Lisieux, 6 June 1944

Memories of June 1944

 

As I could do nothing about it, I did not get upset. If our whole monastery disappeared, its spirit would remain.

Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face, OCD
Céline Martin

 

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Lisieux after the June 1944 bombardments: Rue de Livarot (now Rue du Carmel) | PhotosNormandie / Flickr

 

I give it to You, do as You will with it … My God, I even sacrifice my nuns to You if You wish it … I must cry when I see our little Carmel; I love it so much.

Mother Agnès of Jesus, OCD
Pauline Martin

 


Immense gratitude to Martin family expert Maureen O’Riordan for her tireless efforts to research the events of June, July, and August 1944 as they affected the sisters of St. Thérèse and the Carmel of Lisieux. You can see the articles she has written concerning the battle for control of Lisieux here. We particularly recommend her blog post, The Carmelites of Lisieux in the Summer of 1944: 80 Days and 80 Nights in the Basilica of St. Therese. Written for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Lisieux on 23 August 1944, it chronicles the events in great detail.

Martin family historian Father Stéphane-Joseph Piat, OFM notes in his book A Family of Saints: The Martins of Lisieux Saints Thérèse, Louis, and Zélie:

The dozens of bombardments that, between June 6 and August 22, 1944, rained down a hurricane of iron and fire over the Normandy town have demolished 2100 houses out of 2800, beaten to the ground two parish churches out of three, razed likewise the majority of the religious houses, and caused to perish, together with sixty religious, more than a tenth of the population. Historic Lisieux was nearly annihilated. Spiritual Lisieux remains standing.

May the powerhouse that is Spiritual Lisieux always remain a beacon of hope for peace: that God’s merciful love and the message of St. Thérèse’s infinite trust in his love may prevail in our hearts, in our homes, and in our world.

 

A Family of Saints: The Martins of Lisieux — Saints Thérèse, Louis, and Zélie
Piat, Stéphane-Joseph. Translated by a Benedictine of Stanbrook Abbey.
© 2016 by Ignatius Press, San Francisco

 

Cèline’s first letter to Thérèse

From Céline to Thérèse – 3 January 1884

To my dear little Thérèse. Remembering 3 January 1884. Pray hard for me on the day of your first Communion. Your little sister Céline

Child of Mary


De Céline à Thérèse – 3 janvier 1884

A ma chère petite Thérèse. Souvenir du 3 janvier 1884. Prie bien pour moi le jour de ta première Communion. Ta petite soeur Céline

Enf. de Marie

See this letter and many more on the website of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux

Le Cantique de Céline
Le Cantique de Céline is the 18th poem (PN18) in the collected works of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Written 28 April 1895 at Céline’s request, St. Thérèse composed the poem for her sister’s birthday set to a melody that their father, St. Louis Martin, loved dearly.

Quote of the day: 25 February

On Wednesday, the 25th of February 1959, at 9:25 a.m. Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face died at the age of 89 years and 10 months, and 63 years of religious profession.

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 the Mother Prioress.

“Today!” she repeated, as if she was savoring her joy.

“Yes, you fight, it’s a hard fight! 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!

Céline Martin
Sr. Geneviève of the Holy Face, OCD

Read the complete account of her final day on our post, Adieu Céline

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