Quote of the day: 5 October

The Apparitions of St. Teresa

As told by Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

 

Teresian expert Father Kieran Kavanaugh reminds us that “on September 29 the Madre went to bed never to rise again. She had suffered a hemorrhaging from which it was understood that she would die.”

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew was constantly at her side throughout those final days. She herself writes, “I did not leave her for a moment. I begged the religious to bring me what was necessary for her. I gave it to her. It was a consolation to her for me to do so.”

On 3 October, her condition worsened; the doctor administered a painful cupping treatment, Father Kavanaugh explains. On 4 October, the feast of St. Francis, Fr. Kavanaugh says that “she remained in prayer, in deep quiet and peace, without speaking or stirring throughout the whole day.”

Poor Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew, who had virtually no respite for hours, was ordered by Father Antonio of Jesus (Heredia)St. John of the Cross’ companion in the first foundation of Discalced Carmelite friars at Duruelo“to go and get something to eat. But Teresa began looking about, and when Antonio asked her if she was looking for Sister Ana, she gestured affirmatively.”

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew hurried back to St. Teresa’s cell. . .

 

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Panel from the great reliquary of Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew in Antwerp depicts the death of St. Teresa in her arms | Tijl Vereenooghe, erfgoed / Flickr

 


As soon as she saw me, she smiled at me, showed me such condescension and affection that she caught me with her two hands and rested her head in my arms. I held her thus in my embrace until she expired.

As the Saint loved me so much, I had begged her to console me, and to ask of our Lord for me perfect liberty of spirit, without attachment for anyone whomsoever. I was naturally affectionate, and I loved the Saint more than anyone could love her, also the other religious whom I saw advanced in perfection and loved by the Saint.

I loved them very much, and sometimes the Saint told me this attachment for friends was not good for my soul, and I must overcome it for my spiritual welfare; but until that hour when God called her to Himself, I had not succeeded.

It was she who obtained this grace for me, for from that time I was free and detached and it seemed to me that I had a yet greater love for the religious, loving them without any mixture of self-love; and, for the rest, it was as if I were alone in the world. I love all my Sisters in God and for God.

I received such strength of soul to prepare the body of the Saint for burial, that I did it with as much calmness as if her death had been a matter of indifference to me.

I wished to remain in that convent, but neither the Superior nor the religious of the Monastery of Avila, to which I belonged, would give their consent. They sent for me in haste. I felt some perplexity of soul. But the Saint appeared to me and said: “My daughter, obey the command given you, and depart!”

From the time of my return to the Convent of Avila, I prayed to the Saint and recommended myself to her. I spoke of this to my confessor. He told me it was wrong to recommend myself to a Saint who was not yet canonized and commanded me not to do it.

That same night whilst asleep, the Saint appeared to me most glorious and resplendent. She said to me: “My child, ask of me anything you wish and I will obtain it for you.”

Awakening, then, I said to her: ‘I ask of you the Spirit of God, that it may always dwell in my soul.”

She disappeared, leaving me in perfect certainty of the opinion I had formed of her sanctity. The command of my confessor, however, did not fail to cause me pain, for he had told me not to pray to her as a Saint. Even had not the signal favors granted her by God, and which proved that He loved her, led me to think her such, the consideration alone of the love with which she had endured for God so many labors, of which I was witness, and in which I had taken some part, would cause me to state as a certainty that she was a real Saint.

From the time in which she appeared to me in such great glory, as I have already narrated, I earnestly desired that her holy body should be brought back to Avila. One day, occupied with this thought, and believing that they feared to remove the holy body because they knew not in what condition they would find it, I fervently begged of our Lord to make this known to me.

Immediately I entered into a spiritual slumber, and angels carried me to the sepulcher; they opened it and showed me the body; it was entire, having the same color as when later they brought it forth from the tomb, and it exhaled the same odor and perfume.

The angels showed me two sleeves on her arms, also entire and in the same condition as when I placed them there. They said: “Are you satisfied? Do you wish anything more?”

I replied yes, that I would be more satisfied if I saw the Saint in her own convent at Avila, but that the Duke of Alba would never consent to it.

They said to me: “Do not make any account of the opposition of the Duke of Alba. It is the king who will decide; this matter depends on him alone.”

 

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The heart of St. Teresa is preserved in a reliquary  above the altar of the Carmel of Alba de Tormes | Photo credit: annabelfrage.com

 

The Duke and Duchess of Alba died soon after, and the king, to please his heirs, was unwilling that the holy body should be transferred to Avila. Before this happened, the Order earnestly desired the translation of the holy body from Alba to Avila.

My tender affection for the Saint led me to recommend the affair to God with great fervor. Our Lord said to me: “Do not be troubled; the holy body will return to this house.”

Continuing with importunity, I asked our Lord when this would take place, because I was eager to know. He replied: “It will be on the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin.”

There was still almost a year to wait; but on the day fixed the thing was accomplished; they took the body of the Saint from the house at Alba and transferred it to that of Avila.

It was received there with the liveliest transports of joy. The number of lights burning was so great the convent seemed like heaven. The Saint gave a thousand proofs of tenderness towards her children; in whatever part of the convent they might be, she appeared to them and consoled them.

 

Apparition in Segovia Cuzco artist Patrimonio Catolico Pero
One of St Teresa’s many apparitions to her nuns is captured in this 18th c. Peruvian oil painting by an unidentified Cuzco artist | Photo credit: PESSCA Archives

 

Anne of St. Bartholomew, M; Bouix, M 1917,  Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew, inseparable companion of Saint Teresa, and foundress of the Carmels of Pontoise, Tours and Antwerp, translated from the French by anonymous, H. S. Collins Printing Co., Saint Louis.

 

Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Quote of the day: 4 October

The Death of St Teresa

As told by Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

 

The day of her death she was unable to speak from early morning; in the evening, the Father who was attending her (Father Anthony of Jesus, one of the two first Discalced Carmelites) told me to go take some nourishment.

But scarcely had I left than the Saint became restless; with an anxious air she looked from one side to the other. The Father asked her if she wished me near her. She answered yes, by signs.

They called me; I hastened back.

As soon as she saw me, she smiled at me, showed me such condescension and affection that she caught me with her two hands and rested her head in my arms. I held her thus in my embrace until she expired, being more dead than the Saint herself; for, as for her, she was so inflamed with love for her Spouse that she sighed for the moment of parting from her body in order to be with Him.

As our Lord is so good and saw how little patience I had to bear this cross, He appeared to me at the foot of the Saint’s bed in all His Majesty, accompanied by His blessed ones who came to seek her soul.

This glorious vision lasted the space of a Credo, giving me time to exchange my pain and grief for a great resignation, to ask pardon of our Lord and say to Him:

“My Lord, even should Your Majesty wish to leave her for my consolation, I would ask you, now that I have witnessed your glory, not to leave her one moment in this exile.”

Scarcely had I uttered these words than she expired, and this blessed soul soared like a dove to enjoy the possession of her God.

 

Death of St Teresa - Madrid San Jorge
Death of St. Teresa
Polychrome wood
Church of San Jorge, Madrid

 


Saint Teresa of Avila died in the arms of her nurse and companion, Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew, at 9:00 in the evening on the 4th of October in the year 1582 in the Carmel of Alba de Tormes.

But why was St. Teresa in Alba de Tormesnot in Avila? Translator and editor Fr. Kieran Kavanagh explains:

Antonio de Jesús [Heredia], who was acting as vicar provincial while Gracián was in Andalusia, came to Medina with the news that the Mother Foundress must go to Alba de Tormes because of the election of a prioress that was to take place there and because the Duchess of Alba wanted to see her. Still weak from her lingering illness, longing to get back to Avila, Teresa fell into a deep sadness. The vicar provincial’s orders and their effect on the Madre remained fixed in mind. This incident became for the devoted infirmarian a key example of Teresa’s virtue.

In our quote of the day for 3 October, we had read Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew’s testimony of the exhaustion of Teresa at their arrival in Alba de Tormes. Blessed Anne’s own words provide a resume of the situation: “from Burgos to Alba the route was one chain of sufferings for the saint.”

Father Kavanagh continues the account:

As for the election of a prioress in Alba, it seems there was little that was edifying in the community. No doubt Father Antonio thought Teresa’s presence would inspire better behavior and change some attitudes. In a previous letter, dated August 6, to the founding benefactress, Teresa Layz, Madre Teresa indicated some of the problems of the Alba community and bluntly states her displeasure over the conduct of some of the nuns. She worries that no prioress will want to stay there very long since so many are trying to get out of the office. “If the nuns are what they ought to be,” the Madre writes, “what will it matter to them who the prioress is? But these are childish ways and reveal attachments that are far from being appropriate for discalced nuns, nor are they found in other houses.” This is the community in which Teresa was to end her days.

Father Kavanagh also mentions that another visitor to Our Holy Mother, “perhaps on September 28, was her sister Doña Juana de Ahumada to whom Teresa manifested her desire to move on to Avila. But on September 29 the Madre went to bed never to rise again. She had suffered a hemorrhaging from which it was understood that she would die. Doctors who have studied the remaining descriptions of her last illness believe that the actual cause of Teresa’s death was cancer of the uterus.”

Another medical detail mentioned by Kavanagh:

On October 3, in the morning, the barber-surgeon put the Mother Foundress through the painful ordeal of cupping, a remedy that was prevalent in those times and meant to facilitate the excretion of certain liquids and humors.

For centuries, we have heard the story that her last words were en fin soy hija de la Iglesia… “Finally, I am a daughter of the Church.” But there are more details to share that Carmelite scholars like Father Kieran Kavanaugh can reveal. We will let him tell the rest of the story:

In the testimony given by witnesses, there is a general agreement concerning the themes of the prayers spoken aloud by Teresa on the eve of her death before and after receiving the Eucharist and after receiving the Sacrament of the Sick. On the one hand, she revealed her intense feelings of sorrow at being a sinner, repeating pleas for mercy from God. This she did through verses taken from a psalm and spoken in Latin as she had learned them through choral recitation of the prayer of the Church. On the other hand she revealed her awareness of approaching union with Christ her Bridegroom and her urgent longings for that moment. The words denote an active surge of loving energy and searching rather than an attitude of passive waiting. “Now the hour has struck.”

Further, in her thankfulness for being a daughter of the Church, she rejoiced in the thought of her Mother the Church, where she found the deposit of revelation, the norm of faith, the administration of the sacraments, the Christian family; this Church was now to offer her the Blood of Christ, the grace of redemption.

The following day, the feast of St. Francis (the little poor man of Assisi), her face was aglow, and with a crucifix, in her hands, she remained in prayer, in deep quiet and peace, without speaking or stirring throughout the whole day. In the evening, a couple of hours before she died, Padre Antonio told Blessed Ana [Anne of St. Bartholomew] who had been continually at her foundress’s side to go and get something to eat. But Teresa began looking about, and when Antonio asked her if she was looking for Sister Ana, she gestured affirmatively.

When Ana returned, Teresa smiled and with tender love took the humble Sister’s arms and placed her head in them. In this manner, the saintly Madre remained until she died between nine and ten that evening. She was surrounded by all the nuns in the community. Her niece Teresita, Blessed Ana, Padre Antonio de Jesús, and Padre Tomás de la Asención were also present.

After her death, her countenance turned as white as alabaster and being freed of every wrinkle took on an extraordinary beauty. A powerful and pleasing fragrance began to flow from her body and spread through the entire house, indeed as the truths of her profound writings would one day spread through the world. Hers had been a life unexplainable without God and without the grace that comes through Jesus Christ.

When Pope Gregory XIII issued the papal bull Inter Gravissimas in February 1582 to reform the Julian calendar, King Philip II decreed that Spain and all Spanish territories would observe the change in the calendar specified by the Vatican. Therefore, Thursday 4 October on the Julian calendar was followed by Friday 15 October on the newly reformed Gregorian calendar.

 

Death of St Teresa - Cathedral of Almudena
Death of Saint Teresa
Sr. Isabel Guerra, O.Cist. (Spanish, 1947 – )
Oil on canvas
Almudena Cathedral, Madrid 

 

Images of the death of St. Teresa from the churches of Madrid are courtesy of the Iconografía Teresiana pages on the website of the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Alba de Tormes.

 

Anne of St. Bartholomew, M; Bouix, M 1917,  Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew, inseparable companion of Saint Teresa, and foundress of the Carmels of Pontoise, Tours and Antwerp, translated from the French by anonymous, H. S. Collins Printing Co., Saint Louis.

 

Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

 

Quote of the day: 3 October

The last days of St Teresa

As told by Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

 

The day after our arrival at Alba [i.e. 21 September], she was so greatly exhausted that the physicians feared, for the moment, that she could not live: a great sacrifice for me, the greater because I must remain in this world.

For, aside from the love I bore her and that she had for me, I had another great consolation in her company: almost continually I saw Jesus Christ in her soul and the manner in which He was united to it, as if it was his heaven. This knowledge filled me with the deep reverence one should feel in the presence of God.

Truly it was heavenly to serve her, and the greatest torture was to see her suffer.

I spent about fourteen years with her. Immediately, when I entered to receive the habit, she took me into her cell, and during the rest of her life I was always with her, except during her journey to Seville; for then, as has already been said, I was sick at Avila. And these fourteen years seemed to me less than one day.

The Saint, for her part, was so accustomed to my poor and awkward service, that she would not be without me. She showed this very plainly in the following circumstance.

I fell sick with a fever the very eve of the day when she was to leave for the visitation of her monasteries. I was not at all in a condition to undertake the journey.

She said to me: “Do not be disturbed, my child! I shall leave orders here to send you to me as soon as the fever leaves you.”

But at midnight, when she sent a religious to ask how I was, I found that I was free from fever.

She rose from her bed, came to me, and said: “It is true, my daughter, you no longer have any fever; we can easily undertake the journey. I hope it may be so, and I will recommend the matter to God.”

And so it was; we left in the morning.

During the five days preceding her death at Alba, I was more dead than alive. Two days before her death, she said to me once when we were alone: “My child, the hour of my death has come.”

This pierced my heart more and more. I did not leave her for a moment. I begged the religious to bring me what was necessary for her. I gave it to her. It was a consolation to her for me to do so.

 

Ana-de-San-Bartolome_praying-before-an-altar_FrancedeWilde
Portrait of Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew by France de Wilde (1917)

 


In their translation for ICS Publications, Father Kieran Kavanagh and Otlio Rodriguez note that Fray Antonio de Jesús ordered Saint Teresa to travel from Medina to Alba de Tormes in order to settle some difficulties in the community. She and Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew arrived in Alba de Tormes in the evening of 20 September.

Biographer William Thomas Walsh provides further detail concerning the account offered by Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew.  The journey was exhausting; there was little food; and when she reached Alba de Tormes, the prioress was so concerned about St. Teresa’s condition the prioress ordered her own foundress to go to bed. St. Teresa obeyed.

Walsh continues:

“Next morning she got up, walked about the convent, heard Mass, received Holy Communion with great devotion, and took a severe discipline. Thus she went on, getting up and resting in turn, attending Mass each day, until the Feast of Saint Michael, September 29. Then, after Mass, she had a hemorrhage which left her so weak that she had to be helped back into bed in the infirmary. She had asked to be placed there so that she could look through a certain window and see the priest saying Mass in the chapel beyond.”

This was the turning point that marked the “five days preceding her death” of which Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew writes. Again, Walsh provides more detail.

Teresa spent all of the first night of October in prayer, and at dawn asked to have Fray Antonio of Jesus hear her confession. The first friar of her Reform was evidently much moved as he went in to hear the last self-accusation of a pure and virginal soul. The word went around the house that Christ had told her she was about to die. Some sisters told her afterward they had heard Fray Antonio say he would ask our Lord not to take her yet. “Never mind about that,” said Teresa. “I am no longer needed in this world.” The nuns all gathered at the bedside that day, and received her last counsels.

On October 3, the eve of Saint Francis, at about five o’clock, she asked for Viaticum. The nuns dressed her in her veil and white choir mantle, and lighted holy tapers in the infirmary. She was so weak that they had to turn her in the bed. While they waited for the priest, each holding a lighted candle, La Madre began to speak:

“Hijas mías y señoras mías, for the love of God I beg that you will take great care with the keeping of the Rule and Constitutions, and pay no attention to the bad example that this wicked nun has given you, and pardon me for it.”

When the priest arrived with the Blessed Sacrament, and she became aware that her Lord was entering the room, she raised her body on the bed without any help, as though to throw herself on the floor. The nuns who held her down noticed that a change had come over her countenance: it was beautiful and illuminated beyond description, much younger than her age warranted. “And clasping her hands, full of joy,” says Ribera, “this swan of utter whiteness began to sing at the end of her life more sweetly than they had ever heard her sing and spoke lofty things, amorous and sweet. Among others, she said, ‘Oh my Lord and my Spouse, now the desired hour is come. Now it is time for us to go. Señor mío, now is the time to set forth, may it be very soon, and may Your most holy will be accomplished! Now the hour has come for me to leave this exile, and my soul rejoices at one with you for what I have so desired!’

 

23 Muerte en Alba de Tormes
Muerte en Alba | Teresa, de la rueca a la pluma

 

 

Anne of St. Bartholomew, M; Bouix, M 1917,  Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew, inseparable companion of Saint Teresa, and foundress of the Carmels of Pontoise, Tours and Antwerp, translated from the French by anonymous, H. S. Collins Printing Co., Saint Louis.

 

Thomas Walsh. W 1987, St Teresa of Avila: A Biography, TAN Books, Charlotte.

 

Quote of the day: 20 September

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Map of Spain by Alain Manesson Mallet, Paris, 1683
View more maps in his collection, Description de l’Univers

 

From the Autobiography of Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

Third Book, Chapter 1

Deputation Sent From France

 

Some years before our departure for France, M. de Bretigny made a journey to Spain. He begged most earnestly of the Superiors of the Order permission to take some Spanish Carmelites to France; but he could not then succeed in his design.

Not having been able to get the Carmelites, he took home the writings of the Saint and had them translated into French. As in these works there is so much said in favor of France, the French servants of God who had devotion to our holy Foundress loved her more and more, and took new courage.

In several cities they gathered together some very virtuous high-born ladies to initiate them little by little into the spirit of this new Order. These reunions once well established, they asked permission of the king to found a monastery in Paris, desiring for this purpose to have Spanish Carmelites brought there; but in case the Carmelites were not willing, their plan was to have our Constitutions brought from Spain and be taught to these young ladies whom they had gathered together, with the intention of giving them the habit and making them daughters of the Order of our Holy Mother, St. Teresa.

 

NATTIER_Jean-Marc_Madame Louise de France
Madame Louise-Marie of France (1737-1787)
Jean-Marc Nattier (French, 1685-1766)
Oil on canvas, 1748
Venerable Thérèse of Saint-Augustine, better known as Madame Louise, like the French novices who helped to found the Teresian Carmel in France, was “a very virtuous high-born” lady. The youngest of the ten children of King Louis XV and Maria Leszczyńska, she entered the Carmel of Saint-Denis (now a museum) in 1770. The martyred prioress of the Carmel of Compiègne, Blessed Thérèse of Saint-Augustine, was named for Madame Louise. | Palais de Versailles / Wikimedia Commons, Joconde

 

This first foundation having been arranged, the servant of God whom I mentioned above, M. de Bretigny, returned to Spain, bringing with him three noble French ladies. They intended, if their enterprise was successful, to take Spanish religious with them to France. Besides, during their stay in Spain, they were to learn the language of the country.

Messrs. Rene Gauthier and de Berulle also went to Spain, not without meeting great dangers at sea, as they themselves narrated. For our Lord tried their courage in every way and on all sorts of occasions. But they were so faithful to God and so firm in their design, that nothing terrified them.

They were several months in Spain without succeeding in obtaining religious from the Order. Seeing this, M. de Berulle and the others did their utmost and labored for a whole year before obtaining from the Superiors of the Order what they asked.

The deputation sent from France had to endure much labor and many affronts; this, because it was not known what great servants of God they were; for they certainly were such—their works and the zeal they showed for the glory of God proved their great fervor. But in order that their virtue might be more purified, God permitted that they should not be esteemed at their proper worth. Some said that they were heretics, and other things of a similar nature. They suffered with much patience and humility, and, persevering in this way, their enterprise was crowned with success.

At last our Father General, Francis of the Mother of God, came to Avila with several Fathers of the Order to arrange for our departure. We left on the morning of the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. [1604] Our Father General accompanied us a great part of the day. When he was obliged to leave us we begged his blessing. He gave it with an emotion that was shared by all the religious. In parting, both Fathers and daughters made a great sacrifice to God.

Two friars of our Order, great servants of God, two French priests, one of whom was M. de Berulle, and the other, M. Rene Gauthier, together with three Frenchmen on horseback, and several Spaniards, accompanied us on this journey. The three French ladies were alone in one carriage and the six religious in another. We were together in the inns.

 

Pierre de Bérulle LaRochelle
Cardinal Bérulle at the Foot of the Cross
Lagrenée the Younger (French, 1739-1821)
Oil on canvas, 1784
Saint-Sauveur Parish, La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime)

 

The French ladies taught us their language; it must be acknowledged we did not make great progress in it; we learned sufficient, however, to understand most of what was said to us. But we did not speak fluently; we could, with difficulty, say only a few sentences. Our Lord wished to humble us in this, and I think it was best for us, for by speaking little we did not give disedification. Every nation has its own customs.

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

“Every nation has its own customs,” wrote Blessed Anne. Truer words were never spoken. The influence of “Monsieur de Bérulle” upon the Carmelites in France grew and expanded as his authority expanded not only in the Church but also in government.

Considered by many as the founder of the French School of Spirituality, he collaborated with Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, better known as Madame Acarie, in the foundation of the first Discalced Carmelite monastery in Paris, the original destination of Blessed Anne and her traveling companions in 1604.

 

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Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, Madame Acarie

 

As a priest, Pierre de Bérulle was passionate in his ministry. Educated by the Jesuits, he had only been ordained five years earlier when he set out on his great adventure in Spain in the year 1604. In 1611, he undertakes another great project: the foundation of an Oratory in France similar to the Oratory founded by Philip Neri in Italy.

In the space of 18 years, Bérulle founded 40 Carmels and 60 houses for his Oratorians in France.

 As his fame spread in the Church in France, he naturally attracted the attention of the royal family, as well. In 1625, he became a personal chaplain to Queen Consort Henrietta Maria of France, the wife of England’s King Charles I.

In 1627, Pope Urban VIII insisted upon creating him a Cardinal. And his influence in affairs of state continued to develop when he was named head of the queen’s council, then councilor of state. Through all of this, Bérulle’s influence on the French Carmelites remained firm.

But there was dissension. The Servant of God Anne of Jesus, Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew’s companion in making the original foundation, believed that Bérulle was leaving an imprint upon the Carmels in France that decidedly was not in keeping with the Teresian ideal. Further, she desired for the nuns to be directed by Discalced Carmelite friars. Frustrated, in 1607, she accepted an offer from the Archduke of Belgium to transfer to Flanders, where she founded Carmels in Brussels, Louvain, and Mons.

 

Ana-de-Jesus_Teresa-de-Jesus_Ana-de-SBart
The holy foundresses: Anne of Jesus, Teresa of Avila, and Anne of Saint Bartholomew

 

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew had moved from Paris to Pontoise where she was elected prioress (1605) and then assumed the same office in the Carmel of Tours (1608). But in 1611, she too was called to make the journey north. She left on 5 October, “the day following the anniversary of the death of the Saint.” She wrote that she “had no desire to go to Flanders,” but Anne of Jesus needed her in Mons, and she would go on to found the Carmel of Antwerp.

Meanwhile, in France, the spirituality of le Carmel Bérullien that so concerned Venerable Anne of Jesus continued to thrive without the Spanish foundresses. Cardinal de Bérulle died suddenly while he was celebrating Mass 2 October 1629, making the greatest ecclesiastical figure in France seem larger than life. His legacy did not fade.

Discalced Carmelite theologian François-Marie Léthel points out that the Bérullien influence is seen in the writings of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. For example, Christocentrism is one of the hallmarks of his French School of spirituality. Father Léthel indicates that Thérèse refers to the name of Jesus twice as much as she mentions “God”: more precisely, she writes the name of Jesus more than 1600 times, but she only makes roughly 800 references to “God” (Léthel 2011).

Antoinette Guise Castelnuovo has carefully documented the history of the Bérullien crisis in the 20th century. In response to the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law in 1917, all religious orders were obliged to revise their constitutions, including the Discalced Carmelites. In France, disorder reigned supreme; every Carmel’s superior was the local bishop, and none of the local superiors consulted with one another. Thus, the nuns of the Carmel of Clamartthe post-revolutionary re-foundation of the original Carmel of Paris in Faubourg Saint Jacquesundertook the task to issue a set of constitutions in 1924 that might unify the Discalced Carmelites of the so-called “French Observance”. Getting Vatican approval for their text was another matter completely. (Castelnuovo 2015)

Every other Discalced Carmelite monastery worldwide turned to the general curia of the Discalced Carmelite friars for their care and direction. In short order, the friars’ revised constitutions for the nuns were approved in 1926. In France, no word of approval had been received yet.

At this point, St. Thérèse’s own sister, Mother Agnès of Jesus—then the prioress in Lisieuxsaw an opportunity to restore a true Teresian spirit in France and make Venerable Anne of Jesus’ dream a reality, that the nuns in France might once again submit to the governance of the Discalced Carmelite friars in Rome.

 

Mutter_Agnes_von_Jesus
Mother Agnes of Jesus (Pauline Martin), photo circa 1900

 

Although Mother Agnès herself enjoyed an office that was hardly Teresian, having been named prioress-for-life by Pope Pius XI in 1923, she had gained a level of influence, unlike no other prioress, due to her tireless efforts to make Thérèse known, loved, and canonized. She set forth to use that influence to seek the imposition of the friars’ constitutions in France.

Castelnuovo describes the conflict between Mother Agnès and the Carmel of Clamart as degenerating from a struggle for influence into an all-out fratricidal war. Letters to the apostolic nuncio, the Sacred Congregation for Religious, even to the pope were flying fast and furious. Mother Agnès wrote in 1925 to the nuncio, Archbishop Cerretti, that she was confident that 12 to 15 monasteries would pass to the Teresian observance with Lisieux; she said the “Bérullien Carmels” who would stick with Clamart were blind.

In 1927, Mother Agnès sent a confidential report to the new nuncio, Archbishop Maglione, outlining why this or that Carmel—although desirous to adopt the friars’ constitutions—could not do so. In every case, although the nuns were in favor of the change, the superior (either the bishop or his delegate) prevented such a transition. Nevertheless, a handful of monasteries joined Lisieux and adopted the friars’ constitutions of 1926.

Sadly, Mother Agnès learned in 1931 that the prioress of the Carmel of Agen circulated a letter among her fellow prioresses in the circle of Bérullien Carmels, accusing those who followed the 1926 Constitutions like Lisieux of being “lax” and “mitigated”. In her historical study, Castelnuovo draws a distinct correlation at this point between the Lisieux-Clamart conflict in the 1920s and the constitutional crisis between the followers of Saint Maria Maravillas and the Discalced Carmelite friars in the 1980 and ’90s. The similarities are striking.

To resolve the conflict in France, the Sacred Congregation for Religious issued a decree on 20 September 1936 to impose the adoption worldwide of the 1926 Constitutions revised by the Discalced Carmelite friars’ general curia in Rome.

This was an unprecedented action that proved unsuccessful; the Bérullien Carmelites refused to accept the decree of the Sacred Congregation and continued to follow their French Observance.

Divine intervention finally came with the nomination of an apostolic visitator in 1948: the vicar general of the Discalced Carmelite friars who was himself a native of France, Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus. It was a stroke of genius. Castelnuovo notes that  Bérulle in his day had placed great importance in the role of a visitator. St. Teresa, for her part, had great recourse to the visitators to save her reform.

 

 

Marie-Eugene-de-l'Enfant-Jesus
Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus

 

Marie-Eugène was known and respected by all, thanks to his preaching during the canonization of Thérèse. Now, he had 130 Carmels to visit; he began in September 1948 and completed his visits in March 1951, delivering his report at the end of the month. In the meantime, Pope Pius XII published Sponsa Christi and an Instruction concerning the cloister.

No longer was there simply a matter of constitutional conformity in France to deal with; Blessed Marie-Eugène also realized that the Carmelites needed guidance in the implementation of Sponsa Christi, as well. He set to work as an invaluable courier between the Holy See and the nuns, helping the pope to safeguard the contemplative vocation and helping the nuns to broaden their horizons.

In a final, grand effort to assure that his hard work would not be wasted and that the new-found unity of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in France might be preserved, Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus took the bold step of assisting the nuns to organize themselves into four federations according to geographic location. Two federations in the north, conforming to the friars’ Paris Province, and two federations in the south under the care of the Province of Avignon-Aquitaine were established, and Marie-Eugène himself was the assistant to all four federations.

 

Marie-Eugene-of-the-Infant-Jesus_with-2-nuns
Blessed Marie-Eugène of the Child Jesus, Apostolic Visitator

 


Sources

Anne of St. Bartholomew, M; Bouix, M 1917,  Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew, inseparable companion of Saint Teresa, and foundress of the Carmels of Pontoise, Tours and Antwerp, translated from the French by anonymous, H. S. Collins Printing Co., Saint Louis.

Guise Castelnuovo, A 2015, ‘Femmes en réseau et centralisation romaine : le gouvernement des carmélites de France au XXe siècle’, Les Carnets du LARHRA,  Gouverner l’Eglise au XXe siècle, pp.109-131, ffhalshs-01404512

Léthel, F-M 2011, La Lumière du Christ Dans le Coeur de l’Église: Jean-Paul II et la théologie des saints, Éditions Parole et Silence, Les Plans-sur-Bex.

 

Quote of the day: 7 June

Our Lord became a spring of Living water for us so that we should not die of thirst among all the miseries that surround us.

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

 

Warm and serene spring waters 박정원 Jung Won-Park
Warm and serene spring waters | 박정원 Jung Won-Park / Flickr

7 June: Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew

June 7
BLESSED ANNE OF SAINT BARTHOLOMEW
Virgin

Memorial

Ana Garcia was born at Almendral, Castille, in 1549. In 1572 she made her profession as a Carmelite in the hands of St Teresa at Saint Joseph’s, Avila. The Saint later chose her as her companion and nurse, and she subsequently brought the Teresian spirit to France and Belgium, where she proved herself, like Teresa, a daughter of the Church in her great zeal for the salvation of souls. She died at Antwerp in 1626.

From the common of virgins

Office of Readings

Second Reading
From the Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew
(Autog. MS monast. St. Teresa, Madrid)

Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart

According to Saint Bernard, it is the person who keeps silent and says nothing when things go wrong who is really humble. It is very virtuous, he says, to keep silent when people are talking about our true faults, but more perfect when we are slighted or accused without having committed any fault or sin. And though it is virtuous indeed to bear this in silence, it is more perfect still to want to be despised and thought mad and good-for-nothing, and to go on, as our Lord Jesus Christ did, wholeheartedly loving those who despise us.

If Jesus kept silent, it was not because he hated anyone. He was simply saying to his eternal Father what he said on the cross: Lord, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. What infinite love burned in that sacred heart of yours, Lord Jesus! Without uttering a single word you spoke to us; without a word you worked the mysteries you came to accomplish—teaching virtue to the ignorant and blind. What our Lord did was no small thing. Where should we get patience and humility and poverty and the other virtues, and how could we carry each other’s burdens and cross, if Christ had not taught us all this first, and given himself as a living model of all perfection?

Blessed silence! In it, you cry out and preach to the whole world by your example. Volumes could be written about your silence, Lord! There is more wisdom to be learned from it by those who love you than from books or study.

Our Lord became a spring of Living water for us so that we should not die of thirst among all the miseries that surround us. How truly he said in the Gospel that he came to serve and not to be served! What tremendous goodness! Can we fail to be shamed by your words and deeds, and the patience you show with us every day? How truly, again Lord, did you say: Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart. Where can we obtain this patience and humbleness of heart? Is there any way to achieve it except by taking it from Christ as he taught it to us with those other virtues we need—faith, hope, and charity? Without faith, we cannot follow that royal road of the divine mysteries. It is faith that opens our eyes and makes us see the truth; and where faith is wanting there is no light and no way leading to goodness.

Responsory
Proverbs 3:5, 6
R/. Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and do not rely on your own intelligence;
and he will make straight your paths (alleluia).
R/. Wherever you go be mindful of him,
and he will make straight your paths (alleluia).

Morning Prayer

Canticle of Zechariah
Ant. Where humility is, there is wisdom; the wisdom of the humble will protect them from defeat (alleluia).

Prayer

Father,
rewarder of the humble,
you blessed your servant Anne of Saint Bartholomew
with outstanding charity and patience.
May her prayers help us, and her example inspire us,
to carry our cross
and be faithful in loving you,
and others for your sake.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Evening Prayer

Canticle of Mary
Ant. God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love him (alleluia).

 

Ana-de-San-Bartolome_praying-before-an-altar_FrancedeWilde
Portrait of Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew by France de Wilde (1917)

Quote of the day: 6 May

BLESSED ANNE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW
Protectress of Antwerp


Regarding these matters of the war, some things have occurred in my soul which are undeniable. The day on which Maurice Nassau, Prince of Orange, marched at the head of a great army with the fixed resolution of taking Antwerp, he placed most of his troops in many ships. The night was very serene and tranquil; he said to his followers with the most joyous air in the world: “We will see that there is no one but God or the devil who can cause the failure of my undertaking.” He assured them that they would take Antwerp, and that they would return rich.

But suddenly a great tempest arose and a very violent cold wind, which froze the water; and the ships with those aboard were instantly sunk. Maurice alone saved himself and with much difficulty, running the risk several times of drowning, struggling against the tempest, the water and the ice, in such wise that he was sorely wounded. From that day he had no health, and finally died in consequence of this mishap.

The Kranenhoofd on the Scheldt Sebastiaan Vrancx
The Kranenhoofd on the Scheldt, Antwerp
Sebastiaan Vrancx (Antwerp, 1573-1647)
Oil on panel, 1622
The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

That very night, knowing nothing of the treachery of our enemies, I was seized about midnight with a great fear and I commenced to pray, my arms extended towards heaven, with great impetuosity of fervor. My arms becoming fatigued from being thus uplifted, I let them fall; it seemed to me that someone raised them again towards heaven and an unknown voice said: “‘Tis not yet time to stop, keep them raised towards heaven.” And I remained thus until near daybreak. I felt then that what I asked had been granted. And really, it was so.

For my part, I can do nothing

On another occasion, having gone to bed and being already asleep, I was awakened by cries coming from the dormitory of the religious. These cries continued after my awakening; I called out and, two Sisters coming, I said to them: “Go through the cells, and see which of the religious is sick, for I hear cries.”

The two Sisters, after having made the visit, returned to say to me: “All the Sisters are sleeping, and there is no one sick.”

I then said: “Tell all to dress, and we will go before the Blessed Sacrament, for there must have been some treachery. It was our holy Mother herself, it seems, who wakened us.” And we all went before the Most Holy Sacrament.

Karmelietessenklooster, Antwerp sanctuary
Carmel of Antwerp, the chapel | Tijl Vereenooghe / ArcheoNet Vlaanderen

I then said to our Lord: “I bring Thy servants to Thee here. May they ask Thee what I desire; for my part, I can do nothing”; and I meant what I said; for it is the truth that I felt confused in our Lord’s presence.

We remained a little time in prayer, and soon I felt, without seeing or hearing anyone, that we could retire. I forgot to say that at the same time I heard the cries, I also heard the signal calling to arms in the citadel. I looked through the windows to see if there were any lights in the fortress, for we could see it from our house. I did not perceive any light, all was dark. In spite of that, I felt that some danger threatened us.

A few days ago I awoke at two o’clock in the morning. A powerful emotion in my soul told me it was necessary to pray, which I did. But after some time, as I was weary, I went to bed again. It was useless. I had become the prey of an anxiety which would allow me no repose. I recognized by this that our Lord willed that I should pray. I began then to pray, my hands raised towards heaven, experiencing a strong emotion which told me to plead for mercy.

Karmelietessenklooster, Antwerp reliquary
Reliquary of Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew shows her praying with her hands raised toward heaven | Tijl Vereenooghe / ArcheoNet Vlaanderen

For two entire hours, from two o’clock to four, without consciousness of myself, and powerless to resist, I remained with hands raised to heaven and interiorly urged to ask for mercy. All the following day I was like one dead, my body bruised as if it had been beaten with a stick. I knew not then what had happened, but they told me later that the heretics had attempted to take possession of the city by surprise, and that they had not been able to succeed.

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew
Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew

Ana-de-San-Bartolome_praying-before-an-altar_FrancedeWilde
Portrait of Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew by France de Wilde (1917) | Wikimedia Commons

Pope Benedict XV beatified Anne of Saint Bartholomew on 6 May 1917  

Quote of the day: 5 May

One day I felt greatly mortified because my age and weakness would not permit me to perform as much penance as I wished. Our Lord made me understand that the most important thing does not consist in performing wonderful exterior acts and showing great feeling, but a good heart is what He prizes and wishes from us. This, it is to be understood, is when we cannot do the good that we desire.

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew
Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew
Fourth Book, Chapter Three 

Ana-de-San-Bartolome_praying-before-an-altar-Dutch
Anne of St. Bartholomew praying before an altar
In 1622 and 1624 she prevented, by her prayers, the city of Antwerp from falling into the power of the Dutch, which caused her to receive the glorious title of Guardian and Liberatrix of Antwerp

 

 

 

Quote of the day: 4 May

I am here; I consider you as the light of my eyes

The magistrates came to receive us half a mile outside the city. All the people arranged in procession welcomed us with demonstrations of most lively faith. The gathering was so great, and our entrance made with such solemnity, that we were unable to cross the threshold of our home until evening. There was reason to praise God in witnessing the devotion with which the inhabitants of Pontoise received this new foundation, and even now they retain the same sentiments. Our Lord has granted and ceases not to grant many favors to this city, owing to the prayers of the Sisters.

Witnessing all this, I experienced intense sorrow only at the thought that I was to be head of the monastery. I was like one condemned to death, and so mortified that it seemed to me the office of Prioress, in my case, was a disgrace, and that never in any other circumstances had I been weighed down body and soul by such ignominy. My whole being seemed but a worm of the earth; and that in truth is what I am. But I never saw it in so clear a light as on that occasion.

Being one day before the Blessed Sacrament, I begged our Lord that He, Himself, would be watchful for His glory, and that He would assist me, as I felt entirely alone. He said to me: “I am here; I consider you as the light of my eyes.”

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew
Autobiography of the Blessed Mother Anne of Saint Bartholomew

Ana-de-San-Bartolome_praying-before-an-altar
Blessed Anne of Saint Bartholomew

 

Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew, despite her fears and trepidation, became one of the great foundresses of the Teresian Carmel in France and Belgium. The Carmel of Pontoise was founded with the aid of Blessed Madame Acarie (Marie of the Incarnation), 15 January 1605, three months after the foundation of the Carmel of Paris on faubourg Saint-Jacques, 18 October 1604. 

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