Elise Bisschop is a French woman who died in 1964 at the age of 38. She lived mainly in the village of Mailly-le-Château in the department of Yonne, which corresponds to the diocese of Sens & Auxerre. Since 2015, a cause for beatification has been in progress; it was officially opened in 2017.
René and Marie Bisschop first lived in Paris where they met. The father participated in the Great War and he left wounded for life because of mustard gas and the pains of military campaigns. After the war, in the 1920s, the Bisschops wanted to rebuild a family life that was also favorable to health. They chose to settle in the Yonne where they lived thanks to family rents. At first, the household landed in Mailly-le-Château, but he quickly bought the farm of Eaux bues (also called the Saint Hubert farm) located in the neighboring village, Trucy-sur-Yonne.
Élise arrived on the 31th of May 1925 on the solemn day of Pentecost. Surrounded by the deep faith of her parents and the radiant nature the soul of the little girl became un environment where to place a synthesis between faith and nature: each look that Elise put on the plants, the landscape and on the animals was transformed into a crystal clear and absolute love for the Creator.
In one of the poems, which she began to write at the age of 13, Élise reveals a grace received at a very young age and of which she was well aware: the joy. A luminous and communicative joy which will be the distinctive mark throughout her life. Two years later she was born her only brother, Pierre.
After having worked a lot for the expansion of the agricultural domain, the Bisschops decided around 1935 to settle again in the village of Mailly-le-Château. Élise had attended the Mailly-le-Château school for years. It is precisely in this chosen village that Elise's smile will be engraved so deeply in hearts and in memories that it will emerge 43 years after her death to arrive at a cause of beatification.
As her respiratory illnesses became common knowledge, Élise won the confidence of the inhabitants with this courageous and unwavering smile. Despite the surgeries and repeated hospital visits, however, her health did not improve. Élise had to do indoor recreations and couldn't run. She also could not continue studying although she was the best in the class. And yet her Christian life was exemplary for all to see, especially her successive priests.
At twenty, Élise was invited by her parish priest, Father André Générat, to teach catechism to the small classes. Élise put all her soul and all her strength into it, as much as she had. She did her best to show the children the way of the Lord, the one who gave her the joy.
In 1951 died her dear father who had given a lot of happiness to the village and the surroundings by his artistic paintings. At the end of the same decade Élise came into contact with the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Countryside and made friends with a sister her age. This sister informed Élise of the existence of the dominicains lay fraternities, belonging to the third order. At first hesitant, Élise make up her mind and succeeded in obtaining the agreement of her mother, who was constantly watching over her daughter's health. Elise made her vows as a Dominican tertiary in Lourdes in October 1962 during the annual Rosary pilgrimage, organized by the Dominicans.
The last years of Elise's life were a nightmare. Her body lost more and more the battle against disease. Even a stay in a Paris hospital specializing in respiratory diseases didn't succeed in changing the dramatic situation. Elise's mother was heart sick; who would be the first to leave the earth? The love that Elise had always had for the month of April, with its mystery of Passion and Resurrection, became an everyday offering.
Élise was hospitalized again in March 1964 because the doctor in Mailly no longer knew what to do to help her. The mother came regularly to find her in Auxerre. On the day of her death, the Thursday after the Octave of Passover, April 9, Élise told her mother not to leave her because this evening I am leaving. And truly, at 5:45 p.m. Élise died in her mother’s arms after two hours of agony. A deep peace, mixed with the awareness of not being worthy of my daughter, invaded the suffering heart of the mother.
On April 13, four days later, several priests who had known Élise celebrated her funeral. The homily, held by the spiritual father of Elise, consisted of quoting certain sentences taken from the letters which Elise had written to him. The month following the homily ended on the front page of the parish journal of the neighboring parish (Châtel-Censoir) with the title a Saint by us.
In 2006 a parishioner from Mailly-le-Château and former friend of Élise spoke of her to the new vicar.
In 2010 the article on the funeral was covered while the handwritten letters were covered in 2016 in the episcopal office, one year after the decision to open the cause of beatification. The case was officially opened on May 1, 2017.
As Father Bochin, chaplain of the Brotherhood of the Sick, said in May 1964:
At her Lord’s school, she learned to love and spread joy. Without a doubt, this is the secret of its influence.
The texts and the example of Elise shine again on the way of the little ones and show them the way of the Lord.
In order to read the next article click here.