Page 2, 30th May 1958

30th May 1958
Page 2
Page 2, 30th May 1958 — AUTOBIOGRAPHY

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Locations: Rome


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S',-I should like to offer some comments on Fr. Robo's remarks in your last issue concerning the Autobiography of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus.

(1) Fr. Robo states that "the Holy See had ordered in 1947 the integral publication of the original manuscript," and that "this was strenuously opposed by Mother Agnes, the saint's sister, who obtained -from Rome a decree suspending the effect of the first decision" so that "it was only after her death that the decree was annulled".

Now the account of the matter given by Fr. Francois, 0.D.C., the editor of the Manuscrits Arnobiographiques, differs from this. The publication was not ordered but requested, and it was requested not by the Holy See but by one of the four Definitors General of the

Discalced Carmelites. ,

So far was Mother Agnes friam strenuously opposing the publication that "she was divided in her mind" having received "contradictory counsels" so that "she went through a time of anguish which we must consider with respect". At this point the Holy See issued a decree that the manuscript should not be published in Mother Agnes' lifetime.

So far was Mother Agnes from being opposed to the publication that she "charged" her sister, Sr. Genevieve, to undertake it after her death when the decree should have ceased to hind. This fact was attested to under oath by Sr. Genevieve. (Cf MA. i, p. 8e: the account given in the Introduction to the Knox translation-pp. 28. 29 -is sufficiently, though not entirely, accurate).

(2) Fr. Robo tells us that "once Therese deliberately broke the rule of enclosure in the Carmelite Convent (men) of Della Vitoria in Rome". Those who read the account of the matter in the manuscript or on page 176 of the Knox translation may prefer the word "innocently", which Fr. Francois uses, to Fr. Robo's "deliberately".

(3) Fr. Robo deplores the "arbitrary additions" made by Mother Agnes in preparing "The Story of A Soul", and mentions particularly "two paragraphs at the end of the manuscript dedicated to the Prioress". which "only spoil the adequate and deliberate ending chosen by 1 herese". Now, of these paragraphs the first is not an addition at all, as may be seen by comparing Knox, p. 312, with the second last paragraph of Chapter XII of Mgr. Taylor's translation. The paragraph has been expanded a little, presumably because the Saint left It unfinished.

The second paragraph was added by Mother Agnes according to the express with and definite instructions of the Saint (M.A. II, p. 79). The fact that this story of the great sinner (who makes up for a life of sin by one act of love) is missing from the Knox translation is contrary to Therese's idea of how the story of her life should end.

The manuscript ending as it stands and as Mgr. Knox reproduces it is not the "ending chosen by Therese". Neither is it "adequate and deliberate", since the manuscript ends as it does only because the Saint has become so weak that "the pencil fell from her hand" (M.A. I, p.49) (4) Fr. Robo speaks of another addition made by Mother Agnes "which gives a definite impression that, for five years the young novice was the object of a systematic persecution on the part of Mother de Gonzague". He goes on to say: "You will not find this page in Mgr. R. Knox's translation, since Therese did not write it."

The passage will be found at paragraph seven of Chapter VII in Mgr. Taylor's translation, and I feel that the phrase "systematic persecution" is too strong to describe what is there set down. But what is set down is in fact less than the truth, if we are to believe the amounts given in the canonisation process of Mother de Gonzague's treatment of Therese (M.A. H, p. 48). This page is in fact found in the Knox translation, p. 186, at least in essentials: the additions made by Mother Agnes are simply instances of the severity mentioned in the manuscript and they do not at all go beyond what is attested in the process. Further, the manuscript is much stronger here than one would suppose from the Knox translation, which simply says that Mother de Gonzague treated Therese "very severely"; in the manuscript the words fres severe are doubly and triply underlined. Those who are interested in the alleged "hysteria" of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus will find a full and careful study of her childhood illness in an article in the Spanish Carmelite review. Revista de Erpiritualidad (January March, 1957) by Fr. Alberto Barrios Mooneo. C.M.F., who has devoted several years of research to Problems concerning the Saint and has had the advantage of consulting the canonisation processes in Rome.

(Fr.) No*1-Dermot, O.D.C. The Abbey, Loughrea,

Co. Galway, Ireland. HOTELS & GUEST HOUSES

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