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