Francis Delalieu; this Good Samaritan saved a future Servant of God and her family from death– then he was gone.

There were no strings attached—He simply loved his neighbor

 

A Good Samaritan                                                       en-wikipeida.org

By Larry Peterson

One of the most famous Gospel readings is the one we all know as the Parable of the Good Samaritan. What follows is about someone who may be among the greatest Good Samaritans of all time, a man we know almost nothing about.

Servant of God and Stigmatic, Anna Louise Lateau, passed away at the age of thirty-three. What is extremely interesting is the fact that Louise would never have lived into her fourth month of life if it wasn’t for a stranger whose name was Francis Delalieu.

The Lateau family was literally near death. The father, Gregory, had died from smallpox just three months after Louise had been born. Adele, with three little children, was still bedridden after having a very rough time giving birth to Louise. Louise, still an infant, had also contracted smallpox. The oldest child, three-year-old Rosina, was trying to be the in-house caregiver which included taking care of two-year-old Adelina.

The local doctor, overwhelmed with this smallpox epidemic, had stopped by about a week after Gregory’s death to check on the family. He did his best to show Rosina what to do. He knew it was hopeless and was sure he would soon come by and find them all dead. He told his friend, Francis Delalieu, about the family.

Try to imagine how this newly widowed mother of three babies, with no money, was feeling. The despair and hopelessness must have been unbearable as she watched her three children quietly dying before her eyes. Weakened to a point where she was unable to get out of her bed, she was probably just praying that she would not be the first to die, leaving them alone. And suddenly the front door opened and there was Francis Delalieu. God was listening after all.

Francis immediately took charge. First, he cleaned up the children. Then he reassured them and left to acquire food and necessities. This man, this stranger, surely had the love of Jesus in his heart. He was risking his own life by being in a smallpox-infected household. He was spitting into the eye of the storm as he cleaned, fed and cared for the little children. This was, after all, 1850 and not 2017. They did not even have running water.

I have been (as have many others) a primary caregiver to someone seriously ill. Some caregivers are helping to nurse their loved one back to health after a serious surgery or accident. The upside to this type of caregiving is that an end is in sight because a reachable goal is possible ie;, recovering from open heart surgery.

Then there is the alternative of caring for someone who is terminally ill. The goal in these cases is to help your loved one live as peacefully and as comfortable as possible until God calls them home. And then you have a person like Francis Delalieu. The only possible motivation he might have had to step into this situation was that of a Good Samaritan. There was no family connection. There were “no strings attached”. He simply LOVED his neighbor.

Who was this man? Who was this stranger who came into a household that was a breeding ground for smallpox and had three babies with a bedridden mom living there and all were near death? Who does this kind of thing simply out of kindness and compassion? Who would stay for almost two and a half years until the mother and children were once again healthy? Francis Delalieu is that person. There are many like him but most are unheralded and unheard of.

All we can seem to find out about Francis Delalieu is that he was a farmhand or a laborer and that he lived in or around the small town of Bois d’ Haine, in Belgium. That is about it. It is known he took  Adele Lateau and her children under his care and nurtured them all until they were well. After that period of time Francis seems to have vanished. There seems to be no record of him after that point in time which would be around 1853.

Anna Louise Lateau was gifted with the Stigmata in the year 1868. For the rest of her life, her nourishment was only the Holy Eucharist and a few glasses of water per day. She became one of the most famous stigmatists of the 19th century. Francis Delalieu, was just an unknown man who stepped up and took care of his neighbor just like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable. I am sure his reward has been great in heaven. When God is involved, all things are possible.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020


Servant of God: Anna Louise Lateau –She Lived on Nothing but the Holy Eucharist for 12 Years

Servant of God; Anna Louise Lateau
                          mysticsofthechurch.org

By Larry Peterson

On January 13, 1850, a baby girl was born to Adele Pissens Lateau and her husband, Gregory. They named the child Anna Louise. Three months after Louise was born her dad passed away from smallpox. A healthy, powerful, 29-year-old metal worker, Gregory’s body was no match for the smallpox demon that ravaged him. His family was left in a terrible spot.

Adele had almost died giving birth to Louise and was still, for the most part, bedridden. The oldest child, Rosina, who was only three-years-old, actually tried her best to take care of her mom and two sisters. It was an unbelievably heroic attempt on the part of this small child. Her sister, Adelina, was only two and Louise, just three months old.  To make matters worse than they already were, Louise also contracted smallpox. Neighbors, fearing the dreaded disease, avoided the Lateau household and the family was virtually abandoned. How frightened Adele and her babies must have been.

A local doctor had been monitoring the Lateau family and told a local workman, Francis Delalieu*, about the family. He asked him if he could check in on them. A week later, Francis, entered the home to check on the occupants. What he found horrified him. The one child was wrapped in dried out, smelly bandages, all the children were filthy, and the mom was lying in bed in a state of despair. Francis, a kind, and decent man, immediately took charge of the house.

Francis immediately went and acquired food and the necessary provisions to care for the family. He treated baby Louise with extra loving care and, in effect, became “parental.” He cared for the family for the next two and a half years during which time Adele regained her full strength, and the children were healthy. That entire transformation in itself was miraculous.

When Louise was eleven-years-old, her mom allowed her to become a housemaid. Soon after she was trained as a dressmaker. When Louise was sixteen-years-old, a cholera epidemic struck Bois-D’Haine. Louise began caring for six of the victims and even assisted in burying the dead. She had no fear of catching the disease. That was not to be as she also came down with the illness. Louise remained seriously ill into 1868, and on April 15th of that year, she received last-rites. It was ten days after this that the stigmata began to appear

Louise noticed blood was dripping from her side. As was her personality, she said nothing. The following Friday the blood appeared again, but this time it was also coming from the tops of her feet. On Friday, May 8, the bleeding began to come from the front and back of both hands, and on Friday, September 25, the crown of bleeding spots appeared on her forehead.

She confided to her parish priest about it and, although quite stunned; he downplayed the entire phenomena. He asked her to not say anything about it. However, the experience for Louise continued every Thursday night until Friday evening for the rest of her life. Louise continued to work hard for the family as long as she could.

In 1871, Louise ceased to eat, drink and sleep. He only food was the Holy Eucharist which she received upon attending daily Mass. The Bishop of Tournai, Joseph Labis, opened an investigation into Louise’s inexplicable spiritual journey. Quickly word spread even traveling abroad. Crowds began to gather around the little house on a daily basis. That was the way it would be from then on.

Louise Lateau told her pastor of her visions which consisted of the Passion of Christ, the Virgin Mary and even some of the saints. She would go into ecstasy and remain that way for hours, oblivious to everything going on around her. She would seemingly remain painless as the phenomena continued and would have no recollection of the events that had happened while she was in ecstasy.

Renowned scientists and doctors were called in to examine and evaluate the young woman. None could find a rational explanation for her condition. Some of the atheistic and secular-minded scientists and doctors insisted what people were witnessing was nothing more than hysteria, blood anomalies or madness.

Anna Louise Lateau passed away on August 25, 1883. She was 33-years-old.  Her burial place became a place of pilgrimage, and over the years there has been evidence of miracles happening through Anna Louise’s intercession.

This negative input into Louise’s narrative was effective at putting her cause for canonization on hold for over a century. The cause for sainthood must always be meticulously evaluated. She was declared a Servant of God, but her cause for canonization was not opened in Rome until 1991. To date, the investigation has not moved forward.

Servant of God; Anna Louise Lateau, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2018 All Rights Reserved