September 29, 2010

Elisabeth of the Trinity and The Church of Saint-Michel in Dijon, France

St. Michael the Archangel is the patron of the home parish of Elisabeth of the Trinity, the 19th Century Carmelite of Dijon. It is in this parish of Saint-Michel where she went to daily mass. In fact, she lived just blocks away and at the time, the Carmelite Monastery was also in the same neighborhood.

Elisabeth of the TrinityThe Church of Saint-Michel in Dijon, France

It is at this parish that Elisabeth had her first experiences of contemplative prayer.  By this, I mean, she in some sense felt the Lord dwelling inside her heart.  Elisabeth was an award winning pianist, and when asked about how she could perform with so much composure, she explained that as she played, she would think of "Him."  She was astounded at how much God loved her - the love was so excessive and dynamic she was constantly drawn to it.  
Elisabeth's view after receiving Communion at St. Michele

She enjoyed attending to and searching for the loving presence of the Holy Trinity in her heart. This grace seems to have begun with her First Communion, but continued to grow as her prayer deepened. She wanted to consecrate her whole life to the loving service of God. After reading Therese of Lisieux's Story of a Soul, she decided to do this as a Carmelite nun.

In the months before her death in 1906, Blessed Elisabeth wrote her sister, a young wife and mother, a series of daily reflections so that she, too, could enter into the same kind of prayer.  In the very first paragraph, she explains to her sister that the Holy Trinity, the Bosom of the Father, is our true home, the place where our heart is most at rest.  She exhorted her sister to turn her attention to this reality dwelling in her heart, that by seeking the Lord's presence, especially in the painful and broken parts of ourselves, the transforming power of God's love, the power of the Cross, is unleashed in our lives - and we learn to become the praise of God's glory.   This series of reflections is known as one of her major works "Heaven in Faith."

Click here  for my podcasts at based on Elisabeth's "Heaven in Faith" reflections.


  1. Thank you for this wonderful article, Dr. Lilles. I've shared it with the readers of Spirit Singing.
    May God bless you and your family. May he grant the grace of perseverance to all seminarians.