Dear Reverend Father
What I am going to write you is difficult for me and it will be difficult
for you to read out but may Our Lady help you.
On Ash Wednesday, I was judged 'guilty' of having tried to render
help to England, by giving a useful address to a British soldier to
help him escape, whilst being in German territory. Since I was not
considered a Prisoner of War the judgement was for death.
I was brought to Fresnes on Thursday, 26 February. I was informed
that my "appel de grace" had failed and that I should
be executed that day at 15H. I then wrote to you and home, but at
half past one the order was contradicted and I thought I was safe.
But on Monday evening I was informed that the sentence had been pronounced.
A second time, but because of something (the appeal for grace), I
believe the whole affair needs confirmation from Berlin, and this
may take quite a while.
You may well ask, what are my sentiments?
Well, I have come to an understanding with Our Lady, the Immaculate
Mother of God, and through Her I offer Our Lord my life along with
the subsequent difficulties, thanking Him for allowing me to suffer
for the following reasons: (i) since He suffered so much for me on
Calvary, (2) to make reparation for my sins and negligence, (3) and
offering all for those I love, my Parents, you Fathers and fellow-students.
On the other hand I cannot help confidently looking at My Heavenly
Mother and saying, "Mary, if God can allow it, please intercede
for me and spare my life for those I love and send me back to St.
Denis. I hope these intentions are good. If not, please, will you
tell me where I am wrong?"
I will give my news to the Procure (rue Friant) and ask them to break
the news as gently as possible to Madame Crussard. I have permission
to write to my parents and will write a letter but I have not the
courage to post it, Father! Will you inform my mother (per Father
Brown) that I have changed camp and they will be without news for
a week or two. Later if I must die, I hope you will be able to break
it gently for me, and send my letter to them which I shall ask to
be forwarded to you. But I feel and confident at times and feel that
all may turn out well.
Please let Tod or somebody put my stuff together until we see what
will happen and remind him to collect his trousers from the tailor.
If I die you had better share up my bits of things amongst yourselves.
Please tell Jock Phelp that he mustn't worry about me. Give him my
best wishes and tell him "We've both tried to do our bit. "
I am allowed to write freely, and I hope your letters will reach me.
Don't try to send me anything (it is not allowed). In any case, what
do I need? A week ago I went to Confession and hope soon to receive
Holy Communion. Now, Father, please think of me, during Holy Mass
and you my fellow students, pray very hard for me. You surely realize
how I need your prayers and it is hard to be deprived of Holy Mass.
You must think I'm getting Holy or going daft, but I've realised an
awful lot, having faced death for nearly two weeks, and I think that
if by our prayers, Our Lady restores me to St. Denis, you will meet
a more sensible Kevin. But may God's Holy Will be done. Yes, pray
very hard for me, because sometimes I find it difficult to pray at
all, and then I am unhappy.
But usually I am happy. I don't worry much and I look with confidence
to Our Lady for a happy ending whichever thing may happen.
So, I'll wind up asking you finally to pray to Our Lady for me, and
for my parents, whilst I try to say a few prayers for you, Father,
and for Fr Moran and all my friends. Give my love to all. Write back
I'll be writing soon and may God bless you.
Joseph Kevin Wiseman
I wrote the above letter to Fr John Maguire, the White Father who
was in charge of the seminary students in St. Denis prison. When I
spoke to Fr Tom O'Donnell on March 3 1999, he told me about this letter
that he hand-copied on a notebook he started at St. Denis and had
saved it all these years.Thank you TO'D for sharing this letter with
Shall I start at the beginning ? . . . . . .