When France entered into World War I in 1914, Thérèse of Lisieux had yet to be officially declared Blessed. She had died in 1897, but there she was among the French troops — fighting with them, protecting their lives and renewing their faith. After all, she admired Joan of Arc.
Soldiers flooded the Carmel in Lisieux with letters about their devotion to her. How she saved them. How she even appeared to them!
Sgt. Henri Lamielle told the nuns that on Sept. 27, 1915, in the attack at Champagne, as a stretcher-bearer his mission was to rescue the wounded and transport them to the regimental station 500 yards from the front line. For two days he had worked non-stop without food, “the only thing sustaining me was remembering the little Sister,” he wrote, using the affectionate way he spoke of St. Thérèse.
That Sept. 27 morning, after a terrible attack the previous evening, he “went to the front line to see about rescuing the wounded. I came to a crest battered with bullets and at that moment I felt my courage fail me.
“And then all of a sudden, the little Sister took me by the hand, and said to me very distinctly: ‘Come along now, my friend. There are souls to save and they’re waiting for you.’ I looked up and what did I see? The little Sister. Thinking my mind was playing tricks on me, I crouched down on the ground and waited, but the call came again, more urgently. I stood up and after having said a prayer to God, without daring to look at who was accompanying me, I went over the top (at that moment, the enemy saw me but no bullet was fired). I reached several wounded men who were waiting for me, the first of which had a special devotion to Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.”
Cpl. Henri Bellois was certainly grateful to Thérèse several times, from the healing of his two young daughters to the day of June 4, 1918 when on reconnaissance between French and German lines.
“We came under rather heavy fire, and there I had proof that I benefit from a limitless protection,” he affirmed for one incident. “A bullet from a revolver pierced my jacket, squadron diary and wallet, and also my vest, over my heart. But the bullet deviated from its path without reaching my shirt thanks to Sister Thérèse’s little medallion, which was there like a shield. It was only the next morning, in daylight, that I realized. On this occasion I simply made a very deep bow to my little Thérèse. And I thank her with all my heart, and remain confident that she will always be my support in times of trouble.”
The in July his “little Thérèse” saved him again from another bullet.
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