Allocution Pronounced on June 1, 1915
Monsignor Zucchetti, Archbishop of
At the Funeral of Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey
My Dear Daughters of Charity,
In His adorable provisions, it so pleases God to take from us, one after the other, those souls most dear to our love and our veneration.
It is only a filial complaint directed to His fatherly kindness, by us, who are so saddened by the departure from this world of so many people, whose presence in our midst was a token of His blessings, an appeal to His love and a comforting example of supernatural life.
These departures, for some time now, are succeeding one another quickly in Smyrna: man and women servants of God, priests, as well as religious, are saying “goodbye” to us after such a great and long service rendered to the Church, to young people, as well as to the ministry of souls and to suffering humanity.
Today, it is the turn of the one that, by your tears, you would like to make live again, in order to see her again in her capacity as the superior of the French Hospital, of her school and of her model sewing workshop – active, energetic, generous, giving of herself and not sparing herself to help everybody, but especially the indigent and the miserable. An abundantly provided soul with natural and supernatural talents, combining with the nobility of a great French family, the enthusiasm and resources of an inexhaustible heart, the admirable Sister Adele Louise Marie de Mandat-Grancey, during a stay in Smyrna that lasted 30 years, has been among us the type of strong woman depicted in Scripture, the true daughter of charity, providence of the poor, consolation of the afflicted, support of socially outcast and uncomplaining poor families, refuge and savior of young people exposed to worldly danger and seductions.
Full of good works, her long earthly career has been remarkable, above all as she was nearing her death, because of such an outstanding dignity of life, which imposes respect, inspires confidence and maintains affection. “The dignity of life,” wrote Monsignor Gay, “that is, the loyalty, the candor, sincerity, the manner grave and sweet, the carriage, without stiffness, the nobility without arrogance, authority without being demanding, urbanity without affectation.” The motive of such a constant virtue was, in her, the spirit of, the taste for and the practice of sacrifice.
It is to Sister de Grancey that we owe, among many other benefits, the purchase of Panaghia-Capouli, the hill of the Virgin, the goal of pious pilgrimages and one of the religious glories of our city.
Such a life of detachment, of dedication, of virile virtues, of a kindness that was always ready to give generously and untiringly – by what kind of death was she to be crowned? Saint Vincent de Paul promised to his daughters that the love of the poor would cause them to smile upon their deaths. To smile at what is most frightening to nature, is that possible? “To smile at death, to salute it, as the angel of deliverance, to see in it only god, who comes, invites, extends His arms, isn’t it a gift without price!”
The Holy Spirit, by praising the strong woman, had already given a premonition of this mysterious smile: “the one, who has opened her hands to the poor and extended her arms to welcome them, this is the one who will smile on that last day of her life – et ridebit in die novissimo.” Our Sister de Grancey, the strong woman, the charitable woman of our time, could not fail to smile at death, with this kind of smile, which is an award and a prelude: an award for the tears shed and wiped, a prelude of celestial happiness, to which death gives access: ridebit in die novissimo.
For these privileged souls, which charity purifies and causes to smile, in view of eternity, which is nearing, is there a purgatory after their death? We may believe that their passage to glory does not tolerate any delay, as the impulses of charity produce in them, in advance, the effects reserved to the expiatory flames of divine justice. There is nothing surprising in that, since charity, which flourishes in physical and spiritual works of Christian mercy, entails, in this very world, the assurances of a beatitude: Beati misericodres! said Jesus.
Dear Daughters of Charity, have you understood? Our Lord considers you blessed and reveals to you, from this moment forward, the sentence that He will pass on you, at the Last Judgement: Venite benedicti Patris mei, precipite regnum quod vobis paratum est!
Admirable and consoling prerogative of charity! It beatifies those who have it and practice it. Would not therein lie the intimate reason for the absence, in your congregation, which is so large, of canonized saints? During the passage of three centuries, not one of you has been elevated by the Church to the honor of altars. However, since Saint Vincent de Paul, this priest with a heart as vast as the universe, since Vincent de Paul had launched you into the civilized and barbaric world in search of suffering, in order to alleviate it and make it bearable, in search of abandoned children, in China and elsewhere, in order to transform them into angels in heaven, in search of orphans, in order to become their adoptive mothers, because the grace of your vocation has created in you this marvel: a heart which combines with the charms of virginity, the attraction, the loves, and the tenderness of maternity; since that time, I say, you are like a large army, an army comprised of about 30,000 sisters spread out over the globe and which is in constant renewal. What nation, what beach, what island has not seen your white cornet, symbol of virginal purity and maternal love, the approach of which sooths, delights, and consoles the sick, the wounded, the dying and makes the small child smile, who has not known the caresses of his mother? And in the midst of this innumerable phalanx, this multitude of heroines, not one of them has been given the honors of beatification, not even the great and sublime figure of the venerable Louise de Marillac, your first mother, in whom we enjoy seeing more than one trait of similarity with the venerable Sister de Grancey. Louise de Marillac, neither has she, this great Christian, yet been placed among the blessed that the Church proposes to public veneration. This conduct on the part of the Church souls surprise us if we were not permitted to see in it a witness given to the sanctifying power of charity. This is because charity, outside official canonization by the Church, through divine prerogative, beatifies and canonizes secretly the souls: Beati misericordes. It is in the intimacy of a private conversation that one day I was presenting to the venerable departed this way of envisioning the fact the Daughters of Charity do not yet have any canonized saints. With this penetrating and gentle look, which was usual in her, she was content to limit her response: “Monsignor always has good things to tell us.” Beautiful and holy soul! How the evidence of these good things must now make you happy! Repose in the joy, the happiness of Our Beloved Lord!
Smyrna, your second country, will long keep the souvenir of your blessed name, which will tell it how much charity, by its super naturalizing power, enlarges and lifts still more, already great souls, and assures them of the respect, the recognition and the admiration of the world, as well as the rewards of infinite love, which is God Himself: Deus caritas est.