Saint André-Hubert Fournet – The Testimony of Sister Bartholomew – Multiplication of food
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism
Let me take first the sworn statement of Sister Bartholomew who, for the first thirteen years of her religious life, had St. Andrew for her confessor and lived continually under his eye at La Puye.
She begins this part of her evidence by saying: "The servant of God, so far as I know, never had ecstasies. He did not like us to talk of such things as visions, and he kept watch, with a certain mistrust, over Sisters who showed any tendency to have revelations or raptures. Then, after touching on other matters, she goes on:
While I was still at La Puye, there was committed to my charge the care of the granary and of the laundry. lt was, so far as I remember in 1824,but I cannot be quite certain of the year. Just before the feast of St. John the Baptist we were looking forward to the annual retreat, which is made by all the Sisters in common, when our good Mother Elizabeth [this was the Venerable foundress, Elizabeth Bichier] told Father Andrew that it was impossible for that year to assemble all the Sisters who were scattered throughout different parishes of the diocese and in other parts of France, because we had not corn enough in the house and there was no money to buy more. The Father answered:
"My child, where is your faith? Do you think God's arm is shortened, and that He cannot do here what He did of old when, as we read in the Gospels, multiplied the loaves? Go and write to the Sisters to come to the retreat.“
Afterwards, the Servant of God climbed up to the granary where I was occupied at the moment with one of the other sisters. As usual he brought his manservant with him, for it was his custom never to come among the Sisters without a companion.
He walked around the two little heaps of grain, one of which consisted of wheat, and the other of barley. I do not remember whether he blessed the heaps, nor can I say exactly, not having measured them, how many bushels (moggi) they each might have contained, but the heaps were very small.
The servant of God then told our good Mother a second time to get the Sisters to come for the retreat without delay.
Accordingly, they arrived in due course and, when added to those in the mother house and to a score of orphans, they brought up the number that had to be fed to about 200. I went every day to the granary to take the corn that was needed and during two months and a half, in other words, from the beginning of July to the middle of September, I drew my supplies from those two little heaps without their showing any sign of diminution. I cannot say for certain how long the Sisters from the parishes remained at the mother house.
As I mentioned before, I had not measured the two heaps. They contained, perhaps, more than twenty bushels, but certainly not as much as forty, and this was the quantity which, for two hundred people, would at the very most, have lasted a week. In the middle of September I quitted La Puye to go to Angles, leaving the two heaps of grain in just the same condition in which they were when the Servant of God came to the granary. I heard it said that the same two heaps continued to serve the needs of the Community until Christmas, but I cannot depose to this as a witness, for, as I have already stated, I left in the middle of September.
This statement, made, of course, on oath, seems good and straightforward evidence. It is only unfortunate that Sister Bartholomew, then seventy-three years old, was speaking of events which had happened some thirty-four years earlier.