In the depth of winter, Nicholas Herman, an eighteen-year-old impoverished solider in the French army, stopped to gaze upon a tree. The thoughts that occurred to him in those few moments changed the course of his life and would serve to inspire countless souls in the centuries to come.
Like the tree, stripped of its leaves, Herman felt barren and hopeless. But come spring, he realized, the tree would once again blossom with leaves and fruit. In that instant, the leafless tree “first flashed in upon [his] soul the fact of God” and his soul blossomed with the hope and expectation that the turn of seasons in his own life would bring fullness, and that he too would be renewed through the mercy of God’s grace.
Not long after, a near-fatal injury to his sciatic nerve, which left him crippled and in chronic pain the rest of his life, forced Herman’s retirement from the army. After a stint as a self-described “footman who was clumsy and broke everything,” he entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Paris around the year 1635 and took the name (more…)