VI

DIRECTION

IN July, 1875, Miss Ryland left Wigan. Teresa walked with her to the station to see her off. Miss Ryland was in tears and on the way they met one of the curates who asked what was the matter. Teresa told him, adding with a smile: "I think it is rather I who should cry for I am losing my friend and being left all alone." But it was not her way to cry for any trouble of her own! The friends corresponded and met occasionally in the holidays, until a few years later Miss Ryland entered the order of the Sisters of Charity of St. Paul, helped no little in her vocation by Teresa. They never met again, but "Sister Barbara" has not forgotten her friend, and as the years draw on and failing sight entails many hours of enforced inactivity, she dwells more and more on the memory of those wonderful days when she was privileged to live in such close intimacy with one who was so near to God.

In the autumn of this same year Teresa wanted to return home, either on account of her health or by the wish of her parents, but Father Wells would not hear of her going. Miss Ryland says: "There was another younger girl1 in the school with Teresa the last year and after I left I believed she stayed in the house with Teresa for company, but I don't think she slept in the same room. Father Wells would not let Teresa go, and the Sisters of Notre Dame took my place. She must have suffered a great deal that last six months all alone in that house.

She said she used a rope which she tied to the bedpost to raise herself in the mornings. She also told me that when she wanted to leave he would not give in, so at Christmas she took home the keys of the school and returned them to him saying she was not returning."

Father Wells finally accepted her resignation and sent her a testimonial: "Miss Teresa Higginson has, during three years, sustained a most exemplary character as a teacher in St. Mary's R.C. schools, Wigan. Signed. Thomas Wells, Manager. February 22nd, 1876."

A letter which he wrote some years later in answer to an enquiry from Father Powell shows his unshaken trust in her, in spite — perhaps on account — of the many and severe tests to which he had subjected her.

"Great Eccleston, Garstang.
"June 28, 1880.

"MY DEAR FATHER POWELL,

"Your letter to hand this, Monday, morning. As to the questions you ask regarding Miss Higginson, as far as I am able I am glad to answer.

"I certainly saw the signs of the Stigmata upon one of her hands upon the Good Friday afternoon of 1874, and I was quite aware of the many and extraordinary temptations to which she was subjected, and saw the effects, afterwards, as broken articles in the room she occupied, and notably the holy Water stoop. Upon one occasion she had been absent from school through sickness for nearly a week, and the doctor had been in attendance upon her at my request and seemed unable to afford her any relief, and was of opinion that her case was very obstinate and very dangerous. She was all but unconscious when I visited her at twelve o'clock, noon, and bedfast. I said, as I thought the school was taking harm through her absence, that she must get up and take her place in school by three o'clock that afternoon. Though then unable to stand, I saw her at a quarter to three walking up alone to the school to make a visit, and by three she was teaching in the school apparently as well as ever. These things recurred repeatedly and I was in constant communication with Mgr. Lennon of Ushaw, who helped me by his advice very much. I wrote at once to the Bishop about her. I got Miss Ryland to write down the occurrences during Holy Week which she and I witnessed. The memorandum book which I forward you by this post is the matter she wrote down at my request. The slip of paper written upon in pencil is in Miss H's handwriting. I am anxious to have both back, and I hope that you will see I have them both returned. Mgr. Lennon's letters I still have by me.

"With my kind regards to Miss Higginson if she is still with you,

"Believe me my dear Father Powell,
        "Yours very sincerely,
                                                      "THOS. WELLS."

Teresa could not remain idle, and, for a short time while living at home, she taught in Father Lynch's school at Seacombe. She then went to St. Alban's, Liscard, "but", says Miss Ryland, "she seems to have got on badly with the priest, for she told me he gave her a week's notice. I do not know whether it was from want of success in her work, or whether it was the commotion in the school — there, pictures were taken from the walls and thrown at her, and a slate was also taken from a boy's hand and thrown at her."

In 1877, the Jesuit Fathers opened a new mission at Sabden, a small village near Clitheroe. They had great difficulty in staffing the school, on account of the primitive conditions of the little place which had the reputation of being rough and godless. There was no proper teacher's house, the only available lodgings (kept by a non-Catholic) were very poor and the salary was small. Teresa was eager to undertake the work, though her parents, considering her delicate health, strongly opposed the idea. But she felt that charity and her vocation were calling her, and as in childish days when she thought a thing was right, nothing could turn her from her purpose, so now she won her way. Her father let her go, though he could not be persuaded to give his blessing on her undertaking. She said goodbye and went to Sabden. It was her last farewell to him for she never saw him alive again. On October 13th, 1877, he was taken with a seizure in the street and died almost immediately, having just been able to receive the Last Sacraments.

Teresa wrote to Miss Ryland telling her she had had a great cross and later sent her a mortuary card saying: "This is part of the cross I spoke of", adding that she had had a vision of her Father lying in the street in St. Helen's, dying, and that when the priest brought in the telegram, she said to him: "You need not tell me what it is, Father. I know Papa is dead." The memory of this dear Father never faded from her mind, and to the end of her life she used, year by year, to write to her priest friends begging prayers and Masses for his anniversary.

Mrs. Higginson's health was much affected by the shock of her husband's death and she longed to have Teresa with her. We may well believe that had Teresa followed the promptings of her own heart she would have hastened to her Mother's side, but in personal affairs she would decide nothing for herself. One of her sisters who was at home at the time wrote to Father Lea, the priest in charge of the mission at Sabden, telling him of her Mother's condition, and begging him to allow Teresa to return home. Father Lea's reply shows how highly he had learnt to value his teacher. He wrote on March 5th, 1878:

"I hardly know what to say about Teresa. If your Mother is ill and really requires her at home, there is nothing for her to do but to go home and help her Mother. It would be a very terrible loss to Sabden in every way, but duty to her Mother must hold the first place. If she does go home now, I am sure she will apply for another school as soon as her Mother can spare her. Now, under these circumstances, could you not as a great favour to me make arrangements for her to remain where she is if her Mother can spare her. As to her lodgings, I will do what I can to better them the very next time I go over to Sabden. With your well-known kindness, I am sure you will do all you can to oblige me."

This appeal had the desired effect and Teresa stayed on for the time at Sabden. The remark as to the lodging probably had reference to an incident which occurred while she was there. The woman with whom she lived lost one hundred pounds. Her suspicions fell on Teresa whom she accused of stealing the money and she called in a policeman, insisting that she should be searched. Teresa quietly submitted. The policeman refused actually to search her himself, but he stood by while the woman did so, and then together they ransacked the room. When the proceeding was over, Teresa asked him to produce his warrant. He had to confess that he had not got one, whereupon she severely reprimanded him and told him never to do such a thing again. It afterwards appeared that the woman had herself hidden the money in some safe place and forgotten where she had put it.

Teresa felt the insult very keenly. It must have been a bitter trial to one by nature so strong-willed and high-spirited, and there are several allusions in her letters to her confessor which give a hint as to her feelings. But she spoke of it to no one else, and not only did she forgive her accusers from her heart but, with sublime charity, she undertook to atone herself for any sin which might have been thereby committed, and begged special prayers for those whom she regarded as her truest benefactors.

She wrote to Father Powell:

[14] "I think I told you before that I had been accused of stealing a bag of money containing over 100, I don't know the exact amount. I did not mention it to my friends, but someone has written and told my sister all about it which has put them dreadfully out of the way, and caused many unkind things to be said. Pray that charity may not be further broken or sinned against as they say here that Mrs. B. should be punished for saying and doing what she has. Pray fervently for her and all or any who may have said or done anything against me in this or any other case, that God will bless them a hundred fold. For I know they are only instruments in the hands of God, for I ask to atone for this sin and any sin that might be committed through it for it was a public scandal at the time, and He graciously heard my prayer. Blessed be His holy Name forever. Oh how weak is poor human nature and how keenly she feels all these little things, yet He knows how grateful I am to Him for allowing me to bear this for Him, all unworthy as I am and I esteem it as a great act of His love and I trust He will never more leave me without some such opportunity of proving my love for Him my crucified Spouse. I know you will join with me in praising and thanking Him for this and all other favours."

The following recollections of one who remembers her at Sabden throw an interesting sidelight on her life at this time:

"When the Sabden Mission opened I was living at Clitheroe, and, as there was Mass but once a month, she came to Clitheroe each week-end. She had a standing invitation to come to our home, and a room was kept for her whenever she chose to come to us.

"My recollections of her are most vivid. She was sweet and gentle and quite homely, so much so that the younger members of the family usually found their way to her and they would crowd round her while she told them stories or sang hymns, sometimes amusing the babies by making her Child of Mary medal whistle.

"Her attitude at prayer specially struck me: she knelt motionless, her eyes fixed on the tabernacle. If ever I chanced to go to Mass alone I invariably knelt where I could see her instead of going to our own bench in church. On one occasion she got permission to take myself and my eldest cousin to the Mass at Sabden. She entertained us the whole day showing us her school, etc. I well remember the caretaker of the school chapel, a woman, saying she spent the whole of every Thursday night before the blessed Sacrament, which at this time was reserved, and that she had seen drops of blood upon her forehead on the Friday. The children too, she said, saw it, and had become quite used to the sight.

"I remember hearing much of the instructions or expositions of the Catholic doctrine to non-Catholics which she used to give on some evenings in the week. Numbers came to listen to her but of the results I remember nothing."

She then recalls the mysterious conversations which went on with regard to the missing 100 of which the children were supposed to know nothing, but she well remembers her uncle exclaiming: "Nothing will convince me that Miss Higginson is in the wrong. She will come through this and prove she is the saint we believe her to be."

Teresa made many staunch and lifelong friends at Clitheroe, among the mill girls, especially one named Elizabeth Dawson, whose humble house was later on to be the scene of wonderful events. Teresa persuaded several of these simple pious girls to practise daily Communion, no light undertaking, for it implied starting work at the factory at six, and devoting the half-hour allowed for breakfast at eight to hearing Mass, leaving hardly a moment for food before resuming work. It was her own greatest trial that at Sabden she was deprived of daily Mass. She usually spent the Sundays at Clitheroe, but during the week she was unable to receive Holy Communion, the Food on which her whole life seemed to depend. At last her loving Spouse had compassion on her, and in answer to her ardent pleadings, came Himself to feed her with the Bread of Life. She told this later to Father Powell, adding that sometimes our Lord would grant her this wonderful favour three or four times in the same day. As will be seen, these miraculous Communions took place frequently in after years when they were attested by many witnesses.

In 1879, her health broke down and she had to return home. Father Lea was much distressed at losing her and wrote: "I am very sorry indeed that you have not the strength to go on with the school. It will be a very long day before we shall have another in Sabden like yourself. May God bless you." He also gave her a recommendation: "I have much pleasure in saying that Miss Higginson, during the eighteen months she had charge of our school at Sabden, gave every satisfaction, both to the children and to their parents. She was most devoted to her work and has a special talent for attracting children to her school. She left Sabden on account of illness.

"W. Lea, SJ, July 15th, 1879."

Mrs. Higginson was now living at Neston in Cheshire with her daughters who had charge of the village school, and they welcomed Teresa to the little school house which was henceforth to be their home. Gladly would they have kept her, but Teresa felt she could not settle there for good. She could not bear to be a burden on her family, and she knew too that, dearly as they loved her, they were often distressed and puzzled by her utter disregard of appearances and the strange stories that were beginning to be told about her. She had long ago taken a vow of poverty and given herself without reserve into the Hands of God, and she could not help but feel that at home she was under constant observation — though she used to wonder sometimes at the things that passed unnoticed and often thought our Lord Himself was helping her to guard her precious secrets. But the two things that specially weighed with her in her desire to return to work were, as she told Father Powell: [3] "I cannot get regularly to Communion here and I feel too that I should be doing something more than I can do at home."

However, for the moment no situation offered, so she spent the summer months at home, and about this time she came in touch once more with Father Powell who was still at Bootle. He again became her director, sent by divine Providence to lead her soul through deep and troubled waters, but her trust in his wise guidance was unfailing and became the source of the greatest consolation. In fact her gratitude for the peace it brought her proves how terrible had been her former trials in this respect. She wrote on May 6th, '79:

[3] "You cannot think what comfort your few words have given me. I know you will join with me in thanking our good God for that and the great consolation I have felt in finding myself so well understood. Blessed be His holy Name for ever."

And again she wrote:

[68] "You know before I came to confession to you again last year I was unable in any way to express myself to my director. I did not know what I wanted to say myself and was much troubled at not being able to tell what I felt was my duty (at times) and I wondered how it was that no body ever questioned me on these things. Then I would think perhaps I should not tell or speak of these things to anyone and I considered how secret our dear b. Lady kept those things which God did in her. Then I would be uneasy when I had tried to tell my director, I thought perhaps I had done wrong. And on one occasion when I was asking my divine Spouse what I should do (for I felt sometimes I should tell my director) our dear b. Lord impressed these words, I mean, breathed them into the very centre of my soul: "My loved One, all these troubles will soon be over." I thought I was soon to be united with Him forever. I mean I thought my death was not far off and I rejoiced exceedingly. He meant He would give me one who would understand me. Blessed be His holy Name for ever!"

Whatever other trials awaited her, our Lord's promise in this matter was amply fulfilled, for henceforth, as regards the direction of her soul, she enjoyed unfailing peace. She placed herself in the hands, first of Father Powell, and later of Father Snow, with the utter simplicity of a child "even as He gives Himself into the hands of His priests at the altar" and to the end these two saintly men remained, not only her advisors, but her staunch and devoted friends. She took a vow of obedience to Father Powell:

[10] "In the presence of the whole court of heaven, under the protection of the sacred Heart, our Lady and St. Joseph, and in union with the obedience unto death of our b. Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I renew my vow of entire obedience, and give myself entirely into your hands as my director, knowing that in following your advice, I am accomplishing the expressed Will of Almighty God. Trusting in our b. Lord's Passion and death and through His most Precious Blood to have grace and strength to persevere in this my vow until death."

How faithfully she kept this vow is seen in her letters. All the secrets of her soul are laid bare to her directors and never would she undertake the smallest work without first obtaining their consent. During the months of inactivity at Neston the question of a religious vocation again came very much before her mind and she made enquiries as to the rule of various orders.

[7] "Of my own choice I should certainly enter a convent in which prayer, austerities and mortification formed a great part of the rule, but I leave the matter entirely in your hands as my director, and feel sure that I am doing what is most perfect in following your advice."

And again a few days later she wrote:

[10] "How good God is and how miserable is this the least of all His poor creatures. Since you told me I should naturally have greater crosses in the world than in a convent, I began to consider that, as I knew what great good my poor soul had experienced under the cross it was greater perfection for me to remain in the world, particularly as I had made the religious vows many years back, and that perhaps if I entered a convent, even where they practised the greatest austerities, I should be missing greater crosses and so give less glory to God and rob those souls for which our bl. Lord shed the last drop of His most Precious Blood of help which I would be able to render them. Besides it seemed to me to be presumption of me to desire to live among those whom our b. Lord had particularly chosen for Himself by the purity of their lives, — and so I went on harrassing myself ... and for this our dear blessed Lord has greatly rebuked me, showing me at the same time that I should give myself into the hands of my superiors without expressing a wish or a doubt, even as He gives Himself into the hands of His priests on the altar."

Father Powell finally set all her doubts at rest by deciding that she was not called upon to enter the religious life.

One of the things which cost Teresa the most acute suffering was the effort to put into words the inexpressible things God taught her and the marvels He wrought in her soul. Not only did she shrink in her humility from speaking of them, but, as she said, they were beyond the scope of human language, and yet she felt bound to lay them before her director. At length, seeing her utter inability to do so by word of mouth, Father Powell put her under obedience to write them out and then, terrible as was still the effort, she found herself able in this, as in all else, to obey his command. The result is that from the year 1879 to 1883, her letters form the most wonderful and intimate autobiography of her soul. In the latter year, owing to the troubles which had arisen, the Bishop made her change her confessor and bade her write no more. Accordingly, Father Snow thenceforth became her director and these special letters cease. In 1886, she left Liverpool, and from this time to the end of her life she kept up a close correspondence with both Father Powell and Father Snow, but her letters with few exceptions, treat merely of the common events of everyday life. She did occasionally report on the condition of her soul, and Father Snow at one time made her write her own history (as already quoted, letter 269) up to the year of her leaving the convent school, but then, seeing the intense suffering it was causing her, he took pity on her and said she need write no further.

When Father Powell became her director in 1879 she wrote to him:

[10] "There are several things of which I have never spoken to anyone, thinking that our b. Lord liked us to have little secrets that none but He knew of, but if you think it is more perfect to tell you everything I will try and do so as simply as I can. It is not that I have any lack of confidence in you still it seems that I cannot overcome the repugnance I feel in speaking of these great favours of our b. Lord. Perhaps it is that our bl. Lord wishes me to learn from it that they are the thorns that surround the sweet flowers of His grace."

Father Powell asked for further particulars and she replied:

[11] "With regard to the 'little secrets' they are many but I will endeavour to tell you faithfully (with the help of Him who is all powerful) in obedience and to the honour and glory of His holy Name and the confusion of the least of His little ones.

"Our b. Lord frequently lays open to me His most sacred Heart, and shows and makes me feel all the indignities He has to endure in the most holy Sacrament, how He is insulted and neglected and He loudly complains many times of His priests and those specially consecrated to His service, and urges me to make Him some reparation, and He has told me at these times to offer Him all the love of His own most sacred Heart and the love which the blessed Trinity and His holy Mother have for Him in atonement for all this coldness.

"At other times He has shown me how He is abused and with what irreverence He is handled by His ministers, and how unworthily He is received by many who consider themselves His friends, for which He has told me to offer to Him all the glory with which His heavenly Father has clothed Him and all His elect, and also the glory which He continually offers to His Eternal Father to make a return for this disrespect. etc.

"At other times He fills my whole being with such a longing desire for Him and His glory that my poor heart seems breaking, and when I see how little He is loved and how useless I am in making Him known and loved I feel I could endure any torment if it were only to get His holy Name once said in respect and love. And it was this that seemed to force me to give the night to Him in prayer and little acts of mortification (instead of sleep) for I could not but incessantly implore Him to hasten the day of delivery of the poor souls that they at least might love and thank Him and beg of Him the conversion of all poor sinners. And our b. Lady once told me that the prayer most efficacious with the Eternal Father for poor sinners was: 'Father forgive them for they know not what they do.' And it was thus she pleaded for us. And when our b. Lord sees me almost expiring with a love and desire to render some service to Him by helping those souls for which He died and suffered so much, He seems to take compassion on me and allows me to be instrumental in bringing some poor soul back to Him; and frequently when I have besought Him to remember the price He has paid for the souls of heretics and pagans, He has allowed me to see an angel strewing beautiful flowers here and there and gives me to understand they are the flowers of faith and baptism which He has granted to my poor prayers. And for the last five or six years He has often shown me His most awful bitter Passion represented in a manner I cannot explain (for when I try to narrate it I find I can do nothing) and permitted me to feel some little of those most cruel torments which He then endured, particularly during the latter part of Lent."

Then follows the passage relating to her reception of the Stigmata and the account of her Mystical Espousals already quoted on pages 76 and 80, and she concludes:

"And last year He permitted me to be accused of theft and searched and this I felt very keenly, though with His help I blessed His holy Name feeling myself unworthy to bear this resemblance to Him, and I beg of Him earnestly to bless all those concerned in it and you to pray fervently for them. I have not time to write more at present and I humbly beg your prayers and blessing for your obedient and devoted child

"TERESA HIGGINSON,                   
"Enfant de Marie."

There still remained one precious secret which she treasured as her own — her miraculous Communions, and it was only some time later that she wrote of them to Father Powell in answer to his wish.

[60] "In obedience I know He will explain what you desire and which I have never been able to put into words, and the one favour you now require I always felt He wished to keep as a secret for I could say so little about it really, and when I have been going to tell you it has always slipped my memory entirely, and if you had not now asked me so distinctly about holy Communion I don't think I should have told you ,— for you know I have frequently told you I don't know what I have told you, and as you seemed to say you knew the principal things you wanted to know, I was quite content and left all in the hands of my Lord and Master. Well, on Sunday the 18th Aug. Canon Daly gave out that there would not be holy Mass on Tuesday or Thursday next, and on Monday evening thinking I should not be able to communicate in the morning (for we were to leave by the first train for Burnley), such a burning flame of loving desire seemed to consume me that I knew not what I was doing or in what manner I besought Him, but I experienced that excessive pain which I think I have spoken of which pierces the very centre of the soul, and if it were not immortal would most surely destroy it. That night seemed to me like an eternity. Of course I was not able to raise myself from the ground I was so overcome with weakness, and if He had not come to me, I feel sure I should soon have died, or I mean I should have possessed Him forever. Early in the morning I know not the hour, but I think between two and three, my Lord and my God Jesus Christ appeared to me verily and indeed and His sacred Person shone with that brightness which is indescribable, and I think He wore a stole (but of this I could not be positively certain). He said to me, 'What wilt thou my loved One?' And I sinking in the depths of my utter misery could have faded into nothingness before Him. Oh my God, who can describe this annihilation of the spirit? Then He said holding the sacred Host in Hand (I know it was a real Host), 'Ecce Agnus Dei' etc. and gave me the blessed Sacrament of His love. I did not see the sacred Host any more than I do when I receive holy Communion daily, I mean with the eyes of the body, but to me our dear b. Lord always appears in the b. Sacrament in a glorified Body as He was after the Resurrection (to the eyes of the soul). I felt at this holy Communion too that our dear b. Lady and holy Father St. Joseph were supporting me and St. Michael was near. When I had received Him, He drew me so entirely into Himself that I was lost in His immensity and infinite love. Then, when they came to call me in the morning at half past seven, I was quite astonished to find myself quite strong and able to go about more easily than ever, though I had no control over myself for days, or until at least the Devil came and tried to deceive me.

"I could not say how many times our dear b. Lord gave me holy Communion at Sabden, but He did it frequently, and some days three and four times the same day. I think the reason I did not mention it was that I saw so clearly before me the manner in which our dear b. Mother Mary hid as far as she could the secret of the Incarnation. I do not wish to excuse myself but pray God to show you the inmost workings of my poor heart and soul even as He sees and knows me Himself, and beg of you to chastise me as I deserve. I think I have told you that I seldom see the person of the priest at holy Mass (I mean in times of consolation) and whenever He has given me holy Communion He always appears as He does at holy Mass. And once just as Canon Pemberton left Neston and I was left in charge of the church and house, one morning I was very ill and not able to go out for holy Mass, He sent a priest to say holy Mass and give me holy Communion. I had had no wicks for the lamp and as I was afraid the b. Sacrament might be left without a light, I asked the Canon to send some, but this holy priest gave me some without me asking for any. I have enclosed Canon Daly's letter as proof of what I am saying. They made enquiries but could not find out who it could be. It seems to me such an incredible condescension on the part of our b. Lord. When I have been ill and unable to assist really at holy Mass, I have seen the sacred Mysteries actually performed in my room. I don't mean to say that a priest really said holy Mass in my room but in the same way as I see the awful bitter Passion and feel and offer myself a sacrifice with Him to His Eternal Father. The day I did not get to holy Communion was when I was at Burnley and I suffered more that day than I can tell, though I tried to make a cheerful offering of my holy Communion for a poor soul, I know not who it was exactly, who would have died without the Bread of Life, and I offered up all I might go through in consequence for the good of that soul, and I saw through the mercy of God it was saved.

"I think I have told you all now with the help of the God of all Wisdom, Knowledge, Power and Understanding. And in His holy Name I will conclude to the glory of the sacred Head and of the S. Heart.

"Your obedient, and devoted child                   
"TERESA HIGGINSON,         
"Enfant de Marie."

Canon Daly in the letter referred to (dated November, 1876), says:

"I wonder who the old priest can be who said Mass on Thursday. Louie will have brought you plenty of wicks but the poor old priest has forestalled her."

The full story of the old priest's visit as she afterwards told it to Miss Ryland was as follows: Teresa had been left in charge of the church during the priest's absence. Her supply of wicks was running out and she wrote for more but they had not yet arrived. One morning there came a knock at the door and when she opened it she found there an old priest whom she had never seen before. He did not speak and she noticed with surprise that he seemed familiar with the house, for while she turned to shut the door he walked straight through into the church. She followed him into the sacristy where he handed her a box of wicks. Though he still said nothing, she understood that he wished to say Mass and went to prepare the altar. When she returned, he had already put out the vestments and taken the chalice out of the safe. She served his Mass and received Communion. Afterwards she asked him if he would take tea or coffee, but as he did not reply she left him to finish his thanksgiving and went to prepare his breakfast. Just as it was ready, the milk boy arrived and she sent him to call the old priest. The boy came back saying he was not there. Teresa, much surprised, went to the sacristy which was indeed empty. In the evening a young father came to take the Sunday duty, and Teresa told him about her visitor. He supposed Canon Daly must have sent him, but when Teresa wrote to the Canon, he said he knew nothing about the matter, it must have been the Bishop. But the Bishop too pleaded ignorance and asked for further details as to the stranger's appearance. On hearing Teresa's description, he said it corresponded exactly with that of a former priest of the mission who had since died.

Father Powell was at first doubtful as to the nature of the mysterious Communions of which Teresa spoke and he told her to ask our Lord about them. A few days later she wrote:

[68] "I asked our dear b. Lord (as you told me) whether I was to receive holy Communion again any time when He had given me It. I mean was I to receive from the hands of the priest after He Himself had administered It to me and if I did wrong in doing so. And this is what I understand. That I should not do so knowingly, that not even a priest can do so without special privilege and permission, I mean they must obtain faculties from the bishop to duplicate, but if, as it happened with me yesterday, that our divine Lord and Master should fill the whole heart and soul with such a desire and love for Him that we are as it were out of ourselves to possess Him and we are not conscious of anything but Himself, then there is no wrong. It is all His doing and we should not be uneasy about it as we have no power over ourselves. His desire is one with ours and we must humbly prostrate ourselves before Him confessing our unworthiness and thanking and praising Him and loving Him more and more. Oh my God how wonderful Thou art!"


1. This girl was a pupil teacher in the school. She did for a time share Teresa's room and it is no small tribute to the latter's success in evading notice that the child suspected nothing. She merely thought that at times Teresa suffered from a strange form of weakness.