Request for help with a quote/citation

I need some help with something. 

People often claim that St. Teresa of Avila said that in a vision she saw soul falling like snowfalkes into hell.  When I search around the web, I find the claim, but never a concrete citation from her works. 

Does anyone out there have it?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Hmmmm… fun trying to prove a negative, isn’t it?

    Anyway, I had a quick look at an edition of the ‘Complete Works’ of St Teresa of Avila which gives a list of the ‘figures of speech’ (i.e. metaphors, similes, etc…) used in her works and it didn’t list ‘snowflakes’ or anything similar.

  2. Matthew says:

    Fr. Z.:
    I had heard this quote before but had seen it attributed to one of the children of Fatima after the vision of hell.

  3. Jordan Potter says:

    Reminds me of the famous quote from St. John Chrysostom (or was it St. Athanasius, or St. Augustine, or St. Jerome, etc.??) about the floor of hell being paved with the skulls of bishops. Who first said it? I haven’t the foggiest idea.

  4. Dcn John says:

    Chapter 32 of St. Teresa’s autobiographer has her explanation of her vision of hell but doesn’t mention your quote. As for Fatima, On July 13, 1917, the three seers had a vision of hell but again your quote is not mentioned. The closest quote I can find is from a letter Sr. Lucia wrote to a seminarian who was tempted to leave his vocation: “Do not be surprised that I speak to you so much about hell. This is one truth that it is necessary to recall often in these times, because we forget THAT SOULS ARE FALLING INTO HELL IN DROVES.”(my capitals) Quoted from the book ‘The Whole Truth About Fatima’ Vol.II, page 44.
    If you want I can give you the very words of Sister Lucia regarding the vision of hell.

  5. Catholic Lady says:

    Jordan – Actually, this was attributed to St. Athanasius

    When the Council of Nicea was called in 325 his bishop chose him to accompany him. He defended the faith against the Arian heresy quite impressively. It was Athanasius himself who illustrated the great damage done when he said, “The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.” He was, of course, referring to those bishops – the vast majority – who had been lured away from the True Church in following the false teachings of Arius. Unfortunately this did not deter the heresy and it got worse before it got better,

  6. Romulus says:

    Catholic Lady, I have come across a second half of that saying, also attributed to St. Athanasius: “…and bad bishops are its lamp-posts.” I certainly hope the attribution is authentic, as I’m struck by the mental image of flaming bishops who failed to provide sound doctrine in their lives, now and eternally filling the infernal regions with a hellish anti-light.

    Zadok: in the TV miniseries “Teresa de Jesus”, recently re-aired on EWTN, there are two memorable lines given to the saint: “God writes straight in crooked lines” is one; the other (the saint commenting in vexation at her being thwarted in one of her projects): “the devil’s at work. It’s a good sign.” Are you able to authenticate either of these sayings?

  7. RBrown says:

    Never heard the Athanasius quote but rather: The road to hell is lined with mitres.

  8. Siobhan says:

    I thought that quote was from St. Faustina in her Diary.

  9. Citations, folks, citations. We need chapter and verse for these things, please.

  10. fr.franklyn says:

    Forgive me Father for having to tell you this but the source of the snowflake quote is Veronica Leuken of Bayside fame.She made this statement (and also another one mentioning raindrops) in Sptemeber 1977.Its listed on her website.By the way you might be interested to know that the Blessed Mother revealed to Virginia in the same set of “visions” that Teilhard Chardin and Franklin Roosevelt were in hell.

  11. terry nelson says:

    Fr. Franklyn beat me to it – it was Veronica Leuken of the spurious apparitions at Bayside. Other myths relate Our Lady said souls fall into hell like leaves from a tree in autumn.
    Mrs. Leuken and many of her followers were pretty nuts.

  12. Canticle of Deborah says:

    I can’t offer a citation but the source of the quote is from Fatima. I I believe Jacinta made that claim.

  13. embajador says:

    I have found a specific reference in this site (In Spanish). It attributes the quote to St. Theresa of Lissieux. Specifically to a sentence found in a letter written to her sister Celine on July 14th 1889. In the webpage of reference this can be found at the end of the 9th paragraph.

  14. RBrown says:

    Citations, folks, citations. We need chapter and verse for these things, please.

    If you can’t find it, there are alternatives. For example, a quote attributed to St Teresa of Avila or, if you’re writing a journalistic article, you can say A highly placed source has said.

    Then there is also the medieval approach–attribute it to Pseudo-Teresa.

  15. Joshua says:

    I do know that the snowflakes quote is attributed to the “Bayside prophecies” (particularly to Our Lady). Whether they merely lifted the quote from elsewhere in forming their phony “apparitions”, that I do not know.

  16. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    I like RBrowns advice to say ” ahighly placed source has said”.

  17. Michael says:

    A google search for Avila snowflakes shows “Fathers and Saints on the Fewness of the Saved” near the top of the list. Click on it, and you find, sadly that the webpage is gone. However, if you click on the underlined word Cached, you get the last snapshot google took of this page,
    which includes the following quote:

    I had the greatest sorrow for the many souls that condemned themselves to Hell, especially those Lutherans. […] I saw souls falling into hell like snowflakes. St. Teresa of Avila

    The reference list at the bottom includes the following two items; presumably one of them has the quote from St. Teresa:

    Saints to Know and Love, MICM
    Instructions on the Commandments and Sacraments, St. Alphonsus, 287, no.37

  18. So far, we haven’t had a citation from any work of St. Teresa of Avila.

  19. Libby Atkinson says:

    Yes, the quotation is from LT 94, a letter from Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, to her sister Celine. It is translated “souls are being lost like flakes of snow”; here is the context in French:

    Céline, pendant les courts instants qui nous restent ne perdons pas notre temps… sauvons les âmes… les âmes, elles se perdent comme des flocons de neige, et Jésus pleure, et nous… nous pensons à notre douleur sans consoler notre fiancé… Oh ma Céline, vivons pour les âmes… soyons apôtres… sauvons surtout les âmes des Prêtres, ces âmes devaient être plus transparentes que le cristal… Hélas! combien de mauvais prêtres, de prêtres qui ne sont pas assez saints… Prions, souffrons pour eux, et au dernier jour Jésus sera reconnaissant. Nous lui donnerons des âmes!…

    Here is a literal translation of the French:
    Celine during the short moments that remain to us, let us not lose our time…let us save souls…souls are being lost like flakes of snow, and Jesus weeps, and we… we are thinking of our sorrow without consoling our fiancé…. Oh, Celine, let us live for souls…let us be apostles…let us save especially the souls of Priests; these souls should be more transparent than crystal…. Alas, how many bad priests, priests who are not holy enough…. Let us pray, let us suffer for them, and, on the last day, Jesus will be grateful. We shall give Him souls!…

    Therese used underlining to get across her point: “short moments” is double underlined, “remain to us” is underlined, “grateful” is underlined.

  20. Libby Atkinson: Thanks very much! So it seems this was a woman, Carmelite, who was a Doctor of the Church, but it wasn’t St. Teresa of Avila, it was St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I am grateful you took the time to type that out for us.

  21. Pingback: Hell, or thereabouts | Ubi Petrus

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