May 26 – SUDDEN DEATH OF TWO SUPERIORS GENERAL

SUDDEN DEATH OF TWO SUPERIORS GENERAL

On 26 May 1922 Bro Martial, Superior General, died suddenly in Liverpool when he had just boarded a ship to make his seventh journey to Canada. The following day his companion Br. Denis wrote:

“We arrived at Liverpool railway station at 2 o’clock; all the passengers in our compartment had got off the train and I was trying to find out where the ship had docked while the Superior General was dozing. We got off the train together and made our way to the ship lying a few minutes’ walk from the station; after our passports had been examined we got on board and were led to Cabin 398, which was small and hot. On seeing it the Superior General said to me, ‘How different it is from the old ships! It is so hot in here!’ Then he caught sight of a carafe of drinking water on the table and had a good drink. I saw him collapse on his berth. I made him take a few sniffs of the bottle I had in iny hands, then I heard 2 few hiccups and called for help. The cabin opposite was unoccupied. I ran for the cabin attendant and urged him to call the doctor because my friend was dying. A nurse came first and with the help of the attendant laid the Superior

General on his berth. Then she ran for the doctor. · when he arrived he listened to his heart, then after a few minutes he shook my hands with sympathy and said, ‘No hope.’

Br. Martial was taken back to London and was buried in the part of Wandsworth cemetery reserved for Catholics, not far from our Clapham house”. He had been Superior General for 23 years.

Br. Eugene-Marie was Superior General for 21 years; he passed away ·on 28 February 1883 at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre. The day before, on his way to morning prayer he had been feeling as if he was suffocating. He returned to his room and rested for an hour. He left it again to go to the second Mass at the Mother House and went about his usual routine all day. The following day, during the midday break, he walked to the playground at the boarding school; with great cheerfulness he encouraged the children playing there and promised he would reward the winners. Then he attended to his mail as usual. About 4 p.m. he visited the sick with more affection than usual. At 6 p.m. he arrived at the novitiate unexpectedly, conducted the spiritual reading and spoke enthusiastically of the religious vocation. Unknowingly he had said his final goodbye to all. After supper he spent the recreation with the Assistants then presided over evening prayer in the chapel. After this he went to see the chaplain for his weekly confession, went to bed at 9.30 p.m. and the Brother infirmarian gave him some treatment.

At 10 p.m. Br. Adalbert, an Assistant whose room was the nearest to the Superior General’s, was woken by the sound of loud coughing and thumping on the table. He rushed to the room of the Superior who was calling out, “I am suffocating.” The moment they were told, the chaplain and the Assistants ran to his room. The doctor was called. While he continued suffocating, Br. Eugene-Marie kept repeating, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Most Blessed Virgin Mary, help me.” The chaplain gave him the absolution then went out to fetch the holy oil. The crisis continued. The Superior gradually lost consciousness and died in the arms of Br. Hubert. The doctor could only certify that Br. Eugene-Marie had died of a burst aneurysm.

Date

May 26

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