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Age24 thereseSt. Thérèse of Lisieux (Jan 2, 1873 – Sept 30, 1897) Feast day is October 1, 2015.

Saint Thérèse said that she would spend her time in heaven doing good on earth. Also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face and the “Little Flower”. She lived to be 24 years old. Pope John Paul II proclaimed Thérèse of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church in October 1997, the year of the 100th anniversary of her death, making her the youngest and most contemporary of all Doctors of the Church. 

St. Thérèse on flowers:
“Great deeds are forbidden me. I cannot preach the Gospel nor shed my blood – but what does it matter? Others toil instead of me, and I, a little child, keep close by the throne of God and I love for those who fight. Love proves itself in deeds. I will scatter flowers, perfuming the Divine Throne, and I will sweetly sing my hymn of love. These flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least of actions for love.”

therese before deathThérèse of Lisieux, a Professed Discalced Carmelite Nun at the Monastery of Lisieux.

St. Thérèse on being a saint:
“I always wanted to become a saint…Instead of being discouraged, I told myself that God would not make me wish for something impossible…I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight. It is your arms, Jesus, which are the elevator to carry me to heaven. So there is no need for me to grow up. In fact, just the opposite: I must become less and less.”

Martin familyLois Martin, a watchmaker, Zelie Martin a lacemaker and St. Therese in middle.

The canonization of Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux will take place on Mission Sunday, October 18, 2015, during the Synod of Bishops on the Family.

theresa parents reliquaryThe Martin Family Reliquary at The Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia. Photo credit: Fluer Nabert.

St. Thérèse, Louis and Zellie relics:

Shown above are the three individual reliquaries, housing the relics of Therese, Louis and Zellie. This is the first family reliquary for veneration and procession. The reliquary of St. Thérèse, Doctor of the Church is placed highest. Louis and Zellie reliquary are united by wedding rings. The two white lilies are for the parents and the rose is for St. Thérèse.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has entrusted the relics of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin and St. Thérèse to the Philadelphia Carmelite Monastery. The latest news from the Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia: “Pilgrims are welcome to venerate the reliquary in the chapel Monday – Friday 9:00 am to 12 noon and Sunday 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. You may confide your intentions to these soon-to-be-saints.”

Pope Francis in Philadelphia, September 26, 2015. Photo by Will Yurman.

The Papal Connection:

Pope Francis has a strong devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux while as a Cardinal and now as Pope. Using a quote from St. Thérèse, Pope Francis calls us to “not miss out on a kind word, a smile, or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship.”

Pope Francis has said he received signs from St. Therese while asking for her intercession, in 2010, while still a Cardinal. He told reporters he received a white rose from a man while greeting pilgrims, who said, “you don’t understand anything: this is the sign that you are waiting for.”  The man was never seen again.

Pope Francis has carried forward the devotion to St. Thérèse. From October 4 through 25, the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family will be held at the Vatican. This synod will mark the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops. The theme of this 2015 synod is “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.”

The parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux will be canonized by Pope Francis on October 18, 2015 at the Vatican during the synod. Louis Martin (1823-1894) and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin (1831-1877) are the first married couple with children to be canonized in the same ceremony.

Pope Francis has also said, while reflecting on St. Therese’s words, “he (Jesus) does not care if you’re big, or you’re small.” What interests him is “if you are filled with the love of Jesus.”

St. Therese on nature:
“Nature seemed to share in my bitter sadness, for during these days, the sun did not shine and the rain poured down in torrents.  I have noticed in all the serious circumstances of my life that nature always reflected the image of my soul.  On days filled with tears the heavens cried along with me; on days of joy the sun sent forth its joyful rays in profusion, and the blue skies were not obscured by a single cloud.”

monstary wall
The walled Philadelphia Carmel Monastery with the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in the background. St. Thérèse lived in a similar Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux France.

The Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Philadelphia were the originators of devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux in the United States. It was founded in 1902, less than five years after St. Thérèse died

St. Thérèse on Blessed Virgin Mary:
“How I love the Blessed Virgin! She is represented as unapproachable, rather ought she to be shown as imitable. She is more Mother than Queen! I have heard it said that all the Saints are eclipsed by her radiant brightness as the Sun at rising makes the stars disappear. How strange that seems! A Mother eclipsing the glory of her children! I think quite the contrary, I believe that she will immensely increase the splendor of the elect. The Virgin Mary! How simple does her life appear to me!”

mary with Jesus and scapular final
Blessed Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus.
Carmelite Monastery, Philadelphia Carmel in Pennsylvania.

Bishop Robert Barron on St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Martin Family

“I am not dying; I am entering into life,” wrote Thérèse of Lisieux a few weeks before her death in Carmel on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24.

At the time of her death, Therese knew no more than 50 people, having lived in a cloistered, contemplative convent. As she studied and prayed the science of love from her own experiences, her wisdom blossomed.

I wanted Carmel as soon as I learned of it; I find that all the aspirations of my heart are fulfilled in this Order. – Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

best view of chapel
Chapel of the Holy Spirit after Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast Day Mass in 2014.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux on the Science of Love:

“I desire only this science of love…I understand so well that it is only love which makes us acceptable to God that this love is the only good ambition. Jesus deigned to show me the road that leads to Divine Furnace [of God’s love] and this road is the surrender of the little child who sleeps without fear in it’s Father’s arms.”

partitionShe is with us still.

St. John Paul II on St. Therese:

Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is the youngest of all the “Doctors of the Church”, but her ardent spiritual journey shows such maturity, and the insights of faith expressed in her writings are so vast and profound that they deserve a place among the great spiritual masters.