall have to make to attain this end?
I am here to do Thy Will, my God, dispose of me as You will.
I am here to work—strengthen me.
I am here to suffer—console me. Fiat.
Yes, O my God—Fiat to everything that I shall receive.
Fiat to everything I shall suffer.
Fiat to everything that I dread.”
Again we find these words: “You will become a great saint if you hold to nothing, if you love abandonment, if you suffer in silence, if you accept all that God sends you, if you desire nothing but the Will of God.”

Those who lived with her bear witness to the fidelity with which she carried out this rule of life, and when the instrument had been perfected by the refining fire of suffering and trial for the work it was to do, the Divine Will was made manifest.

The voice of God came to her in a call for voluneteers willing to devote themselves to the building-up of the Monastery at Scala in Italy, the cradle of the Order. The venerable old building was not inhabited by but three or four sisters, the remnants of a former generation, as for many years, the Government, besides seizing all their property, had forbidden the entrance of novices, thus dooming religious orders to gradual extinction. The house itself had been bought by the Redemptorist Fathers of the Bavarian province and they were able to admit Belgians to the Community.

Father Strybol, C.SS.R., was entrusted with the work of obtaining funds and sisters to form the new Community, and knowing the holiness and capabilty of his former penitent, asked the Holy See to nominate her Superior, in spite of her being below the canonical age for that office. In October, 1910, Sister Marie Celeste and four companions from the houses of Malines and Louvain started on their journey southwards.

In Rome they were most graciously received by the Holy Father Pius X, who laughingly exclaimed on seeing the red habits, “How is this, my Sister? The good St. Alphonsus has, I see, created you all Cardinals!” On dismissing them he said, “You are about to undertake a great work, and you will only succeed if you fill youselves more and more with the spirit of St. Alphonsus. Go forward with the resolution of making holy observance flourish in your monastery, and prepare yourselves with courage for the sacrifices that all great works demand.” A further consolation awaited the travellers in the permission to visit Pagani, where their holy Founder had lived and died, and where they were privileged to enter the enclosure of the Monastery and pray in his former cell.

An enthusiastic welcome, including the ringing of bells, bands and throwing of flowers, etc., in true Italian style, awaited the Belgian sisters, who were escorted into the church by all the dignitaries of the town, and the Te Deum was intoned. After various complimentary addresses the sisters were at last allowed to enter their enclosure, and their new life at Scala had begun.

The many trials inseparable from a new foundation awaited the new-comers, poverty, discomfort, and a hundred and one small trials were added to the more real and painful ones caused by the peculiar circumstances under which they came to Scala. Differences of character, language and customs made the task of grafting the strict Belgian observance of rule on the happy-go-lucky ways that had of necessity prevailed at the old Monastery an almost superhuman task, and Sister Marie Celeste needed a more than ordinary virtue and courage to carry through the work. Trials of all sorts met her at every turn, both from within the Community and from without, but in spite of it all we constantly find in her letters the words “I am very happy here” and “I think it is our great poverty that makes us so happy.”

Less than a year after their arrival in Italy, Cardinal van Rossum, C.SS.R., Protector of the Order, was able to write: “With the assistance, often clearly manifested, of the good God, everything has been smoothed out. The Community is now fairly settled and in excellent order. Regular observance is in full vigour, and not once has the Divine Office been interrupted. Charity and union reign in the Convent, where we find only peace and the love of God, of the religious life and perfection; happiness, contentment and spiritual joy are met on all sides and cause the poverty, the sacrifices great and small, which present themselves at every moment, to be supported with great generosity.”

In 1913 Sister Marie Celeste was re-elected as Superior for another three years, at the end of which, according to Canon law, she laid down the burden of her charge and returned to the Community as a simple subject. The three years that followed were marked by many and great trials, coming, as they did, from those of her “own household.” But they were years precious beyond all others in so much as they raised her to an heroic degree of virtue and perfection.

In 1919 Mother Mary Philomena was elected Superior. It was she who was destined by God to be the comfort and solace of Sister Marie Celeste during the last years on earth, and to work for her glorification after death.

Ere this date the terrible malady that was to prove fatal to her had declared itself, but the heroic sister kept it a secret till a few days after the elections, when the cancer became an open wound and she was obliged to declare her state.
Twice Sister Marie Celeste was obliged to leave her beloved enclosure to undergo painful operations, both of which she insisted on bearing without anæsthetics. The sisters who nursed her during her stays at the hospital never tired of repeating that never had they seen such holiness.

The sister faced death as she had done every other event of her life. It was but another expression of the Will of God in her regard, and her Superioress tells us that she “awaited it with indescribable calm and holy confidence.”

Her sufferings increased each day and gradually she had to relinquish one cherished religious observance after another. The Archbishop of Amalfi released her from her charge as Mistress of Novices, and in March, 1922, she was obliged to retire to the infirmary. On Easter Sunday she ardently desired to go to the Choir to hear Mass and receive Holy Communion, but the effort was too much and she never again left her sick-room.

Now that Sister Marie Celeste was out of the Community and, as it were, removed from any danger for her ever-increasing humility, God seemed to lift somewhat the cloud that had hidden her extraordinary virtue from the eyes of all but a few privileged ones. Those who had seen the least heroism in the life of their sister were not just those to whom the reality of her holiness shone brightest, and it was with difficulty that they could be kept from the bedside of the dying religious where each one sought edification, and where, perhaps, some also wished to atone for any lack of charity or cordiality on their part. For each one she had a smile, a word of comfort or help. A former novice of hers tells us that to her dying day she shall never forget the way in which Sister Marie Celeste said to her, “Dear Sister, never again think of anything except how to become a saint.” With the gates of eternity ajar that was her value of life.

Her patience and gratitude for the smallest service were touching, and it was indeed evident that she had now obtained complete mastery over the first movements of her soul, and, in spite of the daily increase in her sufferings, a more perfect serenity and peace surrounded her.

She received the last Sacrament on May 15th, and a day or two later was consoled by a visit from the holy Archbishop of Amalfi, Mgr. Marini. Later on he wrote to Sister Mary Philomena: “I visited Sister Marie Celeste of the Will of God twice during her long illness, and I was amazed at the serenity with which she bore her sufferings. I seemed to see her as a joyful victim. I said to her, ‘You are on Calvary, suffering like the Divine Victim,’ and she answered only with a smile. I recommended myself and all those dear to me, and my diocese to her prayers, and after blessing her I went away greatly consoled. I was persuaded that I had assisted at the agony of a Saint.

"Her death was but the epilogue of her life, during which she had given proofs of such admirable virtues of which I was myself a witness. Blessed is the Monastery of Scala, a perpetual nursery of chosen souls, which by the observance of the rule given by the incomparable Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori, raise themselves to the highest perfection.”

How lofty the perfection was in the case of Sister Marie Celeste we may judge by the fact that her director at Scala, a holy and learned Franciscan, allowed her in 1919 to make the vow to do always what she thought to be the most perfect. Seeing her ever-increasing love of God and fervour in His service, he allowed her next year to add the vow of “Total abandonment to the Will of God,” and again later that of being a “Victim holocaust,” and even that of imitating the Humility of Our Lord.

Nor did he hesitate to say to her, “I tell you, on the part of God, that you are to become a great saint, but you must annihilate yourself, forget yourself completely. Take your heart in both hands and hold it tight; never mind if it suffers. You have to sigh, to agonize; desire to love the agony, cherish sufferings of all sorts—become a living holocaust.”

This good father called his penitent “Paolina,” for he wished her to imitate the ardent love of the great Apostle, and he did not hesitate to show her “what great things she had to suffer” of her spouse.

Though far advanced in the ways of prayer, Sister Marie Celeste looked on herself as ignorant of the first steps, and said “If I thought God would ever raise my state of prayer beyond the quite ordinary I should beg Him not to do so.” It was by these ways of humility and suffering that God led His servant, letting her light appear only to those who guided in her ascent to Him, and, later on, to the whole Community.

It was on the eve of Pentecost, June 3rd, 1922, that the “call of the Bridegroom” came for Sister Marie Celeste. Without a struggle or sigh, surrounded by her sisters and in the arms of her beloved Superioress she performed the last act on earth of submission to God’s Will for her. She was nearly 47 years of age. The funeral took place next day at 6 o’clock in the evening, when the whole population of Scala accompanied the holy sister to what they thought was to be her last resting-place—but God had other designs.

Writing shortly before his own saintly death in 1923, Father Strybol, C.SS.R., said to Mother Mary Philomena, “When I was giving the retreat to your sisters in Bruges I often recalled to their minds the memory of this saintly one (Sister Marie Celeste) and the example of her virtues, and I always added that if any day I was told that miracles were being worked at her tomb I should not be the least surprised; and that I hoped that before I died I should have the consolation of knowing that the process of her cause had been begun, so that I might bear testimony for her.” The latter part of the holy father’s wish was not granted, but his words were prophetic, for almost immediately after the death of Sister Marie Celeste requests from all sides were made for souvenirs of her, and accounts of more or less miraculous graces granted through her intercession were rumoured.

In January, 1925, permission was obtained to remove the body from the public cemetery and bury it within the enclosure. The return of Sister Marie Celeste to her beloved monastery was a veritable triumphal procession. Ecclesiastical and civil dignitaries, priests and lay-folk from all the surrounding villages came in throngs to accompany the coffin. It was with difficulty that it was carried from the church into the enclosure, so great was the enthusiasm of the crowds that wished to touch and venerate it. When it was opened the Reverend Mother and Sisters gazed with emotion on the incorrupt features of their deceased sister, and they were reluctant to allow the coffin to be closed and interred in their own little “God’s acre.”

Shortly after her death Sister Marie Celeste appeared to several of the Sisters at Scala, and one of the eldest and most matter-of-fact of the Community declared that on June 3rd, 1923, the first anniversary of her death, she came to her and quieted her concerning some doubts and fears that had been causing her much mental suffering. She said “Sister Marie Celeste, are you in Heaven?” Then with a transport of joy Sister Marie Celeste said “Yes,” but it was such a “yes” it seemed with exultation, joy, love, gratitude personified. It will, I think, echo in my heart till I die.

One of the lay-sisters was suffering, in 1922, from a violent inflammation in her arm, and could neither dress herself nor do any kind of work. She began a novena to Sister Marie Celeste and on the seventh day the inflammation and swelling suddenly disappeared, leaving no trace and never again reappearing.

The Reverend Mother of the hospital at Rosano wrote quite recently (1927): “I should be glad to have some more pictures of Sister Marie Celeste, as the one I had I gave to a little boy of six. This poor child was attacked by appendicitis and brought to our hospital. His case was very grave and became worse and worse. At last I had the idea of trying what Sister Marie Celeste would do. I placed her picture on the child and we immediately saw that he was cured. His parents were fully convinced that a miracle had been worked in their favour.”

In this short sketch it would take too long to recount all the spiritual and corporal cures wrought around Scala at the intercession of the holy Sister; but she is not confining her favours to her adopted country. Many favours have been obtained by prayer to her in England and Ireland, and news has come from far-off Australia and Canada of really marvellous recoveries. One must suffice, and we give it in the words of the priest who witnessed it:

“Last August (1927) there was at _____ a postulant lay-brother. He was second cook and a model of piety, charity and regular observance. The local doctor declared that he had appendicitis and he went into the hospital at N_____, conducted by the Sisters of _____. He was operated on by one of the leading surgeons of Sydney and for a week everything seemed to go well. However, a very bad change came and the doctors declared that a second operation was necessary. The second operation was performed and the doctor found things so serious that he had not much hope of his recovery. About two days after the operation all hope was apparently gone, and the Sisters sent a message that he should be annointed. I went to the hospital and the Sisters told me that there was no hope—he had every sympton of peritonitis setting in, and they did not think he could live longer than forty-eight hours. I offered to remain all night with him, but the Sister answered that it would be the next night that he would die. I administered the Holy Sacraments to him; he received them with the greatest devotion. He was not, however, able to receive Holy Viaticum on account of continual vomiting, but I gave him the last blessing.

"Having given him the last blessing, it ran into my head that Sister Marie Celeste might cure him. I told him about her and asked him to say three times after me, ‘Sister Marie Cleste, if it is God’s Holy Will, cure me.’ This he did, and I left him in peace. The Sister promised she would ring up at once if any change for the worse came. Next day Father Rector and myself went to the hospital and were surprised to hear from the Sister, ‘You had hardly gone when the vomiting ceased. I have every hope of him now; it is simply wonderful! I look upon it as a miracle.’ Brother N_____ is restored to health, and, please God, will be a holy and useful brother. Please send me a little picture of Sister Marie Celeste for him: he told me himself that he believed she had cured him.”

At the end of 1927 the Postulator of the Redemptorist causes obtained permission for the body of Sister Marie Celeste to be again removed and placed in the Choir of the Nuns at Scala. There she rests, awaiting, as we hope and pray, the decison of Holy Church which will allow public honour to be paid to this faithful servant of God. †

Prayer to obtain the Beatification of the Servant of God,
Sister Marie Celeste of the Will of God, O.SS.R.

Most Holy Redeemer, as Thou hast deigned to grant so many favours through the intercession of Thy Servant, Sister Marie Celeste of the Will of God, we trust that Thou hast already crowned her in Heaven. We beseech Thee, therefore, if it be for Thy greater honour and the sanctification of souls, to glorify her speedily on earth by the voice of Thy Holy Church. Amen.

(Right: A little girl, cured miraculously by Mother Marie Celeste is dressed like her in fulfilment of a vow.)

Mother Marie Alphonse of the Will of God, O.SS.R. (1869-2009)

Wonderful Propagatrix of the
Order of Redemptoristines
Post to mark the 140th Anniversary of her Holy Death
23 March 1869 - 23 March 2009
(First Posted on "Papa Stronsay Texts"0

The Servant of God, who was known in the world as Eugenie Gauvenet Dijon was born at Lorient on 22 January, 1793. Her father, Jean-Baptiste Gauvenet, a most distinguished man and remarkable magistrate had been advisor to the king of France. The Revolution having forced them to leave the country, the young Eugenie was formed in piety and the human sciences first in Mainz and then in Strasburg. Her family moved once more to Austria where she met the Venerable Father Joseph Passerat, C.SS.R. and took him as her spiritual director.

Having learnt that he wished to found the Order of nuns of the Most Holy Redeemer on their side of the Alps (i.e. outside of Italy), she made the offering of herself for this purpose. In order that she would drink in the spirit of the Order at its very source, she, in the company of Countess Antonie Welsersheimb was sent by Fr Passerat to the Redemptoristine Convent at Saint Agatha of the Goths (the former see of St Alphonsus).

They completed their novitiate and then journeyed to Rome where they were presented to Pope Gregory XVI by Cardinal Odescalchi. Thence they returned to Vienna via Loretto. From there their Order was spread to Austria, Belgium, France, Holland, Ireland, Spain and Canada.

Mother Marie Alphonse exchanged her mortal life for eternal joy at the Convent of Malines in Belgium on 23 March, 1869. †

“Do the bidding of the Good God and He will do yours”
Mother Marie Alphonse

Servant of God Sr Marie Berchmans of Thanksgiving, O.SS.R.

Redemptoristine of the Monastery of Grenoble
This year marks the 100th Anniversary of her holy death.

Jeanne Gauthier de Saint-Michel, in religion Sr Marie Berchmans, was born at Paris on 13 June, 1877. She lost her parents when very young and her education was confided to her Aunt, Mdm Hello, widow of the Hello who had been alderman at the Appeals Court of Paris and a magistrate of much merit. On the occasion of a visit to her cousin Germaine, Sr Marie-Aloysius, a Redemptoristine of Grenoble, Jesus spoke to her heart and inspired her with the desire of soon consecrating herself to Him in the same Convent. She was only 15 years old.

From the time of her admission to profession on 5 June, 1894, Sr Marie Berchmans proposed to herself the ideal of penetrating into the spirit of her Order, of combating her mediocre life and of tending towards true sanctity by the strictest and most minute regular observance. Her relationship with God was not one marked with sensible sweetness but rather she went to Him by Faith alone. With a desire of walking in the footsteps of the Crucified Redeemer — and of following in them very closely — she sought for crosses with all the ardour that others exert to escape them. Such were the constant goal of her efforts, such were the secret of her virtue and such the secret also of her heroism.

God heard her and granted her desire. After a retreat filled with consolation and Divine lights, she found herself interiorly abandoned and as if delivered over to herself with all her weaknesses. She suffered in mind, heart, soul and body. She generously accepted all and found new ways to add further sufferings to these — until the total renouncement of her own will seemed to her to be preferable to sacrifice. “Take courage my soul!” she told herself, “you must be able to say with St Paul ‘I die daily’ [1 Cor. XV, 31] by the forgetfulness of self — abnegation — this sacrifice prepares us for the death of love.” She also said, “such is God’s wish, He needs our sufferings to save souls.”

It seems unnecessary to mention that, as a worthy daughter of St Alphonsus, Sr Marie Berchmans accorded sovereign importance to the imitation of Jesus Our Redeemer by the conscientious practice of the 12 monthly virtues, to her own prayer, and also to Liturgical prayer — the Divine Office. At the moment of her death she asked if the nuns could chant with her Psalm 118, Beati immaculati in via. She followed each verse with admirable fervour and lucidity.

What may we say of her great love and filial confidence in the Queen of Heaven? “I ask Our lady each day” she once said, “to die while making the perfect act of Love of God, and I am counting on her to indeed obtain for me this great grace.”

Above all she loved Our Lord Jesus Christ more than all else by a fidelity lived at each moment of her life in which she refused Him nothing. “Love Jesus onto folly,” she told one of her sisters. It was this Divine folly which helped her to ascend the Mount of Calvary with such joy, with the desire of there meeting her Divine Spouse Who awaited her and would give her the crown of virgins for all Eternity. “Veni, sponsa Christi.” †

Her life was written by Rev. Fr Alphonse George, C.SS.R.

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