FROM JUDAISM TO CATHOLICISM
VÉRONIQUE LEVY FELL IN LOVE WITH CHRIST
Paris Match Newspaper: Your name recalls that, according to tradition, you are descended from one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Yet you have decided to convert to Catholicism.
Véronique Lévy: My great-grandfather was a rabbi, but my father was very secular. So, I did not receive any religious education. It was on a blank page of all religiosity that my faith was born. Christ came to look for me when I was 3 years old, on a beach in the south of France, through a little girl, Coralie, who said to me: "If you do not believe in Jesus, you will be carried away by robots". She taught me the "Our Father" and the "Hail Mary", that I began to recite in secret from my parents.
What kind of little girl were you?
Very solitary and fearful, capable all the same of being brave, a little girl who did not hesitate to distance herself very far from the shore on her inflatable boat! I loved deserted, abandoned places. Able to defend myself. My two obsessions were to be in love and to find a medicine against death.
What were your relationships with your two elder brothers, Bernard-Henri and Philippe?
They were twenty years older than me. Philippe having had a serious accident, my mother gave a lot of time to him. She was a woman with little affection; and I was in want of affection. My father, to whom I was very attached, took me on his knees and said: "Do not forget that you are a princess. You belong to one of the most ancient Jewish families”. For me, that didn’t mean anything to me. At school, I was nicknamed "Pont-Levis" (Drawbridge).
At your home, no one ever spoke of the war and the persecution against the Jews?
My brothers often spoke about the Holocaust and it annoyed me. I desired to go towards the light, towards life.
The years passed and you become a girl with a difficult path ...
In adolescence, I was in full revolt. Resistant to school, I drank, I was hanging around with thugs. I was also in a hyper-seduction, without ever being satisfied. I put myself in danger. To protect me from myself, my parents put me in a boarding school.
And, unfortunately, you still never managed to find serenity.
I wanted to become a nurse but I failed the course. I continued to go out on the town, I made jewellery for Lolita Lempicka, but I was never at ease. I went out a lot at night. I went from man to man, from apartment to apartment. I sought the absolute, the extreme. I didn’t frequent the trendy bars but the bars of drop-outs, on the side of the Bastille. It happened sometimes that I had to bring a friend drunk out of her mind and put her to sleep in her bed. I felt good with these people. It was as if I had to touch the rock-bottom in order to then rise up towards the light.
Until the day you had an incredible dream ...
I am covered with a black veil, surrounded by men who threw me from one to the other. I tear myself away from this circle, I run, until I arrive in front of a cathedral. The doors open. I hear the beating of a heart that shakes the whole cathedral. And I see Christ on the Cross, immense. The beats are intensified and I hear: "Let your heart of stone become a heart of flesh." The arms of Christ are launched towards me and from His Pierced Hands come two swords that enter into my heart. This was the first time that Christ had spoken to me. I was at the same time terrorized and overwhelmed with love. I have never forgotten this dream, of which, of course, I had not spoken to anyone.
Another phenomenon of the same type occurs at the funeral of your father.
We were at the funeral home, on a pale morning, when the rabbi recited Psalm 139 of the Old Testament: "Lord ... My soul, you knew it well. My bones were not hidden from you. My embryo, your eyes saw it”. These words drove away all the darkness and suddenly an unexpected and outrageous joy invaded me in this funeral home.
When did you really foresee your conversion?
While my mother was dying of cancer in the hospital, I thought that I had to be baptized in order to have, on the day of my death, the face of a priest leaning over me. But I really owe my conversion to my last sweetheart, Indar. I met him in a night bar. He was a magnificent man, with an iconic face. For the first time, I loved a man in a crazy and absolute manner. Like me, he was in search of spirituality and had a thirst for the absolute. Like me, he had travelled a lot. Through him, it was Christ who called me to open my heart.
Indar made you discover the church of Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais ...
A monastic community in the heart of Paris, led by Pierre-Marie Delfieux, who was to become my spiritual director. A sister asked me if I was baptized. I replied, "No, but I would love to be". And then, one day, Indar left me. I was annihilated. I went every morning to the 7 o'clock Holy Mass. Behind the monks and sisters, I suffered a little less.
To what extent has the Church changed you?
For years, I hid behind masks, playing in turn the fatal woman and the child woman. In the end, I was truly myself, without needing to wear make-up or to be like another. Like many women, I slipped into a reducing mould.for fear of not being loved. I discovered that I could go forward with an open face.
Did you speak to your family about your plans ?
When I told Bernard-Henri I was going to become a Catholic, he thought I was crazy. He said to me: "It's a fad. I am sure that it will pass on from you and that you will return to Judaism”. I replied: "I have returned to Judaism because I am a Catholic”. The Christian is an accomplished and faithful Jew. My brother came all the same to my baptism and the Easter vigil.
What is your relationship with him?
As a teenager, I loved him but I often opposed him. I would have preferred him to show his fragility more, because I know he is hypersensitive. I prefer him in private rather than his public character. He remains my brother in heart, but now my brothers and sisters of blood are the people of the Church because we share the Blood of Christ.
When did your conversion take place?
I was baptized on April 7, 2012, and it's the happiest day of my life. I experienced it both as a marriage and a rebirth because on that day I entered the family of God. I found a true family in the Church. I do not worry anymore about anything. I, who normally am scared to death of flying, even offered myself a trip to the Holy Land, which I experienced as a honeymoon.
What has changed in your life since your baptism?
I no longer go out at night, I stopped drinking, and I threw my stilettos, suspenders and skin-tight dresses into a large refuge sack, saying, "Jesus, I do all this for you."
Did you still witness events that could be described as miraculous?
In 2013, my brother Philippe fell out of a window on the sixth floor. At the hospital, the doctors gave him no chance. Bernard-Henri surprised me by his side as I was reading the Gospel according to St. John. He said, "But you're going crazy! Your brother is on his deathbed. "I replied," No, he is on his bed of life. He will live. "Bernard-Henri then said to me:" Ok, pray. But in silence. "And Philip was saved.
That's when you wanted to write a book ("Show Me Your Face", Cerf Editions)?
After the death of Pierre-Marie, my spiritual director, and the accident of Philippe, I went to the Basilica of Our Lady of Victories in Paris, as in a Marian sanctuary. Mary led me to the Blessed Sacrament at the back of the Church. That's when I started to write notebooks. I saw my whole life unfold itself. I wrote this book to remind myself of all the moments when Jesus came to me.
Could you envisage living a totally contemplative life, such as that led by the Carmelites, for example?
I often think about it. I will follow the will of God. St Joan of Arc said: "God traces my path." I have it my motto.