Friday, October 01, 2010


The Arms of Christ and the Two Angels
From The Tabernacle c. 1500
The Cathedral of Santa Maria della Lode in Vescovio
Torri in Sabina, Lazio, nr Rome

On 17th July 1890, St Thérèse of Lisieux received a letter from her sister Celine:

«L’autre jour nous sommes allees par hasard dans une pauvre petite eglise. J’ai cru que mes larmes allaient trahir mon coeur, j’avais toutes les peines du monde a les retenir. Pense: un Tabernacle sans tentures, vrai trou noir, peut-etre la retraite d’araignees, un ciboire si pauvre que je l’ai cru en cuivre, et quoi pour le couvrir? Un chiffon sale, ne conservant plus la forme d’un voile de ciboire…Dans ce ciboire, une seule Hostie. Elas! Il n’en est pas besoin d’autres dans cette paroisse: pas une seule communion par an, en dehors de Paques. Puis, dans ces campagnes, des pretres a gros grain qui ferment leur eglise toute la journee. Du reste, ils sont vieux et sans ressources…» (ST THERESE DE L’E-J. ET DE LA SAINTE FACE, Correspondance generale, t. I . Editions du Cerf-Desclee de Brouwer, 1992, LC 129).

The other day we entered by chance a very poor small church (…). I could not hold back my tears. Can you imagine?: a Tabernacle without curtains, a real black hole, perhaps a place full of cobwebs, and a ciborium which was so poor that it looked like copper covered with a piece of dirty material which no longer had the shape of a veil for the Holy Eucharist. And there was only one host in the ciborium. Alas, they do not need any more things like those in that parish. There was not even one communion a year outside the time of Easter. In these parts of the countryside there are rough priests who keep the church closed all day. Besides they are old and have no resources…».

Thérèse replied the next day. Amongst other things she wrote:

«Let’s have a small Tabernacle in our heart, where Jesus can take shelter. Then He will be consoled and will forget what we cannot forget: the ingratitude of the souls who abandon Him in a deserted tabernacle! (…). Celine, let’s pray for priests, ah, let’s pray for them! May our life be consecrated to them: every day Jesus makes me feel that He wishes this from us both» (LT 108).

For more about S.Maria della Lode at Vescovio, see Romanesque Itinerary