From Mme Martin to Pauline CF 202 - May 13, 1877.

From Mme Martin to Pauline

May 13, 1877

You should have received the letter I mailed to you on Thursday. By the date, you see that I didn’t wait very long to answer your letter, which reached me last Friday.

I was very happy to hear your news, but it hurt me to hear that you’re still suffering. If I didn’t have to go to Le Mans soon to take Marie, I would have been to see you right away. I’m worried in spite of myself. Your father reassures me by saying it’s not dangerous, that all you need is rest. I’m afraid you’re still tiring yourself by studying. In your next letter tell me if you have more of an appetite, if you’re sleeping well, in short, give me the details.

I see you’re very worried about me. As I told you, I hope to be cured by the Blessed Mother. When you write me that the good teachers are praying for me, it gives me even more confidence.

The other day, Mademoiselle X was preaching to Marie so she would be resigned to seeing me die. Your sister told her she hoped for a miracle. Yes, but … this young lady, who’s no more pious than that, looked at us like we were very simple and said, “Oh, yes! If your mother were cured, that would be the greatest miracle for me. I can’t imagine anything greater than that.”

Marie was saying to me this morning, “Oh, Mama, how surprised she’ll be! This time, she’ll believe in the miracles at Lourdes, she who criticizes pilgrimages so much.” In short, your sister is rejoicing in advance over showing Mademoiselle X she’s wrong and reducing her to silence.

I intend to bring Marie to the retreat on Sunday, June 10. We’ll go to the five-thirty Mass and leave on the seven o’clock train, arriving at the Visitation Monastery at nine o’clock, just in time for High Mass, after which I’ll take you out.

We’ll go to the processions at the cathedral because it will be the Sunday of the Sacred Heart. In Alençon there are processions like those on the Feast of Corpus Christi. I think it’s the same in Le Mans. Then, in the evening, I’ll leave Marie at the Visitation Monastery. I’d like you to ask if they’ll allow you to go out that day. If not, I won’t go.

The last time I wrote to you, Marie asked me to tell you some stories about our roofer. I didn’t want to because I didn’t think you’d find it very interesting, but today, since I have nothing to tell you, I’ll talk about this roofer who was working for us all last week. He’s a good man who has, no more and no less, the manner of a saint who performs miracles. He stays in church a very long time, kneeling on the ground, with an angelic manner. If anyone talks to him, he answers with admirable simplicity and gentleness. He works without wasting a minute, praying continually while working, and fasts every day.

He told me that on Wednesday of Holy Week, while on top of a roof, he saw a big bright cross in the sky. The sun was below the four arms of the cross.

I found this hard to believe, although he told the story with such sincerity that I really didn’t know what to think. But the recounting of his visions didn’t stop there. He spoke of so many kinds of visions that I saw he was crazy…. First of all, he knows what God’s angels don’t know - the week when the world is going to end … (it’s the first week of January 1880!) Then, his mission is to go find all the bishops in the world to announce this to them, and he’s already put his house up for sale to make his journey. I’ll spare you the rest because I’d fill my letter with nothing but this nonsense!

This story amused Marie a lot. It was said so seriously and with so much humility that if one didn’t understand the absurdity of it, one wouldn’t know what to make of it. We must recognize that it’s a peculiar madness, because this poor man, in some respects, seems very well. But the strangest thing is that his wife believes in this as much as she does in the Gospel! She’s also going to leave and take him to Saint-Denis, near Paris. There’s a woman there whom she knew in the past. She was sick, and the roofer promised to pray that she’d be cured. They’ve had no news about her since, but he claims to know, by revelation, that she’s cured. As you see, this fellow’s madness….

My dear Pauline, I went no further than this last word. Sunday evening at seven o’clock your father came to ask me to go out with him, and, as I’m very obedient, I didn’t finish my sentence! So I don’t remember anymore what I wanted to say about the fellow’s madness.

At the moment, I’m concerned about something much more serious that preoccupies me completely. I’ve learned that there’s a pilgrimage to Lourdes leaving Angers (140 km southwest of Alençon) on June 10, and I’m going to write to Sister Marie-Paula (a former headmistress at the Visitation Monastery of Le Mans boarding school who had been living in Angers for several years) to get the necessary information.

My illness is still progressing, although I’m not suffering a lot. But before you returned to school, sometimes I would go a week without feeling anything, and now I’m suffering continuously.

However, I’m confident I’ll be cured. It was ten or fifteen days after your aunt’s death that, rightly or wrongly, I began to feel this confidence that I can’t understand and also a great desire to live a few more years to raise my children.

Before, I thought I wasn’t very useful and that perhaps everything would go better after my death, but now Léonie worries me. She truly needs me, and I need time to finish the work that God has put in my hands. So, I’m sure He’ll give it to me, although I know it’s a lot to ask Him to disregard the laws of nature to prolong one wretched life. Oh well, what’s certain is that He does it often through pure goodness and mercy, and, if He does it for me, I’ll try to make Him not regret it. I don’t need to ask for your prayers. Thank the good teachers who want to take an interest in me. I commend myself especially to the prayers of Sister Marie-Gertrude. Don’t forget to give her my message.

I’ll expect your letter for Sunday. Meanwhile, I kiss you with all my heart.

Z. Martin.

I just learned how many leagues it is from here to Angers, it’s 38 (148 km). Perhaps I’ll bring you. We’ll decide that soon.


© Society of St. Paul / Alba House

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