Obedience is a virtue that did not come naturally to Anne de Guigne. In the first four years of her life, she was known as a little tyrant with a very strong will. As she got older however, by God’s grace, she began to practice obedience more and more. By the time of her death at ten years old, she was offering her sufferings for the greater glory of God and for the conversion of sinners. Receiving her First Holy Communion most certainly contributed to this surprising change, but her path to sanctity also included sorrow and suffering.
Anne was the oldest of four children. In the first four years of her life, she was a little dictator with a strong will who would demand that everyone do things her way. This trend continued until she was almost five years old. It was the middle of World War I and her father was killed in action. Seeing the sorrow of her mother began to change her for the better. Anne began to control her tempers and started to look out for her family. She realized that God’s Will lay in caring for those around her. By her fifth birthday, she had attained such a strong control over her passions that her recently employed governess expressed disbelief that Anne could be anything but sweet and helpful. She was allowed to begin preparing for her First Communion, and after passing a rigorous examination administered by a prestigious Jesuit, she was given permission to receive that year. The theme of the retreat she attended to prepare for her First Holy Communion was “obedience is the sanctity of children.” It could be said that Anne really took this to heart and made it her motto for the rest of her short life.
Once Anne was aware that obedience is what God wanted from her, she began to treat obedience as her way to grow closer to God, whom she loved above all else. Throughout the next four years of her life, she trained herself to practice almost perfect obedience. This, however, was not enough for Anne. Since the love and service of God had brought such joy and peace to her life, she wished to ensure that her three younger siblings, and the rest of the household as well, had this great privilege too. Through example in word and deed, she taught her younger brother and sisters about the love of God. She cared for those outside her family too and was never happy unless she had some great sinner to pray for. She helped the poor, the sick, and the sorrowful as much as she was able and often preformed great sacrifices for their welfare.
Anne continued her sacrifices for others even as her health began to wane. During her ninth year, she began to have bad headaches caused by spinal weakness. At first, the doctors were not worried, but as time went on, Anne’s pain began to grow worse. Throughout her two years of suffering, she remained the thoughtful, obedient little girl she had struggled to become. She offered all her sufferings for the glory of God and for sinners. Many of those who lived with Anne in the last year of her life commented on the remarkable peace she possessed even while in such great pain. In the last days of 1921, she fell into a coma. The doctors were called back and diagnosed her condition as meningitis. When she regained consciousness, she was given Extreme Unction. The next four weeks were torture for little Anne but she continued to offer up her sufferings through the attacks of suffocation she had begun to suffer. Her greatest fear was that she had not been faithful enough to God through her sufferings. Her parish priest and her mother helped to relieve this worry even though they could not relieve her pain. On the morning of January 14, 1922, she asked permission of her nurse to go to heaven. Once it was given, she began to recite the Hail Holy Queen. As the last words of this prayer passed her lips, she passed from this life into eternity.
While her family mourned her death, they were all conscious of a surprisingly strong peace. At her burial in the countryside, the people came to pray at her funeral for “the little girl who prayed so well.” She was known and loved by them all. Anne continued to pray for those she loved, and those who needed her help, from Heaven. In 1932, the canonical investigation into Anne’s life and virtues began. She was declared venerable by Pope Saint John Paul II, and the investigation of miracles for her beatification is still in process.