When questioned where Céline gained all of her
confidences, she replied “Ah! I know well what it
is; it will be on my miseries, on my defects, on my
faults themselves. It will be in procession with
them that I present to God, full of assurance,
because then his pity will be my portion. He will
save me, not because of my good works, but
because of his goodness.” (C)

Retracing her journey, Céline saw where
opened her mind to other things. As impatient as
Céline was in her youth, she gave her one hundred
percent into everything that she was doing. Céline
wanted to accomplish all the virtues that God had
to offer her and accomplish them at that moment
quickly.  But Céline would learn as she journeyed
through life that it was not going to be as easy as
she thought. As she reflected on it and wrote it into
words, she wrote: “Yes, often, very often, falling
on the way, I left a little of my wool in the bushes,
and from humility, in the evening of the day I
learned my lessons. Lessons without bitterness and
full of hope, for if I am little, oh! How great Jesus
is! I am weak; he is strong, and his super
abundance makes up for my nothingness…I want
you to be everything, everything to me for I love
you…you are my ideal.” (C)

Céline, knowing well enough that this episode could
be its last for her, she wrote: “If our Mother does
not want to do a circular of me, she may say that
I requested it. It would make it easier for her. If,
on the other hand, she intends to do one, may it be
only in order to speak of my beloved
May she know it pleases me to have my faults
made known in order to throw light on the
incomparable virtues of my little sister. Just as, in
a picture, shadows heighten its brightness, I consider
myself blessed to serve in that same capacity for the
glory of God and my
Thérèse. (C)

When speaking about death after praying to her
sister, Céline felt the presence in her heart of her
Thérèse: “I have a peaceful feeling that my
hope will be fulfilled, that I have nothing to fear here
below because I will always have the strength not to
have the strength, and that to know this was the feast
day gift from Heaven to the little exiled Céline.” (C)

When Céline reviewed the accounts of her life she
exclaimed: “My long life is drawing to a close in a pile
of zeros. It is true that I have labored much, worked,
suffered; but what are these works in themselves in a
creature so imperfect as I am? Rubble! It is fortunate,
indeed, if my zeros are not too often blotched with ink
spots! But that quite corresponds to my desire to have
only a page of zeros to offer to God. For I prefer that
there be nothing to reward or to praise in me. I want to
be clothed solely with the works of Jesus and for my
heavenly Father to judge me and love me according to

“The one who loses wins” was the motto that Céline
lived by. She endured numerous accounts of
humiliations and seeing her soul continuously stumble
downward she relied on one thing ‘Love’. It is love
that will be the gift which will purify any of my
impurities on this earth. It will be an “authentic
sanctity which will spring up from these ruins; the
sanctity of Christ, who is ‘the only Saint’. (C)

There have been false rumors for decades that Céline
was continuously inundated by numerous favors
because her sister was a saint, but that was not as true
as people thought. As Céline confided to one of her
Carmelite sisters: “I live the life of pure faith…In the
world, strangers think I am inundated with delights at
the sight of the glory of our little Saint. What an
illusion! I do not think I have ever been in such a
spiritual desert.” (C)

The gift Céline most treasured from her sister
was ‘Love’.  Life has no meaning without it and with
love there is total abandonment of self. “A blind trust
of a little child in its dear heavenly Father, which
cannot work without a profound humility and which
becomes, without anyone suspecting it, a natural
virtue as it is in all little ones. Our
Thérèse led us by
her way; it is better even than if our last days were
spent in ecstasy. I have always thought, and even
desired, to have ‘my passion’ before Jesus receive us
into his arms.” (C)

What words can I use to describe my soul? “Nothing,
nothing from heaven’s side, not the least consolation…
It is true that I have peace of heart. That’s the important thing. The greatest grace that God can
give us, says Saint Paul, is not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him. That thought
often comes to my mind and strengthens me in the midst of my darkness. I believe that this state
of darkness is the prelude to the light into which we will soon enter.” (C)

Céline’s physical strength was incredible for her age. After the initial consultation from the doctor,
it was thought that her death would be immediate. But that was not going to be the case. Her
physical and psychological torments lasted for months.  But as the days were drawing to an end,
to her soul’s ascension to Heaven, more and more often the peace in her heart and soul was
increasing. She was on her way to finally being reunited with her beloved spouse Jesus, her
mother Mary and her beloved family.   

Céline remarked: “Besides, the agony of death, simultaneous with it, a feeling of joy rises at the
thought that I will have this witness to give to God. Yes, I think with pride on the passion that
awaits me and that will precede my entrance into our homeland. It would be unfortunate indeed,
I think, not to pass through death, for we can bear this witness only once, and it is precious in the
eyes of God. Ah! What grace to have to prove to Him our love by bearing witness! It is like the
martyrs! Up until now I have been waiting in bearing this witness to Jesus as I wished; I have
not practice virtue as I would have liked; I have given witness only to my weakness and my
imperfection. But, what joy! There still remains one witness to bear, and I do not want to miss
that one!  “Welcome sister death!” The poor man of Assisi had said.” (C)

Céline faced her impending ascension to Heaven in different phases in the last months of her life.
The first phase was basically physical. There were numerous prayers said for her by her
Carmelite sisters and friends outside the monastery which swayed her diagnosis back and forth
up until January 18, 1959. From the 18th to the 5th of February, it was more of a psychological
trial for her, her ‘last agony’. Like
Thérèse, in the last months of her life, the physical trial
started and then came the psychological trial.  It was for Céline, the final detachment from all
things here on earth.

Céline made every effort to not be a burden to her infirmarian. As having been an infirmarian
herself, she knew the difficulties associated with the responsibilities in handling those that were
terminally ill. She became very serene and at many times tried to lighten the emotional strain of
her caretakers by being very happy and jovial even though she was physically suffering from
pain and constantly vomiting.  Céline did not want to be a burden to her infirmarian and said to
her infirmarian: “And you are going through it with me…My God, have pity on my little
infirmarians! (C)

Céline remarked: “If I fall into a comma…my death will not be very beautiful perhaps, but I
think that it is now what counts, and I see that God is helping me; I feel calm and full of

The prioress remarked to Céline that she can see the ‘spiritual childhood’ in her and Céline
replied: “Perhaps little
Thérèse wants to show in her Céline that one can remain little and simple
even in extreme old age. But one must always say: ‘It is you, Lord, who have accomplished all
our works.’ Yes, it is he alone, for I could well be caught up in the temptation to sadness as well
as to fear. It is true that I have no fear at all, none at all, of God. Oh! I am going to be so happy
to see him, to see his Humanity! I have desired him so much! Yet, I have much offended him;
but even so, I’m afraid, and I summon all of my wretchedness to his Tribunal. I am very sure
that Jesus will say to me as to the woman in the Gospel: Go, my daughter, your sins are forgiven!
(C) Later that day, “Yes I believe that God wants to show how pleased he is with those who walk
in the ‘little way’ of humility, simplicity, and confidence, and so he helps them in time of trial, for,
of course, we are good for nothing. I see clearly now “that only spiritual childhood can give us
true peace of heart and the grace to be like a little child in the hands of God.” (C)

As the news spread throughout the world that Céline was terminally ill, she received many prayers
and condolences. One in particular was that of Pope John XXIII, in his message on January 1,
1959, he offered her his prayers along with a message that read: “as token of the abundant graces
of peace and abandonment to God a special Apostolic Blessing.” (C)   She was surprised and
ecstatic over the message from him.

On January 18th, the infirmarian discovered that there was something wrong with one of Céline’s
eyes. After close examination, she asked Céline if she was having any complications associated
with it. Céline responded to her that she lost her eyesight. Then the infirmarian asked if she was
in any pain as a result of her loss. Céline responded: “Why, no … it’s dead…But that doesn’t
mean anything…I have given it to God. Oh! There is no need to be cross with it for lying down,
because it has really worked during its life; and at present, it couldn’t do anything; so I thank
God for it.” (C) In attempt to comfort Céline by one of her sisters, she reminded her that her
family is making preparations to welcome her in Heaven. Céline responded: “Yes, I will be very
happy about that, but what interest me the most by far is our Lord and the Blessed Virgin…to
know everything about her, about her life, I cannot even think of it!”(C)

Humility was a virtue that Céline wished to master; humility was of course the entrance in
entering into the ‘little way’.  It was for her, the most difficult but also the most rewarding.
Céline, when speaking to the prioress on the 21st of January, wanted to express this virtue to
allow others that found it difficult to follow the ‘little way’ that it was possible for them to

At the latter part of January, Céline entered into the phase of her terminal illness where the
psychological effects were taking place, the ‘last agony’. It became more apparent to those
surrounding her on the 22nd of January. On this day, after receiving the Sacred Host, Céline
felt the effects of being forsaken. “When will the door open for me? Oh! My God still loves me,
since he is not coming to take me? Oh! My
Thérèse look at my distress!” (C) Céline felt a
violent attack on her back, like someone was underneath her bed hitting her. She asked the
infirmarian to light a candle and throw holy water on her as it appeared to her that she was
being attacked by something evil.

During this time when she was going through the ‘last agony’ of her illness, she grabbed her
crucifix in one hand and her rosary in the other. She would not let it leave her hands for one
single minute. Every minute, she prayed constantly, periodically taking her crucifix and kissing
it. Céline was never in decisive concerning her faith in God, as she could be heard saying:
“Break the web of this sweet encounter. O my Jesus, I want to love you with all my heart, unto
folly, with all my strength; yes, with all my strength, unto folly…” (C)

Céline, as with her sister
Thérèse, wanted martyrdom. It was of course the ultimate sacrifice
a person can make to show how much they loved God. Céline’s physical and emotional
torture was not without having gone through a form of martyrdom. Céline expressed this pain
through her suffering by saying: “How much it costs! I had so much desire for martyrdom,
wanted the Passion. It is God who does it…He is good, the good God! Oh! He is good!” (C)

On February 3, 1959, the prioress wrote in her notes describing the suffering Céline had
experienced on her death bed: “As Céline said to me: How low I am! I answered: ‘Reduced to
nothing and in extreme humiliation,’ oh! Yes, that’s it exactly ---but St. John of the Cross says
very precisely that that’s when the soul attains the highest state possible in this life.—Yes, but
I don’t feel it!...What an identification with Jesus on Calvary! It is the most profoundly
moving and enlightening thing that I have experienced in religious life. What glory awaits her!”

Leading up to February 5th, she had suffered a minor heart attack. Her body swelled with fluid
making it difficult for her to breathe at times. It was thought that she would not make it through
to the 5th but she prevailed. After experiencing a horrific episode, Céline remarked: “It is
indefinable, inexpressible! How difficult it is! How long it is! How cruel it is! After the infirmarian
placed a piece of ice across her lips, Céline said, I am thirsty for the waters of eternal life.” (C)

On February 5, 1959, the psychological trials ended for her. It was also her sixty-fourth
anniversary of her clothing. Her symptoms subsided temporarily for her small celebration of her
anniversary.  Her Carmelite sisters came into the infirmary and celebrated with her.  They read
telegrams from all over the world asking about the state of Céline’s health. Céline remarked
jokingly: “That tells you how my death will be greeted with acts of thanksgiving! But it is once
again I who will greet it with the least noise.” (C) After the small celebration ended, Céline left
them with these words: “My eyes are closed to the light of day, When after dinner, I stroll not
away.” (C)

Céline was still suffering but it temporarily subsided on the 10th of February. Reflecting on her life,
she said to the prioress: “I still suffer, but it is not the same. You cannot know. I think the devil
was given a certain permission to torment me. I can’t understand why you did not hear the dull
but very hard knocks he gave me…Fortunately, he can do nothing at all because the Lord is
fighting for me.”(C)

Céline’s horrific symptoms still were subsided up until February 22nd. She continued to respond
to the correspondence that the prioress had spoken to her from people that were concerned for
her. After she had finished, she told her infirmarian about the conversation both of them had
earlier in her illness: “I am only thinking of all that has happened to me in this illness. I assure
you it has been very mysterious. You remember when you said to me: ‘My little Céline, perhaps
God will come for you this evening! While listening to you, I said to myself, ‘now, let me see;
am I Céline? Did I exist? Did I have a personality?’ If you knew how locked away I had been,
far from everything! You could never have any idea of it. Oh! How strange it was! And what
suffering! One cannot image it. It makes me think of a story that
Thérèse and I used to read
when we were little girls.” (C)

Two days prior to Céline’s death, her condition turned for the worst. She was suffering once
again in a horrific state. But she still was coherent and observant of what was going on around
her. Celine motioned her infirmarian and told her: “I believe, all the same, that this time it’s for
good. Oh! What happiness! (C) The doctors examined her once again and told the prioress that
it was only a matter of hours before her soul would ascend to Heaven.  She explained to the
doctor that it was not necessary for him to give her anything anymore for the pain, she was at

The next day, February 24th, was her anniversary of her profession. She received many telegrams
congratulating her on her anniversary and also flowers were sent for the occasion. She received
her last Holy Communion and thanked the priest with her impeccable smile.

On the morning of the 25th, Céline awoke with complications to her illness. The prioress said to
her: “It is surely today” and Céline remarked: “Today!” (C) The last words Céline expressed by
'her and continuously repeated was: “Jesus!”  The prioress and the community at 9:00 a.m. started
the recitation of the Act of Oblation of Merciful Love. Céline, without speaking, motioned to them
that she was following with them. The doctor came in to examine her but then immediately left
knowing that it was time. The community came back in and saw Céline in a state of ecstasy. It
lasted for 10 minutes. Her soul was already ascending, at 9:25 a.m., she breathe her last breath.

Allowing townspeople to know that Céline’s soul ascended to Heaven, they rang the bells of the
Chapel monastery. Then the Basilica of St.
Thérèse joined in and rang theirs. Later, the radio
announced the death of the last surviving sister of St.
Thérèse. Scores of telegrams inundated the
monastery, one in particular from Pope John XXIII, who had presided over her jubilee.  

For three days, Céline’s body was placed in the choir where several thousand people came to pay
their respects including those from around the world. They wanted to see the sister that was loved
so much by her sisters, especially by

On February 28, 1959, the funeral of Céline was conducted. There were many religious in
attendance including several bishops along with friends and devotees of St.
Thérèse.  After the
Mass, Bishop Jacquemin, spoke about the union between her and
Thérèse and more importantly,
about spiritual childhood which was expressed by Céline throughout her life.

It was decided, as it had been for
Marie and Pauline, that Céline too, would be buried with her
sisters inside the vault beneath the shrine chapel of St.
Thérèse. The Carmelite Fathers carried
Céline’s remains to the vault where they are interred today.   

Written by: R. Hann


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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