Léonie had returned from a six-month stay (her first) at the Visitation of Caen on January 6, 1888, so she was living with her father, Céline, and Thérèse at Les Buissonnets at this time. She joined her family at Thérèse's farewell dinner there on April 8. Thérèse writes of that evening "My dear little Léonie, who had returned from the Visitation a few months previously, kissed and embraced me often." When Léonie testified at the diocesan process for Thérèse's beatification in 1910, she spoke about Thérèse's entrance:
"I was present when my little sister left home for Carmel. I did not enter the Visitation Order definitvely until 1899, but I had made two attempts: one, which lasted six months, in 1887, and another of about two years, in 1893. So when Thérèse was bidding us farewell, I had returned from my first stay with them. I found her strength of character particularly striking on this occasion; she was the only one of us who was calm. Only her silent tears bore witness to the pain she felt at leaving father, whom she loved so much, and for whom she was the only consolation of his old age.
I told her to think well on it before entering a convent, that my own experience had taught me that such a life demanded many sacrifices of one, and was not to be entered into lightly. Her answer and the expression on her face told me that she expected sacrifices and accepted them joyfully.
At the entrance to the Carmelite enclosure, she knelt before our imcomparable father for his blessing, but, as far as I can remember, he was prepared to give it only on bended knees. Only God can measure what a sacrifice he was making, but for that great and generous Christian to know the will of God and to do it were one and the same thing."
from "St. Therese of Lisieux By Those Who Knew Her," edited and translated by Christopher O'Mahony. Dublin: Veritas Publications, 1973.
After I published the photo essay of St. Therese entering Carmel, I discovered at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux the section "St. Therese's Life in Pictures" (103 documents, many never published before, depicting sixty scenes in Thérèse's life). I post below several sketches of Thérèse's entrance day.
At the Archives site the images are a little bigger and are accompanied by text from Thérèse and some details; to visit them there, please click on the images below
The Martin and Guerin families approach the chapel of the Carmel on the day of Therese's entrance. By Charles Jouvenot.
Therese has just stepped into the enclosure. Her father is outside with Canon Delatroette.
Therese's first moments in the enclosure. Unused sketch.