Will it live?
Anxiety prevailed around Marie Rolland’s bed, in her barrack in the military camp of Avord, near Bourges, in the heart of France. Almost 34 years old, Marie was expecting a baby, her first.
The birth was dramatic. Foreseeing the fatal outcome, two doctors were constantly present at her side. They already had warned her husband, Captain Joseph Catez, that the child’s pulse could no longer be heard and that it would have to be sacrificed…
The future Elizabeth was “condemned before she was born,” wrote Marie Rolland.
The mother was in agonizing pain, but the outcome was unexpected and happy: the child was born in perfect health! A gift from heaven, one would say.
The next day, Josephine Klein, who had come to assist her only daughter, gave details of the laborious circumstances of the birth.
She states that Marie “suffered horribly for thirty-six hours, that she had two doctors constantly with her, that it was necessary to “use force” for the delivery and that the child’s days were in danger… Poor Marie’s screams were awful to hear, yet she showed great courage and since then she has been doing as well as possible. The little girl named Elizabeth is as fat as a six-week-old child”.
The doctors had to “use force” to deliver her; this child’s innate strength helped her to survive.
After tears and prayers, now we have a burst of laughter! At last, the new mother holds in her arms the baby she has been hoping for so long, the fruit that she has felt maturing for months and whose delivery has been so painful. And she has her first baby exactly as she imagined: a little girl…
“In our friend’s letters, there was only mention of Marguerite or Elizabeth. Her wishes all came true”, wrote a friend the day after the birth. A jewel, this child was born safe and sound: “Very beautiful, very lively”, the proud mother later will say of her, remembering those first moments.
It was 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, 18 July 1880. In the camp chapel, the Mass that Chaplain Chaboisseau had been asked to celebrate for a mother and her baby in grave danger was coming to an end. The birth coincided with the Last Gospel at the end of that Mass, the prologue of the Gospel according to St. John.
This detail was provided by the mother. She probably didn’t think that the child would bear some resemblance to John the Baptist who “came as a witness, to give testimony to the Light” (Jn 1:7).
Conrad de Meester, O.C.D.
Chap. 1, A gift from heaven (excerpt)
de Meester, C 2017, Rien moins que Dieu: sainte Elisabeth de la Trinité, Presses de la Renaissance, Paris.
Translation from the French text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.