Oh! fix my hope, oh fix it all on dying!
Truly I die from not dying for Thee.
And hasten, Lord, the end of all my sighing
Freed from these chains to Thee alone I’ll flee!
Let Thy blade cut, completing all my offerings,
For nothing but Thy will for me is sweet.
My one desire is that Thy hand be hovering
O’er me thy bride, the sacrifice complete!
Blessed Teresa of St. Augustine
Christmas Carol (1792 or 1793), stanza 4
Blessed Teresa of St. Augustine, the prioress of the martyred Discalced Carmelite nuns of Compiègne, France, was born Marie-Madeleine-Claudine Lidoine in Paris, 22 September 1752. When she introduced herself as a candidate for formation in the Carmel of Compiègne, she was unable to raise the funds for the necessary dowry that postulants were expected to bring with them to support the financial needs of the community. The prioress of the Carmel of Saint-Denis, Venerable Mother Teresa of St. Augustine — lovingly remembered by her baptismal name, Madame Louise — was the daughter of King Louis XV. When she learned of the difficulty the promising candidate faced in acquiring the francs needed for her dowry, Madame Louise supplied the balance of the funds required for the young Madame Lidoine’s admission to formation. In recognition of her benefactor’s great generosity, the Discalced Carmelite novice took the same religious name as her benefactor: Teresa of St. Augustine. Madame Louise’s generosity was well repaid when her protégée, now prioress of the Carmel of Compiègne, led her nuns bravely and joyfully to the scaffold in revolutionary Paris on 17 July 1794.
Bush, W. 1999, To quell the terror: the mystery of the vocation of the sixteen Carmelites of Compiègne guillotined July 17, 1794, ICS Publications, Washington, D.C.
This brought me to tears. Being from a class-based society, I can readily appreciate the sacrifices in entering the poverty of Carmel. What humility! There is a text something to the effect of, “For love a [man] will give up all the substance of his house, and think nothing of the loss” (in some translations).
You’re absolutely right. The sacrifices to nobility who entered Carmel in Spain, France, and other countries was very great, and for some it came at a heavier price than others.
Yes, I imagine their families generally would have disowned them.
Not necessarily, Louis XV is reported to have visited Madame Louise fairly often at the Carmel of Saint-Denis. Maintaining good relationships with family members meant a source of ongoing support for the monastery after the nun was professed.
That’s very good news, thank you. I have heard the French really value family ties. I’m pleased to hear he supported Carmel.