CANON SNOW'S TESTIMONY, ETC.
CANON SNOW was Teresa's old and trusted friend. For over twenty years he had been her spiritual father and director and she had laid bare to him all the secrets of her heart and soul. Who could speak of her with deeper knowledge or with greater truth? His testimony can scarcely be ignored and this is what he says:
"At the very forefront of these observations I think it right to say that I have the firm conviction that Teresa was not only a saint but also one of the greatest saints almighty God has ever raised up in His Church. The grounds of this conviction will appear in the course of the observations I feel it my duty to make.
"I became her director in September 1883, hearing her confession for the first time on the 14th day of that month, and remaining her director until her death on the 15th of February 1906. She went to confession to other priests according to convenience but was under vow of obedience to me and to best of my knowledge and belief never sought any direction in any one particular concerning her soul and temporal affairs from any other priest. At this time she was in that degree of union known as the Mystical Espousals. This took place, as she describes in letter 39, on the feast of the Sacred Heart 1874. In this degree the soul is being prepared for the Mystical Marriage and this took place on the 24th Oct. 1887. St. Teresa fully describes the sufferings the soul has to undergo in this period, and mystical theology teaches that the higher is the union with God in the Mystical Marriage, so much the longer has the preparation to be and the more intense must be the purifications and sufferings. We have here the long period of over thirteen years in which this highly favoured soul was being prepared by prayer and constant suffering of all kinds for the highest degree of union a soul can attain on earth. Our b. Lord allowed her frequently to participate in His Passion and especially in every Lent for very many years before her death. This participation in His sufferings our Lord made known to her was not only in expiation for sin and for the ends for which He Himself suffered, but was also purification for further union with Him. How great then must have been her holiness when she received the wonderful favour of her Mystical Marriage.
"Then again, although the Mystical Marriage is the highest state of union a soul can attain in this life, still God is able to communicate Himself more and more to the soul, and the soul can more and more advance in holiness and merit. Now Teresa lived seventeen years and nearly four months after the Mystical Marriage. During this long period of closest union with her Divine Spouse she lived the same life of constant prayer, suffering, participation in the Passion and work for God. Who shall put a limit to her perfection and holiness?
"Once more, in a letter written to her confessor on the 27th Apr. 1880 describing a manifestation our Lord had made to her concerning the devotion to the sacred Head, she wrote: 'Our beloved Spouse' (He then quotes letter 36, p. 107 relating to the soul she so often saw in vision and continues): I have copied this passage in full because I take it to be a divine revelation of her perfection at the time it was written (April 1880) and I add what must have been her perfection at the time of the Mystical Marriage which took place more than seven years afterwards, and what at the time of her death which took place nearly twenty-five years after."1
Such a statement cannot be lightly set aside. But Canon Snow points out that Teresa was essentially a contemplative and not an active saint. She never did any great outward work. She was always weak and feeble and suffered without ceasing — truly meriting her title of "Spouse of the Crucified". Both he and Father Powell fully expected that great miracles would take place in proof of the Devotion and of her own sanctity, but they learnt that the ways of God are not as those of men, and he goes on to say: "In any place in which she stayed many interesting and edifying incidents took place such as what I may call little miracles and miraculous answers to prayer, and these would be known only to a few and they kept the knowledge to themselves. Such things would make interesting and devout reading but would as it were be out of proportion to the greatness of her sanctity and the work she did for God, the Church and souls as a mystic and as revealed in her writings. I do not know that anything happened anywhere that attracted public attention. This seems to me to be according to the design of God in her regard acting in great part through her profound, and I may say abject humility. Remember that our Lord was spoken of as the 'most abject of men'. She looked upon herself as the vilest wretch on earth and was willing to be treated as such."1
As the years went on, this hidden aspect of her life grew more and more pronounced. Even the little miracles which happened so often at Wigan and at Bootle became less frequent. It was the same with her ecstasies. At one time she might almost have been said to live in a continual state of ecstasy, but from the great day of her Mystical Marriage all the outward marvels became more and more rare, until towards the end of her life they seem practically to have ceased. It was as though, having attained such perfect union with our Lord Himself, even the choicest of His favours faded into insignificance.
But although Almighty God willed that while on earth she should remain hidden from the eyes of men, He has so provided that in His own good time this priceless work of His hands may be made known. Few of the saints have left so full a revelation of their souls as is contained in the series of letters written under obedience to her directors. They are mines of wealth and would supply many volumes on the spiritual life, whether from the mystical, ascetical or psychological aspect. Canon Snow treasured them most carefully, for he was convinced that it would be principally by their means that the great object of her life, the establishment of the Devotion to the Sacred Head, would be brought about. He never tried to bring her forward: even after her death he made no effort to vindicate her name or to make her sanctity known, but was content to leave things in the hands of God. That Almighty God is never in a hurry was, he said, a lesson he had learnt long ago, and he perceived no clear indication that the time had come when, according to His promise, our Lord would glorify the name of His chosen Spouse. But that this would happen he never for a moment doubted, and towards the end of his life the old man loved to linger on her memory and could scarcely speak of her without tears.
Teresa's letters are no great models of human culture — her style is often faulty, she pays small heed to punctuation, and her words even are not infrequently misspelt, yet these writings have been submitted to many priests and others learned in mystical theology, and all are agreed that the knowledge and understanding they display are beyond that of the most wise, and could come from God alone. She seldom made use of books. At one time she thought that by reading the works of some of the greater saints she might be able to explain herself more easily to her confessor, but our Lord showed her that this was not His holy Will. She wrote to Father Powell:
 "I think the reason our dear b. Lord makes it impossible for me to read is that I may not be disheartened in reading of what the saints have done for His greater honour and glory and the salvation of souls. Besides you will perhaps remember me asking you for some book, if there was any, about the great favours that our dear Lord bestows on me that I might be better able to put in words what I want to express, and my Lord and my God greatly rebuked me for doing so saying: 'In what have I been wanting to you?' Oh my Jesus, Thou hast given me all things good in abundance, for Thou givest Thyself and in Thee is all perfection and infinite treasures of wealth and I have drunk freely of the waters of life and eaten of the good fruit of knowledge. And our dear b. Lord, knowing my excessive wretchedness and misery, has compassion on my weakness and teaches me Himself those things He wishes me to know, and even when others read out, I seldom know anything of what they read... I never did make spiritual reading a part of my daily exercise. The Crucifix is the Book of books and to me the Tree of Life and contains never ending volumes: and it is from this book He has taught me what I know, and from the holy tabernacle He has spoken and filled me when hungry with good things beyond description. I don't think I have ever heard of Sister Emma Rick without you mean Emma's Cross and that I have never read but know the name well, but I am so stupid that, if I could read, it would avail me little. (He had probably asked her if she had read the revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich!) And I have always felt that our dear b. Lord did not wish me to read or He would have enabled me to so. And when on several occasions Fr Wells gave me hymns to say as a penance that I did not know, if our dear b. Lord had not said them for me, I could not have fulfilled the requirements of the Sacrament, and I told Fr Wells I could not say my penance. He told me to ask our Lord to help me and He did so but I never told Fr Wells how: I don't know whether he knew or not, he certainly knew many things which I never told him."
It is impossible in the space of one short book to do more than sketch in the bold outlines of this wonderful life, but a few words may be added to throw some slight lights and shades on the portrait. Much could, and no doubt will, be written about her striking personality and virtues, but no mere description can compare with the living and convincing picture so unconsciously unveiled in the sublime simplicity of her own writings.
It is clear that the great aim of her life, the end for which it would appear that almighty God had sent her into this world, was the promotion of the Devotion to the Sacred Head of our Lord, the Seat of the divine Wisdom. All her prayers, all her sufferings, tended towards this one object, and our Lord gave her to understand that this would become a great devotion in the Church and be a sure means of bringing England back to the ancient faith. It was in England, in the dark days of persecution, that the sacred Heart was first preached by the Ven. Claude de la Colombiere, and it must be a matter of great thankfulness and hope to us that it should be in England, and through English lips, that our Lord has chosen to make this fresh revelation of His Wisdom and His love. May it be perhaps that the untiring fight the Catholics in England have waged for the preservation of their schools has won for them this singular favour from almighty God, and that it is in reward for the heroism of the teachers, who for so long bore the heat and burden of the day, that He has chosen His special messenger from among their ranks? And if, with the blessing of God, Teresa's fervent prayers and hopes bear fruit, it is to the poor and humble streets of one of our great industrial centres that we must go to find the spot selected by our Lord for this manifestation of His divine Will.
Meanwhile the mustard seed to which He likened the Devotion still remains hidden in the earth, but signs are not wanting that it has taken root and, watered by the approval of the Church, we may hope that it will soon develop into a mighty tree. Teresa herself laboured hard to sow the seed and she often marvelled how our Lord could delay so long the fulfilment of His great desire, but as her life drew on she learnt that time is swallowed up in His eternity, and she too was content to wait. After her Mystical Marriage she wrote:
 "I ask Him most earnestly for the spread of the Devotion, for this seems to be His adorable Will (yet without that eagerness and burning desire which I used to experience), in a calm and trusting manner, knowing His time and manner is best, without any anxiety concerning it, feeling confident of its spread and success, that it is God's work and God's holy Will and it must be done. Feeling as though it were already accomplished, yet offering myself as a willing sacrifice in what way soever He shall desire."
Her last mention of the Devotion in her letters is on the day appointed for the celebration of the feast four years before her death. From that time, in this as in all else, she withdraws from the eyes of men, hidden in her perfect union with her divine Spouse.
There is no need to enlarge on Teresa's devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. It was the life of both soul and body, and the miraculous way in which our Lord fulfilled her longings has already been described. A priest who knew nothing of her was once giving Communion at Lydiate, when he found the Host had left his fingers. He was very startled, fearing he had dropped It, when he saw It entering the mouth of a little woman dressed in black. He was so upset that he spoke of the occurrence to another priest, who exclaimed: "Oh, that must have been Miss Higginson!"
In one of her letters she describes how the very thought of our Lord's presence threw her into ecstasy as she was changing the curtains on the tabernacle:
 "When I went to change the tabernacle curtains — you know far better than I can tell the adoring awe that naturally creeps over one when they stand face to face with the veiled Creator of the world, when we enter the circle where cherubim and seraphim lie prostrate in wonder and silent admiration. With them I bent in profound adoration, but love and desire seemed to fill my whole being and I forgot my own nothingness and misery as I gazed upon His s. Head beaming with the ethereal light of God's eternal day and His sacred Heart glowing as a burning fire with its consuming flame. I know not what I saw, for I was lost in the excess of His infinite Wisdom and boundless Love, and I remained for some time with the curtains in my hand quite unconscious of all save Him who drew me as it were entirely into Himself. (This had not happened for more than a fortnight before) and since I have felt inflamed with a desire to die or waste away my poor life in furthering this desire of His sacred Heart. Oh that I had the tongue of men and angels that I might proclaim every day and at all times this burning desire of the God of all power wisdom and knowledge."
Someone once asked her if she had ever seen our Lord and she answered Yes, that in former years she used to see Him with her corporeal eyes, but that such visions were lower in kind and far more subject to illusion than the intellectual ones she was granted later.
Frequent as were her ecstasies, Canon Musseley is the only one among her friends who claimed to have seen her actually raised in the air, but that this did happen is clear from her own letters, where she describes her sensations on such occasions:
"SEPT. 20 79
 "I have written twice this week a private letter but have each time destroyed it for I know not how to express what I heard or saw. The only thing I can say is it is beyond the power of human intellect to comprehend, for all the powers of the soul and senses of the body are lost in God. I spoke to you about this before and I have been afraid of it, though this time I did not try to resist as I had done before, and this I think was pleasing to our Lord (as you told me to give myself entirely into His Hands to do with me what He pleased), for He filled me with unspeakable delight, and yet I think I was much wanting in confidence, for I was much terrified at finding myself raised up as I told you before. I mean that at first I knew I was being raised up and I was greatly humbled when I felt His infinite power, and He seemed to kindle a fresh flame of love within me which seemed to consume everything that was not for Him. Then He seemed to draw me entirely into Himself as a drop of rain is lost in the waters of the mighty ocean, so does it seem here with the soul etc., but we cannot say for we do not know what God then allows us to enjoy, but the good effects are very great, for we become much more disengaged from all things here. Our Lord also takes away all the strength of the body and I remained very weak and hardly myself for two whole days."
 "I told you I think that I could not write on Thursday evening, for I was about to write as you desired me when our Lord surprised me as it were by drawing me up into Himself as a little bit of paper is carried up by a mighty wind. So at times He carries me up, drawing my poor soul into His very essence or as one drop of water mingles with and is lost in great waters of the ocean, and the body too is raised and I know at the time that it is being raised; and I used to dread this immensely, but I see now so clearly it is folly to try to resist, and the sweetness that fills even the poor body if we give ourselves entirely into His hands that I have learnt to say, 'Lord I am Thine, do with me what Thou wilt'. It seemed to me at these times that the soul really left the body, she was in such agony (though filled with delight and sweetness) and remained cold and stiff and unable to move for so long afterwards, but you know better and I submit to what you say. I know not what I saw or heard. I think the whole being is lost in God at these times, and afterwards our dear b. Lord shows us by degrees what He then teaches the soul. And she is so filled with the majesty and greatness, the wisdom and beauty of God that those great desires and impetuosities that fill the soul make this life a continual death. Oh my Father, do you think He will leave me here very long? I wish only His holy Will but He only knows how I sigh and long for His eternal possession, and yet I cannot really wish to die, for in death I know I could not suffer for Him nor merit for those souls for which He died."
Again she says:
 "Oh great and almighty One, who can withstand Thy majesty and resist Thy power, for we are as a kite in the air or matchwood in the torrent. What Thou willest must be, yet I beg of Thee to remember that I am but dust and ashes and to take pity and compassion on my misery and nothingness. Today it has pleased our dear b. Lord to confer one of those great favours on me that I have before spoken of and He has shown me in some manner the glory that He would receive through the Devotion to the seat of Divine Wisdom, and He filled me with such a love and desire of Himself that my body was raised: I could perceive it though I tried not to resist, yet I always have such an unspeakable fear at these times."
She never mentioned these supernatural favours except under obedience, but her friends, who often loved to tease her a little, would sometimes try to trap her into speaking of them unawares. Some of them once spoke of being raised in ecstasy and casually asked Teresa a question about it. She quite innocently replied: "Yes it is a most strange sensation", and then suddenly drew herself up, realising how she had given herself away.
Teresa's love of our blessed Lady shines forth in all her letters. Among them is a long account of the Seven Dolours which would furnish grounds for many meditations. The following needs no comment:
"AMDG et in hon BVM et ST J
"Bootle, Aug. 20 81
"Feast of St. Bernard
 "DEAR REV. FATHER,
"In the holy Name of Jesus and Mary and in obedience I write of that glory etc. which our dear b. Lord has shown me respecting His ever Immaculate virgin Mother.
"Oh my Father, how can I tell of that which cherubim and seraphim cannot comprehend, and it seems to me that it is only the rays (from the sun as it were) of her glory that they feel and yet they are overwhelmed with awe, wonder, admiration and love, at the excessive power and majesty and beauty with which the adorable Trinity have clothed their Queen — As the heavens are above the earth, so is the glory and majesty of Mary above the highest of God's creatures, and their beauty fades almost to nothingness beside her. For in the very instant of her Immaculate Conception, she far exceeded the cherubim and seraphim in knowledge, love and every perfection, and each breath she drew, every motion and action of her whole life and being was one of next to infinite homage, adoration, and profoundest knowledge and love; each beating of her heart was an immeasurable height and depth of perfection, and all the love and perfection of all the angels and saints united in one would not reach to her perfection at her birth.
"At different times I have seen her under different titles — as Queen of Angels — Queen of Martyrs — Queen of Virgins — Queen of All Saints — as Virginal Mother of the King of kings — as our most powerful Advocate and Comforter of the afflicted, and each title has a world of glory peculiar to itself and far beyond any description I can give; but if it seems that no tongue of angel or man can express, or mind conceive, the glory which God has prepared for us poor miserable creatures who try to love Him, what is to be said of that of her who is crowned and adorned by the Eternal Father as His Daughter, by the Coeternal Son as His Mother, and the Holy Spirit as His Spouse. Oh Tabernacle of the adorable Trinity, Thou art so closely united to God so as we cannot go down into the deep depths of Thy Dolours — for whose sorrow is like unto thine, for it was lost in the eternity of God, for it was as an ocean without limit, for God was its centre its cause and its end — so now that your sorrow is turned into joy, who can tell the glory, power and beauty which are thine, for you are clad in the majesty and splendour of the triune God, and, great and rich and almighty as God is, there is not anything He could give thee more than what He has. Thou art above all others and next to the King in a vesture of gold and sparkling crystals; thou dost shine in the brightness of eternal light and the brilliancy of His countenance is upon thee, Thou art far above the angelic choirs, for you are their Queen and Queen of All Saints, thou art Mistress of the Apostles and Queen of Prophets, for whose knowledge of God approaches to thine? Thou art Queen of Virgins, oh Virgin Mother of our Redeemer, and thou art our Mother, and God has laid up His treasures in thee and He will give whatsoever thou desirest. Ah well may the Psalmist cry in admiring wonder: 'Who is she that cometh up from the wilderness laden with (delights) and leaning on her beloved?' For you are the vine laden and bending under the weight of its rich grapes. You are the Lily in which He delights and the mystic Rose whose perfume He exults in. You are the Apple of His eye — the first fruits of His redemption, the Cedar from which He built His living Temple. Is she not the high rock in whose cave He has made his nest and the Garden in which He loves to repose? Is she not the land overflowing with milk and honey, and the Ark of God's Covenant with man even in the Garden of Paradise. You are the good Tree whose fruit is Jesus. Surely thou art the honeycomb of Samson, Thou art a tower of strength against the face of the enemy, for thy foundations are in the mountain heights, thy walls of adamantine and thy gates of diamond, gold and pearl, Thou art truly the City of God in which He holds His court. Thou art the dispenser of His gifts. His dying Gift upon the Cross.
"Oh adorable Trinity, I return Thee everlasting thanks for all Thou hast done in and for Mary, and Jesus, my beloved Jesus, I thank Thee far more than I can tell for making Your Mother mine. And grant that for all eternity, with the angels and saints, we may praise and bless Thee and may gaze on that beautiful loving face, so full of glory, so full of grace.
"Our dear b. Lady was represented to me in her glorified body, not that I could notice her exact appearance, only I knew or understood that she was there in person. I experienced such a love and admiration and astonishment at the excess of glory and knowledge, wisdom and love which was hers that I could not if I had wished describe or form a picture of her in her corporal form. It was her wisdom and knowledge and therefore her love for God and God's goodness to her that was most impressed upon the soul, and I felt that Jesus was so proud of the work of His hand, and I felt something of that glory that she rendered to the adorable Trinity. How They loved and how she loved."
Teresa had a great devotion to the holy Angels, especially our guardian Angels. It grieved her that they are so little thought of and she loved her own angel and made use of him in many ways. She would send him on messages and communicate through him with her confessor or others at a distance. Sometimes he would replace her at table when she did not wish to eat, as has already been told. Mrs. Fleck relates a little incident that happened on their travels in Italy: "When we were leaving Venice she mislaid her rosary ring and when we got seated in the gondola she seemed rather anxious over the loss, and I was trying to help her to remember where she had it last, but she said: 'Don't be disturbed. I will ask my good angel and, unless the person deliberately keeps it, he will restore it.' A few minutes afterwards she drew my attention to the lap of her dress, and there was the ring right enough. She said, 'I felt it fall and there it is.'"
Another incident is told by one of the nuns at New Hall who had known her as a child.
"When Miss Higginson came here on July 22 1897, I was still in the noviceship, so knew nothing about her coming till late on in the day and I only received leave to see her about 5 o'clock. When I entered the room, she was standing facing a large picture of our Lady with her back to the window. She did not move when I entered (the door was on the side of the picture), so I said, 'I don't suppose you know me?' She answered, 'Of course I do, you are —. I knew you were coming in.' I said, 'How did you know?' (because only the portress knew besides the Mistress of novices and she had not told her). She replied, 'I have always honoured some people's guardian angels and you are one of them. He told me you were coming in.'"
The sister gives an interesting description of Teresa's appearance on this occasion:
"She had black silk gloves on, though it was a very hot day, and she held my hands in hers very tightly all the time. Her hat was very much over her forehead, and her face was quite smooth and pale, just like a corpse."
It was the custom at Bootle to toll the church bell when anyone died so that all might join in the de profundis for the departed soul. On one such occasion there was no one about, and Teresa went into the church wondering whether she could ring the bell herself. As she stood there, a little boy came in and, running up the belfry steps, began to ring the bell. Just then Father Powell arrived and asked who it was who was ringing. Teresa answered, "That little boy: it is the little boy who helps me to carry the big candlesticks when I am not able. I often see him kneeling in front of the altar praying."
The bell stopped, but no little boy came down. Father Powell said: "No little boy could carry those candlesticks. It must be an angel or the Child Jesus."
Teresa had a large correspondence, for many people, religious, superiors of convents, etc., wrote to her for advice and help. She treated these letters as absolutely confidential and was always careful to destroy them. When, during her last illness, she could no longer answer them herself, she told her nurse to do so. The nurse asked what she was to say, and Teresa said she was to go upstairs and ask her guardian angel and he would direct her. And so it happened, for she found herself writing almost without knowing what she wrote, and, curiously enough, she could never afterwards recall any detail of the correspondence, though she always found that these letters brought light and comfort to those for whom they were intended. She noticed too that, though this writing often kept her up till two or three in the morning, it never seemed to cause her the least extra fatigue.
Like all the great saints of God Teresa was consumed with the love of souls, and, as we have seen, she constantly prayed to be allowed to take upon herself the punishment due to the sins of others. There is a letter dated January, 1880, written in the trembling hand which denotes that she was hovering on the verge of ecstasy, in which she says:
 "I really do not know how to contain myself, I feel so urged to take upon me the punishment of the sins of those who are not attending the holy mission, that so God may have mercy on them. But Fr Wells told me I must never again do so without permission, and now I ask you to allow me for the love of those souls for which our dear Lord suffered and died. Ah my Jesus, remember the smart of those many wounds and the precious Blood which flowed from them, and all Thou didst endure in soul and mind for them; and Mary, by thy love and zeal and by the pain and sorrow thou didst suffer beneath the Cross, join your sighs and tears with His voice and precious Blood and cry aloud: 'Father forgive them for they know not what they do.' Oh dear Father, I know you will not refuse me when you see I have an opportunity of doing something for Him who has done so much for me. I ask it in the name of Jesus and Mary and that allsaving Blood which He shed for their and our immortal souls. I hardly know whether or not I made an offering of myself for this purpose (but He knows I did not mean to be disobedient if I did), but He has certainly increased the pains I usually suffer — but suffer is not the right word I know, it is so sweet yet so excessive. You I think know what I mean.
"I should have stayed in the church to see you but I felt myself becoming so very weak I thought I had better come out for awhile. If I do not get in again, I know you will say a few words to our dear b. Lord and our holy Mother for me and say goodnight to them for me."
Again in 1882 she wrote:
 "He let me feel a little of what He who is infinite Purity felt at taking sins of impurity upon Himself, and He who is infinite Truth at clothing Himself with lies and deceits etc. etc. Oh my God, my God, Thou hast shown to me that Thou art the almighty God, the holy and strong God, the God of justice and at the same time the God of wisdom mercy and love, the God of compassion, our Emmanuel. He has shown me too the value of a soul and I feel that to save one I could endure these sufferings for ever, for I know how He loves a soul and I feel that I could go the round of the world proclaiming His wisdom and love and showing the emptiness of worldly joys, the smoke and bubbles after which men run in search of pleasure, and tell that God alone can satisfy the soul or heart of man, for He has made us for Himself and we cannot rest till we rest in Him.
"I feel that there is such a desire for souls eating me up that, if it would profit one anything, I would willingly give up daily holy Communion, and in doing so I feel I should give all I have."
She often took upon herself the physical sufferings of others also. As Rev. Mother at St. Catherine's wrote to Father Snow, she was always offering herself for someone or something.
Margaret's adopted daughter, Kitty, was very ill. She lay for six months at death's door, and Margaret wrote to Teresa begging prayers. Teresa replied: "Kitty will not die yet. It is our blessed Lord's Will that she should still suffer and that she should get better when it shall please our Lord that I should take her sufferings. I will ask Him in due time that I may take her sufferings and sickness."
On the 15th of February the invalid was worse than ever. Suddenly she felt all her pain leave her and, though very weak, she was able to get up and put on her clothes. A few hours later a telegram brought the news of Teresa's death.
Teresa had devoted her life to teaching little children. She always laid far more stress on the training of their characters than on the mere imparting of knowledge, and her influence with them was wonderful. She seemed able to read their very hearts and to tell at once if a child were speaking the truth. She could never do enough for them, for she saw in them the infant Jesus. She liked them to have the very best of everything in the way of food and clothes, and often sheltered little waifs from the wet and cold, clothing them with the finest material at her own expense. When remonstrated with on this seemingly unnecessary extravagance, she replied with her sweet smile: "How could I give anything but the very best to the Holy Child?"
She was also devoted to the sick and poor and spent much of her time in visiting them. She would nurse and tend and comfort them in all their troubles, and one of her greatest delights was to cook nice things for them.
As for her own comfort or appearance, as will be readily believed, she cared less than nothing. Very early in life she took a vow of poverty and would henceforth claim nothing for her own. Even the very clothes she wore she looked on as a loan and was always ready to give them to anyone whose need she thought was greater than her own. Her mother used to say: "I don't know what Teresa does with her clothes. Each time she comes home I get her things and when she returns to me she has hardly anything to wear." During her visits to Neston her sisters would try to renovate her wardrobe. Miss Catterall tells how Teresa returned from one such shopping expedition with a new bonnet trimmed with a large ostrich feather. By some strange chance the feather soon got burnt in the gas jet, after which mishap Teresa seemed to take much more kindly to her bonnet! After her death her sister Louisa wrote: "Nearly all Sister's clothes were missing. I suppose she must have given them away. If she had recovered, I don't know what she would have done."
Once at Bootle she took off her flannel petticoat to give to a woman who begged of her. The woman went round to the priest's house and showed it to the housekeeper, who at once took it to Father Powell. He told the housekeeper to give her something else and, sending for Teresa, told her to go home and put on her petticoat at once.
Towards the end of her life Teresa was asked which virtue she had practised most and her answer was: "My dear, I don't ever remember missing an opportunity of being kind, for nothing makes us resemble our dear Lord so much as kindness." She then went on to explain how people may be self-denying, merciful, even charitable, and yet not kind. True kindness she said must be a conscious imitation of our Lord, and by this beautiful apostolate many souls may be won for Him, for kindness brings happiness, softening hearts and preparing them for His grace. How perfectly she herself carried out this teaching is amply confirmed by all who knew her.
By this means she brought many souls to God. A poor prisoner was awaiting execution. He was utterly hardened and unrepentant, and rejected all the efforts of those who tried to soften him. Teresa had a method of her own. She bought a bunch of grapes and went to the prison. The wretched man was sitting on his bed in sullen despair, but she gently put her arms round his neck saying: Look dear father, what a beautiful bunch of grapes I have brought you!" Even the hardened sinner was not proof against such an appeal.
Another virtue she never tired of teaching was that of confidence. She used to say that what grieves our Lord most is our want of confidence in Him. No generous person can bear to be distrusted and our Lord is most generous and feels it more than all.
Teresa had many accomplishments. She was a most beautiful needlewoman, though her friends never doubted that it was her guardian angel who often did her work for her They would come home and find her lost in prayer, and yet any work she had in hand was always ready at the appointed time. She was also an excellent cook. Sometimes during her visits to Liverpool she spent a day or two with Canon Snow, and, if any of his friends came to see him, she delighted in preparing the dinner for them. She never tasted the dishes herself, but would call upon the housekeeper to try them. The Canon had some little wards who sometimes came to tea and Teresa was sure always to have some special dainties ready for them. She sat at table with them, telling stories and asking riddles and entering into all the fun. She appeared to eat, but those who watched her closely saw that she never took more than a little piece of bread and butter, and they noticed too how her lips moved in prayer when the rest were too busy to heed her. She loved nothing better than to have good things to set before her friends, and took special note of their likes and dislikes. She was most hospitable to anyone who came to the house and it used to strike people as somewhat surprising where the necessary supplies came from at some unexpected call. And only the best would serve her to set before her friends. One day during her last illness two men called at the cottage. They had known her in Liverpool and were tramping through the country in search of work. She told the nurse to lay the best cloth and to provide the best meal possible for them, adding with her sweet smile: "We must do all we can in honour of this visit of St. Peter and St. Paul. Her guests were quite overcome, and went away full of awe and reverence for their hostess.
She was at times allowed to foresee the future, and our Lord revealed to her the terrible judgments of war and famine that were coming on the world. In 1880 she wrote to Father Powell:
 "If it were not in obedience, I should never attempt to describe the dreadful things which have been shown to me, but, trusting in that wisdom and power, I hope He will give you a right understanding and knowledge of all that you wish me in His Name to relate. Oh Jesus, my beloved Jesus, be Thou a Jesus to us and save us whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy most precious Blood. I know not how or where I was taken, but it seemed to me that I was in a high place and looked down upon the earth. First I saw a cloud of darkness encompass the earth, a real thick material darkness which I understood too was a figure of the darkness of the intellect into which man had precipitated himself, then I heard the sound of mighty thunder and saw the lightning flash, and it seemed to me as if balls of fire fell upon the earth and struck it to its centre splintering the rocks to fragments. And I heard the rush of waters and a fearful wail of mourning arose from the earth, and humbly prostrating myself I craved for mercy through the Blood and bitter Passion of Jesus Christ, for through this darkness could be seen distinctly shining stars on the bosom of the earth (the holy tabernacles of His love), and I begged God not to look upon us but on the face of His Christ. And I heard a mighty voice say, 'I will not save this people for they are flesh. Ask me not in His Blood for His Blood is upon them.' (I understood to condemn them). But still I continued uniting my poor prayer with that of our dear crucified Jesus, saying over and over again, 'Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Jesus, Mercy! Mary, help!'
"I cannot say how long this lasted, for I was as much afraid as I was humbled, but then I heard a voice I knew full well to be that of our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ saying: 'Say that not one of these that are given to me shall be lost.' Then the earthquakes stopped and the lightnings ceased and I beheld starved and maniac looking forms rise trembling to their feet, and I saw the sign upon their foreheads, and with them and the whole court of heaven I praised and blessed that God of infinite wisdom who in His mercy has redeemed us in His Blood.
"On another occasion I saw the stars shining brightly in the firmament and I saw a smoke arise, then I saw numbers of them fall and our b. Lord made me understand that through levity, want of mortification, and intellectual pride, many of His priests will presently fall away. At other times I have seen dried up herbage, dead cattle and fainting forms of human beings which I think indicates famine but I have not been distinctly told so. I do not know either the exact time these things will come to pass, but I understand that they are now hanging over our heads. The sign which marks the foreheads of the saved is the Wisdom the seat of which He expresses shall be duly and publicly worshipped."
After these terrors she understood that a great peace would follow:
 "When these things shall have passed, there will be very few left who have not His seal upon their foreheads, yet these will be brought to love and adore the Wisdom of the Father in person of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts and minds of His people, the Church will enjoy a great peace and calm, and God will be adored, loved known and served verily and indeed."
Many volumes might be written of the virtues of this great servant of God, but perhaps no words can more fully or more simply express her marvellous sanctity than those of her own favourite versicle. They were ever on her lips, her refuge in desolation, her delight in times of joy:
"Jesus, my own, my only Good, I wish for naught but Thee:
Behold me all Thine own, my God, Do what Thou wilt with me."
1. "Observations on the life of the Servant of God, Teresa Higginson", by Canon Snow.