14 January 2011

More from the Treasure Trove!

As we dig through our archives, we uncover many interesting tidbits about our early sisters. Here, thanks to our trusty assistant in the archives, we share a biographical sketch from an 1817 letter written by Archbishop Leonard Neale, to the Superior of Annecy, the first Visitation community, founded in 1610.

When she was ten years old, around the year 1813, Sister Charlotte Isidore McNantz arrived at the Monastery as a boarding student. She was amiable, and understood fully God's grace in placing her here. In addition to her general love of God she was singularly devoted to Mary. She was a precise child who heeded all the rules of the house, but she also had a sweet temper combined with two particular virtues that stood out above others: prudence, and discretion in her conversation. The sisters loved to hear her speak, and they respected her for demonstrating wisdom far beyond her years. She had a tendency towards unspecified physical mortification that she might have pursued to the point of great pain but she was also submissive to her director, who restrained her. Instead, she practices interior mortification so constantly that she could almost not be prevailed upon to interrupt it.

She petitioned to be admitted to the community, but her request was initially denied as they considered her "fruitfully ripe for heaven," perhaps a euphemism for spiritual growth combined with physical frailty. Ultimately she did prevail, however, for a final note mentions that she received the white veil on March 25, 1817, with the name of Sister Isidora, and she was permitted to make her vows on March 29.

Within days she suffered an undefined "pulmonary complaint" but rather than being frightened, she rejoiced that she would soon be united with Mary. She asked for and received the last sacraments during Holy Week with fervor and spiritual joy. She prayed to die on Good Friday, hoping to expire in the same hour that Christ died on Mount Calvary. Her strength rallied, however, so she then prayed that she would pass on the day of the Resurrection. This prayer was granted, and she died on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1817 at approximately 14 years of age. Her confessor asserted that she "preserved her baptismal innocence," meaning she never committed a mortal sin.

Sister is remembered for a postmortem miracle, for death did not disfigure her. Instead, it left her even more beautiful. She seemed in repose, with lovely, vermilion lips, and a body that retained its flexibility. This appearance was so remarkable that the next day her attendants called in two non-Catholic physicians who testified to her condition and asserted that medical principles could not explain it.

Sister appeared to Archbishop Leonard Neale while he was on his deathbed, to guide him to eternity.

No comments: