ABSTRACT

Marguerite Perier, Pascal's niece whose eyes had been healed by the Holy Thorn, left a record of the earliest event known of his life. When Pascal was one year old, 'something very extraordinary happened to him,' Margeurite Perier writes in her 'Memoire sur la vie de Monsieur Pascal.' Pascal's mother was 'very pious and very charitable' and gave a small sum of money each month to a large number of poor families and to impoverished women. Among the latter 'there was one who had the reputation of being a witch: everyone told her this; but his mother, who was not one of those credulous women but had much intelligence, made light of their opinion and still continued to give her alms.' At this time it happened that the child (Pascal) 'fell into a languor similar to what one calls in Paris an intestinal disorder ... ' Marguerite uses the phrase 'tomber en chartre,' which is a popular way of describing a mesenteric disorder. But the child's additional symptoms were most unusual: Pascal could not look at water without having violent transports; he could not bear the sight of his father and mother close to each other. He allowed his parents to caress him separately, but if they both approached him, 'he cried and behaved with excessive violence. All that lasted a year, while the evil grew; he fell into such an extreme state that he was believed to be near death.'