Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur

Faithful Witness (1866–1914)
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Elisabeth, who was born in Paris, married Dr. Felix Leseur when she was twenty-two. While she was a devout Catholic, her husband was a determined atheist. Over time, as his convictions hardened, he became the editor of a militantly anti-Catholic newspaper. Yet his efforts to shake Elisabeth’s beliefs only strengthened her resolve to study and deepen her faith. Though these tensions in their marriage caused her bitter suffering, Elisabeth came to believe the salvation of her husband was her actual life’s mission.  

When she confided to him the firm belief that he would one day become a priest, her husband ridiculed the notion. But two years later, as she was dying of breast cancer, he became increasingly impressed by her courage and equanimity, realizing that she drew this strength from her faith.  

Elisabeth died on May 3, 1914. She had for years been corresponding with a wide array of spiritual seekers, who thronged to her funeral. Felix was overcome to discover a note in his wife’s spiritual diary in which she offered her sufferings and her life for his conversion. He went on to edit and publish her spiritual writings. In 1923 he was ordained as a Dominican priest. Her cause for canonization is in process.  

“I know that no cry, no desire, no call proceeding from the depths of our soul is lost, but all go to God and through Him to show who moved us to pray. I know that only God performs the intimate transformation of a soul and that we can but point out to Him those we love, saying: ‘Lord make them live.’”  

—Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur 

© Liturgical Press.

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.

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