A Martyr for Our Times
"I like Theophane Venard even more than Saint Louis de Gonzaga, because the life of Saint Louis de Gonzaga was extraordinary and Theophane Venard's was quite ordinary...my soul is like his. He is the one who has best lived my way of spiritual childhood.” – St. Therese of Lisieux
An example for us all
Theophane Venard's example, particularly his way of accepting his martyrdom, was a valuable aid to Saint Therese, especially his words before martyrdom: "I do not rely on my own strength, but on the strength of Him who defeated the power of Hell and of the world through the Cross."
Theophane Venard was eminently a tender and dutiful son; a most devoted and loving brother; an equally devoted and attached friend. Neither did he consider these warm affections incompatible with the great work to which he had given his life. His devotion to his sister, whom he calls a part of his very life, shines through every page of this touching and beautiful correspondence. She is the first thought of his boyish years, she is his last thought in death. Yet all this strong human love did not prevent his sacrificing everything to God leaving the home he loved so fondly, the sister he idolized, the family tie which bound him with what others might have considered iron links everything, in fact, which made life dear when the voice of the Master called him to go forth from his people and his country into a distant foreign land, to preach His word and do His work, and save the souls for whom He had died upon the Cross. This is the striking characteristic of the life before human love, surpassing all ordinary home affections, willingly and joyfully offered up on the altar of Our Lord for the salvation of the heathen who knew Him not.
EXCERPT from the book:
January 2, 1861
My dearest Father, Sister, and Brothers,
I write to you at the beginning of this year, which will be my last on earth. I hope you got the little note which I wrote announcing my capture on the Feast of St. Andrew. God permitted me to be betrayed by a traitor, but I owe him no grudge. From that village I sent you a few lines of farewell before I had the criminal's chain fastened on my feet and neck. I have kissed that chain, a true link which binds me to Jesus and Mary, and which I would not exchange for its weight in gold. The mandarin had the kindness to have a light one made for me, and treated me, during my stay in his prefecture, with every possible consideration. His brother came at least ten times and tried to persuade me to trample the Cross under foot. He did not want to see me die so young...."
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