April 09, 2015

St. Thérèse's Non-Incorruptibility

Moving account of the 1910 exhumation of St Thérèse:
Many times during her last illness, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus had announced that, according to her desire, after her death one would find only her bones.

“You have loved God so much, He will do wonders for you ; we will find your body incorrupt,”  a novice told her shortly before her death.  This idea seemed to pain her, and she answered somewhat sadly “Oh, no ; not that kind of wonder!  That would be a departure from my little way of humility ; little souls must find nothing to envy in me, so you can expect to find nothing but a skeleton."

The work of exhumation presented many difficulties.  The coffin had been buried at a depth of 3m. 50 and was in a very poor condition...And while the priests chanted the Laudate pueri Dominum, one noticed, through the disjointed planks, the palm leaf, all green and fresh as it was on October 4, 1897, the day it was first placed on the virginal body of the Servant of God.  Was this not the immortal symbol of the palm she had won by the martyrdom of her heart? This subject of martyrdom of which she wrote: “The palm of Agnes is needed for the lamb . . . and if this is not through blood, then it has to be through love."

A few weeks later, the result of the exhumation came to the awareness of a professor at the University of X, a man of great intellectual achievement, of an eminent piety and, moreover, very favored by the Servant of God through all kinds of graces during the more than ten years he had known her.  First of all, he was saddened that the body of the angelic virgin had decomposed like everyone else’s.  As he gave in to his melancholy thoughts, he heard an interior voice answer him: “It was the dress of my day’s work that I threw off. I await the robe of the eternal Sunday ; I do not care what happens to the other.”

   “And so,” he said, “I had a light that consoled me, I understood that this dissolution will spread atoms of her body everywhere, in such a way that not only her soul but also something of her body could be present and do good on earth.

It seems to me, indeed, all that really belonged to the body of a saint is a relic.  If this is so, not only her bones but also the invisible molecules of matter can carry in them the grace of relics.”Is it not the answer to this desire so poetically expressed :

Lord, on your altars more than one new rose
                        Likes to shine.
            It gives itself to you ….. but I dream of something else
                        To be unpetalled !... »

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