Story of Monstrance of Notting Hill Carmel, London England

Below is taken from the Carmel of Notting Hill’s “News” section of their website: http://carmelitesnottinghill.org.uk/monstrance/   This post takes place in the Carmel Rue d’Enfer in Paris, France which is the Carmel that sent several sisters to found in the UK so this happened while they were still in Paris getting ready to found.

Monstrance

Some of our visitors to this website have shown an interest in our monstrance that we showed you in a previous news post. I asked our Archivist if she could shed some light on its history and she kindly obliged with the following interesting piece:
About a  year before the  foundation of this  Carmel,(which took place  in September 1878) the friends  of the sisters were all  making  very generous  offers  of gifts for the  new  Carmel.  One of the  most generous benefactors, especially  of gifts for the   Chapel, was a  certain  Madame  Labbe. It was she, who  along with  other  beautiful gifts donated the  Monstrance, and a  matching  ciborium..    This  is the  letter describing it to  the  Prioress:

“Dear Reverend  Mother,  this  morning  I  went to  the  shop of  Poussielque in  order to  see the dimensions  of a monstrance  I had once seen  on a visit  with Mgr Gay, who had said to me:  “you will never find a  more  beautiful monstrance”   I was able to obtain a   sketch of it, which  gives a  little  idea  , but  doesn’t give the  dimensions. Its height  is  68 cm, and the  width 24cm.  It is  made  of bronze, gold  plated,  and  it  is a copy, scrupulously exact, of   an  original   of the  XV C. Which is  now  in the  museum of Munich……
Yours respectfully,    Mme Labbe.”

The Prioress wrote back:

“Dear Madame, may the  love  of God  fill your soul.
So, you are going to  ruin  yourself! It is  a true  testimony of excellent  taste,  perfect design and  admirable workmanship. In all my  life,  I never saw such a  monstrance, and  I never dreamt that  you  would   choose to  give such a masterpiece to  our  little Carmel.  The ciborium also  seems very simple and  in good taste…..Your visit gave me so much pleasure, and.    I am sorry  I have had so few occasions to  express to  you  my gratitude.
Believe me, yours very devotedly in Our Lord,    Sr. Mary of the  Blessed Trinity”

Madame Labbe actually gave an even  more  precious  gift to   Carmel:  her own young daughter, Marie who had entered the Carmel in Paris, and  made her  profession there in 1876, being  24 years old.   Marie took  the religious  name  of Sr. Catherine  of Jesus,  and when  the  Foundation  in London was  made in 1878, she was appointed the  first  Subprioress of the  new  community.   She was very delicate, and died at the age  of 46  in April  1898.

Sister Catherine of Jesus

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