Marie Celine


The Servant of God Marie Celine, Virgin, Second Order

Sister Marie Celine of the Presentation was, before her entrance into the religious life, Jeanne Germaine Castang. She was born on May 24, 1878, at Nojals, France, the fifth of twelve children. Her parents were poor but deeply religious. They loved their children with true Christian love and tried to rear them in innocence and piety.

An illness by which Germain was attacked at the age of four left her with severe pains in her limbs, and for some time her left leg was totally paralyzed. She always limped a bit and suffered constantly from it, but her mother taught her even at this tender age to bear it all for the love of Jesus, who also suffered much when He was a child.

Many reverses came to the family during the first decade of Germaine’s life, but the hard lessons and trials that she learned during these times equipped her with courage and heroism unusual for one so young. Due to repeated sieges of illness, she did not receive her first Holy Communion until she was fourteen years old. In preparation for this event a kind lady, who had interested herself in her, took her to the House of Nazareth, an institution conducted by sisters. On June 12, 1892, she received the Divine Lover of pure souls for the first time; a happy day, especially after it had been so long delayed. Shortly afterwards she was confirmed, and then came new trials.

The Servant of God Marie Celine


Marie Celine’s mother died quite suddenly in the following Christmas season; an older brother of Celine followed their mother to the grave not long afterward. During this sad period, Germaine had summoned all the faith and strength she could command to assist the dying and at the same time to care for her younger brothers and sisters, but she was too delicate to take over the entire care of the house, so it was broken up. Germaine returned to the House of Nazareth.

The desire to become a nun had been engaging her thoughts for a long time, but when she asked for admission among the Poor Clares, to whom she felt a special attraction, she was refused because she was too young and too frail. Applications at other convents met with the same results. Three years later, however, when she was eighteen years old, she was passing the Ave Maria convent of the Poor Clares at Bordeaux, when she decided to make another attempt to gain admission. The Mother Abbess was won by her sweet simplicity and humility, and on June 12, 1896, Germaine was received into the enclosure. At once she set herself with earnestness to acquire the virtues of a good religious. She accepted with sweetness and humility the mortifications and trials sent to her by God.

It is related that on one occasion when she was suddenly called away and had to leave her cell without having an opportunity to put things in order, as she was tempted to do contrary to prompt obedience, she found upon her return that everything had been neatly put away. Believing that her novice mistress had tidied the cell for her, she sought her out to thank her. It was found, however, that neither the novice mistress nor anyone else had been in her cell from the time she left it. It was evident that her Guardian Angel had done it as a reward for her prompt obedience.

She was clothed with the holy habit on November 21, 1896, and was given the name Sister Marie Celine of the Presentation. She was a model of charity, humility, unselfishness, and punctuality, and was always cheerful, often being the very life of the recreations in the novitiate.

One evening in the winter following her investiture, she was suffering greatly and told her novice mistress of her illness. As she had been visibly declining, her superiors were not surprised and immediately called a good doctor. She suffered both from physical pain which racked her body and from fear that she would be dismissed since she was only a novice. Feeble though she was, she still attended the spiritual exercises and the Divine Office and always wished to be occupied. However, she was obedient and sweetly acquiesced when told to cease working.

As her death seemed but a matter of time, the Mother Abbess obtained the necessary permission for Sister Celine to make her profession on her sickbed. Accordingly, on March twenty-second, after receiving the last sacraments, the dying novice made her perpetual vows, receiving the black veil and the ring of espousal with her Savior. However, she still had two months of intense suffering to endure before she should meet her Spouse. During the last ten days of her illness, she hovered between life and death. The scent of roses was often noticed in her room and in the corridor, though there were no flowers about at that time. This mysterious scent has often been noticed in the presence of the remains or other relics of Sister Celine, and cannot be accounted for except as a favor from above.

Before her final moment, Celine was tempted by the evil spirit but courageously resisted his assaults. When she was again calm, she spoke of the beautiful lady who stood near her bed awaiting her, and with acts of love she breathed her pure soul into the hands of her Maker on Sunday, May 30, 1897, at the age of only 19 years. She has since obtained many favors for those who invoke her intercession.

*from the Franciscan Book of Saints by Marion A. Habig, OFM

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