So, you can’t imagine how frightened I am of the future, about this little person that I’m expecting. It seems to me that the fate of the last two children will be her fate, and it’s a never-ending nightmare for me.
I believe the dread is worse than the misfortune. When misfortunes come, I resign myself well enough, but the fear, for me, is torture. This morning, during Mass, I had such dark thoughts about this that I was very deeply moved.
The best thing to do is to put everything in the hands of God and await the outcome in peace and abandonment to His will. That’s what I’m going to try very hard to do.
Saint Zélie Martin
Letter CF 45 to her sister-in-law Madame Guérin (Céline Fournet Guérin)
28 February 1869
Read the full text of Letter CF 45
Saint Zélie Martin wrote this letter while she was pregnant with Céline, who was born on 28 April 1869, the seventh child of Saints Louis and Zélie Guérin Martin.
Céline’s two older brothers, Joseph Louis (20 September 1866 – 14 February 1867) and Joseph Jean-Baptiste (19 December 1867 – 24 August 1868) both died in infancy.
Featured image: Study of a Woman’s Head was executed ca. 1780 by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (French, 1725–1805). The gallery label from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York provides the following details:
Greuze’s contemporaries would have referred to this intense and affecting close-up of a model as an expressive head, or tête d’expression. Such works followed longstanding academic theories about how best to depict emotions that would convey the narratives of historical or biblical subjects. Although this highly finished tête d’expression has been associated with the imploring female protagonist in several of Greuze’s moralizing genre scenes, it appears to have been an independent painting. Greuze’s têtes d’expression in fact enjoyed a healthy place on the eighteenth-century art market. This painting was part of The Met’s founding purchase in 1871.
We selected this particular tête d’expression by Greuze to exemplify Saint Zélie’s mélange of fright, dread, resignation, fear, torture, dark thoughts, love for her child and God, and abandonment to His will.