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Wednesday, 18 July 2018 15:16

July 30, 1868 - Thursday

In the morning everything needed for Mass was brought to the room. Fr. Chanuet had only been able to get permission from the bishop of Grenoble for just one Mass per week. The altar was dressed on the chest of drawers in the view of Father who was able to follow the Mass, some others attended. Father took Communion. During the thanksgivings, he signaled to me to let him drink the wine which remained in the container with the water of sacrifice. His face was radiant with peace and calm. I approached him and embraced him. It was the first time since my arrival. After the thanksgivings, Fr. Chanuet went to the foot of the bed and Father said to him fairly distinctly: “You are daft to have come. Why did you do it? - Well Father, don’t you deserve it. Ah! Bah! Said Father!” - And Fr. Chanuet in reply: You would go to see others Father! - Father remained silent, satisfied with this.

He spoke for a few minutes with Mademoiselle Thomas, asked her for minute detail on the matters of an estate in which he was involved. That shows his great presence of spirit.

Towards nine o’clock I asked him could I put around his body a silk sash which had been used to clothe his beloved Notre Dame du Laus. He was very pleased and said: “It is for her (or to her) that I offer (or suffer)”. The difficulty which Father had in expressing himself prevents me from catching which of the two sentences he uttered, but their sense is identical. (He died with this sash around his body. Notre Dame du Laus had been his first desire, his first love. She came to occupy his last thought. I had given it myself. After his death, Mademoiselle Thomas took it and gave it to me). I then asked him whether he would like me to go to pray for his healing at Notre Dame de La Salette. A novena of Masses was finishing there the following day. He said “Yes, I would like that” - I will obtain your healing Father.- “I would like that”. At the moment of departure, around 11 o’clock, he said to me: ”Stay tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday”. - That’s too much, I said to him, I want to see you again before that. “All right, come back Saturday”. I knelt down. Father blessed me. He made on my forehead with his hand, the sign of the cross. And I left fully believing that I would see him again in full health. - alas!

To show how Father thought about everything, he wanted me to take his umbrella. He couldn’t get around saying that word. He pointed out the end of the room and said: Take my …my… and I who could not think of an umbrella in such good weather, pointed out all other objects. Father said: no with a friendly irritation. He smiled at his inability. But for us, what suffering to see this dumb mouth which was always open to announce our Lord! Or to say a word of affection or goodwill.

I left. From that time to his death 50 hours elapsed. I would have come back earlier from La Salette. But I awaited a person who should have arrived there on Friday afternoon at 2 o’clock, to give me news of Father. She didn’t arrive, I decided to wait for her. In the depth of my heart, I believed totally that Father would recover quickly and well. I believed it and my trust made me shed tears of acknowledgment in advance. Alas! Our Lord did not want it! I have always regarded this absence as a punishment for my sins. Yes Lord, You judge everything in fairness. I thank You for the inestimable favour of having seen my Father in his last days, of having cared for him, of having seen a saint under the burden of suffering, leaving a work barely established, without regret, without recrimination, dying because You thought it proper for him to die, not thinking himself necessary for one minute more that You wanted, going to death like to adoration, not wanting to say anything for later on in order to leave You the sole Master the sole personality in the Society, Your full freedom to direct, Your autocracy! Oh! What a sight. And perhaps also, Lord, You distanced me for fear that I would force Father to speak because of my concerns for these matters. Everything You did was well done, and better than what could have been.

The two letters attached give the details on the last two days Thursday and Friday. The last was written on Friday around three or four o’clock. This announcement of his death given by Father to a person from La Salette was noted: It was confirmed to me in these terms by the person herself: “Father said: Well, it’s the end”. I don’t want to judge how credible this person is. It is only later on that we can get confirmation of it.


This text is transcribed from a copy preserved in the Archives of the French Province in Paris. The Punctuation has been slightly adjusted for ease of reading.
The copy from the Paris archive has as its title, in Fr. J. Lavigne’s writing, “Notes of very Rev. Fr. Tesniere (Bro. Albert) on the last days of Blessed Peter Julian Eymard”.