The priest Jean Labat, mobilized on the Eastern Front, relates the following facts: as a divisional stretcher-bearer, he followed the French troops that were retreating before the Bulgarian army in December 1915. Overwhelmed by fatigue, he decided to stop on the edge of the trail and immediately fell asleep.
He awoke because he felt “shaken, then called”, but there was no one around and he went back to sleep “thinking that the sensation he felt was an illusion, a dream”. He was awakened a second and third time, and a voice commanded him to “Walk! Walk ahead, and take the path to the right”.
Following these instructions, he managed to find other stragglers from his division.
“At last, I was saved! And how much I thanked Sister Thérèse for such a marvelous rescue, because without her I would have inevitably fallen into the hands of the Bulgarians.”
This letter was written well after the fact in August 1919, when the draftee priest returned to his mission in Brazil. Nevertheless, if we consider this testimony to be reliable (and why should we question the word of a clergyman who speaks to his sisters in religion?), it allows us to illustrate that certain protections are “marked by a sign”, contrary to [battlefield apparitions].
It is no longer a question of attributing to Thérèse a shell that failed to explode but a case of a personal intervention, whose origin cannot be refuted. Of course, one could always argue with the priest that there is no proof that the voice he heard was that of the Carmelite nun; it could just as easily have been the voice of Mary, of Joan of Arc… or of a shepherdess in the area.
La dévotion des combattants à la « petite Soeur » Thérèse de Lisieux pendant la Première Guerre mondiale
II.B.5. Apparitions, soutien moral et demandes marginales : une soeur aux multiples compétences
Vogt, S 2012, ‘La dévotion des combattants à la « petite Soeur » Thérèse de Lisieux pendant la Première Guerre mondiale’, Master’s thesis, Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, Alsace
Translation from the French text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.
Featured image: This photo from Paul Castelnau (1880–1944) shows a group of poilus, i.e. French infantry soldiers resting in front of a shelter that is situated in a trench on the front line in the Bois de Hirtzbach region of the department of Haut-Rhin, France. The Bois de Hirtzbach is located approximately 35 km west of Basel, Switzerland. You can view more images of the famous French poilus on Wikimedia Commons.