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.

Leonie Martin's complete letters to her family (1874-1941) published online in English by the Carmel of Lisieux - April 11, 2015

The last photo of sister francoise-therese (Leonie )martin), taken in 1940

The last photo of sister francoise-therese (Leonie )martin), taken in 1940

Today the Carmel of Lisieux finished publishing online in English all the surviving letters St. Therese's sister, Leonie Martin, wrote to the members of her family.  The letters are available at the Web site of the Archives of the Carmel of Lisieux.  Leonie, then aged 10, wrote the first surviving letter to her mother in 1874, when she was at the boarding school run by the Visitation nuns at Le Mans.  She wrote the last on June 8, 1941, eight days before her death, to Sister Marie of the Trinity, who had been a novice of St. Therese.

Relatively few of the letters Leonie wrote during the lifetime of St. Therese have survived.  But the Carmel has today published a treasure trove of her later years: 315 letters Leonie wrote to her family after she entered the Visitation in 1899.  Most of them are to her three sisters at Lisieux Carmel (Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart; Mother Agnes of Jesus; and Sister Genevieve of the Holy Face).  Several are to her uncle, Isidore Guerin.  There are also letters to his wife, Celine Guerin; to their daughter Marie (Sister Marie of the Eucharist); and to Therese's prioress, Mother Marie de Gonzague.  These hundreds of letters, never before published in English, contain invaluable insight into Leonie's personality; her spirituality, prayer, and retreats; her daily life and the life of her Visitation community; her relationships with her three sisters in the Carmel;  her reaction to Therese's beatification and canonization; and her response to World War I and World War II.

We congratulate the Carmel of Lisieux and the Association des Amis de Thérèse de Lisieux et de son Carmel on this historic achievement, and we thank them for their generosity.  You will not be able to absorb all these riches at one sitting, so begin!  Dive into Leonie's letters now.

"Four saints in one family?" - Video interview about Leonie Martin with Fr. Antonio Sangalli, O.C.D., the vice-postulator of her cause for sainthood. January 29, 2015

On January 29, 2015 RomeReports posted this short (1:54) video chat about Leonie Martin with Father Antonio Sangalli, O.C.D., the Italian Carmelite friar who is the vice-postulator of her cause.  Father Sangalli is already intimately familiar with the Martin family, for he is vice-postulator for the cause of Leonie's parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, who were beatified in 2008.  Here he speaks of the decisive influence on Leonie of the "Story of a Soul" written by her sister, St. Therese of Lisieux, and of the "incredible loyalty" with which Leonie practiced Therese's way of confidence and love.  How has the story of Therese's soul influenced you?  

Bishop Boulanger requests permission to open diocesan process for sainthood of Leonie Martin, sister of St. Therese of Lisieux; French press reports he will announce on January 24, 2015 in Caen

On Saturday, January 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, Mgr. Jean-Claude Boulanger, bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, will announce that he has requested permission to open the diocesan process of beatification for Léonie Martin, the sister of St. Therese of Lisieux, according to stories in the French press.  La Manche Libre, Le Pays d'Auge, Normandie Actuand the French Catholic newspaper La Croix reported the news.  According to these reports, Father Laurent Berthout, the bishop's press officer, said:

“For many years, people have entrusted themselves to the prayers of Léonie Martin, coming to her tomb at the Monastery of the Visitation, where she was a nun from 1899 to 1941. These persons witness to graces they have received through her intercession. Léonie Martin lived a simple, hidden, humble life in the shadow of the cloister. She wanted to live the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, doing “all through love, nothing through force” in the words of St. Francis. She was blessed by the spiritual discovery of her sister, St. Therese, who taught her to live by Love in the most humble and the most everyday actions. Leonie gave witness by her life to the possibility of living it fully, even through her limitations: character, health, trials.

The French press reports that, when he celebrates Mass tomorrow at the Monastery of the Visitation in Caen, where Leonie was a nun from 1899 to 1941, Bishop Boulanger will announce that he has requested from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome permission to open the process for Leonie in his diocese.  He has the opinion of the bishops' conference of Normandy, and he is writing a letter to the Congregation asking for this permission.  He will officially confer on Léonie  the title "Servant of God."  Before the process may actually be opened, we must wait for the Congregation to give the "nihil obstat."

The opening of the diocesan process (an inquiry into the life and writings of the candidate for sainthood) is the beginning of a long procedure that, for some candidates, leads ultimately to canonization.  The diocesan process for Therese was opened by an earlier bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux in 1910, and Léonie  testified at it.