Memories of June 1944
As I could do nothing about it, I did not get upset. If our whole monastery disappeared, its spirit would remain.
Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face, OCD
I give it to You, do as You will with it … My God, I even sacrifice my nuns to You if You wish it … I must cry when I see our little Carmel; I love it so much.
Mother Agnès of Jesus, OCD
Immense gratitude to Martin family expert Maureen O’Riordan for her tireless efforts to research the events of June, July, and August 1944 as they affected the sisters of St. Thérèse and the Carmel of Lisieux. You can see the articles she has written concerning the battle for control of Lisieux here. We particularly recommend her blog post, The Carmelites of Lisieux in the Summer of 1944: 80 Days and 80 Nights in the Basilica of St. Therese. Written for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Lisieux on 23 August 1944, it chronicles the events in great detail.
Martin family historian Father Stéphane-Joseph Piat, OFM notes in his book A Family of Saints: The Martins of Lisieux — Saints Thérèse, Louis, and Zélie:
The dozens of bombardments that, between June 6 and August 22, 1944, rained down a hurricane of iron and fire over the Normandy town have demolished 2100 houses out of 2800, beaten to the ground two parish churches out of three, razed likewise the majority of the religious houses, and caused to perish, together with sixty religious, more than a tenth of the population. Historic Lisieux was nearly annihilated. Spiritual Lisieux remains standing.
May the powerhouse that is Spiritual Lisieux always remain a beacon of hope for peace: that God’s merciful love and the message of St. Thérèse’s infinite trust in his love may prevail in our hearts, in our homes, and in our world.
A Family of Saints: The Martins of Lisieux — Saints Thérèse, Louis, and Zélie Piat, Stéphane-Joseph. Translated by a Benedictine of Stanbrook Abbey. © 2016 by Ignatius Press, San Francisco