On Tuesday, October 16 2018 a conference exploring the life and the spirituality of Elisabeth Leseur was held at Saint-Germain-des-Pres parish in Paris. Besides being one of the oldest churches in Paris, St.-Germain-des-Pres is only blocks away from where Elisabeth grew up on Rue de Rennes, and was the site of both her fist Holy Communion and her wedding to Felix.
Sponsored by the International Association, promoting Elisabeth Leseur’s cause, it was organized by our Vice President, France Roseau and by Jeanne Binet. The afternoon began with 12:15 mass, concelebrated by Mons. Jean-Marie Dubois, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Paris, and Brother Llewellyn Muscat, secretary to the Dominican Postulator in Rome. Following mass, the attendees retired to the meeting site for an informal lunch and coffee, before hearing three excellent talks from Mons. Dubois, Père Ceslas-Marie d’Esymond, and Claude Menesguen. In all, about 70 people participated in some aspect of the day, with 50 present for the talks. Besides many locals, the attendees included two of Elisabeth’s relatives, and guests from Sicily, Rome, the Netherlands and the United States. The afternoon concluded with a lively Q&A session hosted by France Roseau and by Jennifer MacNeil, President of the host association.
A photo gallery of images of the day is available here:
Mons. Dubois began by reviewing for us the many formal steps that are required for the formal process of investigating a candidate for Sainthood. These are codified in a Vatican publication available here.
The synopses of remaining two talks, provided below, are made available courtesy of Giulia Marotta.
Fr. Ceslas-Marie d’Eysmond offered a vivid portrait of Félix and Elisabeth’s married life, drawing helpfully on his pastoral experience with couples preparing for marriage. Analyzed through the lens of what Fr. d’Eysmond considers the three pillars of a successful marriage (1. personal attraction, physical and non-physical; 2. mental and emotional maturity; 3. communion of faith), the relationship between Elisabeth and Félix emerged as exceptionally intimate, tender, and, eventually, triumphant. In spite of Félix’s continuous efforts to undermine Elisabeth’s faith, her choice to endure everything with patience, love, and resilience generated a true communion of hearts (if not of souls, at least during her earthly life).
Claude Menesguen presented a thorough overview of the political, intellectual, and social context in which Elisabeth fought her battle for holiness. Mr. Menesguen outlined the “religious war” waged by France’s atheist Third Republic against religion and Christianity in particular. It is in this historical background that he situated Félix’s “soft, sweet persecution” of Elisabeth’s beliefs. It was a sweet persecution insofar as inflicted by a loving husband who wanted to enlighten his wife’s mind, and was completely unaware of the terrible sufferings caused by his behavior. And it was also the hardest and most bitter trial for Elisabeth’s faith and love, which ultimately grew stronger and stronger as her prayer life reached deeper into the heart of Christ.
While the two talks emphasized different aspects of Elisabeth’s life, both authors concluded by explaining the relevance of her example for our time, from the difficulties facing today’s couples to the challenges of living in a plural and secularized society.