St. Thérèse de Lisieux (1873-1897), Doctor of the Church
Feast Day – October 1st
Patron of Florists, Missionaries, Aviators
Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin was born on January 2, 1873, in Alençon, Normandy. She was the ninth and last child of Louis and Zéle Martin, a deeply religious couple. They lost two girls and two boys to infant deaths, so the family consisted of five girls. Upon her mother’s death the family moved to Lisieux, Normandy. On December 25, 1886 Thérèse, had a religious experience that she described as “conversion”. In Lisieux there is a Carmelite convent for cloistered nuns and one by one each of her sisters entered the cloister. Thérèse was left to care for her father who suffered his first stroke.
At the age of fifteen, Thérèse wanted to enter Carmel. She first met with the Bishop, and then went to Rome to beg the Pope. When she went to meet the pope, she wore her hair up to appear older than she was. During a general audience with Pope Leo XIII, she asked him to allow her to enter at 15, but the Pope said: “Well, my child, do what the superiors decide.”
She entered Carmel on April 9th, 1888. On September 8, 1890, she took her vows and was given the name Sister Thérèse de ‘L Enfant Jésus et de la Sainte Face. (Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.)
Thérèse lived the ordinary life at Carmel in an extraordinary way – her “little way” as she would call it. The “little way” was a life of kindness and charity to all. When she became ill with influenza in 1894, her sisters asked her to write about her life – they knew she was near death. Thérèse was so sure of God’s love for her, she called herself “God’s Little Flower” and promised to send a “shower of roses” after her death.
She died on September 30, 1897. In 1898, her sisters published her story, “The Story of a Soul”. She was canonized a Saint in 1925. In 1997 Thérèse was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II.
Quotes from St. Thérèse of Lisieux:
“Love alone attracts me.”
“I will spend my heaven doing good upon the earth.”
“Do ordinary things in an extraordinary way.”
Books to read:
The Journey of a Soul – Autobiography
St. Thérèse of Lisieux ~ Her Last Conversations by John Clarke
Maurice and Thérèse by Rev. Patrick Ahern
Thérèse Movie – Director – Leonardo Defilippis
The Miracle of St. Thérèse – Director – Andre Haquet
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