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Louise Lateau

( Originally Published 1883 )

The last instance which will be given is that of Louise Lateau, who was until very lately, and is, I believe, still living at Bois d' Haine, in the province of Hainault. An account of this case is given by Dr. Lefebvre, in a small book published by Richardson and Son, from which a few extracts will be given. This, however, can-not convey anything like so lively an impression of the facts as the perusal of the whole of this interesting narrative would do.

" The first issue of blood appeared on the 24th April, 1868 ; it was a Friday. On that day the young girl noticed that blood was flowing from the left side of her chest. With her habitual reserve she did not mention the fact to any one. The following Friday it again flowed from the same part, and, in addition, from the upper surface of each foot.

On the third Friday, the 8th May, the blood flowed during the night from the left side and the two feet, and towards nine o'clock the next morning it issued copiously from the two hands, both from the back and palms. From that date the bleedings have reappeared at the same points every Friday, with slight variations, which we shall note hereafter. Finally, on the 25th September, in the same year, the blood flowed from a circle, surrounding the forehead, and since that date has been repeated more than 30 times.

" The quantity of blood that Louise loses each Friday varies considerably. During the first few months of the appearance of the stigmata, and before the ecstacies had shown themselves, the flow was more abundant, and continued longer, than it does at present ; the amount of blood escaping from the nine wounds was estimated by the first witnesses at nearly 30 ounces. The stigmatization appears each Friday, with unbroken regularity, and the bleeding crown around the head, which showed itself at first but rarely, does so now on each successive week. The flow of blood ceases, as we have said, at no definite and fixed period. The next day, Saturday, the stigmata are dry, and there is not the slightest sign of suppuration.

Louise, scarcely able the day before to make use of her hands, or to keep upon her feet, resumes early the next morning her usual labours, which she only interrupts to walk more than half a mile to the parish church to her religious duties."

After this follows an account of her ecstacies. The ecstacy is renewed each Friday ; it commences in the early morning between eight and nine o'clock and terminates about six in the evening.

In these ecstacies the sufferings of our Lord throughout his passion are presented in a striking manner with a terrible reality." Dr. Lefebvre goes on to remark :

" No one with the slightest knowledge of Louise Lateau has suspected her for a single moment of a deception. The integrity of her every action, her simple and unaffected piety, and, still more, the heroic and devoted charity she has so often displayed, are, in the eyes of all, the very antithesis of hypocrisy." He thus concludes :

" The Church, having once given her sanction, by recognising and affirming the supernatural nature of these stigmata, tacitly permits her children to follow their devotional instincts, and excite their love and fervour, by the consideration of these manifestations of God's power so wonderfully set before their eyes. For it cannot be denied that such fruits have most abundantly resulted in those times and places where they have occurred, and it would thus seem to be a design of God, by a continued series of these living pictures of the Passion of His Divine Son, as shadowed forth in the persons of his servants, to maintain, in an age of especial scepticism and growing unbelief in Divine agency, a perpetual evidence that the hand of the Lord is not shortened, nor his power diminished among the children of men. That now, as ever, in the nineteenth century as in the first, He will not leave his faithful ones to battle unaided and alone ; but will deign at times to pierce the obscurity which surrounds their path, and permit them, even on this earthly pilgrimage, a partial glimpse of that glory which they shall only see completely unveiled hereafter."

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