Father JOËSSEL 's death
On 20 May 1940, Father JOËSSEL is wounded. On 26 May, he writes a short note to his sister: "I am only wounded and a prisoner. Something worse could have happened to me. I am well looked after and, according to the doctor, I will be out of trouble before long.". His sister receives it on 9 July...
Then, no more news until 5 September, the day on which the Father MASSART, who assists him at the time of his death, give the account of his last moments. The letter arrives on 12 September in Asnières. It is addressed to the parish priest, Canon MULLER.
Chaplain of "Mont de la Salle"
Written on 5 September 1940
Received on 12 September
Very Reverend Sir,
I assume that, through the official channels, you have been informed of the death of
your curate, Father Daniel JOËSSEL, in Ciney (Belgium) on 30 May last.
I have tried more than once - without success - to send you some details about the last days of this holy priest.
I consider it one of the graces of my priesthood to have been able to know him and to
assist him in his last moments.
A large house of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in Ciney had been transformed by the Germans into a hospital.
French and Belgian wounded were brought there like the German wounded, but treated by French doctors and nurses who were prisoners.
In my capacity of Chaplain of the house, I was able to render some services to these dear soldiers and so it was that on 27 May, around noon, I heard myself called by a wounded man who was being brought in. It was Lieutenant JOËSSEL, wounded in the chest and rather weakened. He made himself known to me, and I gave him, quite moved, the confraternal embrace.
In the afternoon, he said to me: « It is not going well… » and I heard his confession.
The next day, on the 28th, he asked me to take dictation of three letters addressed to his parish priest, to one of his fellow curates and to his sister.
When I had finished, I asked his permission to kiss him on behalf of all those who loved him: "With pleasure... Thank you very much! "
The day before, as the nurses carried him on his stretcher to a room upstairs, they asked him if he wanted anything: "No, my children... Except to ask you to forgive me for all the trouble I am giving you. "
At one point, I pointed out to him that we were finishing the octave of the Blessed Sacrament: "All that is far away for me... except God! "
On Thursday 30 May, as the situation worsened, he received the Extreme Unction around noon. Before giving him the Apostolic Blessing, I asked him if he was renewing the
sacrifice of his life for the Church, the souls who were the object of his ministry ("his dear
children!"), and the Homeland: "With great joy! "
He asked God for "forgiveness for all his infidelities".
We were at the first vespers of the Sacred Heart; at about 2 o'clock, the dying man looked at his wristwatch: "It's long... ". I said to him: it is going to be three o'clock... you are (I thought) thirty-three years old like our divine Friend... Continue the Resemblance to the end by a full union of will with Jesus... for souls.
I asked him to bless me: he stretched out a failing hand to make a sign of the cross, which he expressed a second time by signing my forehead. As I could not hide my tears, he looked at me with a broad smile.
I said the prayers of the dying while his breathing became more and more difficult and at 2.55 a.m. in a last spasm this holy confrere handed his beautiful soul over to God.
Holy Mass was said for him the next day, as well as on 15 July, the anniversary of his
I would be grateful to you, Canon, if you would send these details to Ms Bernard TOUVET, to whom I am unable to write at present, and to Father FOUQUES-DUPARC, enclosing a note for them.
As soon as you are able to write to me, I shall be happy, Canon, to know if this message has reached you - and to add any details you may wish to know, - even though I believe I have told you here all I have retained.
The dear Father is buried on the brothers' property where his grave is piously maintained and visited.
Please find herewith the message dictated to you, as well as the two others mentioned above.
Please accept, Very Reverend Sir, the assurance of my religious respect.
Chaplain of « Mont de la Salle »
In the foreground, the grave of Lieutenant JOËSSEL at Mont de la Salle, Ciney, Belgium.