Father Louis-Edouard Cestac seen by his contemporaries 

  • by Edmond Puyol, (1835-1904)

Born in Bayonne, Mgr. Puyol, knew Father Cestac since his early childhood. He wrote the biography, published in 1878. We read in it:

"The good father was a little below average in height, well proportioned; he was healthy and robust. A man of inspiring appearance from the first glance, sympathy and deference. The collected features were, physiognomy soft and fine, benevolent smile, scrutinizing gaze. 

The welcome of the Good Father was pleasant and easy; his varied and captivating conversation, picturesque; his even and cheerful mood. The timbre of the voice; full and clear had a penetrating accent. The gesture, sober and expressive, happily accompanied by words.

The intelligence of the Good Father, vast and simple, could and did reach to the most diverse branches of human knowledge, indeed with success. He faced the most difficult problems without being tired.

The will was strong and determined. Slow but certain, peaceful but invincible, the founder worked to achieve his goals, that any obstacle could not discourage him.

Extraordinary luck! This elite spirit, this iron character, was gifted of the most tender heart ... He combined an extreme sensitivity to the qualities, this seems, even to the most opposed. It was mainly through his heart that he exerted the greatest influence and wonderfully complemented the rare set of his faculties.

Such was the man."

  • by Jean-Michel de Madaune (1838-1...)

In his work " The Priestly Heroism", published around 1890, the abbot of Madaune sketched in a few lines by comparing the portraits of Michel Garicoïts and Louis-Édouard Cestac. The author, originally from Auriac (Pyrénées Atlantiques), knew the two priests of whom he wrote a short biography.

"Following the example of Saint-Paul, with a double-edged sword in his hand, Father Garicoïts fights running to all repeating: "Ecce venio"... In him, he was flourished fully with a spirit of Basque nature, ardent, harsh and militant. Soul more with peacefulness and gentleness, spirit of piety and contented, fulfilled, human in his supernatural elevation, Father Cestac meets victory by invoking the only name of Mary...

From childhood, eager for harmony, Louis-Édouard held in bowing; Michel's nervous hand, on the contrary, takes pleasure in shaking maquila. One sings, eyes raised to the sky; the other prays on his knees, the head tilted towards the ground.

And nevertheless, God heard these two souls also rising up to him in such a different rhythm."

  • by Martin-Étienne Ardoin (1828-1909)

Mr. Ardoin was a military lieutenant commander in the Villa Eugénie, in Biarritz. Witness at the trail of the Ordinary (1898 - process relating to Beatification and Canonization), he gives some features of Father Cestac.

"I knew Father Cestac personally from 1856.

Mr. Cestac had a calm temperament; his activity was the fruit of his zeal. His health was good, his stamina unusual. He was firm, but not hard. His attitude, without being stiff or compacted was very modest. His very soft look reflected the feeling of his soul. His conversation was catchy and interesting, without affectation. It was edifying; it was gushing out of his heart. He welcomed comments. He was at the times both austere and friendly.

Mr. Cestac had great sincerity in his words and actions. It was straight as an "i". He was keenly aware of all things, but he never let himself be carried away by the anger. I've never seen him like this."

  • by Clément-Léonce Dubosc de Pesquidoux (1829-1900)

C.L. Dubosc de Pesquidoux, a man of letters, visited Notre Dame du Refuge with a friend. There he met Father Cestac. The portrait he gave of him is first came in the "Revue du Monde Catholique" in 1874, then in his book "Vierges et Repenties" in 1888.

"Father Cestac was then a man of sixty years old, friendly and gentle, discreet and polite, with a priestly and paternal air, small, a little fat; thin-eyed, intelligent and attractive; spiritual, speaking well, but alive, it must be said, more in heaven than on earth.

Seeing and hearing him, one was no longer surprised that he had been chosen for such a work: his faith, his piety, his love of God, his love for the people, predestined him for divine favors and made him worthy of accomplishing it. One must add that his intelligence and his science were at the level of his piety and his faith.

Father Cestac belonged to this strong generation of priests and religious who, by his high and powerful faculties, his incessant toil, its eminent productions, contributed not less than by his virtues, to the religious reaction of our century and to the victories of the Church."

  • by Jules Labat (1819-1914)

Born in Bayonne in 1819, J. Labat was mayor of his native town from 1852 to 1869. Called as witness at the trials of the Ordinary (1898) and Apostolic (1909), process relating to Beatification and Canonization, it gives some elements of the physiognomy of Father Cestac.

"I knew Father Cestac personally. I had relationships with him from around 1850 until his death.

I have always known him very polite, very courteous, very accurate in rendering the civil duties and keeping social convenience. His physiognomy reflected the kindness and charity which led him render the service to everyone. His gaze, which has always struck me, was directed towards the sky and indicated where he usually found his thoughts. Judging by his exterior and his conversation, he was very humble, he didn't never spoke of himself and didn’t seem to care about himself."

  • by Joseph Schneider

An Agricultural Scientist, J. Schneider, came to Biarritz, in 1854; later he settled there. In his book "The Monastery of Anglet called Notre Dame du Refuge", published in 1873, we read:

"Let us sketch the portrait of Father Cestac.

The head of Father Cestac gives a pleasant, distinguished and benevolent appearance: regular features, fresh skin and white hair at the time when we knew him. The mobility, the penetration of the gaze speaks of a sharp mind and scrutineer; the delicacy of the smile, the contraction of the mouth heralded a wise reserve. His words were sweet and persuasive, most often mystical, preaching willingly, rising from the pulpit to eloquence. The gesture responded to the word and completed this bearing where the least clairvoyant judges a man who possesses himself, whose power also, mixed by grace, is easily imposed. Medium height and robust, of a healthy and nervous temperament, under the observance of unalterable sobriety, the creator of the monastery had been able to brave many fatigues, to endure many hardships. 

It was understood that in such individuality, physical strength must never have been lacking in the call of the will, that is to say of the intelligence. Vast intelligence that was open to all abilities, even the most exclusive to most men: virtuoso, for example, and mathematician; literary man and philosopher in turn; organizer, manager, agronomist, trader, industrialist and merchant. Clean and positive mind, whose fertility has engendered multiple institutions and so diverse, without ever merging, while connecting between them…

To these qualities we add the virtues of Father Cestac and we will have, as together, one of the beautiful characters of our time."