The 25th of February marks the anniversary of the death of Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face, Céline Martin, died in the Carmel of Lisieux at the age of 89 years and 10 months, and 63 years of religious profession. We have translated for our readers an excerpt from Céline’s biography, written by by Père Stéphane-Joseph Piat, OFM and published by the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.
The Chaplain brought her Holy Communion. Since he had sent a letter with his best wishes for [the anniversary of her religious profession on 24 February], she thanked him with a smile. She did not stop admiring two beautiful wreaths of flowers providentially offered to the monastery’s portresses on the day before.
In the morning, a choking crisis ensued, accompanied by a disturbing decline in blood pressure. In the doctor’s judgment, the danger was imminent. Despite her weakness and collapse, the dying nun completely retained her lucidity.
Later that afternoon, she asked the Sister who was treating her to come over so that she could tell her: “I truly believe that this time, it’s the real thing. Oh ! What happiness!” As they were about to give her an injection, she said softly, “Why don’t you let the lamp go out slowly, since I’m not suffering and everything is peaceful?”
With her Sisters continually and prayerfully keeping watch by her bedside, she had a peaceful night, happy with the deliverance drawing nigh. At dawn, she was a bit restless but without any suffering.
“It really is today,” said Mother Prioress.
“Today!” she repeated as if she was savoring her joy.
“Yes, you fight, the combat is hard! But you will have the victory because Jesus is with you.”
In a tone of triumph, a blurry look in her eyes, but extremely lucid, Sister Genevieve continued: “Jesus!”
That was her last word. She expressed the tenderness of her entire life.
Today! — Jesus!
There were light beads of perspiration on her forehead. Her face, however, remained peaceful, almost radiant. Around 9:00 a.m., the community recited the Act of Offering to Merciful Love. Communicating through signs, the patient showed that she was united to them in the prayer. As the doctor arrived, all the nuns withdrew.
It was then that, stopping suddenly, Sister Geneviève straightened up on her pillows, her eyes wide open and filled with light, staring up above in an attitude of sweet joy. The doctor, impressed, knelt down, then faded into the background, realizing that it was the end. The Community returned immediately and was able to contemplate this spectacle which lasted from eight to ten minutes.
There was in the dying nun a sort of majesty, a sovereign tranquility, where one could read in her face the certainty of the tender welcome that her Father would give her. Her posture remained firm and her head remained upright, even in death. Only the breath that went out imperceptibly, and a slight contraction of the throat, marked her passing.
It was Wednesday, the 25th of February 1959, at 9:25 a.m. Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face was eighty-nine years and ten months old.
Discalced Carmelites of Lisieux
Biography of Céline Martin (excerpts)
We always refer to the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux for the vast majority of our quotes concerning Saint Thérèse, Saint Zélie, and Saint Louis Martin, but if you would like to purchase any of the English translations that appear on the Archives website, please visit the website of our Discalced Carmelite friars at ICS Publications.
Translation from the French text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.
How beautiful and so like her sister St. Therese! Thank you for this quote and for the reference to her biography! This quote also makes me want to search back through previous Carmelite Quotes for information about St. Therese’s other sisters.
If you search for the names “Céline”, “Pauline”, “Marie”, and “Léonie” you will find references to quotes by or about each of Thérèse’s sisters. So glad to know that this is helpful to you!