“Simone Pacot”, by Luc Weizmann: portrait of a woman from the depths

Simone Pacot. passerby of life

Luc Weizman

Salvator, 306 pages, €21

Released in 1997, L’Evangélisation of the depths by Simone Pacot made a lasting impression on many readers. But few know precisely who this author, born in 1924 and died in 2017, is. Luc Weizmann, her godson and friend, therefore fills a gap with this well-informed book which, without avoiding a few hagiographic points, manages to paint a nuanced portrait of her godmother. , presenting all the riches and complexities of a strong personality that has been a help to many people throughout its existence.

A happy youth

Daughter of a prominent lawyer in Casablanca, Simone Pacot, who always remained single, lived a happy youth under the Moroccan sun. A young lawyer in her father’s office, she left Morocco at the end of the protectorate and, in France from 1957, became fully involved (like everything she did!) in the community of L’Arche de Lanza. del Vasto, in Bollène, then on the Larzac, before returning to the south of his native country, to Tata, in a small fraternity at the service of the poorest, in particular Berber women.

In 1969, a new break in a long existence which would include a certain number of them, she returned to France and joined the law firm Ornano where the boss “wished(it) unify professional practice and life commitment”. It was during this period that her faith was completely renewed, where she drew closer to Christ through a true personal consecration and experienced an interior healing that marked her definitively.

After serious health problems, which handicapped her for life, and her professional retirement in 1987, Simone Pacot became involved in the Bethany community, founded among others by the Jesuit Étienne Garin and combining Ignatian spirituality, psychology and the dynamism of the charismatic movement at the time. nascent. She will also move to Vanves to be closer to the Maison de Lazare, which has been located nearby since 1985. “with a view to listening to and accompanying manifest or secret distress”.

Founder of Bethasda Sessions

But things went wrong for this woman, whom her biographer does not hesitate to describe as “excessive in praise and criticism”, and she had to leave Bethany. This break left him ” a wound (who) remained open for a long time, but also allowed him to fly on his own and deploy his personal intuitions, while agreeing to confront others, such as Father Xavier Thévenot. And although she often denied it, she then did the work of founding with the Bethasda sessions, which, becoming more and more numerous, always attracted more participants who found great profit in them.

Evangelization from the depths and the three other books she wrote in the following decade helped to broaden her audience in France and abroad. “The writings of Simone Pacot open doors. They have established themselves as an essential reference in Church circles, even if they remain somewhat unclassifiable on the shelves of bookstores and libraries”, explains Luc Weizmann, who describes with precision and nuances the original and sometimes disturbing thought of his dear godmother.

“Anchored in the precious contribution of the human sciences and in the soil of the Jewish and Christian tradition, Simone discovered the psychic life, then sought step by step its right articulation with the spiritual life. She has never ceased to explore the confines of her depths by visiting her vulnerability in the energy of the Breath”, he writes.

Affected by age, she must leave her apartment in Vanves. The one who had been marked at a young age by the Protestant community of the Sisters of Grandchamp in Switzerland and by her friendship with Sister Minke, ended her long existence in a retirement home for the deaconess sisters of Reuilly. The author, while remaining modest, does not conceal these last years, marked both by the difficulties of increasing physical dependence and the support of an increasingly internalized faith.

“Simone Pacot”, by Luc Weizmann: portrait of a woman from the depths