V + J! From our monastery in Caen 6 June 1941.
My darling little mama,
How you spoil us at all times, what a surprise! Cocoa bean shells and flour, you only know how to think up new ways to please us, it’s enough to make us cry because you are depriving yourself for us, it’s all the more touching in this time of scarcity, but much more meritorious as well.
What delightful pictures you sent us, I assure you that they were a success, I offered one to the dear Chaplain who is so good to the family; I would have done much better not to write anything on the back, I ruin everything with my bad handwriting. Beloved little Mother, I beg you, tell our distant Brother the extreme happiness that the precious blessing of our incomparable Angelic Shepherd, who honors me too much and of whom I feel so unworthy, brings me.
Mama Lamb [her superior] has told me that I will be buried in the cripte (sic) next to our old and venerated Mothers and that she will come to find me there too, yes, I don’t ask for anything better, but as late as possible. This decision of the Council makes me feel even more like I’m in my own little nothingness.
I am devouring the letters of our holy mother [Saint Zélie], as the good Lord will be glorified by them. I rejoice at the visit of your extern sisters, would they bring us some braid for sachets and some fabric for relics.
My little Céline, my inseparable one, how I love her and you too, my little Mama,
Sr Françoise Thérèse
Beloved Little Sister,
We really liked your little letter of June 6th.
We love you more and more and live ceaselessly close to you through the heart and in the Heart of our Jesus. Give your Mama Lamb a hug for us… It is a real consolation to us to think that you will rest in that blessed crypt… But please wait a little longer.
Your two old girls
Little Mama and little Sister Celine
Miss Violette (or our extern sisters) will bring you what you ask for to make the sachets.
Mother Agnès said “wait a little longer” to occupy the crypt in the Visitation Monastery when she wrote to her sister Léonie on 10 June 1941.
The Servant of God Sister Françoise Thérèse Martin waited one week longer and died Tuesday, 17 June 1941 at around 1:30 in the morning. You can learn more about the life of Léonie Martin in English here and in French here.
Notes: For centuries in Catholic culture, there has been a custom of writing at the head of a letter or a document some symbol, name, or phrase that serves to begin that letter or document with a prayer. St. Teresa of Avila began many of her letters by writing the name of Jesus. St. Thérèse of Lisieux would write J.M.J.T. at the top of many of her letters, then adding Jesus+ before the salutation: “Dear…”.
In the letters above, the Servant of God Sr. Françoise Thérèse follows the custom of the Visitation nuns of her time: V+J represents the Visitation motto, Vive Jésus (Live Jesus). At the close of her letter, she adds D.S.B., meaning Dieu soit béni (blessed be God). Pauline is far more simple in the heading of her 10 June reply to Léonie; she makes a sign of the Cross.
The mention of a “distant brother” who obtained a “precious blessing” from “our incomparable Angelic Shepherd” refers to an apostolic blessing from Pope Pius XII (the former Apostolic Nuncio to France) sent by Monsignor Salvatore Natucci for Léonie’s 40th anniversary of religious profession. The Visitation nuns in Caen, seeing Léonie’s delicate state of health, decided to celebrate the anniversary on her birthday, 3 June 1941. Léonie’s biographer, Fr. Stéphane-Joseph Piat, O.F.M., mentions that her long thank-you letter to the pope was the last letter that she ever wrote.
Translation from the French text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.