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Germany, where I gained some money, and was received at the court of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin with a distinction I little merited. There I abandoned myself to gambling; and my losses were so serious, that I was often on the point of committing suicide. ... I returned to Paris, the Faubourg S. Germain took me up; I regained my former position, and all the seductions of the world were let loose upon me.
I lived on recklessly, madly, without thought of the morrow; yet I was always restless, sated, and unhappy. Thus I continued until May last year. The month of May was celebrated with great solemnity in the church of St. Valère; choirs of amateurs were formed under the direction of the Prince de la Moskowa, and they sang and chanted at the Benediction. One evening the prince, whom I had the honour of knowing, begged me to take his place at St. Valère. I went, with no other thought than the love of my art and the pleasure of doing a kindness. During the ceremony I felt nothing unusual; but when the moment of benediction came, although I had not the slightest thought of prostrating myself, I felt within me an unwonted agitation. My soul, stunned and bewildered by the whirl of my pleasures, came to itself; I felt that something hitherto unknown to me was taking place within me. I was unconsciously, and without any concurrence of my own will, constrained to bow myself. The following Friday I was affected in precisely the same manner; and I was suddenly impressed with the idea of becoming a Catholic. A few days after this I was passing the same church, the bell was ringing for Mass; I went in and heard the Mass, motionless and attentive; I heard one Mass, two Masses, three, four Masses, without thinking of leaving the church; I could not conceive what held me there. In the evening I felt myself drawn again by a kind of spell to the same church; again the bell was ringing, again I entered. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed; and no sooner did I see it, than I was drawn gently towards the communion-rail and fell on my knees. I prostrated myself, without effort of my own, at the moment of benediction; and on raising my head again I felt a sweet and gentle repose in my whole soul. I went home, and tried to sleep; but all night long the Blessed Sacrament was before my eyes. I felt a burning desire to hear Mass again, and I heard many with an interior joy which absorbed all my faculties. Then, urged by the grace which had so unexpectedly touched my heart, I went to Madame la Duchesse de Rauzan, and begged her to introduce me to a priest. She referred me to M. l'Abbé Legrand, and I am happy under his direction.
M. Asnarez stated further, that within a very short time Hermann had discharged all his debts, notwithstanding the disturbances of 1848." It is true," said he, "that on New Year's day I had charged St. Joseph to pay my debts.”
In a letter to M. Ratisbonne, whose conversion resembles his own in more than one point, Hermann confirms this account. He says:
“I felt something like a heavy weight resting on my body, which compelled me to bow my head, and even to prostrate myself to the ground before the Blessed Sacrament, in spite of myself. But the devil was not cast out. I was tempted again; I did not resist; my debilitated soul was powerless to defend itself. I had a conversation with M. l'Abbé Legrand,* who took great interest in my statement, and lent me an exposition of the Catholic faith. At this time I had to give some concerts at Ems in Germany. There, at a distance from my old friends, human respect restrained me no longer; and the first Sunday, August 8, 1847, I received the gift of a supernatural contrition; ... the grace of God came down upon me in its fulness of might. At the moment of the Elevation my tears began to flow abundantly, and with a feeling of intense pleasure and relief. . . O blessed moment, moment for ever memorable to me! Even now I implore God to grant that the exquisite memory of that moment may be for ever graven on my heart with the ineffaceable characters of a faith superior to every shock, and a gratitude commensurate with the blessings with which He then deigned to inundate me. I felt then, without doubt, what St. Augustine felt in his garden at Cassiacum when he heard the words, Tolle, lege; what you must have felt, my dear father, in that church at Rome when the Blessed Virgin condescended to appear to you. I remember well the tears of my childhood'; but never, never have I shed tears like them. streamed over my face, I felt in the very depth of my soul the gnawing and sting of my conscience, and a piercing, rending, crushing remorse for the sins of my life past. Suddenly and spontaneously, as it were by intuition, I began to offer to God a general confession of all my enormous offences; I saw them there, spread out before me, thousands and tens of thousands, hideous, repulsive, revolting, deserving all the anger of my just Judge. . . . And yet I felt a mysterious tranquillity of soul, like a soothing balm poured over all its wounds; a something which assured me that the God of mercy would pardon all my sins; that He would accept in pity my contrition, my bitter sorrow, my strenuous repentance. Yes, I resolved then
* At present curé of St. Germain l'Auxerrois.
to love Him above all things; when I left that church of Ems I was already a Christian-a Christian as far as one can be before Holy Baptism...
Hermann was baptised on the 28th August 1847, the feast of St. Augustine. The ceremony was performed by M. Legrand, in the chapel of Notre Dame de Sion, Rue du Regard -the chapel of the community of converts from Judaisın, over which M. Ratisbonne presides. He speaks thus of his baptism in the letter to M. Ratisbonne, from which we have already quoted :
“ While the priest was pouring the sacred water on my brow, and naming the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, my whole frame quivered as beneath a shock of electricity. . The eyes of my body were closed, but at that instant the eyes of my newly-born Christian soul opened to a supernatural clearness of illumination. . I saw my bodily eyes closed, but the eyes of my soul expanded blissfully—I saw an unutterable splendour, unlimited, bound·less-an abyss of glory in which my eye ranged deeper and yet deeper, further and further still, and met no cbstacle, no limit; every where were blessed spirits, robed in beauty, and chanting hymns of harmony, ravishing ineffably; and the radiant wings of cherubim shook sweet odours upon me, and a glad warmth pervaded me; and my eye ranged on and yet on, and in the midst was a light, a brilliancy dazzling beyond words-a throne ;-and on this throne One fair in eternal youth, and His sacred Mother on His right hand, and at His feet the great army of saints, clothed in the glowing hues of the rainbow; they turned on me a look of unspeakable loveall heaven was rejoicing in my baptism. ... Oh, my dear father, I ought to tear this paper to pieces; for it does not contain one single image adequate to the reality on which I then gazed! Your practised soul will comprehend my meaning in God, as we love one another in Jesus Christ; for I feel a sweet tranquillity, a perfect peace, the rest of a child in its mother's bosom. I neither desire nor fear aught on earth; I do my
actions as well as I can, with a sweet, free, and joyous attention, and leave their issue to God.
From this moment Hermann belonged no more to the world. The inspiration of his life is seen in the motto which heads all his letters: “ Tout pour Jésus !all for Jesus.”
He made his first communion on the 8th September 1847, and received at the same time the scapular; and on the 2d December he was confirmed by the Archbishop of Paris. This was one of the last confirmations given by Monseigneur Affre, who so soon afterwards offered his life on the barricades to stay
the effusion of the blood of his flock. From that moment Hermann detached himself yet more from the world, with a touching and faithful simplicity: after having known all its intoxications and proved all its incapacity to bless the soul, he was enabled readily to apprehend and to penetrate the truths and mysteries of religion, of which he had known absolutely nothing; he was drawn by the grace of God to prefer the narrow obscurity of a cell to the saloons of the capital which had been the scene of his triumphant successes; and he was endued with
courage and with patience to surmount all the obstacles in his way, to support mortifications, his rejection by his parents, and the austerities of one of the Church's severest orders. From that moment his soul was filled with a burning love of God, chastened with a holy reverence and awe; and he could pass the rest of his days prostrate before the tabernacle, exclaiming with devout enthusiasm : "I have found Him whom
soul loveth; I hold Him, and will not let Him go.' One of the first efforts of the ardent convert was the extension to his own sex of that privilege of the perpetual adoration which had hitherto been exclusively possessed by the other. He was distressed at not being allowed to remain one night in the chapel of the Carmelites at Paris, where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. He was told that only women could remain the whole night there. He retired in sorrow, and the next day began his efforts to establish a society of men to honour with this noblest honour the King of kings. He succeeded at length; and the first nocturnal exposition took place in the church of Notre Dame des Victoires, on the 6th December 1848. Immediately afterwards, M. Charles Letellier, one of Hermann's chosen friends, who has since become so renowned in the order of St. Francis, set out for Rouen and other principal cities. Other fervent voung men lent their aid; and within a short time this devotion was extended to Bourdeaux, Tours, Rouen, and other towns, until they rejoiced in more than thirty associations in union with their own. Thus they gave to this august worship a character of universality and permanence in France.
Those who have had the privilege of assisting at one of these nocturnal adorations will not soon forget it. There is a gathering of men, young and old, of all ranks and of all callings,-soldiers and officers,—all prostrate before the altar of the living God. There they remain for hours, their eyes
fixed on the Sun of Justice ; their hearts full of joy and of sweet calm peace; their lips murmuring some words of love and adoration and trust and hope; while without are heard the songs and the oaths of the slaves of sin. Yes, already the reward of the one and the punishment of the other has begun; for while the worshippers of Jesus are saying with the apostle on Thabor, “It is good for us to be here," the wretched votaries of sin betray, by their wild cries, the agitation of their conscience, and the horror of the future which awaits them unless they repent.
Hermann has expressed some of his feelings in the dedication of a little volume of hymns he composed in honour of the Divine Eucharist :
“O adorable Sacrament, exhilarating stream at which my thirsting lips have drunk the blessed first-fruits of eternal life, my heart runs over with joy. I must bless Thee, and tell of Thy praises; for now my brethren of Paris enjoy a happiness beyond words: day by day and every day they see Thee open the doors of Thy loving prison to present Thyself to their enraptured gaze, to their perpetual adoration! And the bells of this capital ring out to announce Thee; and long processions unfold their banners, to accompany Thee in triumphant gladness; and the chief pastor establishes, in the churches wherein Thou art to be adored, a solemn and magnificent worship.
O my God, my heart expands, tears of joy stream from my eyelids—what a triumph for the faith! what a blissful, bright augury for France! No, O my God, God of goodness, Father of mercies, never wilt Thou allow a country to perish in which Thine own people give Thee such fervent assurance of a holy love! Bless the prelate who renders eternal the memory of his episcopate by an act thus glorious ; write his name for ever in the book of Thine elect! Bless these numerous and faithful ones who throng Thine holy altars ; inflame them more and yet more with that fire which Thou art come to send upon earth, and whose living flames break forth from the Sacrament of Thy love. ...
After thus having paid his homage of gratitude to the present Archbishop of Paris for instituting the perpetual adoration, he continues :
- O adorable and adored Jesus! well does it become me to mingle my songs with those of all Paris. For it is in this city, and hidden behind the eucharistic veils, that Thou hast unveiled to me the eternal and unchanging truth ; and the first mystery that Thou didst disclose to my heart was Thy real presence in the Most Holy Sacrament.
“ Did I not long, while yet a Jew, to rush forward to the holy table and press Thee to my captivated heart? And if I loudly craved baptism, was it not, above all things, in order