Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sister Marie-Alphonse of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, O.SS.R. of the Monastery of Grenoble (1860-1886)

The Monastery of Grenoble.

God has sanctified her in her faith and meekness (Eccl. XLXV)

It is a consolation for us to speak, even if it is but briefly, of our dear lamented Sister Marie-Alphonse, this lily so pure that the divine Spouse hastened to transport her to the heavenly garden.

She was born at V… (Saone et Loire) on 23rd November 1860, in the bosom of an honourable family of landowners which one could call truly patriarchal. At her holy baptism our dear Sister received the name of Marie-Louise. Her childhood was surrounded only by examples of virtue.

At the first awakening of reason, her young soul opened itself up fully to grace, and from then on she was so faithful to it that we have the private conviction that she ascended to heaven adorned with her baptismal innocence.

Our little Marie-Louise, naturally serious and reflective, did not like games very much, but even then she was much concerned with her duties and was the angel of her home. Filled with a tender affection for her family, she evidenced it even more by her actions than by her words or caresses. She showed herself obedient and respectful towards her grandparents and her own good parents and totally devoted to her little brothers and sisters. Her pious Mistresses had nothing but praise for her application to her studies and her docility in all their lessons, when a little later on her education was entrusted to them.

She began to understand and enjoy the charms of piety at an early age and when, on the day of her first communion, Jesus descended into this pure and fervent heart, He found her well prepared to receive His favours, and so He was pleased to communicate them to her in abundance.

Already this privileged soul was feeling herself attracted to Him. She loved to pray at the foot of the altar, and as she grew up, she was better able to appreciate the happiness of possessing her God. And then Marie-Louise would sometimes flee furtively from the paternal home in order to visit the church and satisfy her piety and love before the tabernacle. Later on she reproached herself for not having attended the Holy Mass during the week then on as many occasions as she could have. This, in her opinion was a great fault against fervour.

Her greatest happiness was to go on pilgrimage with her dear parents or her pious Mistresses, to the sanctuary of Paray-le-Monial, and there she would forget herself in the delights that the divine Heart of Jesus would fill her soul with. She would have liked to remain there always, as she herself confessed.

The thought of entering the Monastery of the Visitation appealed to her, but she was still very young, and the divine Master had not spoken, and while she was waiting to know His will, our dear Marie-Louise continued her pious and devout life within her family.

She was always a stranger to the foolishness so common at her age. She did not like dressing up, and here is the place to recall an incident that took place some time before her entry into religion and shows her in her natural colours:

The parish priest, Father V…, preaching one Sunday on Christian simplicity, inveighed strongly against the vanity that reigned in the towns and also seemed to be invading the countryside. He particularly blamed the deplorable fashion that replaced the traditional head-wear of the young country folk with hats decorated with flowers and feathers. Our poor Marie-Louise was sitting there adorned with her most beautiful hat, which she only happened to be wearing by the will of her parents. She felt the point strike deep into her heart. Her face flushed red with embarrassment and she went back home very upset.

After this famous sermon, she had no more peace. Every time she encountered her venerable Pastor she would remember his words, and it felt as though he had said them for her sake alone. Finally, believing that it was her duty to surrender to Father’s exhortations, our dear Marie-Louise made earnest requests to her good parents, who, while they admired their daughter’s virtue, nonetheless only granted the permission she was seeking after her repeated prayers. But matters did not finish there, and the most severe test that the timidity of our good Sister had to endure was when she reappeared in the village, and especially in the Church, with a modest country headscarf, and found herself made the object of everyone’s stares. After this generous act, her conscience was satisfied and she was able to find peace again, and the example of her courageous virtue was not without effect on her young companions.

The cross did not spare our dear Sister’s Christian family. Her good parents had the sorrow of seeing many of their young children snatched away by death while they were still in the cradle. Marie-Louise did her best to soften their affliction by redoubling her tenderness. In the midst of the tears that she herself shed over these dear little angels whom she had cared for and loved so much, the thought of heaven was her consolation. She envied the happiness that they had had in flying there before her and in all the freshness of their innocence, and then the heavenly homeland became the favourite object of her meditations and ardent desires.

In 1879, Rev. Father F… of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer came to give the exercises of the Mission to V… Marie-Louise attended them most diligently and grace penetrated her soul. She had many conversations with the good Father, to whom she confided her attraction to the religious life. He recognized her call from God, but to test her vocation even further, he advised her to pray a great deal and to imagine her last moment by asking herself in the face of her eternity: “What would I like to have done by the hour of my death?” Accepting this advice, every evening when she went to bed, our dear Marie-Louise would lie down as if on her funeral bed, and then she would feel a great fear of death and a keen dread of judgement, but her obedience made her find so certain an assurance of her vocation in this exercise that she had no more hesitation. God really wanted her all to Himself! However, what Monastery was she to serve Him in? She still did not know. Rev. Father F… wrote for her to the very respected Mother Superior of the Visitation of Paray-le-Monial, who expressed her regret at not being able to accept her because of the lack of a place, as the number of her religious was complete. Simply the memory of the Apparition of the Sacred Heart which consecrated the sanctuary of Paray to our veneration had attracted our young postulant, and she had never thought of another convent of the Visitation. So placing herself in God’s hands, she awaited a clearer manifestation of His holy will.

Some time afterwards, Rev. Father H… then came to a neighbouring parish to give the Mission exercises. Marie-Louise consulted him, and it was he who managed to decide her, by making her aware of the existence and spirit of our humble Institute vowed to prayer.

At this decisive moment that showed her what would be her coming sacrifice, nature delivered her to violent struggles. How could she ever tear herself away from a family so Christian, so good and so loved, in which she could so easily practise all her devotions and achieve her salvation? And then, if she entered religion, could she be sure of persevering in it? Would she not soon be repelled by the difficulties of religious life that her timid and fearful nature greatly exaggerated to her? She had much to suffer in this combat, but grace rendered her victorious. In spite of the anguish in her heart, she explained her plan to her pious parents, whose spirit of faith was so well known to her. She asked them to agree to her vocation and generously make a sacrifice that she herself was feeling so keenly.

They agreed to her request, and her excellent father himself brought her to Grenoble, on Easter Sunday 1881, to see our Monastery, and be informed by our Reverend Mother about our manner of life. This dear Sister then knew in full certainty that God was calling her to live in our Congregation.

She went back to V…, filled with the desire to be a Redemptoristine, and to complete her sacrifice as soon as possible in separating herself from everything that was the most dear in the world to her.

* * * * *

Our dear Marie-Louise had been a model of filial piety in her family, and the edification of her companions. Her pure and fervent conduct had even been remarked upon by everyone and she had been chosen by her parish as the President of the Congregation of the Children of Mary. Pious and modest, she never gave anything but good examples, and so she was beloved by all and her departure was the occasion for many tears. The truly Christian resignation of her family softened the bitterness of her departure for her, but did not prevent her loving heart from feeling all the sorrow of it. Once again it was good Father H… who fortified both her and her family in these sorrowful moments, by reminding her of the magnificent promises of Our Lord to those who leave everything to follow Him.

She entered our Monastery of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour on 24th May, under the auspices of Our Lady Auxiliatrix, with the firm decision to give herself without reserve to the heavenly Spouse whom she already loved with all her heart.

Our dear postulant was from then on a model of regularity.

The trouble she had in overcoming her excessive timidity increased the difficulties for her in the beginning. She felt she was less than the others because she came from the countryside. She had the conviction of being good for nothing and quite useless in the Community, and all this made her suffer interiorly and hindered her in her exterior actions, by the fear of doing things badly. This dear Sister underwent much torment from these thoughts during her whole first year, but afterwards she was delivered from these puerile fears.

She passed the time of her postulancy in great fervour. Her humility, her obedience and her spirit of prayer all grew from day to day, and laid the solid foundation in her soul of the interior spirit which was to inspire her whole religious life.

Thus prepared, she was admitted to taking the holy habit on 9th May 1882. As she had a great devotion to our Founder, she was very happy to exchange her name of Marie-Louise for that of Sister Marie-Alphonse of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. After this wonderful day, her fervour found a new impetus, and she was an example of virtue among the novices as she had been among the postulants. She excelled especially in humility, mortification and regularity.

Her obedience towards our good Reverend Mother was inspired by a great spirit of faith. She studied our holy Rules and practised them scrupulously.

While she was still in the world, she had practised fasting with a great rigour, and when she was in religion, she continued to do so, and when our good Mother or another one of us urged her to be less strict, she replied that she did not believe she was fasting if she did not feel hunger.

She always showed herself very diligent in fulfilling well the different tasks that obedience entrusted to her. But it was in choir especially that our fervent novice showed herself at her most edifying. Her serious and recollected demeanour was evidence of her profound respect for this holy place. She would always remain on her knees before the Blessed Sacrament and was always prepared and attentive to the Divine Office, for the recitation of which our good God had endowed her with a very pleasant voice.

Meditation was her delight. She was never tired of it and devoted all her free time to this holy exercise. She always did the Way of the Cross every day, even when she was ill, and with a great devotion. She was filled with zeal for the salvation of poor sinners and for the deliverance of the holy souls in Purgatory. Everything which affected the glory of God and the salvation of souls had a part in her prayers. We loved recommending our different intentions to her and when she learnt of someone in trouble, her charity would encourage her to pray for their relief, which she would do with a great deal of perseverance.

During the whole year of her novitiate, our dear Sister never ceased to sigh after the wonderful day of her religious profession. She was entirely imbued with the gravity of the obligations she was to contract, and she would study them every day to know them better in order to fulfil them more perfectly.

She made her preparatory retreat during the novena of Pentecost with a great deal of ardour. Uniting herself to Mary and the holy apostles during their retreat in the Cenacle, we may say that like them, she received a large part of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

It was with a feeling of holy gladness that, in the presence of Rev. Father P…, she pronounced the irrevocable vows that bound her to her heavenly Spouse of Virgins on 15th May 1883. None of us will ever forget the expression of pure and radiant joy which lit up her face under her crown of roses, but what we labour in vain to express is the peace and happiness with which her soul was flooded on that holy day! This Sister had given herself entirely to Jesus and it was clearly visible that He too had given Himself totally to her! We were pleased to have her repeat her cherished words: “My Beloved is everything to me and I am everything to my Beloved!” These words were so true on her lips and inspired every one of her actions.

Indeed, she sought only Jesus. Pleasing Jesus was her only ambition, and she sought in everything only what she believed was the most perfect.

Dating from this moment, she progressed more and more in prayer and union with God, an exercise which was very sweet to her soul, as her divine Spouse continued to reward her fidelity with the abundance of His consolations.

She also advanced in her abnegation of self, working hard to renounce all her natural inclinations. Our good Reverend Mother, who for a long time had appreciated the virtues of this truly interior soul, furnished her an occasion for renunciation which cost her more than one sacrifice… When she had finished her novitiate, she kept her there as Sister Mistress, thus delegating to her a part of her surveillance of the novices. The excessive timidity and profound modesty of our humble Sister suffered more than one struggle before bowing to a role that she believed herself so unworthy and incapable of fulfilling, but especially in that act of generosity which she had to make in renouncing the enjoyment of that dear solitude in her cell which she desired so greatly! She submitted humbly to obedience and fulfilled, with prudence, charity and wisdom, the delicate task that the confidence of our good Reverend Mother had imposed upon her.

In this as in everything else, she both wanted and sought only the accomplishment of the holy will of God made manifest by the voice of His Superior. This divine and adorable will had become, at this time, the dominant feature of her piety, and she surrendered to it with a complete abandonment. And then, on the occasion of our entry into the new building, we renewed the motto that each one of us placed on the door of our cells, she chose one which clearly showed the disposition of her soul: “The will of God is the only desire of my heart.

The divine Master did not let Himself be outdone in generosity to His fervent Spouse. In return for this abandonment of self, He granted her such a great grace of confidence that this dear Sister appeared quite transformed in our eyes and entirely despoiled of her former fears and pusillanimity. It could be said that then, in all points, she embodied these words of our Father Saint Alphonsus: “Oh, may the progress be rapid that a soul makes in perfection, when her heart is dilated by confidence in God, for she does not simply run, but flies along, because having placed all her confidence in the Lord, she ceases to be feeble as formerly, but becomes strong with the strength of God, which is communicated to all those who hope in Him.” At the same time that confidence dilated her heart and gave her a holy liberty, she increased her love, and then, from this time on, our good Sister loved to repeat the words of Saint John which encapsulated her feelings: “Love chases away fear.

In the midst of so many interior joys, she felt an increase in her desire to go to heaven to contemplate her Beloved and be united perfectly with Him… She desired death as the gateway to Paradise. She spoke of it readily and thought of it unceasingly.

One day one of our Sisters asked her why she never gave herself a moment of relaxation in her exact vigilance over herself, and she replied: “I cannot. It is stronger than I. If ever I stop for one moment, it is as if I can hear a voice that always repeats to me: You have to do in just a short time what others do in many years…” She added that she regarded this as a great grace and a warning and asked the secret of them, in fear that these words, which seemed to presage her death, might give pain to our good Mother.

Her health, which was always a little weak, began to cause concern. She was forbidden to fast. For her this was an heroic act of obedience in no longer following the common life. She admitted later on that this was the act that had cost her the most during her life and it was indeed her cross, so much love did she have for our holy Rules and horror of dispensations. Her submission contributed not a little to advance her in the work of perfection.

At the beginning of her illness, she had a great deal of grief to overcome. Since she incessantly drifted off to sleep, she could not abandon herself as formerly to her beloved meditations. Nature bore her away on the fervour of her spirit, but in spite of all her difficulties and her lack of apparent consolations, she preserved the same fidelity to all her exercises, and when this first state due to her illness had passed, she returned with a new impetus to her first desires, speaking only of heaven and the happiness of soon seeing her heavenly Spouse.

* * * * *

She had a great struggle within herself to obey our good Mother, who had forbidden her to think of dying so early and told her to pray a great deal against it, in order to obtain a cure so keenly desired by the whole Community. However, in spite of all the care lavished on her by our dear Reverend Mother who did everything she could to give her back her health and strength, in spite of all the novenas and prayers, our dear Sister grew weaker and weaker, and then it became evident that, instead of progressing towards a full recovery, she was gently drifting away to heaven. Although she was languishing, she wanted to follow our community exercises right to the end – the holy Mass, recreation, etc., and as she could not remain in bed, she was allowed this consolation, in spite of the swelling in her feet.

She even went down to the choir for the holy Mass on the last Sunday she spent here below and in the afternoon she made her last visit to the Prisoner of the Tabernacle, with whom she had kept such faithful company every day of her life.

At the news of her illness, her excellent mother hastened to come and see her, accompanied by her young sister, and our dear invalid went painfully to the parlour. Her heart was pierced with sorrow in seeing her poor mother so afflicted! She remained with her a long time, consoling her with holy thoughts of faith, telling her to be of good courage, to generously make her sacrifice by being resigned to the will of God, that one day they would see each other again in heaven, and while they were awaiting their eternal reunion, she would not cease to pray for her. She never tired of repeating to her how much she was consoled to be dying as a Redemptoristine, and that she was in no way terrified by the approach of death. But her good mother, in these cruel and final interviews, could not restrain her tears, in spite of her every effort, and our dear Sister gently chided her: “Please don’t weep,” she told her finally, “there are many people who must wait so long for heaven, and I – I have it at the end of five years!...” When we heard this, we felt that her soul was no longer attached to the earth.

The great charity of which our good Sister had given so much proof, and the tender compassion which made her mix her own tears with those she saw poured out, seemed to be transformed at this hour into a sweet strength of soul, which preserved her loving heart from her own natural weaknesses in the face of such keen sorrow from her beloved Mother.

She was amazed by the care and affection that was lavished upon her, always finding that they were doing too much for her, and persuaded that she was the most incapable, or, to put it in her own words, the most clumsy and useless of creatures. The confidence of her Superiors, as well as their devoted care for her, were an enigma to her humility. The love of her good parents seemed excessive to her, and she believed she did not merit it.

We can say in all truth that this beloved Sister was a model of all the religious virtues, and apply to her the words that the holy Church sings in praise of some young privileged saints: “She has accomplished a long career in a few years.” The perfume of her pure and hidden life was to rejoice the heart of her heavenly Spouse.

In her last days, more than ever, Jesus crucified, whose sorrows she had so often contemplated, became her strength and succour. Her little crucifix never left her, and she looked at it and kissed it at every instant. Her rosary, too, was always in her fingers. How much she loved to pray to her good Mother Mary while meditating on the mysteries of the rosary! Her faithful memory permitted her to continue, right up to her last moment, the practice of her accustomed devotions.

The need for rest that her great weakness made her suffer never prevented her from reciting the Divine Office during her illness, and so she had the very rare consolation of being able to recite it right to the end. On the eve of her death, when she was getting ready to say it once more, while thinking that it would be rather difficult for her, our good Reverend Mother arrived next to her, and seeing her breviary in her hands, she said to her: “It would be better for you not to do your office today, because you are too exhausted to read it.” Immediately our good Sister, stuck by the coincidence of this visit by our worthy Mother and her words so much in agreement with what she was thinking at that moment, exclaimed aloud to her: “How wonderful Superiors are, having the grace of knowing everything! I was just thinking that I could no longer do my office and see how you have arrived at the same moment to dispense me of it!”

Her great spirit of faith in obedience made her continually desire the presence of our good Mother, and in spite of the long and frequent visits she made to her, she asked for them even more frequently, not wishing to do anything without her.

She listened to each one of her words as if God Himself were speaking to her through the mouth of she who tells us His will here below, and she obeyed her with such a noticeable consolation that this appeared upon her face in her contented and happy demeanour. We shall speak again of this consolation which our dear Sister found in obedience, as it always went on increasing and became the most striking feature of the last hours she spent amongst us.

In spite of the excessive weakness of our patient, we did not think that she was so close to her end. Her good mother and sister were called away by their family duties and decided to leave, but they promised to come back and see her soon.

On Monday, 31st May, towards evening, she suffered such violent palpitations of her heart that our Reverend Mother was frightened and immediately had the doctor called. He found her gravely ill and was greatly astonished to see that the approach of death deprived his patient of none of her joy in dying to go and see God, but quite the contrary, it served only to increase with the progress of her illness. This good doctor, having unfortunately, like most of his colleagues, abandoned the practices of our holy religion, had nonetheless preserved his faith. With the desire of making a salutary impression upon him, our excellent Mother turned the conversation to the subject of death and eternity, which had always been the delight of our dear Sister Marie-Alphonse, and so she gave free rein to the sentiments of joy which flooded out of her heart at the thought of soon going to contemplate her God and be united with Him without the fear of ever losing Him!

The doctor was most impressed by her words and this spectacle and could not prevent himself from letting it appear. On his way out, he told our Reverend Mother: “What a great thing faith is!... I see death very often, but never like this!...” And this is how the joy with which our dear Sister was inundated was changed into a veritable jubilation which lasted the whole night long. Our dear Reverend Mother told us she had never seen a religious so consoled by obedience in her last moments.

Our dear invalid had no other desires than heaven, and she would smile every time she heard the name pronounced.

We all went to give her our commissions for the heavenly homeland. She received them with a modest assurance and a holy joy like the exile who is the first to have the happiness of returning to her native country and bears the wishes and memories of those who must still await the hour of their return. She asked us, in return for our pious messages, to pray a great deal for her and her dear parents whose inconsolable grief was her preoccupation. She herself prayed for them at every instant, beseeching our good God with all her heart to grant them the graces of resignation and consolation which they had so much need of. We were never tired of being beside her, for she was so sweet and so grateful for the least services, always smiling and saying “thank you” to us, or rather: “May our good Jesus reward you!” The devotion of the infirmarians greatly touched her, and she did everything in her power to spare them any trouble. She never ceased to witness the gratitude her heart was full of. How many times did she thank our excellent Mother for her goodness and maternal care! She even recommended to her good parents to do this for her even after her death.

* * * * *

We would most happily let ourselves speak much more fully still of our beloved Sister, but the brevity of a simple notice does not permit this to us, and so we must limit ourselves to these few facts about her beautiful life and arrive at her last moments, which so worthily crowned it, for she most clearly showed at her death what she had been during her life – a soul of a truly interior obedience, and having but God alone in view in all her actions.

After the visit by the doctor which we have mentioned, and which was the last one, our dear invalid, in spite of new remedies, continued to weaken and the violence of her palpitations prevented her from resting in bed, so she was put in an armchair near a half-open window, so that she could breathe more easily. As the assurance of her death drew nearer, our angelic Sister felt herself dilated by a confidence and an ever more intimate joy, and it was with these sentiments that she received the last sacraments with great fervour, as our good Mother believed that it was her duty to wait no longer in the face of the progress of her illness. It was our Chaplain who came to administer them to her. As this supreme ceremony took place at night after the Community had gone to bed, we did not all have the consolation of attending her, but those who witnessed it have remained most edified by her profound humility, the pious calmness of our holy invalid, and especially the great love with which she received in viaticum the heavenly Spouse who was already leading her to the eternal wedding.

The night was spent in prayers and thanksgiving.

Our good Reverend Mother became more and more the living representation of God for this soul of faith. She wanted her always at her side, and she was totally trusting and abandoned in her hands. She told her over and over again of her happiness in dying in obedience, and we felt a supernatural tenderness in her affection. At midnight, according to the desire she had shown, we reminded her that the beautiful month of Mary had finished and that the month of the Sacred Heart had begun. She immediately began ardently saying ejaculatory prayers and praying interiorly to this divine Heart which she loved so much, and which had always filled her with the most precious favours.

At four o’clock, our good Mother, who had visited her so many times during this last night, came once more to see her. Taking her by the hand she told her: “Your pulse is very weak..” At these words, our beloved invalid was filled with joy and fixed her great eyes on her. Their expressive gaze seemed to reflect the ardours of the desires of her soul!

She was again granted the consolation of receiving Holy Communion, because of the gravity of her state. This was the last time that she received, under the veils of the sacrament, Him who was about to show Himself to her in all the splendour of His divine glory…

Our dear sister preserved the full and perfect use of her faculties right to the end. She was astonished by this herself, telling us that she could remember all her prayers and was reciting them internally. Then she read some lines once more from the beautiful book called “Let us go to Heaven!” as well as the apology and consecration to the Heart of Jesus that she did every day.

Her dear novices, who had surrounded her with so much care and consideration during her illness, came once more to give her new witnesses of their affection and gratitude, and entrust their commissions for heaven to her one last time.

Our dear Sister wanted to die at a moment when the Community was free of any common exercise, and this, she said, was so as not to cause any disruption. Her pious desire was heard.

When we were finishing the hours of Terce and Sext, she had our Reverend Mother called with the intention of discussing something with her, and while our good Mother was speaking to her about the happiness she would doubtless have of dying during the month of the Sacred Heart to which she was so devoted, our dear invalid interrupted her, saying: “But, they are saying that I am going to die soon …. and I do feel as if I am going to die!...” Then, in calmness and recollection she listened once again to our worthy Mother’s pious exhortations, with the same tranquillity as if it was all about someone other than herself.

Seeing that she was failing more and more, the Community was notified, and we came to pray beside our dear invalid. She looked reasonably well. Always smiling and tranquil, she said her prayers quietly, invoking the holy names of Jesus and Mary, the Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Our good Mother, standing by her armchair, held her propped up against her chest and supported her bowed head in her hands. This was indeed the supreme moment… some gentle sighs growing weaker and weaker and more drawn out indicated that her life was ebbing away. And in this way, in the arms of our good Mother, our angelic Sister Marie-Alphonse rendered her pure soul to God, without her face undergoing the least contraction or agony! She flickered and burnt out like the blessed candle that was burning between her fingers. This was on 1st June 1886.

The heavenly smile that remained on her lips seemed to radiate her joy, which was now eternal! Oh what must have been the transports of her soul in finally seeing face to face Him whom she had so much desired?

In the midst of our tears we felt an immense consolation in the intimate conviction of the happiness now enjoyed by the dear and holy soul who had just left us, and we all envied her…

After having reclothed her body in the holy religious habit that our dear Sister had worn all her life with so much respect, we brought her down to the choir where she was laid out before the open grille. A crown of roses was placed on her head as on the day of her holy profession. Her hands held her crucifix and rosary beads with a lily flower, the emblem of the virginal purity the freshness of which she had never sullied.

Thus decorated and placed on a white bed, the body of our dear Sister still had the appearance of life, and we never tired of contemplating her, because she looked so good. Beside these virginal remains we felt the impression of a heavenly peace. Death lost its horrors and showed itself only as the blessed passage from earth to heaven. This is what was felt by all the people who came to pray beside her.

The poor parents of our beloved Sister had scarcely returned to Varennes before they received from our Reverend Mother the sad news of the sudden aggravation of her illness and the sad announcement of the death of their beloved daughter. Filled with grief, they once again set off for Grenoble and arrived on Thursday morning, 3rd June. How profound was their sadness when they beheld her stretched out upon her funeral bed! But the heavenly Consoler of the afflicted, from the depths of His tabernacle, blessed this heart-rending meeting. In the midst of their tears and the cries of nature, through His omnipotent grace, He was able to make their hearts, so profoundly Christian, feel assured of the perfect happiness of the daughter whom they mourned, and the consolation of having ensured it for her by their most generous consent to her vocation.

And then, how could our good Jesus, who had deigned to let us see all the tenderness of His affection for His friend Lazarus when He wept at his tomb, now refuse to console those afflicted hearts who had abandoned themselves to Him? Yes, we are convinced that one of the first graces that our dear defunct Sister obtained from the Heart of her divine Spouse, was the grace of consolation and strength for her good parents, for our Reverend Mother, and for us, which she had so often promised us.

Her excellent father, her good mother and her young sister, in spite of their overwhelming grief, wished to spend the night beside the dear remains. Their prayers softened the bitterness of their tears which, in spite of their Christian resignation, they could not retain. Divine Providence brought them Rev. Father H… as their support in this cruel affliction. He was the same Father who had encouraged them to the sacrifice, at the time of our dear Sister’s entry. Our worthy Bishop, Mons. Fava, whose paternal benevolence for the members of our humble community was so perceptible a consolation at this moment of testing, himself wished to bless our dear departed. He kneeled on the floor with much emotion before this virginal body and prayed for some moments.

When he got up, he was struck by the expression of peace and heavenly joy that was seen upon her face and that sweet smile that death could not efface. He could not prevent himself from expressing his pious sentiments, and he applied to our beloved Sister the following words of Sacred Scripture: “The strong woman shall smile at her last moment.”

Our humble and modest and dear deceased Sister would have been most astonished and confused if she had been able to see the pious throng that surrounded her funeral bed. Their testimonies of esteem and respect were lavished on her memory and her mortal remains. One would have believed that our good God was pleased to exalt our Sister who had never sought anything but to be abased and hidden. The solemnity of Ascension delayed the funeral, which took place only on 4th June (1886) afterwards. The impression of peace and joy experienced by all those who approached our beloved deceased Sister permitted us to do something that people who do not have the happiness of understanding the things of God would have found little in agreement with the preparations for a burial. After the Mass of the Ascension of Our Lord, we sang the beautiful canticle: Heaven, Heaven! which she loved so much. One would have said that she herself encouraged us in it by her angelic smile.

This chant produced an indelible impression upon everyone, which nothing could remove! One would have said that at that moment the Church in heaven was united with the Church on earth to make it taste something of the happiness that it celebrates in its chants.

The next day, the Parish Priest of Saint-Bruno, assisted by Rev. Father H…, Rev. Father G… and our good and devoted Chaplain, presided at the funeral ceremony. After the Mass and the absolution, our Sisters transported the coffin along the garden paths to our little cemetery.

The bright sunshine co-operated in giving the pious convoy the appearance of a festive triumph, and more than ever the thought of heaven dominated everyone else, even when we placed the body of our beloved Sister in the tomb where she awaits the resurrection, in the shadow of the cross.

Our account has reached its end. It has been very sweet for us to write it, but we have succeeded only imperfectly in depicting some of the virtues of a beautiful life crowned by a holy death. We hope, however, that, by recalling the hidden virtues of this humble flower in the garden of the Spouse, we have contributed to augmenting His divine glory, and in increasing in the hearts of those who knew and loved our beloved Sister, the desire to imitate her, so as to have, like her, the consolation of dying in the embrace of the Lord!

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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