Originally published: Father José Ramón García Gallardo
As a result of her stay at the Carmelite Convent of Pau, Mary of Jesus Crucified received a request for prayer for the family of Duke Robert of Parma. The Duke’s sister, Doña Margarita of Bourbon Parma, had married H.M.C.M. Carlos VII. The Duke, in turn, was married to Maria Pia of Bourbon, Princess of the Two Sicilies, with whom he lived a series of family disgraces. By 1875, four of their six children were mentally disabled. The request for prayer came from Maria Lasserre, housekeeper to Maria Immaculata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, who had died at the age of only nineteen, a few months after her wedding to Henry of Parma.
Maria Lasserre became the housekeeper of Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, and it was she who established the contact between the Duchess and the Carmelite nun, who from then on kept abreast of the trials of the Duke’s family and took a lively interest in the events of all his relatives. Mariam Baouardy, Mary of Jesus Crucified, interpreted these events in prayer, in the style of the great prophetic tradition that we find in Sacred Scripture. She began to pray for Don Carlos and to intercede for Spain, because “God is with him, His Spirit is with him, but Spain is very guilty. If at least half of her people convert, God will give him the triumph, otherwise He will take it away and punish Spain by giving its spirit to another”. Sister Mariam was concerned only with the salvation of souls and of the country. She avoids sinking into personal rivalries, but she affirms: “I realize that there is no genuine peace in Spain”.
She remained indifferent to the ambitions and projects of princes, kings and rulers, but she was compelled to intervene in favor of Spain’s conversion:
“This morning I saw Don Carlos and I told him to stay away from bad company. I told him, ‘Oh, unfortunate one, after all the Lord has done for you! He began to weep and promised to sin no more. I saw Our Lord writing His Holy Name on the sword of each of Carlos’ soldiers and that He said: ‘I have no pity for you, but for this army, because three-fourths of them work for My Name, and what I do not reward them on earth, I will reward them in heaven. This statement implies that a fourth of Don Carlos’ army did not work for God and therefore would not receive the reward of Heaven. This message of the Arab Carmelite is a warning that should move all Carlists to reflect even today, because before God it is not enough to be nominally in the Royal Army.
The Arabita, as she was known, said that Don Carlos received the sacraments well, but that there was a weak priest at his side who did not speak to him as strongly as he should.
In politics, Mary of Jesus Crucified acted with complete discretion, affirming, but only in words, that Don Carlos would never govern. She had knowledge of future events, but she was always extremely reserved in these matters. In this way she distinguished herself by keeping out of the mystical-political lucubrations of the moment. In the same way, she refused to make predictions about the future of the French government. “What I have said of the Imperial Prince (of France), I do not tell you that he has been elected for now, I do not know more than what I have told you; for now or for later, I do not know, the only thing I know is that the good God will make use of the enemy and will confound him of himself. As for Henry V (of France) and Carlos VII, I have a good feeling that it is the will of God, but God has all the power in the world and will do what He wills. At the moment I feel that God wants to punish the world because there are many generations that deny God.
Mary of Jesus Crucified continued to accompany Don Carlos with her prayer. She did not forget to present to God her intentions and those of the Ducal Family of Parma. One anecdote stands out: she asked Duke Robert to name his first son Elias. Such a request might seem strange or eccentric, but the Carmelites of Bethlehem saw in these small gestures what was in the heart. The duke chose his own name, Robert. The nun stopped writing to the Duchess Maria Pia so as not to antagonize her against her husband. However, she indicated that God would punish the Duke: they would have more sick children, mostly females, but the males would not survive until Duke Robert offered God from his heart the gesture of giving the name of Elias to one of his sons. She also announced that a disgrace would happen that she preferred not to divulge. “The Duke may have his judgment, but God has His”. Robert of Parma had two sons who died at birth. Finally, in 1880, the Duke decided to name one of his sons Elias. Duke Robert also had twelve other children from a second marriage, all healthy, including the princes Sixto and Xavier, as well as three Carmelite daughters and another daughter, Zita, wife of the future emperor, Blessed Karl of Austria.
Maria Lasserre, the housekeeper who put the Dukes of Parma and H.M.C.M. Carlos VII in contact with the Carmelite nun and from whose correspondence we can extract a great deal of information about the family history, continued to be linked to the family. She spent her last years dedicating her fortune – several bequests left to her by Maria Immaculata of Bourbon Two Sicilies – to charity and to the financing of the Salesian house in Caserta, dedicated precisely to the memory of Maria Immaculata.
Father José Ramón García Gallardo, Counselor of the Traditionalist Youth
Translation by the San Jerónimo Guild