Pope Pius XI sent Cardinal Pacelli to Lisieux for the
solemn blessing of the Basilica on July 11, 1937. The
next day, he went to visit
Marie, Pauline and Céline at
the Carmel. There he had a conversation with Céline,
where he echoed the words about St.
Thérèse’s mission:
“Spiritual Childhood and the Little Way”.  It was a
blessing to hear those words which Céline had echoed
from the start. She asked him to pose for a picture and
he graciously did. When the opportunity came, Céline had
a presentiment that he would be the next pope. He
responded to her by saying: “Ask rather that I will have the
grace of a happy death. That’s more precious to me. May
the good God be merciful and kind to me at the supreme
moment.” (C) After the death of Pope Pius XI, it was
announced that Cardinal Pacelli was the next pope,
Pope Pius XII. When she heard who it was, it was with
great satisfaction that she played the role of the prophet.

Marie’s lungs had filled with fluid, in December of 1939.  
It was a great indication that she was gravely ill. The doctors
were summoned at her bedside and their final verdict was
that she was not going to make it much longer.
Pauline and
Céline spent several hours a day at her bedside while she
suffered. They informed
Léonie of the daily events occurring
around their beloved sister.

During recreation, Céline spent her time with her sister
Marie in the infirmary. It was very hard for Marie to be
confined to bed because of her independent spirit. On one of
the days Céline spent with her sister, Céline spoke about
their parents Louis and Zelie heroic courage and supported
their courage using Maccabees: “Oh! Do not sully our glory;
do not allow it to be tarnished! The “dear Godmother” filled
with emotion, said to her devoted attendant: ‘Did you hear
her! How eloquent she was! What a beautiful soul she has!
Little
Thérèse saw the truth of her, even through all her
faults.’ And Fr. Pichon often said to me, “Your Céline is a
vessel of election!”(C)

Marie had managed to make it to, however, on January 19,
1940 her last audible words in front of her sisters were, “I
love thee” as she kissed her crucifix. As she was praying the
rosary and gazed her eyes on the statue of “Our Lady of the
Smile”, she breathed her last breath, the time had come
for her soul to ascend to Heaven. Later that same day,
Céline experienced the scent of roses, when there was no
explanation to be seen for the aroma of what smelled like
roses, she “understood how the death of saints is precious
in the sight of God.” (C)

On January 23, 1940, a Mass was said in the Carmelite
chapel and witnessed by many worshippers including two lay
sisters that were sent by the Visitation monastery in Caen
representing
Léonie on her behalf. Marie’s body was then
brought down to a vault located underneath the chapel where
her body rests today.

As the events were reshaping Europe with Nazi Germany
invading surrounding countries, it would not be long before
Nazi Germany would amass its grip on France. As news of
each country’s downfall, Céline removed herself from this
world more and more and looked forward to Heaven.

Céline wrote to
Pauline on April 19th. “I am drawing up for
myself a little balance sheet called a precision balance, which
is used in medicine to weigh milligrams, because it is perfectly
true that I am sensitive to the  least milligram and that even
one milligram makes me stumble. But I know very well that
it will always be like that. I still feel that I will always be like
quicksilver, doing things before I think them through. It is
very unfortunate to have so little equilibrium and level-
headedness because of a host of imperfections is the
consequence. But I think God likes to cope with difficulties
and that he is not embarrassed to make a passage for himself
in the midst of a muddy abyss.” (C)

It was not long after her beloved sister
Marie died; France
was invaded by Nazi Germany. It was a fear cast down by
many Frenchmen and a fear that would soon be realized on
May 10, 1940. A German dictator by the name of Adolph
Hitler decided to invade France. The French army thought
that the Germans would attack them on the French and
German border, where they had a strong line of defense.
However, the Germans decided to attack France through
Belgium instead. The French army made an enormous
effort to stop the German army from penetrating the front
lines. However, they were no match to the German arsenal
of weapons. On June 22, 1940 the French and German
governments signed an Armistice agreement that called for
two different zones. One zone occupied by the Germans and
the other zone occupied by the French. Unfortunately, Caen
and Lisieux were both positioned in the German occupied
zone. The Germans setup outposts in most of the major cities
in France, Caen and Lisieux being no exception. It was
heartbreaking for Céline to see foreign occupiers, occupy the
country she loved so much.

On the last day of May 1940, Céline spoke to
Pauline about all the work they had accomplished
on their sister
Thérèse, she said: “Humanly speaking, all seems lost, and we have every right to ask
ourselves what is going to become of us and the relics of which we are the guardians. As far as we
are concerned, it matters little because it would be a great good to cross over to the eternal shore
towards which all our thoughts tend. But our treasures, I mean those precious relics of
Thérèse?
For a long time, I was preoccupied about that, and I suffered great anguish on their account. But
now, I am no longer preoccupied…The time has come when our little
Thérèse is loved in spirit
and in truth. So there is no real need for our senses to touch and see.” (C)

France, for Céline, was very dear to her heart, just as it was to her father Louis. In trying to
examine and rationalize the invasion of France by Nazi Germany, Céline wrote: “I think that if
God chastise us, it is because we are dear to him…France is very guilty and, consequently, very
ill. It is a mercy that God has decided to allow her to continue…I beg him to extend his arms in
order to save us, not because of our merits, but because of his goodness. I say that because I
am shocked when I hear the virtues of France being praised excessively, as if, because of them,
God were indebted to us. I would prefer to see the just, with all their justice, follow the counsel
of our Lord by admitting they are “unprofitable servants” and humbly taking his hand. (C)

While France was being occupied, the pilgrimages almost came to a halt. It was one of the darkest
years that were spent while the Germans laid their claim on Lisieux. But to reverse the negative
effect on the occupation, Céline placed all of her efforts on a new book called, “The Story of a
Family”.  In this book, she went back and researched the archives and pieced together the details
of the life of her family. Previously, there were many rumors and misinterpretations in regards to
the many details of her family’s life. What was most heartening was the gossip surrounding her
father’s ailments.  There were many clarifications that needed to be addressed from previous
years of misinformation and this was the book that cleared many of those rumors.

No sooner than the death of
Marie did Léonie’s health start to deteriorate. She was once again
stricken with an illness that would eventually become fatal. Her illness removed her from all
of the duties that she was responsible for in the monastery. No longer was she going to chant in
the choir. Céline’s sister
Pauline added in a letter to Léonie: “As long as your heart chants
unceasingly the praises of the good God, all is well.” (GV)

Pauline notified
Léonie and expressed to her that she was given permission to be buried at the
Carmelite monastery along beside her sisters
Marie and Thérèse, but for fear that her beloved
Visitation monastery would be lost after her death, she chose to be buried at the Visitation.  
Both
Pauline and Céline reassured Léonie that their communication would not stop after her
death.
Pauline reassured her that communicating with the Visitation monastery would continue.

The Mother Superior of the Visitation monastery in June of 1941 notified Céline and
Pauline that
their beloved sister was in her final days. On the 12th,
Léonie had a stroke and was found on the
floor unconscious. The doctor came and examined her and there wasn’t any good news
concerning her condition. The Mother Superior then notified the Carmel of
Léonie’s dire condition
and
Pauline sent two lay sisters that afternoon to represent both Céline and herself. The lay sisters
brought with them Céline’s and
Pauline’s last messages and a bouquet of flowers that they picked
to give to her. On the 17th, hours leading up to her death,
Léonie’s struggle was at its most difficult
for her and soon thereafter, she made her final surrender to God, her soul after so many years of
sacrifices, ascended to Heaven. On the 21st, the same two lay sisters represented both Céline and
Pauline at the funeral. Despite the occupation of France, many townspeople turned out for her
funeral to pay their respects.

The spring of 1944 had advanced and the D-Day invasion began. In the allies attempt to liberate
France, the bombs would begin to rain on Lisieux. The start of the bombing missions by the Allied
forces began on June 6, following subsequent days afterwards. Several hundred 500 lb bombs
were dropped over Lisieux and the surrounding areas.  As the reign of terror began over the fight
for Lisieux, the Carmel was in the middle of it. It was
Pauline’s wish for her and her sisters to
stay at the Carmel, but as the surrounding buildings were set ablaze,
Pauline, Céline and their
sisters had no choice but to leave Carmel and take cover in the crypt of the Basilica of St.
Therese
of Lisieux on the 8th of June.

Both
Pauline and Céline and their sisters fled the Carmel. One of her sisters escorted her up the hill
to the Basilica. Céline was at peace with the journey as if she was being guided up the hill by her
deceased family members. As she stated: “Since I cannot do anything about it, I am not going to
worry over it. If our whole monastery disappeared, its spirit would still remain.” (C)  She detached
herself from all of the hysteria that was taking place around her and focusing on God and God alone.

When they reached the Basilica, the Carmelite sisters took refuge in the side chapel at the crypt level
where a statue of Our Lady of Smile was. During their stay, they rested at different hours of the day
on the pews and ate in haste while the fighting was going on outside. There, they were surrounded
by several townspeople who also took refuse in the Basilica as well.

Since, there were only two remaining Martin sisters that were still alive, many of the townspeople
who have also taken shelter alongside them took turns introducing themselves and overwhelmed
them with a lot of inquiries. One of the townspeople attempted to cast some doubts as to whether
the Carmel would survive the bombings stating that it was impossible for the Carmel to survive the
firestorm of bombs that were being dropped on Lisieux.  Céline, with a strong reverence to the
Lord, responded by saying: “That is no longer up to us; let us abandon ourselves to the Lord for
everything he will permit. He has always had pity on us. We can have complete confidence in
him.” (C)

Living a cloister life in the monastery and then being forced out into the world again brought about
its challenges for Céline.  The modest clothing that was once the custom prior to her entering the
monastery was no longer there. There wasn’t any dignity in the way people dressed anymore. But
what was an even worse trial for Céline was to bear the constant attention given to them from the
townspeople that surrounded her and
Pauline. Céline felt like a “carnival attraction” and in response
called upon God to help her overcome it. Out of prayer, peace overcame her and she embraced it
and humbly made herself available to anyone who sought out her attention. As she stated: “it is for
this hour that I have come here. Yes, I am certain that this trial was necessary for me at the end
of my life.” (C)

If it wasn’t the visits that preoccupied her mind, it was all the work she had accomplished in honor
of her sister
Thérèse that was also worrisome for her.  The fear of losing all of the work she had
accomplished for decades would possibly ignite into flames. She came to realization that she must,
too, abandon it all for God as she stated: “I feel deeply that it’s all nothing, nothing.  What does
matter is God’s intervention; only his grace counts and it does not need writing to penetrate and
enlighten a soul. A little self sacrifice practiced unobtrusively will open up the wellspring of it.” (C)

As the British advanced on Lisieux, the church bells began to ring, signaling to the Germans in a
defiant manner that their reign of terror was soon ending. With days enfolded with heavy fighting,
Lisieux finally fell to the Allies. Lisieux was finally free.  Out of all the mayhem that had erupted
for months, there was a silver lining out of it.
Pauline and Céline took the opportunity that they
would never have had if they were not forced out of their monastery and visited the places that
was a part of their family’s lives for years.  They went to the Lisieux cemetery and visited the
graves of their beloved family members as well as traveled to Les Buissonnets. It was a blessing
for them with many emotions.

On August 27th, it was decided that it was safe enough for the Carmelites to return back to their
monastery. In a procession from the Basilica of St.
Thérèse to the Carmel, Céline and Pauline
alongside the devotees of St. Thérèse traveled along the road of a destroyed city to their final
destination.

Now that the worst had past, it was time to resume their cloister lives once again. Céline, again,
took on the tasks of writing and also painting. She painted more portraits of her sister
Thérèse
and also painted three medallions that would be on the chasubles used by the priests for the jubilee
of her profession. In all of the work she accomplished it was not without researching her subject
first. Most often, even in the latter part of her life, she continued to comb through archives. Céline
never stopped learning and still maintained the eagerness to learn new things in books she read.
As she was quoted as saying: “I have always weighed and dissected the propositions set before me;
I wanted proof of what had been put forward, and I was ill at ease as long as the question was not
fully resolved.” (C) She owes a lot of her researching techniques from learning from her uncle
Isidore.  

On October 8, 1944, Céline wrote to a confidante: “If I consider where I am, I notice that I have
not gone forward but backwards…And there, I enjoy an astonishing peace even though it is in
darkness. I take as my own this passage from a prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas: ‘…At the distance
intervals, Lord, you draw me out of my lethargy, but alas! They are only passing visits. I do not
know if you love me, or if I love you…I do not even know if I live by faith! I find only infidelity
in myself, only random beginnings, only fruitless sacrifices…and yet, I long for you!”(C)

In times of trials, Céline reflected heavily on Psalm 63 and meditated on the words: ‘O God, my
God! For you I long, for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you like a dry weary land
without water. So I gaze on you in the sanctuary in order to contemplate your strength and your
glory; for your mercy is better than life.”(C)

Céline, in her writings, describes herself as the “Queen of Imperfect”. “My kingdom is extremely
vast, and I have myriads of subjects but, whatever they do, they cannot surpass their queen in
this… The fox will never change.”(C) Imperfection! She also meditated on her sister Therese’s
words: “It is enough to humble oneself, to bear one’s imperfections with gentleness. That is true
sanctity for us.”(C)

On the anniversary of Céline’s 50th year of profession, the 24th of February 1946, there was a
Mass conducted in her honor. The Bishop of Bayeux, Msgr. Picaud, gave the sermon and an
envoy that came from the Vatican, Msgr. Roncalli, the Apostolic Nuncio, read her a message from
the Pope. After the Mass was conducted, Céline was in charge of leading the group of dignitaries
around the monastery where many of the events of St.
Thérèse’s life occurred. Afterwards, they
celebrated over lunch where Céline was toasted by many of the dignitaries.  She was presented
with a watercolor by Pope Pius XII. The watercolor illustrated three pictures of Céline at different
points in her life. It was a joyous day spent by all.

In 1949, Céline reflected the trials of her life and the effect it had on her soul: “I look upon my
soul as a fortified castle that was extraordinarily coveted by the enemy. I was the object of endless
dangerous attacks, perilous assaults, and extreme wars. Certainly, I have suffered much, but my
Jesus, my divine Cavalier, faithful to his Lady, has fought for me, and he has won.

The virtue that Céline valued most was humility. It was a virtue she prayed endlessly to receive
this specific gift from God.  As she said: “I desire only one thing, and that is that God may have
pity on me; and one can be pitied only when one is in a pitiful state.” (C) Several times over when
there were opportunities for her to hold important positions in the monastery she was always
overlooked. These were all lessons in humility. As Céline stated: “If our mother (prioress) does
not think of me, she was content to say, it is because I have faults that I don’t realize. I must
submit without understanding.”(C)

Céline remained hidden in the shadows of the monastery which is contrary to her usual
outspokenness. There were many people from outside the monastery that thought that she was
suffering from a mental illness and quite possibly was sent to an asylum as a result. The rumors
became so widespread that the postulator of the cause for
Thérèse went to speak to her about it.
To counteract these rumors, he encouraged her to step forward when dignitaries came inside the
monastery. It was a trial for her to be a “carnival attraction” and she endured it more often than
most. When opportunities arose, Céline stepped forward conversing with each dignitary that came
and to many of their amazement she dispelled the rumors that were casted over her once and for
all. After one of the officials witnessing for himself that the rumors that were cast down were not
true, he stated: “I must be the one who is crazy.” (C)  In reference to the rumors that were
circulating from other people about her prior to him entering the monastery.

There were many books written about St.
Thérèse by writers in the late 1940s and early 1950s
which drifted away from her message. The life of the saint and her Theresian message became
distorted from what she wanted to communicate to the devotees of St.
Thérèse: “Spiritual
Childhood”.  The images were derogatory about the saint and to combat this effort by certain
authors,
Pauline and Céline made every attempt to expose the truth about their sister through
literature.

Due to the frailty of
Pauline’s health, she was permanently moved into the infirmary and thus
catapulting Céline to the forefront and taking the lead in defending her sister
Thérèse. On February
2, 1950, Céline completed a summary outlining all of the misinformation that had already circulated
among the devotees composed by other authors. In this summary, she clarified every segment of
“half-truths” or “lies” which distorted the Theresian message. Not only did Celine sign the summary
but she wrote in the footnotes: “
Pauline has read, approved and adopted this document on
February 11, 1950.” (C)

Due to the frail health of
Pauline, the Holy See intervened on this issue of releasing the entire
contents of “The Story of a Soul” until after her death. But
Pauline already knowing what
derogatory statements were made about the Carmel and St.
Thérèse concerning the autobiography,
she said to Céline: “After my death, I commission you to do it in my name.” (C) After the death
of
Pauline, this act was finally accomplished by Céline in a later addition.

The relationship between
Pauline and Céline was very close. After the deaths of both of their
sisters,
Marie and Léonie, World War II, and the onslaught of the defamation of their sister
Thérèse and themselves, they only had each other to lean on. As Pauline stated: “I love my
Céline more than anything else on earth and what would become of me if I did not have you.”(C)

As
Pauline’s health declined even more in 1951, Céline spent most of her days with her sister.
One month before
Pauline’s death, Céline described her in her last days: “She is as sweet and
serene as possible, totally abandoned to God.” (C) It was for Céline a trial to see her beloved
sister in such a poor state,
Pauline, who always took the lead and bore the responsibilities of the
community and the brunt of criticism from others, was now dependent upon her sisters to help
her do everything.

By mid-July,
Pauline’s health had deteriorated to the extent that it would be only days before her
departure to Heaven. After being examined by a doctor, a priest was called to give her her Last
Confession and the Last Rites. On July 28, 1951,
Pauline’s soul ascended to Heaven with Céline
and her community at her side. A funeral Mass was conducted on August 1st, where dignitaries
and followers of St.
Thérèse attended.

The lost of the companionship between the two sisters was felt most deeply by Céline. As she
described: “If I am stung with grief at the thought of my ‘Little Mother’, I also have waves of joy
in knowing that my whole family came out of the ‘great tribulation’ victorious.” (C)  I am blessed
to be the last surviving member of my family. Céline went on to say: “I am always talking to my
‘Little Mother’; we too old women were fused together in these last years.” (C) Céline received
permission from the new prioress to have a photograph of her sister in her cell as a gentle reminder
that
Pauline was always with her.

After the death of
Pauline, there was nothing left for Céline to hold on to but the union she had
with Jesus. She surrendered all of her faults and weaknesses to Him. If her immediate thoughts
were for her to gain rest before her departure to Heaven, she would be very wrong.

Even though Céline reached a mature age and faced many afflictions such as rheumatism, sciatica,
gout, she still persisted onwards. But in the winter of 1953, she was struck with influenza. At this
time, it was thought of by Céline that this illness would be the affliction to ascend her soul to
Heaven. She was preparing herself for her departure but as God would have it, she survived but
not without any regrets. As Céline stated: “I am in an abyss of misery…Am I going to pull myself
out of it? Surely, Oh! How hard it is always to miss the train…Nothing can go more slowly than
the state I’m in now. I keep asking God not to let me lack confidence. My soul is struggling in the
lower depths…I am always losing; when will I win?” (C)

Despite all of the physical ailments that came across her path, Céline continued to put forward in
her writings her sister’s way of “spiritual childhood”. She spent countless hours interpreting and
defining the meaning of the Act of Oblation to Merciful Love. She battled many of the authors in
her own writings who wrote books which either “water downed” or “misguided” devotees from
the purity of the message. Her character never pondered on or procrastinated on issues that
regarded her sister, she was immediate in her response without making any compromises.

Céline set out again to write another book called “Conseils et souvenirs”. In this book, her goal
was to help those souls that struggle day to day with all of their imperfections. She placed herself
in the forefront as an example in order to encourage those that sought to follow the “little way of
spiritual childhood” and prove that it can be accomplished. As Céline stated: “Our
Thérèse had to
reach a high level of perfection quickly; and she led us, me above all, her Céline, by the path she
followed…God allowed her apparent strictness not to discourage me but to incite me to perfection.
It was in his designs that my virtues and graces would be ‘slow’ in coming.  But with
Thérèse, the
‘bomb’ of graces exploded on the spot!” (C)

There was a large interest in the lives of Louis and Zelie Martin.  Many devotees saw the parents
as ‘saintly’.  With the constant interest in knowing more about the parents of St.
Thérèse, Céline
was requested by the prioress in 1953 and 1954 to write two different booklets titled: “The Father
of St.
Thérèse and also The Mother of St. Thérèse”. The booklets focused on the Christian lives
of her parents Louis and Zelie Martin. She spent countless hours researching the long list of notes
and correspondence that had accumulated throughout the years of their lives. She added to her
own reflections of her own accounts of situations that occurred between them.  

As with any subject manner that sparked her interest she assigned herself to do, characteristic of
her nature, to research it fully. Instinctively, she focused all of her attention on it and at many times
it became at times frustrating for her when she was constantly interrupted. Sometimes, she would
fire back at the person that interrupted her but later after realizing her fault, she would write a little
note to that sister and ask for her forgiveness.  As Céline reflected on herself: “I always wanted
the details of my life to fit together like a puzzle. Anyone who disturbed them was in for trouble!
If some unexpected circumstance happened to ruin the scheme and mix up the pieces, I showed
my displeasure.” (C)

In dealing with situations that tested her, Céline always felt that her patience was a virtue that she
could not reach: “I need many prayers to become patient, but I will suffer the want of that virtue
my whole life and I will die without ever having enjoyed it; I feel it’s hopeless. So, dying as I have
lived, without patience, I will not be able to wait at Heaven’s gate, and I will go straight on through
it.” (C) Céline prayed many times that people would see Jesus in her more so than herself.

Poverty as Céline described was a virtue that many religious practiced the least. She was very
careful not to destroy anything that could possibly be used by another sister at a later date. She
knew that things which were not important to one sister maybe important to another, it was after
all a community that they were living in and all things belonged to everyone. One’s value of a
possession is always different from another. She was after all an archivist, where she catalogued,
organized, and retained documentations on her sister
Thérèse and the community. The value in
all the things she retained was tenfold especially when discrepancies arose from outside the
monastery or from within. Céline did not view this as a spirit of attachment to things but an
opportunity to be used by another person if need be. She offered no resistance to any of her
sisters who needed something from her collection.

Céline practice the virtue of temperance. Her views on individuals and subject matter did not
waver at the first signs of a ‘big storm’. In a letter written by Céline to her sister
Léonie, she
described a situation that was occurring with a family member outside of the monastery.  In this
situation it was scandalized, and of course many people instinctively distance themselves from it.  
Céline wrote: “It seems to me that it is not the time to abandon a soul when everyone else is
abandoning him. How I would wish to be a prison chaplain, in order to go as I pleased to lift up
fallen souls…I have much more compassion than distaste for withered lilies. Oh! What we
ourselves would be if the good God had not preserved us, for we are capable of anything,
absolutely anything!” (C)

When situations arose that would cast doubts on the ordinary person, Céline held steadfast to her
Catholic faith. Her virtue of diligence in her devotion to the Roman Catholic Church was
unequivocal to none. She followed closely the teachings of the Church and most importantly in
all the works she had written that she aligned herself to that belief.  She once stated: “She
professed never to have wanted anything but the truth and requested that her writings be burned,
‘without mercy and with her thanks’ if any errors were found in them.” (C)  

Spiritual childhood was at the center of Céline’s life. It was what her sister
Thérèse had
expressed to her so often. She understood the concept of spiritual childhood very well and after
all she lived it daily: “Since God is merciful Love, misery attracts him and provokes a sea of
graces; it is enough for us to recognize it, to accept it, to love it, and not to cease to offer to the
Lord our ineffective efforts, which he will crown in his own good time, an absolute faith in
infinite Love.” (C)

The expression of faith in her union with God as she politely said: “He is a Father to me, and I
love him unto folly, passionately…My only desire is to know him more and more, to attain to the
ultimate limits of this knowledge on earth, and later in Heaven…, and to do that, I feel it is
necessary to attain the ultimate limits of humility; which is why I keep begging for it so insistently.
That sums up the whole of my poor little soul.” (C)

Céline’s 60th anniversary of her profession was celebrated on February 24, 1956. It was an event
which she would rather have avoided because of all the fanfare that it entailed.  She requested all
the gifts that she was to receive to be donated to the Basilica of St.
Thérèse for the renovations that
were taking place. On this day, at the Carmelite Chapel as the guest of honor, she witnessed the
sermon of Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus. The ceremony was presided over by Bishop
André Jacquemin. A special guest from the Vatican that was appointed by Pope Pius XII, Cardinal
Ottaviani, Pro-Secretary of the Holy Office, delivered a message from the Pope along with giving
her an autographed papal blessing. One special blessing that Céline received from Bishop André
Jacquemin and Bishop Pasquet was that both of them were going to officially open the causes of
both of her parents, Louis and Zelie Martin.

When came time for Céline to speak, she eulogized on the need of a religious vocation. As she
described: “Despite the often very sharp trials that have marked my path, I find, in the end, that
our Lord has not failed in his promise and that in leaving all things. I have found not only the
hundredfold, but I went farther, to the thousandfold in joy and interior peace.” (C) As Céline
explained further, she used
Thérèse and Pauline as examples of those virtues expressing their
cheerfulness: “In their greatest difficulties, the peace of heaven inundated their souls and fortified
them; true happiness was their lot in life as it is with all fervent souls. And there are a great many
of them in our cloister.” (C)

At the beginning of February, Céline contemplated on the need for suffering in her life as she
confided in one of her letters: “The other night I understood that it was suffering accepted with love
that gave value to my life; physical sufferings like those of martyrdom. Up until now I have suffered
in all sorts of ways, in mind and in heart, suffered also from difficult and ponderous work, which
Saint Paul enumerates in his list of tribulations. But what crowns life is personal suffering, like that
of Job, afflicted in his own body. Saint Paul ended his much tormented life by the martyrdom of
blood. Our Lord has said: ‘Was it not necessary that Christ should suffer and so enter into his
glory?’ Suffering in itself has no value; one has only to look at the demons and those damned.
But accepted with loving abandonment to God, it is a divine seal put upon our life…It seemed to
me that I saw it clearly, and I thanked God effusively for allowing me to pass through this crucible.”
(C)

On February 27, 1956, once again, Céline suffered from a high fever, coughing, muscle pains,
fatigue and discomfort brought about by her bout with influenza.  Maybe this time it will be the
one to ascend her soul to Heaven unlike her last bout with influenza. But God had other plans for
her and He wasn’t going to take her just yet. Her attitude this time was very peaceful. She
embraced the suffering up until August of the same year. As she stated: “I would never have
wanted to ask Him (God) for suffering, but now I thank Him.” (C) Céline expressed her thoughts
on death: “Truthfully, I fear nothing about it, and I am quite abandoned to it without being
conscious of it.”(C)

After surviving another round of influenza, Céline prepared herself once more for the interrogations
of the virtues of her parents. She again researched all of the letters and notes about her parents to
prepare for the process.  She believed that they were the ‘ideal role models’ for the family.  

The cause was formally introduced in 1957. As a part of the process, Céline was asked to give a
deposition of the life of her parents, being that she was the last surviving member of the family.  
As with everything that Céline did, she researched for hours all of the documents concerning her
parents for her deposition.  There were two different diocesan proceedings in the same year.
The first one was for the cause of Céline’s father Louis Martin. Due to the fact that she was
cloistered, the proceedings were held in the parlor. This cross-examination lasted for 3 months
early in the year. The next proceedings occurred at the end of that same year for two months
for Céline’s mother, Zelie Martin.  At 88 years old, Céline persevered through the entire process
and was at peace with the numerous questions that were imposed upon her. The cause was
formally introduced in 1957. As a part of the process, Céline was asked to give a deposition
of the life of her parents, being that she was the last surviving member of the family.  As with
everything that Céline did, she researched for hours all of the documents concerning her
parents for her deposition.  There were two different diocesan proceedings in the same year.
The first one was for the cause of Céline’s father Louis Martin. Due to the fact that she was
cloistered, the proceedings were held in the parlor. This cross-examination lasted for 3 months
early in the year. The next proceedings occurred at the end of that same year for two months
for Céline’s mother, Zelie Martin.  At 88 years old, Céline persevered through the entire
process and was at peace with the numerous questions that were imposed upon her.

In three separate months of the year of 1958, February, August, September, Céline continued
to assist in the process of her parents and finally in her last deposition that was made on
September 6th, “she reviewed and approved her mother’s writings for printing.” (C)

On October 13, 1958, Louis and Zelie Martin’s remains were unearthed at the Lisieux cemetery.  
After they were unearthed, both of them were examined by three doctors. The only objects
that remained intact outside of the bones were the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
and their metal crucifix. After the examination by the doctors, their remains were placed in
new coffins and then reburied behind the Apse of the Basilica of St.
Thérèse until 2008.

The coffins that were used for her parents until 1958 were painstakingly cleared out. The
bones were already buried in a new coffin and Céline along with another Carmelite nun
worked unceasingly to clear out the old coffin of the remaining remnants left behind, this
lasted for two months. Céline prepared each relic piece, sealed and placed it into boxes. She
and her Carmelite sister worked endlessly until it was completed on December 12th.

After focusing all of her efforts on completing all her tasks concerning her parents, her health
notably started to take a downward turn.  On the last day that she finished her work on the
remnants her parents coffins, she stated: “I have finished all that I had to do; now, the good
God can take me.” (C) Many of the changes that were presently occurring which were
different from traditional standards that she had fought and defended throughout the years
she now had gained her peace over it.  As Céline stated: “I thank God for allowing me to be
lovingly detached from it.” (C)

Céline found a stanza in a book written by Msgr. Baunard called “Le Vieillard which she
herself felt was a reflection of her life. “I am nearing a hundred, my day draws to a close; It
is more than evening, it is almost night. But, in front of me, rises in the east the dawn of a
more beautiful day. Welcome, welcome! It is the white light of your face, O Christ, which in
my sad heart awakens a great hope; Come down, heavenly ray, appear, my Brother Jesus, it
is time for us to see each other. (C)

The Benedictine Abbey that
Léonie, Céline and Thérèse attended in Lisieux was completely
destroyed by the World War II air raids in 1944.  After World War II ended, the rebuilding
campaign for the Benedictine Abbey, Céline was a sponsor of one of the clocks for the
Abbey. The new clocks were installed and blessed on the 14th of December 1958, thus
signaling to Céline that the end was near.

Earlier in her life, Céline had written to her sister
Léonie about death, she stated to her sister:
“During my thanksgiving, I thought of death, as I usually do and I said to myself that it was
the greatest and most meritorious action of my life, an action I would perform only once.
Then, I experienced an immense desire to accomplish this action as perfectly as possible, and
I told myself that it would not be enough to die of love in an act of perfect love, but that I
wanted it to be such a love that it breaks my bonds. I then felt certain that I would be heard.
God cannot give such desires if he does not want to fulfill them. Truly, I feel totally
unworthy of that grace, and my miserable life, which has been wholly external, entirely made
up of earthy encumbrances, does poverty that this grace seems easier for me to obtain. I
will present myself before God, not with empty hands, but with the paraphernalia of all my
misdeeds. I am summoning all of my imperfections to my judgment. It is no longer necessary
to speak of good actions. I have given them to God as I went along, and he has distributed
them to souls…So I will arrive in the procession of all my wretchedness, and God will be so
sweet to me that, not being able to stand the sight of such goodness, the bond that was still
holding me here on earth will be broken.”(C)

Céline, still facing torturous nights from physical pain, and long work days added this by
saying: “together with a thousand little miseries of old age, is a burden I do not often take up
with a smile, but rather with a sigh. I would not want God to hear it. And yet, I look upon
all my imperfections as treasures, and I summon them to appear at my judgment, for all my
faults are my strength. I regret them and am sincerely humiliated by them, I think that they
will draw God’s pity down upon me; and when he has pity, he also has mercy.” (C)  

Due to Céline’s grave illness, she left her cell for the very last time. A room which she was
accustom to for decades. She was brought to the infirmary where she would spend her last
days here on earth. A place she was as familiar with as having been an infirmarian herself
and the witness of many of her Carmelite sisters as well as her biological sisters’ deaths. A
doctor was sent to the Carmelite monastery to give his diagnosis and it was not good. The
heart muscle was functioning inadequately and the rate of her heart beats was irregular.  She
was on the cusp of having a major heart attack along with the complication of congested lungs.  
The diagnosis by the doctor brought joy to Céline; soon she would be reunited with her Lord.
Since there were repairs being made where they kept the statue of Our Lady of the Smile in
the chapel, the prioress decided to bring the statue into the room where Céline was being
kept. Seeing the statue brought back a lot of memories for her especially with members of
her family. It was as if Our Lady herself had appeared in the flesh to pay her a visit. Later
that evening, a priest came to give her the Last Rites and hear her Last Confession.   

Written by: R. Hann

Bibliography

Piat, Stéphanie Fr. The Story Of A Family: The Home of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. (SF)
Trans: Benedictine of Stanbrook Abbey. Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1948.
Martin, Celine. The Mother of the Little Flower Trans: Fr. Michael Collins, S.M.A. (ML)
Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. 1957
Martin, Celine. The Father of the Little Flower Trans: Fr. Michael Collins, S.M.A. (FL)
Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. 1955
Scallan, Dorthy. The Whole World Will Love Me, The Life of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (WW)
Edited by Fr. Emeric B. Scallan, S.T.B. Rockford, Ill. Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. 1954
---. CÉLINE: Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face. Trans: The Carmelite Sisters of the Eucharist of Colchester, Conn. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997. (C)
Martin, Céline The Father of the Little Flower (Louis Martin) (FL)
trans: Fr. Michael Collins, S.M.A. Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. 1955
Clarke, John, trans. St.Thérèse of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations. (LC)
Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1977.
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