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Father Anthony Ho

Leonie suffered like her sister Therese 

Voices June 13, 2018

Leonie Martin, left, with her sister Celine and cousin Marie Guerin while on a family vacation in 1887 at Chateau La Musse near Évreux. (Archives du Carmel de Lisieux)

In 1899, Leonie, the sister of St. Therese, entered religious life for the fourth time. On June 30,1899, she received the habit and took the name Sister Françoise-Thérèse. As a novice, she was under the direction of Sister Louise Henriette Vaugeois. Leonie was very attached to her due to her humility, simplicity, and gentleness towards her. However, Sister Louise was asked to return to her old monastery in Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Sister Marie Aimée de Songnis took over the training of Léonie. Sister Marie Aimée was very different from Sister Louise. She was more strict on following the Visitation Rule. This led Leonie into a depressed state of mind, for it was very difficult for Leonie to learn the rule quickly enough so that she would not fall into the dismay of her directress.

Leonie’s sisters at the Carmel were alarmed and feared that Leonie would be forced to leave the monastery once more. However, through the encouragement of her sisters at Carmel and the intercession of her deceased aunt Sister Marie-Dosithée and sister Therese, Leonie survived this trial.

On July 2, 1900, Leonie’s novitiate was completed and she professed her final vows. Mother Superior decided that Leonie’s jobs in the monastery would be assistant to the bursar, nurse, assistant in the refectory, and assistant in the sacristy. Leonie’s duties as assistant to the bursar were to ensure that everything in the convent was arranged accordingly. Her duties as nurse were taking care of the needs of the sick and aged nuns. She assisted the sisters in the refectory who prepared the two meals for the community. In the sacristy Leonie prepared the linens, corporals, palls, and purificators for Mass.

Leonie joyfully accepted the tasks assigned to her. She was forced to make many sacrifices in her work. With great humility, she used these opportunities to offer them to God and use them for the opportunity of saving souls, in particular for priests.

On Sept. 30, 1912, while Leonie was chanting the Divine Office, an apparition of her sister Therese’s hands appeared to her on her book. This apparition affirmed to Leonie that her sister was always with her. The experience encouraged Leonie to work harder at becoming a saint.

The canonization process for Therese progressed rapidly, and on April 9, 1915, an examination of Therese’s virtues was required for the Apostolic Process. The examination of these virtues would take place at the Carmelite monastery in Lisieux. It was a great joy for Leonie to meet her sisters, Marie, Pauline and Celine. Leonie had not seen them for 17 years. After this visit, Leonie would not see her sisters again in this earthly life.

Leonie remarked: “I belong to a family of saints and I must not blemish that heritage.” Leonie strove to be hidden and followed the footsteps of her sister Therese one step at a time.

Before and after the canonization of Therese on May 17, 1925, many visitors came to the Visitation monastery to see Leonie. Most of them would request for her to pray to her sister Therese for their intentions.

In the 1930s Leonie was in poor health and she suffered patiently. Prayer was an important part of Leonie’s life. It is prayer that Leonie’s heart desired constantly. She loved to spent hours in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Leonie said, “It is before the Blessed Sacrament that our hearts and minds are prepared to receive Him. Let us also sow many ‘Hail Marys’ for it is our Immaculate Mother in heaven that will be there to save us all.”

At the end of 1940, Leonie had to stay at the infirmary. Leonie strove to fulfill her duties. She said: “Yes, I suffer much, but I don’t want to stop, I wish to go on until the end.” 

Leonie died on June 17, 1941, with a smile on her face. She was buried on June 21. The beatification process of Leonie began in France on Jan. 24, 2015.

For more resources visit Archives du Carmel de Lisieux.

 

                                                 萊奧妮效法小德蘭 

聖女小德蘭的姐姐萊奧妮,在1899年進了修院,第四度嘗試過修道生活。同年6月30日領取會衣,取名方濟.德蘭修女,跟隨初學師類詩.亨麗艾娣.薈珠華修女。初學師的謙遜、純樸和溫婉,令萊奧妮貼心學習。可惜,她敬重的初學師不久被調回濱海布洛涅的修院。

瑪麗.安妮.璇悟修女接任初學師,她的嚴厲、固守會規的作風,使萊奧妮吃不消,很難即時適應,感到氣餒沮喪。在加耳默羅修院的姊妹們,很為萊奧妮擔心,怕她熬不住,又要被迫離開聖母往見會修院,於是對她倍加鼓勵。萊奧妮也請已故姨母瑪麗.杜燮婷修女和亡妹德蘭代禱。結果,萊奧妮這次熬過了。

1900年7月2日,萊奧妮的初學期滿,發了終身聖願。院長指派了她到不同領域提供協助:總務長的助手,萊奧妮要肯定修院在各範疇運作都納在正軌;她要護理生病和年長的修女;到餐房幫忙替團體準備每日兩餐膳食;在祭衣房為彌撒準備祭台布、九摺布、潔爵布及聖蓋等。對每天繁重的工作,萊奧妮欣喜地接受,以謙遜及犧牲的精神,奉獻給天主,為救人靈,特別為聖職人員們祈禱。

1912年9月30日,萊奧妮在唱日課經時,突然看到亡姐德蘭的手,按在她的經冊上,她頓時肯定這顯示亡姐常和她在一起,於是越發努力,希望自己能成聖。

1915年4月9日,審查德蘭宣聖其中一個步驟,在里修的加耳默羅修院內進行,審查她生時的聖德。為此,相隔了十七年,萊奧妮可以和她的姐妹瑪麗、保琳和席琳重逢,當然各人都欣喜萬分;不過,這也是她們在世的最後一次聚首。

萊奧妮說:「我屬於一個聖人的家庭,我不能污衊這傳承 。」萊奧妮努力隱藏自己。她一步一步地追隨亡妹德蘭的步筏。

1925年5月17日,德蘭被宣聖當日的前後,很多人來到聖母往見會修院,大部份都來請萊奧妮向聖德蘭轉禱他們的意向。

1930年開始,萊奧妮健康轉差,她含忍著病苦。祈禱是她生活重要的部份:她內心恆常渴望祈禱。 她喜歡用上多個小時朝拜聖體。她說:「在聖體前,我們的心靈和明悟被預備去領受祂。讓我們也多唸聖母經,因為是我們在天堂上的無玷聖母會拯救我們。」

1940年末,萊奧妮要住進醫療室,但仍設法盡好自己在修院的本份。她說:「不錯,我是辛苦,但我不想停下來,我要盡忠到底。」

1941年6月17日萊奧妮帶著微笑,溘然長逝,6月21日下葬。萊奧妮的宣聖審查於2015年1月24日在法國展開。