A new Saint in France? The story of Anne-Gabrielle Caron
The diocesan process for the beatification of Anne-Gabrielle Caron (2002-2010) opens on September 12 in Toulon. Her mother recounts the ascension to heaven of this "little sister" of Saint Thérèse.
It's a little child's notebook, with immaculate white pages. Anne-Gabrielle was only able to write two of them, in this childish handwriting that makes the letters rounded. The first, the most touching, she wrote it the day after her first communion, on June 7, 2009. All the spiritual maturity of this little girl with black eyes and deep brown hair is summed up in a few words, but what words!
”I sometimes tell myself that the Good Lord gives me a lot: the heartache, the chemo, the taste when I am in pain. I would like to know why He chose me and not someone else. It's still a lot. But I'm willing to accept it. I love you my God. "
She is only 7 years old.
Her life :
- - January 29, 2002: Birth in Toulon.
- - February 24, 2009: A bone biopsy reveals Ewing's sarcoma.
- - May 20, 2009: She received the sacrament of Confirmation,
- - 7 June 2009: she makes her First Communion.
- - July 2009: announcement of the remission of her cancer.
- - January 2010: her illness recurs.
- - 12 February 2010: she makes her wolf cub promise.
- - 23 July 2010: she died in Marseille.
No one can remain indifferent to the ardent faith and total abandonment shown during her short life by Anne-Gabrielle Caron, who died of Ewing's sarcoma, an extremely aggressive tumor affecting mainly the bones of the pelvis and legs, on July 23, 2010 at the age of 8 years. All those who were with her until the end of her life testify that they were taken by an "irrepressible desire to love Jesus" at her touch. "It was as if we were sanctified in his presence," recounts her mother, Marie-Dauphine Caron. "We touched heaven with her. " This reputation for sanctity led the bishops in June to decide favorably on the opening of the diocesan process for his cause of canonization. On September 12, in the church of Saint-François-de-Paule in Toulon, the city where she lived, Anne-Gabrielle will be declared a Servant of God and will officially begin her journey to Heaven.
The burning tibia
Walking, Anne-Gabrielle loved it. "She was a good walker," recalls her mother. In July 2008, her parents took her to the Alps with her two younger siblings, François-Xavier and Blanche. "n December, the little girl spent Christmas with her maternal grandparents. Twice her parents caught her limping. " We thought she was imitating my father, who had had a stroke a few months earlier. We scolded her and she didn't say anything.... " Anne-Gabrielle walks more and more slowly and continues to limp. In January, she took an x-ray. Assessment: fatigue fracture. "Our doctor assured us that it would pass with time and anti-inflammatory drugs. " But the pain is getting worse. "Anne-Gabrielle screamed every night: "My leg! It hurts!" »
I would like to know why He chose me and not someone else. It's still a lot. But I'm willing to accept it. I love you my God.
On February 27th, his general practitioner examined him again. "When he put his hand on his tibia, it was burning up. " Everything accelerated then: an appointment with the orthopedist in the afternoon and an emergency MRI. The next day, the orthopedist receives the parents in a hurry: "I didn't sleep all night. Your daughter has a malignant tumor, I'm pretty sure. " It was very violent," recalls her mother. Anne-Gabrielle was rushed to the Timone hospital in Marseille and underwent a battery of tests. All of them concluded the worst: Ewing's sarcoma. "The doctors told us that she might go into remission, but she would never recover. " On the eve of her first chemo on March 3, 2009, she asked her mother, "Mom, maybe it won't heal my leg. But am I going to die? " I told her, "We're going to do everything we can to heal you, but maybe the good Lord will call you back to Him. She kept quiet - I can still see her in bed - and then she said, "I'm glad to die, because I'll be with the Good Lord." »
A "holy" presence
Le Bon Dieu, Anne-Gabrielle came back to it all the time. "Why do you worry? Just ask the Good Lord," she would say several times. Or again: "I know everything will be all right, because the Good Lord will make everything all right. " She didn't just talk about the Good Lord; she sweated it out in every attitude she had. "She always spoke well of everyone," Marie-Dauphine Caron recalls. One day, when her mother asked her why she wanted to invite a little girl into the house who kept bothering her, she answered: "If I invite her, she won't be unhappy anymore, she'll become nice. " Anne-Gabrielle was righteousness itself. "She never let a conversation go off course, whether with her friends or with us," concedes her mother, who keeps in mind a severe reprimand she received at the end of her life." I was with a friend and I started talking badly about people I didn't like. And there, Anne-Gabrielle told me in a very firm tone, which I had never heard her say: "I didn't come here to hear that." It was clearly the rejection of sin in her voice. »
This "holy" presence of Anne-Gabrielle, her relatives have experienced it on several occasions in spontaneously granted pardons. Once, her mother recounts, "towards the end of her life, I pulled out her infusion unintentionally. I had to replant it raw! I was overwhelmed to add more suffering to her. Soon after, she called me. I arrived at the foot of her mattress, she took me in her arms, which had become very thin, and slipped me: "I don't blame you at all for having pulled out the needle, but I would blame you if you felt bad." She made me forgive myself! »
Calm and reserved
As a child, long before her illness, Anne-Gabrielle was already showing predispositions to this great interiority that she would develop during her illness. A calm and shy little girl, she analyzed everything in relation to love. When she was two and a half years old, her brother François-Xavier was baptized. As she entered the church, Anne-Gabrielle saw a large crucifix on the side, she let go of her grandmother's hand and said: "Jesus, Jesus, He is in pain, I will console Him." Anne-Gabrielle also knew how to be very lively, and to show the excitement and joy of life that little children have. She wasn't the last to make a fuss during naps in kindergarten... Raised in a very religious family, she learned very early on to make sacrifices and to love Jesus by removing thorns from his crown.
"It was a crystal, so pure and so fragile."
This attention to others was something Anne-Gabrielle practiced most naturally in the world, especially towards her brothers and sisters to whom she gave of her time, her gifts and all the candy she received at the hospital. This forgetfulness of herself, "Yaya", as her little sister Blanche called her, lived it even more deeply in prayer and the Eucharist. "The very last days of her life, she took communion daily, lying down, with her hands joined together. Then she immersed herself in deep interior prayer. It was a crystal, so pure and so fragile. The presence of God was tangible. Her contemplation was never-ending." Such interiority, at such a young age, would captivate even the two priests who accompanied her during her illness, Father Benoît-Vianney Arnauld and Father Jean-Raphaël Dubrule. "I don't feel worthy to sit next to her," said the former; "I have never seen a child who has reached such a degree in the love of God," confided the latter. "She was all given to Jesus Christ," sums up her mother.
Jesus in the Eucharist, what she hadn't waited to receive Him at last the first time! "He will come into my heart, truly present. He will come into my heart, truly present. I can't wait! " she enthused a few days before her First Communion on June 7, 2009. This appointment with her "Beloved", she almost missed it because of a medical examination. She arrived at the very end of the Mass, at the time of the exit procession, " Marie-Dauphine Caron recalls. I can still see her coming towards me in her white dress, the trace of a tear on her cheeks. We thought it was too late. Then the organ stopped and replayed the song of communion. The priest came to pick her up. I saw her go up to the altar. She looked like a novice, with her veil and crown of flowers. When Anne-Gabrielle took communion, there was such silence in the church. " A few years later, a friend confided to Marie-Dauphine and Alexandre Caron: "When Anne-Gabrielle went up to the altar, it was as if she was walking towards Heaven. "Anne-Gabrielle herself will be very marked: "I received a great shock during my First Communion."
"All day long, she was elsewhere, as if in love," recalls her mother, her voice broken by emotion. "Her first communion was a key moment in her life. I think it was the moment when she said "yes" to Him. »
He will come into my heart, truly present. Him, all of Him. I can't wait!
The same "little way".
"How sweet was Jesus' first kiss to my soul! " How can we not make a connection between Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and Anne-Gabrielle Caron, his spiritual "little sister"? The same love of the Eucharist, the same consent to sacrifice, the same "little way". "I am a very small soul who can only offer very small things to God," said the Saint of Lisieux. "Say, do you think that the souls I will have delivered through my sacrifices will be able to do something for me when I am dead? Do you think they know that somewhere on Earth there is an eight-year-old girl suffering for them? " said Anne-Gabrielle a month before her death. "She doesn't say "me" or "Anne-Gabrielle", but "an 8-year-old girl". An anonymous person, a little nothing," remarks Marie-Dauphine Caron. She didn't see herself as a big girl! »
The disease gave her a lull in the summer of 2009 and, with it, a return to a normal state as a 7-year-old girl. "During her remission, Anne-Gabrielle was less willing to sacrifice herself," acknowledges her mother. She told her brother and sisters: "I had a serious illness, I could have died. " Marie-Dauphine and Alexandre Caron are no longer under any illusions about the outcome of her cancer. "When the doctor told us in June that there was no more activity from the disease, he also told us that she would be dead within five years.... " When her parents came out of the doctor's office, Anne-Gabrielle told them, enigmatically, "I'm scared, I'm scared, but I don't know what for. »
Recidivism is not long in coming. The verdict comes in early January 2010: metastases have reappeared, everywhere. Anne-Gabrielle is in shock. The fight against the disease is not something she has experienced only in her flesh. This little soul has known fear, doubt and the torments of the night of faith. "One day, while she was suffering and I was talking to her about Eternal Life, she sighed and said, "Mom, I hope it's all true". She told the Good Lord that she didn't want to offend Him, that she wanted to believe, but she was no longer sure what death was going to bring her. "In June 2010, her mother prayed to the Blessed Virgin to give them the strength to accept whatever the Good Lord would ask of them. Anne-Gabrielle interrupted her: "But don't overdo it anyway! »
"Jesus, He suffered too much"
From January to June 2010, Anne-Gabrielle multiplied her treatments and saw her pain multiply. "Her body was deteriorating, and each examination showed an increase in the disease. " She will experience the Cross and be united to the sufferings of Christ. Sometimes her mother finds the crucifix from the hospital room in the bathroom. "I'm sorry," explains Anne-Gabrielle, "I'm so afraid of being in pain that I take Jesus, I hold Him tight and I say to myself, 'He too was in pain, He's going to help me. »
During her last week, while her parents were praying the seven Our Fathers of Saint Brigitte, Anne-Gabrielle suddenly stood up and shouted, "No, that's too much. "I turn around," recalls her mother, "and I see her, her eyes filled with tears, showing me an image of Christ on the cross: 'Jesus, He has suffered too much. " She doesn't just offer her suffering, she goes so far as to bear the suffering of others. In February 2010, prostrate in pain on her bed, she confided to her mother: "You will find me very dizzy, I asked the Good Lord to give me all the sufferings of the children in the hospital. Oh my darling... But don't you think you are already suffering enough? Oh yes, Mommy... But I'm suffering so much that if they could not suffer... " I was speechless," her mother still wonders about it today. " That day I understood that Heaven was open to her and that she was already a saint. »
You will find me very dizzy, I asked the Good Lord to give me all the sufferings of the children in the hospital.
Twenty days of ascent to Heaven
On her way to Heaven, Anne-Gabrielle wants to carry sinners in her prayer. "During her agony, people would call us at home to give us intentions and I would then entrust them to her. Sometimes, when it was sinful, she would have a fit of suffering. "One day, when her parents suggested that she have a novena of masses said for the souls in purgatory, she took it in her heart and said, "For the souls in purgatory, that's fine, but I'd rather it be for poor sinners."
At the beginning of July, when a final chemo attempt was made, Anne-Gabrielle suffered a stroke. A few hours earlier, as if seized by a foreboding, she asks, in a prayer addressed to Mary, forgiveness to all those she may have hurt during her life. "I think of all those whom I have hurt and to whom I cannot ask forgiveness. I regret not being able to ask them for forgiveness." She barely escaped the attack and went home. "Twenty days of extremely difficult end of life begin, but twenty days of ascent to Heaven," says her mother. She takes communion, prays and offers her sufferings every day.
The last tear
On July 22nd, morphine is no longer effective. Anne-Gabrielle was in pain and returned to the hospital. "When she arrived, she was exsanguinated. In her room, she realized that it was useless to hide her pain. It was an explosion of suffering. She begged for help. "The Good Lord is doing too much for me," she said with a kind of anger. That was the only time she said stop. »
On July 23rd at 9 am, she enters in agony. Three times, she emptied herself of all her breath. In the afternoon, she asked to say goodbye to her brother and sisters, including her "little Alix", born a year earlier on the day of her first chemo. Her last words are for Father Arnauld: "I'm not going to go to purgatory? "You will go to Heaven right away," he replied. Anne-Gabrielle died in the night, at 11:50 pm. "A tear had fallen on her face. She cried before she died. That tear traumatized me for a long time," her mother confided. Maybe the Blessed Virgin came to get her. Perhaps it was a tear of joy, like St. Teresa, who had an ecstasy before she died. She was so small, she felt so unworthy that perhaps this tear was a tear of emotion and thanksgiving when she saw Heaven open up before her. »
How to invoke her?
It is possible to entrust prayer intentions to Anne-Gabrielle by using the following novena, which received the imprimatur from Mgr Dominique Rey, Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, in July 2018.
"Most Holy Trinity, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we give You thanks for little Anne-Gabrielle, for all that You have accomplished in her short life. She surrendered herself to Your love and was animated by a great zeal for the salvation of souls. We ask You, through her intercession, to grant us this grace (say the desired grace), which we solicit from Your infinite Mercy, if such is Your will of love for us. Amen. »
This novena is followed by the Our Father, ten Hail Marys and Glory be to the Father.
Translated from Famille Chretienne