Who Am I?
A classic parlour game, with a Leonie’s Longing twist! Answers below.
a) My parents refused me permission to enter the convent because they could not give me a dowry. Several religious communities rejected my application to enter because I was poor and had little formal education.
b) I made three attempts to enter the religious life in active communities of sisters, none successful. Finally, I accepted my spiritual director’s advice to enter the Capuchin Poor Clares, a community to which I felt no attraction at all.
c) I entered the Sisters of Mercy in my early twenties, but my health collapsed and I returned home after eighteen months of religious life. I was unwell for nearly two years afterward. During this time of illness I began to feel called found my own religious community, but my spiritual director told me that this idea was a deception to be rejected.
d) As a young woman with poor health, I applied to the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and was turned away. My sister was accepted by the Visitandines. I decided that, if I could not be a religious sister, I would raise a large family and dedicate my children to the Lord.
e) When I applied to the Passionists, the superior sent back a letter saying, “We will not have the convent contaminated by her.”
f) All of my sisters became nuns. My own first attempt at living the religious life lasted eight weeks; I made two more unsuccessful tries before persevering.
g) After years of struggling to keep up academically in my studies for the priesthood, I was dismissed from the seminary. I was re-admitted, and failed my examinations again. It took me eleven years to complete my studies and become a diocesan priest.
h) At the age of twenty-two, I applied to the Augustinian Canons of the Great Saint Bernard Hospice in the Swiss Alps, famous for rescuing pilgrims lost in the snow or endangered by the treacherous conditions. However, in order to be accepted I was ordered to learn Latin, a language which I found impossible; finally, I admitted defeat and accepted, to my great disappointment, that I did not truly have a religious vocation.
i) My spiritual director told me to put the idea of a religious vocation out of my head; I was poorly educated, and considered slow-witted. A few days later, however, he came back and asked me whether I really did believe that Jesus was calling me to religious life. When I said that I did, he asked me whether I could at least peel potatoes. Yes, I said, I can peel potatoes. So he told me to go to the convent to peel the potatoes, and I did!
j) I was enclosed in a church as an anchoress, and was resolved to stay there forever. There was fierce opposition when God called me out of my anchorhold to reform the Poor Clares; it was considered a betrayal of my vocation.
k) I applied to enter the Franciscans and was initially accepted, but later turned away after I confessed the details of my past life to one of the friars. I was devastated, and broke down in tears during my next Confession.
l) I was accepted as a novice by the Third Order Dominicans, and I made my first vows in the community; however, I found out that my true vocation lay in the cloistered life, and I left the Dominicans to become a Carmelite.
m) I was rejected by seven monasteries before I realised I was not called to religious life.
n) As a young seminarian, I felt a deep attraction to the life of a Carmelite friar, but my bishop told me to finish what I started, and would not permit me to transfer to the monastery. I finished my studies and became a diocesan priest instead.
And the answers…
a) Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, mystic and Secretary of the Divine Mercy, canonized April 30th, 2000.
b) Servant of God Sister Consolata Betrone, mystic and victim soul.
c) Venerable Mary Potter, foundress of the Little Company of Mary.
d) Saint Zelie Martin, mother of Saint Therese of Lisieux.
e) Saint Gemma Galgani, mystic and victim soul, canonized May 2nd, 1940.
f) Servant of God Sister Francoise Therese (Leonie) Martin, sister of Saint Therese of Lisieux.
g) Saint John Marie Vianney, Patron Saint of priests, canonised 1925.
h) Saint Louis Martin, father of Saint Therese of Lisieux.
i) Saint Maria Bertrilla Boscardin, Dorothean Sister and nurse during the First World War, canonised June 8th, 1952.
j) Saint Colette of Corbie, foundress of the reformed branch of Poor Clares which bears her name, Colettine.
k) Father Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, priest and spiritual writer.
l) Blessed Elia of Saint Clement, spiritual writer.
m) Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, the pilgrim Saint, French mendicant and Franciscan tertiary, canonised December 8th, 1881.
n) Pope Saint John Paul II, canonised April 27th (Divine Mercy Sunday), 2014. Yes, really!
Can you add any others?