Aurore!  The Mystery of the Martyred Child

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Aurore: La vraie histoire

Chapter 22, p. 339 to 341.

(The Gagnon family goes to church for confession. Marie-Anne is the first to enter the confessional.)

"Sometimes, Father, I ask myself if she knows what it means to steal. I'm just so discouraged with that child. She steals. She lies. She's lazy. She never knows her catechism. It's as if she had the devil in her. You remember, when you went to her school, she knew nothing, and then she didn't want to receive the blessing. Don't you think that it's terrible? The first time I saw her, Father, I saw her stealing something. A little Jesus that her father had whittled for the children. It was at the time of Father Blanchet. He was there. He saw it all. He could tell you. Aurore lost hers, and then she stole Marie-Jeanne's.... What do you think I should do in a case like this one?"

"One must reprimand, Madame, without hesitation. To reprimand is a strict duty. If you should hesitate about your principles, then think about this: the Book of Proverbs, chapter 22, verse 15...

'Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.'

"And I have to tell you, Father, my husband Télesphore, he doesn't often discipline them. So I'm all alone to raise six of them with a seventh on the way...."

"In this parish I want healthy families with strong and earnest children. If you wish, I'll say a word to your husband about his obligations as a father who must properly chastise...."

"Of course it would help me, Father, of course."

Marie-Anne left the confessional with a malicious glance at Aurore, who was next to go in. The woman had a clean soul, a clean slate, and carte blanche to proceed with her plan.

When her turn came, the child confessed nothing. She declared she had no sins to confess. Father didn't believe her. But he gave her a certain benefit of the doubt, telling himself that at nine years of age, even if it was abnormal, she perhaps had difficulty differentiating right from wrong. The best way was therefore to question her in order to have her reflect on her forgotten or unrecognized sins.

"Have you been punished lately at home?"


"When was that?"

"Well...especially the other time.... I was lashed with a whip."

"Ah! And why?"

"Well... I don't know... because I didn't know my catechism..."

"And... you confessed that you were lazy?"

"Yes, Father... last time I came to confession..."

"At the general confession."

"Yes, Father."

"I see!"

How he found her shrewd, this little girl! Taking advantage of a public confession to empty her bag of sins! Without a doubt, she didn't know right from wrong. Possibly she couldn't accept that she could do wrong. Her mother was indeed right. Punishment would make her more responsible.

He made her admit that she had lied, stolen food at home and continued to be lazy as her catechism marks had not improved. And he gladly gave her the absolution, advising her to do better and to never give in to the devil's temptation.... He was convinced that he had helped this young soul at risk take a small step in the right direction....

It was then Télesphore's turn to confess himself. Father Massé said a word to him about his behaviour with the children, suggesting that he be stricter. The man defended himself by saying that he was not always at home, that his wife should be the primary disciplinarian. The parish priest then spoke to him specifically about Aurore and catechism. The repentant Télesphore felt very guilty and admitted that the young girl had been conceived in the midst of liquor and pleasure.

The parish priest was troubled by this. Very troubled. And in recalling this confession that evening, he reflected in depth one more time on the means used by the Evil One to take hold of the world. He read his Bible. He went to sleep telling himself that no, Aurore Gagnon was certainly not a young possessed soul, but that she was perhaps not blessed by the same way as the others....

Source: André Mathieu, Aurore: la vraie histoire, chapitre 22 (Saint-Eustache: Éditions du Cygne, 1990), 339-341.

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