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!
Christmas Carol, 1792 or 1793, stanza 4
Written by Blessed Teresa of St. Augustine
Prioress, Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne
The last one to climb the scaffold steps was in fact the prioress, Madame Lidoine herself who, presiding over the sacrifice to the very end, blessed each of her fifteen daughters as they fulfilled the community oblation she herself had proposed.
What Madame Lidoine had proposed, however, was never a “vow of martyrdom” as one reads in the fictional versions, but rather an “act of consecration” whereby each member of the community would join with the others in offering herself daily to God, soul, and body, in holocaust to restore peace to France and to her church.
The community sacrifice was moreover presided over by Madame Lidoine, its one true mother and Compiègne’s great prioress, inspiring, animating, and transfiguring all by her mystical insights.
Chapter 1, Martyrdom and France, literature and revolution
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.
Featured image: This detailed image of the stained glass window honoring the Discalced Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne was designed by Sister Margaret Rope, O.C.D., and is one of the treasures of her stained glass art found at the Quidenham Carmel in Norfolk, England. Our Discalced Carmelite nuns in Quidenham have published a guidebook that illustrates and explains the windows found in their chapel.
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