After a special Mass, Leonie Martin's body now lies in her new tomb in the chapel of the Monastery of the Visitation at Caen - January 21, 2017

Bishop Boulanger presiding at the Mass on January 21, 2017 to celebrate the deposit of the body of the Servant of God, Leonie Martin, in  her new tomb at the Monastery of the Visitation at Caen.  Photo credit:  Archives of the Monastery of the Visitation at Caen

"Today, the Eucharist presided over by Monseigneur Boulanger for this occasion before the deposit of the casket of the Servant of God, Sister Francoise-Therese, in her new tomb in the chapel, January 21, 2017."

- translated with permission from www.leonie-martin.fr

In the photo above: in the sanctuary, wearing his miter, Bishop Boulanger; at right, Father Sangalli, postulator of Leonie's cause.   Leonie's coffin lies in the center aisle, draped in red.  The Visitation nuns are visible in the front pews on the right.  

Leonie's tomb is now at street level.  The crypt was accessible only to those who could handle stairs.  What a joy to think that anyone who can travel can pray in the presence of her tomb now!  May it be a blessing to the whole world.  

Leonie is the only one of Therese's four sisters not buried underneath Therese's shrine at the Lisieux Carmel.  Her sister Pauline, then prioress, had offered her the honor of being buried there with her sisters, but Leonie declined.  She wanted to remain at the Visitation in death as she had in life. So her tomb, a pilgrimage site, remains in Caen, the city where she found a home and where her father Louis spent his "three years of martyrdom" at the Bon Sauveur hospital. 

On June 6, 1941, ten days before her death, Leonie wrote to Pauline that her superior "told me I will be buried in the crypt beside our other revered Mother Superiors, and that she in turn will join me there. Yes, there’s nothing I’d like more, but may it be as late as possible. This decision of the Council encourages me to embrace my insignificance even more."  [from the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux].  If the honor of being buried in the crypt with her superiors made Leonie feel insignificant, what would she have felt at the celebrations of today?  

The body of the Servant of God, Leonie Martin, is deposited in her new tomb in the chapel of the Monastery of the Visitation at Caen, January 21, 2017

TThe Sisters of the Monastery of the Visitation of Caen have the joy of inviting you to the Eucharist at which Monseigneur Boulanger, bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, will preside on the occasion of the deposit ot the tomb of the Servant of God, Sister Françoise-Thérèse, Léonie Martin, in her new tomb

Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.

In the chapel of the Monastery

3, rue de l’abbatiale

14000 CAEN

You are also invited, in honor of this feast, to a spiritual concert that will be given by the ensemble Le Diapason under the direction of Jean-François Chenel

Monday, January 23, 2017 at 8:30 p.m.

In the chapel of the monastery

(admission free)

On January 20, 2017, Pascal Simon reported in Ouest-France that Leonie Martin, the sister of Saint Therese of Lisieux, may be the next native of Normandy to be proclaimed a saint by the Catholic Church.  

Transfer of Leonie's body to the chapel

Leonie's process of beatification opened in 2015.  It reaches a new stage on Saturday, January 21, 2017 at the monastery of the Visitation in Caen, where Leonie lived as Sister Francoise-Therese from 1899 until her death. Her body, which has lain in a tomb in the crypt of the monastery since she died in 1941, will be transferred to a new tomb in the chapel where she professed her vows in 1900.  Her new shrine was designed by architect Hervé Declomesnil. 

Mass to mark the occasion

Monseigneur Jean-Claude Boulanger, the bishop of the diocese of Bayeux and Lisieux, will preside at a Mass to mark the occasion at 3:00 p.m.  He will be assisted by Father Antonio Sangalli, an Italian Carmelite priest who is the postulator of Leonie's cause.  Father Sangalli served as vice-postulator for the cause of Leonie's parents, Saints Louis and Zelie Martin.  

Progress of Leonie's cause

Father Sangalli told Ouest-France that the diocesan inquiry into whether Leonie practiced "heroic virtue" is still going on.  In an interview with TendanceOuest, Father Sangalli said that Leonie's life was full of the spirit of the gospel, of the beatitudes, and that her sanctity was the "heroicity of the everyday."  He hopes that this first stage will be completed before the end of "Leonie's year," which opened on the 75th anniversary of her death (June 16, 2016).  

Possible miracles identified

The file will then be sent to the Vatican, which might proclaim Leonie "Venerable" (a title given to candidates for sainthood who are deemed by the Church to have practiced heroic virtue).  If that were to happen, the next step toward Leonie's beatification would be to identify a miracle attributed to Leonie's intercession, that is, a healing that cannot be explained by science.  Father Sangalli said that three possible cases of unexplained cures have been identified: a little boy in Brazil, a little girl in Switzerland, and a little girl in France.  

We congratulate Monseigneur Boulanger, Father Sangalli, and the nuns of the Visitation on this happy occasion.  How they have labored and prayed to make the holiness of Leonie's life known so that it may inspire us!  Let's continue to support Leonie's cause with our prayers.  

For details in French, see "Leonie Martin, future sainte?  Nouvelle etape a Caen" by Pascal Simon for Ouest-France, January 20, 2017 and "A Caen: les Les travaux avancent pour la beatification de Leonie Martin," by Marc Eynaud for Tendance-Ouest.

Joyful news: Leonie's tomb in the crypt of the Monastery of the Visitation at Caen reopened to visitors

Left: Carmelite friar fr. antonio sangalli, postulator of Leonie's cause, in the crypt on the day it was reopened.  From far right, Fr. Olivier Ruffray, rector of the shrine at lisieux; mgr jean-claude boulanger, bishop of bayeux and lisieux; father Jean-Marie simar, rector of the shrine of sts. louis and zelie at al4encon, with members of the historical commission.  photo credit: visitation of caen.

Left: Carmelite friar fr. antonio sangalli, postulator of Leonie's cause, in the crypt on the day it was reopened.  From far right, Fr. Olivier Ruffray, rector of the shrine at lisieux; mgr jean-claude boulanger, bishop of bayeux and lisieux; father Jean-Marie simar, rector of the shrine of sts. louis and zelie at al4encon, with members of the historical commission. 
photo credit: visitation of caen.

"On April 25, 2015, the body of the Servant of God, Léonie Martin, was exhumed as part of the cause for her beatification.  Many people call the monastery or come to the reception desk to ask to pray near the Servant of God, but access to the crypt where Léonie’s tomb is has been closed to the faithful since that date. 

On July 18, 2016, in the presence of Mgr Boulanger, bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux; of Father Sangalli, the postulator of the cause; of the members of the historical commission [that has been appointed to inquire into Léonie’s life, writings, and virtues]; and of the Visitation Sisters, Léonie’s body, clothed in the Visitation habit, was deposited in her glass shrine.

A sarcophagus has been erected in the chapel of the Visitation to receive the shrine of Léonie when the restoration and cleaning of the chapel, begun in February 2016, is completed.

Meanwhile, it is again possible for the faithful to enter the crypt, but only under certain conditions:

1.      First, please present yourself at the reception desk during the hours indicated. 

2.      Second, while you are in the crypt, please display all the respect one should show when one prays near the body of someone who has died. 

3.      Third, accept that Léonie’s body is not visible. 

4.      Finally, all photographs are forbidden.

These conditions are necessary for the pursuit of the cause for Léonie’s beatification.  Thank you for your understanding."

This article is translated with thanks from the Web site maintained for Léonie by the Visitation nuns of Caen.  See their post "Réouverture de la crypte."  We thank them also for permission to use their photos above. 

Important notes from the translator:

The hours presently posted for visiting the crypt (as of August 27, 2016) are:

From Monday through Thursday:
9:10 a.m. until 10:50 a.m. (Mass is at 11:00 a.m.)
2:15 p.m. until 5:15 p.m.

Friday:
9:10 a.m. unjtil 10:50 a.m. (Mass is at 11:00 a.m.)
3:30 p.m. until 5:15 p.m.

Saturday:
9:10 a.m. until 10:50 a.m. (Mass at 11:00 a.m.)
2:30 p.m. until 5:15 p.m.

Sunday:

9:00 a.m. until 9:50 a.m. (Mass at 10:00 a.m.)
After Mass: until 12 noon
2:30 p.m. until 5:15 p.m.

These hours are subject to change without notice at any time.  Before going to Caen, please see the hours for the crypt posted on the site of the Visitation at Caen.

Note: I understand that the glass shrine which contains Léonie’s body is in the crypt, but her body is not visible.  The body of a person under consideration for sainthood may not be exposed for veneration until the candidate has been beatified.  To allow people to pray near Léonie’s body in the crypt again, but to prevent her body from being seen by the faithful who come to pray, the shrine has been covered with a red cloth.