THE ATTACKS OF THE DEVIL
THE Devil all this time was continually tormenting Teresa and one of his favourite temptations was to try and make her doubt the truth of her revelations regarding the Devotion to the Sacred Head.
 "He says also that it did not look to be very great wisdom on the part of the Allwise God to choose one so base and wicked as I am to make known to the universe His desire of the sacred Head being worshipped as the Seat of divine Wisdom etc. Did I not think it more likely for Him to chose a great theologian and a man known to be holy and wise in the things of God instead of a worthless and ignorant thing like me? Who did I think would ever believe me? Besides, he said, in the written word it is said that false prophets should arise, and he told me to be on my guard and not lead astray any who would believe me.
"I know all he says about me is perfectly true, but though I feel even now that I would be glad to die in defence of anything I have told you I am very uneasy, and fear and dread seem to encompass me on every side. I try to take no notice of what he says to me, but then he told me that as a sign that what I was doing (to spread the Devotion to the Seat of divine Wisdom etc.) was not from God, he said I should be abandoned by God and left to the darkness of my own folly and ignorance. And he said, 'See how much light you will get from this supposed devotion and how wise you will be in a few days following and honouring that which you call divine Wisdom.' I try not to notice what he has said: I take the fear and disquietude as a sign that it was the Devil who then appeared to me, for I notice, and I think you have often told me, that in real visions (coming from God I mean) the fear passes away shortly and a holy peace, joy and confidence fill the soul; but in others, as in this, we are startled a little at first at what appears glory, but we begin to feel doubts and we become uneasy and fear grows and peace seems for a while to leave us on account of the many doubts with which we are filled, and we know not what to do. And if we gave way, we should be afraid to undertake anything for the love of God, for he would give us a false humility; but real ones fill us with a heavenly calm, fill us with great desires and a burning love which must act or our poor hearts would burst, show us our utter nothingness yet fill us with confidence when we see how mighty and rich and powerful our dear good God is. We look not to ourselves, but we forget ourself; we are lost as it were in His immensity; we feel He will and can give us great help to do or accomplish those desires with which He inspires us, or He will do all as we are nothing and can do nothing. I think we cannot be deceived by the Devil, at least I think it is our own fault if we are, especially if we tell all to our directors, besides I detected him (through the mercy of God) by his saying not to tell you, and although I felt it was him I was afraid for fear it was not, so I made up my mind to write at once. May the Wisdom of the sacred Head guide us in all our ways and the love of the sacred Heart consume us with its fire."
AMDG et in hon BVM et St J.
Feb. 6, 1881.
 "Oh Wisdom of the sacred Head guide us in all our ways,
Oh Love of the sacred Heart, consume us with Thy fire!
"DEAR REV. FATHER,
"I really do not know which night it was, but it was the one on which you gave me permission to take the punishment of a poor man's sins, so that our dear good God would give him the grace to make a good confession. Well, for some time past I have felt at times that I cannot bear up under the excessive pains of soul and body which in pity He has graciously given me to endure for Him, and so it was on this night. I felt worn out and exhausted, faint and weary, and yet I love these pains more than all the world besides. I could hardly drag myself into the church for holy Rosary etc. I think it must have been Saturday night, but during the litany a poor man came and knelt near me, of course I do not know his name. May Jesus Christ through His precious Blood and Cross and Passion have mercy on him and all poor sinners. But when he came near me, I really think I should have fainted if I had not reminded our dear b. Lord that you said I was not to faint in church, but the stifling stench that proceeded from him I thought was that of the dreadful sin of sacrilege and the horrible cancer of impurity. Oh my Lord and my God, how wonderful Thou art! Though the soul of this man was so deeply dyed in sin, while it had Thy most Precious Blood to answer for, yet Thou urgest me so earnestly to plead for him by allowing me to know his state, etc. that uniting my poor voice with Mary's, and Thine in death I cried with Thee: 'Oh Father, forgive him for he knows not what he does!' And I told my Lord that with your permission I would take the punishment of his sins upon me, if He would grant him pardon and forgiveness, and the grace to make a good confession. And so I think He granted my poor prayer. And when I left the church I became overwhelmed with sorrow for these sins with which I had clothed myself — and yet I cannot say 'with sin', but I mean the punishment of those sins, for the guilt was forgiven. And oh my God, how I trembled with unutterable fear as I gazed into Thy dread and awful purity and strict Justice, when I beheld Thy tremendous power and majesty. Oh how can I express all the soul suffers when God draws her into the attributes of His divine and infinite justice, when she would sink into Hell itself more willingly than stand in the brightness of the all searching Eye of God: the flames of Hell would be cool in comparison with this. For the flames of Hell are but creatures made to punish, but this is the Creator. This is a little of what Jesus endured on the cross, and merciful Jesus have mercy on us. And so I was bent down in agony and anguish and I begged for forgiveness, when numerous devils came and mocked me and laughed at my presumption as they called it. They said all these miracles I asked so bounteously for myself were purchased at a high price, the Blood of the Holy One of God, God Himself. They showed me how justly God had punished one sin of thought in them — that He had already lavished on me ten thousand times ten more graces than He had given them, and What had I to offer in return? That I must be mad with pride and presumption to dare to ask such a thing. They tried to show me how blind I had become, and then they yelled most frightfully and told me now they had me properly in their power and I should pay for all. And then I besought my beloved Jesus and Mary to allow the Devil to torment me and I said the little invocations to the sacred Head and Heart. They rushed upon me and said they would burn me with a fire, a liquid fire, a fire that would burn and burn for ever and never consume. Then I felt every part of my body cringe and curl as it were with a scalding burn which seemed to saturate through the bones to the very marrow; then grasping hold of the throat they nearly strangled me, and I perceived again the horrible stench of those sins the punishment of which you had given me leave to suffer. Of course you know I know full well the Devil is a liar and I fear him not in legions any more than alone — not that I do not know his power and experience, or that I am weakness itself, but I know that my Lord is the Almighty God and my Mother, Mary, and she has ever had his head beneath her heel. He has been very quiet for some time, but every now and then he breaks out in fury like a mad beast without power to control himself. For the last week too, when I have gone to make a little offering of my children's work to my loving Lord in the blessed Sacrament of His wisdom and love after school, he has laughed aloud at my little nosegay of faded flowers, as they seemed to me, and he has claimed most, but I heed him not. I say, 'Lord perhaps they are faded and withered, perhaps many of them dead, but Thou art the Lord of Life, refresh them with Thy most precious Blood, breathe upon them the Breath of Life and they will bloom for Thee. Oh my Lord and my God, teach these Thy little ones to love Thee, draw them close to Thee. Mary our dear Mother, lay them fondly on thy breast, hide them deeply in the sacred Heart. Send me all kinds of sorrow and suffering, but spare them, for Thy mercy's sake. Oh holy St. Joseph and all the saints of God, pray for them. St. Michael etc. all ye angels of the Lord watch them in every place, guard and protect them from all danger of body and soul.'
"I forgot to say that my tongue remained much swollen all night and next day.
"Begging your prayers and blessing for my little ones and self
"I remain dear
"Your obedient and devoted child in the S. Head and S. Heart.
"Enfant de Marie."
LDS et hon BVM et St. J.
(Ellen Nicholson recollects that one Lent Teresa suffered intensely from the terrible swelling of her mouth and tongue.)
Another time, when suffering from terrible spiritual desolation and darkness, she wrote:
 "In honour of the sacred Head and in obedience, I write of the trials it has pleased our divine Lord my beloved Spouse Jesus to send me. May His holy Name be blessed for ever for all His goodness to me. Besides I am determined to tell you everything as minutely as I can, first because I know the wicked One is anxious that I should not, and secondly that so you may judge whether these things are of God or otherwise.
"Oh how dark and dreary is everything! There is not the slightest glimmer of light to guide me I really feel that God is worn out with me, that He has cast me off on account of my many sins and wickedness and I fear that He is punishing me with blindness of heart. Then I see the dark mountain before me of a most fearful passion and I prostrate myself before God, imploring mercy through the passion and death of His beloved Son. Besides having that fearful dread of that which I know God in His merciful love has ordained me to suffer, there is an unspeakable doubt and uncertainty overshadowing me and saturating me through and through, on account of my not being able to do as you tell me. I always have felt so sure and safe under your direction and always found myself able to obey you, besides our dear Lord has always told me so positively to obey you in all things, but now (although I have told our dear Lord after holy Communion that I am to go in school always till Holy Week and that you will give me Friday afternoons after three for Him to do with me as He pleases)1 yet I really find myself unable to go in school. Oh I really do not know what to do. I beg of Him by His obedience unto death to enable me to do as I am told, and when I find that I am still unable to go, I fear that I must be under the influence of some wicked spirit and I doubt everything and think perhaps I am deceiving myself and you. Oh what sort of sorrow this is to me Thou knowest oh Lord Who sees all things, Thou knowest how I love Thee and how I suffer. I am ready for all sorts of tortures, one thing only do I fear and that is that I offend Thee, oh God of my heart. I know I deserve to be abandoned by Thee, but Lord, see, is not my soul saturated with Thy Precious Blood which I receive daily and for the sake of It spare me from sin, stay near me Lord or I will betray Thee. I am all Thine oh my beloved Jesus, do with me what Thou wilt. I trust in Thy wisdom and love that Thou wilt lead me aright: if it be Thy holy Will to leave me in darkness and doubt, then I will close my eyes to all things and try to follow Thee in darkness as in light. I will praise Thee oh Lord in all places and at all times.
"The Devil too, like all cowards, now that he sees how worn out I am, attacks me most violently in such a variety of ways that I have not known at first what kind of visitation they are. But as rev. F. Snow told me because I had tried to honour the s. Head, our dear Lord would enable me to discern him at once, I have not felt so fearful about this. I always do know him and I fear him not, only that he takes time. He has tried me with every kind of temptation and when the temptation has been at its height he has come as an angel to comfort and console me, and on the Thursday night before the feast of our b. Lady's Dolours, I was a very long time as it seemed to me between life and death. I had gone through the Passion, and the Devil abused me by throwing me about and a fearful thirst consumed both soul and body, and I begged through the wisdom of His s. Head and love of His s. Heart for one little drop of Precious Blood (oh it seems to me that words cannot describe these desires, this thirst that eats up the very soul), when the Devil came pretending to be our Lord with the b. Sacrament and he said that, God as he was, he could not resist this prayer in honour of the Seat of divine Wisdom and he said, 'Eat of the Bread of Life and drink of the refreshing fountain of my sacred Heart.' Numerous devils were with him as angels too, but the glaring splendour of his glory is so different from that of our Lord's that I wondered at it and said: 'Lord if it be Thyself, I humbly adore Thee, yet, as such I know Thee not. I know Thee best as my crucified Spouse.' For an instant I was in doubt, I hardly knew what to do, I could not get any holy water, I was too weak, but I raised my left hand to remind Him, my Lord and my God, if it were He that I was all His for ever, and when I did at once that sham glory was turned into a cloud of sulphur or brimstone which almost suffocated me, and he howled most fearfully and retired."
These attacks of the devil continued the whole time of Teresa's stay at Bootle and her own account is confirmed by Father Powell and those who lived with her at the time. Ellen Nicholson often noticed strange sounds and smells, but never guessed their significance, until one day Teresa lent her the life of the Curé d'Ars who suffered so much from the assaults of the Devil. Her curiosity aroused, Ellen innocently asked Teresa: 'Does the Devil torment you?' Teresa looked at her but said nothing and the child knew she must ask no more. Next day Father Powell sent for her and told her to ask no questions, but that she need have no fear of the Devil for he could not do her any harm.
After Mrs. Nicholson's death when Teresa went to share the lodgings of her fellow-teachers in Ariel Street, these diabolical attacks seemed to increase in violence, and the following statements were written by the other inmates of the house at Father Powell's desire:
"15 Ariel Street, Bootle, August 26, 83.
"On Sunday night the 19th Aug. I noticed a knocking which seemed to come from the next house, but remembering that no one was living there at the time I thought it must be someone knocking at one of the houses near and took no more notice of it. Presently the window opposite the bed was shaken but not loudly, a noise was made on the landing and rustling through our room past the wall and up to the second window which was shaken so violently that I felt it would either fall out or be shaken to pieces: this seemed very singular to us as the night was as calm as it could be and there was no wind.
"The following night I heard no sound of anything unusual but Miss Roberts turned round towards me and asked me what I was laughing at. I was surprised at her asking me, as I had neither laughed myself nor yet heard anyone else do it.
"On Tuesday night the 21st inst. shortly after eleven o'clock I heard a terrible noise against the wall of Miss Higginson's room nearest the landing which sounded like a loud clap of thunder and seemed as if it would shake the wall down, then a loud knocking as of furniture being broken to pieces on the floor in one corner of her room. We were all three so terrified that I called out loudly for Miss Higginson and after a short time she came to us looking deeply troubled. She told us not to be frightened, that it was the Devil who had terrified us, that he had told her that he would let us know that he was there but she did not think we should have heard him. We tried to persuade her to remain with us for the rest of the night but could not succeed. I do not remember hearing any more noise during the night.
"The next night (Wednesday) whilst kneeling saying my night prayers, I distinctly heard blows given with great force, striking Miss Higginson first on one side of the face and then on the other. I stood up and listened for a few seconds, when her head was knocked several times on the floor of her room. I thought it would be almost broken from the force of the knocks. Then most terrible and piercing screams and sounds of someone being dragged across the room towards the door and struggling and pushing at it as if to get out, the screams continuing all the time and ending with a fiendish yell. Then everything seemed quiet and settled.
"During the afternoon of the 23rd, the blackboards in the room over the one I was teaching in seemed as if being continually dragged about. I went upstairs wondering why there was so much noise and asked about the blackboards but was assured by both teachers that they had not been moved at all. I felt certain they had as the effect of the moving about shook the partition against which I was sitting twice over. The noise was heard continually during the afternoon even when the children from the room overhead (standard 4 room) were out in the playground. Sometimes it sounded like the low growl of some wild animal or a rumbling of thunder. I asked one of the boys in the room if he heard any noise and what it was like. He said, 'Yes, they are rolling something on the floor upstairs.' In the evening there was a fearful smell in the kitchen as of sulphur and something else, I cannot describe what, but it was quite sickening.
"One night whilst staying in the house with Miss Higginson, I heard knocks given continually but could not find anything or give any account of what caused it or who did it. Just after getting into bed, I was quite frightened with one knock I heard but did not speak for a bit until I saw Miss H. looking at me and I asked her if she had heard it. She said Yes, but told me not to mind anything but to get to sleep soon.
"I heard nothing more after that. The night I heard these knocks was I believe the 2nd July, 83.
"Aug. 26, 83."
"15, Ariel Street, Bootle, Aug. 26, 83.
"Sunday night, Aug. 19, 83.
"I was falling asleep when a loud shaking of the window near my bed awakened me. The night was calm.
"Aug. 20. On Monday night I heard a laugh which seemed to be in the room. I thought it came from Miss Catterall, found no one in the room had laughed and only Miss Flynn and myself had heard it.
"Aug. 21. I heard loud knocking and shaking of furniture in Miss Higginson's room. The noise was so violent that it frightened us very much. We called Miss Higginson who in a short time came to us. She told us not to fear as it was only the Devil who had tried to terrify us.
"Aug 22nd. After being in bed for a short time I was disturbed by a loud noise as of someone being slapped on the face. (The noise came from Miss Higginson's room). Then followed loud knocks as if someone was being shaken and banged about the room, then Miss Higginson's room door was shaken very violently and terrible unearthly screams were heard. The noises and especially the screams terrified us so much that we did not sleep at all during that night.
"Aug. 26, 83."
"15, Ariel Street, Bootle, Aug. 26, 83.
"On Sunday night Aug. 19th, after I had been in bed a few minutes, I heard a noise on the landing as if someone was shaking Miss Higginson's bedroom door very determinedly, then there was a slight rustling noise past the bed in our room and both the windows shook very violently. I thought it very strange as the night was so calm.
"Shortly after eleven o'clock on Tuesday night, Aug. 21st, I was greatly alarmed by one knock at Miss Higginson's room door then a confused noise almost like thunder. It seemed as if someone was kicking the door and flinging furniture about in her room. It was so terrible and we were all so afraid that my sister called at once for Miss Higginson who came to us in a few minutes and told us not to be afraid, that it was the Devil who came to torment her. She tried to assure us that he could not harm us, that he was only frightening us in order to torment her the more and to let us know he was there. But in spite of all she said, I was so frightened when I thought of the noise I had heard that I could not sleep at all during the night.
"The next night Aug. 23, I was more terrified than ever. We had not been more than a few minutes in bed when I heard a noise in Miss Higginson's room as if someone gave her five heavy blows on the side of her head, then as if she was taken and banged violently against the room floor three or four times. Two or three minutes afterwards, I heard a terrible noise at her door as if someone was kicking it and at the same time screeching and yelling most frightfully. This frightened me most of all, it seemed altogether so unearthly and so unnatural. I was again unable to sleep that night.
"On Monday, Aug. 20th, before I got to sleep I noticed all at once an awful bad smell which seemed to come from the door. It was very disagreeable for a few minutes.
"Again on Wednesday night, as I was passing through the kitchen, I noticed something like sulphur, it seemed to get in my throat and made me cough. I could not account for it in any way.
"MINNIE CATTERALL, Aug. 26, 83."
"15, Ariel Street, Bootle, Aug. 26, 83.
"When sleeping with Miss Higginson one night during the last mid-summer holiday, I had just been talking with her and she had said good night when I felt myself raised up from the bed and almost suffocated. As soon as I could, I called for Miss Higginson and she asked me if I felt ill. I said, 'Yes'. She told me to make the sign of the cross and say a Hail Mary and I should be all right. I did so and fell asleep.
"On the night of the 20th of Aug. I heard distinctly a scornful laugh which seemed to come from the door of the room in which I was at the time. The next night I was disturbed in my sleep by a noise as of knocking which awakened me and then I heard someone call out. I was confused and when my own name was called and someone knocked at my bedroom door, I thought something must be the matter. When I opened the door and saw Miss Higginson standing and heard the other young ladies up, I was really frightened. She asked me if I was afraid and said the others wanted me to go into their room and stay with them, they were so frightened.
"The night after there was a noise as of somebody being struck on the head and face, and soon a noise as if some person was talking, then loud screeching and yelling. We were all very much frightened although we knew what it was.
"JOANNA FLYNN, Aug. 26, 83."
(Miss Flynn was the landlady of the lodging.)
"On Thursday night Sept. 20th", writes Father Powell, "I was called by Miss Catterall to come to the house where Miss Higginson is staying with them because they heard several noises and were much terrified. They said they heard a noise as if a person was sawing in their bedroom and soon afterwards in the parlour underneath. They all rose and ran down stairs; as they were descending, they heard as if from the top of the stairs a long mocking laugh like descending the musical scale. They ran out, Miss Roberts without her slippers, and sent for me. After I had been in the kitchen some time with them all, I heard as if in the room above where Miss Higginson was as if a body had been dashed to the ground, worse than if a person had fallen. It shook the ceiling, the windows and the kitchen. After some minutes I heard as if a person was dragged across the room and her head bumped two or three times against the floor. I stayed some time after but all was quiet.
1. One of the accusations made against Teresa later on was that she absented herself from school without leave, but she had permission from her director to do so at certain times.