I have some personal reasons for being very fond of Saint Théophane Vénard. Many years ago when I was serving as Master of Novices, I had in my care a Vietnamese novice who had taken the name of Marie–Théophane. While in France to preach a retreat I had the opportunity to stop at the Missions Étrangères de Paris. I asked if it might be possible to obtain a first–class relic of Saint Théophane for my young confrère. The kind priest who welcomed me was a retired missionary. He radiated a gentle, sturdy holiness. He explained that no relics were available. “But,” he said, “we do have here in this glass case the soutane worn by Saint Théophane when he was beheaded.” With that, he unlocked the case, pulled scissors out of his pocket and cut off a generous piece of the black soutane. “Take this to your petit frère vietnamien,” he said. I was astonished. And tears came to my eyes. You can imagine Frère Marie–Théophane’s joy when he received the precious relic.
The second thing that moves me is Théophane’s utter fidelity to the Divine Office, even