From the "Life of Leo Dupont" (1882)
Below is a detailed account of many of the most astounding first-class miracles that occurred in the home of Ven. Leo Dupont in Tours, France during a span of 30 years, from 1851 to 1881. Many Catholics today have not heard of Ven. Leo Dupont and are completely unaware that these miracles took place, which were as astounding as those seen in Lourdes, France during the same time period. The miracles there all had the same commonality; they occurred to those who applied oil from a lamp burning in front of a Holy Face relic, saying Holy Face devotional prayers and asking for a cure. The Holy Face devotional prayers had been given to Ven. Leo Dupont just a few years earlier by a Carmelite nun named Sister Mary of St. Peter, who received them through a series of revelations directly from Our Lord, who wished devotion to His Holy Face be established worldwide. The miracles in Ven. Leo Dupont's home became so numerous that Pope Pius IX declared him to be perhaps the greatest miracle worker in Church history, yet today many Catholics have still never heard of him. These same miracles later lead Pope Leo XIII to establish the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face in 1885, nine years after the death of Ven. Leo Dupont, which confirmed the authenticity of the revelations of Sister Mary of St. Peter.
M. Dupont then proceeds to notice a still more striking cure, which took place on Easter Tuesday, in the case of a young man who came on some business. He was lame, and walked with pain and difficulty. The servant of God rubbed his leg with the oil of the lamp, praying to the Holy Face. The young man was cured on the spot, and began to run round the garden with the greatest ease.
Then followed the months of the Sacred Heart and of the Precious Blood, but by this time consolations had begun to abound, and above twenty persons had experienced relief in very serious maladies. '' We began then," he says, “to recite before the picture the Litanies of the Holy Face, composed by the poor little workwoman of Brittany, Sister Marie de Saint Pierre. Prodigies were multiplied. I do not undertake to enter into the detail of the cures affected by the oil: of cancers, of ulcers, internal and external, of cataracts, of stiffened joints, of deafness, &c., all very numerous.
The cultus of the Holy Face was henceforth to fill M. Dupont's whole life. From the very commencement he regarded it as the carrying out of the mission entrusted to Sister Saint-Pierre, for she was the first who had given the Adorable Face of Our Lord as the exterior sign and special means of reparation, and he looked upon the miraculous cures effected in his house as manifestations of the will of God with regard to this devotion. And it was not bodily cures alone, but conversions of souls, that came to add their consoling witness. Men who had no religious attractions, nay, even unbelievers, the indifferent, or Protestants with strong anti-Catholic spirit, would enter either from curiosity or induced to seek a cure for some sick relative; and to these the result would often be unexpected blessings; the light of grace would dawn on their own soul, and hence on whole families.
Cases of cancer may be thus adduced, of which there were frequent examples even during the first year of the exposition of the Holy Face in the Rue St. Etienne. Two in particular of a very remarkable kind are mentioned. In the one the sufferer had come to Tours for treatment at the Hospital, and had undergone the painful operation of its excision. After her return home the malady broke out with increased intensity, as is too common in the case of genuine cancer, and the poor woman was incapacitated for all employment through the excruciating pain she endured. She then sought M. Dupont, who recommended her to make a novena with her husband to the Holy Face. At the end of the nine days the wound had healed up, and she no longer felt the slightest pain.
The other case was that of a young person of Chinon who had a cancerous tumor as big as an infant's - head. Her life was despaired of, and she was considered to be at the point of death. Some of the oil was obtained, was applied to the lump, and a novena begun. The very next day, the astonished doctor recognized a sensible improvement. She had slept, and the tumor was much diminished. It continued to disappear, and the young girl, being now in a condition to undertake the journey, repaired, as had been promised, to Tours, to pay a visit to the Holy Face. When she entered M. Dupont's room, she was pale, and still suffering. The lump was now, however, only of the size of a nut. After anointing it with the oil and reciting the Litanies of the Holy Face it was gone, and all pain had vanished. The girl burst into tears and her companions also wept for joy. Her strength had at the same time completely revived, so that she was able to walk about the town before hastening, still on foot, to the Station, in order to take the train back to Chinon.
Sometimes cures were obtained at once previous to unction. In the year 1804 we find a case recorded of a young woman who for six years had been almost stone blind in consequence of a typhoid fever. Medical skill had been exhausted in vain. Full of faith, she came one day before the Holy Face, and asked for a little of the oil of the lamp with the intention of making a novena. God rewarded the faith of His servant instantaneously, and she returned home glorifying Him for her restored sight.
The Doctor Noyer's cure is worth recording. He was a celebrated Parisian physician. One day he entered M. Dupont's room unexpectedly, with a letter of recommendation from a friend. M. Dupont took it and began to read it aloud. But when he came to one passage he hesitated and stopped. For, in fact, it was stated that the patient could scarcely live three weeks longer, and he who made this confident assertion was a physician also himself. Noyer, guessing the cause of M. Dupont's reluctance to proceed, said, "Do not fear to read on; I know what he says of me - that I am a lost man." 'That is true," replied M. Dupont, "But have you faith?" "Yes, assuredly I have." "Well, let us pray together." The Doctor Noyer, whom his colleagues in the profession had condemned, was in the last stage of pulmonary consumption, and had lost altogether one lobe of his lungs, so that they had good grounds for their opinion that he could not live. The two prayed together, and then M. Dupont applied the oil to the afflicted man's chest, who, full of trust, wished to drink some drops of it. He was instantaneously cured.
A priest, who was one of the vicars of the cathedral at the time, relates how he saw an old woman on crutches, who had been lame for twenty years, come in. This old creature anointed herself with the oil in a small adjoining room, and then came back to the salon. There were about twenty-five or thirty people present. They all knelt down, and the Superioress of the Sisters of Charity recited the Litanies of the Holy Face, every one responding. When they were finished, M. Dupont asked the old woman how she found herself. "A little better," she replied. " Have faith," he said ; go on praying, and if you have confidence you will be cured" And, in fact, a quarter of an hour later, the same witness records, the lame woman was completely cured.
One of the higher officials of the railroad saw a lady alight carrying in her arms a sick child, seven years old, which was unable to walk. She asked M. Dupont's address. The agents and station-masters were well used to inquiries of this sort, and were, moreover, so very obliging to the pilgrims of the Rue St. Etienne as willingly to help such as were strangers, and even show them the way when needed. The official in question did so. He accompanied the lady, aiding her to carry the little boy. On arriving, they all knelt before the Holy Face. M. Dupont examined the child, and asked why he was shoeless. The cause was patent in the swelling and deformity of his feet. He cannot get his shoes on," said the mother. Go and buy him a pair,'' replied M. Dupont, and he gave her a shoemaker's address. She obeyed. Meanwhile the servant of God applied his unctions, and when the mother returned with the shoes there was no difficulty in putting them on; the child was perfectly cured. The railway official, who had witnessed all, related this miracle himself.
Here is another instance of M. Dupont's confidence of obtaining what was sought. A young laboring man came in one day, provided with a recommendation from the mayor of his commune. For two years he had been disabled from working, his right hand being as rigid as a bar of iron, so that he could neither bend nor close it. M. Dupont took it in his, and said, "Oh! oh! this hand must close. Come," he added, “let us all kneel down and pray very much." And, in fact, the prayers and anointings had to be repeated ten times; and it was then only that the grace was obtained. By degrees the stiffness of the hand began to yield. Each time, M. Dupont took it in his to note the progress, and again encouraged all to pray, repeating these words: "This hand must close" And it did close at last. "Never," says a witness, "did I see people pray so fervently." M. Dupont's strong faith had excited that of all present. The witness here mentioned was a very intelligent and pious lady, who had herself been miraculously cured on the spot of a very painful affection of her knee, which was daily getting worse. Brought in a carriage, she was so completely freed from her malady that, on leaving, she walked about the town for some time without the least sense of fatigue. She repeatedly declared that she would not hesitate to attest publicly, with her hand on the Gospel, all that she had related.
An interesting case was reported by M. Baranger, Dean of Ligueil, in which a striking conversion was the result of what a so-called chance observer witnessed. One day, a stranger of distinguished manners called on this priest and asked him if he knew M. Dupont, to which he replied, "Yes, I certainly do." He has converted me," resumed the visitor, and I have come to request you to hear my confession." He then told him how one day, passing through Tours, he observed in a street near the railway some persons gathered round a door and seeking admission. He asked what it was that attracted them. "There is a gentleman there who performs miracles," was the reply. Curiosity induced him to look in the house, it need not be said, was that of M. Dupont, who, on seeing the gentleman enter, made him a polite bow, inquiring at the same time the object of his visit, upon which he candidly stated his reason, repeating what had been said to him. "Yes, sir," rejoined M. Dupont, "miracles have been worked here by the goodness of God, and they are worked every day." Observing the marked astonishment of his visitor, he added, "Sir, for a Christian, it is not more difficult to obtain one than it is to have a plate of split peas at the greengrocer's round the corner; you have only to ask; and, if you desire it, you shall be the witness of one. Here is a woman all but quite blind; we are going to pray for her, and I hope she is about to see quite clearly." "I knelt down," said the stranger, "along with all present, and I, too, began to pray, although for ten years I had not performed a single religious act. The eyes of this blind woman were anointed. She declared at first that she could not read a single word in a book held up to her; soon after, being again anointed several times with the oil of the Holy Face, she began to see and to distinguish the persons around her; at last, she recovered her former sight entirely, and began reading fluently out of the book presented to her." Touched with what he had witnessed, and still more by the words of M. Dupont, his conscience would not allow him to remain as he was, estranged from God; and so he sought out a priest, as already stated, and made his confession with every mark of sincerity and penitence.
In a letter addressed to the present writer, the Right Reverend Abbot Sweeney, O.S.B., gives the following brief account of an interview which he had with the holy man in November, 1866. It is interesting, not only for the particulars it contains, but because the impression produced on his visitor's mind tallies so exactly with that which is derived from the perusal of his Life". I was very much edified," writes this distinguished Benedictine, "by, my visit, and greatly struck by the natural, simple conduct of the holy man. He showed me a cupboard full of crutches, sticks, and other helps to infirmity, which had been left by persons who had gone to pray with him crippled, and went away healed. When I broke in upon him, he was reading a commentary on the 79th Psalm: Qui regis Israel, intende, which at that time was being sung every day after Vespers in the Cathedral of Tours. He called my attention to the fact of the Holy Face, his favorite object of devotion, being so often mentioned in that Psalm. He had a vessel of oil ever burning before a picture of the Holy Face in his room, and it was with the oil from that vessel that he worked his wonders. When I said it was very astonishing, he properly corrected me, and said it would be very much more astonishing if such prayers were not answered. This I have never forgotten. He showed me on his mantelpiece a pair of spectacles, made for very short sight, and told me they had that morning been left there by a novice from a neighboring convent, who was about to be sent home owing to her almost complete blindness. However, she obtained leave to go and pray before the Holy Face, and anointed her eyes from the vessel of oil. She felt at once a great change, and thought at first that she was totally blind. But, on taking off-her spectacles, she saw perfectly, returned rejoicing to her convent, and left the spectacles behind in memoriam.
A little girl, ten or eleven years of age, was brought from the Hospital to M. Dupont's house in a most deplorable state. She was crooked and had a hump on her back, which was covered with plasters. After praying for her, it was question of applying the unctions. This M. Dupont never did with his own hands to women or girls, unless the oil was to be applied on the forehead. But in other cases he employed one of the ladies of his acquaintance, or some other woman who happened to be present. A friend whom he invited on this occasion to perform the office, took the child into the adjoining room, appropriated to this purpose, and was thus able to certify to the woeful state in which she found her. The poor creature had an enormous hump on her back, which had become one frightful wound, covered with plasters and blisters, over which the good lady, not without some natural repugnance, made crosses with the oil. This had to be repeated three times, while the servant of God redoubled his prayers. He then returned to his writing-desk, and quietly resumed his pen, while his helper occupied herself with reading. Meanwhile the little girl paced slowly and gravely up and down the room, holding a crucifix and praying fervently. Every time she passed M. Dupont at his bureau, she gently and politely bowed her head. She was a gracious child, very pleasing and intelligent. At last he looked up at her and said, "Is it an illusion of mine? It appears to me that the hump has disappeared. Take her back to the sick-room," he said to his helper, "and undress her." His helper did as he directed, and no sooner were the clothes removed than plasters, blisters, wrappers, and all fell off at her feet. There was no longer either hump or sore; the child was perfectly whole and straight.
Sometimes, however, a single prayer offered by the servant of God would obtain an instantaneous cure and that even at a distance. His friend, M. Leon Aubineau, relates how he remembered seeing him one day opening his letters on his return from Mass. He was near the window perusing them, one after the other, keeping himself, however, turned towards the Holy Face, as was his ordinary habit ever since his room had become an oratory. That morning among his letters, was one from a town in the north. It was concerning a child who was ill, very ill; the parents recommended it to the servant of the Holy Face with great piety and confidence. M. Dupont read their letter, and then, still holding it in his hand, he cast a look on the picture with its lamp lighted before it. "Lord,'' he said, ”Thou seest that time presses". But who could describe the tone expressive of the ardent faith and charity with which he uttered those words? At a hundred leagues' distance, at that very hour, in the twinkling of an eye, the child was marvelously and completely cured. A few days later, he was at Tours with his father and mother, kneeling by M. Dupont before the Holy Face and returning thanks to God.
The following miracle was related by M. Dupont to a friend, who retails it in a letter. It exhibits the simplicity with which he regarded such things. “He had scarcely entered and sat down," writes this gentleman, "when he said to me, with that inimitable tone of sweet joy habitual to him, 'My dear friend, a curious thing has happened here; it is a good story. A short time ago, a lady comes here and asks my permission to pray before the Holy Face, at the same time requesting me to unite with her in prayer to obtain the conversion of her brother, an officer of rank then in garrison in the north. We say some prayers together; she rises, and I speak a few encouraging words to her inviting her to have confidence. I look at her, and a sudden idea strikes me. "Madame", I said, "you have something strange in your eyes", she squinted; " take a little oil, and anoint them." Oh, Sir, it is such a trifle at my age; besides, I have been so all my life." “I insist, it is so simple and good a thing to ask even trifles of God." She consents, and applies the oil once; we pray; and after a second unction and some prayers she rises perfectly cured. We return thanks to God, and behold she is full of confidence, and sure of obtaining the desired conversion. She recommends herself to the prayers of the Adoration; I promise to inscribe it on the register. Well, yesterday morning a letter reaches me. On her return, her brother regarded her with a look of astonishment: "Ah! you have had an operation performed." "No, I have not." "And yet!" Whereupon she related to him in detail all that had taken place. The man was quite astounded; and now she tells me that he has gone to make his confession"'
We give the following as a specimen of the way in which M. Dupont would force people, so to say, to be confident of a cure. A priest from Normandy, Cure' of an important parish, had been suffering for nine months from a complete extinction of voice. He could no longer articulate, and the only way in which he was able to hold any communication was by means of a slate. M. Dupont first anointed his throat, then he prayed, and asked for the cure of the sufferer. When he had finished praying, he invited the priest to speak, but he replied in a whisper that he could not venture to do so, for that during the last nine months the least effort he had made to speak aloud had only caused him most acute pain in his throat. But M. Dupont insisted. "You are a priest, Sir," he said; "as for me, I am but a layman; you know better than I do what faith we ought to have, the faith which removes mountains. Try and say, 'Sit Nomen Domini benedictum'. "Thus exhorted, the good Cure' made the attempt, and succeeded. His voice was audible, but resembled that of a ventriloquist. Then the Litanies of the Holy Face and other prayers were recited. He responded to all out loud, and by degrees, as he spoke, his voice became clearer, and resumed its natural tone. "Now sing the Magnificat," said M. Dupont; "you can do it". And the priest sang out the Magnificat in full sonorous tones. On the following Sunday he preached at High Mass, and related all the particulars of his wonderful cure to his parishioners, who had not I heard his voice for the space of sixteen months. He left his slate with M. Dupont in token of gratitude, and for a long time it might be seen on his chimneypiece under a glass frame. At present it is among the ex-votos in the oratory of the Holy Face.
A young priest, the Abbe' Musy, who for four years had suffered from an extinction of voice caused by a complaint in his throat, had made the acquaintance of Mgr. Morlot at Paris on the occasion of his brother's marriage, and was invited to Tours by the Archbishop, who at the same time acquainted him with the miracles of healing that were being wrought at M. Dupont's house. He came, and the result of his visit was an immediate cure. Moved by a feeling of gratitude, the whole family now repaired to Tours, to return thanks before the Holy Face, having with them the Abbe's mother, who was almost entirely deprived of the use of her limbs. Several other persons joined the pious company, and, among them, a young needlewoman of Paris who was suffering from a terrible cancer. Mme. Musy, if not wholly cured, received notable benefit from the unctions, and after a few minutes could walk easily and without pain. The poor girl with the cancer had six unctions applied to her by one of the ladies present, Mme. Viot-Otter, but so far with no effect. The sufferer returned each time to pray before the Holy Face, the agony being so great that she could only support herself on a little low chair, bent double and, to use M. Janvier's expression, almost rolled up like a ball. At the seventh unction, Mme. Viot came out of the anointing room with a face of triumph, saying that one of the gaping wounds had closed; there were three in all. A second closed up at the eighth unction and the last at the ninth. The cure was complete; and the young girl, like one intoxicated with joy, ran about the room and round the garden over and over again.
A country woman brought her child, a girl of ten or twelve years of age, to him one day, asking him to cure her. She was what is commonly called club-footed. "The good saint in his humility," was his friend, who was no other than the Abbe Janvier, his future historian, present on the occasion, replied, "It is not I who can cure your daughter. God alone has that power. Pray to Him with much confidence. Here is some oil from the lamp which burns continually before a representation of the Holy Face of our Lord; rub your child's foot with it; meanwhile I will unite my prayers to yours." In a few minutes, to the exceeding joy and amazement of her mother, the child's foot had returned to its proper shape. Unable to contain herself for joy, the little girl went jumping down stairs four steps at a time, while the happy mother was relieved of all anxiety save, as she said, that of purchasing new shoes and stockings for her child. This in its nature was so very striking a miracle that it is impossible to describe the impression which it made on all in the house.
A servant in one of the religious houses was suffering from a disorder in the throat which made it difficult for her either to eat or speak. Full of confidence in M. Dupont, with whom she was acquainted, she came, just as he was leaving his house, and, pulling him smartly by the sleeve, she said in a faint whisper, I was going to your house, Sir, for you to cure me." He immediately turns back, puts a few questions to her, and asks her whether she would have the courage to drink some of the oil burning before the Holy Face. She replies that she would willingly do anything he wished, and swallows a few drops of the oil which the servant of God offers her. They then began to say the Litanies, when the pain in her throat entirely ceased, and the more she tried to make the responses the stronger her voice became. Now you must eat," he said; and he gave her some food, which she was able to take with the greatest ease. Finding, however, that she was not quite cured, he told her that she required a more nourishing diet, adding kindly, "Come here, and we will take care of you;" and, in fact, she stayed in his house a month." His mother," she says, “lavished every attention upon me, and gave me delicate messes; I shall never forget it as long as I live. I have remained quite well for more than twenty years."
A young man was dashed against a wall by a runaway horse. His skull was fractured, and he vomited blood for forty-eight hours. The case being hopeless and death imminent, the Cure' administered him and gave him communion, which, he says, he received with evident faith. Two hours after midnight," the Cure' adds - he is writing to M. Dupont - "I performed an unction with your oil. At nine o'clock the holy Mass was celebrated, and communions were offered for his intention. Wonderful to relate, the bones which were fractured to such a degree as to present to the touch points like those of needles, again united. At four o'clock in the evening, he was eating a cutlet and reading an account of his sad accident in the newspapers." The youth was a pupil at Saint-Cyr, and was on the point of going through his examination, which was to take place the next day but one. He never felt any ill effects from the frightful, and apparently fatal, injury he had received.
I (M. Lasserre) prayed with M. Dupont for a short while; M. Dupont then dipped his finger in the oil which was burning before the Holy Face, and anointed my eyelids, my forehead, and below the eyebrows, wherever I felt the painful and ominous pressure of which I have spoken." But as yet no cure followed. M. Dupont inquired if he felt any relief, and he mournfully answered that he was not conscious of any. "We will pray together again this evening," said the holy man, who seemed a little surprised at the resistance of the malady. He detained his visitor to dinner, but the evening unctions had no better success than those of the morning. M. Dupont was evidently grieved, but being, as M. Lasserre observes, familiar with things of the spiritual order, he did not lose hope. On the contrary, he bade his visitor be of good heart, and gave him a little bottle of the oil, saying that they would consider what had been done as the first day of a novena. "You will," he continued, "make the unctions yourself, and join in the prayers offered here daily from eleven to two o'clock." "On taking leave," says M. Lasserre, "he permitted me to embrace him. That evening I took the rail to Paris, where I arrived at four o'clock in the morning. I went to bed at once, and it was late when I awoke. My first thought was to apply the unctions and say the prayers which M. Dupont had indicated. They had no result. It was now about half-past ten. Towards mid-day, as I was going to my work, I suddenly felt all the weight removed from my eyes, and a flood of health, as it were, penetrating under the lids and over my brow, usually so oppressed. The grace of Heaven had all of a sudden poured down in a torrent, like those rains which, long invoked, come when they are least expected in a blessed stream to gladden the earth. I then remembered that it was the hour at which prayer was being said at M. Dupont's house, and I seemed to have an intuition of it. Ever since that day, my sight has been perfectly restored. A year has elapsed, and I have had no return of the malady.
What took place in M. Dupont's salon so far exceeded the powers of nature that the spectators were sometimes seized with terror at beholding things for which they could not account. Thus, a pious and venerable lady, who was a stranger in Tours, wished to go and see the holy man and pray before the Holy Face. While she was there, a striking miracle was wrought. A man came in who had an enormous swelling on his hand; she beheld it gradually disappear as the servant of God applied the unctions. Quite overpowered by the sight, the lady ran out of his room in a sort of panic and, hurrying to the house of the friend with whom she was staying, related what she had seen, at the same time declaring she could not believe her eyes, that what she had witnessed was beyond the bounds of possibility, and yet she admitted that the thing had really happened; she could not be deceived. She was completely upset; the supernatural and divine had transported her, as it were, into another world. When her mind had calmed down, she acknowledged that a miracle had been worked, a thing impossible to man, but possible to God, who is Almighty.
In the year 1878 (two years after the death of Leo Dupont), a young person of Orleans who had totally lost the use of her hands and feet was perfectly cured after having invoked M. Dupont and prayed at his tomb. She was able to come in person and offer in thanksgiving two handsome crutches which may be seen in the sanctuary. On the 18th of March, 1880, being the anniversary of the death of M. Dupont, a Dominican nun of Chinon, who had also lost the use of her limbs for eight years, was instantaneously and completely cured, and that, too, at the very hour when she knew that the servant of God had breathed his last sigh. A young woman, affected in her mind, and who had been subjected in a lunatic asylum at Paris to special medical treatment, suddenly recovered her reason during a novena of Masses, prayers, and anointings, M. Dupont being invoked by name. An inhabitant of Upper Alsace, aged 35, had an enormous inward tumor. A dangerous and painful operation was judged to be necessary. He applied the oil, invoking M. Dupont, and promised to make a pilgrimage to his tomb. All pain ceased, and the tumor itself disappeared in the course of a few days. In the month of August, 1880, he accomplished his vow, and had a Mass of thanksgiving offered at the altar of the Holy Face. Shortly before, an elderly lady of Rennes had fulfilled a similar promise in gratitude for the recovery of her sight, which was almost totally gone, by the use of the oil and the invocation of M. Dupont. A little boy twelve years old, who could only drag himself along on two crutches, after a novena of prayers and anointing, cried out, "I am cured," and began to run about in the sacristy. His mother, in a transport of joy, exclaimed, "I give him to M. Dupont ; " and the child, now enjoying perfect health, was soon afterwards admitted as choir-boy by the Priests of the Holy Face. Examples might easily be multiplied; and, indeed, the plates of rose-coloured marble, already so numerous along the wall of the side chapel of St. Peter, are undeniable testimonies to the frequency of the favors bestowed.
To relate all the miracles which took place in Ven. Leo Dupont's home (now the Oratory the Holy Face) would, it is said, fill volumes. Even an abridged account would make a book of itself.
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