“This Tuesday, 3rd May, is the anniversary of the death of Elizabeth Leseur who died in 1914 at the age of 47. Elizabeth was born in Paris to a wealthy family. She had hepatitis as a child and this recurred throughout Elizabeth’s life, with varying severity.
AN EDITOR OF AN ANTI-CATHOLIC MAGAZINE
Elizabeth met Dr Felix Leseur, who had renounced his Catholic Faith, and they were married in 1889. In fact Felix was the editor of an anti-Catholic magazine in Paris.
Prompted by the attacks on the Catholic Church by her husband and others, Elizabeth began to look into the Church and soon found herself undergoing a religious conversion, this being completed at the age of 32.
A MAJOR TASK
One of the major tasks from then on was for Elizabeth to pray that her husband would also convert to Catholicism. Elizabeth worked on charitable projects for poor families, which was largely unknown to her husband. Her health deteriorated in 1907 to the extent that she was unable to go out. In 1911 Elizabeth underwent surgery and radiation for a malignant tumour. She recovered slightly but was bedridden by 1913. Elizabeth died from generalised cancer in 1914.
A DISCIPLINED PATTERN OF PRAYER, MEDITATION, SACRAMENTAL PRACTICES AND SPIRITUAL WRITING
After her conversion to the Catholic Church, Elizabeth organised her spiritual life around a disciplined pattern of prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, sacramental practices and spiritual writing.
After her death, Elizabeth’s husband found a note by her addressed to him prophesying that he would also be converted to Catholicism and then be ordained a priest.
OUR LADY OF LOURDES
Felix, who laughed at this prophesy, later went to Our Lady’s Shrine at Lourdes in order to write against the ‘superstitious’ nature of the place and to report the healings there as fake.
However, at Our Lady’s Grotto Felix experienced a religious conversion. He later became Catholic and then in 1919 he joined the Dominican Order. Felix was, as his wife prophesied, then ordained a priest in 1923 and he spent the rest of his life speaking publicly about his wife Elizabeth and of her spiritual insights. He was instrumental in opening the cause of Elizabeth’s beatification in 1934.
“I KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE THAT IN THE HOURS OF TRIAL CERTAIN GRACES ARE OBTAINED”
Elizabeth Leseur wrote about her agonising sufferings and the intense pain she felt from hepatitis and cancer in the following spiritual words.
“I know all that suffering means, the fine and mysterious power it possesses, what it obtains and what it accomplishes. When God’s providence prefers to work by means of suffering, we should not complain too much. Then we can be sure that the work will be done and not mixed up with all the misery of egoism and pride which sometimes spoil so much of our outward activity. I know by experience that in the hours of trial certain graces are obtained for others which all our efforts had not previously obtained. I have thus concluded that suffering is the higher form of action, the best expression in the wonderful communion of saints. In suffering one is sure not to make mistakes, sure to be useful to others and to the great causes one longs to serve … Suffering helps Christ to save the world and souls.”
– From: “Spiritual Thought From Fr Chris” 5/2016