The ways of the Lord are inscrutable, and he often goes through very strange paths to reveal himself to men. The Virgin of the Smile who “heals” Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus is thus the reproduction of a statue made with old cutlery.
The plaster statue still sits on the order of Thérèse’s room in Les Buissonnets, the Martin family’s house in Lisieux. This representation of the Mother of God is known today as the “Virgin of Smiles”. However, it is only the reproduction of the statue to which the young Lexovian attributes her healing on May 13, 1883. Sick since the entry of her big sister Pauline into Carmel, already orphaned by her mother, little Martin who does not she is only ten years old in her bed when she sees the statue next to her smile, and her pain disappears.
From now on, the “real” statue of the miracle is placed above the shrine of Thérèse at the Carmel of Lisieux. Also in plaster, given by an old lady from Alençon to Louis Martin who was still single, she followed the family then the Carmelite to the infirmary where she died on October 1, 1897. But she too is in fact a reproduction.
You have to go back more than a century earlier to Paris to find the original model, now lost, of the famous statue. In the middle of the 17th century , the priest of the Saint-Sulpice parish wanted to adorn the axial chapel with a beautiful representation of the Mother of God, worthy of the still unfinished but monumental building. Having called on the sculptor Edme Bouchardon who will create a good part of the statuary of the church, he also had to find a material worthy of the Virgin Mary .
A Virgin made of silver cutlery
The pious and persevering priest would like the statue to be made of silver but does not have the means. Without being discouraged, he appeals to the generosity of his parishioners, but with mischief: by collecting their silver cutlery! As soon as he is received by the wealthiest of his flock, he never leaves without spoons and forks. Small streams make big rivers, and small utensils make beautiful statues. By dint of material, here is the Virgin Mary installed at the bottom of Saint-Sulpice until the Revolution, during which the cutlery became currency.
But the statue and the devotion attached to it remain through its avatars, and its name has become popular: “Our Lady of Old Crockery”. Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed… and grace never ceases to act in the lives of men, in often impenetrable ways.