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Father Louis Cestac

Born in Bayonne on January 6, 1801, died in the odor of holiness in Anglet on March 27, 1868 after a holy and inspiring life, Father Cestac was recognized “venerable” on April 8, 1908 by Saint Pius X, followed by a “Trial of fame of holiness ”by decree dated 1914. It is an essential step for a possible beatification which can only take place following a miracle, usually healing, due to his intercession.

A remarkable healing

However, in 1939, a remarkable healing took place, the healing of Mr. Francis Céby which occurred following the invocation of Father Cestac. Because of the war, the cause went no further.

The facts

Here, in summary, are the facts.

On October 30, 1939, Mr. Francis Céby, domiciled in Labenne (Landes), aged 89, exercising the profession of resinier (and wooden shoe maker in the evening), in excellent shape for his age, injured himself in the courtyard of his house at the left ankle. The wound, located on the path of a varicose vein, causes a heavy haemorrhage.


Despite the intervention of his doctor, Dr. Fernand Ducournau, pain and extensive infection appeared within a few days with a marked odor of pus (installation of gangrene). The patient is in bed, his general condition worsens, he has heart failures. On November 2, the patient is considered lost by Dr. Ducournau who tells his priest son, Father François Céby, called to the spot from Buglose where he is in charge. He returns on November 9 at the call of his brother, given the desperate state of their father, and hears the doctor say that the patient would not last the night, telling them to prepare a coffin for a quick burial at the time of death.

However, on November 12, Dr. Ducournau is called back, and he is amazed to find the patient alive and notes the unexpected stop of the progression of the infection of the leg of the patient, which seems to be much better, while remaining pessimistic, “given the advanced age allowing no hope of defense of the organism or reaction against evil”.

What happened?

On the night of 11 to 12, Francois Céby, his priest son, seeing his father unconscious, in a state of apparent death, called the parish priest to administer the Extreme Unction (Sacrament of the Sick) to him. The priest son began to pray the De profundis, which is prayed for the souls of those who have died.

At this moment, an interior inspiration pushes him to formulate, with a particular confidence, a prayer of intercession calling on Father Louis-Edouard Cestac:

“ My God, I ask you nothing; I thank you for having kept my father until this advanced age; however, if you want the glorification of Father Louis Edouard Cestac, may it please you, with his intercession, to heal my old father ”.

The dying man suddenly wakes up, and is able to join the prayers for the “agonizing” or dying, said by his Parish Priest (Curé) who had just arrived!

This sudden return to life had occurred when the gangrene was not yet healed (“the stench was terrible”) and the leg still in a state of advanced decomposition (“to the bone”). But the gangrene disappears “Visibly” within three days, “the dressings are removed, the budding of the flesh begins and continues in such a way that the doctor seems out of his mind, while the family is seized with a deep emotion”. November 20: “… not only is the flesh remade, but the varicose veins no longer exist; the knee and thigh are healed; the leg is normal with a slight indication of the previous ailment ”.

More prayers

The same day, his priest son returned to Labenne carrying a relic of Father Cestac, whom the patient “kept calling upon”. On November 26, his son came back to him again to see an “even more noticeable” improvement, having asked, in the meantime, the Servantes de Marie de Buglose, to make a novena to the good Father Cestac.

Very quickly the patient regains his vigour with a recovery in appetite and sleep. His general condition continues to improve and Mr. Céby resumes the course of his life as before, always to the doctor’s surprise.

Patient had a vision – confirmed!

After his recovery, the patient claimed to have seen beautiful ladies on several occasions during his illness and these words written before him: ” courage and patience “. He would later learn that this was one of Father Cestac’s familiar expressions.

According to the various testimonies, for the family and the neighbourhood, there was no doubt that this healing was the fruit of a miracle operated by the intercession of Father Cestac whom they continued to thank for a long time.

In September 1941, a year and five months after healing, the general and local condition of the patient is excellent, he resumed his work with resin. The sick leg is as strong as the other. “He still walks like a solid man of seventy years .”

If I lived for 300 years…

Dr. Ducournau comes to consider that it was indeed an extraordinary healing. “The doctor above all highly recognizes the reality of the above facts and declares himself ready to testify before the Ecclesiastical Court. He too believes that this fact goes beyond the forces of nature; what he says by saying “that he has never seen such a thing and that he will never see it again, even if he lived 300 years”.

Tough Criteria for Miracles

This healing fully meets the required criteria necessary for canonical recognition of miraculous healing:

• the disease in question is well known in medicine;

• it has an obvious grave character;

• it is purely organic, physical lesion (and not psychological);

• there was no treatment that could contribute to healing;

• this took place instantaneously at the very last extremity, at the very moment of the invocation, taking place in an extremely rapid and surprising manner;

• there is a complete return to the previous state of health;

• it is not a temporary remission but a complete recovery.

Medical authorities’ conclusion was:

“There can be no doubt that the healing of Mr. Francis Céby was completely unexpected compared to usual medical forecasts. His recovery can be considered highly unlikely. It is related to an invocation to Father Louis Edouard Cestac ”.

And so, on June 13, 2014 Pope Francis authorized the promulgation of “the miracle attributed to the venerable Servant of God Louis Edouard Cestac, diocesan priest, founder of Notre-Dame of the Refuge and the Institute of the Servants of Mary ”.

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